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Nudged in New Cross

Behaviouralist Bants

So I thought Skinner was the bad guy. The really mechanistic one. Or was it Watson?

Who said we are basically all the same and that our feelings and personal stories don’t really matter.

That there is no such thing as experience. That we are all automatons. The one who put his daughter in a box.

These guys were out of fashion when I learned about them in the early 90s.

But then there was a behavioural revival of sorts. Which in turn enveloped economics.

But behavioural economics said we are all predictably irrational. That classical economics is wrong but behavioural economics is right.

But there are assumptions in behavioural economics too.

Such as that we have limited time and limited information.

Gigerenzer shows that lifting the information and time caps leads to bad decision making – even for experts.

He says we all excel at fast and frugal decision making and that overthinking things induces a form of judgment paralysis.

So behavioural economics itself is quite wrong in terms of how it is applied outside the narrowest of conditions.

And refuses to admit it only thrives under controlled conditions.

But it’s about control.

Choice architecture. Avoiding decision fatigue. Favorably automating information flows. Forcing people into certain situations and pretending it’s both logical and exemplifying freedom.

Someone tell Oliver Letwin.

He’s kind of gone now. Still an MP but not quite the eminence grise he once was.

He spoke about his ideas at the institute of government in 2014, I think.

Outlining the Road from Mont Pelerin that his parents and he had trundled. And then he admitted that he now realised that Intervention does work.

What kind of intervention do you mean, Oliver?

Surely not state intervention in markets – not a liberal like you?

Nor QE, where central banks do the heavy lifting that austerity governments ought really to be doing.

Oliver Letwin revealed that he was taking about the nudge unit.

Though he didn’t mention the job centre – he was probably talking about over there too.

His wife Isabel was head of legal services at The Department of Work and Pensions and at the Department of Health. Oliver’s crackpot ideas will have been used on mental health patients and “under” & “unemployed” people who didn’t really need them.

Of course the machinery of government exists to prevent anyone really knowing the consequences of their actions.

Agnatology is another word for ignorance studies. Sociologist Linsey McGoey has a book out on the topic next year. The Unknowers. Watch out for it.

There is always a latest fad via which the old school asset stripping is masked.

Dark Pools

At book club we looked at Dark Pools. The rise of AI and high frequency trading. I couldn’t help but think when presented with these smart idealist insurgent American price scalpers – You Got To Pick a Pocket or Two!!!

So there. From Hangman on the High Street to Richard Thaler’s Nobel 2017 Prize for Nudging.

Cancer research UK has me thinking of the Crick Institute, big pharma and the next Goldman Sachs social impact bond. This a featured big under Cameron, Osborne and Letwin and was just an excuse to privatize the NHS and get volunteers to steer the handover.

Will Davies looks at some of this stuff in Happiness Industry and Nervous States – links between neo-liberal policies, technology, happiness and “well being” discourse. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m sure big pharma has its place in there too.

There’s some great work being done on investigating all this but it’s pretty under the radar.

Let me know if you have any recommendations.

Once you start looking into any of this funny things start happening.

The Road from Mont Pelerin.

I met up with John Christensen of tax justice Network yesterday who told me about The Finance Curse, a new book out by Nicholas Shaxson.

There’s some research accompanying the launch, this Friday, which sheds light on the colossal cost to the UK of the Finance Curse.

Meanwhile check out his film The Spiders Web on YouTube and for updates on what the Tax Justice Network are up to check out the TaxCast with Naomi Fowler.

When discussing Mont Pelerin, I told John I once met Linda Whetstone, whose father, Anthony Fisher, set up the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA).

John asked me how a man who so frequently invoked freedom could make his money from forcing hens into cages barely big enough for them to even breathe.

The Macron Curse

It looks like Macron is going to copy Blair and go all out for neoliberalism.

God knows what that will do to the environment and the Paris Climate accord!

I’m meeting Chloé Farrand of DeSmogUK tomorrow and will report back where she thinks we are heading.

The finance curse has done nothing to improve the gender pay gap in London. So I wonder what the figures look like in France.

London Conversation

I’m planning on publishing more frequently.

The idea is that with heightened fluency might come some sort of style.

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Mummy, what’s a #BreitbartBrexit?

We in the middle of a #BreitbartBrexit:

CETA+++

David Davis is championing CETA+++ which means Britain copying the Canada-EU trade agreement — plus services.

The Alt-Right-ish Spectator updated us  yesterday:

According to Sun Columnist James Forsyth, the EU negotiator Michel Barnier has said the UK must accept either Norway or Canada style arrangements.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer wants UK to be Norway-style ‘rule takers’ except for free movement which will become ‘easy’ movement.

What is Easy Movement?

Emmanuel Macron’s wants to reform the rules around ‘posted workers’.

Did Starmer get his ideas from Macron?

Why aren’t these ideas being discussed here like in France?

Balanced reports on economic migration are sadly few and far between.

We generally only hear these topics mentioned by Nigel Farage on Question Time or in the tabloid press.

Bannon

I stumbled across this exposé of Bannon  on the Spectator website.

It came out in October so things have moved on a bit since then.

This is his November New York Times interview.

Sadly no  mention of Buzzfeed’s October story that documented how Bannon courted the Nazi Alt-Right via Milo Yiannopolous,

Or his  soft spot for Italian Fascist Julius Evola:

Net Neutrality

If Bannon is so interested in helping the poor – what’s he saying about Net Neutrality?

Bannon  made big money from 90s hit TV show Seinfeld.  Who would have thought Seinfeld would be instrumental in funding the Alt-Right / Neo-Nazi revolution.

Maybe Bannon sees Net Neutrality as a way of destroying his Alt-Right competitors.

StreamPunks

In StreamPunks, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer says middle aged white guys (like Bannon)  used to decide everything we saw on TV.

There is even a quote from the scene in Seinfeld where they try to pitch the show, which is about nothing,  to the head of NBC.

“Why am I watching it?” asks the studio exec.

“Because it’s on TV!” says George.

Bored with deciding what’s on our TVs, Bannon has taken it upon himself to decide who is in the White House.

His recent speech to Black Americans for a Better Future was a masterclass in rhetoric from a man whose Breitbart website is a favourite among neo-Nazi white nationalists.

This Buzzfeed piece  points out that Black Americans for a Better Future is mainly funded by wealthy white donors.

As pointed out in this blog, the Alt-Right’s favourite UK politician is Jacob Rees Mogg whose mission, like Bannon’s, is the Deconstruction of the Administrative State i.e. Deregulate Everything.

I wish I could round off with something comforting you can do to stop this madness. Suddenly fascism is fashionable.

 

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“Good that UK Completely Caved-In…” says Citigroup’s Global Chief Economist, Willem Buiter — But in Reality US using Brexit to Colonise EU via Ireland

Purported UK Cave-In (08/12/17)

Brexit Jihad designed to weaken the EU & UK at all costs

Why would the City of London Corporation (The UK’s Foremost Financial Services Lobbyists) or the European Commission care about EU or UK citizens?

German Chemical firm Bayer are buying US-firm Monsanto and so Germany just voted through the 5 year renewal of Monsanto’s controversial Round-Up weed killer licence at EU-Wide Level.

They had previously abstained. This time their vote swung it for the potentially carcinogenic pesticide.

Ireland are a tax haven favoured by the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook.

This 2011 post by David Malone explains what Germany really think of Ireland.

Ireland are also home to lots of Monsanto lobbying.

US are using Brexit & Ireland to colonise Europe as they’d originally planned via TTIP.

First Baghdad then Athens then London

French Economist Patrick Artus predicted way back in 2002 that Britain would surely have adopted the Euro by now.

He clearly never read the Sun.

The likes of Buiter can claim the ‘Cave-In’ as a victory for the EU or his type of disaster capitalism, but he fundamentally misunderstands.

Brexit is an opportunity for far greater disruption via regulatory arbitrage. Collateral damage will be borne by those whose shoulders are least broad.

Amusing Ourselves to Death — Brexit Jihadi in Sheep’s Clothing Jacob Rees Mogg  on Marr Show (3/12/17)

We need to deliver the benefits of leaving to the poorest in our nation because otherwise they will feel deeply let down. That includes dealing with freedom of movement and that includes getting free trade deals so that we can learn the cost of food clothing and footwear.

This from an Alt-Right man who consistently voted to cut disability benefit and whose father William edited the Times for several years and said of Murdoch in his memoirs: “Looking back, he has been an excellent proprietor for the Times, but also for Fleet Street.”

Lord William Rees-Mogg wrote the following book, quoting a famous Rothschild on when best to invest in the stock market.

Not so different to Death of Britain by that other famous ex-Rothschild Brexiteer — Jihadi John (Redwood):

Brits often sold secrets to Moscow during the Cold War. Redwood’s loyalty clearly lies elsewhere. He’s undermining Britain for his 30 pieces of silver. In days gone such behaviour could get you hanged.

Speaking in Codes – When you mean Deregulation, just say Ireland

Rees Mogg wants to maintain the integrity of Northern Ireland in UK and to have no hard border. This means he wants to recolonise the Irish by forcing them to accept the UK’s regulatory regime.

And if they don’t then Brexiteers can treat them just like they did the ‘Remoaners’.

Rees Mogg & Bannon Alliance

Marr should have asked Rees Mogg about Bannon’s stated aim to deconstruct the Administrative state.

This seems entirely consistent with Blood on The Streets and the Death of Britain.

Rees Mogg on Bannon

Rees Mogg suggests speaking to Alt-Right Breitbart owner Steve Bannon is just like talking to Barrack Obama’s “left-wing” former UK ambassadors.

Presumably Jihadi Joseph views fellow Tory austerity architects David Cameron, George Osborne & Oliver Letwin as a bunch of wayward Crypto-Marxists.

Just as energy firms trade with ISIS, Jihadis like Rees-Mogg get on well with comrades like Bannon.

Sympathy for the Devil

On the other hand, here’s Bannon explaining his Economic Nationalism to a US Black Republican meeting last week — a captivating speech.

Easy Rider

If you’re disappointed the BBC presenter didn’t do more to challenge Mogg, let’s not forget that till April this year, the Deputy Chair of the BBC Trust was Sir Roger Carr who, as well as Chairing BAE Systems, is a senior adviser at the world’s largest Private Equity firm aka Asset Strippers — KKR.

BAE Systems | International BAE Systems | International

Trump’s People

Although Bannon talks about helping the working man in America, the fact is he was outnumbered by the buyout people.

Fake News

Toward the end of the interview when asked about Trump retweeting Britain First, Rees Mogg says that Twitter is a trivial medium.

Conveniently ignoring the fact that this was the main medium via which the Brexit and the US election campaigns were fought and is the main arena for Fake News which is how Rees Mogg now maintains power.

What was Mogg saying pre-cave-in on Tuesday when DUP had just scuppered the deal?

What was Arch-Remainer Roland Rudd’s reaction to Friday’s deal?

Trump’s favourite Russian Agent — Aaron Banks’ reaction to Rudd

Not going anywhere

The Real Deal

The US, UK & EU have always been run for the benefit of the same people — the Rich. Therefore the 2016 Trump & Brexit votes, though referred to as populism, are no different.

Under Brexit the US will export more to Europe by going through UK.

UK employment rights will take a hit and the Investor Protections that they tried to implement under TTIP will be granted under the US/UK trade agreement.

Europe’s regulatory system will be eroded despite the best wishes of their increasingly feeble politicians as the place doubles up as an old people’s home that markets itself as a gap year destination for the global middle class.

United States of Europe

Schulz, Freedom of Movement, & Social Dumping

More Schulz

Bloomberg Books of 2017

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Dance to the Muzak – Bannon and Trump read the Crowd

According to Dale Purves what we hear is often determined by our Darwinian programming which filters out sounds that don’t help us reproduce.

Purves points to the McGurk Effect:

How does this apply to modern politics?

As mentioned in a previous post Lord Ashcroft has released Hopes and Fears based on polling he did in the US 2016 Presidential election.

In it he publishes a graph of how voters from different points in the political spectrum responded to controversial questions such as whether Barack Obama was born outside the USA or if Hillary Clinton is ‘culpable for murder’.

Here are some of the results:

Given the McGurk Effect, it’s not hard to see how easily clickbait, fake news and filter bubbles feed off our predictable irrationality and confirmation bias.

This cognitive perfect storm creates  blindspots in society that allow vast chunks of the population to ditch their own interests and plump for Trump.

The current US President once said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose a single vote.

By reading the crowd and making the right noises, Trump has been able to say and do anything and still win.

The McGurk Effect doesn’t just apply to Trump’s high visibility and invincibility but also to the powerlessness of his voters.

Steve Bannon now supposedly runs America on behalf of the American People but very little about him is known. Bannon may have helped Trump tap into voters’ fears and anxieties but will he help deliver a better economy in time for re-election in 2020?

In an age of populism and demagoguery Bannon and Trump have somehow ended up delivering for Goldman Sachs — the ultimate con.

Trump, May, & Farage deliver the anti-establishment messages but it’s Steve Bannon, Rupert Murdoch and Goldman Sachs who really benefit.