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Philip Mirowski to Discuss Neoliberalism in Sunday Book Salon - Shadowproof

Philip Mirowski to Discuss Neoliberalism in Sunday Book Salon - Shadowproof

Our Sunday Book Salon gives us a chance to discuss neoliberalism with Philip Mirowski, author of . Most people have a general idea of some of the theories of neoliberalism, especially the general idea that markets should be the dominant force in society. Mirowski traces the roots of this idea to Frederich Hayek and his Mont Pelerin Society. This group expanded and morphed into what Mirowski calls a Russian Doll approach to formulating and implementing a strange notion of humans as consumers and workers and nothing more worth mentioning. It serves the interest of right-wing billionaires, who...

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Nov 16
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Markets and Regulations are Figure and Ground - Shadowproof

Markets and Regulations are Figure and Ground - Shadowproof

Figure and GroundMost of our fellow citizens think that there is something sacred about markets, an idea that is impossible to take seriously. There are no markets without regulations, and there never have been. Why is this so hard to see? One reason is that people stare at the market and don’t see the rules, just like the optical illusions in the graphics. Rules set the framework for markets, but once the rules are in place, the market emerges as the dominant figure.Hag/Girl Optical IllusionWith markets, the constant din of anti-government propaganda from the conservatives serving the...

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Feb 23
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We’re Such a Bunch of Boobs, Ha, Ha, Ha - Shadowproof

We’re Such a Bunch of Boobs, Ha, Ha, Ha - Shadowproof

We’re just a bunch of ignorant people, unable to understand the world around us, says this guy in the , under the caption Contemplating the Boobs We Were.[A] year-end toast to us all — the boobs and easy marks who from time immemorial have mastered the art of buying high and selling low, investing in bubbles as transparent as an open window, making crashes and swindles as much a part of the human experience as love, vanity and bad breath.Everywhere you look, you see these bad-breathed boobs. Here’s a couple saving for the down payment on a house, staring at a mutual fund statement with a...

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Bernanke Says Interest Rates Are Low Because Industrial Economies Can’t Pay - Shadowproof

Bernanke Says Interest Rates Are Low Because Industrial Economies Can’t Pay - Shadowproof

Fed Chair Ben Bernanke recently in which he explained why long-term interest rates are so low. He started by saying that certainly central banks play a role in determining long-term rates, which seems right because the Fed is buying up long term securities Treasuries and mortgage backed securities issued by Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie Mae at a current rate of about $85 billion a month, for a total of about $2.8 trillion. First, he explains basic economic theory on setting rates, then moves to a recap.We let you vote, leave us alone. Photo by Mr UshLong-term interest rates are the sum of...

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Mar 14
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Saturday Art: Day and Night By M. C. Escher - Shadowproof

Saturday Art: Day and Night By M. C. Escher - Shadowproof

Day and Night, c. 1938, by Maurits Cornelis Escherby M. C. Escher hangs at the M. C. Escher Museum in The Hague, Netherlands. It was made from two wood blocks and black ink. At the bottom center, two roads meet at a 90-degree angle. To the left, we see fields, farm buildings and a windmill, and a canal from the river. There is a town to the north of the canal with a bridge over the river, leading to another group of roads, fields and canals. This is the day side. To the right, we see the same things, only on this side it is night. These parts of the print are symmetrical.Look inside the Vee...

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Nov 7
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Richard Posner Explains SEC Refusal to Act in Lehman Brothers Case - Shadowproof

Richard Posner Explains SEC Refusal to Act in Lehman Brothers Case - Shadowproof

Neoliberals digesting fruits of someone else’s labor, photo by ArtemesiaThe New York Times to refer any cases from the collapse of Lehman Brothers for prosecution, or even to file a civil suit. Once more, we get our slapped in the face by the reality that the rich are not subject to law. Or, as Judge Richard Posner explained it to us simpletons in a :This means that the criminal law is designed primarily for the nonaffluent; the affluent are kept in line, for the most part, by tort law. This may seem to be a left-wing kind of suggestion (“criminal law keeps the lid on the lower classes”),...

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Sep 9
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The Supreme Conservatives - Shadowproof

The Supreme Conservatives - Shadowproof

Results of Gallup Poll, dated June 30, 2014.Confidence in all three branches of government is absurdly low, and the Supreme Court is no exception. About 30% of respondents in a have confidence in the Court, compared with 29% for President Obama and a ridiculous 7% for Congress. Another poll shows that only 30% of us think the Supreme Court bases its decisions on law and not on politics, and this poll preceded the and the decision (barring laws allowing Unions to collect anti-free rider fees from non-members.) A couple of recent books say that the Court is doing just fine at its job,...

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Aug 31
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Where is All the Money and What is it Doing for Americans? - Shadowproof

Where is All the Money and What is it Doing for Americans? - Shadowproof

There are many stupid things you have to believe if you want to be taken seriously in financial matters. One of these is that free markets, those managed by brilliant Wall Street operators, to its highest and best use. Apparently the highest and best use of is hedge funds.The whole point of hedge funds is speculation. Here’s a description from a paper by Michael King and Philipp Maier published in the Journal of Financial Stability (sorry, no link available, you can find this journal on-line at your public library):A typical hedge fund is a private investment company that manages the funds...

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Mar 7
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Government Support for Student Loan Companies: Bailing Out Banks Instead of Helping Out Students - Shadowproof

Government Support for Student Loan Companies: Bailing Out Banks Instead of Helping Out Students - Shadowproof

Giant finance companies like Citibank and Sallie Mae made a lot of money securitizing student loans into asset backed securities. When that market dried up, Congress was frightened into believing that students wouldn’t be able to continue their educations and that colleges and universities would be in grave peril.The obvious solution to that problem was to increase direct federal loans. But that wouldn’t help the big finance companies. Instead of doing something sensible, it continued its practice of bailing out corporations and passed the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act...

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Mar 11
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Time Out! This Man Isn’t Busting Wall Street - Shadowproof

Time Out! This Man Isn’t Busting Wall Street - Shadowproof

Preet Bharara, who isn't busting Wall Street; Time Magazine cover February 13, 2012.So, I’m in Hood River, Oregon, at a great little coffee shop named Doppio, where I see the dead tree version of the latest , not available on-line. That’s the cover in the pic with this post, with an article titled “The Street Fighter”. Other people are there so I strangle a couple of obscenities and scan the article.No surprise, it’s all about insider trading. Not a single word to disturb us little people about his cowardly failure to indict anyone over the crimes that preceded the Great Crash, as...

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Feb 8
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Zombie Economics From Zombie Banksters on Zombie Op-Ed Pages - Shadowproof

Zombie Economics From Zombie Banksters on Zombie Op-Ed Pages - Shadowproof

“How could we be expected to learn anything from this?”, said all economists. Photo from San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive via Flickr.Andy Rosenthal (@andyrNYT), editor of the editorial page of The New York Times, subjected subscribers to from the Neoliberal Thought Collective, the term used by Philip Mirowski in his excellent book . This one is by Stephen King, who is the Chief Economist at HSBC. There is no mention of HSBC’s corrupt history, for example its willingness to launder money for drug dealers, arms traffickers, and other scum of the earth. Mr. King learned absolutely...

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Oct 8
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Economic Stability Less Important to Deregulators Than Bank Profits - Shadowproof

Economic Stability Less Important to Deregulators Than Bank Profits - Shadowproof

Alan Greenspan has produced explaining the Great Crash and his proposals for new regulations to prevent another crash. To reform the system, he recommends that banks be required to maintain more capital. This minimal step won’t change the deregulation movement’s emphasis on financial market efficiency at the expense of economic stability.Greenspan explains that there is a tradeoff between growth and stability.I strongly doubt that stability is achievable in capitalist economies, given the always turbulent competitive markets continuously being drawn towards, but never quite achieving,...

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Apr 4
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Medicaid for All: An Alternative To Subsidizing Insurance Companies - Shadowproof

Medicaid for All: An Alternative To Subsidizing Insurance Companies - Shadowproof

We are paying a huge amount of money to the medical business, as much as 16% of the GDP, and as we have shown here repeatedly, without a public option, the current drafts of reform don’t do the first thing to cut back those enormous sums.The health care system is financially healthy: no one seems to be starving, and investors are doing fine. Doctors and nurses are being paid, all kinds of leech businesses like practice management firms, Medicare collection companies, and hospital supply companies are profitable. People who can pay are getting the care they want.Why, then, do all of the...

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Sep 20
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Saturday Art: The Musette Player by David Teniers the Younger - Shadowproof

Saturday Art: The Musette Player by David Teniers the Younger - Shadowproof

by David Teniers the Younger hangs at the Louvre. The painting is simple, an older man is playing what looks like bagpipes and maybe singing, probably in a bar, judging by the noses on the guys in the background in front of what looks to me like a jug of beer. The drinkers are much more interested in the paper the third man is holding than in the music, not unlike the way people talk over the piano player at bars and restaurants today. I love the hat one of the drinkers is wearing.The player is wearing an interesting jacket in a beautiful shade of green. It looks like leather, with a...

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Jul 17
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Making Money The Sallie Mae Way - Shadowproof

Making Money The Sallie Mae Way - Shadowproof

image courtesy of lumaxart (flickr)[Ed. note: We’re republishing this piece this morning as it had the unfortunate challenge of competing with the final hockey game last night. The student loan system is an of importance to students, faculty, staff and relevance to the financial industry and to a number of politicians — like .]Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student loan company, is President Obama’s plan to cut subsidies to private lenders of student loans. Currently, private lenders get all kinds of government subsidies, and Sallie Mae wants them all, even if it means less money for Pell...

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Mar 1
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Bankster Bluster Leads to Legacy Loan Program Fail - Shadowproof

Bankster Bluster Leads to Legacy Loan Program Fail - Shadowproof

The reports that one part of the Public Private Investment Program (PPIP) is failing, and for the right reason: fear of backlash about the enormous profits the program offered to the financial elites.The Legacy Loan Program proposed to set up highly leveraged funds to buy bad loans from banks, cleaning up their balance sheets and hopefully encouraging lending. The banksters wanted to rip it off by buying their own loans with government assistance. That isn’t the product of the fevered imagination of some obnoxious blogger (we’ll get to that), that’s from a comment letter sent on behalf of a...

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May 29
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AIG Threat Coming to Pass - Shadowproof

AIG Threat Coming to Pass - Shadowproof

The explaining why AIG had to pay the retention bonuses contains the following:Departures also have regulatory ramifications. As an example, the resignation of the senior managers of AIGFP’s Banque AIG subsidiary would allow the Commission Bancaire, the French banking regulator, to appoint its own designee to step in and manage Banque AIG. Such an appointment would constitute an event of default under Banque AIG’s derivative and structured transactions, including the regulatory capital CDS book ($234 billion notional amount as of December 31, 2008), and potentially cost tens of billions of...

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Mar 26
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Saturday Art: Waiting For The Verdict By Abraham Solomon - Shadowproof

Saturday Art: Waiting For The Verdict By Abraham Solomon - Shadowproof

by Abraham Solomon, is hanging at the D’Orsay, as part of a special exhibit, . It is owned by the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery in Tunbridge Wells, England, about 40 miles southeast of London.The D’Orsay is renovating the Impressionist wing, and has loaned out a number of those paintings during the renovation, and relocated some to the lower floors, displacing a lot of French Salon art and many of ’s works. As a side note, the move shows us something important about Impressionist art: it loves light. The usual location is flooded with natural light. When it is shown in the side...

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Jun 19
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Still the Party of No: Why Republicans Rejected Cramdown - Shadowproof

Still the Party of No: Why Republicans Rejected Cramdown - Shadowproof

Bankruptcy cramdown isn’t a particularly conservative or liberal idea, it’s just an excellent solution to a difficult problem. It allows a bankruptcy judge to value a residence, and rewrite the mortgage to that level on terms that might be workable for the debtor. It doesn’t cost the Treasury anything, and it leaves money for unsecured creditors. So, why did the Republicans vote "no" as a block? If you ask them, they spout talking points from the Mortgage Bankers Association–like this one: It will raise mortgage rates for everybody. That according to Minority Whip (R-AZ), a claim that is...

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May 9
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The Liberal Myth That Morbid Wealth Is Just Fine - Shadowproof

The Liberal Myth That Morbid Wealth Is Just Fine - Shadowproof

This isn't like when rich people protest using Citizens United. Walmart strikers: bring out the Riot Police. Photo by Peoplesworld via FlickrLiberals have been neutered by capitalism. Once upon a time, they spoke of Malefactors of Great Wealth. They said that these morally bankrupt jackals were ruining people’s lives. Nowadays, liberals just don’t talk like that. They begin any conversation about money by saying that they don’t begrudge the rich their wealth, they just want minor tweaks. It isn’t working.As , there was an alternative not so long ago:The left once harbored militant anarchist...

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Oct 19
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That Stench You Smell Is the Rotten Financial System - Shadowproof

That Stench You Smell Is the Rotten Financial System - Shadowproof

But, But, Everybody Does It, So It's FineIt’s getting harder for politicians to ignore the stench of the financial system anymore, even with the anesthetic of campaign contributions they suck from the rot. On Tuesday, HSBC will appear before the House Banking Committee to discuss a different kind of corruption. It’s not conspiracies to fix LIBOR, while bank regulators, including the New York Fed led by our Secretary of the Treasury, regular people.And it’s not the corruption of the fail whale trade from JPMorgan Chase, to clock in at a $7.5 billion loss, and a much bigger hit to shareholder...

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Jul 15
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Bond Markets Control Governments - Shadowproof

Bond Markets Control Governments - Shadowproof

Vultures and Dog (photo: epha / flickr)We have plenty of evidence that governments are afraid of bond markets. In the US, fears of the retaliation of the bond market have driven the fiscal policy of both parties.The Republicans want immediate cuts in spending, and their pet economists bray about an impending inflation that never comes. These intellectually dishonest hacks refuse to change their minds in the face of overwhelming evidence and increasingly sarcastic statements from people who got it right, like Paul Krugman, , , and (among many).The Obama administration refused to see reason...

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Jul 31
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Saturday Art: La Bella Nani by Veronese - Shadowproof

Saturday Art: La Bella Nani by Veronese - Shadowproof

by Paolo Veronese hangs at the Louvre. It’s in the same gallery as Da Vinci’s and Veronese’s , and the passers-by naturally pass it by to see the more famous paintings. It is oddly situated, so that the evening sun beats into the glass covering, and over the years, the colors have darkened, so that the dress seems black with blue woven in. The colors in the photo above are much brighter, so we get a pretty good idea of what the dress might have looked like (thanks to Angela at ). has several different pictures with a range of colors.Most of the famous classical artists were commissioned to...

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May 29
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Oligarchy and Social Organization - Shadowproof

Oligarchy and Social Organization - Shadowproof

Adam Smith, Etching created by Cadell and Davies (1811)Oligarchy rests on grotesque inequality of material resources. The vast resources available to the rich are used to build social structures that protect their wealth. The US oligarchy is a shining example. Our oligarchs use their both to insure that civil government protects its interests and to infect the public with views supportive of its power and wealth.One easy example of use of governing power is the effort to shove taxes off on the , which has been wildly successful. But oligarchic power to influence society extends far beyond...

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Nov 20
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Don’t Get Fooled Again: Cat Food Comm Tries Greenspan’s Old Tricks to Cut Social Security - Shadowproof

Don’t Get Fooled Again: Cat Food Comm Tries Greenspan’s Old Tricks to Cut Social Security - Shadowproof

New commission, old cats, older tricks. (photo: NCFRR/White House)Grumpy Alan Simpson, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and the President who appointed both, plan to protect the lesser people by cutting their benefits and raising their taxes. After reading some of the commentary, including that of our own , it finally dawns on me why this is so infuriating. Uncle Grumpy doesn’t just think we are , he thinks we’re so stupid we’ll fall for the Greenspan shell game again.In 1983, Alan Greenspan, the previous incarnation of the fiscal scold who speaks up only when...

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Jun 22
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