News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 20, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Fijivillage :: Fiji’s Home on the World Wide Web

2) Koch Agrees With Sanders: System Rigged to Help the Rich

3) Reality Check or Unicorn Hunt: Economists Clash Over Sanders’s Plans | California Magazine

4) Varieties of Voodoo – The New York Times

5) Why are big-shot liberal economists hippie-punching Bernie Sanders?

6) Young girl helps blind grandmother escape house fire – WTOP

  1.    Fijivillage :: Fiji’s Home on the World Wide Web

    Tropical Cyclone Winston which has been termed a Monster Cyclone has left a massive trail of destruction.

    Many houses have been badly damaged in Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba, Lautoka, Savusavu, Lau, Taveuni and Nausori.

    A number of houses had their roofs blown away.

    We also received reports of some families stuck in their homes in these areas late last night.

    Some were trapped under collapsed roofs, ceilings and walls.

    We also contacted DISMAC and Police and they carried out rescue operations in a number of areas.

    Some areas have been inaccessible due to fallen trees, debris and fallen power lines and electric poles.

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  2.    Koch Agrees With Sanders: System Rigged to Help the Rich

    Charles Koch says he and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders don’t see eye to eye on much, but in a Saturday opinion piece, the billionaire industrialist said he agrees with the Vermont senator that the nation’s political and economic system is rigged to help the “privileged few at the expense of everyone else.”

    Koch’s “solution” is even greater deregulation, but that would only make matters worse. After all, anti-child-labor laws are a form of regulation, as the government protecting children is “interfering” in the so-called free-enterprise system. One wonders just how far backwards with deregulation Charles Koch would go.

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  3.    Reality Check or Unicorn Hunt: Economists Clash Over Sanders’s Plans | California Magazine

    Thank you, Glen Martin.

    James K. Galbraith comes to Bernie Sanders’ economic-plan rescue:

    It is not fair or honest to claim that Professor Friedman’s methods are extreme. On the contrary, with respect to forecasting method, they are largely mainstream. Nor is it fair or honest to imply that you have given Professor Friedman’s paper a rigorous review. You have not. What you have done, is to light a fire under Paul Krugman, who is now using his high perch to airily dismiss the Friedman paper as “nonsense.” Paul is an immensely powerful figure, and many people rely on him for careful assessments. It seems clear that he has made no such assessment in this case. Instead, Paul relies on you to impugn an economist with far less reach, whose work is far more careful, in point of fact, than your casual dismissal of it. He and you also imply that Professor Friedman did his work for an unprofessional motive. But let me point out, in case you missed it, that Professor Friedman is a political supporter of Secretary Clinton. His motives are, on the face of it, not political. For the record, in case you’re curious, I’m not tied to Professor Friedman in any way. But the powerful—such as Paul and yourselves—should be careful where you step.

    Robert Reich also correctly pointed out a number of ways Bernie Sanders’ plan would save vast sums.

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  4.    Varieties of Voodoo – The New York Times

    Look, I hear Paul Krugman but disagree and do so based upon sound reasoning.

    Paul Krugman does not understand the truly radical nature of Bernie Sanders’ economic vision.

    Paul, to my knowledge, routinely ignores “money financed” fiscal stimulus. Bernie Sanders is pushing huge infrastructure spending, which would hugely boost GDP and employment. He hasn’t said he’d pay for it via debt-free issuances of currency that I know of, but I’m confident he’s heard of doing so. If he were to dismiss it, I’d be extremely surprised.

    As readers of this blog know, many “top-flight” economists have been seriously discussing “People’s QE,” which would be financing governmental spending without borrowing.

    That would mean no increased national debt and no interest payments on the money spent. That would be a huge deal and something the banking class simply wouldn’t want Paul writing about in the New York Times.

    It wouldn’t be voodoo either. Abe Lincoln paid for the Civil War via debt-free currency rather than borrowing the money to fight. If memory serves, the bankers at the time wanted 25 to 32% interest.

    Now, put Paul Krugman on the spot as to why he doesn’t back “sovereign money” to pay for repairing the nation’s infrastructure and to put millions more to work doing it?

    If he claims we need an independent Fed to keep such spending in check to avoid inflation, ask him why we couldn’t have that done with debt-free money?

    If he claims that we must have interest as a tool to control the economy, tell him to go back to the drawing board.

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  5.    Why are big-shot liberal economists hippie-punching Bernie Sanders?

    One smart article by Ryan Cooper:

    Let’s do what the Very Serious Wonks did not, and actually look closely at the paper. Friedman’s analysis is certainly far outside the mainstream, and from my informed amateur perspective, the amounts by which he predicts Sanders’ program will exceed the CBO baseline are mighty implausible. But the basic shape of his analysis — a sharp initial growth spike driven by massive fiscal stimulus, falling rapidly to a lower but still-strong rate — is not at all ridiculous.

    That might be due to the fact that Friedman’s paper is based on an ordinary workhorse macroeconomic model, which he describes in some detail in the appendices to his paper. There are good reasons to believe there is quite a lot of room for fiscal stimulus to work — full economic recovery to the level of 2007 is still not very close. The working-age employment rate was last measured at 77.7 percent, or about 2.6 points below the peak of 2007 — itself substantially below the peak of the ’90s boom at 81.8 percent.

    Furthermore, even that all-time peak is not very high by international standards. Even a return to that number wouldn’t put America in the top 10 of the OECD today. Among those countries beating us are the social democracies of Northern Europe that Sanders constantly points to as quality examples. How do they do it? A generous welfare state, particularly for children and mothers — our female employment rate is atrocious — and tons of worker training and job placement, for a start.

    … a lack of political acumen can be valuable. People who don’t automatically calibrate their work to fit the current intellectual fashion often have a vital role to play in the economic discourse. Because what “sounds reasonable” changes over time, and has an inconsistent at best relationship with economic reality. Austan Goolsbee, who was in early 2007 writing this utterly brain-dead article about how subprime mortgages would help minorities and the poor (days later one of the biggest subprime lenders would file for bankruptcy) ought to know this better than most.

    So should Christina Romer, who was bullied by Larry Summers into low-balling her estimate of how large the Obama stimulus should be, which probably played some role in making the Recovery Act too small and hence creating this milquetoast recovery at the heart of why we’re having this discussion in the first place.

    Ryan Cooper is, nevertheless, too pessimistic about Bernie’s plan/vision.

    Getting Bernie’s plan through Congress is another matter; but, if we never elect a President who will take his visions to the American people and call upon them to demand Congress do it, we’ll never arrive.

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  6.    Young girl helps blind grandmother escape house fire – WTOP

    Great kid!

    Cloe learned how to safely escape a house fire from a trip her class took to the Kenner Fire Department, in October 2015. Her pre-k teacher Brittany Gaillot at Our Lady of Perpetual Help described to ABC News Friday how Cloe “loved” the trip and was “a great listener.”

    “I’m very proud she put what she learned into action,” Gaillot added.

    The fire department chief called Cloe’s response “amazing.”

    “It’s quite surprising that this little girl remembered what she learned in October,” Hellmers said, noting that he’s “used to hearing stories of a child hiding under a bed or a closet. It’s amazing the things this little girl did.”

    It really is. I’m thoroughly impressed.

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