10 things you should know about the current crisis in Venezuela | Brookings Institution

In recent days, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans across the country have been demonstrating on the streets against the government of Nicolás Maduro.

Here are 10 things you should know about how things got to this point …

Source: 10 things you should know about the current crisis in Venezuela | Brookings Institution

Global economics: Why financial cycles matter | Livemint


There are several important lessons to be learned from the BIS view.

First, there is a financial cycle that often does not move in sync with the business cycle. The financial cycle tends to be much longer than the business cycle—15-20 years rather than 8-10 years, according to several studies cited by Claudio Borio. So policymakers have to be sensitive to financial conditions being out of line with the underlying economic conditions.

Third, most of the policy response after 2009 has focused on demand stimulus. Not enough attention has been paid to balance-sheet repair. Most standard economic models focus on an output gap but pay too little attention to the way capital is mis-allocated. China is an excellent example of this.

Source: Global economics: Why financial cycles matter – Livemint

Jim Hightower | To Have a People’s Government, We the People Must Build It


.. millions of our neighbors have long been disengaged, viewing the political scrum as somewhere between irrelevant and repugnant.

But, suddenly they’re back — alert not only to Trump, but to their congress critters and to that menagerie of freaky, rightwing corporate mutants that Trump-Pence has put in charge of our government.

In January, one red-district Texan told a reporter: “I think of politics the way I think of my car. I just want it to run [without my spending] a lot of time.”

Only a few weeks into the Trump-Does-Washington spectacle, he learned a fundamental lesson: “You get the politics you work for.”

Source: Jim Hightower | To Have a People’s Government, We the People Must Build It

Dahr Jamail | Great Barrier Reef Reaches “Terminal Stage” as CO2 Levels Rise at Record Rate


Several weeks later Eyewitness News in Australia reported on scientists giving the GBR a “terminal prognosis” unless ACD (anthropogenic climate disruption) is slowed dramatically.

By April, scientists were in shock, realizing that two-thirds of the entire reef was now bleached out. Some of them declared the GBR (Great Barrier Reef) had reached a “terminal stage,” describing the situation as “unprecedented.”

Thanks to ACD, Earth has lost approximately half of all its coral reefs in just the last three decades. A quarter of all marine species depend on reefs. Reefs provide the sole source of protein for more than one billion people, and they are now vanishing before our eyes.

Source: Dahr Jamail | Great Barrier Reef Reaches “Terminal Stage” as CO2 Levels Rise at Record Rate

Free market assumptions damaging | Otago Daily Times


I am currently teaching my students the standard theory of how wage rates are determined in a market economy.

Whenever I teach this theory, I have a serious unease that I am teaching right-wing dogma. It all sounds plausible in theory but struggles under closer scrutiny. It is based on several unrealistic assumptions about the real world.

It assumes there is no power imbalance between employees and employers. It assumes that in all occupations there are many workers competing for jobs and many employers competing for workers. It also assumes firms are operating in competitive markets for their output. They are not making excessive profits and therefore cannot afford to pay their workers more.

This theory seems plausible at first glance. According to the theory, the employer must pay the worker a pay rate that reflects his or her productivity, otherwise the worker can easily find other employment with competing firms …

Source: Free market assumptions damaging | Otago Daily Times Online News

The Decline And Fall Of The Empire Of Liberty


America, the apotheosis of liberal republicanism, has been the arch-foe of imperialism. Something, however, has changed. The tide of liberal republicanism is going out: in America, in Russia, and, vividly, around the world.

Liberal republicanism thrived as it delivered the goods — a rising standard of living — wherever well applied. That process stalled out, at least in America — America, the premier engine of the liberal republican world order — around the turn of the millennium.

Yes, free markets are the foundation for equitable prosperity. Yet sometimes — all too often — the rhetoric of “free markets” is used to veil special pleading for oligarchs. Capitalism was the wrecking ball for feudalism.

What is one to do when the modern equivalent of feudal barons appropriate the language of capitalism to justify their power and privilege?

Source: The Decline And Fall Of The Empire Of Liberty

Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities | Aeon Ideas


The twin challenges of too much quantity and too little quality are rooted in the finite neurological capacity of the human mind.

Scientists are deriving hypotheses from a smaller and smaller fraction of our collective knowledge and consequently, more and more, asking the wrong questions, or asking ones that have already been answered.

Also, human creativity seems to depend increasingly on the stochasticity of previous experiences – particular life events that allow a researcher to notice something others do not. Although chance has always been a factor in scientific discovery, it is currently playing a much larger role than it should.

One promising strategy to overcome the current crisis is to integrate machines and artificial intelligence in the scientific process.

Source: Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities | Aeon Ideas

We want a great leader to save us. But people are where the power is | The Guardian


It is only from a distance that leadership looks like the be-all-and-end-all.

The closer people get to their own sovereignty – not in the Ukip sense, “a rousing word that sounds a little bit regal”, but the literal sense, the lowest point at which you can exert your power meaningfully on a state process – the more they talk about alliances and agendas; and the less they talk about a single Saviour galloping in to mend politics.

And this is giving up a lot: not just a prevailing understanding of the world so far, a string of personalities intersecting with each other, and with fortune. Inevitably, you give up on the idea of a single, dominant leftwing party whose elemental power is all sitting there, stored in a rock, waiting for the right person to pull a sword out of it.

It’s unnerving and obscurely unglamorous to rethink the left as a set of movements coming together and springing apart, more like line dance than a battalion. But it’s the only way politics will be transformed.

The electorate isn’t tribal any more.

Source: We want a great leader to save us. But people are where the power is | Zoe Williams | Opinion | The Guardian

Frank and Steven’s Excellent Corporate-Raiding Adventure | The Atlantic


The 1980s, a decade of corporate raids evoked so memorably in the book Barbarians at the Gate, were one such revolutionary moment.

At the start of that decade, most stock was held by scattered, individual investors, and institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies were passive owners. In 1981, there was not a single attempt in the U.S. by any investor to unseat a manager. It was a good time to be a chief executive.

But during the following five years, all of that changed. By 1986, more than 10 percent of corporate takeovers were hostile—the buyers bypassed managers and instead directly offered shareholders a large premium to sell their shares—and banks were making record-setting loans to fund them.

(The raiders greatly augmented, or leveraged, their investments with borrowed money, enabling them to target even the biggest corporations.)

Carl Icahn targeted and broke up underperforming companies, such as the airline TWA.

Source: Frank and Steven’s Excellent Corporate-Raiding Adventure – The Atlantic

American Airlines (AAL) issues an apology for a stroller incident and seems to have learned from United (UAL) | Quartz


The footage did not show a flight attendant taking the stroller away, but American Airlines was nonetheless quick to address the incident, trying hard to avoid a public-relations tailspin like the one its competitor United Airlines experienced when customer David Dao was filmed by fellow passengers as he was violently dragged off a United flight to make room for commuting airplane crew.

Source: American Airlines (AAL) issues an apology for a stroller incident and seems to have learned from United (UAL) — Quartz