Archive for April, 2015

The caged bird, truth and freedom of the press in the US


No, not only discriminating birds. All surveys have reached the same conclusion. But before we get to that conclusion, a slight but necessary detour.

One thing for certain, if he does not earn the Nobel Prize in Economics for illustrating to readers the questionable or misleading analysis of the likes of WaPo and NYT, he does indeed deserve it for sparing his readers the anguish of having to read such; allowing them to avoid the unbearable torture – a word both have studiously avoided where the US is involved.

And, to continue with Dean Baker, co-director of the US CEPR, we find he had to suffer through its news and crime reporting, in this case, on the demonstrations and unrest in Baltimore. Baker demonstrates remarkable self-restraint in avoiding the use of the sometimes necessary, strong language, in his post. Washington Post’s Front Page Nonsense on Freddie Gray.

I usually confine my comments to economic reporting, but I can’t let my blog sit idle when the Washington Post commits major journalistic malpractice on a story of national importance. The Post ran a major front page story with the headline, “Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray was ‘trying to injure himself’ document says.” As the article indicates, the basis for the story is a document which includes the statement by another prisoner, presumably someone still in police custody.

His rebuke,

Making this statement the basis of a front page story and not indicating to readers the need for skepticism, given the source, is incredibly irresponsible.


Yes, ‘Free Trade’ and Free Trade – US ‘Journalism’ and Journalism



We have an example of journalism as against ‘journalism’. US economist Dean Baker, more so than others, has been inveighing mightily and continually against the problematic reporting of the ‘journalism’ of the likes of WaPo and NYT, now on issues of ‘free trade’, the TTIP and TPP. Baker reads and responds to such so that others will not have to suffer the indignity or agony. Yet in all this we are pointed to a surprise, and it comes from one of the MSM blogs.

As we will see, Huffington Post, often bulletin board to the corporate Democratic party, is gifted with good journalists – if one has the patience to rummage through the clutter. On the ‘Fast Track’ and TPP and TTIP, its Zach Carter serves as an exemplar on how journalism should be done, something rare in the corporate MSM.

No sooner had Senator Warren highlighted the obvious that even the modestly curious already know, than the US President would plunge deeper into it, and aggressively undermine further his trustworthiness, Obama Fires Back At Elizabeth Warren And Trade Critics, Escalating Democratic Feud. (more…)

A little more than a toe-tapper – in fact…


Yes, that common thread throughout the region. [h/t HC]

‘Free Trade’, Lies and Looting – Prof Black Shineth the Light on Evil


The Economic Sermon of the Day.

But before we get there. The problem of inexperience and narcissism is that the latter trait too often prevails on the former that it is indeed experience, even wisdom. Case in point is the failure to understand on the part of the incautious and inexperienced that the US Senator Warren never has been ‘packaged’ – her accomplishments are there for all to see and understand. And there ought to be that likelihood that her similarly maligned colleague, Senator Sherrod Brown, may actually know something about trade and ‘free trade’? Then, again, there is something about ‘fools rush in’…

Which brings us to the Economic Sermon of the Day from Professor William K Black. Black is also known for the investigation and securing of the criminal prosecution of very many involved in the infamous Savings & Loan debacle in the US. And the thing is, the crimes of that era were not nearly as egregious as those of the recent ‘Great Financial Crash’, where not one malefactor has been charged, far more convicted – that political inoculation, immunisation in the US that comes through corporate campaign contributions and other lavish perquisites. (more…)

For the US, ‘Free Trade’, and Trading Places – Warren for Obama?


‘Free trade’? Senator Warren? Wrong on her facts and analysis? Clearly an unintended invitation to scrutinise respective CVs, respective accomplishments? The real versus the ersatz?

In that aggressive and hasty pursuit of his legacy from approved ‘free trade’ deals (TTIP and TTP), along the Clinton Model, the US President committed another of those errors the less inexperienced know to avoid. Earlier this week the President, in defending his proposed trade deals would criticise, of all people, Elizabeth Warren.

From an organ of the US corporate MSM, CNN, we have, Obama: Warren is ‘wrong’ on trade. From which we look at key excerpts,

President Barack Obama is locking horns with one of his most prominent progressive critics on trade policy, calling out Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “wrong” in her opposition to a proposed trade deal with Asia.

“I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she’s wrong on this,” Obama says in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, scheduled to air Tuesday night.

I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts they are wrong,” Obama said.

[bold added for emphasis] (more…)

Quiet touches for a Sunday?


So why not from Bob James…

The World Bank, the IMF, and the 21st Century


‘Structural Adjustment’. ‘Washington Consensus’. ‘Privatisation’. ‘Budget Cuts’. ‘Austerity’. On and on…

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) hold their Annual Meeting this weekend.

As we know these two organisations are yet to have a non-Western director – the World Bank, always US, even though now the President is of South Korean extract; and the IMF, always a European, even if the President is now a French woman. Such an exceptional state of affairs has led to initiatives by major countries that see themselves treated as no more than second-class countries. The likelihood of the US ceding any control, its veto seems very low, to nil.

No surprise then that China, with fierce opposition from the US, has started its Asian Investment in Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), the BRICS, with their New Development Bank (NDB), both of which are to start operating within the year. Other factors have also led to disenchantment with these Western entities. Principal among these are perceptions that they more represent the interests of Western capital and finance, than those of the putative beneficiary countries. Sudden, severe economic and financial crises, especially from the eighties, had led many regional countries to rely on, even submit to multilateral development institutions, in particular the WB and the IMF, for assistance with development and debt challenges, with what seems to have been imperceptible benefits.

Fortunately economic fortunes of some countries would change, drastically and for the better, and for an extended period. Such benefits would enable Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina to become key in weaning most Latin countries off those institutions that had inflicted such social and economic damage on their countries. (more…)

The farce of ‘free trade’, wondrous jobs and nirvana


A deluge of chat in the US about ‘free trade’, ‘job creation’, ‘wage increases’. And amplified into being truth by constant, unexamined promotion by its corporate MSM.

To take this bull by the horns, we attempt a succinct review of the analysis, a ‘guide for the incurious’, on the benefits of these US-initiated trade proposals. We start with a headline of 30 January 2015 that should capture events ongoing and before. And very apposite is that title of the blog post of Dean Baker, co-director of CEPR, at his beat the press blog. (And how apposite we will discover shortly.) The BS Storm is Coming on Trade Deals.

On the benefits of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, Baker informs us,

A study by the Centre for Economic Policy Research in the U.K. said that the employment effect of the sister TTIP would be small and could go in either direction.


It is also important to note that a major thrust of these trade deals is protectionist in the form of increasing patent and copyright protection. This will lead to higher prices for prescription drugs and other protected products. This will slow growth and reduce purchasing power. Stronger patent protection is also likely to further disadvantage U.S. workers as increased royalty payments for patents will crowd out exports of goods, reducing manufacturing employment in the United States.

Nothing unclear there. (more…)

Galeano, Chávez y Obama – La Oportunidad Desperdiciada


Ayer falleció Eduardo Galeano, autor e intelectual uruguayo.

Durante la V Cumbre de las Américas de 2009 el Presidente de Venezuela le regaló al Presidente eeuu ‘Las venas abiertas de América Latina’. Nos recuerda del evento el periódico, el País,

El día que Eduardo Galeano estuvo entre Obama y Chávez

“Las venas abiertas de América Latina” fue publicada por primera vez en 1971. En 2009, durante la Cumbre de las Américas, fue el regalo que el expresidente Hugo Chávez eligió entregarle a Barack Obama ante la prensa mundial y varios colegas presidentes.

[Poco después,  el Presidente Obama repudió este gesto de amistad, el perfil de personalidad, en blanco y negro.] (more…)

VII Summit of the Americas – Symbolism vs Substance


Irony of history – today is 13 April. The day in 2002 when the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez was restored to the Presidency to which he was democratically and unanimously elected, after a failed coup attempt on 11 March, 2002…

So now. How was the VII Summit of the Americas? Let’s see. No official declaration, yet again – though there would be a consensus declaration from the Summit of the Peoples. So, then, what resulted from this confabulation of leaders at the Summit of the Americas?

For the US, the raison d’être of attending achieved: Symbolism, a handshake between Raul Castro and Barack Obama – cameras clicking and US talking heads clucking. And that would be followed by now predictable and tiresome rhetoric, with unfulfilled promises – the US President had come yet again, empty handed but laden with platitudes, to the surprise of very few.