Spring is Coming!

In the heat of the summer start to the Presidential campaign, it’s hard to remember that we’re really still in Winter. That’s in economic terms, as the cycles of the seasons last for years rather than a few months. There’s a good reason people are as angry as they are. This Winter has been long and brutal.

Then again, as Barataria has pointed out before, things are very much warming up. Employment is up like the first tulips of Spring and most of the signs are very positive. But it doesn’t feel that way to many people. As sure as the arrival of Spring often comes with a few storms it seems darker before it all clears up.

Spring is coming. If you pause for a moment and reflect you can feel it. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to just sit around and wait. If you ask any gardener or farmer, Spring is the season with the most work. To get it done, there is no doubt that we are stronger together – that many hands make light work. More importantly, what we harvest is what we plant now. There’s a lot to do, but plenty of reasons to do it joyfully.

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Beyond Watergate

Our political system is under attack by a foreign nation.

Revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server was hacked by Russians known to be working for state intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg. Like the break-in at the Watergate offices of the DNC on 17 June 1972, it appears to be part of a coordinated effort to influence the election. Unlike Watergate, it is being run by Putin’s Russia – a vast “kleptocracy” of mafia known as the “Bratva” (brotherhood) that routinely conducts similar operations around the world.

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Countering BS Arguments

The Republican Convention is over – but, of course, the arguments will continue. If you watched any of the speeches, especially the gloom ridden rant delivered by Donald Trump, you may be wondering about some of the horrifying statistics thrown around. Is America really in such peril, with such incredibly high unemployment and violence in the streets?

The short answer is no, not at all. We’re at a turning point, as we’ve shown many times. The long Depression which started about the year 2000 is coming to an end. We’re literally at the glass half full stage, for us optimists. It’s fairly easy to counter that it’s half empty if you’re a pessimist, and there’s no reason we can’t have great time arguing about those perspectives while draining down a few pint glasses of beer if you’re so inclined.  But there’s also no reason to tolerate those who say the glass, or our great nation, is somehow completely empty.

You may run into some of these arguments in social media, a family gathering, or from the cranky guy at work who is really into talk radio. They are easy to refute if you have a few facts and figures under your belt. Here are some of the most common and pressing arguments that everything is bad and/or worse under Obama and how they can be refuted.

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Three Views of The Economy

When the summer livin’ is easy, I enjoy sitting out on the porch with a few tunes.  Today’s lazing soundtrack was “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorius as I went over some old posts to see if anything needed revisiting.  And this piece from July 2011 popped out as a debate that is still raging – but with some resolution.  It seemed to fit the tension that always builds in a Jaco piece.

Economists, as noted before, have widely divergent views about the economic situation and what should be done about it.  But the experiments that have been running through various economies are teaching us all a little bit along the way as to who may be right.  It’s worth revisiting.

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Erdogan’s Power Grab

The attempted coup in Turkey ended quickly, but it is far from over. Exactly what happened remains a bit foggy for the simple reason that no one believes it was ever a serious coup. In a region wracked by conspiracy theories one simple fact stands out – complex machinations are often real.

Recep Erdogan has used the coup as an excuse to launch a massive purge which continues to reach beyond the power structure and into Turkish culture and daily life. The most recent victims include teachers – hardly part of the coup but clearly standing in the way of a complete makeover of Turkey in Erdogan’s image.

All of this is happening in a member of NATO which stands at the bridge between the West and the Middle East – our last reliable and powerful ally in the region.

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The Race is Hotter Than July

The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the Presidential campaign. In fourteen days we will know just how everything is going, from the themes we can expect to carry through to November to the polls telling us how the horse race has started.

How will it shake out? If you’re a Republican, you’re probably hoping it won’t be a disaster. Democrats have their own fears for a disruptive show, but appear to be better prepared for a traditional convention bounce.

Here’s what to look for over the next two weeks.

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Forcing Investment

The dust is settling. After the various panics that rocked the early part of the year, mainly due to a slow-down in China and the developing world as a whole, Brexit put another shock to the system. Markets panicked and everyone became even more risk averse. But with just a little bit of time we can see that even more than we predicted at the start of the 2016 one thing has become obvious by mid-year – the United States is the only solid place for any kind of investment in the world.

It’s still a tough fight to get the money to where it does the most good, at the risky start-up end of the economy. And there are plenty of signs of fear running amok more generally, expressed in the price of gold. But there is little doubt that the US is the place to be – all the moreso with Brexit.

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