Roland Fryer, Clark Medalist 2015
American Economic Association Honors and Awards Committee
American Economic Association Honors and Awards Committee
PERIES: Now, tell us a bit more about why during the success, during the growth period when the economy was doing so well why the PT, Workers' Party--more left-thinking, more socialist in their outlook--was unable to deliver programs and support to the poorest in the country. Particularly given Lula took office on the Zero Hunger campaign, which was partially successful. But it abandoned those programs towards the time when Dilma Rousseff took power. Why did that happen?Real New Network
SAAD-FILHO: The social programs implemented by the Lula administration, and by the Dilma Rousseff administrations, have been very successful. The Bolsa Familia programming in particular was launched as you mentioned by Lula under the previous name of Fome Zero, Zero Hunger program. And it now covers 14 million families in Brazil. That is about a quarter of the population of the country directly benefit. These are benefits that are very small, but they are significant for people who earn very, very little. And they also provide a bedrock of demand for the economy.
There are other social programs as well including social security, including health, including a significant expansion of education at all levels and so on. So these programs were large and they were successful. They were also cheap. There's a limitation to the social programs of the PT, is that they usually did not have a sufficient amount of resources to transform the life chances of many of the poor. Although they did transform the life chances of many people who previously could not go to university but now they can, because the expansion of the sector [inaud.] quotas, and people who could not have accessed health services but now they can because of a substantial expansion of health provision in the country.
These were successful programs and they deserve to be commended, except they were limited to some extent and they should have been backed up by a significant expansion of infrastructure as well. This is [inaud.] missing, in my view.
A new electronic archive has been launched, making it possible to trace the social and economic development of Russia's regions over the past three centuries.
The Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics was proposed and created by Gijs Kessler from the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and Andrei Markevich from the New Economic School in Moscow.
“Unfortunately, until now Russia’s historical experience has largely remained outside the sphere of interest of global historians, primarily due to a shortage of data. As a rule, data about Russia is either missing from historical inter-country databases or is very incomplete,” the authors of the project say.
Data is gathered on a standard program, which includes seven principal lines of inquiry (population, labor, industrial output, agricultural output, services, capital, land) and for five cross-sections of Russian history (1795, 1858, 1897, 1959, 2002).
Statistical data for the 18th-21st centuries derives from various published and unpublished sources, and is standardized and arranged into a database.
The data for the Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics was collected and processed by two groups of researchers in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2010-2014.Russia Beyond The Headlines
To really appreciate what a travesty the TPP is, and the scandal of the failure of our Congress to reject it, and the “Fast Track Authority“ sought for it, out of hand, I’m going to list 23 negative consequences that would likely follow from it. Any one of these, would, by itself be sufficient for any representative of the people, Senator or Congressperson, to vote to kill it.Send it to your congress-critters.
Tackling a serious economic crisis is difficult for all governments, whether they are left wing or right wing. It is important for everybody to be aware of this, politicians and voters alike.
There is, however, a fundamental difference between the right and the left in this respect: Their objective is not the same. Of course politicians in general want to succeed in their endeavour to get their country out of serious trouble but they tend to evaluate the situation differently. This depends on their political conviction. Left wing, socially responsible forces, above all want to preserve, if not strengthen the social fabric of society – the welfare system - while the right wing under such circumstances is likely to use the crisis for system change, i.e. to marketise and privatise the system.Disaster capitalism versus progressive reform.
Icelandic politician Ögmundur Jónasson (born 17 July 1948), was the former Health and Interior Minister for the Icelandic left government between 2009-2013. He has been active in various grass-root activities, a prolific commentator and public speaker. As minister, he gained international attention in connection with three issues. First, he proposed measures designed to protect children from the harms of violent pornography as part of his broader support for human rights and women’s rights. Secondly, he rejected a plan by Chinese business tycoon, Mr. Huang Nubo, to purchase a huge tract of land in the North East of Iceland attracting much geopolitical and media attention. Thirdly, he refused all cooperation with FBI agents who arrived in Iceland in 2011 —on the pretext of investigating an impending hacking attack on Icelandic government computers— and directed them to leave the country because he believed that they were, in fact, engaged in a broader swoop to gather intelligence on WikiLeaks in trying to frame its founder Julian Assange.
The budget for Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which dispatches elite troops around the world, jumped to $10 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, from $2.2 billion in 2001. Congress has doubled the command to nearly 70,000 people this year, from 33,000 in fiscal 2001. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force provide further funding.
Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, for example, are stationed in the Baltics, training elite troops from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia for the type of proxy warfare Russia has conducted in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
But the vast majority of special-operations missions involve coaxing and coaching foreign forces to combat extremists the U.S. considers threats.Hybrid warfare.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s op-ed in the New York Times marks the whimpering end of an unholy alliance. The letter itself was a ham-handed attempt to capture the 2016 evangelical vote before Sen. Ted Cruz does. But the very crudity of his piece revealed that the union at the heart of Movement Conservatism is ripping apart.
In his op-ed, Jindal undertook to explain to business leaders how Movement Conservatism works. Its political strategy, he lectured, “requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters.” The governor is right: Since the 1980s big business interests have managed to secure policies that have concentrated wealth at the very top of the economic ladder, and they have managed their coup only with the help of the votes of social conservatives.
But Jindal’s hyperbolic posturing as he warns “any corporation” “bullying” social conservatives into accepting same-sex marriage to “Save your breath,” reveals a touchstone moment: This grand alliance is over....What follows is a must-read on the history of US politics, and the GOP in particular, since the Eisenhower administration.
Seeing such a caricature of the bargain that made Movement Conservatism succeed could create the magical moment in which the party finally rejects the devil’s bargain it struck in the 1950s.If only.
Putin and the then U.S. president George Bush had "an excellent relationship," Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov recalled.
However, the U.S. came to believe by that moment that Russia "entered a regime of colonial democracy, that we sort of got hooked on International Monetary Fund injections and that the experts' community must continue teaching us how we should further develop our economy and where we should pump our oil," he said.
"On the surface, though, everything looked extremely tactful: they would pat us on the shoulder and cheer us up: guys, your are sort of moving in the rights direction," Ivanov said.Russia Beyond the Headlines
...excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor. Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs.
CHAPTER TEN: ALL IS FORGIVENZero Hedge
"At one point our secret services simply detected direct contacts between militants from the North Caucasus and representatives of the United States secret services in Azerbaijan," Putin said in the film, released by Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday.
"And when I spoke about that to the then president of the US, he said... sorry, I will speak plainly, he said, "I'll kick their asses", Putin recounts his conversation with George W. Bush on the issue. A few days later, he says, the heads of Russia's FSB received a letter from their American counterparts, which said they had the right to support opposition forces in Russia.
"Someone over there, especially the West's intelligence services, obviously thought that if they act to destabilize their main geopolitical rival, which, as we now understand, in their eyes has always been Russia, it would be good for them. It turned out, it wasn't," Putin muses, saying he had warned the West about the possible dangers of supporting terrorists.
Putin also discussed the challenges he faced when he first became President. When the interview's host suggested that a group of oligarchs was in charge of Russia in the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin did not contradict. "They came to my office, sat in front of me and said, "Do you understand you will never be the real president?" We'll see, I told them", he recalls. When asked about it, he didn't elaborate on how he dealt with the oligarchs in the end, simply saying he "used various means."
A controversial Ukrainian website publishing personal information about ‘enemies of the state’ appears to have been run by a NATO cyber center in one of the Baltic states. The website went offline on Saturday following public pressure.
NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence – СCD-COE has been exposed as providing technical support for Mirotvorec, a website of Ukrainian nationalists running ‘enemies of the state’ database.NATO trace found behind witch-hunt website in Ukraine
SAAD-FILHO: ....What I think we can now see in Brazil, but also in Argentina and Venezuela, perhaps also in other parts of the world, is the emergence of a new right. A right wing that is organized, that has a mass base in the upper-middle class, that is structured by ideological demands for restoration of neoliberalism, strict neoliberal economic and social policies. And that claims for a return to their established privileges, which is a common picture in South America at least, and several countries of South America. It is certainly the case in Brazil.Real News Network
My suspicion, and this is no more than a hypothesis that I want to throw out for discussion, is that this is a long-term political shift in the Southern cone, and certainly in Brazil itself. I think in the last 20 years we have seen a tremendous growth of the left leading to the election of four consecutive presidents by the Workers' Party. My suspicion is that this cycle of the left is now coming to an end.
PERIES: Now in reference to your article again, you say that there was, there has been no meaningful attempt to reform the constitution or the political system to challenge the ideological hegemony of neoliberalism. Whereas other countries, for example Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, one of the first things that they did upon taking power was actually to reform the constitution in the interest of the commons.
Now, Brazil didn't do this. And you pinpoint this in your article. And I was wondering if you could elaborate on that.
SAAD-FILHO: The PT administrations led by Lula and by Dilma Rousseff have been elected four times, consecutively, by much broader social and political alliances than those that elected the other left-wing administrations in Argentina or in Bolivia, or even Ecuador. And certainly Venezuela. The administrations led by Lula and Dilma had a strong base on the organized [inaud.] of course. But also, and primarily I would argue, on sections of capital that are involved with production for the domestic market and in some cases for export. These were the priority sectors for the government. They received the most government support, and in return they were the main sources of support, of financial support at least, and political support, for the PT.
But in this sense, the PT never had the authority, the latitude, the scope, to introduce broad-ranging political reforms. It never had the ambition either. Its ambition, since the early 1990s, has been to be elected to govern moderately. The PT is not, and it has not been for a very long time, a radical transformative party. It is a social democratic party that attempted to lead a reformist administration. That, in the context of Brazil, a country with some of the most severe inequalities in the world was reasonably successful and has achieved much that needs to be commended and recognized. But it was also limited.
The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe....Fracking, you see.
Gas frackers assembled at the world's "energy Davos" in Houston said exports could ultimately be much higher, potentially overtaking Russia as the world's biggest supplier of natural gas of all kinds.
A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.The down side. Fracking uses a huge amount of water, which is becoming short in supply in many regions. Then there is nimby.
John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. “We haven’t seen those stars align yet,” he said.The Telegraph
Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.
Certainly not in Sussex, Burgundy, or Bavaria.
President Obama wants the world to know that he takes it personally that the Democratic Party’s base opposes his latest effort to sell out the people of the world to the worst corporations through the infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. Obama blurted out at a press conference a number of conservative Republican memes as his sole basis for pushing TPP. He then launched personal attacks on Senator Elizabeth Warren and labor leaders (without naming them). Obama, who is famous for keeping his cool when criticized by the GOP, is thin-skinned when criticized by Democrats. Obama never raged at the Republicans’ “death panel” attacks on him, but he raged at Warren as supposedly making an equivalently openly dishonest attack on TPP’s secret drafting process.
One of the most reprehensible aspects of TPP is that it is (still) being drafted in secret – that it from us, the people – but with corporate lobbyists literally drafting their wish list. Obama made the critical mistake of personally attacking Warren, which is roughly equivalent to a small town mayor launching a personal attack on Jon Stewart. You know the results will be that Stewart will wipe the floor with the mayor....Serious smackdown. Bill gives Barack a "black eye."
Obama is the one who infamously told the bankers he was protecting them from the American people’s demands for the restoration of the rule of law so that the banksters would be held accountable for leading the fraud epidemics that drove the financial crisis and the Great Depression. Obama, being Obama, phrased that in the form of a vile slander of the American people, claiming that they wanted to use “pitchforks” rather than prosecutions.Ouch.
TPP is the opposite of “free trade.” In the jargon of its economic supporters, it is a moldering midden hiding the secretly drafted “rent seeking” provisions designed to help CEOs enrich themselves at the expense of the people of the world. Adam Smith, who supported freer trade, warned over two centuries ago that when CEOs meet secretly it promptly turns into a conspiracy against the public interest and warned that CEOs use their power to aid their own interests at the expense of shareholders and the public. Smith’s warned that it “ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
Similarly, the even more conservative Frédéric Bastiat famously warned:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
TPP is the legal system designed to authorize plunder with impunity....The roundhouse punch.
Obama did not simply allow lobbyists to largely draft TPP in secret – he classified their drafts – treating them as national security secrets. This would be downright funny if it were not so wicked....Because "national security."
TPP is a deal that Obama, the failed economists, and the CEOs knew could not survive the light. They were aware of the truth of Justice Brandeis’ famous observation that “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” TPP was drafted in secret to avoid that disinfectant. People who are doing straight up deals in the public interest would never allow lobbyists to draft the deal and would have welcomed criticisms of their drafts. The secret drafting of TPP largely by the CEOs’ lobbyists was designed to maximize the ability of CEOs to plunder...Read the whole screed. It's Bill in all his awesomeness.
The actual purpose of his column, however, was to smear any member of Congress (and he singled out Senator Elizabeth Warren as his example) who opposes TPP as not simply economically ignorant, “failing” a “no brainer” exam, but also engaged in “mendacity.” Given that mendacity is Mankiw’s primary area of expertise – and that President Obama soon joined Mankiw in claiming that Warren was lying in her criticisms of TPP – I thought someone should respond to MankiwSmackdown follows.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said the opposition is deliberately trying to provoke problems in the country by spreading rumors. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa denounced efforts by the opposition in his country to copy the strategy of the opposition in Venezuela and try to destabilize his government and the country. “Let's not fool ourselves, what has happened in Venezuela, in Argentina, what they tried to do to Evo (Morales)... is the permanent mobilization, (the strategy of) attrition, trying to create incidents,” said Correa, referring to violent street protests in Venezuela in 2014 and the recent attempt to link Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to the murder of a prosecutor. “But we are going to show, like in Venezuela, we are more, many more,” the president told local media Friday. In an effort to provoke problems in the country, supporters of the Ecuadorean opposition have recently tried to promote rumors that the government was planning to freeze bank accounts in the country. Correa quashed those rumors, saying, “The only problem banks have (right now) is that they're making too much money.” In a deeply unpopular move, the government of Ecuador froze bank accounts in 1999 in an effort to save private banks, causing chaos in Ecuador's financial system.
So, this is fun. Via Zero Hedge comes this report from a Swiss website, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF). It seems that a Swiss pension fund tried to evade negative rates on deposits by withdrawing a very large amount of physical cash with the intention of vaulting it. But the bank refused to allow it to withdraw the money in the form of physical cash....
This could have far-reaching consequences. The monetary policy of the last few years has been hampered by the supposed existence of the “zero lower bound”, at which (it is assumed) everyone would opt for physical cash instead of bank deposits and bonds. We already know that the lower bound (if it exists) is actually slightly below zero, since it is the point at which the cost of negative rates on deposits and bonds starts to exceed the cost of holding physical cash (vaulting charges, theft risk and so on). But if investors simply cannot obtain large amounts of physical cash because banks won’t issue it to them, the slightly-below-zero lower bound cannot bind. In which case negative rates could be very negative indeed and no-one would be able to do much about it. There would be no need to abolish or tax cash, as Citi’s Willem Buiter suggests. It could simply be ignored. Welcome to the negative-rate universe.Forbes
Always keep in mind that the real goal of the next Ukronazi offensive will not be to defeat Novorussia, but to pull Russia in and then be defeated by Russia. Such a defeat at the hands of the Russian military will probably provide NATO with a justification for its existence for the next 50 years and completely crush any European desires to rid itself from the EU’s current status of “voiceless US colony”. Should that happen, the much awaited “new Cold War” will be again in full swing, the US military-industrial complex in complete bliss and the US population suitably “re-terrified” by the next “global enemy”.
There are some indications that more and more European politicians are beginning to understand the risks, but they are too weak to meaningfully oppose the AngloZionist [Neocon] hegemony.
Having a war in Europe on a regular basis has always been the linchpin of British foreign policy and this “tradition” has been fully passed on to the US “successor empire” (which immensely benefited from both WWI and WWII). What the Americans want is plainly simple: a major war in Europe, but also one contained to Europe.The Vineyard of the Saker
Should policymakers – politicians and high-level state officials – be experts in their fields? Does professional competence effect public policies at all? And does it prove itself? These, undoubtedly, important issues to be discussed and researched. But in order to delve into them, first one needs to understand why and when some governments appoint people with professional economic background and headed by economists, while in orther cases the picture is different?
In “The Technical Competence of Economic Policy-Makers in Developed Democracies” Mark Hallerberg and Joachim Wehner tackled these questions. They analyzed educational and occupational background data for 1200 policy-makers (presidents/prime ministers, finance ministers, and central bankers) from EU and OECD democracies since 1973. The findings are not just interesting, they also could explain a lot about economic policymaking....Economic Sociology and Political Economy
If Britain’s top economists were in charge, what policies would they implement? Tim Harford sets the challenge
It’s often said that economists have too much influence on policy. A critic might say that politicians are dazzled by data-driven arguments and infatuated with the free-market-fetishising practitioners of the dismal science. As a card-carrying economist, I have never been convinced that politicians are the puppets of economists. Still, the idea seemed worth exploring, so I called up some of the country’s most respected economists and presented them with this scenario: after the election, the new prime minister promises to throw his weight behind any policy you choose. What would you suggest?
My selection of economists was mainstream — no Marxists or libertarians — but arbitrary. There is no pretence of a representative survey here. But there were common threads, some of which may surprise...The economists’ manifesto
The problem we have [in the US] is that, even if only 27% of us are crazy, only 8% of us are paying attention.Why we are so screwed.
The former economics professor, now finance minister, went into Friday’s meeting of eurozone colleagues in Riga repeating his demand that his counterparts admit that their policies towards Greece, Ireland, Portugal and the rest have failed. It is not a message that wins many friends. In Riga he faced a volley of criticism for his repeated expounding of Keynesian economics, with its emphasis on government spending. His opposite numbers find it childish and patronising. They understand Keynesianism, but don’t think it works. Varoufakis admits he is adverse to the compromises familiar to diplomats and politicians, and many think that rather than be responsible for a fudge he would prefer to go down in flames.The problem is a combination of ideology and innumeracy on the part of the neoliberals. That's a fatal combination. Fail.
It looks like this is more about him breaking the rules of a fraternity than about seriously coming to an agreement that most observers think is not that far away. Time for these clowns to grow up.Econospeak