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French to Police Facebook

According to the Wall Street Journal, France are granting regulators wide and sweeping powers to audit and fine large social media companies.

Le Monde has reported that Macron wants to ban the use of the term Police Violence

Macron says there is no such thing as police violence in a country which upholds the rule of law.

The cover up is worse than the crime. Russia highlighting police violence is now referred to as disinformation! It is now unpatriotic to decry police violence. Maybe it has always been this way, but now, its easier to just say it.

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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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Ofgem allow National Grid to “recover” millions

Ofgem scratches National Grid’s back

Today’s Mail Market report says National Grid are to be allowed to “recover some costs” from consumers.

Gas regulator Ofgem has changed its stance so as to incentivize National Grid to replace the critical Humber Estuary pipeline.

This looks similar to the culture of subsidies and bailouts in the rail industry.

Can you still call it privatization if private foreign shareholders take healthy profits while raising prices to kindly allow the British public to chip in for vital infrastructure?

The word racket springs to mind!

Business as usual

International investors must be licking their lips getting ready to tuck in.

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Who’s Regulating the post-Brexit Conversation?

For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup, full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out. Indeed the wicked of the earth drink and drink it to its very dregs.

Subliminal

A friend and I recently agreed that Naomi Klein’s latest book No is not Enough appeals less to Brits than North Americans.

We have other things going on like Corbyn and Brexit.

Media Hype

I like how the American media are so upfront. They openly discuss their administration’s white nationalism and deregulatory stance on health insurance, tax, guns, & net neutrality.

Here in the UK our deregulation is not so much spoon-fed as subliminal.

Just like with shadow banking, we know it’s naughty, we know it’s happening, but we act as though everything’s above board.

Too much Red Tape, Mate

The Brexit vote of June 2016 was sold as the perfect opportunity to take back control of our borders, recover sovereignty and cut Red Tape.

Click the image below for the original Sun article.

But exactly which regulations we’ll be cutting remains to be seen.

After all we’ll still need to retain the right to trade with Europe.

We’ll also need to keep our rights at work, protect our food, and look after the environment.

Countries will only trade with us if they trust our regulatory standards.

How will that happen if we become a totally unregulated space?

As Tax Justice Campaigner Richard Murphy puts it:

“We need rules. Try playing football without any rules. It doesn’t work.”

Captured Media

The lack of clarity from our journalists and politicians may be part of the problem.

Academics like Daniela Gabor, Prem Sikka, David Graeber, Vickie Cooper, David Whyte, Steve Tombs, and commentators like Frances Coppola, Ann Pettifor, Nicholas Wilson, and Ian Fraser are all reliable.

But few out and out hacks are prepared to rock the boat by asking difficult questions.

Even fewer politicians make meaningful commitments, give straight answers, or admit mistakes.

We don’t need no Education

In the midst of all this emerged Nigel Farage.

While the left and right were playing musical chairs in the centre, a gaping chasm opened up everywhere else.

All anyone had to do to occupy the space was point out the contradictions in the system.

Engineering of Consent

So in a strange social experiment the British public briefly entered an age of demagoguery. One that can’t be undone.

Where Thatcher, Blair and even Cameron got their voters mildly excited, unelected Mr Farage got the nation to  say “No” to the Establishment and  replace it with — the Establishment!

Post-coup nerves

The only problem with all this was that nobody ever thought that the Brexiteers could win. The Brexiteers themselves had no idea what they’d do once they won their coup.

As Hannah Arendt said of the British Empire:

It has often been said that the British acquired their empire in a fit of absent-mindedness, as consequence of automatic trends, yielding to what seemed possible and what was tempting, rather than as a result of deliberate policy. If this is true, then the road to hell may just as well be paved with no intentions as with the proverbial good ones.

Attention Hacker

In the following clip Nigel Farage strategically attacks ‘diversity’ before claiming that English is no longer spoken in many parts of the UK.


He’s our very own Donald Trump. The influence he’s projected over global politics is staggering.

Waistline Firecracker

By relentlessly attacking every MP in sight whilst having never been more than an MEP in Brussels, Farage has become the ultimate spectactor.

Like Lear’s Fool and Donald Trump, Farage has been able to speak populist truth to power without following any of the rules by which normal politicians are bound.

Deregulatory Fork

But just like Trump, he’s a vicious corporatist.

Earlier this year after asking if Trump’s an anarchist,  I asked anthropologist  David Graeber to distinguish between corporatists like Farage and fascists like Marine Le Pen.

It was Auntie wot won it

Before the referendum I asked the BBC how frequently Farage had appeared on Newsnight, Question Time, and The Today Programme — they refused.

I assume someone like Rupert Murdoch was supporting him.

In the wake of the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry James Harding moved to manage BBC News after having edited Murdoch’s Times for six years.

Maybe he was leaned on by Murdoch to include Farage on the BBC’s radio and televised debates.

Despite being a fully paid up member of the Metropolitan Elite and presumably a Remainer, Harding knows which way his bread’s buttered.

Amusing ourselves to death

Though humouring his old boss would have been logical, what started out as a joke led to a constitutional crisis.

By attacking the EU and political correctness in the way that he has, Farage has managed to overturn forty years of food, employment, financial and environmental standards.

Farage is currently employed by Rupert Murdoch in the US and by LBC talk radio in the UK.

What happened

Neo-liberal economics was underpinned by a belief in the idea of infinite growth. But the rapid growth of the ‘left behinds’ who under Thatcher had been written off as the acceptable rate of unemployment led to a growing divide.

They had no way out of a life of austerity.

At the same time came the rise of the Metropolitan Elite with their skinny lattés and Polish plumbers

Et Voila!

Plenty of newspapers also told their readers to vote for Brexit.

They weren’t all convinced by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Michael Gove.

The Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Sunday Times, and the Telegraph are all still fervent Brexiteers.

Brexit Bill

But according to those Brexiteers who aren’t in the Cabinet, the Government are making a hash of Brexit.

The potential benefits of a Brexit deal are fast disappearing as the Government commits to paying more and more money to the EU.

What next?

  1. Who is going to stand up for UK regulation?
  2. How will a balance be struck between protecting UK business, UK citizens and non-citizens?

 

 

 

 

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Trump Era White Collar Crime: Who’s Chasing Who?

What is going on with Wall Street White Collar Crime in the Trump era?

Hedge Fund Managers Never Die

Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote an excellent article in The New Yorker this January.

Her book, Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, is all about the way the US New York District Attorney tried to bring down Hedge Fund Manager Steve Cohen.

This from CSPAN yesterday:

You’re Fired!

It turns out that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who attempted to jail Steve Cohen,  has since been fired by Donald Trump.

Washington Post Washington Post

Reaction

Bharara’s own performance as a prosecutor has prompted mixed reactions.

From praise:

To mixed:

And outright hostile:

 

This hedge fund ethics and compliance executive was also jailed by Bharara.

 

 

Reading List

For more on Preet Bharara in the New Yorker:

TV Show

The TV Show Billions is loosely based on the Hedge Fund Insider Trading Battles that creator Andrew Ross Sorkin has covered while working as a New York Times journalist, CNBC Squawk Box host and successful author.

 

This is how the show’s creators responded to Bharara’s sacking:

So what do you think is really going on?

Is Mr Trump really ‘draining the swamp’ — or just feeding the crocodiles?

 

 

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Unions love Trump, Max Keiser to run in North Carolina

Max Keiser says Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Seduces Unions

Max Keiser tells how Trump is seducing unions with his infrastructure plans and dropping TPP.

Max Keiser to run in North Carolina

In mid-January Max Keiser said he will announce his official candidacy for Congress in March.

Trump the Autocrat

David Frum, author of George W Bush’s Axis of Evil speech, has this to say about the future under Trump:

Starbucks & Refugees

Interesting to see Starbucks’ position from a PR perspective — and the accompanying backlash.

Where’s Jared Kushner?

Someone’s running the White House – but it’s not Jared Kushner.

Where’s Obama?

Meanwhile Obama is not going away quietly but his legacy is being questioned:

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Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

As far as Donald Trump is concerned UK laws, like women’s private parts, are all up for grabs.

He’s acquisitive by nature — so where are we headed?

The Front Page of Today’s Telegraph is looking all excited about new US jobs.

Does this mean Free Movement of People between the UK and the USA?

Nigel Farage was slightly ahead of the curve on this.

But does this mean that the very people who voted Trump in the USA will now be eligible for work in the UK?

And if 300 million Americans have suddenly become eligible to work in the UK then does that mean the US intelligence agencies will now treat Britain as if it is home soil?

The extradition treaties are already very one-way. Will we now be potentially surveilled and taken out for tweeting about Trump or Theresa?

Given her authoritarian views and performances at PMQs , I don’t trust Mrs May to defend this country one inch.

Donald Trump — George III in reverse

Mad grandson of obscure German migrant uses force to do battle with a distant land to which he stakes vague claim.

This should bring in GM Food, Cheap Meat, dodgy Pharmaceuticals — and the right to bear arms against tyrannous governments!

Not that things will ever come to that, of course!

 

 

georgeiii

 

 

 

 

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What happened to that €1.1 trillion ?

stealing QE

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Handing €1.1 trillion of public money to ANONYMOUS bankers with no publicly available audit trail is an act so corrupt as to be beyond comprehension.

Yet that is what has happened to residents of that well known museum — the European Union.

Inventing Money

The European Central Bank, owner of the world’s third biggest money printing machine — behind the Federal Reserve’s and the People’s Bank of China’s — has already printed and distributed the best part of a trillion Euros to private financial institutions in exchange for various bonds over a two year period.

In November 2014 just as they started what became known as their Quantitative Easing (ECB QE) programme, I asked them to publicly state exactly which bonds they were printing money to buy.

Seeing as they were spending billions of euros of public money per month during a time of extreme austerity – it felt normal that EU citizens be told how the money was being spent.

Disclosure

The only information the public had been told at that time was that the ECB were buying repackaged bank loans (Covered Bonds) and Asset Backed Securities (ABSs) in order to stop deflation and maintain inflation at 2%.

Despite the simple nature of my request — I asked for a country by country, bank by bank, product by product breakdown including ‘ISIN’ Codes for what the ECB had been buying — the bank refused to disclose the full nature of its holdings.

Decision

This week, more than a year and a half after I originally asked them, the ECB — and the European Ombudsman — ruled against my appeal for transparency.

Click below for the link to the EU Ombudsman decision on the case:

www.ombudsman.europa.eu www.ombudsman.europa.eu

But the question remains: What happened to the money?

Groupthink

Bizarrely the woman who runs the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has a reputation for being a fair-minded adjudicator.

This week the Irish papers portrayed O’Reilly as a friend of transparency who had rebuked the Irish Central Bank and the ECB for not publishing their correspondence during the Irish Bailouts of 2010.

If only those newspapers had known how O’Reilly has sided with commercial confidentiality and non-disclosure of the multibillion Euro QE recipients.

O’Reilly ruled in favour of the ECB without once consulting me — the complainant — to find out why I had brought the case or to let me challenge the groupthink logic of her flawed judgment.

Too little, too late

Ironically on the date of the ruling (18th July 2016) the ECB itself announced that another slice of its QE programme, the Corporate Bond Purchase Programme, would publish its ISIN codes.

This is a screenshot of the paywalled Financial Times story with the announcement about the new stance on ISIN codes.

ft ISINsHow funny that I had to wait 18 months to get a definitive ‘no’ on receiving the ISIN codes for the Covered Bond and ABS QE programme, only for the Corporate Bond Purchase Programme to publish its ISIN codes on the very same day.

A Pyrrhic Victory perhaps?

Time will Tell.

Corruptissima respublica, plurimae leges

The most corrupt state, the most laws – Tacitus

My feeling is that the ECB don’t want to the public to know how much they are protecting the very same German financiers that benefited from the ECB’s imposition of austerity, deregulation and privatisation policies in southern Europe.

I believe the worst offender is DePfa / Deutsche Pfandbriefe.

Just as the IRA and Baader Meinhoff are known for their politically inspired terror campaigns in the 1970s so has Deutsche Pfandbriefe exported financial terrorism throughout Europe from its tax avoiding, financial engineering Dublin Headquarters as of the early 2000’s when it re-domiciled to save cash.

ECB QE and commercial confidentiality for public money are the very definition of double standards and, in this case, perpetuate the myth that North Europeans are honest and that everyone else is corrupt.

I appreciate that this is not something many people are willing to accept – such is the scale of our programming.

Just as with PPP / PFI in the UK, commercial confidentiality and financial engineering remain the respectable face of corporate fascism and fraud.

For more adventures in Bazookanomics: