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cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 05:06 PM
krugman October 18, 2012, 3:02 pm241 Comments
Understanding Romneynomics

I’ve been delving a bit into what the Romney campaign and its economist fellow-travelers have been saying, and I think I have figured out the true economic doctrine Romney and his inner circle have in mind. It is, needless to say, not what the campaign has claimed.

The official line has been that the five-point program will create scads of jobs. This has a couple of problems. First, the program is vacuous — for the most part it’s a statement of desired outcomes, not policies. Second, as Glenn Kessler points out, the studies claimed as justification for the 12-million jobs number actually don’t say at all what the campaign asserts.

Actually, one point that should be made: Kessler isn’t quite right in his critique of the (not-Peter-nor-Doug) Diamond paper claiming big employment gains from the Romney tax plan. The time horizon is not, in fact, a big deal. What is a big deal is that the Diamond paper is an analysis of an economy that is assumed to be continually at full employment. The “job gains” the paper estimates are supply-side, not demand-side — they represent an increase in the number of people who want to work, not an increase in the number of jobs available. If you like, Diamond is claiming (implausibly) that there would be a big jump in the labor force participation rate.

And this, of course, has nothing to do with the problems of an economy where people who want to work can’t find jobs.

So the Romney campaign is lying about the rationale for its boasts about jobs. But what’s the real story?

The answer is actually pretty clear: CONFIDENCE. The Romney notion is that we’d be having a rip-roaring recovery right now, except that Job Creators feel that Obama is looking at them funny. And so all Romney has to do is show up, and happy times will be here again. No, seriously: in Boca Raton Romney declared that simply by being elected he could start a boom, “without actually doing anything”.

Now, the obvious riposte here is that we know why we have a weak recovery, and it’s not Obama’s evil eye — it’s the normal hangover from a severe financial crisis, which could only have been averted by much stronger fiscal and monetary stimulus. But that’s not a story the Romney people want to hear. Hence the determined effort by people like John Taylor to dismiss everything we’ve learned — and I don’t just mean me, I mean Rogoff-Reinhart, the IMF, Alan Taylor, and more — about the macro effects of financial crises.

So there you have it. The true plan is to provide an economic stimulus in the form of Romney’s awesome awesomeness; the cover story is the pretense of having an actual program.

Are you feeling confident?

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 05:08 PM
October 17, 2012, 3:21 pm212 Comments
Small-Time Mitt

So, I was amazed to hear Mitt Romney describing himself as having “come through small business”, as if his private equity firm were just like a mom-and-pop store or something. But Digby informs us that he made similar claims in his convention speech, making Bain sound like a scrappy little start-up. And it’s true it had only 10 people at first — that, and $37 million, yes, $37 million, in seed money.

Where did that $37 million come from? A large part from foreigners, in many cases investing via Panama-based shell companies. Also, funds from families of Central American oligarchs, who were sitting things out in Miami while death squads sponsored by their class, and in some cases by their relatives, were roaming their home countries.

Hey, doesn’t this sound like just your usual small-business success story?

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 05:12 PM
October 16, 2012, 4:04 pm92 Comments
Lies, Damned Lies, and Jobs

Aha. Via Greg Sargent, the Romney campaign is lying about its jobs plan.

I’m using the L-word advisedly. What I don’t mean is that I don’t believe Romney’s claims about what his policies would accomplish; I don’t, but that’s a separate issue, and people can disagree about such matters.

What I mean, instead, is that the campaign is claiming that Romney’s assertion that his plan would create 12 million jobs is backed by three economic studies — and none of the studies actually says what the campaign says it does. The (implausible) claim that tax cuts would add 7 million jobs was a 10-year estimate, not a 4-year estimate; the 3 million jobs figure for energy was a prediction of what would happen under current policy, not what Romney would add; the 2 million “get tough with China” estimate had nothing to do with what Romney is proposing.

So they’re just faking it — the same way they have with the “six studies” supposedly validating the tax plan, four of which aren’t studies and one of which actually validates the critics.

What’s amazing here is the contempt the campaign is showing for the voters and the media. Unfortunately, that contempt may be justified.

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 08:42 PM
IMF Admits Iceland Was Right – (Which Means that the IMF are WRONG! Are you listening David Cameron?)
From – BeforeItsNews.com -

“Now in what may be the greatest economic “mea culpa” in history, we have the media admitting that this government/banking/propaganda-machine troika has been wrong all along. They have been forced to acknowledge that Iceland’s approach to economic triage was the correct approach right from the beginning. What was Iceland’s approach? To do the exact opposite of everything the bankers running our own economies told us to do. The bankers (naturally) told us that we needed to bail out the criminal Big Banks, at taxpayer expense (they were Too Big To Fail). Iceland gave the banksters nothing.”

IMF Admits Iceland Was Right:…the island’s approach to its rescue led to a “surprisingly” strong recovery, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief to the country said

Subject: FW: Iceland Was Right, We Were Wrong: The IMF
By Jeff Nielson08/15/12 – 03:14 PM EDT

VANCOUVER (Silver Gold Bull) — For approximately three years, our governments, the banking cabal, and the Corporate Media have assured us that they knew the appropriate approach for fixing the economies that they had previously crippled with their own mismanagement. We were told that the key was to stomp on the Little People with “austerity” in order to continue making full interest payments to the Bond Parasites — at any/all costs.

Following three years of this continuous, uninterrupted failure, Greece has already defaulted on 75% of its debts, and its economy is totally destroyed. The UK, Spain and Italy are all plummeting downward in suicide-spirals, where the more austerity these sadistic governments inflict upon their own people theworse their debt/deficit problems get. Ireland and Portugal are nearly in the same position.

Now in what may be the greatest economic “mea culpa” in history, we have the media admitting that this government/banking/propaganda-machine troika has been wrong all along. They have been forced to acknowledge that Iceland’s approach to economic triage was the correct approach right from the beginning.

What was Iceland’s approach? To do the exact opposite of everything the bankers running our own economies told us to do. The bankers (naturally) told us that we needed to bail out the criminal Big Banks, at taxpayer expense (they were Too Big To Fail). Iceland gave the banksters nothing.

The bankers told us that no amount of suffering (for the Little People) was too great in order to make sure that the Bond Parasites got paid at 100 cents on the dollar. Iceland told the Bond Parasites they would get what was left over, after the people had been taken care of (by their own government).

The bankers told us that our governments could no longer afford the same education, health care and pension systems which our parents had taken for granted. Iceland told the bankers that what the country could no longer afford was to continue to be blood-sucked by the worst financial criminals in the history of our species. Now, after three-plus years of this absolute dichotomy in economic policymaking, a clear picture has emerged (despite the best efforts of the propaganda machine to hide the truth).

In typical fashion, the moment that the Corporate Media is forced to admit that it has been serially misinforming us for the past several years; the Revisionists are immediately deployed to rewrite history, as shown in this Bloomberg Businessweek excerpt:

…the island’s approach to its rescue led to a “surprisingly” strong recovery, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief to the country said.

In fact, from the moment the Crash of ’08 was orchestrated and our morally bankrupt governments began executing the plans of the bankers, I have written that the only rational strategy was to put People before Parasites. While I wouldn’t expect national policymakers to take their cues from my writing, when I wrote out my economic prescriptions for our economies I didn’t base my views on compassion, or simply “doing the right thing.”

Rather, I have consistently argued that it was a matter of simple arithmetic and the most-elementary principles of economics that “the Iceland approach” was the only strategy which could possibly succeed. When Plutarch wrote 2,000 years ago “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all Republics,” he was not parroting socialist dogma (1,500 years before the birth of Socialism).

Plutarch was simply expressing the First Principle of economics; something on which all of the modern capitalist economists who followed in his footsteps have based their own theories. When modern economists produce their own jargon, such as the Marginal Propensity to Consume; it is squarely based on the wisdom of Plutarch: that an economy will always be healthier with its wealth in the hands of the poor and the Middle Class instead of being hoarded by rich misers (and gamblers).

So when the Bloomberg Revisionists attempt to convince us that Iceland’s strong (and real) economic recovery was a “surprise”; this could only be true if none of our governments, none of the bankers and none of the media’s precious “experts” understood the most-elementary principles of arithmetic and economics. Is this the message the media wants to convey?

What is even more disingenuous here is the congratulatory tone in this exercise in Revisionism, since nothing could be further from the truth. As I detailed in a four-part series one year ago, the campaign of “economic rape” perpetrated against the governments of Europe over the past two and half years (in particular) has been expressly designed to take away “the Iceland option” for Europe’s other governments.

One of the reasons for Iceland being able to escape the choke-hold of the Western banking cabal is that its economy (and its people) still retained enough residual prosperity to tough it out — as the banking cabal tried to strangle Iceland’s economy as retribution for rejecting their Debt Slavery.

Thus, austerity has been nothing less than a deliberate campaign to destroy these European economies so that the Slaves would be too economically weak to be able to sever their own choke-holds. Mission accomplished!

One can only assume that neither the Corporate Media nor their Banker Masters would have allowed this clear acknowledgment that Iceland was right and we were wrong to appear within its own pages, unless it felt secure in the knowledge that all the remaining Debt Slaves had been crippled beyond their capacity to ever escape this economic oppression.

Indeed, for evidence of this we need only look to Greece: the one other European nation where there had been “rumblings” (i.e. riots) aimed at toppling the Traitor Government that served the banking cabal. After two elections, the combination of fear and propaganda bullied the long-suffering Greek people into choosing another Traitor Government — which had expressly pledged itself to reinforcing the bonds of economic slavery. When the Slaves vote for slavery, the Slave Masters can afford to gloat.

Here, the purpose of this Bloomberg propaganda was not to praise Iceland’s government (when both the bankers and Corporate Media despise Iceland with all of their considerable malice). Rather, the goal of this disinformation was to manufacture a new Big Lie.

Instead of the Truth: that from Day 1 Iceland’s approach was the only possible strategy which could have succeeded, while our own governments chose a strategy intended to fail; we get the Big Lie. Our Traitor Governments were acting honestly and honourably; and Iceland’s success and our failure was yet another “surprise which no one could have predicted.”

We saw precisely the same Revisionism following the Crash of ’08 itself, where the mainstream media trotted out all their expert-shills to tell us they had been “surprised” by this economic event; while those within the precious metals sector had been predicting precisely such a cataclysm, in ever more-assertive terms, for several years.

The real message here for readers is that when an economic strategy of People before Parasites succeeds that there is nothing the least-bit “surprising” about this. As with all the remainder of the world around us, promoting the health of Parasites is only good for the Parasites themselves.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from The Street’s regular news coverage.

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 09:00 PM
The Austerity Agenda
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: May 31, 2012 920 Comments LONDON
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal.
Related Times Topic: European Debt Crisis

Related in Opinion
Editorial: Blame Game, European-Style (June 1, 2012)
David Brooks: The Segmentation Century (June 1, 2012).
For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.” So declared John Maynard Keynes 75 years ago, and he was right. Even if you have a long-run deficit problem — and who doesn’t? — slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression.

So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?

Over the past few days, I’ve posed that question to a number of supporters of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron, sometimes in private, sometimes on TV. And all these conversations followed the same arc: They began with a bad metaphor and ended with the revelation of ulterior motives.

The bad metaphor — which you’ve surely heard many times — equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt. So if Britain, as a whole, has run up too much debt — which it has, although it’s mostly private rather than public debt — shouldn’t it do the same? What’s wrong with this comparison?

The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.

So what happens if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt? The answer is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better.

This isn’t a new insight. The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called “debt deflation” with the pithy slogan “the more the debtors pay, the more they owe.” Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher’s insight.

And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.

As I said, this isn’t a new insight. So why have so many politicians insisted on pursuing austerity in slump? And why won’t they change course even as experience confirms the lessons of theory and history?

Well, that’s where it gets interesting. For when you push “austerians” on the badness of their metaphor, they almost always retreat to assertions along the lines of: “But it’s essential that we shrink the size of the state.”

Now, these assertions often go along with claims that the economic crisis itself demonstrates the need to shrink government. But that’s manifestly not true. Look at the countries in Europe that have weathered the storm best, and near the top of the list you’ll find big-government nations like Sweden and Austria.

And if you look, on the other hand, at the nations conservatives admired before the crisis, you’ll find George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer and the architect of the country’s current economic policy, describing Ireland as “a shining example of the art of the possible.” Meanwhile, the Cato Institute was praising Iceland’s low taxes and hoping that other industrial nations “will learn from Iceland’s success.”

So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.

In fairness to Britain’s conservatives, they aren’t quite as crude as their American counterparts. They don’t rail against the evils of deficits in one breath, then demand huge tax cuts for the wealthy in the next (although the Cameron government has, in fact, significantly cut the top tax rate). And, in general, they seem less determined than America’s right to aid the rich and punish the poor. Still, the direction of policy is the same — and so is the fundamental insincerity of the calls for austerity.

The big question here is whether the evident failure of austerity to produce an economic recovery will lead to a “Plan B.” Maybe. But my guess is that even if such a plan is announced, it won’t amount to much. For economic recovery was never the point; the drive for austerity was about using the crisis, not solving it. And it still is.

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 09:11 PM
Death of a Fairy Tale
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: April 26, 2012 603 Comments
This was the month the confidence fairy died.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman
Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal.
Related in Opinion
Room for Debate: In Europe, Now What? (April 23, 2012)
For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. According to this doctrine, governments should respond to a severely depressed economy not the way the textbooks say they should — by spending more to offset falling private demand — but with fiscal austerity, slashing spending in an effort to balance their budgets.

Critics warned from the beginning that austerity in the face of depression would only make that depression worse. But the “austerians” insisted that the reverse would happen. Why? Confidence! “Confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank — a claim echoed by Republicans in Congress here. Or as I put it way back when, the idea was that the confidence fairy would come in and reward policy makers for their fiscal virtue.

The good news is that many influential people are finally admitting that the confidence fairy was a myth. The bad news is that despite this admission there seems to be little prospect of a near-term course change either in Europe or here in America, where we never fully embraced the doctrine, but have, nonetheless, had de facto austerity in the form of huge spending and employment cuts at the state and local level.

So, about that doctrine: appeals to the wonders of confidence are something Herbert Hoover would have found completely familiar — and faith in the confidence fairy has worked out about as well for modern Europe as it did for Hoover’s America. All around Europe’s periphery, from Spain to Latvia, austerity policies have produced Depression-level slumps and Depression-level unemployment; the confidence fairy is nowhere to be seen, not even in Britain, whose turn to austerity two years ago was greeted with loud hosannas by policy elites on both sides of the Atlantic.

None of this should come as news, since the failure of austerity policies to deliver as promised has long been obvious. Yet European leaders spent years in denial, insisting that their policies would start working any day now, and celebrating supposed triumphs on the flimsiest of evidence. Notably, the long-suffering (literally) Irish have been hailed as a success story not once but twice, in early 2010 and again in the fall of 2011. Each time the supposed success turned out to be a mirage; three years into its austerity program, Ireland has yet to show any sign of real recovery from a slump that has driven the unemployment rate to almost 15 percent.

However, something has changed in the past few weeks. Several events — the collapse of the Dutch government over proposed austerity measures, the strong showing of the vaguely anti-austerity François Hollande in the first round of France’s presidential election, and an economic report showing that Britain is doing worse in the current slump than it did in the 1930s — seem to have finally broken through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working.

The question now is what they’re going to do about it. And the answer, I fear, is: not much.

For one thing, while the austerians seem to have given up on hope, they haven’t given up on fear — that is, on the claim that if we don’t slash spending, even in a depressed economy, we’ll turn into Greece, with sky-high borrowing costs.

Now, claims that only austerity can pacify bond markets have proved every bit as wrong as claims that the confidence fairy will bring prosperity. Almost three years have passed since The Wall Street Journal breathlessly warned that the attack of the bond vigilantes on U.S. debt had begun; not only have borrowing costs remained low, they’ve actually fallen by half. Japan has faced dire warnings about its debt for more than a decade; as of this week, it could borrow long term at an interest rate of less than 1 percent.

And serious analysts now argue that fiscal austerity in a depressed economy is probably self-defeating: by shrinking the economy and hurting long-term revenue, austerity probably makes the debt outlook worse rather than better.

But while the confidence fairy appears to be well and truly buried, deficit scare stories remain popular. Indeed, defenders of British policies dismiss any call for a rethinking of these policies, despite their evident failure to deliver, on the grounds that any relaxation of austerity would cause borrowing costs to soar.

So we’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless. And it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of error will end.

cushioncrawler
10-27-2012, 10:03 PM
Bombs, Bridges and Jobs
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: October 30, 2011

A few years back Representative Barney Frank coined an apt phrase for many of his colleagues: weaponized Keynesians, defined as those who believe “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.”

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman
Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal.
Related
In and From Congress, Calls to Limit Pentagon Cuts (October 14, 2011)
Related in Opinion
Times Topic: Economy

Right now the weaponized Keynesians are out in full force — which makes this a good time to see what’s really going on in debates over economic policy.

What’s bringing out the military big spenders is the approaching deadline for the so-called supercommittee to agree on a plan for deficit reduction. If no agreement is reached, this failure is supposed to trigger cuts in the defense budget.

Faced with this prospect, Republicans — who normally insist that the government can’t create jobs, and who have argued that lower, not higher, federal spending is the key to recovery — have rushed to oppose any cuts in military spending. Why? Because, they say, such cuts would destroy jobs.

Thus Representative Buck McKeon, Republican of California, once attacked the Obama stimulus plan because “more spending is not what California or this country needs.” But two weeks ago, writing in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McKeon — now the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — warned that the defense cuts that are scheduled to take place if the supercommittee fails to agree would eliminate jobs and raise the unemployment rate.

Oh, the hypocrisy! But what makes this particular form of hypocrisy so enduring?

First things first: Military spending does create jobs when the economy is depressed. Indeed, much of the evidence that Keynesian economics works comes from tracking the effects of past military buildups. Some liberals dislike this conclusion, but economics isn’t a morality play: spending on things you don’t like is still spending, and more spending would create more jobs.

But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?

John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.

To deal with this preference, Keynes whimsically suggested burying bottles full of cash in disused mines and letting the private sector dig them back up. In the same vein, I recently suggested that a fake threat of alien invasion, requiring vast anti-alien spending, might be just the thing to get the economy moving again.

But there are also darker motives behind weaponized Keynesianism.

For one thing, to admit that public spending on useful projects can create jobs is to admit that such spending can in fact do good, that sometimes government is the solution, not the problem. Fear that voters might reach the same conclusion is, I’d argue, the main reason the right has always seen Keynesian economics as a leftist doctrine, when it’s actually nothing of the sort. However, spending on useless or, even better, destructive projects doesn’t present conservatives with the same problem.

Beyond that, there’s a point made long ago by the Polish economist Michael Kalecki: to admit that the government can create jobs is to reduce the perceived importance of business confidence.

Appeals to confidence have always been a key debating point for opponents of taxes and regulation; Wall Street’s whining about President Obama is part of a long tradition in which wealthy businessmen and their flacks argue that any hint of populism on the part of politicians will upset people like them, and that this is bad for the economy. Once you concede that the government can act directly to create jobs, however, that whining loses much of its persuasive power — so Keynesian economics must be rejected, except in those cases where it’s being used to defend lucrative contracts.

So I welcome the sudden upsurge in weaponized Keynesianism, which is revealing the reality behind our political debates. At a fundamental level, the opponents of any serious job-creation program know perfectly well that such a program would probably work, for the same reason that defense cuts would raise unemployment. But they don’t want voters to know what they know, because that would hurt their larger agenda — keeping regulation and taxes on the wealthy at bay.