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Blain’s Morning Porridge – Sept 22nd 2020: Rocketmen and Viruses

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Sept 22nd 2020: Rocketmen and Viruses

 

“I’m the King of rock and roll, completely…”

From the Ministry of Common Sense: “To celebrate this morning’s Autumn Equinox, we’ve decided to commit economic suicide.”

The pandemic is a pernicious little beast.  It clearly eats away brains. Rising infections are a risk.  In the face of clear evidence fewer people are dying and the medical services are coping better with Covid cases – we could assess that risk, and would probably conclude its better to stay broadly open. Or we can let fear and emotion run us: let’s stay safe by closing down while hoping and praying for a vaccine next year. Hope is never a good strategy – action is. The choice is pain today as more people might die earlier from the infection, or pain tomorrow as jobs, livelihoods, and more deaths result long-term from economic shutdown.

Choices, choices… Both approaches have clear costs. But one is clearly preferable to the other – if government had the guts to say it.

The brutal reality is deaths hump upwards during the autumn and winter from respiratory illness. Markets get it. Markets are about assessing risks and outcomes. Which is why they’ve stalled – losing confidence and knowing both long and short-term economic costs will be lower if we shift towards keeping the economy on track to recovery, and facing down the virus. It’s not just Sweden that get’s that. Compare and contrast the UK approach with Germany – which is going to brazen it out by keeping the economy as open as practical. Germany will suffer a far lower hit.

Just as the UK economy was struggling back onto its knees, it will get the legs kicked from under it. There is now zero-talk of swift recovery – estimates are now for 2022 before the economy claws back its likely 7% drop in 2020. A W-shape looks nailed-on.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Lockdowns Work

Why Lockdowns Work

Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) with mini gloves, Louisville, KY 1963

There was another comment at the Automatic Earth yesterday questioning the function and wisdom of various lockdowns. I thought I’d explain this in more detail.

Ilargi if you or anyone else could explain what the exit strategy is from a lockdown I’d be interested in hearing it. As it is, this lockdown I repeat is no different than financial QE – everyone comes out weaker than they were before treatment. Financial QE covers up her problem just like lockdown does, but makes it worse in the long run. The only exit strategy I can see is to keep lockdown until a vaccine or effective treatment, neither of which are on the horizon.

If you are arguing that even healthy economies can survive indefinite closure, with intermittent re-openings I don’t know what to tell you. The suggestion is made that Sweden has a huge vested interest in understating fatalities. It is also certainly true that the rest of the world has an even greater vested interest in criticizing the Swedish approach because it demonstrates how useless the total lockdowns are. BTW the reported differences in fatalities between Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia are not statistically significant. Playing with numbers and not understanding how things may not be as they seem.

First, let’s re-establish that no lockdown would have been needed if and when politicians and scientists had done what’s in their job descriptions. That does not mean that no lockdown was called for once they did fail. Indeed, it’s the failure to act at the very beginning, say January 31, when the WHO sent out its first warning, that made lockdowns inevitable.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists who start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea.

Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, perpetuating overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifying the economy by subsidizing the low productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it, they do not strengthen the credit capacity of families, because the prices of non-replicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess, and the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk.

Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money. 

It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending. They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, that come from using 2001-2007 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Now That Assange Is Safely Locked Up, Sweden Drops Its “Investigation”

Now That Assange Is Safely Locked Up, Sweden Drops Its “Investigation”

Now that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is safely locked up in Belmarsh prison awaiting a US extradition hearing, Sweden has, for a third time, dropped its rape investigation.

“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” said deputy chief prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson at a press conference in Stockholm on Tuesday.

This decision comes days after the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer began making noise about the Swedish government’s refusal to answer his questions on the many enormous, glaring plot holes in the investigation which began in 2010. These plot holes include “proactive manipulation of evidence” with the testimony of the alleged victim, a condom provided as evidence that had neither the DNA of Assange nor of the alleged victim on it, complete disregard for confidentiality rules and normal investigative protocol from the earliest moments of the investigation onward, disregard for conflicts of interest, Sweden’s refusal to provide assurance that Assange would not be extradited to the US if he went there to answer questions, statements made by the alleged victims which contradict the allegations, unexplained correspondence between Swedish prosecutors and the FBI, and many others.


#Sweden: FULL PIC of Govt’s disappointing response to my detailed & diligent inquiries of 12 Sept & 28 May, flatly refusing:
– to explain its handling of the #Assange case
– to provide the requested information
– to engage in a constructive dialogue with #SRT@SwedenUN
#Torture


 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Assange, Nitrogen, Pensions, Solomon

Assange, Nitrogen, Pensions, Solomon

Paul Gauguin Road in Tahiti 1891

I’m getting pissed off about multiple things right now, too many to make them all separate essays. Let’s give it a combined shot:

In Holland, the talk of the town is nitrogen emissions. I’d never seen it raised as that kind of problem, but there you go. The government last week decided to lower the max speed limit on highways to 100km (66miles) , from 120-130. Their reasoning was that this would allow the building industry to build more -by now hugely overpriced- homes and apartments.

Oh, but agriculture (aka cattle) is responsible for 46% of nitrogen emissions. So they have a plan to alter cattle feed (I am still serious here). I understand that neighbors Germany and Belgium have had nitrogen policies in place for years, so their cars can keep on pedaling to the metal because they don’t have a problem. Huh?

Also in Holland, big discussions about cuts to pensions. Which of course leads to big protests, which in turn makes the government make sure that cuts this year will be minimal. Okay, but how about next year? No comment. Holland is supposed to have one of the best pension systems on the planet, but they don’t get to escape the BIG erosion either.

Aging population, fewer contributors, lower wages, it’s happening everywhere. Our pension systems are Ponzi schemes. Every single penny you give a pensioner today is taken away from one tomorrow. The entire system is broke, we just don’t want to face that simple fact.

15 years ago, pensions systems were required by law to hold only AAA-denominated assets. Look at that today. They all have 7-8% in their prospectus, and bonds pay 1%, if that. Unless you gamble. So they have all moved into equities, which look fine because central banks prop them up, but the model itself has changed like Jekyll becames Hyde.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Salvador Dali Self portrait  1921

On October 21 2019, Brexit became an entirely irrelevant issue. Or perhaps we should say it had already become that, but on that date it was exposed for all to see that it was. The parading into a courtroom of Julian Assange in London was all the evidence one could need that the UK government breaks its own laws as well as numerous international laws, with impunity. But that is not how the media reported on it, if it did at all.

And so, the core issue behind Brexit, i.e. who makes Britain’s laws, turned to nothing. If your government breaks its own laws all the time, what does it matter where those laws are made? They are meaningless anyway. Whether they come from Brussels or London make no difference if the government and judicial system don’t abide by them. Those million men marches for a Final Say look totally ridiculous once that reality sinks in.

I can’t get the picture of Julian Assange as he looked on Monday out of my head. I’ve written so much about him, tried so hard to find support for him, and now to see him withered away and perhaps not strong enough to see the end of his own extradition hearing is heartbreaking. So let’s go through the whole thing again; it’s not like I could write about anything else right now. I was thinking again yesterday about a song I used in an earlier article about Julian, I Fought the Law.

That is how the vast majority of people will see his case, that he fought the law and the law caught up with him. But that’s not at all what’s been happening. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lawlessness

Lawlessness

Pablo Picasso Rest (Marie-Thérèse Walter) 1932

With the news that Julian Assange is “wasting away” in Belmarsh prison hospital, and with UN rapporteur Professor Nils Melzer’s report detailing how this happens, I’m once again drawn towards the lawlessness that all “authorities” involved in his case have been displaying, and with impunity. They all apparently think they are literally above the law. Their own laws.

But they can’t be, nowhere, not above their respective national laws nor the international ones their countries have signed up to. They can’t, because that would instantly make any and all laws meaningless. So you tell me where we find ourselves today.

There’s this paragraph in an article by Jonathan Cook entitled Abuses Show Assange Case Was Never About Law, which lists “17 glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles”, that sums it all up pretty perfectly:

Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.

See, Cook is already skipping a step there. Gillard didn’t take Assange’s citizenship away, because that is against Australian law, but it’s just as much against Australian law for a government to let one of its citizens rot in some kind of hell. Still, they did let him rot, but as an Australian citizen. At that point, what difference does anything make anymore?

This is a pattern that runs through the entire Assange “file”, and it does so to pretty astonishing levels. Where you’re forced to think that the countries involved effectively have no laws, and no courts, because if they did, the actions by their governments would surely be whistled back by parliaments or judges or someone, anyone. They’re all essentially lawless.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Money: the silent killer

Money: the silent killer

In Sweden, which is famously on the way to becoming cash-free, you can find signs in shop windows that say ‘we don’t take cash because electronic payments are better for the environment’.

Since cash does require a certain amount of resource use for its production process and transportation, and since in general we’re encouraged to go paperless as much as we can, this idea may seem – at first, anyway – to make sense.

And if electronic money truly required only the modest amount of energy that goes into creating bank cards or whichever payment device is being employed, along with a bit more energy for moving the data around in cyberspace, then it would very likely be true.

Swedish business sign saying “a big thank you for your card payments! From 1 February 2017 we will be cash-free. Better for the environment, secure, quick and easy.”

Indeed, a recent study by the Dutch central bank seemed to back up the Swedish store owners’ assumptions. It investigated the ecological footprint generated by cash and compared it to that of electronic payments, and found that cash was the loser.

However, there’s a very important missing variable in the Dutch study: how the money comes into existence in the first place.

With cash, that’s pretty straightforward. The central bank creates cash and it then gets distributed to private banks. (Corresponding deductions are made to their ‘reserve accounts’ at the central bank. Then it’s put into ATMs.) Apart from the up-front ecological costs mentioned above there is nothing else to worry about.

Electronic money, in its current form anyway, is a very different beast. And since it makes up about 97% of money in circulation, it deserves serious attention.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Relentless Totalitarianism Toward What End? Depopulation and Global Rule

Relentless Totalitarianism Toward What End? Depopulation and Global Rule

We’re going to open up this article with a summary of some things that have happened just in the past week, with sources attributed where applicable or necessary:

As of November 23, 2018, it was reported in an article by Guns in the News entitled “Red-Flag laws only lead to gun confiscation,” that 46 gun grabs by red-flag laws have occurred in Oregon, and another 36 in Maryland with 114 requests for the grabs being filed in the courts in the latter state.

The New York Times’ Liz Alderman reported on 11/21/18 that 4,000+ Swedes have accepted microchips to eliminate the use of cash (erroneously believing the desire to do so is theirs). The article is entitled Sweden’s Push to Get Rid of Cash Has Some Saying, ‘Not So Fast’.Later on, the article mentions Christine Lagarde, the woman who heads the IMF (International Monetary Fund) as stating that digital currency needs to be investigated further. If she is involved in it, and the IMF? You had better run for cover. Half of Sweden’s banks no longer accept cash deposits, and the article leads off with a photo of a couple of “soy boys” (Ragnar Lodbruk must be turning over in his grave) in a cafe that accepts no cash.

An article by Strange Sounds from 11/20/18 is entitled Is the government concealing California’s wildfire death toll? The depth to this one comes not only in the form of potentially-concealed numbers, but in this excerpt, with the “kicker” parts emboldened:

According to our sources, an anonymous White House official and a pair of California firefighters, the Trump administration and CAL Fire are acting in collusion, underreporting a catastrophic death toll because “they don’t want people to freak out and panic,” said our White House source. He said CAL Fire has found the charred remains of 480 people, and that number increases hourly.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sweden Is on the Verge of Going Completely Cashless: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Sweden Is on the Verge of Going Completely Cashless: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Sweden is rapidly turning into a cashless society, which seems like the utopian dream of many a government figure. What could possibly go wrong from the government’s point of view? Isn’t it ideal that they could soon digitally control every single person in the country?

Actually, quite a few things are going wrong. So much so that even members of the government are expressing concern.

Sweden is the most cashless society in the world

The change is happening fast in the European country.

“No cash accepted” signs are becoming an increasingly common sight in shops and eateries across Sweden as payments go digital and mobile…

…Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments…

…Last year, the amount of cash in circulation in Sweden dropped to the lowest level since 1990 and is more than 40 per cent below its 2007 peak. The declines in 2016 and 2017 were the biggest on record…

…An annual survey by Insight Intelligence released last month found that only 25 per cent of Swedes paid in cash at least once a week in 2017, down from 63 per cent just four years ago. A full 36 per cent never use cash, or just pay with it once or twice a year. (source)

Cash is used so infrequently that the government of the country has demonstrated concern. And this isn’t just in the big cities. A source in rural Sweden tells me that even in his remote area, the push to go cashless is omnipresent.

What could possibly go wrong?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Spreading: Now the British Media Is Pushing Microchipping In The UK

It’s Spreading: Now the British Media Is Pushing Microchipping In The UK

It’s no coincidence that a veritable public relations advertisement concealed as an article in the Daily Mail regarding the microchipping of thousands of Swedish people would soon be followed up by an article announcing yet more microchipping of employees and individuals in the UK. That is just what is happening now in an article by the Guardian entitled “Alarm over talks to implant UK employees with microchips.”

Although both articles present the idea of microchipping as something that is new and rarely done, the truth is that neither the technology nor the process is new and the practice is growing across Europe and North America at an alarming rate.

The UK’s largest employer organization is promoting microchips

Britain’s largest “employer organization” and “main trade union body” is now speaking out over the prospect of British companies implanting their employees for security purposes.

According to the Guardian, BioTeq, a UK firm, has already implanted 150 microchips in the UK. The company offers the chips to both businesses and individuals and the implants are being marketed mainly for convenience and the ability to access secure locations or simply to start their car with a wave of their hand. The chips can also store medical data and are similar to the ones implanted in pets.

These chips are so tiny that they can be implanted between the thumb and forefinger while others, such as the ones offered by Biohax of Sweden, are about the size of a grain of rice. Biohax was one of the topics of a recent publicity push in the European media to promote (by the cover of an article) the process and the company in general.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mossad Assisted Denmark In Thwarting Terror Plot; Iran Slams Allegation As “False Flag”

Mossad has claimed responsibility for tipping off Danish authorities after they thwarted an alleged terror plot by Tehran to assassinate three opposition figures living in Denmark, according to a senior Israeli intelligence official quoted in the Times of Israel.

This comes days after it was revealed this week that a Norwegian citizen of Iranian background was arrested in Sweden on Oct. 21 in connection with the plot and extradited to Denmark. The head of Danish intelligence announced on Tuesday that the assassination was meant to target the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) which seeks a separate state for ethnic Arabs in Iran’s oil-producing southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Israeli officials now say European authorities were tipped off by its elite foreign intelligence service, according to the Times of Israel report:

The information about Israel’s involvement in the thwarting of the plot was first released to a small number of journalists by a “senior official,” but was later confirmed by others.

According to Israel, the Mossad gave Denmark the information about the Iranian plot to kill three Iranians suspected of belonging to the anti-regime Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.

The suspect in custody has denied the charges, which have also been slammed by Tehran as a “false flag attempt” to frame Iran and further tarnish its reputation and global standing.

A manhunt for the Iranian plotters caused road closures in Denmark and Sweden. via EPA

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif  issued the following statement via Twitter on Wednesday: “Mossad’s perverse & stubborn planting of false flags (more on this later) only strengthens our resolve to engage constructively with the world,” he wrote.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Swedish Central Bank Makes U-Turn on Cash as NIRP is Ending

Swedish Central Bank Makes U-Turn on Cash as NIRP is Ending

Cash is less of a threat to central bank policies when interest rates rise above zero.

Sweden’s Riksbank has become the first central bank in the 21st century to take concrete measures to ensure that cash does not disappear as a means of payment from the financial system. To that end, the Riksbank proposes, in a document published on its website, to make it mandatory for all banks and financial institutions to offer cash services.

The pronouncement comes in response to a recent policy suggestion by the Riksbank Committee that only the country’s six major banks should be obligated to continue offering cash services.

That prompted a backlash from Sweden’s competition watchdog, which argued that the plan would distort competition as it would affect only a few of the nation’s banks. In response, the Riksbank has opted to apply the rule to “all banks and other credit institutions that offer payment accounts.”

There was also a difference of opinion between the Riksbank Committee and the central bank’s senior management on the issue of deposit facilities. While the Committee recommended that banks should only be obligated to provide deposit facilities to businesses, the Riksbank believes it is important for banks to also offer deposit services to individual citizens:

“This is a service that consumers can reasonably expect of credit institutions. There must also be symmetry between withdrawal and deposit facilities. In the Riksbank’s view, there is otherwise a risk that the possibilities for individuals to make deposits will decrease even further in the future. For most consumers, it would also be difficult to understand why they can withdraw cash from an account but not make deposits.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Real Contagion Threat is Political

The Real Contagion Threat is Political 

The real danger to the current institutional order was just demonstrated in Sweden. While I’ve talked at length about the potential financial contagion stemming from the implosion of multiple emerging market currencies it is the growing political crisis in Europe that will shape our future.

Sweden is The Land where Socialism Works, or so I keep getting told by ignorant leftists who cling to the power fantasy that central planning is the only way to make the trains run on time.

Central planning does do that, but only to deliver people into the nightmare of social disorder brought on by the disruption of the natural flow of capital.

Venezuela, South Africa, Soviet Union, post WWII Britain … you get the idea.

But, the effects of the collectivist mindset are far more pernicious than those extreme examples.  And it is important we understand how little policies grow into big problems over time due to shaping people’s decisions through government edicts.

Corps Insanity

There is no better example for what I’m talking about than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  A completely useless organization which sucks up billions in tax money to straighten rivers, build dams and alter the landscape to fit the needs of whoever paid Congress the most in lobbying money that year.

They engage in projects that cannot easily be done in the free market, nor should be done. But their activity creates downstream effects from their meddling which multiply over years and lead to problems which are orders of magnitude larger than they would have ever become naturally.

The Red Tides occurring off the Florida coast now are a political cudgel being swung at Governor Rick Scott to prevent him from moving up to U.S. Senator over his ‘environmental record.’  Now I’m no fan of Skeletor, as we call him down here, but these charges are simply grandstanding.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BREAKING: The ENTIRE Swedish Home Guard Was Just Mobilized

BREAKING: The ENTIRE Swedish Home Guard Was Just Mobilized

A few weeks back, the government of Sweden sent out a booklet to every household in the country urging citizens to prepare for war or other crises. A few months back, they told citizens that they should be prepared to last for at least a week without any help from the government. Last night, in the most unsettling move yet, they mobilized the entire Swedish Home Guard for an “unannounced preparedness exercise.” All 40 battalions have been activated, effective immediately.

The report is on the Försvarsmakten website, which is the official website of the Swedish Armed Forces. Here’s the English translation:

For the first time since 1975, the Armed Forces carry out an unannounced emergency preparedness control of the entire Hemvärnet. All staff around Sweden who are part of one of the 40 home war battalions and who have the opportunity to attend the evening of 5 June and during the national day will be in charge of service. The alarm is ordered by the Armed Forces and participation in the exercise is voluntary.

“We are committed to strengthening Sweden’s defense and increasing our operational capabilities. This is a way to do it. This exercise is great in several ways. We are testing the emergency chain for almost half our intervention organization, we have not done since 1975, says Micael Bydén, the commander.

Initially, staff – from north to south – will be contacted and invited to stand for service. Thereafter, relations will begin to solve tasks, such as protection, guarding and patrolling. During the national day, home care personnel will be seen in many places around the country, from ports and airports to streets and squares. Since it is a voluntary exercise, the Armed Forces can not force anyone to settle, but the chief commander shows great confidence in his staff. (source)

What this means

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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