Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Do We Really Need a Billionaire Class? [Title Doesn’t Do Justice to the Scope of the Inreview] | Inequality org
Democratized public enterprises, that’s exactly what we need, as I’ve been saying here a great deal.
You’ll note that there is a huge difference between this democratic ownership and the state-capitalist ownership under the Bolshevik dictators of the Soviet Union.
Libertarian capitalists have worked for decade after decade in the US to get Americans to blindly equate all things “socialism” with nightmarish Stalinist purges and such.
However, as pointed out in the interview:
Too Much: We typically think small in the United States when we think about alternate economic structures like worker co-ops. But some alternate institutions elsewhere in the world have grown quite large and are making an appreciable egalitarian statement. The Mondragon worker co-op network in Spain, for instance, has 75,000 workers and six-to-one ratios between top management and worker pay. Could such a robust cooperative network come to be in the United States?
Alperovitz: I think we may actually have greater possibilities in the United States than in the Basque area of Spain — that’s the geographic base for Mondragon — and in the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy, another global co-op center. Mondragon has an unusual political history. And so does Emilia-Romagna. Both had intense and violent anti-fascist struggles. Out of these struggles grew a strong hothouse environment for organizers, who then went on to build alternate institutional developments. We don’t have that context in the United States, so I think we’re not going to get a Mondragon. But we have a localism of a different sort. We have a very decentralized system that offers our communities unusual possibilities.
Mondragon is socialism. It is not Bolshevistic dictatorship. It is democratized, worker-owned enterprise.
All of the worker/owners are not capitalists, and that’s because of the democratic nature of the entire enterprise. That’s what makes all the difference.
So, there’s a blurry line between “state-owned” and “worker-owned”, but democracy clears up the issues.
Democratic socialism is the way to go. The more transparent and direct the democracy, the better. Transparency means knowledge. That’s what the people require in order to make the best choices. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. With full transparency, the knowledge stops being little and is much less dangerous.
⇧ FRB: Speech–The Outlook, Uncertainty, and Monetary Policy–March 29, 2016
In my remarks today, I will explain why the Committee anticipates that only gradual increases in the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted in coming years, emphasizing that this guidance should be understood as a forecast for the trajectory of policy rates that the Committee anticipates will prove to be appropriate to achieve its objectives, conditional on the outlook for real economic activity and inflation. Importantly, this forecast is not a plan set in stone that will be carried out regardless of economic developments. Instead, monetary policy will, as always, respond to the economy’s twists and turns so as to promote, as best as we can in an uncertain economic environment, the employment and inflation goals assigned to us by the Congress.
It’s good that she said that up front. The lack of such talk lately was becoming a problem.
Also she didn’t state a percentage rate for targeting unemployment. That’s good because the Fed shouldn’t focus negatively on low unemployment but only on the rate and amount of the movement of price inflation.
Yellen also suggested that the real interest rate is perhaps more of a new normal, though she left room for it to return to the earlier trend line.
In addition, she made clear that Stanley Fischer and she are on the same page about the oil industry and it’s greater negative impact on the US economy than they had been projecting. My readers will recall that I reserved much more judgment on that issue and even leaned toward what actually happened. Fracking has been a big deal (including also as a big polluter and earthquake causer), and lower gas prices just don’t zoom the economy the way they used to.
⇧ Is HUD housing affordable? New FAU study says not when you factor in costs to commute | EurekAlert! Science News
“HUD does not factor transportation costs into how they measure affordability. Many low-income people on Section 8 are forced to live in inaccessible locations where they can find landlords willing to accept the vouchers, which are often far from their jobs or quality transit service to reach their jobs,” said John Renne, Ph.D., study co-author and director and associate professor in the Center for Urban & Environmental Solutions in the School of Urban and Regional Planning within the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU.
… the more compact metropolitan areas were found to have the highest number of affordable rental assistance properties.
San Francisco has the highest percentage of affordable properties, followed by Denver; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; and New York.
… HUD can provide more affordable units to low-income families by directing subsidies to better or more compact, walkable, and transit-served locations.”
… properties in sprawling or inaccessible areas need to include a transportation allowance in addition to the existing utility allowance, or that the housing subsidy would need to be higher in inaccessible areas to account for the added transportation costs. Similarly, analysis from the study could be used to promote small area fair market rent (FMRs) so that assisted households could access housing in more central locations.
While the study did not include data from Miami, Renne notes, “The findings from this study are applicable to South Florida, which is suffering from rapidly increasing rental prices and poor transit connectivity.”
The time spent commuting can be a real stressor too. Generally, it’s better to live closer to the job. Schooling, pollution, medical facilities, crime, etc., all factor in.
⇧ Minot Acquiring Flood Protection Properties
… Cindy Hemphill … city has bought out 99 properties and is attempting to buy another 65. Some homeowners don’t want to sell and the city might have to go through eminent domain.
Sometimes, eminent domain seems abused for the sake of rich developers. Projects like this one though are a different matter.
⇧ Money and inflation: US 2008 vs German 1920s | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
What are the reasons for this dramatic difference in inflation outcomes? The most important economic reason is that, in post Lehman’s US, expansion of the base was hardly translated into higher demands for goods and services, while in Germany during the twenties practically all the expansion in high-powered money was used from the start by Government to finance the state budget. In the US since September 2008 about three quarters of the huge monetary base expansion took the form of an increase in bank reserves at the Fed without any appreciable impact on credit growth. As a consequence, higher order monetary stocks in the public’s portfolio and (relatedly) the transmission to the demand for goods and services was much weaker than suggested at first blush by the figures on base expansion. The upshot is that the Fed’s base expansion did not translate into demand for goods and services whereas the German monetary expansion was motivated from the start by a strong hunger on the part of government for seigniorage revenues.
Lurking behind this are important differences in monetary institutions. The Fed is largely independent from political authorities and committed to a low rate of inflation. By contrast, the Reichsbank (the German central bank during the hyperinflation) was totally under the control of German political authorities. For political reasons — related to the structure of war reparations imposed on Germany, in conjunction with a post-war damaged tax collection apparatus — German political authorities had a major incentive to heavily rely on the printing press. This difference is critical for the anchoring of inflationary expectations. As highlighted by the New-Keynesian literature, the behaviour of those expectations has a first order effect on price adjustments in the economy, and therefore on the rate of inflation.
The Fed said it wanted higher inflation, but what it wanted first was to underpin the insolvent U S banking cartel/monopoly.
In addition, when inflationary expectations go up, the speed of price adjustment by firms in the economy goes up as well after a while. This mechanism further reinforces the acceleration in the rate of inflation.9 This process reached its full impact on inflation in Germany during the second half of the hyperinflation. During the German hyperinflation central bank actions reinforced a trend of increase in the velocity of circulation of money (Cagan 1956). By contrast, in the US since Lehman’s Collapse, the low interest policy of the Fed reduced the velocity of circulation. As previously explained those differences are traceable to differences in the origins of the original shocks along with different institutional setups.
… the US Government is prohibited from relying on seigniorage to finance deficits.
Is it? I’ve never seen that before, anywhere; and I don’t believe it. Any such law would be unconstitutional by running smack into Article 1, Section 8.
… the law that prohibits government from directly borrowing from the Fed ….
Is that what he means? If so, he’s right about that but wrong to interpret it as barring the US Government from coining money to finance its deficits, even to completely pay off the national debt, which it should do.
Otherwise, the article is pretty good, though we already knew about the fact that the Fed funded investment-banks-cum-commercial-banks in their hot-money investments around the globe rather than in lending here at home to main street.
⇧ New Mexico Weather Creating Dangerous Wildfires Conditions
This El Nino isn’t quite like the last in terms of rain patterns.
Authorities are warning that weather conditions across much of New Mexico are creating conditions ripe for dangerous wildfires.
⇧ Officials Raise the Number of Homes Destroyed in Kansas Wildfire
… nine Barber County homes were destroyed in the fire, which started in Oklahoma last week before moving north into Kansas. No one has been seriously injured.
⇧ FRB: Speech with Slideshow–Fischer, Reflections on Macroeconomics Then and Now
Vice Chair Stanley Fischer:
• The monetary-fiscal policy mix: There was once a great deal of work on the optimal monetary-fiscal policy mix. The topic was interesting and the analysis persuasive. Nonetheless the subject seems to be disappearing from the public dialogue; perhaps in ascendance is the notion that–except in extremis, as in 2009–activist fiscal policy should not be used at all. Certainly, it is easier for a central bank to change its policies than for a Treasury or Finance Ministry to do so, but it remains a pity that the fiscal lever seems to have been disabled.
• The economy and the price of oil: For some time, at least since the United States became an oil importer, it has been believed that a low price of oil is good for the economy. So when the price of oil began its descent below $100 a barrel, we kept looking for an oil-price-cut dividend. But that dividend has been hard to discern in the macroeconomic data. Part of the reason is that as a result of the rapid expansion of the production of oil from shale, total U.S. oil production had risen rapidly, and so a larger part of the economy was adversely affected by the decline in the price of oil. Another part is that investment in the equipment and structures needed for shale oil production had become an important component of aggregate U.S. investment, and that component began a rapid decline. For these reasons, although the United States has remained an oil importer, the decrease in the world price of oil had a mixed effect on U.S. gross domestic product. There is reason to believe that when the price of oil stabilizes, and U.S. shale oil production reaches its new equilibrium, the overall effect of the decline in the price of oil will be seen to have had a positive effect on aggregate demand in the United States, since lower energy prices are providing a noticeable boost to the real incomes of households.
It’s long but manageable and an opportunity to read more deeply into Stanley Fischer’s thinking, which seems to have evolved even recently (a good sign).
⇧ China’s Large Banks Wary on Li Keqiang’s Plan for Bad Loans – Bloomberg
A tragic comedy:
China’s proposal to deal with a potential bad-loan crisis by having banks convert their soured debt into equity is meeting with unexpected resistance from some of the biggest potential beneficiaries of the plan — the country’s large banks.
This is what happens when you have anti-democratic Communists trying to play state capitalism.
They do not know what they are doing.
⇧ It’s Time to Invest in Schools | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The country is $46 billion a year behind what it should spend on building and repairing K-12 schools to provide healthy and safe modern facilities, a new report from the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities, and the U.S. Green Building Council finds. This neglect hurts students’ health and school performance — and by extension, weakens the country’s long-term prosperity, as we noted in our recent paper on the nation’s declining infrastructure investments.
Right on! It’s a perfect project for funding via United States Notes rather than Federal Reserve Notes.
Part of the project could be public high-skills training (on-the-job, public jobs, public employment, since the capitalist sector won’t do it and couldn’t even if it were to try, which it won’t, ever).
⇧ The U.S. Is in for Much Greater Civil Unrest Ahead | Economy and Markets
I agree China is quite problematic, but I don’t see it concerning the US the same way Harry does.
What I see for America is working out of the situation the same way the US instituted the New Deal, which should never, never, never have been rolled back at all!
I see the US doing a new New Deal, a New Deal 2.0 as some call it, but only more so.
I see the US population finally becoming wise to money creation and what really causes problem inflation. It isn’t printing too much money but creating money that isn’t exactly pegged to real development and growth and no more.
It can, and must, be done.
⇧ USGS Report: North Texas Earthquake Risk ‘Elevated’
…worst-case scenario…magnitude-5.6 quake…Dallas….
Levees and dams could collapse. About 80,000 buildings…damaged, causing $9.5 billion in “direct economic losses.”
⇧ 5 Things to Show Your Tenants About Their New Home (to Save You From Costly Repairs!)
So this is a good start.
On the water shutoff, they should be shown the water cutoffs under sinks, for toilets, and even the hot water heater, though they shouldn’t go near it if it’s electrical and they’d be standing in water. The breaker to it should be switched off first, but they should always be told to exercise safety first. Call the plumber.
Alarms and fire extinquishers should be provided, inspected, charged, and the instructions gone over.
Fireplaces should also be discussed. If they are real, then the dampers should be explained. Plus routine cleaning should be done. Only seasoned, dry wood should be used too with the protective screen in place and closed.
All of that is just for starters. The place could have a pool, garage-door openers, and on and on.
⇧ Saudi Economy Shows More Signs of Strain as Spending Drops – Bloomberg
Saudi officials have repeatedly said that the nation can weather the slump in oil prices.
For how long? Can they outlast everyone else who will otherwise compete with them once prices are up enough again? No.
⇧ Can anything rescue Japan from the abyss?
They shouldn’t have raised sales taxes. They shouldn’t have planned corporate tax cuts for entities sitting on cash rather than raising wages. They should dump neoliberal economics completely and return to the post-war Japanese system. The negative rates are too small, and there aren’t any strings attached to force stimulus.
⇧ House GOP Budget Gets 62 Percent of Budget Cuts From Low- and Moderate-Income Programs | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Richard Kogan and Isaac Shapiro:
The House Republican budget plan, which could come to the House floor in April, would prove especially harmful to low- and moderate-income families and individuals, cutting programs for such people by an unprecedented amount while taking a strikingly unbalanced approach to deficit reduction.
All this cutting is so counter-productive.
There are basically two types of people who are for such cuts: those who are ignorant about how the economy actually works and those who aren’t ignorant but are shilling for the superrich.
Rather than cut spending, we should greatly increase it. We should pay for it via United States Notes, not Federal Reserve Notes. We should target increasing real productivity, not fictionalization (oh, I mean financialization). We could have growth rates of 10+% without inflation if we were to put the money toward the right projects: democratizing the economy.
Okay, but what’s missing here? Fair trade is missing. Environmental standards are missing. Labor rights are missing. Worker safety is missing.
Bernie Sanders isn’t against exchanging goods and services internationally. He’s for improving the whole system so everyone everywhere benefits rather than creating sweatshops in the worst-off places, as unbridled capitalism is wont to do.
⇧ Europe’s Emerging Bubbles by Hans-Werner Sinn – Project Syndicate
This is the typical liquidator’s position, the anti-stimulus position, the position that the economy will self-heal quickly without governmental “interference.”
Of course, it completely ignores that the places where stimulus was applied recovered better and that the places where austerity was applied the most either did not recover or recovered despite of the austerity and not due to it.
Hans-Werner Sinn is of the German School of Economics (possibly an ordoliberal). He thinks Keynes was wrong on capitalistic economics in a mixed economy. Enough said.
⇧ Scottish National Party Conference calls for universal income
In light of this development, it could be that the SNP, though championing a progressive vision for an independent Scotland, ultimately succeeds in creating a progressive, unified United Kingdom.
That would be good.
⇧ Jon Anderson: How Real Estate Transaction Non-Disclosure Cheats All Taxpayers | Candy’s Dirt
Bravo Candy’s Dirt for allowing this post by Jon Anderson.
Taxes are paid so that government can pool monies that enable it to embark on projects that enrich society as a whole. When government is underfunded, education and infrastructure suffer. Anyone who jumped for joy at their measly property tax reduction this year also abdicated their right to complain about DISD, potholes, or Fair Park. The 37 cents a day I saved was invisible to me and certainly wouldn’t pay for much municipally on its own. But when joined with the savings of every other household in Texas, it equates to $3.8 billion statewide in 2015-2016.
Without taxes, there would be no public libraries, police, fire, ambulance, public schools, roadways, etc. Without taxes, every single road would be a nightmare of privately-owned thoroughfares, collecting tolls with each change in ownership. We’ve all read stories in recent years about homes that were allowed to burn because the homeowner hadn’t paid their subscription fee for fire protection. It’s estimated there are 1,200 such subscription-based municipalities in the USA.
The Texas Transportation Commission acknowledges an annual underfunding of $5 billion in transportation infrastructure improvements. In the 16-county area covered by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, this equates to roughly $2 billion a year in underspending.
Tie those two numbers together. The entire state gave back barely enough money to properly fund Metroplex roads. Still feeling good about that piddly tax reduction?
⇧ Japan’s Abe says no plans to postpone consumption tax hike – The Washington Post [source updated]
Abe has been meeting with Japanese and international economists, including Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, who both suggested he should delay the hike. Abe’s meetings with the economists are seen as laying the groundwork for another postponement.
He should roll back the one they already did.
⇧ Looking to buy a house in metro Detroit? Gear up for bidding war
Despite the region’s price rebound, many homeowners still lack enough equity to sell, which has constrained the available inventory, said Joe Sabatini, vice president and regional director for RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan.
“The second problem is that the individual who does have equity in their property and can sell, there’s such a small amount of inventory for them to choose from and so they can’t move,” Sabatini said. “They’re kind of stuck in a situation where they’d love to move and buy up, but the problem is once you sell your property, where do you go?”
⇧ UW to create new real estate minor with gift from Windermere Real Estate founder John Jacobi | UW Today
The University of Washington will create an undergraduate minor in real estate studies thanks to a $5.4 million gift from retired Windermere Real Estate founder John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind. The Jacobis’ gift will also support two new endowed faculty chairs at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the UW’s College of Built Environments — the Windermere Endowed Chair for Real Estate and the John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Endowed Chair for Real Estate. The new minor in real estate will be officially offered in fall 2017 with courses starting in January 2017. This minor will be made available to all undergraduate students pursuing any UW major.
ONE in ten homes on the northern beaches is empty, fuelling fears that large chunks of the area will resemble a ghost town.
Some areas are worse than others, with Avalon-Palm Beach topping the list with 20 per cent of homes unoccupied.
That’s still 80% occupied, hardly a ghost town.
⇧ Why Saudi oil market share is falling | FT Business – YouTube
In 90 seconds, Financial Times oil and gas correspondent Anjli Raval explains why Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has lost market share in more than half of the most important countries it sold crude to in the past three years.
⇧ The bankers behind FDR and the Glass-Steagall Act – Fortune
… a ‘traitor to his class’ …:
As a kid touring Roosevelt’s home, I just thought he was a rich man who became president. After more than a decade of working in international finance, I came to realize that his views on banking reform were more liberal than his grand abode on the Hudson river banks would have suggested. As an author, I wrote books about FDR’s signature financial legislation, the Glass-Steagall Act, from the perspective of his populist stance, describing how he saved the American people from a Great Depression incurred by a collection of rapacious, criminal bankers who played the markets, made their money, and hung ordinary citizens out to dry (FDR was the crusader that beat the banks; he was famously called a ‘traitor to his class’). There’s more to the story; as it turns out, some of the most powerful bankers at the time, with close connections to FDR, were behind the landmark act.
… What a difference 80 years makes.
Current ties between bankers and presidents support only the bankers at the expense of the population. We can do better than this. We have. Past political and financial leaders have worked together. To disrespect and shun such history is to fall prey to its more heinous fallout in the future.
Nomi Prins is a treasure.
And they say we shouldn’t use the expression “class warfare.”
⇧ [Bloomberg softened the original title of this article] Dollar Falls to Five-Month Low on Slower Fed Rate Path Outlook – Bloomberg
I clicked on this article because I took instant exception to its title, but Bloomberg changed its title probably because others had the same reaction I did.
The original title is still apparent in its URL: yellen-s-stop-sign-sends-greenback-to-worst-month-since-2011
Why did I take exception to that? The Fed wants inflation, and Yellen’s remarks actually caused some inflation in the US. Imports will cost Americans a bit more now. Exports, however, will be cheaper abroad. That’s good for US manufacturing that exports and for the workers in those entities.
The people who don’t like this are:
- The bankers, who want to charge higher interest
- The pensioners, who want higher interest earnings
- The foreign bankers, who want to win the currency war against the US, and
- China, who already is slumping and doesn’t need a reduction in what Americans buy from there.
What would you add to the list?
As for the pensioners, we simply need a better safety net. That would be easy as pie.
⇧ Soaking the rich is not a fantasy.
Researchers Dirk Krueger and Fabian Kindermann, for instance, have suggested that the government could maximize its revenue if it slapped a 98 percent top marginal rate on the highest 1 percent of earners (right now, we’re at a measly 39.6 percent). Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva argue the golden number is probably between 57 and 83 percent. Sanders, by comparison, envisions a top income tax rate of a mere 54.2 percent. Clinton? Just 46.1 percent. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which uses pretty mainstream assumptions about how workers and investors change their behavior when taxes rise, thinks both will raise plenty of money.
… what the ultrarich pay in taxes simply has a lot to do with the health of the stock market. The average incomes of the top 0.1 percent fell during the bear markets of the late 1960s and ’70s, before shooting up again as Wall Street roared back to life in the ’80s. Their tax bills followed a similar course. Maybe the superwealthy would have paid more to the IRS during the Nixon years if their portfolios hadn’t been getting murdered. Maybe they would have paid even less had their tax rates been lower. Winship can’t say.1 That’s why it’s a far leap from his brief history lesson about one particular era to the idea that the laws of physics have made it impossible to squeeze significantly more revenue out of the wealthy. At best, he can say that rates aren’t the only thing that determine the government’s tax haul, but everybody already agrees on that.
So until proven otherwise, soaking the rich still seems like a perfectly fine course of action. Carry on.
…demographic groups are suburbanizing faster than the young and rich are piling in to cities.
If the trend toward urban living is limited to some educated, young adults, why has the urban comeback gotten so much attention? It probably doesn’t hurt that many of the people writing these stories are themselves educated, young adults in dense urban neighborhoods. More seriously, though, educated, young adults are highly mobile and have disposable income, so their choices about where to live can be a strong leading indicator about broader shifts in the desire for urban living. Also, young, talented workers boost local economic innovation and productivity, especially when they — as economists like to say — agglomerate. And it’s not just those urban areas themselves that benefit. The increased clustering of talented people in productive places boosts national economic output. Plus, upscale stores and restaurants serving new urban residents are a draw for suburbanites and tourists, too. Little wonder that the urbanization of the young and educated has been celebrated.
But enthusiasm for the urban revival should be tempered by a recognition that most of America is not directly taking part.
Jed is a capable economist who specializes in real estate economics, so it surprises me that he didn’t mention that most of the stories about this money trend have been focused upon where to build housing.
There has been money in building for these rich youths, not for the poor.
Things have cooled a bit for San Francisco and New York lately, and the poor are being discussed more due to Bernie Sanders following hard on the heels of, and in agreement with, much, if not all, of the inequality coverage by truly progressive economists.
⇧ Why we should pay everyone a basic income | FT Comment – YouTube
FT isn’t noted for its progressivism. It’s refreshing to see this discussed fairly on FT.
I fully endorse and support the basic-income-for-all idea.
I will add that one of the reasons to give it to everyone rather than means testing it is because then everyone will get behind it when it works, which it will if not overly limited or not introduced to eliminate all other programs (unless the income is quite substantial).
Anthony Painter of think-tank the RSA and Lex writer Giles Wilkes debate the idea that governments should pay a universal basic income as they seek to tackle income inequality and technological disruption. FT employment correspondent Sarah O’Connor chairs.
⇧ Are we in the ninth inning of Charlotte’s real estate boom? | The Charlotte Observer
Local economic indicators are mostly positive. Apartments are under construction at a record pace in Charlotte, with about 25,000 either planned or underway. Office buildings are being built from uptown to Ballantyne, and the $284 million sale of One Wells Fargo Center that closed last week set a new record as the most paid for an office building in the state. Home prices are rising, and jobs growth continues in Charlotte.
But we’re already deep into this booming real estate cycle by historic standards ….
“The pace of U.S. home value growth has been picking up bit-by-bit over the past few months, driven in large part by stubbornly low inventory in most markets that creates competition and drives up prices for those homes that are available,” Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell said in a statement after Case-Shiller’s report.