‘… to subsidize bank led speculation by submitting weak countries to austerity measures or ‘bailouts’, thereby prioritizing payments to bondholder clients of mega-banks over economic stability.’

‘Much has happened in between; mass deregulation of international banking, technological advancements in trading, and the use of the World Bank (and the IMF and various central banks) to subsidize bank led speculation by submitting weak countries to austerity measures or ‘bailouts’, thereby prioritizing payments to bondholder clients of mega-banks over economic stability. The Big Six banks in the US, a subset of the 30 G-SIBs (global systemically important banks) enjoy a magnitude of government, central bank and multinational entity support that would have been unimaginable back then.’


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At The Economist: episode XXXI of the Piketty Melodrama, a comment by Almost Marx

C.R. does a workman like job in his essay NIMBY’s in the twenty-first century of Piketty Bashing, briefly sharing the stage with other ‘Left Wing’ intellectual celebrities:  ‘… Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s leather-jacket wearing finance minister, Naomi Klein and Russell Brand…’  although in a more muted tone, with Mr.Matthew Rognlie acting as economic wunderkind, who challenges a portion of Piketty’s complex analysis of contemporary inequality. But please note this unsurprising last paragraph of C.R.’s essay:

Just how inconvenient Mr Rognlie’s argument is for Mr Piketty’s overarching narrative is a matter of perspective. The latter certainly did not make housing wealth the central theme of his bestselling book. But a story in which a privileged elite uses its political power (albeit through the planning system) to create economic rents for the few fits Mr Piketty’s argument to a tee. Well-off homeowners may for the moment be more responsible for rising wealth inequality than top-hatted capitalists or famous hedge-fund managers. But their NIMBYism is a very Piketty-like phenomenon.

Note the role reversal from the ‘… top-hatted capitalists or famous hedge-fund managers’,   characters straight out of the comics of several generations ago,  to ‘well-off  homeowners’ who now become the main protagonist/enemy in this episode of The Piketty Melodrama.

Almost Marx

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The Greeks vs the Germans as reported by The Telegraph

My two comments to this Telegraph news story:


Comment number one:

The Germans were bailed out four time in the 20th Century: 1924, 1929, 1932 and 1953! Given that reality reported here in the ultra respectable and ultra conservative Financial Times:
What must we as ordinary folk make of the Greek claim of War Reparations? The negotiations were handled by the Victors,the US and it’s allies in their best interests, not in the interest of the Greek people. With the Soviet threat as a political reality, that made a quick and painless resolution of those War Reparations, for the US and her allies, a low, if not to speak of a relatively unimportant matter, to be arrived at and then forgotten.So the Greeks in power at the time accepted the crumbs the Allies granted to them, but some will never forget this whole sordid affair, and as such the Greeks are loath to forgive the penny pinching Germans as masters of the EU.

Comment number two, a reply to :

So the War Reparations were the ransom the Greeks paid for being rescued from a Soviet Coup? That is your ‘argument’?
For the very complex history of the Greek Civil War see this Wikipedia entry:
And what must a reader make of this:
‘The insurgents were demoralized by the bitter split between the USSR’s Joseph Stalin (who wanted the war ended) and Yugoslavia’s Tito (who wanted it to continue).[13] In June 1948, the Soviet Union and its satellites broke off relations with President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. In one of the meetings held in Kremlin with Yugoslav representatives, during the Soviet-Yugoslav crisis,[57]
Joseph Stalin stated his unqualified opposition to the “Greek
uprising”. Stalin explained to the Yugoslav delegation that the
situation in Greece has always been different from the one in
Yugoslavia, because the US and Britain would “never permit [Greece] to
break off their lines of communication in the Mediterranean.” (Stalin
used the word svernut, Russian for “fold up”, to express what the Greek Communists should do.)’
In this excerpt Tito looks like the ‘bad guy’ and Stalin looks like the political realist.

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Martin Sandbu pronounces Piketty DOA! With the help of graduate student Matthew Rognlie

The champagne corks are popping in the fortresses of Neo-Liberalism, or have I overstated the case? The Mighty Piketty has been brought low by a mere graduate student! Where else but at the Financial Times or The Economist would this rate such a celebratory essay by Mr. Sandbu or his political clone? Note the rhetorical frame: Free Lunch!

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is and will remain the urtext! The point of Piketty’s book, his theorizing, his polemic was to inspire debate and it has fulfilled it’s author’s civic ambition. Yes, his civic ambition: how could I make such a claim in the face of the Neo-Liberalism’s corrosive economic/political ascendency?

Almost Marx


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The Economist on ‘Bumbling toward disaster’, a comment by Almost Marx

As the Neo-Liberal paradigm continues to flounder, even collapse, engulfing the E.U. with it, it is vital that we not forget the question of Germany’s war time reparations debt to Greece, as much as the Economist would like to trivialize it:while not perceiving the fact that the victors set the whole standard of that repayment, not in the interests of Greece but in their own parochial political interests. Add to that the fact that Germany was rescued from it’s own bad economic decisions four times in the 20th Century,1924, 1929, 1932 and 1953. See Gillian Tett’s January 15,2015 essay titled ‘The debt of history’ on a speech by Benjamin Friedman on that vexing question at The Financial Times, The Economist’s sister publication:
That should have laid to rest the manufactured political melodrama of the Virtuous North vs the profligate South. But still The Economist trades on that shopworn, not to speak of bankrupt dramaturgy, as it’s rhetorical frame!
Allied to that is the usual fixation of the ‘Left’ as the looming threat, the Sword of Damocles, to adhere to the melodramatic frame. Although, should we be surprised that in the face of a collapsing Neo-Liberalism that the rise of both the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ was a political inevitability? But as intransigent Capitalist apologists, The Economist writers can’t resist exercising their idée fixe, their political obsession.

Almost Marx


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Mr. O’Hanlon on General Patraeus, National Hero

One simply has to marvel at Mr. O’Hanlon’s exercise in hagiography and apologetics. It reminds me of the late Joe Alsop, and his long line of political enthusiasms. See Edwin Yoder’s Joe Alsop’s Cold War and the gossip fest disguised as social history, The Gerogetown Set by Gregg Herken, for a full exposition of those enthusiasms and their exorbitant costs.
One is tempted to say that the new world of Think Tanks has spawned Joe Alsops by the score, careerists, self-promoters more than willing to do the political spade work necessary to manufacture the new heroes, not to speak of their care and maintenance, in the Age of the Internet.
One is also reminded of the Bundy brothers chronicled in The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms  by Kai Bird as the policy experts that helped to usher in one of Mr. Alsop’s final political enthusiasms, the Vietnam War.

In that vein this paragraph shouldn’t surprise as an extended apologetic for the Iraq War and it’s political/military enactors :

To be sure, Petraeus didn’t do it alone—and he was always quick to share the credit. Among the people he raved about most, when we used to go for runs or when various think tanks like mine would host him for discussions about the war on his visits home in 2007-2008, were General Stanley McChrystal, who ramped up American special operations orders of magnitude above where it had been before; HR McMaster, then a relatively junior officer among the first to make proper counterinsurgency tactics work in Iraq even before the surge; Seth Moulton and Ann Gildroy Fox, young Marine Corps reservists who tried to catalyze a Shia awakening of sorts in eastern Iraq (Moulton is now a Congressman from Massachusetts); General Ray Odierno and General Lloyd Austin, who directed the surge at the operational level; General Jim Dubik and General Marty Dempsey, who ran the training programs for Iraqi forces in those crucial times; General John Allen, who among other Marine Corps leaders was crucial in nurturing the Sunni awakening process in al-Anbar province; and Petraeus’s main civilian counterpart, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

This dream team refashioned the Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership, then worked with them to bring down violence rates in Iraq an incredible 90 percent and give Iraqi leaders a chance to turn their country around. That change, tragically, was largely squandered in ensuing years, but Petraeus and Crocker et al gave them the chance. On balance, this was arguably the greatest military comeback in American history, after four successive years of losing the war.

Following this is an assurance from Mr. O’ Hanlon of the integrity,veracity and trustworthiness of the Patraeus/Broadwell alliance: This in in the face of the charge of leaking top secret information, for which others have served jail time. Forty thousand dollars and two years probation were the lot of Mr. O’Hanlon’s friend. Such is the political/legal fate of a Hero and National Treasure as narrated by his friend and political defender, who, we are assured , has not made his last contribution to the flourishing of The American Empire.

Political Skeptic


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Mr. Nick Gass comments on ‘The World is on Fire’

Mr. Gass, in his essay misses the point of the incident: the Republican Party in it’s post 9-11 phase and it’s two losses to Obama, has lapsed into a consistent political hysteria mongering. Yet it is also consistent with the post WWII politics of the Nixon/Mundt/McCarthy/McCarren political cabal, and the notion of ‘a generation of treason’ in the Post-War, post New Deal era of American life.
Senator Cruz’s politics are shot through with political/ethical paranoia and he is the paradigmatic politician, the vanguard of that modern Republican Party. That is a truly frightening political reality to confront, so Mr. Gass opts to use his comment as an ineffective political analgesic.

Political Cynic


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