Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

22 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Refresher – for me anyway. ymmv

    Henery George in 1879 said; “where the value of land is highest, civilization exhibits the greatest luxury side by side with the most piteous destitution”

    “Your Book Review: Progress And Poverty

    “In 1879, a man asked “How come all this new economic development and industrialized technology hasn’t eliminated poverty and oppression?” That man was Henry George, his answer came in the form of a book called Progress & Poverty, and this is a review of that book.

    “Henry George is variously known for leading an early movement that popularized Universal Basic Income, sporting a fancy beard while shouting “The Rent Is Too Damn High!” and inspiring a popular board game that was shamelessly ripped off and repackaged as Monopoly.
    “So with all three laws established George sums it up like so:
    ● Where land is free and labor is unassisted by capital, the whole produce will go to labor as wages.

    ● Where land is free and labor is assisted by capital, wages will consist of the whole produce, less that part necessary to induce the storing up of labor as capital.

    ● Where land is subject to ownership and rent arises, wages will be fixed by what labor could secure from the highest natural opportunities open to it without the payment of rent.

    ● Where natural opportunities are all monopolized, wages may be forced by the competition among laborers to the minimum at which laborers will consent to reproduce.

    “This is the reason George says that wages are so high in “new countries” where there’s more land available than in countries where it’s been locked up for centuries.

    “Here’s how it all fits together:
    ● Though neither wages nor interest anywhere increase as material progress goes on, yet the invariable accompaniment and mark of material progress is the increase of rent – the rise of land values.

    ● where the value of land is highest, civilization exhibits the greatest luxury side by side with the most piteous destitution”…

    Full quote:
    “It is unnecessary to refer to facts. They will suggest themselves to the reader. It is the general fact, observable everywhere, that as the value of land increases, so does the contrast between wealth and want appear. It is the universal fact, that where the value of land is highest, civilization exhibits the greatest luxury side by side with the most piteous destitution. To see human beings in the most abject, the most helpless and hopeless condition, you must go, not to the unfenced prairies and the log cabins of new clearings in the backwoods, where man single-handed is commencing the struggle with nature, and land is yet worth nothing, but to the great cities, where the ownership of a little patch of ground is a fortune.”

    Book III, Chapter 8
    The Statics of the Problem Thus Explained

  2. The social costs of the pandemic, worldwide, are starting to mount up. Vaccination of rich countries, well ahead of the poorer ones, may lead to accelerations in social disorder and even regional conflicts. In a world that was already seeing armed conflicts spread before 2020, this possibility should be of serious concern. To get herd immunity inside any one country seems pointless if that country has neighbours with no herd immunity. The UN needs to do more here than just leave it up to the WHO. The pandemic is more than a health emergency. It is much more than an national economic issue. It is a global social and environmental catastrophe. This must be the focus for the way it is handled globally. Any other approach risks ultimate failure.

  3. Covid-19 variants proliferate while hope evaporates. The world’s COVID-19 pandemic crisis, caused by the SARS CoV2 pathogen, just keeps getting worse. In allowing the SARS CoV2 pathogen to become a pandemic spread over almost the entire globe and now chronically endemic, governments and world authorities have created a crisis potentially without end in sight.

    Two-thirds of epidemiologists warn mutations could render current COVID vaccines ineffective in a year or less.

    The mutation cat is out of the bag. New variants of concern have appeared and gone global including:

    United Kingdom B.1.1.7
    Detected Feb 2020.
    ≈74% higher transmissibility
    ≈64% more lethal
    No change in antigenicity.

    United States B.1.429, B.1.427
    Detected June 2020
    ≈20% higher transmissibility
    Lethality under investigation
    Moderate-to-severe reduction in neutralisation.

    South Africa B.1.351
    Detected Oct 2020
    ≈50% higher transmissibility
    No evidence of change in lethality
    Significant reduction in neutralisation by antibodies

    Japan & Brazil P.1
    Detected Dec 2020
    ≈152% higher transmissibility [better source needed]
    ≈45% more lethal
    Overall reduction in effective neutralisation

    United Kingdom Nigeria B.1.525
    Detected Dec 2020
    Transmissibility under investigation
    Lethality under investigation
    Possibly reduced neutralisation

    (Above data sourced and summarized from Wikipedia “Variants of SARS-CoV2”.

    Further new mutations or variants are arising, including it seems a new double mutation variant from India and a new variant from the Philippines. These variants are so new it appears there is little comprehensive data for them as yet. In foolishly permitting (that charge is fully merited) COVID-19 to spread globally, the human race, in particular the elites who run the major economic blocs, have created a crisis to which no end can yet be seen. The crisis is sill getting worse.

    New surges are being experienced in several countries already heavily hit. Known global new cases are once again at new, near record highs. We can be almost completely certain right now that actual (including undetected and uncounted cases) are at their highest ever since the pandemic began and still claiming. Failure of detection and under-counting of the pandemic is rife particularly in undeveloped countries.

    All this amounts to a situation which, to a significant extent, is now out of all human control. We simply let the numbers get too high. The mutation rate is very likely to outstrip all vaccination efforts and to continually render vaccines ineffective. The need for annual COVID-19 shots with updated vaccines is very likely. Just as with flu shots, this vaccines will be a season behind. Nature as virus evolution is now front-running us and we will be playing continuous catch-up.

    In the face of this, the only proper response is total global lock-down to elimination. Every country must be locked-down globally with respect to international travel. Each country must internally lock-down with ring-fencing to elimination internally. In theory, this is the correct strategy. In practice, how would such a global lock-down be achieved? Well, given the current global mess it probably can’t be although if the crisis gets dire enough humans might learn how to do it.

    In the meantime, nations like Australia which have controlled the virus must realize we can not open up again, at least not for five years and maybe for ten or twenty. New variants globally will mean we are never safe even if vaccinated (against last year’s strains but what about this year’s strains?). We have entered a new reality. People must adjust in a realistic fashion.

    As a final word, it is quite possible that a serious young-adult-killing or child-killing variant of COVID-19 could arise. We have now put ourselves into a massive mutation experiment where COVID-19 will be able to explore its entire emergently-possible fitness landscape as evolutionary possibilities. As a mammalian (human) disease it has a massive global mammalian population (never seen before in evolutionary history) to explore.

    But hey, let’s just keep traveling and consuming the biosphere as if tomorrow is guaranteed. I mean, what could go wrong? That was sarcasm in case you missed it.

  4. Ikonoclast,
    I’d suggest it’s all guesswork re future strains of COVID-19 and whether they will be more virulent/deadly or not. Who knows?

    But what scientists do know is if we don’t get our GHG emissions down fast NOW, then civilisation will likely collapse and billions will likely die in the coming decades.

    Tweeted by Roger Hallam on Apr 19:

    ““But this really is it. If we don’t amp up and accelerate the energy transformation in this decade, we’re goners – really goners.” John Podesta, special adviser to Obama and Paris Agreement negotiator. How many more times will they say it?”

  5. Ikon & Geoff. Here is my suggestion for JQ’s ‘retirement’!.Ha! JQ, I doubt you will ever retire.

    Both of you may become beta testers for JQ’s world. Including of course a pandemic with runaway climate effects effected in game as an example of revealed preferences to lobby action by government. I can wish…

    JQ, a new and exciting job awaits… gaming economic advisor. Where you too can create Georgist Land Tax system ala Eve Online. Or your preferred economic system. 

    “How I Used EVE Online to Predict the Great Recession
    by Ramin Shokrizade on 04/05/13 

    …” explaining, among other things, how this weakness in the economic design threatened their game and how to solve it. My solution was to greatly raise the rents on these factories so that only those that were actually actively running them would want to hold them. The idea was to create a “hot potato” effect where no rational person would want these factories unless they were doing a lot of output with them.

    “While it took several months to implement the fix, once it was in it worked perfectly by causing the speculators to abandon their stranglehold on the economy.”…

    And comment by author;
    Ramin Shokrizade
    9 Apr 2013 at 6:52 am PST

    “I operate in the belief that my fellow Quants in the financial sector know what they are doing, and should not be underestimated. When I see huge spikes in wealth stratification I attribute this to them quietly using powerful computers to take advantage of the myriad weaknesses in the real economy, just like players do to the games I study. I cannot overemphasize that when an exploit is used to fatten one purse, it must come from another purse in a nearly closed economy like our “real” one. Or millions of other purses.

    “Obviously there are also laws passed that open up new exploits (presumably intentionally), such as the aforementioned Prop 13. Here again I assume that these work as intended, even if that intent is hidden while it is being promoted. I even see clever beta testers in the games I study suggest changes to game mechanics that open up new exploits that they intend to use for their own purposes once the game goes retail. Sometimes developers fall for such ploys, even against my advice.

    “This happened with Flying Labs’ Pirates of the Burning Sea (2008) when they changed some key rules against my advice. A week or so later I was able to generate 14 times the combined wealth of the entire server (5000+ players playing for over a month) in just one hour. In my case I contacted them after that first hour and asked them if they wanted me to stop. They said “yes please” and I did. I probably could have used RMT to make a quick $30,000 but by that time in my career I had a reputation to protect. If this had been Wall Street and I had found a similar “Holy Grail” exploit, I could have added several zeros to the end of that number.”

    “Eve Online is a space-based, persistent world MMO game, which CCP’s Reykjavik studio developed and first launched in 2003. The game earned renown for its scale and complexity with regards to player interactions and an economy that some countries would envy.

    “In Eve’s single, shared game world, players can take on a number of professions and engage in economic competition, warfare, and political schemes with each other across several thousand explorable solar systems.”…

    “But one of my all-time favorite endorsements will always be that one time the economist Ramin Shokrizade unwittingly re-derived land value tax from first principles to (successfully!) fix recessions in EVE Online.”

  6. Comment in moderation?

    Let’s push for “Renaissance of Democracies” not “A World Adrift”. A political documemt as much as a look ahead – “led by the United States and its allies”. Good discussion report and a point source for future historians. 

    “Welcome to the 7th edition of the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report. Published every four years since 1997, Global Trends assesses the key trends and uncertainties that will shape the strategic environment for the United States during the next two decades.”

    ● Renaissance of Democracies
    In 2040, the world is in the midst of a resurgence of open democracies led by the United States and its allies. Rapid technological advancements fostered by public-private partnerships in the United States and other democratic societies are transforming the global economy, raising incomes, and improving the quality of life for millions around the globe.

    ● A World Adrift
    In 2040, the international system is directionless, chaotic, and volatile as international rules and institutions are largely ignored by major powers such as China, regional players, and nonstate actors. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries are plagued by slower economic growth, widening societal divisions, and political paralysis.

    ● Competitive Coexistence
    In 2040, the US and China have prioritized economic growth and restored a robust trading relationship, but this economic interdependence exists alongside competition over political influence, governance models, technological dominance, and strategic advantage.

    ● Separate Silos
    In 2040, the world is fragmented into several economic and security blocs of varying size and strength, centered on the United States, China, the European Union, Russia, and a few regional powers, and focused on self-sufficiency, resiliency, and defense.

    ● Tragedy and Mobilization
    In 2040, a global coalition, led by the European Union and China working with nongovernmental organizations and revitalized multilateral institutions, is implementing far-reaching changes designed to address climate change, resource depletion, and poverty following a global food catastrophe caused by climate events and environmental degradation.”

    In “Regional Forecasts”, “Oceania”, Australia has two large areas ominously outlined – too hot to trot – via IPCC assessments:

  7. China is now the main climate arsonist and they intend (essentially) to wreck the world climate so they can be bigger and more powerful than the USA. That will be the Pyrrhic victory to end all Pyrrhic victories.

    Click to access Smith94.pdf

    A 2019 survey found there were 100 million Chinese people among the world’s top 10% of richest people, compared with 99 million in the US. China is the world’s worst climate criminal on all current measures. And it is acting as this type of climate criminal to supply 100 million of the world’s richest people, more than in the USA . It can’t play the poverty or undeveloped nation card now. It is plain greedy and inequitable, just like the West.

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” ― George Orwell, Animal Farm.

  8. Apparently launched yesterday (Apr 20) is a new organisation called the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group (ASLCG).

    Their Media Release, dated 20 Apr 2021, is here:

    The ASLCG Executive includes:
    * Admiral Chris BARRIE AC – Former Chief of the Defence Force (Retd);
    * Air Vice-Marshall John BLACKBURN AO – Former Deputy Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force (Retd);
    * Cheryl DURRANT – Former Director of Preparedness & Mobilisation, Australian Department of Defence;
    * Major Michael THOMAS – Former Major in the Australian Army (Retd);
    * Ian DUNLOP – Former Chair of the Australian Coal Association;
    * Colonel Neil GREET – Former Colonel in the Australian Army (Retd).

  9. The instant collapse of the European Super League in soccer, floated by a handful of élite European clubs, is heartening but the episode is symptomatic of deeper flaws in the game. The billionaire owners were unhappy with their grossly inflated profits and wanted a scheme that would (a) get them an even bigger share of the TV rights, some of which now go via UEFA to support lower-division riff-raff and even amateurs, (b) protect their investment in perpetuity by closing the mobility door of promotion and relegation. US sports do seem to run on a similar closed-door setup, but genuine competition is IIRC sustained by egalitarian mechanisms like the draft pick. In European soccer, there is no constraint on transfer fees, which have reached absurd levels (€222 million for Neymar from Barcelona to PSG, August 2017).

    What seems to have happened is an unexpected revolt, not by the no-account fans of say Leicester City, but those of the elite clubs themselves. There were angry street protests outside the Chelsea stadium. The plot offered in-person fans, the emotional core of any club, nothing, it was all about TV. A late-season match between two teams with no more chance of winning that year – meaning most of them – and no risk of relegation would have turned into a soporific exhibition game.

  10. Our obsession with games is symptomatic of deeper flaws in our collective psyche and entire socioeconomic system. This obsession with mere games, that essentially mean nothing in the greater scheme of things, is symptomatic of the deep disconnect between our society and the real biosphere. People care more about who puts a round ball in a net then whether or not we prevent climate changes, sea-level rise, the sixth mass extinction etc. etc.

    In a time of COVID-19 with millions dying and 100s of millions infected, people (UK people in this case) gather in packed hordes, spreading the disease, and achieving nothing useful. Their lives are so empty they have to obsess over an absurd game run by billionaries. Terms from “suckers” to “false consciousness come to mind. If they were demonstrating for something worthwhile, like ending capitalism and climate change, it might be worthwhile and justifiable.

    These meaningless obsessions with organized professional sports only increase the damage we are doing to the planet and to our society. Here in Brisbane, Australia, our state Premier wants to spend a billion dollars on a new stadium for the 2032 Olympics if we win the (booby-prize) right to host it. It’s all about opportunity cost. One billion dollars, or rather the resources they could marshal, would purchase a lot of hospital, quarantine or vaccine manufacturing capacity which Australia desperately needs and will need more desperately in the future. We face further challenges from COVID-19 as mutations run rife around the world. We face challenges from homelessness to greater natural disasters generated by climate change.

    Obsessions with professional sport and their coliseums, with pointless, self-indulgent consumption, like inveterate travel and general over-consumption at the expense of the planet, will lead to billions of deaths this century. This is how high the stakes are. But here in the West we are too decadent and too “idiotized” by the dominant ideology, our diets, habits, and cultural shibboleths to even see what’s happening. I won’t comment on the East here, other than to say they are falling into the same trap as us. The East is following the West over the “Seneca Cliff”. It appears to human race is too short-sighted to see what’s happening and react in time. We will pay a terrible price for all this foolishness.

  11. Really blistering Tommaso Valletti, “The economists who serve them are just useful fools”

    Valletti has cited JQ. Long read.
    * JQ please apply – and write w Valletti. See Endnotes.

    “The European System of Monopoly. . . and how to fix it
    …” Valletti reveals much about the rather corrupt interlocking system of monopoly in Europe, and offers ways forwards: one big, meaty solution in particular.”

    TV:   “I saw the consultants hijack a certain way of doing economic work.  They do this on a massive scale, to create doubt.  They bombard you.  They say ‘well, this merger could bring all these fantastic efficiencies: here is a possibility you should consider.’ You know that in practice this will not play a role, but then you have the burden of proof as an authority to dismiss those claims. It is a very dirty game.

    “NS:     You had an awakening, how was this from a personal perspective?

    “TV       I live in the UK, and I see all these people in position of power coming from doing PPE [Politics, Philosophy and Economics] at Oxford University or similar. They are trained in the debating societies to argue anything, and the opposite, within 5 minutes. They are very eloquent. When I first came to the UK, I thought, as an academic, ‘how interesting, how witty, how intelligent!’  But it has actually been devastating. Because economic power will take exactly those kinds of people, then put them in front of a judge, or the Commission, and they will create smoke around an issue.  

    “These people have lost the sense of who they are. I witnessed that, and it made me re-think my own values. This is not about some narrow economics. It’s about democracy, about economic and political power.

    “I had avoided this for too long.  I had to ask myself, after having studied markets for over two decades: what do I have to say? Where do I stand?  What is right, and what is wrong? That was my re-awakening.

    “NS:     Did a particular case or event crystallise this?

    “TV       My first big cases involved Dow-Dupont, and Bayer-Monsanto, in the agrochemical business. We found a very interesting angle, a bit overlooked, that those mergers may reduce innovation.  

    “There was immediately all this negativity coming from the economic consultancies, and the law firms.   Baker Mackenzie, a law firm on the side of Big Pharma, tried to rebut us. They first sent their lawyers, who were not smart enough to tackle good economists. So they hired consultant economists, but the consultants didn’t have the same tools we had. We were pretty robust. 

    “So they escalated. They went to people in Toulouse, at Bocconi, in Bologna, paying them to come up with some second order effects, some details, to undermine our results.”…

    “The big law firms instruct the consultants about what they have to say. The economists who serve them are just useful fools.”…

    A short selection of articles, events and commentary.
    * [JQ please apply]
    “Anti-monopoly: an open call for academic papers

    “The Anti-Monopoly Fund, established by Chris Hughes – an early co-founder of Facebook and now once of the company’s fiercest critics — is providing academic research grants ($10K-$100K) to scholars interested in studying concentrated economic power and the evolving economy.”

    Valletti cites Quiggin et al in;
    “The Theory of Access Pricing: an Overview for Infrastructure Regulators

    Tina Kao & Flavio Menezes & John Quiggin, 2014. “Optimal access regulation with downstream competition,” Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 75-93, February.

    Valletti paper:

    …” Tommaso is currently the Head of the Department of Economics & Public Policy at Imperial College Business School. He is a Non-Executive Director to the board of the Financial Conduct Authority. He was the Chief Competition Economist of the European Commission (Directorate General for Competition) between 2016 and 2019.

    “Tommaso’s main research interests are in industrial economics, regulation, and competition economics. “…


  12. Kelton must have missed this…

    “A Third of U.S. Billionaire Wealth Gains Since 1990 Have Come During Pandemic

    “U.S. billionaire pandemic profit balloons to $4.56 trillion, a 55 percent increase.

    by Chuck Collins

    “The wealth of U.S. billionaires has steadily grown over the last 31 years. But a third of the $4.3 trillion in billionaire wealth gains since 1990 have come during the last 13 months of the pandemic.  

    “Between 1990 and April 2021, the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires increased 19-fold, from $240 billion in today’s dollars to $4.56 trillion in 2021. Below are the findings about billionaire wealth growth over the past 31 years (according to an analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies: see data sources and full report.)

    “Between March 18, 2020, and April 12, 2021,the collective wealth of American billionaires leapt by $1.62 trillion, or 55 percent, from $2.95 trillion to $4.56 trillion. [See data table here]. 

    “America’s 719 billionaires now hold over four times more wealth ($4.56 trillion) than all the roughly 165 million Americans in society’s bottom half ($1.01 trillion), according to Federal Reserve Board data. 

    “In 1990, the situation was reversed — billionaires were worth $240 billion and the bottom 50 percent had $380 billion in combined wealth.”…

  13. mrkenfabian: – “are these the sort that meet in inner city wine bars?”
    What do you think?

  14. On ABC Afternoon Briefing on Wednesday (Apr 21), from time interval 35:46 to 45:50, Patricia Karvelas interviewed Chris Barrie and Ian Dunlop on the security risks of climate change.

    One serious misconception came from Karvelas on hydrogen being an energy source. Hydrogen is NOT an energy source – it’s an energy carrier – like energy that’s stored in batteries and pumped-hydro systems.

  15. Geoff – a flippant remark on my part. The idea that Morrison and the LNP will “take back” the climate and clean energy issue from inner city elites in “whine” bars presumes that they had ever seriously taken up the issue… other than in the inverted sense of fiercely opposing climate action and the shift to low emissions. Not only has their Doubt, Deny, Delay (and Deride) “policy” been the antithesis of committing to zero emissions their latest efforts appear designed to increase fossil fuel use – Hydrogen from fossil fuels (with CCS to make it ‘clean’) doesn’t help in any way and CCS that I suspect will be used for enhanced gas and oil recovery being misrepresented and promoted and funded as emissions reductions stretches all credibility.

    For $539M we could have six big batteries like the first one in SA – and have them working and reducing dependence on coal and gas before the next election!

    Instead of something that will work now, they throw money at fossil fuel companies for things that either won’t work at scale, ever, like CCS or won’t make much difference before 2030.

    I find my cynicism and skepticism combine to convince me the Morrison government is incapable of sincere commitment to solving the clean energy problem.

  16. The global COVID-19 catastrophe continues and continually worsens. India is in its worst position ever.

    How did it get so bad so quick? Answer, new variants including the Indian double mutation strain.

    The global COVID-19 crisis will most likely continue to worsen for several years yet. There is no real sign that the world can vaccinate any where near enough people in time to stop the catastrophe any time soon. There are real signs that vaccination will be far less successful than hoped due to mutations and limited protection from the vaccines over time. Bottom line, don’t expect vaccines to save any country from a disaster. They might but it is still far from a certainty.

    The only answer is complete global lock-down to total eradication. Or, if that is not feasible, countries like Australia must lock-down (from the international scene) indefinitely. Any other course could well spell a disaster for them. Essential trade and essential travel (using very tough tests and with better quarantine stations than hotels) could still be made safe. Apart from that, opening Australia up will very likely be a path to disaster. We are not out of the woods yet.

    Vaccines are the Hail Mary you throw when you have failed to control the pandemic in your country. The vaccine strategy has very real dangers and could also lead to a long-term “chronic disaster” albeit one less worse than a full-blown epidemic. Do not be fooled into thinking vaccines are a certain panacea. Lock-down to elimination is a far better strategy, even now, especially as Australia is placed.

    I have not checked the provenance and veracity of the following paper but if it is scientifically sound, it rings possible serious alarm bells.


    “… ongoing safety evaluation is required, as different mRNA systems and modes of administration are used for the first time in humans and are tested on larger and more heterogeneous patient populations.”

    “Given the similarity between the mechanisms of COVID-19 damage and vaccine adverse reactions (see “Pfizer” paper below), it is conceivable that many of the symptoms and pathologies associated with long-COVID may also be present as long-term consequences of vaccination.”

    The overall issue is the newness of mRNA (and also of Adenovirus vector) vaccines and the emergency speed of their implementation due to the severe crisis. These vaccines have been rushed through and that ought to give us level of informed concern. Currently the disease is still far more dangerous according to existing levels of knowledge, so it still appears wise on balance to get vaccinated. I am not an anti-vaxxer nor an alarmist. I trust science properly done with proper time to do it and when not distorted by profit motives.. I do not trust capitalist big pharma without very strong regulation and oversight. Indeed, I advocate dismantling their IP monopolies.

    The thing I truly lament is that lock-down elimination was the white door. Letting it rip for very possibly mythical herd immunity was and is the black door. Mass vaccination with a rushed, cutting-edge technology vaccine is the grey door. We do not know yet if this door is just off-white, light grey or dark grey. We are entering unknown territory.

    Oh, and then there’s climate change and the Russian and Chinese totalitarian states becoming more belligerent by the day. Have a nice day consuming your capitalist goodies. Reflect upon the fact that this is where unfettered capitalism (even in China!) has led us. Also, reflect upon the fact that capitalism and totalitarianism are BFFs.

  17. Preaching here to the converted, but Paul Krugman links to a good primer by Nathan Robinson on why cryptocurrency is a fraud:

    BTW, when banks really try to keep transactions costs low, they can do it, as shown by the trillion-dollar-a-day foreign currency market. Do I need to point out that it runs on a trusted central counterparty (a specialist New York “bank” owned collectively by the world’s biggest banks)? SFIK it’s never been hacked; not surprisingly, as the owners can afford to pay more than the Pentagon or NSA for the very best computer security wizards. If you were rash enough to try, a squad of polite, determined and very fit young men in dark suits with a long list of questions will show up on your doorstep soon enough.

  18. “Bitcoin’s annual carbon footprint equal to Las Vegas” – ABC News Australia.

    Another way of saying this is “Las Vegas’s annual carbon footprint equal to Bitcoin.” So while we are at it, let’s rail against Las Vegas and the many other huge wastes of energy and resources under modern capitalism. Yes, Bitcoin is a waste. Vegas is a waste. Professional sport is a waste. International tourism is a waste. Private automobiles are a waste… and so on. All of these wastes of energy and other resources are destroying the planet. But for most people, most of these wastes are normalized and thus not seen. Instead, they focus on a new wasteful process which was not around when they were young and malleable.

    “If you were rash enough to try, a squad of polite, determined and very fit young men in dark suits with a long list of questions will show up on your doorstep soon enough.” – J.W.

    Not if your doorstep is in China and the men in dark suits are American. China and Russia appear to be winning the cyber-war but that’s another post.

    In summary, I agree that Bitcoin is a fraud and waste. At the same time, we need to cast our critical net wider and realize most of capitalism is a fraud and waste. The totalitarian systems of China and Russia are also nothing to emulate. We have enormous problems and the way to an environmentally sustainable, democratic socialism, untainted by foreign and domestic trends to totalitarianism is not at all clear. Personally, I don’t think the human race is capable of solving any of it. I hope I am wrong.

  19. International tourism just like professional sport are nice entertainment. At least the first one also has some other positive effects as well besides the now often complained about typical negative environmental impact. Bitcoins in contrast are just hmm, lets stick with fraud. They just serve no real purpose. People buy them because they hope they can sell them for more money to someone else at some point. A majority of the invested money is sure to be ultimately wrong with that expectation. The structure is a bit like a Ponzi scheme. And no, that’s not the same with normal stocks. While a complete lack of liquidity would be inconvenient, the companies still produce useful or at least profitable stuff.

  20. NFT’s. A new method and meaning of ‘self storage’!

    …”The era of tokenized individuals was beginning; not as a joke, not even as a serious joke, but in absolute earnest.”.
    [Stable Locus of Personal Identity]

    Wierd. NFT’s as soul & consciousness memorials. It will get wierder I’d wager. And an app.

    Mistress Magpie sagely says: “a way to operate furtively under capitalism, in a way that might not be needed in a more open socialist society.”.[Link via James w’s Current Affairs link – “Is Bitcoin the Future of Money?” below]

    “Stable Locus of Personal Identity
    Justin E.H. Smith
    April 22, 2021

    “I thought I was so clever. For a few days, anyway.

    “In early 2021, as you almost certainly know, “Non-Fungible Tokens”, or NFTs, burst onto the scene and changed the way we talk and think. 

    …” but perhaps also in the literal transfer of the conscious subject into silicon-based immortality— it will grow increasingly important to fix selfhood in a way that is no longer dependent on the physical body; not just for the memory of others, but for the practical management of our individual lives and legacies.

    “You can imagine my surprise when, just after launching my first SLPI (Stable Locus of Personal Identity), the multimillionaire art-collector and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen (founder of a controversial “philosophy prize” that bears his name) tweeted, in all seriousness, that he envisioned a near future in which blockchain technology will anchor our civic and perhaps also our personal identity. “Each individual life is an asset,” Berggruen explained in a first tweetdated March 23, 2021, “valuable just by being. This as a participant in the economy, and as data.” And he followed this up quickly with a second tweet in a similar key: “Therefore individuals could be tokenized on the block chain, unlocking their potential economic value. It may sound utopian,” Berggruen conceded, “yet it might be a financing mechanism to fund people throughout their lives, if use [sic] within reasonable limits.”

    “The era of tokenized individuals was beginning; not as a joke, not even as a serious joke, but in absolute earnest.”…–SLPI-1–The-Permanent-Blockchain-Solution-to-an-Old-Metaphysical-Problem/mpck9jVKPLhGhNt

    “Is Bitcoin the Future of Money? [Betteridge=No]

    “Libertarians and leftists alike predict a world of competing digital currencies.

    …” creating money to ease an economic depression would be impossible. Which is not to say that only libertarians love Bitcoin.

    “Unlike libertarians, who see cryptocurrencies as a possible gateway to a new society, the socialist in Mistress Magpie sees them as a way to operate furtively under capitalism, in a way that might not be needed in a more open socialist society.”…

    Nicolas Berggruen
    “Berggruen has committed to giving the majority of his wealth through the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust.[46]

    “In 2010, he joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s The Giving Pledge to address some of society’s most pressing problems.[47]”

    “Berggruen Prize
    “The Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture is a US$1-million award given each year to a significant individual in the field ofphilosophy.[1] It is awarded by the Berggruen Institute to “thinkers whose ideas have helped us find direction, wisdom, and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by profound social, technological, political, cultural, and economic change.”[2]”

    Someone nominate JQ for the Berggruen Prize.

  21. In my experience, the people most down on bitcoin understand it the least. There is actually a lot of innovation on bitcoin, mainly on the second layer. Microsoft just released their ION decentralised ID system on bitcoin and Strike has just developed a fee free permissionless ability to send small amounts of money almost anywhere.

    I looked at the CurrentAfairs article and really wish I hadn’t. Being recommended by Krugman should have tipped me off because he has been wrong about almost everything, for years. The article says absolutely nothing new that hasn’t been discussed endlessly in the bitcoin community.

    The fact that he conflates bitcoin with crypto says it all. There are thousands of cryptos and most ARE scammy and require non stop promotion to get any traction. Most real bitcoiners avoid all of them, except perhaps Ethereum, like the plague. The fact that he admits he has used it ‘once’ is also revealing. He’s writing about something he knows almost nothing about, because he gets paid to.

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