Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Are they serious???

Unfortunately yes...

Professor Krugman highlights something we should probably start getting into:
Mark Thoma and Brad DeLong are right: this is a crime by the Washington Post against its readers. The understanding that Say’s Law doesn’t work in the short run — that a fall in consumption doesn’t automatically translate into a rise in investment, but can lead to a fall in output and employment instead — is the central insight of Keynes’s General Theory. (My introduction to the new edition is here.) And we’re having a serious debate about economic policy that hinges on that insight.

The propaganda in question can be found here.

Beyond the pathetic attempts to rehabilitate Says Law, this article is a part of a larger, coordinated effort to stave off the public making the obvious connection between efforts to deregulate financial markets and disable regulatory agencies by conservatives in the last 28 years and the financial mess we are in. An effort, as we can see, that has been largely successful.

David Brooks offers his contribution to this effort here:
There is roughly a 100 percent chance that we’re going to spend much of this year talking about the subprime mortgage crisis, the financial markets and the worsening economy. The only question is which narrative is going to prevail, the Greed Narrative or the Ecology Narrative.The Greed Narrative goes something like this: The financial markets are dominated by absurdly overpaid zillionaires. They invent complex financial instruments, like globally securitized subprime mortgages that few really understand. They dump these things onto the unsuspecting, sending destabilizing waves of money sloshing around the globe. Economies melt down. Regular people lose jobs and savings. Meanwhile, the financial insiders still get their obscene bonuses, rain or shine.The morality of the Greed Narrative is straightforward. A small number of predators destabilize the economy and reap big bonuses. The financial system is fundamentally broken. Government should step in and control the malefactors of great wealth.The Ecology Narrative is different. It starts with the premise that investors and borrowers cooperate and compete in a complex ecosystem. Everyone seeks wealth while minimizing risk. As Jim Manzi, a software entrepreneur who specializes in applied artificial intelligence, has noted, the chief tension in this ecosystem is between innovation and uncertainty. We could live in a safer world, but we’d have to forswear creativity.

Did you catch the logical fallacy? Are those REALLY our only options Mr. Brooks? Nice touch using the Software Engineer, that symbol of the "New Economy". So requiring actors in the financial markets to obey the law and not lie, cheat, and steal is "foreswearing creativity"? This is great news for the "entrepeneurs" in the heroion and cocaine distribution industries. They aren't criminals, they are creative elements increasing the wealth in a market free from the stifling influence of goverment regulation.

See what a fun game this is? We just lard up our sentences with words like "creativity", "innovation", "liberty", and then lob a phonecall to a libertarian nutwad in Silicon Valley or some other bastion of the free market,(We ALL KNOW of course that no Federal Dollars were involved in the founding of the industries in Silicon valley. NO sir.) Then WHAMMO! Capitalism is saved from the unemployed savages who just got their house foreclosed on.

This isn't just about pimping for the usual suspects in the GOP to save them some face. This is about defending an extreme ideology that brooks no interference from anyone in the looting and exploitation of American citizens. The loans and financial instruments causing the ruckus on the Street were for the most part beyond the scope of existing regulation, if not also the understanding of regulators and market players alike. The Federal Reserve had the authority to issue regulations and enforce them on the subprime market, but declined to do so. I suppose reasons for that may vary, but in the opinion of this Mojowire editor, it probably is due to the fact the previous Fed Chairman was barely disguised Randite who eagerly pushed this ideology of unrestrained markets on us while goosing the economy for a GOP President.

The ultimate fallacy here is that we are in some new finacial Utopia where the old problems identified by Keynes and addressed by the New Deal's financial reforms were magically wished away. If you allow finnacial markets to self regulate, you will end up with a morass of cheating and greed followed by a meltdown. And amusingly enough, while our Conservative friends despise the regulatory efforts of the old regime, the guarantor part of those reforms they still get a Hardon for. So you can bet they will be right behind efforts to bail out these companies, all the while smugly lecturing you and I about how those lowlifes don't deserve extended unemployment benefits and expanded food stamps. And they will get space in our newspapers and airtime on television to pimp this magical mystery tour to their hearts content.

I'm not arguing for a return of the New Deal. The economy is vastly different from those days. What I am arguing here is that the basic premise, that banking and finacial markets require some measure of regulation and enforcement by government to ensure a measure of crediblity and transparency. The level of that is negotiable, and it was in that spirit deregulation was supposed to occur. (Or maybe not) What the Brooks of the world want is the repudiation of that idea, and to resurrect the carcass of late 19th and early 20 century economics that we left behind for very good reasons. And they cannot allow that ideology to take the fall for this trainwreck unfolding before our eyes. So we get columns about Says Law and the ecology narrative.

I eagerly await the conservative argument that this is the fault of gay muslim illegal immigrants who all attended the Madrassas that infamous Muslim Barak Obama went to. Hillary Clinton probably passed out condoms at that school while Bill sold them coke and banged the school nurse. You know its coming to a viral email near you....

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Am Conan The Parliamentarian

You could slog through Glenzilla's lecture on the outcome of the FISA vote.

Alternatively, you could let Uncle S9 'splain it for you.

Basically, the GOP just voted to let the latest round of authoritarian surveillance law expire rather than let the Democrats take credit for giving the President exactly what he asked from them. Why? Because if they can't have the completely jackbooted fascist law they all really want, then they'd rather have the police completely unable to do any surveillance at all, and to blame the Democrats for the intelligence failure when the next drunkencracker plot to destroy the Dumbarton bridge with rusty lumber saws and cheap Chinese M-80 firecrackers is exposed by an anonymous tipster.

Where Would Buckaroo Banzai Invest?

Here at The MojoWire, I've been railing for some time about the game of economic policy chicken playing out between the mandarins at the People's Bank of China and the barbarians at the fiscal controls in the United States of America. It's starting to get really interesting now. At some point, perhaps very soon now, we will find out just how much longer the Chinese can continue to keep the Yuan pegged to the U.S. dollar, and what they will do instead if they decide the time is up.

Which leads me to ask. What would Buckaroo do? Hmmm? What would he do?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Capitalism, American Style...

There's nothing wrong with capitalism
There's nothing wrong with free enterprise
Don't try to make me feel guilty
I'm so tired of hearing you whine

—"capitalism", by Oingo Boingo

Don't get me wrong. I'm no free-market fundamentalist glibertarian, but I gotta tell you... I find it amusing as all hell that we can have serious discussions about a single-payer bond issuer insurance program, and that's not cause for alarm that the Communists are taking over America, but Ye Gods Help Us if we have to get into another conversation about universal health care coverage.
Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- New York State's insurance regulators met today with U.S. banks to discuss raising new capital for bond insurers, said a department spokesman.

Talks in New York with the unnamed banks are part of Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo's effort to stabilize the bond guarantors and bolster the market's financial condition, said agency spokesman Andrew Mais in an interview.
Excuse me, sir. I speak commie-pinko traitorspeak. I can translate for you. To "stabilize the bond guarantors and bolster the market's financial condition" is basically another way of saying "from each according to their ability and to each according to his needs."

Pass the borscht, comrade.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Liberal Fascism

John Emerson at Seeing The Forest explains how Jonah Goldberg seems to have leveled up from "wanker, garden variety" to "twit, pompous and idiotic" after the publication of his crank manifesto, Liberal Fascism: From Zyklon-B To Organic Trans-Fat Free Bran Cookies. This comes on the heels of David Neiwert having stepped up to be one of the few lonely voices to compose a serious review of Jonah's book, which most of the rest of us have wisely concluded we need not read to recognize that it's a setback, rather than a contribution, to the record of American arts and letters.

Personally, I think the Daniel Davies "shorter" concept needs to be deployed if you want to get to the nuts and bolts of Jonah's so-called "argument". Here's the nut quote from the book that explains what he's trying to say:
The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.
That's right, kids. If you want to know what American fascism will be like when it goes public, then imagine a picture of a smiling day-care work giving a trans-fat free bran cookie to a cranky toddler... forever! (I lifted that crack from somebody somewhere, but I can't find the attribution for it. I'm pretty sure it was one of the comedy geniuses at Teh Sadly.)

Watching serious people respond to Jonah Goldberg is one of the more emotionally painful aspects of being an American these days. Sadly, it has to be done— and that, by itself, is a stunning admission of how terribly America has been brought low by its movement conservatarians. It isn't enough to mock and deride the "Doughy Pantload" (as Jonah Goldberg came to be called after his dust-up withJuan Cole a couple years ago), no— that won't SHUT HIM UP. The only people with the power to do that are the people continuing to pay his salary and take gambles on selling his books to the various rotisserie clubs that feast on such crap. And they won't stop until the strategy they're using to maintain their degenerate program for sustaining themselves can be effectively countered.

That means getting up and calling out the Nazi and Klan apologists like Jonah Goldberg and his myriad enablers throughout the mainstream conservative movement for what they are: proto-fascists, waiting for the day when they've successfully unraveled enough threads from the fabric of American society that a few roving bands of poorly-trained and badly-equipped street thugs can rip what's left of it apart with their bare hands. Don't believe me? Go read this essay from 1941 by Dorothy Thompson.
It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times–in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.
I think you won't have any trouble recognizing the Jonah Goldberg character in the dinner party she goes on to describe. It's also worth reading because gently hands out timely and useful clues for how to recognize who will be on our side of the ramparts when the jackboots and the flags come out.

I'm serious. We can't let these chickenshit pinheads intimidate us from using the F-word anymore. Try it out with someone you know today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A golden oldie

So John McCain is getting his own customized version of the Switfboat treatment in South Carolina. The a**holes who ran that scam are apparently saying they have nothing to do with the new McCain version. At first, I was sceptical, I assumed it was one of Karl Rove's acolytes or minions freelancing on behalf of the former White House Orc Chieftan. But Paul Kiel at TPM has traced it to another group:
In December 1992, as the Senate hearings were winding down, Sampley was making the rounds in the halls of Congress, handing out copies of his latest periodical, which featured McCain and the Queen of Diamonds on the cover with the headline: "Sen. John McCain: 'The Manchurian Candidate.'"
The story condemned McCain for his lack of support on the live POW/MIA issue, and cited the U.S. News article and others as evidence that McCain had collaborated with the enemy and was protecting the Vietnamese for fear of being exposed.

Well, isn't this an interesting wrinkle. I remember reading a piece, I think in the O.C. weekly, about the MIA issue and the commission McCain and, no surprise, John Kerry led in Congress to investigate the POW/MIA issue. Their conclusion was that no credible evidence existed to support the claim. The article went to to argue that the issue was driven mostly by the efforts of the Nixon Administration to claim that servicemen were missing and unaccounted for, not because they thought they were being held still, but to avoid having to live up to some of the terms of the treaty with the NV. It was taken up people like our favorite O.C. congressman Bob Dornan as a way to raise money nationally and as a club against their political enemies. I'll try to dig up the article for you.

Maybe John should have been a bit more urgent about defending John Kerry in 04.

Monday, January 14, 2008

When You Owe The Bank A Trillion Dollars And You're Broke...

...everybody has a problem.

Others have posted about this, e.g. Atrios, Calculated Risk, etc. You really ought to give this concept some of your time. It's all full of deja vu for regular MojoWire readers. The Murdoch Street Journal writes today:
The latest example: China's government has apparently squashed a multibillion-dollar investment in Citigroup Inc. by state-owned China Development Bank. The move suggests there is discord in Beijing over how best to deploy China's money pile. A few previous China investments like these have fared poorly so far financially.

The newfound assertiveness of these pools of government money -- known as sovereign-wealth funds -- is reinvigorating the debate over possible restrictions on the West, since its share of the world economy is shrinking, and with it, Western control over the ground rules of globalization.
Read that again.

The largest financial services company in America is so far in the freaking hole that it's A) slashing its dividend in half, B) laying off employees by the tens of thousands, C) probably writing down another $25B this quarter, and D) so strapped for capital that it's begging for bailouts from China and Abu Dhabi.

And the Chinese just said, "No thanks. We're Chinese."

Let's uncork the old soul gland for a moment, shall we? What might the American economy look like, particularly for ordinary working people, after our biggest banks and financial services companies are up to their eyeballs in debt to the sovereign wealth funds of foreign governments like China and— oh hell, let's just throw a dart at the map— Kuwait? What happens when the boards of directors of those institutions need to make decisions about how to handle the next major crisis these banks get themselves wrapped around and the 800 kg gorilla in the cotton suit at the end of the table says, "I don't care about your petty problems. I want to be made whole now please, or I will liquidate."

If you're thinking it will be your petty problems that get pushed to the bottom of the list, you're just starting to wake up. No, it will be America's economic royalists who will get thrown under the bus when the next crisis erupts. If that doesn't sound like a recipe for fun and exciting times, then you need to read more history.

Just saying.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Our Blessed Holy Virgin...

Ann Coulter, it seems, is on track to remain a virgin until she reaches menopause. I just thought that news might help you sort things out.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hate to Say He Told Us So...

... but once again, the terrible oracle of Dr. Strychnine has once again foretold doom with frightening accuracy, as the RIAA fires up the Nixon Skull Bong and decides that recording your CDs that you bought from the record store on to your own computer for your own personal use is a a copyright violation.

Now if only they could figure out a way to make the CDs temporary, so that after one or two listens it crashes the data and you have to buy a new one.

This is clearly an American business model. We are teh_sux...

mojo sends

2008 -- End of an Error

Okay wireheads... it's like this.

Time to gear up for election year. Yeah, I know, we've been in "election year" for about 18 months, but now is the time to lace 'em up and get after it.

Now to kick this off right, there will be a return to Mojowire this Sunday afternoon on KUCI, 88.9 FM or webcasting to all corners of the circular globe at www.kuci.com. We will have more details on an exact time so that you may synchronize your decoder pins, and stuff...

Are you with me lads? Viva La Resistance!

mojo sends