“Fiscal Conservatives” Dodge $10 Trillion Debt

By Simon Johnson.  This post comprises the opening paragraphs of my column today on Bloomberg; the rest is available here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-19/fiscal-conservatives-dodge-10-trillion-debt-simon-johnson.html

Washington is filled with self- congratulation this week, with Republicans claiming that they have opened serious discussion of the U.S. budget deficit and President Barack Obama’s proponents arguing that his counterblast last Wednesday will win the day.

The reality is that neither side has come to grips with the most basic of our harsh fiscal realities.

Start with the facts as provided by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Compare the CBO’s budget forecast for January 2008, before the outbreak of serious financial crisis in the fall of that year, with its latest version from January 2011. The relevant line is “debt held by the public at the end of the year,” meaning net federal government debt held by the private sector, which excludes government agency holdings of government debt.

In early 2008, the CBO projected that debt as a percent of gross domestic product would fall from 36.8 percent to 22.6 percent at the end of 2018. In contrast, the latest CBO forecast has debt soaring to 75.3 percent of GDP in 2018.

What caused this stunning reversal, which in dollar terms works out to a $10 trillion swing for end-year 2018 debt, from $5.1 trillion to $15.8 trillion?

To read the rest of this post, click here.

63 thoughts on ““Fiscal Conservatives” Dodge $10 Trillion Debt

  1. Dr. Johnson, I hope you will address the following comments by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who states that U.S. monetary reform is urgently needed:

    “It is long past time we look at the implications of . . . the privatization of money created by the 1913 Federal Reserve Act, the bank fractional reserve system and our debt-based economic system. Unless we have dramatic reform of monetary policy, the entire economic system will continue to accelerate wealth upwards…”

    Thank you.

  2. “Anyone who wants to be taken seriously as a fiscal conservative must stop dodging this issue and start proposing solutions.”

    Get your passports ready for an English speaking place in the southern hemisphere; But please, stop spreading our means and ways!

    I don’t trust our chances for reform–most in the elite don’t even know how to spell it, not to mention their playing self-interest little games with huge consequences. Unless the next bigger and leveling disaster strikes first…

  3. BTW, I expect Japan, or whatever is left out of it, to be the first among the ones to cast out of the spell of maximizing shareholder value.

    The US and UK will probably remain, well, without so many friends. I am apprehensive though about growing American sensitivity and fast military reaction…

    The US leadership, since Clinton, has behaved as if we are entitled to the the world. Obama, despite hopes and indications to the contrary, makes no exception, or his voice got drowned in the institutionalized hubris between Hudson and Potomac.

  4. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/20-5

    Chaos / Crisis / Manipulation / Exploitation and Wrecking the economy.
    It is in the interests of “Fiscal Conservatives” who are thriving upon ownership and control of the money supply and the apparatus of disaster capital over this orchestrated libertarian-market political machine.

    The Corporate Oasis economy is the austere delusion on the horizon…one where every State will beg for a piece of the global war market.

  5. (CEPR…good example):

    Financial Speculation Tax Serious Tool for Long-Term Deficit Reduction
    Tax burden would largely fall on banks and hedge-funds, not everyday taxpayers.

    For Immediate Release: January 24, 2011

    LINK to full release & PDF of full analysis:

    (Quote from Release):

    “This tax would almost exclusively hit the financial sector, not individual investors, because investors would respond to any increase in transactions costs by cutting back their trading, leaving the total amount they spend on trades little changed. An FST would help rein in the economic rents earned by the financial sector by taxing the turnover of credit-default swaps, options, stocks, and other financial instruments.

    Revenue from an FST could annually exceed 1.0 percent of U.S. GDP. This would more than cover the costs of many government programs and budget items, such as the extension of unemployment insurance, the 2011 pay-roll tax cut, projected Social Security shortfall, and the projected gaps in state budgets for fiscal year 2011.

    In terms of potential revenue when deficit reduction is now playing a central role in Washington debates, it is surprising that an FST is not given more attention as a policy-tool. Few other options are as attractive or generate as much money with as little pain as an FST.” (end quote)

    My input:
    Put this with a general Bank Tax (minimal transaction tax) and the entire deficit is solved.

  6. Simon:
    Isn’t “Fiscal Conservative” just another name for the Washington Consensus?

  7. Bruce, the assumption of some of the articles at your pointers is that there is something much more (as in real) behind the financial transactions/sector than what actually I think it is. To a great extent, the financial sector itself is a tax on everyone else, whereby the elites keep on exploiting everything of real value, except that they are no longer in your face. So, taxing them is like double taxation…

    Simon’s position has been to trim the financial sector to size, which I think it’s sensible. Except that Geithner still thinks he’s better than Gates (the DoD guy).

  8. Simon,

    You and others have repeatedly provided reasonable and rational solutions to the U.S. economic woes – from the perspective of Main St. THE obstacle to such proposals is that the federal government has been captured by the bankster and bigCorpa gangs. Certainly, this should be obvious to you by now.

    Expecting any reforms, other than those that will benefit the uber-rich and political elites, is futile and naive.

    No offense intended. I appreciate your voice, but I’ll like it better when you finally sound “mad as hell.”

  9. Simon, let’s face it, between the Republicans signing Grover Norquist’s pledge on penalty of death, and the tea party forgetting what they are, there is almost no chance of getting sane, realistic offerings to resolve our growing crisis. But, it certainly guarantees that we will get kibuke better than anything ever seen in Japan. I find that almost every statement made by anyone inside the beltway is nowadays becoming more and more tragicomic as these folks refuse to govern the electorate while they make last ditch promises to their real constituants (the oligarchs), without seeming to understand that by the 2012 elections, there may not be an America worth governing.

    The level of disconnect between our political leadership and the nation has grown to the point that it seems that they are intent on running some other country. They do wonderful hearings and select committies, but just for the purpose of saying that they did. No one follows the recommendations, or heeds the polls. Why are we still in Afghanistan, why are the banks still being propped up, why is 60% of the Gulf Coast still covered with oil, why aren’t bank executives (ala the S&L crisis) going to jail? Why do we have over 800 military bases overseas? It is almost as if Kurt Vonnegut was given the job of providing the script for official Washington. But even he couldn’t come up with the whole birther thing or imagine Donald Trump as a serious candidate, or imagine the mainstream media not ever reporting truth.

  10. @btraven: “but I’ll like it better when you finally sound ‘mad as hell.'”

    Before expecting rationally that someone from Simon’s position sounds ‘mad as hell,’ we have to to see too many others ‘mad as hell.’ I think he’s done his fair share, and I see no reason for his not doing more, provided that we signal we are prepared.

    The next shoe has to drop, let’s hope we are in the right situation relative to a shoed-miriapod here ;-)

  11. @ via fCh:
    First let me say I am glad I stopped back and received your response and “introduction” dialogue presenting the posture of your views. I would also like to commend you for your intelligent blog site and would definitely encourage other readers to browse through your entries at:


    In response to your comment about what is real, I can only say that we must assess the totality of incidence and rates of occurrences to create a full model. My stance is that we are currently at “epidemic” proportions of corruption that are progressively bleeding our economic system dry and utilizing “systems capacity” logic to convince us that this is not only proper but idealism in action. The rationale is meant to dominate the corporate narrative as the prime mover of our nations interests and even as National Security, even while it hides behind the Corporate Vail of deceptions. The question is global not necessarily American, but in many respects our choice to have a “voice” against the megalomania of crash capitalism and elitist (I will usurp the term…) “exceptionalism” is as much a self-defense as it is (in my opinion) the last bastion of American democracy in true colors and under the true flag.

    In regard to the cycle of tax you refer to above:

    “To a great extent, the financial sector itself is a tax on everyone else…
    …So, taxing them is like double taxation…” (Ibid)

    I tell you that the new ownership society is the “middle clause” missing from your deduction. The fact is that these financial Barons are self appointed agent/brokers who are extracting “tribute (aka:taxes as you use that term in that instance); which does not equate to “Taxes” imposed to prevent the tremendous debt obligations upon society that we are witnessing in “real” living time right now.

    At what point do we stop with the rhetoric and say Holy Cow my neighbors and community and town and state is in absolute imbalance and is at odds with itself as to how to pay the bills imposed by big finance ideology (trapped in the language lexicon of brand name capitalism to justify its exploits!).

    In the meantime we are losing our democratic systemic because we are obliged to sell its infrastructural foundations to the neo-ownership “political collective” under which we are becoming conscripts to the financial community.

    Thank you for your input, and I should add that this is neither oppositional nor meant as a construct in a false polarity. This is the time when all of us need to share in a new dialogue and relate to the translations of transition happening before us.

    AS Orwell said: the best way to capture the future is to capture the past. He was referring to deceptions.\
    Yet we might reverse logic here and add, that if we recapture the present …we will reclaim our past and our future…and perhaps save the democracy we all so cherish and hope to present to the rest of the world community.

  12. The New Corporate World Order
    Posted on Apr 19, 2011

    By Robert Scheer

    “The debate over Republicans’ insistence on continued tax breaks for the superrich and the corporations they run should come to a screeching halt with the report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined “Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad.” Those tax breaks over the past decade, leaving some corporations such as General Electric to pay no taxes at all, were supposed to lead to job creation, but just the opposite has occurred.”

    continue reading More:
    The New Corporate World Order
    Posted on Apr 19, 2011

  13. “The earlier expectation for 2011 was that the federal government would collect revenue equal to 19.3 percent of GDP. The forecast now is for revenue of 14.8 percent of GDP.”

    So GDP is 6-8% smaller than it ought to be (if there had been no recession) and still revenues are a smaller fraction (double whammy!).

    In addition to the “duh” factor — with a smaller percentage of a smaller number for income, it’s no wonder we have a huge deficit — I have to wonder why revenues as a pct of GDP dropped so much. I can think of 2 reasons:
    1) Tax cuts
    2) Production in the economy migrating to sectors that aren’t taxed (or are only lightly taxed).

    Even given the huge amount of tax cutting that has occurred since 2008, I’m assuming that a bigger portion of the drop in revenues (as % of GDP) is because of channel #2 (think hedge fund managers’ salaries treated as capital gains).

    I’d like see some analysis of this.

  14. Dear Simon, Great Post!

    Has “American Capitalism” been captured by a default “Marxism”?
    It seems our “Free Market Capitalist System” has been morphing into a “Political Economy via a Imperialistic Corporate Junta” since 1945!
    America has in all candor, become enveloped in a static flux. A similitude too that of a self induced hypnotic morass, where all the crossroads lead only to a precipice of failure capitulating to Sisyphus! All the while Congress fights with “Golden-Fleeced Feathered Gloves”, and America burns! The country literally has been castrated of its inherent dynamism…the very soul of America’s uniqueness. Why?
    What I see now in America as I write is its very ruination by our bureaucrats, top-to-bottom! As a once benign financial cancer, now fully metastasized from lack of a thorough financial check-up…now malignant and incurable.
    If we were to take the empirical parallels of Marxism and superimpose them with our defunct “Globalization Capitalist System”…thus infusing these two extremities in a mirror, the deception that permeates would give sight to the blind!

    Thankyou Simon and James, and please, never stop your great digging for Americas’ Sake! :-))

    God Bless You, Julian Assange

  15. Probably that is why USA is still under financial crises even after three years. These should be realization and positive steps rather then talks.

  16. @earle

    optiopicks from the most recent GS worship thread wrote this, “Could Goldman Sachs Fail? Hardly likely. Why? because they would be short the GS stock and be long the puts and short the corporate debt…… So when the stock is cratering and their lenders are dumping the debt on the open markets Goldman will be making a killing. LOL LOL. You don’t get it? These guys are the real deal. LOL LOL.”

    Go to his/her link – top of the page is their sacred math formula…

    wiki – “Marxism is an economic and socio-political worldview that centers around a political ideology which seeks to improve society by implementing socialism with the final goal of communism. Originally developed in the early to mid 19th century by two Germans, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Marxism is based upon a materialist interpretation of history.”

    A materialistic interpretation of history has only one final “ism” or “ist” – Nihilism.

    also a tidbit from the wiki article on Marxism you should appreciate<

    "….Marx wrote to the French labour leader Jules Guesde and to Paul Lafargue (Marx’s son-in-law) — both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles — accusing them of “revolutionary phrase-mongering” and of denying the value of reformist struggle…."

    "revolutionary phrase-mongering" – go figure that was something hurled as an insult – now a "specialty" for brown-nosers serving the "elite"…

    The longer this reaching for rationalizations goes on – the more ludicrous it gets.

    Star Trek series never got into the *details* of how the human species finally saved itself from self-inflicted ruin based on their own made up crap about what *is*….

    Happy Earth Day! Whatever math formula was able to produce an atmosphere that allows the PERFECT amount of sunlight to reach the planet's surface – that *math formula* certainly did not depend on the DATA from a "materialistic interpretation of history" writ by monkey brains – and worse, that's what makes them BELIEVE they are *better* than honest labour.

    That's so freekin' nuts, no one has a MORAL obligation to *believe* it – much less let it *govern*.

    Constitutional Convention and Burn the Patriot Act

    Worst *writ* of the day…? The LAW just passed that the first responders in NYC on 911 must bring a document with them that says that they are not on the Patriot Act list of "suspected terrorists" before they can receive the paid-for medical care just alloted to them….uh? hello? There was no such Patriot Act data list on 911!!!!!

    Shouldn't have imported all those WWII German "scientists" during WWII – Tuskagee Experiment was their idea of beating swords back to ploughshares…?

    Who walks off with the booty of war now – ah yes, the dude who survived a "concentration camp" who makes his billions by betting on Nihilistic principles – who gets hosed next…Billy Bob Clinton always says, "…don't bet against the American people…."

  17. @ Annie via Optionpicks

    Goldman Sachs (GS) has been on a buy back spree, and increasing their float…who cares. So they sell calls or buy puts…who cares. Shorting your corporate debt is risky business. Why? Have you ever been in a meltdown (eg. the Asian Crisis, etc.)? You can’t get out, unless of course you were responsible for the meltdown? The guys an amateur Annie.

  18. @earle

    he may be an amateur but he is also on of the technicians carrying out orders – and do you think he has the brain power to figure out the consequences of the orders? Of course not, and because he also doesn’t *care* about what it does to others, there is no educating him

    it’s their god-formula:

    more misery for others = more $$$ for ME ME ME

    Is there any math being crunched for the other mathematical *theory*:

    greatest good for the greatest number

    That gets a “LOL”….

    That’s enough proof for me that no one in the human species could do the math to construct a perfect atmosphere…no profit margins…

    Massive theft – and armed robbery, no less…

    BURN the Patriot Act – that data-mining GenX crowd was all about making sure the mercenaries got the cash saved up by honest, social-contributing, highly educated labor who played by the rules that kept them, as a CLASS, safe from Nihilistic predators.

    Nihilists don’t have the DATA they need, either. By building in so much spin – the data they have is their own feedback loop of made up crap…

    If a corporation is a person, then that means that the individual in a corporation is vulnerable to legal action…one individual can’t protect another individual from the consequences of their acts – you can’t absolve a person of their crime in the future time that follows the crime…well, not yet, but the mental masturbation involved in trying out that one in the Supreme Court is too tempting for a class of cheerful Dark Age hedonists who twit..

  19. @ Annie

    We all realize that the internet is shrinking as the world engages its libraries of vast wealth. Coincidentally I just plucked an “Easter Lilly” for you? [Indeed I did :-))]
    Enjoy the read,..and “Happy Easter All!”
    PS. Its stark and hard hitting…the stuff I like!!!

    Ref: The Daily Bell (7/27/10)___”Cultural Marxism : The Corruption of America” by Nelson Hultberg

  20. @Bruce: Many thanks for the follow-up and endorsement!

    You write: “In response to your comment about what is real, I can only say that we must assess the totality of incidence and rates of occurrences to create a full model.” To which I say, sign me up, except that we don’t do systemic thinking in the US–neither in the realm of social sciences, nor in our daily lives.

    There few noteworthy exceptions, ranging from Ken Wilber to Immanuel Wallerstein, but their voices are are seldom heard.

    You ask: “At what point do we stop with the rhetoric and say Holy Cow my neighbors and community and town and state is in absolute imbalance and is at odds with itself as to how to pay the bills imposed by big finance ideology (trapped in the language lexicon of brand name capitalism to justify its exploits!).”

    To which I reply: YESTERDAY! Perhaps, we ought to go back to the 1st Amendment and exercise our citizenship duty and right to congregate.

    Some will point out to the Tea Party as example. I’m not 100% sure how it’s all working, e.g., funny financing and endorsements, besides taking too many Bush years to come into being. However partial, the Tea Party should be a lesson.

    To return to systemic thinking/solutions, the trick here is to locate the cornerstone on which the current corrupt(ing) system rests.

    Could it be progressive taxation? Those in favor, would say that progressive taxation reduces the incentive to steal, while also addressing matters of social injustice. Those against it would say that progressive taxation stifles private initiative and creativity, while being unjust at face value.

  21. @earle

    Seriously? That article has all the clarity and charm of someone who just hurled up everything he ate that disagreed with him.

    Sorry, Dude, I am definitely in the “psychology is NOT a science” camp – ditto for politics (although Obama is pretty close to a pre-fab software program that could be bought and popped in to Al-Jazeera, or wherever, broadcast – voila! – instant leadership for a “democracy”)

    It’s endless – truly endless – given the ABSOLUTE uniqueness of each individual – how many different ways people can find ways to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number…

    The other math:

    More misery for others = more money for ME ME ME

    always the same schtick….

    You are WRONG, historically, in identifying the genesis of the Century of Horror in East and West Europe – and China and Japan…had nothing to do with magic wordsmithing – indeed, some will “never forget” – interesting that with twits and facebook and aol – the truth is back to being preserved in the verbal tradition.

    You all will be judged on what you did with – BOTH – the gifts that were given to you and the shiny objects you stole from others…

    Congrats on the massive theft, nihilistic law enforced by authoritarianism (talk about an oxyMORON), and “man as god”, not just the son of god…

    All Nutz – and I have no moral obligation to “believe” in liars, thieves, murderers.

    War is still on…

  22. I have a new respect for your war Annie, for I have found the other half of my fortune to be a road that has been traveled. And to relie on it solely might not give justice to some who may deserve it, so a dual purpose mandate might be required and the timing on part of that could simply be, a royal marrage away.

    Either way the current system is to far under water to be saved now, and I believe your feelings will be felt by the masses sooner rather than later. If you can, take care of ones family as best one can. Because the few do have financial control, and have every intention of making thier golden wish come true and anyones cost but themselves.

  23. @ via fCh:
    Hello again! Interesting points and nuances. I don’t know that America is not systematic, there seems to be a great deal of systematic evasions and denials as a routine knee jerk reaction; but I do know there has been a lack of systematic responses (and a complacency that seems more like systematic cowardice…or at least a tolerant contentment for contempt; albeit all hell falls on the scapegoats and off-reservation mavericks).

    Back in the sixties we would refer to the “brain police” and this is not a paranoid or even necessarily a psychosocial term.
    The “establishment” of a class-capital/political capture was already recognized and the notion that our very language was being parceled and captured to “condition responses” was part of the 60s anti-intellectual [sic] counter-culture. Today, if we were still open to such free flow jargon we might construct something along the lines of the “political-mafia’s brain squid and its termitic dogma of consumerism.” Under such, the “progressive tax” would quickly become the “presumptive tax” because the “progressive” term is toxic and loaded ready to explode the minute its used.

    And unlike what you say as for the
    “tea party” being a model…well; that really is somewhere between Cool Aid parties, fascist factions and LSD Trains to paradise.

    The question comes down to Competitive Law and the process of capital being a (theoretically) limited supply. What we need is some comprehensive approaches to the anti-trust question but in greater complexity. Instead, we get dismantling of the protective shields of these Federal statutes and we have the people who are benefiting from it telling us that we do not need protection, that protection kills “efficiency.” Well, pardon me on that one but you can go sell “freedom” to the middle east but don’t try to sell me that “efficiency” religion in place of real legislated anti-trust laws that are up to date with current events!

    The system is stratified. We see finance as the prime mover of the economy and therefore accept the fact (blindly) that every move it makes actually IS the economy. We allow obnoxious rationalization to pass as rationale; and protect it with legalese to baffle and dumbfound the public. Then we allow them to take these gross distortions and use the money it makes to set up the next apparatus…built into the price structure of our domestic markets…and give them a competitive advantage over our political rights and representation.
    The point is that you can’t fix the ship going in circles by pretending to fix the rigging one by one (around in circles too). The whole thing is that the governance is bad and is intentionally so because that is serving the goon squads of congress who are serving the mob bosses of finance.

    There is not much chance that the “millionaires club” that we call Congress is going to work against their vested interests and suddenly put a progressive tax on the table. Hell, they won’t even allow a “:regressive” tax to allow poor people with survival problems to go exempt from taxes with itemizing their expenses (the ceiling for poor people is ridiculously high…it is set for those who live in a “Separate Economy” and softens their expenses.

    It is time that we have a “tier” economy tax and some comprehensive taxes that level the competitive advantages of greed capital domination. But I don’t see that coming. For now, a good bank transaction tax (the Robin Hood tax concept) and a cost assessment tax to the banks (especially speculative finance at the top) to pay down the crisis debt. It is also possible to make taxes relative to increases in the Federal debt from year to year and relative to paying that off immediately (assessed most directly to the sectors creating the debt). Overall, we keep thinking of “going back” to fix the broken pieces of the “deregulation” debacle (another loaded term) when we should be doing our metric formulations upon the current unique situations we have right now.

    As you point out with the right inquiry:
    “To return to systemic thinking/solutions, the trick here is to locate the cornerstone on which the current corrupt(ing) system rests.”

    But the TEA party factionalism is definitely not the way to go but precisely why we will NOT see the “cornerstone” or more precisely the “KEYSTONE” BECAUSE they are essentially the Keystone Cops of this fiasco. The truth of the matter is that we will not see any work done on either the cornerstone or the keystone because (as simplistic as it sounds)…these are the building blocks of the 60s
    “ESTABLISHMENT” not the enlightenment of the 21st Century.

    Together, however, we will approach a new covenant in this land but it will not be a match for a fully financed 1% and a completely conscripted 99% of the “domesticated” economy at their capital prodding hands.

  24. @Bruce

    Hear, hear! Well made, and taken, point about “progressive”-anything as being explosively loaded for the feeble minded, who cry socialism or similar labels each time they are prompted to think.

    You keep returning to a a Robin Hood-type of tax on banking. I have no immediate problem with that, unless you think of achieving more than slowing down economically criminal behavior.

    I tip my hat to your last two paragraphs–and you might have created their premise early on: We have to redefine the terms in which we carry the conversation onward, for all there is now had been built long time ago and hard-wired by the Cold War, and whatever followed that, in the minds of too many.

    The elites know it, and the few of us need reminding, you don’t need everybody and their mother in the beginning to start effecting social change. Few brains, with their hearts in the right places, to focus on the problem and solutions and then to develop language and roll action…

    P.S. I gave the example of the Tea Party as a case of socio-political innovation, even though it might have been created/captured by those it is supposed to temper. In other words, there is demand for change, the supply has been scarce.

  25. @Bruce Addendum

    “The question comes down to Competitive Law and the process of capital being a (theoretically) limited supply. What we need is some comprehensive approaches to the anti-trust question but in greater complexity. Instead, we get dismantling of the protective shields of these Federal statutes and we have the people who are benefiting from it telling us that we do not need protection, that protection kills “efficiency.” Well, pardon me on that one but you can go sell “freedom” to the middle east but don’t try to sell me that “efficiency” religion in place of real legislated anti-trust laws that are up to date with current events!”

    Yes, we construed the corporation into something that has taken a life of its own (aka, Golem). But, as you point out in the next paragraphs, the corporation is a mere decoy for the interests of the 1%.

    You also mention the sanctity of capital in the production function–where labor ‘flexibility’/fungibility is the counterpart. This is another meme, which has won and placed many unsuspecting, and unenlightened, purveyors in positions of authority. Its social cost is yet to be overstated.

  26. via fCh: copy that!

    I have to grant you that “theoretically” and “Phenomenologically” the tea party does appear to be a spontaneously generated middle class consolidation and almost socially “intuitive” formation. However, I think we have to save the actual analysis of that for a future opportunity (I suspect the roots are beginning to show on this blond bombshell…); but I do think your analogy…granting a very careful critical eye…is valid for the potential American scenario (aka: within the genera of baseline assessments…so to speak).

    Now in that same spirit of careful analogies, let me state that there are some interesting “scale” systemics involved when you observe Great Britain and the USA in their “democratic” ways (despite the distinctions of parliamentary content / content etc of England and ignoring the Royal tapestry).

    (…by the way, while I am at it…I do apologize for replacing your “systemics” with systematics…I do know they are critically distinctive in the formulation of any model; but I was tongue in cheek with the ideas as you undoubtedly noticed…)

    Getting back to “scale” analysis, to be quite crass about it, America can have all sorts or Urban uprisings and protests or even one great Washington DC gathering and it is still well absorbed. In England, however, it is equivalent to the size of ONE of our states…when they have public uprisings …it is the whole package deal! Consequently and in the context of their hard fought civil history (I have observed…but I admit it is somewhat subjective…)
    their “democratic voice” is more immediate and acute while ours tend to fester and go chronic before we muttle through some remedies at a half time pace.

    This is the long way around to explaining that I have been following, with great interest, the way the British are approaching this “Robin Hood” tax question. I not only think it is a good idea, I think it is absolutely perfect logic.

    I do not think it is good for America (size…scale…scope…etc) to place this into play for a great expanse of time, however, but I think it is a great way to make the finance community pay off this Looting of the Treasury. I also think that it should become law that this type of “penalty” tax of re-compensation will kick into effect whenever liability warrants it (as determined by our courts).

    So Yes: the so called “Robin Hood” tax is definitely a peoples’ champion right now and would greatly relieve us from a more immediate threat to our immediate crisis than any “burden” this obligation would impose on “Big” finance.

    Incidentally: I also believe that we have to return protected power back to our commercial middle class banks if we even presume to rebuild our infrastructure. Anything less would simply be “Willful” self-deceptions exploited by very willing crooks in speculative finance.

  27. “Its social cost is yet to be overstated.”

    via fCh: copy that!

    And I must say that according to my research our ecological crisis is even more obscured; and with war fueling the globe…perhaps even the greater danger…

    …but we can’t even begin to work on that under the realities of the human product we affectionately call HISTORY ( I won’t even dignify economy).

  28. Bruce:

    The Robin Hood Tax had been called for by the Germans and French for many years now. The US and UK had resisted such calls for the most part of the last decade. The calls have also been for the funny trades to take place in transparent markets–that way, Goldman Sachs could not have sold toxic synthetic assets, insured them with AIG, and shorted them, all at the same time. The calls have also been for enforcing the laws on naked trades, and on and on…

    So, you see, I think that the call for a tax should come at the same time as we call for the elimination of funny financial deals. That is so only if we think we still have anything to lose. Otherwise, we double down, and play it all on one card–that people are going to help us through once more, out of naivety or necessity.

    I’m curious to see how the G7 vs. the G20 (read, the Chinese) will play out. That’s an indication for where world is leaning. On this site, I found a pointer to a talk given by the Chief Econmist of the National Bank of China–they live under no illusions, and his recommendation is a tax on consumption. Australia is already considering seriously a tax on… carbon.

    Yes, I started noticing a change in the British winds relative to the financial games played in the City, and a Robin Hood tax in particular, a few years back, even before PM Cameron changed residences. And no, I don’t think it’s the voice of democracy, but of their elite’s better sense of self-preservation.

    “And I must say that according to my research our ecological crisis is even more obscured” I used to look at this from afar; Since Fukushima, not anymore. We either change our ways or will be replaced by a more communal species…

  29. via fCh

    Thanks for the background on the Robin Hood tax, practicality measures intentionality but it says a lot that the prudent intentions were rebuffed by the very people who created distortion in the overall system. It amazes me that Goldman got away with its dirty tricks and they did it in Italy as well. Collusion in finance is global, or there would be consequences. One has to expect that it goes higher than just Goldman though because the impact has been so devastating. Then everyone acts like its just a “systems capacity failure” instead of abuses and outright exploitation of power positions entrusted to higher authority. I honestly do not think this is simply a failure of judgment. It has the feel of an orchestrated push.

  30. By the way, via fCh, I too have found that the Chinese have been more open and honest than the Americans about the realities. It may just be that they are in the same position as the Germans and French that you mentioned in regard to transparency and loading down on the float, …it’s is in their interest to be open to upstage the duplicity of the American stance. However, I have also found them to be more intelligent about actually creating a system that works. I like the use of silver domestically and gold internationally for example.

    The world is learning and leaning at the same time. New alliances are forming and there is a lot going on with still born ideas…but its persistent. there is a growing sense that the imbalances are all power and pressure plays rather than negotiations. If Americans think they can still muscle this arrangement, I believe it will go badly. With the current mafia running the show for us under OBama’s questionable position, it is a time bomb being modified by vested interests in a process of dynamic committments; but everything appears to be breaking loose. this so called “democratic uprising” literally all over the globe is very suspicious and frankly could tip the political hammer into play. I don’t know, but it is looking more and more like the forces of imbalance that was a prelude to WW1 writ large to an international level. People just don’t realize that half the world is literally fighting already. We just call it a “no fly zone” like a traffic control problem. One can’t separate these things from the total reality. Ultimately the “internalities” are going to meet the “ex-ternalities” and the macro-economists are going to have to realize they are being micromanaged by a smaller group of “microeconomic” communities who are bsically the international hegemonic face of political finance.

    This does, however, take us a bit above the “baseline scenario”…but its been interesting to exchange these perspectives with you. I look forward to more in the future.

  31. Bruce, for me it all became clear when I read Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing. Up to that point, I saw bits and pieces, commented on many a blog (going all the way back to Roubini in the early 2000s), and experienced some things first hand.

    Then, in the summer of 2008, it all started to make sense and I’ve come to realize that our top people must have been in, all along–I’d go as far back as the moment the winners of the Republican and Democrat parties’ primaries were known in 2000. Bush the lesser and Gore must have been told about how the world was going to look like in the aftermath of the .com crash. Then, a solution was manufactured with the assistance of Greenspan–so much for the Fed independence, one of the reasons we have a private money system.

    Another datapoint I’ll charge the attentive reader with is the 2004 off-record meeting between the top i-bankers and the SEC chairman, which relaxed the leverage ratios.

    Since I take it that you are an anthropologist with more than a scholarly interest in the 2008 Crisis, and possible solutions to it, I recommend Karen Ho’s recent ethnography of Wall Street (Duke University Press). Beware, it’s hard to put down!

  32. “I don’t know, but it is looking more and more like the forces of imbalance that was a prelude to WW1 writ large to an international level.”


    Have a look at the most recent Foreign Affairs. The open challenge is how not to make China feel like Germany before the two world wars.

  33. Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy by Alexandra Ouroussoff (Oct 12, 2010)
    Very good analytical study from an anthropological perspective and has certain insights into the full systemic. This is one I would recommend.

    Collision and collusion: the Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe 1989 -1998 by Janine R. Wedel
    St. Martins Press. 1998
    A powerful study of one of the most dramatic political and economic transitions (from the ground up) over a decade in duration.

    Janine R. Wedel subsequently produced a book which continues to surprise me with insights that are not at all obvious at first, but open doors of perception more and more…SHADOW ELITE: How the World’s New Power Brokers undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. Basic Books 2009

    Karen Ho “Liquidated” Duke U. Press (she’s at the University of Minn. : it’s a good department and I believe someone else over there thatdid an inside portrayal related to the Chicago Markets).
    Karen Ho…has a following and she is a great writer. Thank you for that reference and others may benefit as well.

  34. via fCh
    (above references were back to you, I forgot to tag it)

    “Have a look at the most recent Foreign Affairs. The open challenge is how not to make China feel like Germany before the two world war”

    Aside from the multiple color wars that are being essentially false flagged (outcome will show…most people don’t even realize it is going on in South America at a lower intensity as well)…the US is playing a strategic encirclement game (So says Zbigniew Brzezinski who compares it to the Chinese game of GO). Since Brzezinski formulated the idea of playing Afganistan off of Russia, one might expect that his strategic encirclement is doing the same. So I suppose we can divide the globe into micro-politics and macro-politics in that regard, and pretend they are separate.

    Watch Jon Huntsman Ambassador from China (now resigning and coming home…) for President. The question of China is up in the air.
    check out:




    It is of great interest in the “balance of forces” (known as the balance of power prior to WWI as articulated largely by Bismarck)

    The University without Borders (…or orders!)

  35. Bruce:

    I have SHADOW ELITE and cannot figure out why people are not talking about it more. I think it’s because we only want to think what we already believe in…

    For the transitions in the former Soviet space, and especially Russia, have a look at Andrei Shleifer’s contribution, and how Summers played that on behalf of Andrei at Harvard.

    I’ve known of Huntsman’s noises for a while. Unless vetted by Wall Street, for reasons to be determined yet, Romney is ahead.

    SCO has been around for too long to be more than a conduit for the Russians to sell weapons, and the Chinese to echo our bilateralism, as in asymmetrical relations.

    The rest of the world is not happy with how the dollar is woven into the fabric of their lives, the Chinese are gradually building alternatives, decoupling goes on slowly. Somehow, I don’t trust the generation of Obama and Geithner to handle whatever game they think they are playing with the world.

    Brzezinski’s name keeps coming up, I’m not sure what his contribution is. Careful consideration reveals that Obama continues what started under Bush, if not Clinton.

  36. via fCh:
    I have a feeling that Huntsman is well beyond Wall Street, but we shall see. What I am not sure is where he stands in alliance with the Koch Brothers.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Clinton and Obama were hand picked by Bush Texas mafia-politik…and more than that for Obama. I don’t believe him at all; he’s a ringer if I ever saw one. Geitner’s Father and Obama’s Mother were both connected to the Ford Foundation and its finance; Geitner, like Obama, spent a good deal of his youth in Foreign lands so the questions do arise as to what their upbringing has been compared to the average American child and the enculturations that go along with it (aka: American education itself).
    I don’t buy the “book” on Obama.

    The Russian transition was a fiasco; Friedman’s shock doctrine (exploited by Summers among others) and sell out was on the plate from the beginning. There are several items on this search page:

    The real question for the turn of the Century is still whether they turned out more like us, or we turned out more like them? We have the Industrial-military complex and the NSC covering the whole international and our own domestic arena. It seems we have seriously trumped the “defunct?” KGB which has converted themselves into a model more like ours at this time. It seems the “intelligence community” is doing all the demo-crating around the world now!

    I haven’t seen Andrei Shleifer’s work, but I will definitely check him out. thanks for that!

  37. via fCh:
    quick edit: the Industrial-Military Complex
    and the NSA = National Security Agency

  38. Bruce, your writing is also dense, and rewarding for the 2nd or 3rd time reader.

    “The real question for the turn of the Century is still whether they turned out more like us, or we turned out more like them? We have the Industrial-military complex and the NSC covering the whole international and our own domestic arena. It seems we have seriously trumped the “defunct?” KGB which has converted themselves into a model more like ours at this time. It seems the “intelligence community” is doing all the demo-crating around the world now!”

    There’s so much packed in here! In other parts of the world, the profitable enterprise is in either politics or the intel community; yet I have a growing feeling that the latter is wagging the dog.

    The problem with ours is that our brightest don’t have to go to the agencies, and we have to rely a lot on technology and money. The books by, and resignation of, Michael Scheuer show that even we we have good guys on the field, they are trumped by politics.

    To address your real question for the turn of the century, I’d say: Their elites have certainly turned like ours, and that must have been the motivation for change all along. Then, one like Putin shows up and the premise for surprise is established.

    You mentioned something about the upbringing of Obama and Geithner. Their makeup should have made them much more aware about the intricacies of the world–relative to, say, Bush II. But they only play the role of the Soviet Komisars on behalf of the Comintern. Had they actually spend a good day of work in their lives, they might have understood how bad for the American business their behavior is. I had thought that Obama was picked ahead of Clinton, for some understood how bad Bush had been for some business, non-military, that is.

  39. The powerful “Marxist”, and Political Economy within? Indeed research shows empirical evidence that Columbia {Frankfurt School[?]} University was a Marxism, “Cultural Center” from 1920’s through the 60’s, and beyond! (JMHO)
    Who controls the media controls the thoughts and minds of the collective? Conversely, he who has the most money (economy/ Wall Street) controls the media first and foremost.
    Ref: Columbia University @ Wikipedia

    Ref: John Kluge the “once”, wealthiest man in American and his gargantuan endowment too downtown Manhattans’ Columbia College/ University ?

  40. earle,florida and I had a link loaded discussion that you might be interested to check out that directly relates to extensions of our subject and concerns. I am not sure that everyone realizes that they can click both headings at the top of the article to retrieve the index or the article of choice…and I wish that was clearly indicated in the Baseline Scenario format, but for easy access here is the link:


    Incidently…I am very interested in getting the idea out on a University without Borders, boundaries, or Barriers to entry…(& no “orders” or obligations to anyone!) Why don’t we all collaborate on this?

  41. Universities without borders should be a 4.0+ academia prerequisite to BaselineScenario, period! I’ve notice some colleges, and universities participating…relatively biased on subjective matter (ie. conversely we must somehow fold them into this rhetorical contemporary dialogue).

    Ref: Metromedia International Group (MIG), announces new President and CEO for Metromedia *China Corporation {(6-25-98)(that’s quite a headstart wouldn’t you say?}
    PS. Metromedia (*MacroMedia [?]) also has recently announced agreements with Georgian, Russian, Eastern European, etc., etc., Governments (basically its got its tentacle’s picking all the sovereigns noses…no orifice is sacred to say the *least).

    *Talk about Competition and Transparency,…

  42. “Incidently…I am very interested in getting the idea out on a University without Borders, boundaries, or Barriers to entry…(& no “orders” or obligations to anyone!) Why don’t we all collaborate on this?”

    Please elaborate. Then consider Cas Sunstein type of actions as just one of the many aimed at imposing ‘orders “orders” or obligations to…’ everyone[sic] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

    What’s been going on here at Baseline is a beginning. The Crisis is sharpening the focus and analytical skills of so many of us, that something is going to come out of it.

  43. What we are seeing here is “emergence” theory in action:AKA; culture. You can call it anything else methodologically…but it is nothing short of the birth of a vision!

    Let’s let it ride organically and open the horizons!

  44. via fCh
    Please elaborate. Then consider Cas Sunstein type of actions as just one of the many aimed at imposing ‘orders “orders” or obligations to…’ everyone[sic] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

    Good point up front.

    Note the origins of this paper and any critical eye can see that it has an agenda to crash its subject.

    Where are the disclosures? In academic work the financing or support base is generally acknowledged. this is not a comprehensive academic approach to CTs simply because it fails miserably to classify the many different varieties of its useage or classification. JFK assassination is not equivalent to aliens landing in the Southwest of America. It also fails to explain that the pre-emptive attack of labeling real news as conspiracy “theory” is a ridiculing technique to discredit the author. It is very true that CT is congested with wild attention seeking rumor mills (see my comment about signal to noise ratio as a blocking technique…also at:
    …but let us concede that we have seen enough to know that there is a good deal of machination involved in the “immediate” claims of CTs as the classification instead of potential COVER STORIES DISCREDITATION or as they say: Appeal to absurdity.

    The question does arise as to when a conspiracy theory is NOISE or pure misinformation and when it is the deliberate misinformation of the right wing strategists which is never called specifically conspiracy hype!
    check out serious work on the subject and I defy Harvard or Chicago University to contest me on the fact that they have not been whores to power; and Trojan Horses to the world in regards to a reckless disre3gard for the truth!

    THE POLITICS OF MISINFORMATION: Murray Edelman 2001 Cambridge U. Press
    COMPROMISED CAMPUS: The Collaboration of Universities with the Intelligence Community, 1945-1955 Compromised Campus: The Collaboration of Universities with the Intelligence Community, 1945-1955
    Sigmund Diamond OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 1992
    AND: UNIVERSITIES AND EMPIRE: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences During the Cold War. Edited by Christopher Simpson 1998: the New Press.

    and that is what I mean by NO ORDERS!

  45. @ Bruce E. Woych

    “The Light Bulb “Conspiracy”, excellent!

    Now suppose the light bulb was just exhausting its matter/energy? Let’s say “Tired Light” – where the Blue/Red Shift is inconsequential?
    The “Big Bang” is a theory all atheist (greater percentage of scientist) postulate.
    Time “C” is the speed of light which is a fixed factor as we’ve been told for the last seventy-five years or so, and it’s now the gospel of the scientific (community[?]) universe, and the world’s population has bought into it. No one question this revelation “Axiom” to date. Why?
    Afraid to question authority, or simply no guts…or follow the leader?
    The Universe is infinite, always was and will be forever and ever. There is no expansion, and certainly won’t be any contraction (elastic). It’s just what it is, nothing more nothing less.
    Now back to the “Big Bang” theory, which is just that a theory. A conspiracy of sorts. Really easy to believe if enough enabling collaborators build that fortress of rationale?
    Surprise! There’s was no big bang to speak of. We haven’t the instruments nor the technology…just hypothetical’s, period! If the Universe was created in a blink of a second, time would be of no factor, for the expansion far exceeds the speed of light in the very origins of our so called universe. Time is simply a variable that our little minds can’t grasp because we were told so. Hubble (telescope) was a great man, but he died suddenly in a freak automobile accident taking his secrets with him? The atheist love the theory, but time today seems very tired to say the least.
    I just had to get it out :-))

  46. Bruce, I couldn’t learn from your reply an explicit way to deal with Cas Susnstein type of attacks to a project whereby an alternative voice emerges to counter the official line. At some level, I agree that one can tell noise apart, but I still wonder how far a project can go. That’s if we take effecting change as a metric for success. Otherwise, we can always think of a virtual agora, yet I wonder how is that different from what’s going on in here. The elites love polyphony and should have no problem subsidizing its cacophonic forms.

    The social scientist, belaboring objectively away from the society, has been bought off long ago. You keep referencing the British, but they outnumbered us hands down in terms of public figures speaking truth to power, especially when their empire was going down–it might have had something to do with the homogeneity of that people.

    Practically speaking, I’m all for allowing ourselves into this virtual socializing round current themes; we all get something out of it, which is greater than the sum of our initial contributions. At societal level, I think, it’s going to take more pain before people start paying attention.

    BTW of the many think tanks and the role of money in directing the research agenda, have you any idea about the NSF grants ordering social sciences in the past 10 years? I’m willing to bet that well meant academics have come up with many a mechanism to prop up the mighty state, even though they thought it was the local law enforcement that benefited from their insights…

  47. via fCh:

    Very well thought out and presented.

    While I hesitate to resort to cliche, it seems to be the nature of the beast (…and perhaps amplified by the exponential nature of social communication on the one hand, and confounded by the complexity of behavior modification and manipulation of “social” factors from material levels to symbolic ideals …not to mention the simplistic so-called “herd” phenomenon). But let us place this beast in the context of the Leviathan network.

    Misinformation or essentially “programing” is a social identity and membership factor as much as anything else. The sway of opinions (appeals to fundamentalism and factions) has an ulterior appeal.
    Judgments here are largely by consensus for both truth and validity but also can work negatively to reject the obvious in a populous’ flow of sentiment.
    We see it all the time, and the spin has become so routine that it has a futility power behind it to block and disconnect legitimate communication.

    Despite this process being part of the growing reality of electronic communication fields, we should not be identifying the potentials with the likes of minimalizing ventures such as face book and the market friendly notion of “social networking” which I do not trust at all. Electronic communities, however, are forming as cohort groupings around marketing the internet dialogue (Huffington Post is a good example since we can see how transitional that magazine format has been and we might suggest where it is even going…). What is also possible is a self correcting (…continuous learning system…) that permits a self screening membership that proviceds input and output at qualitative levels).
    check here for a systemic model:

    Global System for Sustainable Development – http://gssd.mit.edu/


    Methodology seriously counts. Half of the loose ended and wild goose chasing distractions would not face the light of day if they had to define their terms and explain theirs measures and standards.

    The other half can be identified by certain traits that they all have in common (ridiculing labels and ostracizing attacks without seriously demonstrating convincing proofs are one hall mark of the misuse and abuse of collective persuasions. I find it interesting that a real conspiracy, for example, can be slanted just by tipping into “theory” and left at that accusation. Frankly, the first directives of any realistic “open” forum of learning would have to be versed in the (easy to find by a simple search) variety of tricks that utilize logical fallacies. In fact, it is a lot of fun to check them out in the very many ports that explain them. I suppose this is already implying that any University in Exile 2011: U. without Borders: would certainly have to adopt standards. (I have used the term “order” very loosely, and I did not mean to imply organization…but more along the lines of a hidden agenda and pressure to conform to an outside agency that is secretive and duplicitous. Open Learning requires some degree of security against overwhelming power and distortion). Such a “society” would be based on “communities” of intellectual pursuit of uncompromising truth. In this regard, the open forum is blind to money and politics and passionately concerned about credibility and integrity as its primary currency.

    I hope this sparks some more thought for you as your messages have for me.
    Regards; Bruce

  48. Bruce, we are yet to find out about the truly democratic forms of organizing and co-creation. I happen to be researching these subjects as we speak.

    The MIT site is so dusty that I wonder what the true story had been. As for Huffington Post, it epitomizes what can go wrong with the popular media outlets. For me, it’s a natural experiment still running.

    At any rate, I’ve already started feeling I might have abused the generosity of our hosts with all these tangents. Leave a comment at my site, or let me know where/how else we can continue the conversation.

    Many thanks Simon & James!

  49. Mr Y’s article lasted much less than 24 hours on the internet – more like 12.


    And so much for “supporting the military” – how dare they presume to usurp the domains of social engineering?!

    huffin’ and puffin’

    I guess when Obama parroted the favorite line of the Ponzists – “…not everyone *deserves* to own a home…” he must have also meant the family of active military men since that list of who is who in that “unprotected” community was given to the banksters – just today heard someone on the phone re-telling the story about how some quasi-police showed up to throw his neighbor out on the street….but people don’t “care” – right?….and then he went on to describe next steps the whole ‘hood is taking to figure out who the goon patrol was…something to be said for NorthEast ‘hoods were people went to grammar school with each other…

    Once the *Prez* of USA says something so petty and UNinspirational like “not everyone deserves to own a home” – it’s not USA he’s talking about, nor is he talking to USA born and bred citizens…and especially coming from a dude who sold drugs on the street and never had a job, well, what possible credibility does HE have for deciding who *deserves* a HOME.

    A HOME – not everyone *deserves* to “own a HOME”….

    The President…

    Impressive – albeit more than a little hysterical – burying of a real rallying of “troops” on the internet of that article (link didn’t work, eh? go figure)

    “National Strategic Narrative” written by Mr. Y….

    The permanent grey and black market, as identified in the article, is acknowledged. There is no need to send the 18 year old bullet catchers over for cover to make it easier for the global mercenaries, is there?

    Right, there is no HOME for them to come home to now, is there?

    Crank up the NOISE….

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