Friday, February 27, 2015

Price of Olive Oil


Screen capture of current price at US Costco for 6L of Greek Olive oil at $60.00 for 6L:





If this represented the only trade between the US and Greece; and the Greeks re-established the drachma and set the initial exchange rate at 1 USD to 1 drachma.

If the Greek olive producers immediately faced reduced price competition in the US market, and reduced the price of this oil to the US market from $10/L to $9/L in order to maintain share, then the "exchange rate" would proceed directly to $.90 to 1 drachma; the drachma would be "devalued" by 10% (to USD).

It would not matter how many forex traders were long or short, or short or long, blah, blah....  or what M1 was or M2 or M16, "base money", blah, blah...... before these REAL events would transpire in this agricultural market and move the "exchange rate" in the banking system.



Darkside Of European Union's Freedom Of Movement


(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Young Spaniards moving to Germany get trapped in dismal jobs

"This is the downside of the European Union's freedom of movement ... Other countries pay for the education of these people and then German companies bring them here to exploit them."
That is rather reminiscent of the strategy behind sharecropping. Freedom of Teilpächten?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Simon Wren-Lewis — Can helicopter money be democratic?


Simon Wren-Lewis asks the fundamental question.

Helicopter money is by definition central bank policy. Can that be democratic is the central bank is to remain politically independent? It would seem not.

Moreover, helicopter money is fiscal. It increases the net financial assets of non-government whereas

Mainly Macro
Can helicopter money be democratic?
Simon Wren-Lewis | Professor of Economics, Oxford University

Updates on a couple of students who took my Forex course

Good news to report folks, I just got some emails from a couple of students who took my Forex course and they gave me an update on their progress.

One student, who took the course earlier this month is up 4.0%. He also told me that he was able to successfully work out of a difficult position that initially had shown some losses. He kept his cool, employed the technicques that I taught and turned things around.

The other student took the course last April and he is up 40%. Not bad.

Both were complete Forex trading novices coming into the class.

J.D. Alt — The Millennials’ Money Pt. 1

The ebook Diagrams & Dollars has been a top-seller on Amazon (in the category “macroeconomics”) for over a year now. There have been many requests for a paper-back version. In deciding to undertake that mission, I started to expand the original long essay into something that would be more book-like in length—and before I knew it, the effort morphed into something else: a different “frame” for the whole argument. The new “frame” evolved as I was reading Millennial Momentum by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, which views U.S. history from the perspective of a repetitive cycle of four archetypal generations. Every eighty years or so, this cycle repeats, beginning with a “civic” generation—and each of these “fourth turnings” (as they are referred to in the book) is accompanied by dramatic, traumatic, social upheaval. When the upheaval is finally resolved, the “civic” generation is firmly in control, and things settle down, but with a dramatically changed social structure. The “civic” generation that is now leading us into the next “fourth turning” are the Millennials—the children of the baby-boomers—and they now, specifically, are the target audience for the book. 
Before I complete—or even decide to publish—the book, I’d be grateful for feedback and responses to some key sections of it. With that in mind, this is the first of several posts presenting these key sections for comment by the NEP readers.
Please comment as NEP as J. D. requests so he can use the feedback.

New Economic Perspectives 

Matias Vernengo — The Economist is concerned with debt-deflation


TPTB becoming concerned enough to think about taking their blinders off?

Naked Keynesianism
The Economist is concerned with debt-deflation
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University

Max Sawicky — Noah and Nick, Too


Follow up from Max Sawicky that makes some further good points what labor should be treated as labor and not capital.

It's a category mistake aka category error, and it's a logical fallacy.
A category mistake, or category error, is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category,[1] or, alternatively, a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property. An example is the metaphor "time crawled", which if taken literally is not just false but a category mistake. To show that a category mistake has been committed one must typically show that once the phenomenon in question is properly understood, it becomes clear that the claim being made about it could not possibly be true. — Wikipedia 
Not only is "human capital" a category error, so is the economic view it is based on. And this is the fundamental problem with conventional economics. There is no problem in choosing any modeling method as along as it contributes to the task one is undertaking, to think about some issue heuristically but precisely, or even just for fun. But that is not the use to which conventional economic models are put. They are used for policy formulation, or at least recommend for such use. Moreover, they are based on a world view that their advocates advance. The model is taken to be not only a simplified model of economics relationship but also a key piece in an ideology that expresses as world view. 

This is a jump from economic modeling to philosophy that is based on huge unacknowledged assumptions about ontology, epistemology, ethics, and social and political philosophy, as well as ignoring in put from relevant disciplines such as psychology and cognitive science, anthropology, sociology and history, all of which deal more critically with what economists tend to assume uncritically. Worse, The economic approach is used to plead for a point of view being representative of reality that favors the interests of a privileged social, political and economic class.

MaxSpeak
Noah and Nick, Too
Max Sawicky

Lars P. Syll — ‘How I became a Keynesian’ (Richard Posner)


Comparable to Nixon's "We are all Keynesians now," Richard Posner embraces Keynes and throws Mankiw under the bus. This is a quote you will want to keep and cherish.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
‘How I became a Keynesian’Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Bill Mitchell — Don’t mention the war! er the Troika …

“Don’t mention the war”! was a classic line from the episode – The Germans – in the comedy Fawlty Towers. Basil Fawlty implored his meagre staff to stay silent in case they offended some German tourists staying at his hotel. His attempt at self-censorship failed and led to hilarious consequences. I was reminded of the sketch (see it below) when I was reading the – Greek finance minister’s letter to the Eurogroup (February 24, 2015). Apparently, it is now a case of ‘Don’t mention the Troika’, ‘Don’t mention the Memorandum’ and never ever talk about the ‘Lenders’. The bullying threesome (European Commission, ECB and the IMF) are now known as “the institutions” and the “Memorandum” (the bailout package) is now to be called “The Agreement” and the “Lenders” have been recast as the “Partners”. Okay, and that is progress. The Reform package surely lets the Greeks choose which nasty policy they will implement but it is still nasty. Yes, it “buys them time”. The damage from massive unemployment and poverty eats into people every day. 4 months is a long time when you are on the street starving. …
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Don’t mention the war! er the Troika …
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

Tissue Paper-for-Venezuelan Oil Swap Offered by Trinidad


Don't worry Venezuela help is on the way!  Little nation of Trinidad finally offers some toilet paper for oil.



Soon no more using tree leaves... did the US just miss a huge "psy-ops" opportunity or what.... could have air dropped in pallets of free toilet paper with "Made in the USA" on the pattern... oh well...


European Rate Chart...


If they keep lowering rates and cutting spending soon (to them) the Troika, errrr... I mean, "the Institutions", will be bankrupted:








Continued EUR bearish.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Alexey Khlebnikov — Russia is now monitoring the world’s mass media for bias

The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies introduced its first-ever World Mass Media Hostility Index, which measures potential anti-Russian bias in the media publications of different countries, and then assigns each country an overall score.
This analytical report is the result of detailed analysis of the media policies of different countries in 2014, when crucial shifts in the rhetoric employed by Western media about Russia occurred. The author of the mass media hostility index is a senior fellow at RISS, Dr. Igor Nikolaichuk. He suggests that, over the course of 2014, Western media started to "spread anti-Russian propaganda more actively than ever," which he calls the beginning of “the global information war” against Russia. 
The RISS positions its index as the first-ever comprehensive analysis of the world’s media content pertaining to Russia. The analysis is based on complex statistical data (provided by Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya) that is examined via a new applied discipline known as “political mediametrics.” A unit for analysis is a significant media publication that gives a reader certain assessments of Russia or its leadership.
Russia Direct
Russia is now monitoring the world’s mass media for bias
Alexey Khlebnikov

Max Fisher — The real reasons Iran is so committed to its nuclear program


Getting beyond the media hype.

Vox
The real reasons Iran is so committed to its nuclear program
Max Fisher

Latin America update

Telesurtv.Net

Brazil Issues Support to Venezuela 
Don't Try to Destabilize Argentina, UK Academics Warn Media 
Attorney General Says Colombia-NATO Deal 'Unconstitutional' 
Maduro to Release New Evidence of Coup Attempt 
Maduro: Colombian Paramilitaries Infiltrating Venezuela

Sputnik — Iran Sinks USS Nimitz Life-Size Model in Strait of Hormuz Naval Exercise


Sending a message. Iran demonstrates capability to control of the Strait of Hormuz, the sole entrance to the Persian Gulf, through which tankers must pass, regardless of the presence of the US Navy.

Sputnik
Iran Sinks USS Nimitz Life-Size Model in Strait of Hormuz Naval Exercise

Podcast: Understanding the Daily Treasury Statement (info)

Podcast: Some info on my upcoming, "Understanding the Daily Treasury Statement" course.

Ajay Shah — Become a public policy thinker in three easy steps

Step 1: What's the market failure?

When should the State intervene? The technically sound answer is: When you are certain there is a market failure, and when you are confident you know how to setup the correct State capacity for the intervention.

Market failures come in four kinds: 1. Asymmetric information, 2.externalities, 3. market power and 4. public goods. These are technical terms in microeconomics and each needs to be carefully understood.

The first hurdle that must be crossed in policy thinking is: "Is there a market failure?" Every proposal to do something in public policy faces this test.

Step 2: What's the proposed intervention?

Once we agree there is a market failure, we have to figure out what we'd like to do about it. Here, it's important to understand the anatomy of the market failure, and solve it at its root cause.

If there is a causal chain x -> y -> z, and there is a problem with the outcome z, don't use the power of the State to change y or z. Understand the root cause, and solve it there.…

Step 3: The hurdle of public administration

Okay, you are all dressed up and ready to go, with a demonstrated market failure, and a minimal intervention which solves it. Now the question arises: Can you design a feasible solution with real world public administration?
Ajay Shah
Become a public policy thinker in three easy steps
Ajay Shah | Co-Lead of the NIPFP-DEA Research Program, India

Michael Pettis — When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?

It is hard to watch the Greek drama unfold without a sense of foreboding. If it is possible for the Greek economy partially to revive in spite of its tremendous debt burden, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck we can posit scenarios that don’t involve a painful social and political breakdown, but I am pretty convinced that the Greek balance sheet itself makes growth all but impossible for many more years. 

The history is, to me pretty convincing. Countries with this level of debt and this level of uncertainty associated with the resolution of the debt are never able too grow out of their debt burdens, no matter how determined and how forcefully they implement the “correct” set of orthodox reforms, until the debt is resolved and the costs assigned. Greece and Europe, in other words, have a choice. They can choose to restructure Greek debt explicitly, with substantial real debt forgiveness and with the costs optimally allocated in a way that maximizes value for all stakeholders, or Greece can continue to struggle for many more years as the debt is resolved implicitly, with the costs allocated as the outcome of an uncertain political struggle. 
Until one or the other outcome, the country is not a viable creditor and it will not grow. There is no way to get the numbers to work. If Europe policymakers who oppose a rapid resolution of its debt crisis continue to prove as intransigent over the next few months as they have been in the past week, I suspect that they will only be able to pull off one of their goals, which is to embarrass Syriza and get it thrown out of office. 
But I suspect that many European policymakers incorrectly think Syriza is as radical as it gets, and once Syriza is discredited, almost any alternative leadership would be better. I disagree. If Syriza is discredited, and the Greek economy continues to stagnate as I expect, the alternative could very easily be Golden Dawn or some other group of radical nationalists determined to blame foreigners for their problems, and Germany will have set itself up for much of the blame. It is ironic, because in my opinion Angela Merkel is not and has never been the bully that she is made out to be, and the main reason Germany seems to be running the show is that no one else has ever dared to disagree with her or to take any position of real leadership. For that reason she and Germany are being seen as far worse than they actually are. 
And this is clearly not just about Greece. Everyone understands that Greece has already restructured its debt once before and received partial forgiveness — in fact once coupon reductions are correctly accounted for Greece’s debt ratio is probably much lower than the roughly 180% of GDP the official numbers suggest. Most people also understand that the Greek debate is not just about Greece but also about whether or not several other countries — Spain, Portugal and Italy among them, and perhaps even France — will also have to restructure their debts with partial debt forgiveness.…
What follows is a long and detailed analysis based on balance sheets.

  1. Why must Europe restructure much of its debt? The purpose of a debt restructuring is to make all parties better off by increasing the value of the associated instruments and improving future growth prospects for all the relevant stakeholders. Once the existing debt structure adversely affects future growth prospects and reduces the current wealth of the relevant stakeholders, it makes sense to consider ways in which the debt can be restructured so as to improve both current value and future growth prospects.
  2. For most economists, debt is the way operations are funded, and the best debt is the cheapest. I am not suggesting that economists are unaware that certain debt structures are riskier than others, but for the most part they ignore the structure of the balance sheet and focus primarily on the way assets are managed. The moment debt levels become high, however, or create institutional distortions, they begin to affect, and usually constrain, value creation. Debt has four very separate and very important functions, and it is important to understand what they are before deciding what an optimal balance sheet looks like.
  3. Once we understand the role and impact of the structure of the balance sheets, it becomes possible to describe what an optimal debt restructuring should accomplish.
Debt can be thought of as a moral obligation when a loan is extended from one individual to another, especially if there is no interest on the loan. But loans to businesses or to sovereign entities are business transactions, and they should be managed as such. The only moral obligation in restructuring sovereign debt, it seems to me, is for policymakers to fulfill their political responsibilities to do what is in the best interests of their citizens and to participate in a responsible way in the global community. The debt restructuring process is, in other words, morally neutral.…
"Excessive debt" begets uncertainty, which increases debt. When is debt "excessive"? When it begins to increase uncertainty to the level that the process is affected. Value begins to be lost, growth contracts, and existing debt multiplies.
To summarize:
  1. Under “normal” conditions, the obligations associated with debt are explicit and there is very little uncertainty about how the debt will be resolved. The revenues sources needed to service the debt are clearly identified.
  2. When debt levels become “excessive”, that is when the existing revenues sources are no longer sufficient easily to service the debt, uncertainty arises about how the debt will be resolved and even about the amount of the debt to be resolved. This is exacerbated by the highly reflexive relationship between rising uncertainty and rising debt, so that rising uncertainty associated with the resolution of the debt forces adverse stakeholder behavior, which causes the uncertainty associated with the resolution of the debt to rise further.
  3. How do we know when debt levels have become “excessive”? Debt levels are excessive when the uncertainty associated with the resolution of the debt is high enough to change the behavior of stakeholders. To put it in terms guaranteed to infuriate policymakers, a country has too much debt whenever the market believes it has too much debt. Anyone who does not understand why it is as simple as this does not understand the economic impact of debt.
  4. The purpose of a debt restructuring, then, is to reduce or eliminate the uncertainty associated with the resolution of the debt because this uncertainty automatically reduces value and future growth. If done correctly, a debt restructuring increases the wealth of stakeholders and improves future growth prospects.…
China Financial Markets
When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?
Michael Pettis | Professor of Finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management

JW Mason — "Disgorge the Cash" at the Roosevelt Institute

I have a working paper up at the Roosevelt Institute, as part of their new Financialization Project.
The Slack Wire
JW Mason | Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College, City University of New York

Mike Sax — Some More Thoughts on Abba Lerner's Functional Finance and Keynes


Does Abba Lerner's functional finance follow logically from Keynes, or is it a policy statement?

Dairy of a Republican Hater
Some More Thoughts on Abba Lerner's Functional Finance and Keynes
Mike (evilsax) Sax

The Retirement DEMAND LEAKAGES Will Continue To Grow, Until Aggregate Demand Picks Up

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

These people are all missing the point?

Hence,
The retirement Demand Leakages will continue to grow, until Aggregate Demand picks up. ... Doh!

THE problem? (There's only one?)

THE solution? (Really, Tina? There is no alternative?)

Or, is "retirement" a trick question?




Haven't these people ever heard that no plan survives contact with reality, and that the best way to proceed is to Never Tell People HOW to do things? There is never just one way, and the eventual, most adaptive route is always a total surprise.

Otherwise evolution wouldn't have taken this long to occur.

Even chemists eventually learn that it takes oxy + morons to create Luddites capable of really gumming up the works. Natural selection means that at least a few of even highly social rats will eventually abandon a sinking ship, instead of going down en masse.

And here I thought that the successive, asynchronous generations in our social species WERE both a way to optimize our aggregate demand AND save it for prior generations too! Such an ingenious solution available from the start, but maybe we're not smart enough to grasp that yet? We're certainly not scaling up the same principle, from families to our citizenry.

So what, exactly, IS the definition of intelligence, and why isn't it increasing with increasing population size? What good is a growing network if TINA can't connect the newly emerging dots?


Lars P. Syll — Microfoundations – contestable incoherence

Defenders of microfoundations and its rational expectations equipped representative agent’s intertemporal optimization often argue as if sticking with simple representative agent macroeconomic models doesn’t impart a bias to the analysis. I unequivocally reject that unsubstantiated view, and have given the reasons why here.
I think that a big reason for uncritically accepting assumptions like this is that they seem intuitive. It seems obvious that what happens in aggregate is dependent on the individuals that comprise the aggregate. Being rational implies preferring what one wants to what one doesn't want. Granted. But does that imply the homogeneity regarding utility optimization that proponents of rationality suppose?

A foundational issue in scientific inquiry is about testing intuitions by formulating testable hypotheses instead of receiving them passively as self-evident based on something as nebulous as "intuition" or "common sense". 

For example, if rational expectation about intertemporal optimization is representative enough to be generalized, why do so many people in democratic elections vote contrary to their financial and economic interests and those of their families? The representative agent account may be assuming excessive homogeneity to be a sound basis for modeling.

There nothing wrong with "microfoundations" in itself, but that requires that the assumptions be representative of reality. The actual problem is not so much "microfoundations" as what "microfoundations" is taken to be. Methodological individualism as practiced in conventional economic assume homogeneity among humans similar to atoms as elements in physical systems. It that model transferable from the physical sciences to social science? What is the evidence for it, and what is the evidence against it. Is it simply a modeling convenience?

Such questions cannot be raised in conventional economics, which declares that the controversy over methodology is over, and conventional economics has prevailed as orthodox and everything else is heterodox, that is, "heretical" in the orthodox view.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Microfoundations — contestable incoherence
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Brian Romanchuk — U.S. Economy: This Was Not Supposed To Happen


Brian covers a lot of ground in this analysis, which includes a journey through the natural rate doctrine and its use by the Fed.

Bond Economics
U.S. Economy: This Was Not Supposed To Happen
Brian Romanchuk

The information you will learn from the Daily Treasury Statement will not only make you a better investor and forecaster, it will probably shock you and maybe even make you angry!

Three more days to register for my Understanding the Daily Treasury Statement course.

Here are a few of the things you wil come to understand:

Did you know that the U.S. government “paid back” $67 TRILLION to investors LAST YEAR? And our leaders are talking about cutting Social Security to seniors because 40 years from now the SS trust fund will supposedly have a shortfall of $4 trillion?
This is in the Daily Treasury Statement. It’s from the Treasury’s own records.
Did you know that leading flows (spending) to the economy have been very strong, yet government spending as reported in the officially released GDP report shows it as being down? 
This is in the Daily Treasury Statement.
Did you know that we spend 50 times more on interest on public debt than on food stamps?
This is in the Daily Treasury Statement.
Did you know that last February, the Federal Gov’t sent out $120 billion in tax refunds? And it will do it again this February. And it happens every year?
You’ll learn this from the Daily Treasury Statement.
Do you know why there is an expression, “Sell in May and walk away?” when it comes to the stock market?
The Daily Treasury Statement will explain this seasonal effect and why it is so predictable. (And by the way, stock market investors and analysts don’t know the real reason why.)

There is so much more.

If you are an investor, trader, economist, student or just someone interested in getting some real knowledge and insight into the massive finances of our Federal Government and how it affects everything from incomes to investment to savings to the economy then this course is for you.

If you want to be able to make better economic forecasts—for your business, for yourself, for your job, for any reason—better than any computer model, PhD economist or Wall Street analyst with just a few minutes of time per day then this course is for you.

If you want to shock and astound your friends and co-workers and turn them on to information that they have never seen or heard before, making you look like someone with a secret connection deep inside the government, then this course is for you.

If you want to see how our politicians and academics and pundits lie to us or, deceive us or, show how little they really know, this course is for you.

This course will open your eyes. It might even make you mad. It surely will make you a better investor or forecaster of the economy.

Bottom line: It’s well worth the $225. Sign up today. It will change the way you see everything. I guarantee it.

-Mike Norman
Mike Norman's "Understanding the Daily Treasury Statement"

Swiss now ratcheting it down domestically...


Evidence now coming in of Swiss firms making moves to reduce costs (and hence prices...)




Continued CHF bearish.

Gerald Epstein — Will Quantitative Easing Solve the European Economic Crisis?


More on Greece and Germany than QE.

TripleCrisis
Will Quantitative Easing Solve the European Economic Crisis?
Gerald Epstein | Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts at 
Amherst and Co-director, Political Economy Research Institute

Chris Dillow — The relative income problem


Twisting fairness.

Stumbling and Mumbling
The relative income problem
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Don Quijones — Will US-imposed IP Empire in India Put Global Access to Medicines at Risk?

Prof Brook K Baker, Professor of Law at Northeastern University, cautions that the Modi government’s accelerating flirtation with the US and its investors is dangerous to hundreds of millions of people worldwide whose lives depend on Indian generics.
The new maharajas — same as the old maharajas. Rent-seekers to the core who love to live  high off rent extraction love use schemes to create artificial scarcity, because competition.

Raging Bull-shit
Will US-imposed IP Empire in India Put Global Access to Medicines at Risk?
Don Quijones

Randy Wray — The Spanish Launch of Modern Money Theory

Sorry, I’ve been very busy in recent weeks, finishing up a book on Minsky and revising my Modern Money Primer for a second edition (more on both of those projects later).
Meanwhile, Lola Books is gearing up to release the Primer in Spanish next week. I’ll be in Madrid for the launch and for a series of meetings. I’ll give two presentations that are open to the public. Details are below. Hope to see our Spanish friends there!…
The Spanish edition will have much greater reach than Spain since it will undoubtedly be available in Latin America.

Economonitor — Great Leap Forward
The Spanish Launch of Modern Money Theory
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics, University of Missouri at Kansas City

Global Steel Price Down 17% YoY, German Employment






Large volumes of imports, together with collapsing oil prices, have led to cuts in domestic steel production in the US. However, these have not been sufficient to stem the continual, month-on-month, decline in flat product transaction values. Buyers are reluctant to make large purchases as figures trend downwards. Moreover, the volumes of unsold foreign material at the docks are climbing. Some of this steel is now priced above current domestic levels as local steelmakers have responded to the import threat.

The exporters are going to have to lower the price in USD of this unsold inventory they have sitting in the U.S. if they want to sell it... continued USD bullish imo.

And it looks like China is ready to do some price cutting and usual product dumping on their exports also, as the global race to the bottom continues in earnest:

Overcapacity problems, dramatically declining iron ore prices and disappointing economic indicators have driven steel selling values to record lows in China. Negative sentiment is growing. Recently, the Central Bank cut the bank reserve ratio in an effort to shore up flagging economic growth. Market players are waiting to see the impact on the steel sector. The Lunar New Year Festival (February 19-24) was later than it has been in the last few years. This led to buyers postponing steel order placement for a longer pre-holiday period than usual. Dealers were under pressure to sell ahead of the vacation. In overseas markets, export volumes reached a new high in January.


Meanwhile, in the EZ fiscal austerity continues to undermine the German domestic economy:


So you have the export nations Germany/Japan vs. China in a competition to see how far each can lower their real terms of trade with the US; while the lackluster US fiscal backdrop is resulting in a tepid US demand environment for the export products in general.

Unless the current lackluster US fiscal policy changes significantly this FY, the current bearish ex/im and "strong USD" environment is going to continue as the foreign exporters cannot gain any pricing power in the US market under the current macro circumstances.