Real estate, risks, economics, & more: links & commentary for April 23, 2019

Rescuers race to find survivors after Philippine quake:

Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the rubble of a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 11 people.


Elizabeth Warren continues to out-FDR everyone else in the race:

Experts find that my debt cancellation plan will create an economic stimulus, and study after study shows that investments in higher education provide huge returns for every dollar. [Source]

I totally agree with forgiving all student debts. I’d take it further and refund both principal and interest to everyone who has paid down and/or off a student loan. I’d also not stop at four-year college. I’d include graduate school for those who got the grades at the four-year level showing they can do the graduate-school work. Forget the graduate-school exams. Just base it all on grades.

Quake kills at least 11, 24 missing in northern Philippines

Researchers calculate decades of ‘scary’ Greenland ice melting:

… during the 1970s, Greenland accumulated 47 gigatonnes of ice per year, on average. Then, it lost an equivalent volume in the 1980s.

The melting continued at that rate in the 1990s, before a sharp acceleration in the 2000s (187 Gt/year) and even more since 2010 (286 Gt/year).

Ice is melting six times faster than in the 1980s, researchers estimate — and Greenland’s glaciers alone have contributed to a 13.7 millimeter rise in sea levels since 1972, they believe.

But it has nothing to do with humans burning carbon? It sure does.

Death toll in Brazil buildings disaster hits 24:

The death toll from the collapse of two buildings in Rio de Janeiro more than a week ago reached 24 on Monday, Brazilian officials said, a day after rescuers ended a search for survivors.


Offshore wind developers to invest $4.5M in Rhode Island:

The turbines are expected to generate enough energy to power about 270,000 homes, or about a quarter of the homes in Rhode Island.

It beats pumping oil.

Man trapped under ruins of collapsed ex-hotel in Kosovo

The following is nonsense.

Medicare is too fragile to cover everybody:

There are plenty of solutions, such as reducing benefits for the wealthy, raising the retirement age and hiking taxes, but none of those moves is likely to be popular if there’s no emergency-forcing action.

… Backers of Medicare for all say going nationwide might actually shore up the program, since funds now devoted to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and private insurance that covers 177 million people would be available to Medicare.

… studies of the cost of Medicare for all find that it would require more than $3 trillion in financing per year, which would necessitate sharp tax hikes on individuals and businesses. That could still end up being less than what people spend today on premiums and out-of-pocket costs, but the shift of costs and services from the private sector to the government would wreck whole industries—starting with health insurance—and cause other problems hard to predict. It’s possible it could cause a recession.

Medicare also pays less than private-sector insurance, which has troubling implications for the availability of many types of care. Many hospitals, for instance, have thin profit margins, and wouldn’t be able to stay in business if Medicare covered everybody and paid 40% less than private-sector plans, as it does now.

“… would require more than $3 trillion in financing per year, which would necessitate sharp tax hikes on individuals and businesses ….” Wrong! Single-payer doesn’t have to be funded via taxes. It can be fully funded (and in a way that does not undercut hospitals) via the government creating the money without borrowing and then spending it directly on the single-payer system. It would also not be inflationary. Everyone would be better off. In addition, all health-insurance companies could be helped directly to transition to other types of coverages.

Modern Monetary Theory – A Debate: Randall Wray (Pt 1/4):

Randy nailed it: “Net impact.” Let me add that resources also include raw and finished materials. Anyway, the fact that GDP will go up offsets price-inflation pressures. Excellent.

Randall Wray, one of the founders of the economic theory known as Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) lays out some of its main arguments. Paul Jay hosts.



Modern Monetary Theory – A Debate: Gerald Epstein (Pt 2/4):

I, and MMT advocates who know what they are talking about, have always talked about constraints and that proper planning would be required to meet demand. Gerald Epstein is arguing against a strawman. In addition, let’s not forget that some of the money created will go into, and needs to go into, research and development of automation to make up for insufficient workers. Also, the Green New Deal talks about changing what we consume to things that require fewer resource inputs. The entire thing needs to be fully democratized at the grassroots level so we end up with what we want: prosperity for all and a healthy environment, a restored and enhanced environment.

Randy Wray did talk about changing resources from destructive to productive. Issuing the money to do what we want would increase our GDP. It would not negatively impact the rest of the world. It would help them by setting the right path. If we don’t borrow to create money, then there wouldn’t be US bonds for others to invest in, such as foreign nations. What difference would being the world’s reserve currency matter? It wouldn’t, and that would be a good thing.

Gerald Epstein outlines his criticisms of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Paul Jay hosts.



Modern Monetary Theory – A Debate: Randall Wray Responds (Pt 3/4)

Randy needs a new mic.

You hear here that Randy is saying that MMT is not about doing away with the Fed’s role in issuing money. That means that monetarism would stay in place, which is a bad idea. This is a confusing spot in MMT, as I’ve read that MMT has gone over to money financing by the government directly and not through the Fed. I even lauded MMT for making the change. At one point, I discussed the issue directly with Randy. Unfortunately, it was on Nouriel Roubini’s website and has been deleted. Randy ended up being fine at the end of our back and forth with the US government issuing the money directly and not through the Fed and not by borrowing. I sure wish MMT would clear up this rough spot.

Randall Wray rebuts Gerald Epstein’s criticisms of Modern monetary Theory. Paul Jay hosts.



Modern Monetary Theory – A Debate: Gerald Epstein Responds (Pt 4/4):

Of course we have to discuss constraints. However, MMT has barely even been able to get a word in edgewise over decades.

We couldn’t put the cart before the horse. The first priority was getting people to even know money comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t come from taxes. It’s created out of less than thin air.

MMT is still fighting the likes of the Krugmans of the world, who haven’t a clue yet. Let’s talk about constraints and planning for sure, but let’s not fault MMT for not having gone down every road before the foundations have even been prepared.

MMT is a description, not a policy. The fact that MMTers are for guaranteed employment is putting MMT to policy. Guaranteed employment is not MMT, per se.

Gerald Epstein responds to Randall Wray’s defense of MMT. Paul Jay hosts.



The new gold rush:

No wonder Extinction Rebellion is in overdrive. Despite publicly backing the 2015 Paris deal to limit global temperature rises, $1 billion has been spent on lobbying by ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP. Their aim… “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations”.

But what if these archaic players are fighting the last war?

What if their industry is about to undergo a shift that will render their current polluting business model obsolete?

Could the market, not policy makers, now demand cleaner and more efficient way to produce our energy?

Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by the energy strategist, Kingsmill Bond to ask if we have reached peak fossil fuels and begun the shift to renewables?