Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Low standards

"Silicon Valley Has Effectively Banned the Freedom of Speech. It’s Time We Take It Back" (Bridge).  Good as it is, this would enter another level of Clarification with ((())).

"Government Mischief in an Age of Coronavirus" (Giraldi).  Note that the $38 billion is a minimum, and that Bibi, perhaps fearing the host won't last 10 years, is trying to get an advance.

"Impunity and annexation: 'Israel has its cake and eats it too'" (Gadzo).

"Why Wasn’t Netanyahu Ever Indicted in the US?" (Smith).  Again, shekels, and bribery.
"Given the amount of official information in the public domain, and that more is likely still under lock and key, Americans may well wonder why Netanyahu and Milchan were never indicted in the United States for violating the Atomic Energy Act. Curiously, neither appear in the US Department of Treasury list of "specifically designated Nationals" even though official U.S. information now circulating in the public domain about Netanyahu and Milchan’s activities easily meet the low standards of evidence used to generate the SDN list."
"FED’s $10 Trillion Defends Assets of the Rich" (Jay interview of Hudson) (it's funny how rare this kind of talk is, even on the 'left'):
"There is only one reason for a stock or bond prices to go up. And that’s because of the flow of funds into the stock market. What had been supporting the stock market for the last 12 years was very largely stock buybacks by companies using their revenue to sort of close down their business, disinvest and buy their own stocks to at least keep the prices up. Well, what’s flowing into the market right now? Obviously, it’s not corporate profits buying their own stocks, and it’s certainly not popular money coming into the market by small investors thinking that stocks are going to earn more. All this money is coming into the market from the 10 trillion dollar bailout via the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is going out directly and is buying stocks, bonds, junk bonds, mortgages, junk mortgages, all to prop up the value of assets.
Now, when it’s putting this money into the stock market, it’s buying stocks that are already issued and have long since —the proceeds have been spent on building factories or enterprises or as means of making money. So none of this bailout money, none of this 10 trillion going into the stock market has any effect at all on the real economy of production and consumption. It’s solely to support the assets that are held almost eighty five percent by the wealthiest 10 percent of the economy."
and:
"Obviously, the stock market isn’t the economy. The real fiction and what the Federal Reserve, Powell was saying, was that somehow a recovery in the stock market means a recovery in the economy. And all it means is that the wealthy investors are bailing out of the market and moving into their gated communities and, essentially, they’re pulling out. The whole stock buyback program of the last 10 years has been disinvesting. All of the insiders and the big investors know that the game is over. That’s why there’s so much talk of moving to New Zealand. But the Coronavirus has, all of a sudden, provided a wonderful opportunity for the 10 percent. It’s enabled them to have an excuse for a huge bailout and an excuse to essentially make, enable them to get out of stocks, get out of bonds and avoid the crisis that’s coming, leading the Federal Reserve and the suckers, as they would say, holding the bag when the economy collapses. Obviously, there’s going to be a collapse, and there was going to be a collapse even before the Coronavirus. Everybody was talking about the decline in oil prices, which is not only going to hit the fracking companies and the oil companies with the low oil prices, but it’s also leading to very large defaults by Third World countries. Raw materials prices are going down. So they’re going to be a lot of third world debt defaults. They’re going to be a lot of breaks in the chain of payments. But what the Corona virus did was somehow give an excuse for the government to create all of this money, saying it was going to be for small business. Well, obviously, it has not been for small business. And, you know, just think what the Fed could have done with this 10 trillion dollars. It could have put money, revive the economy by putting the money into building means of production. Mainly in this case what’s needed is infrastructure rebuilding things like the New York City subway so people can get to work without their being so crowded that you’re probably going to catch a new virus when the regular service begins again. They could have begun rebuilding the economy, but none of this money has gone into the real economy at all. So the economy’s been left holding the bag. But at least the Fed has used this money. They did notice that they don’t call it taxpayer money for the bailout. “Taxpayer money”—-they only use that phrase when it’s for real production, or to support employment or social spending. But when when the same money is created by the same process, the support of the stock and bond market, that’s never called taxpayer money. But it’s all the same thing. So you see that all of the lobbyists have sort of been waiting with a wish list of what they would like the government to do to take all of the bad loans off their hands. And the thing to realize is that the one percent, 10 percent realizes that the game’s over and they’re trying to—

Paul Jay

What do you mean when you say the game’s is over? What do you mean the game’s over?

Michael Hudson

The idea that the debts can be paid. The idea that somehow you can put money aside, and the money will grow for you. It will give you interest. The money will somehow be pushed into the stock market by buybacks without much income and push up stock prices. The idea that you can put in a million dollars and have the money go up through stocks or bonds or real estate without having the economy grow at all. That was a game because it’s not realistic.And it was a decoupling of the financial and real estate markets from the economy, and that whole decoupling—now, finally, you can only decouple so far before the fact that the rents are not being paid, the taxes are not being paid. The states and localities are having a huge tax shortfall that is forcing them to cut back services. And the commercial real estate; half of the Empire State Building tenants have not paid their rents for March and April. About maybe 40 percent of tenants, generally in the New York City commercial buildings, restaurants, storefronts—they’re just not paying. So everybody’s expecting a break in the chain of payments. And at a certain point, the government can’t simply keep the pretense up when the economy’s plunging, and the stock markets are going up. People are going to realize, “wait a minute. Why isn’t this money creation being spent to actually revive the real economy?

Paul Jay

So what happens when, in theory, this virus comes to an end? Oh, that, who knows? It could be year, two, three. But even before the end of the virus, these back grants, as you say are piling up. Debt servicing is piling up. At some point there’s going to be mass evictions. As you’ve written, mass evictions, foreclosures, bankruptcies are going to be inevitable. You’re advocating that these deaths should simply be written off. Is that what you’re proposing? And can you imagine them actually doing that? 
Well, they’re not going to be paid one way or another. That’s the important thing. Imagine the 25 million unemployed. They’re not getting paychecks. How are they getting by? The only way they can get by is to run up their credit card debt. And by running it up, they’re going to be not paying the monthly usual charge. They’re going to be subject now to interest rates on the credit card that go up now from, maybe 20 percent to twenty nine percent or even more."
"The Murder of George Floyd is Normal for an Abnormal Society" (Prashad).  "As US Protests Show, the Challenge Is How to Rise Above the Violence Inherent in State Power" (Cook).

"Agent Provocateurs: Police at Protests All Over the Country Caught Destroying Property" (MacLeod).  "A Short History of U.S. Law Enforcement Infiltrating Protests" (Grim/Schwarz).

"Our Grim Future: Restored Neoliberalism or Hybrid Neofascism?" (Escobar):
"And even as a triple catastrophe – sanitary, social and climatic – is now unequivocal, the ruling matrix – starring the Masters of the Universe managing the financial casino – won’t stop resisting any drive towards change.

Diversionist tactics supporting an “ecological transition” fool no one.

Financial capitalism is an expert in adapting to – and profiting from – the serial crises it provokes or unleashes.

To update May 1968, what’s needed is L’Imagination au Pouvoir. Yet it’s idle to expect imagination from mere puppets such as Trump, Merkel, Macron or BoJo.

Realpolitik once again points to a post-Lockdown turbo-capitalist framework, where the illiberalism of the 1% – with fascistic elements – and naked turbo-financialization are boosted by reinforced exploitation of an exhausted and now largely unemployed workforce.

Post-Lockdown turbo-capitalism is once again reasserting itself after four decades of Thatcherization, or – to be polite – hardcore neoliberalism. Progressive forces still don’t have the ammunition to revert the logic of extremely high profits for the ruling classes – EU governance included – and for large global corporations as well.

Economist and philosopher Frederic Lordon, a researcher at the French CNRS, cuts to the inevitable chase: the only solution would be a revolutionary insurrection. And he knows exactly how the financial markets-corporate media combo would never allow it. Big Capital is capable of co-opting and sabotaging anything. 
So this is our choice: it’s either Neoliberal Restoration or a revolutionary rupture. And nothing in between. It takes someone of Marx’s caliber to build a full-fledged, 21st century eco-socialist ideology, and capable of long-term, sustained mobilization. Aux armes, citoyens."
Everything is just going to get a little bit worse every day, until we hit the climate apocalypse.
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