Thursday, September 17, 2020

Uptick

From Strether at Naked Capitalism on the recent uptick of COVID cases:
"Pretty soon those upticks are gonna turn into a third wave. If that happens, Trump will look pretty toasty, (colorable) vaccine or no. (The savage irony would then be that the crème de la crème of America’s Professional Managerial Class — the gatekeepers of the meritocracy — failed, given months of time to prepare, to understand that their “customers” party. Or they did, and collected the tuition and housing fees anyhow. And Trump would take the hit! It’s beautiful, in its own way.)"
Not doing the 'work' of retail campaigning, which Trump and his people do and Biden doesn't, is becoming eerily similar to the Clinton campaign, and for the same reason of over-confidence based on polls.

Polish irredentism is becoming a problem:  "Covert Action Props Up U.S.-Polish Axis Against Belarus: A Deep Dive into Far-Right Regime-Change Activists and Their Backers" (FOIA Research).  "Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)".  Poland would also like Galicia when Ukraine breaks up.

"Michael Hudson: How an “Act of God” Pandemic Is Destroying the West: The U.S. Is Saving the Financial Sector, Not the Economy":
"A socialist government such as China’s can keep its industry going simply by simply writing down debts when they can’t be paid without forcing a closedown and bankruptcy and loss of assets and employment. The world thus has two options: a basically productive public financial system in China, or a predatory financial system in the United States.

China can recover financially and fiscally from the virus disruption because most debts ultimately are owned to the government-based banking system. Money can be created to finance the material economy, labor and industry, construction and agriculture. When a company is unable to pay its bills and rent, the government doesn’t stand by and let it be closed down and sold at a distressed price to a vulture investor.

China has an option that Western economies do not: It is in a position to do what Hammurabi and other ancient Near Eastern palatial economies did for thousands of years: write down debts so as to keep the economy resilient and functioning. It can suspend scheduled debt service, taxes, rents and public fees from having to be paid by troubled areas of its economy, because China’s government is the ultimate creditor. It need not contend with politically powerful bankers who insist that the economy at large must lose, not themselves. The government can write down the debt to keep companies in business, and also their employees. That’s what socialist governments do.

The underlying problem is finance capitalism. Its roots lie at the heart of Western civilization itself, rejecting the “circular time” permitting economic renewal by Clean Slates in favor of “linear time” in which debts are permanent and irreversible, without public oversight to manage finance and credit in the economy’s overall long-term interest.

It often is easier to get rich in such times of disaster and need than in times of normal prosperity. While the U.S. economy polarizes between creditors and debtors, the stock market anticipates fortunes being made quickly from the insolvency of business with assets and property to be grabbed. Coupled with the Federal Reserve’s credit creation to support the financial and real estate markets, asset prices are soaring (as of June 2020) for companies that expect to get even richer from the widespread distress to come in autumn 2020 when evictions and foreclosures ae scheduled to begin again. 
In that respect, the coronavirus’ effect has been to help defeat the financial sector’s enemy, governments strong enough to regulate it. The fiscal squeeze resulting from widespread unemployment, business closedowns, rent and tax arrears is being seized upon as a means of dismantling and privatizing government at the federal, state and local levels, at the expense of the citizenry at large."
"Chris Selley: Universal basic income is not coming to Canada (no matter what the Liberals say)":
"What the Trudeau Liberals could and might propose is giving poorer people more money, and in a way that doesn’t punish them for moving up the economic ladder — a perfectly fine idea. University of Manitoba economists Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens have proposed converting some $80 billion in non-refundable tax credits, which are of no use to the lowest-income Canadians, to refundable ones. In 2015, they calculated that the income of the poorest families — those not even halfway to the poverty line — could be jacked up nearly 30 per cent at a cost of less than $7 billion."
A good outcome would be something like this, pharmacare, and something else mildly progressive (say, federal child care on the model Quebec already has).  This would barely pull Canada up to the level of its 'peers', and is doable and hardly radical (progress in Canada always sticks on the lousy example to the south, and recalcitrant conservative Premiers).
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