The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


America Flails, Resorting To Ineffective Sanctions Over and Over


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 5 2024


  1. Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. –Brave New world

    Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. –Brave New world
    They said not to worry (if they mentioned it at all) about the 4x increased Cardiovascular events and deaths in the clinical trial. The all age increase in Cardiovascular events and deaths since 2021 wasn’t a worry either. For both are coincidences to be ignored.
    (PULS scores are based on 3 biomarkers that are used to predict future heart problems)
    we tracked the changes of the PULS score and three of the inflammatory markers it measures in all of our patients consecutively receiving these vaccines.
    (Covid vaccination resulted in) an increase of the PULS score from 11% 5 yr ACS risk to 25% 5 yr ACS risk.

    This prospective cohort study focused on adolescent students… who received a second dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
    (Percentage of adolescents receiving each negative effect):
    tachycardia (7.64%)
    shortness of breath (6.64%)
    palpitation (4.32%)
    chest pain (4.32%)
    hypertension (3.99%)
    Abnormal electrocardiogram (17.9%)

    (This study included patients tested before and after Covid vaccinations became available. It compared results from non-vaccinated verse vaccinated patients).
    Vaccinated patients had overall higher myocardial FDG uptake compared to nonvaccinated patients
    Myocardial SUVmax was higher in vaccinated patients
    increased myocardial FDG uptake was observed in patients imaged 1-30, 31-60, 61-120, and 121-180 days after their second vaccination
    (Following vaccination all patients recorded damage to their hearts)

    we evaluate the association between COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis (1-28 days after vaccination)
    (Page 7-8 has a paragraph listing conflicts of interests.
    Table 1 shows a statistically significant dose depended relationship for both mRNA Covid vaccinations causing myocarditis
    Pfizer (which had less risk than Moderna) resulted in a 1.37, 1.6, and 2.02 increased risk after the 1st, 2nd and 3rd injection).

    Hospital employees scheduled to undergo mRNA-1273 booster vaccination were assessed for mRNA-1273 vaccination-associated myocardial injury
    (The authors list a dozen conflicts of interest at the end of their study.
    5.1% had elevated hs-cTnT
    2.8% were determined to have had a vaccine-associated myocardial injury)

    regional variation in vaccination rates was used to predict all-cause mortality
    146K to 187K (Covid) vaccine-associated US deaths between February and August, 2021.

    more than half of the countries analyzed had no detectable rise in all-cause mortality after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 — until after the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
    an unprecedented rise in all-cause mortality that corresponded directly to vaccine and booster rollouts.
    the authors calculated the fatal toxicity risk-per-injection increased significantly with age, but averaged 1 death per 800 injections
    the researchers estimated there were 17 million COVID-19 vaccination deaths (± 500,000) globally (up to sept 2, 2023)
    Vaccination associated with high all-cause mortality regime in all countries
    they cite and explain dozens of mechanisms for causation

    comparing both pre- and post-treatment periods.
    to determine the causal effect of the administration of (Covid) vaccines
    statistically significant and overwhelmingly positive causal impact after vaccine deployment
    a marked increase in both COVID-19 related cases and death due directly to a vaccine deployment

    One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. –Brave New world

    A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. –Brave new world

  2. mago

    I’ve long respected Matt Taibbi as a journalist, but that changed this morning after reading a partial transcript of America This Week wherein he and Walter Kern agreed that the Israeli and Palestinian issue is too complicated to objectively comment on. And besides, he has hasn’t been to Israel.

    I ageee that seven months of carnage and the destruction of hospitals, mosques, businesses and civilian infrastructure is complicated. Mass graves, too.
    Genocide and ethnic cleansing is messy business; it involves a lot of blood and gore, along with immense suffering and evil intent.

    So long Matt. Won’t be reading you anymore. Not that you’d give a rat’s ass one way or another if you knew. Just saying. . .

  3. bruce wilder

    The documentary paean to Modern Monetary Theory, Finding the Money featuring Stephanie Kelton walking about bringing light to the world in two hour talks, was released this weak to select theatres and every streaming platform.

    The dramatic conceit of the film is that rhetoric about the burden of national debt is ill-conceived and overcoming that mistaken conception changes everything.

    The film has some moments. Biden’s chief economic adviser Jared Bernstein in hopeless confusion over a straightforward question has been featured in promotional trailers.

    The thing is, I do not think anyone else in the film answers the question that so flummoxed Bernstein: “given that the government creates the money, why does the government also borrow money?”

    It is a little puzzle that hangs out there as a trance induction.

    There are chartalist parables about colonial tax script and medieval tally sticks and an imaginary community corvee.

    They want us to relax about the size of the national debt but have the same fear of inflation as conventional economists.

    I cannot help but think they have come too late. The worst nightmares they ridicule could be happening now.

  4. different clue

    The government borrows money from the mega-millionaires and the multi-billionaires so that those classes of people can keep harvesting interest payments denominated in money.

    Its a vast carefully engineered transfer of money from the nation to the rich people. And thats why government borrows money from the rich people. One more way to keep giving the rich people more and more money.

  5. Bill R

    Just read on Dances with Bears that a Canadian officer is being charged because when he was privately asked what he thought of the Canadian and NATO policy in Ukraine, and what he said was not what the powers that be wanted to hear. In addition, it mentions that out of the 1000 Canadians fighting there over 42% have been killed. When will the Canadian Government Banderite supporters realize there is thousands or millions of Canadians that do not support their policies nor the expense when we should be doing so much more to help our people who are struggling economically?

  6. bruce wilder

    @dc “ Its a vast carefully engineered transfer of money from the nation to the rich people. ”

    I think that is what the national debt has become, yes. And now the size and the transfer is accelerating. And, the prophets of MMT proclaim we don’t need to tax the rich to have nice things.

    It is an odd disconnect.

  7. Curt Kastens

    I have forgotten more about macro exonomics than most phd economists ever knew.
    I am in agreement with different clue. But I would like to add a bit more to what different clue wrote.

    Goverments do not need to borrow money. But governments may want to borrow money. Governments do need to manage the supply of money to avoid high rates of inflation. The most straight forward way to manage the supply of government created money would be to simply tax it away. Money that has to be paid back in taxes is permanently removed from circulation. Taxes do not finance the budget of a government that can print or create its own currency at the push of a key.
    Going off the gold standard changed everything about economics. Now a soverign government that does not borrow in a foriegn currency does not have have to balance its budget like a business or houshold does. Under the old rules gold served as a foreign currency for everyone. But the changes that occured as a result of the new way of doing business were never taught to the public. Not to teach the public about how macro economics really work now was (is) obviously a deliberate massive disinformation campaign on the part of rulers of the collective western empire.

    Borrowing money on the other hand allows the government to temorarily remove money from ciculation without taxation. Of course that borrowed money will eventually be freed up when the term of the loan expires unless the money is again reinvested with the government.

    I am sure that you have heard of people claiming that humanity should return to the gold standard. That is another topic. But I do not think that a return to the gold standard is a good idea.

    Anyone with a bit of discernment can see that the what is called economics since 1913 in the United States and probably much early in the UK is a scam. In 1913 the Federal Reserve was created. But when you read what the Fed is supposed to do, even if what it does is actually legitimate, can you think of any reason why a new institution needed to be created to do what the US Treasury Department would be perfectly capable of doing on its own?

    The creation of this new institution (the Federal Reserve) was clearly a deception. There was an obvious motive for this deception, to subvert the potential of people using government institutions to promote the general welfare because it confuses people about the powers of the government actually could be.

    Understanding that the establishment of the Federal Reserve is a deception is a pre requisite for reaching a conclusion that bad government polices are not the result of stupid politicians making bad decisions because they do not know what they are doing. Bad government policies are the result of clever but evil leaders engaged in perpetuating a vast continuing criminal enterprise for the benifit of the special interests of those with power with in this continuing criminal enterprise at the expense of every one else. Or as some others might say, at the expense of the general welfare of the country (or the planet).

  8. Curt Kastens

    My last comments were sent before I saw your last comments. Yes the MMT people saying that we do not need to tax the rich for nice things is an odd disconnect.
    I think that this MMT narrative is a strategic or tactical decision. I think that they are hoping to reduce the opposition from the wealthy to their policies by calming the fears of the rich that MMT is socialism by another name.
    It is technically correct to say that the government does not need to tax the rich to fund government programs. But there are lots of other reasons to tax the rich.

  9. mago

    I failed to mention in my earlier comment the destruction of all universities in Gaza as well as over a hundred journalists and often their families deliberately targeted and murdered.
    It’s complicated.

  10. different clue

    MMT is one of the red lines over at Naked Capitalism. The way they believe in it, it would be better called Magical Monetary Thinking. Commenter Hugh was driven away from there for ( I guess) making fun of one of the beloved prophets of MMT.

  11. different clue

    We sometimes need to just take our mind off of things and stuff.

    Here is a good clean fun innocent happy satirical fun video called ” americuh, fuck yeah”

  12. bruce wilder

    CK: “Borrowing money on the other hand allows the government to temporarily remove money from circulation without taxation. Of course that borrowed money will eventually be freed up when the term of the loan expires unless the money is again reinvested with the government.”

    Except it extends the circulation; it does not “remove” it.

    The debts of the sovereign are marketable and the central bank is the market maker.

    One of my objections to MMT is that it makes a big show of being “operational” — a theory based on the details of treasury operations — without ever realizing a distinction between money and currency. That film’s explanations repeatedly confound currency with money. They hold up an accounting expert to ridicule for objecting to the idea that currency or coin is meaningfully a sovereign debt.

    One of the things that separating Treasury from Central Bank accomplishes operationally is that it makes it possible for the Central Bank to satisfy the demand for currency as medium of exchange without limit and without the currency having any intrinsic value. By itself, the Treasury cannot separate itself from the issuance of sovereign debt. By having the Central Bank as counterparty in printing and distributing currency, it can. (It is a curiosity that the U.S. Treasury prints currency. In most central bank systems, the Bank prints its own notes.) I think “printing money” is a pernicious metaphor for the “money creation” process and I also think MMT is right when it says sovereign governments create money by spending and maintain its value by taxing, though I am not a chartalist.

    I am not a chartalist because I think credit and reciprocal obligation are latent in social relationships even in the absence of centralized government. I read the historic record as showing would-be merchants struggling to find or elaborate schemes of credit to facilitate exchange, insurance, investment, and risk-sharing and sovereigns availing themselves of mercantile services in symbiotic ways. But, I digress.

    The state “prints” not just coin and currency but a range of instruments of varying nominal duration and then uses a monopoly state-sponsored bank to make a continuously liquid market in those securities — that is the core of the money system. In that system, the state taxes in order to fund those market securities. (Again, not what the film asserts. Contrary to the chartalist tale, the state does not “burn” its tax receipts. It recirculates that money through paying its obligations on market securities.) That stock of securities and the “market” interest rates (managed by the invisible hand of the market-making central bank) become the anchoring foundation and reference for whole financial system. Money and finance enable fine calculation and hedging over investment deals.

    Without the weight of the vast, continuous torrent of sovereign borrowing, payment and redemption, backed by the fiscal capacity to skim off economic rents from economic activity, the money-financial system could quickly become remarkably unstable. Not just inflationary, though that is one hazard among many.

    It is too little appreciated how difficult it is to “make a deal” with the future in order to use money to mobilize resources in the present for a sunk-cost investment in future capability and capacity. Money facilitates the fictions of finance to accomplish it. Finance also gives great scope for fraud and predation. Duh.

    I think MMT makes a moral mistake by trying so hard to assure people that they shouldn’t worry about the increasing size of the accumulating national debt. As dc pointed out and I agree, it has become a conduit for upward redistribution on an accelerating scale.

    Mainstream economics obscures or ignores money and the money system in service to the powers-that-be. That is also true. I am not sure that MMT is not just competing to be an alternative fairy tale for the same interests. Maybe that is inevitable: the common people are rightly scared by systems beyond their immediate experience and too dumb to exercise effective populist political control (to regulate effectively). Maybe.

  13. Ian Welsh

    The issue I’ll point out about MMT is one I’ve written about before:

    Keynes “anything we can do, we can afford.”

    Me “anything we can’t do, we can’t afford.”

    MMT is correct in the sense that money is not the primary issue: capital (in the sense of capital goods), resources and skilled labor is.

    Money which creates more resources/capital-goods/skilled labor increases the real economy. Money which just chases rents and plays financial games (private equity, as one example) actually damages the real economy.

    We can, at any time, choose to print as much money as we want. The question is what we use it for. Used badly, it is harmful. Used well, it is beneficial

    MMT points out that spending is not actually constrained by taxes and that lending is not constrained by savings, and it is correct and it’s an important point. But it’s not the most important point.

    It is also the case that debt owed in American dollars needn’t be a problem, if those in power are willing to do what is needed and are smart enough to do so.

    But they aren’t.

    And yes, NC are MMT fanatics. Corrente was before that. I remember Stirling Newberry, before his stroke, getting into an argument about it at Corrente, and they tried to use the gold article at Wikipedia to argue with him. He pointed out that he had written most of the article (this was around 2008), but they would not listen. (I don’t always agree with Stirling, but he knows his stuff.)

    MMT says some important things, mind you.

    Again: what matters is if you are creating new resources, and if you are increasing human welfare at the same time. Farming should improve the soil, for example. Purchasing a company should increase what is done, not decrease what is done. Better products should replace worse products and better products should be higher quality, last longer, use less resources and so on. Food should be more nutritious, not less nutritious. Workers should become more skilled over time, and so on. Automation should be a gift, something which allows us to work less while producing more, so we can spend more time doing what we enjoy. Few people would maintain their current employment if they didn’t need the money, and as long as that is true, working less is a good thing.

    What makes many billionaires different is that they like doing their “jobs.” Most ordinary people will say they like work, but fail the acid test.

    (Huh, almost a post. I’ll probably clean it up and make it one.)

  14. Bill H.

    “It’s a disconnect.” Almost everything the US government does is a disconnect.

    We have laws that requires people working in behalf of a foreign nation must register as “agents of a foreign government,” and we threaten to sanction Georgia for passing a similar law, because the agents would be ours, working on behalf of the US.

    We are supplying tanks, artillery, F-16s, missiles and shiploads of ammunition to Ukraine in support of its war with Russia, and we threaten sanctions against China if it “provides any material support” to Russia for its war against Ukraine.

    The list is pretty much endless. We can do anything at will, but when another nation does precisely the same thing we cry foul, accuse them of being “in violation of the “rules based world order” and threaten to sanction them or worse.

  15. Money which creates more resources/capital-goods/skilled labor increases the real economy.
    This is a concept most of politics has forgotten. Leaders don’t seem to realize that providing everyone with healthcare, education and other services can be done as a result of industrialization. Developed nations didn’t become industrialized because they were educated. They became educated because industrialization gave them the productive ability to provide people with an education.
    You’ll get nowhere putting the cart before the horse. In Europe’s case you’ll crash down the hill if you starve the horse.

  16. someofparts

    If the Fed and the way the national economy has been managed since 1913 are massive hoaxes perpetuated at the expense of our general welfare globally, then the malefactors pulling those secret strings are the true source of our collective malaise.

    It seems that this would make complaints about the bad behavior of miscreants downstream a bit less important and sometimes even a counterproductive distraction.

  17. someofparts

    Come to think of it, what is Stirling doing these days and how is he? Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a link to any of his work.

  18. Ian Welsh

    Stirling’s relatively well, and quite happy, overall.

  19. bruce wilder


    I just got around to reading Taibbi & Kirn from last week and I had a similar reaction to yours.

    I expect I read much more than you did and they never recovered my respect anywhere in their lengthy dialectic.

    I get that they regard “free speech” absolutism as their territory, and I appreciate wanting to know the history before making sweeping moral judgments about who is wearing the white hat and who, the black.

    I am an idealist. I know that. And, I know not everyone is. And not every idealist is realistic, which is a problem in itself. But, letting the psychopaths run policy is also a problem! Do fools like Taibbi think the ideal of “free speech” can survive in a world where war crimes and genocide are “controversial” and “too complicated” to judge? Where moral judgments are only ever a cover story for lying psychopaths?

  20. Ian Welsh

    Taibbi’s both-siderism on Palestine lost him my respect. He’s done good work in the past, but failure to oppose genocide or even see it clearly is beyond the pale.


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