Sunday, July 8, 2018

Week-end Wrap - July 7, 2018

Week-end Wrap - July 7, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus
Mexico Votes Overwhelmingly for �Change� by Electing L�pez Obrador President
by CEPR, July 2, 2018 [The Real News Network]
�This is a triumph against a great deal of fear-mongering and �fake news� that attempted to link L�pez Obrador [AMLO] to Russia and that warned that his policies would bring economic disaster to Mexico,� CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. �But people in Mexico appear to be fed up with an economy that�s failed them for 40 years now. Poverty is worse than a quarter century ago, real wages are lower than in 1980, inequality is worsening....
Sounds just like USA. And what policy do USA and Mexico have in common? NAFTA. A race to the bottom.

[Democracy Now!, via Mike Norman Economics]
This is actually AMLO�s [L�pez Obrador] re-election: He first won the presidency in 2006. But back then the thieving, scheming, blood-stained criminal gang that rules Mexico (and I�m being polite), declared AMLO�s dissolute opponent the winner. In 2006, rather than concede to vote thievery, lick his wounds and toddle off on a book tour, AMLO took his supporters into the streets, raised hell, blocked the capital�s central square for months, held a People�s Inaugural, and vowed to never, ever concede. 
And tonight, twelve years later, AMLO has won a crushing, too-big-to-steal victory in Mexico�s presidential election. 
And while the Good and Great told him he�d be finished if he kept protesting the stolen election, he made counting every vote the very first of his five-point campaign platform. He understands that even those with empty stomachs also hunger for democracy. And there�s a lesson here. Are you listening, Al Gore? Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Clinton? 
....So, far, 132 officials and candidates have been murdered in this election cycle. I spoke with voting rights activist (and movie star) Yareli Arizmendi in Mexico City, who told me that the old guard politicians were tied up with the Zetas and other drug gangs. In all fairness, I should note that many victims were not just AMLO allies but also PRI, Green Party and independents who challenged the control of their cities and states by narco-traficantes. 
Indeed, AMLO�s campaign gained fuel when, in 2014, the public learned of the disappearance of 43 students (and 3 investigating journalists). Evidence now indicates they were hacked to pieces and dissolved in acid by the Guerreros Unidos gang � on orders from a politician connected to the ruling party.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won Not Because Her Ideas Are Radical but Because They�re Good
by Jay Willis, June 29, 2018 [GQ], via Naked Capitalism].
�How could a young Democratic Socialist who spent about one-tenth as much money as her opponent have bested the man widely assumed to become the next Democratic leader in the House? The answer is as boring as it is important: Ocasio-Cortez�s radical socialist ideas aren�t radical anymore. They�re practical and popular, and she never apologized for any of them�. You can see this dynamic at work in Ocasio-Cortez�s position statements, which carefully pair grand ideas with numbers and facts� She isn�t just talking about student debt because it sounds cool, or because doing so is likely to get young people to show up and chant slogans long into the night. She does it because studies suggest that debt cancellation could boost this country�s real gross domestic product by somewhere between $860 billion and one trillion dollars over the next decade. In every case, she is making the argument.�

Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States
by Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University, Maggie R. Jones, Senior Economist and Income Research Lead, U.S. Census Bureau , and Sonya R. Porter, ssistant Center Chief of Research, Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications, U.S. Census Bureau.
[VoxEU, via Naked Capitalism, July 1, 2018]
Initiatives whose impacts cross neighbourhood and class lines and increase upward mobility specifically for black men hold the greatest promise of narrowing the black-white gap.There are many promising examples of such efforts: mentoring programmes for black boys, efforts to reduce racial bias among whites, interventions to reduce discrimination in criminal justice, and efforts to facilitate greater interaction across racial groups. 

�The Remaking of Class� (reviews three books)
by Jedidiah Purdy, The New Republic, via Naked Capitalism] 7-2-18].
�Griswold documents class without having to name it. Class is contaminated water, children with chronic pain and fatigue, and no money or extra time to address the fact that their grades are collapsing year by year. It is living downhill of the pond where fracking fluids are stored. It is being hurried through a signing session for a drilling lease on your small property, without a lawyer and without a chance to read documents written to confuse you. It is wondering whether you have time to meet with an environmental enforcement agent about your problems when the last one disappeared without communicating and every meeting means time away from your nursing job. It is lawyers and bureaucrats looking at their phones while they meet with you. It is a high-schooler adjusting his expectations from going to college to joining the Army to mowing lawns.� And: �I especially admire Eliza Griswold�s description of class�in which she doesn�t use the word�as a web of social and environmental vulnerabilities, ways the world is indifferent and dangerous to you. At the same time, I suggest we might also need to think about class from a different perspective: that of the bosses and owners. Their class consciousness is often arrestingly lucid, and in many ways they are the ones who make the world.� � Also, �class denialism.�

Union End Times: The Supreme Court�s Fatal Attack on Public-Sector Workers
by Anthony DiMaggio, June 29, 2018 [Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism]

Trump era ramps up tech worker revolt
by Ali Breland, June 30, 2018 [The Hill, via Naked Capitalism]

Technology companies are facing a new crisis as their employees press executives to rethink their work with the Trump administration and in many cases drop lucrative federal contracts.

What mainstream economics teaches are NOT laws of nature.
by David F. Ruccio, July 2, 2018 via Mike Norman Economics]
That way of teaching economics has the effect of naturalizing a capitalist economy. First, it reduces the universe of relevant economic thought to contemporary mainstream economics. No other economic theories, now or in the past, need apply. (Nor, for that matter, should knowledges about the economy beyond mainstream economics, from either disciplines or from outside the academy.) Second, the methods and models are taught in a �common sense� manner. As I discussed back in May, markets have a magical, quasi-mystical status within mainstream economics. They are the original starting-point of neoclassical theory�presented as being �just there,� with the requisite price and quantity axes and supply and demand schedules, as the origin and focus of economic analysis. As for macroeconomics, which I discussedthis past April, the premise and promise of both Keynesian and neoclassical macroeconomics is that, with the appropriate institutions and policies, capitalism can be characterized by and should be celebrated for achieving full employment and price stability. In both cases, at the micro and macro levels, the rules governing the economy are considered to be natural laws, which are correctly captured within the models of mainstream economics�and then, of course, meant to be respected and obeyed

An engineer examines economics, and cringes
The Economics Novice via Mike Norman Economics, 6-30-18]
But I had now picked up an interest in macroeconomics � and started seriously reading many of the economists' blogs and papers. But the more I read, the more disillusioned I became. Having no previous introduction to economics, I initially assumed economists were scientists (and that was reinforced by the math I was seeing). But as I read their blogs and papers and worked through many of their mathematical models, I came to realize they're not scientists at all � but philosophers. A model reflecting reality simply CANNOT be built from variables that cannot be precisely defined and accurately measured � so their models are essentially useless. They may give insights (for readers to test with their own logic), but any notion that they're offering "truths" is just simplistic.And to compound that weakness, most economists' papers share the academic weakness of trying more to disprove other economists' work than offer viable solutions to real-world problems. So much of what is found in today's economics textbooks and blogs is simply false � the real-world truth often being the exact opposite of what is written. Economics is not that complicated � little more than the disiplined logic every human is capable of.
I love this engineer's no-nonsense approach to laying out the heart of an issue:

A Job Guarantee Program
SUMMARY. All nations will eventually require a Job Guarantee (JG) or Universal Basic Income (UBI) program because of the irreversible loss of jobs resulting from automation and globalization.
Obviously, contemporary conservative and libertarian thinking is unfitted for addressing these issues, because they are based on the idea that most people deserve to be poor. For example:

[via Naked Capitalism, 7-5-18]

Even Larry Summers has concluded that a jobs guarantee is going to be required 
[via Mike Norman Economics]

Survival of the Richest: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind
by Douglas Rushkoff, July 5, 2018 [Medium]

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, �The Chickenshit Club,� and Spiraling Corporate Crime
by Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 6, 2018 [Wall Street on Parade]
Last year Simon & Schuster released The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at ProPublica, Jesse Eisinger. If you read nothing else this summer, you should read this book followed by Nomi Prins� Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World. The two books provide Americans with a comprehensive understanding of how the Justice Department, Federal regulators, a growing number of Federal judges and the central bank of the United States known as the Federal Reserve have been corrupted by corporate influence. To a large degree, they now serve their corporate masters, not the American people. 
The Chickenshit Club is a lively, fascinating and disturbing look behind the scenes at the U.S. Justice Department, its U.S. Attorney�s Office for the Southern District of New York and the judges and lawyers who presided over some of the major corporate scandals of the last 15 years.

The economy is hot, yet many U.S. workers feel left behind. A new report sheds some light
by Andrew van Dam, July 5, 2018 [Washington Post, via Los Angeles Times and Naked Capitalism]
In particular, the report shows the United States� unemployed and at-risk workers are getting very little support from the government, and their employed peers are set back by a particularly weak collective-bargaining system.

Boeing, Embraer Forge $4.75 Billion Commercial Jet Venture
[Industry Week, via Naked Capitalism]. 
�Under a preliminary deal, Boeing will own 80% of a partnership controlling Embraer�s commercial airplane and services business..."
Get a little, lose a lot:
U.S. trade with China saved each American household up to 850 U.S. dollars on average annually [Xinhua, via Naked Capitalism 7-6-18]
Yeah, but U.S. household income would have been almost double what it is now if working class incomes at continued growing at the same rate they did in the 1950s and 1960s.

�Why Soybeans Are at the Heart of the U.S.-China Trade War� 
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 7-6-18]
China is the world�s largest soybean consumer and remains heavily reliant on imports to satisfy demand. That�s why the country�s buying habits have an outsize in?uence on global prices. By imposing the tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, China is targeting one of the few sectors of the American economy that runs a trade surplus at a time when net farm income is poised to fall to a 12�year low. Soybeans are one of the largest U.S. goods exported to China�trailing just civilian aircraft and motor vehicles by value this year.

Sweden on track to meet 2030 renewable target by the end of 2018
By Sophie Chapman, July 5, 2018 [EnergyDigital, via American Wind Energy Association]
Sweden set the target to add an additional 18TWh of renewable energy output by 2030. According to the Swedish lobby group, Swedish Wind Energy Association, the nation will have installed 3,681 wind turbines. The total turbines, combined with investments to be made in the second half of the year, will likely see the country generate enough capacity to meet its target more than a decade early.
Denmark approves new 55% renewables by 2030 goal
[American Wind Energy Association] The Danish government on Friday set a new goal to source 55% of its total electricity from renewables by 2030. The plans also calls for the construction of three offshore wind farms with a combined capacity by 2,400 megawatts by 2030. Reuters (6/29) 

How to Join Dissimilar Metals with Electromagnetic Welding
[Machine Design]

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