Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

18 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Energy and commodities columnist at Bloomberg tweeted earlier today:

    Another day, another record high:

    🇫🇷⚡️French 1-year forward baseload power hits €543 per MWh
    🇩🇪⚡️German 1-year forward baseload power hits €414 per MWh

    (For context, the 2010-2020 average for both countries is about €45 per MWh) #EnergyTwitter #EnergyCrisis

    What was that about France having cheap baseload nuclear power? 🙄

  2. I posted this a week or two ago. Was hoping for a rebut or comment.

    “In other words, in the face of the growing risk of catastrophic climate change, macroeconomic policy needs to be guided by only one principle: it is better to be safe than sorry. Hence, monetary policy should be made to support the transition to a net zero-carbon economy—and inflation control must be unconditionally subordinated to this overriding aim.”

    “Inflation in a Time of Corona and War
    By Servaas Storm
    JUN 6, 2022

    “Section 6 of the Working Paper, I identify various reasons why the evidentiary base of Domash and Summers’ (2022a) claim is not robust enough to substantiate their claim that the US is experiencing a wage-price spiral.”

    “The problem that shall not be named: profit-driven inflation

    “US inflation is also being driven by the pricing power and higher profits of corporations—

  3. What Bezos has done  and continues to do with Amazon, all that capital and no tax. Bought retail AND everything – and and and… “38 Pentagons-worth of physical space. Over the past two years, that footprint’s nearly doubled.”! The spreadsheet listings are overwhelming. Pick a year and see.

    “How Amazon Consumed All of Commerce

    “Over the past twenty plus years, Amazon’s gone from bookstore to everything store. Here’s all the companies it swallowed to make that happen.

    “In 2022, it moved on from bookstore to “everything store,” but even that doesn’t fully describe the scope of what Amazon is.

    “The same company also 
    – controls a third of the world’s cloud computing tech while also being a 
    – market leader in home security systems. It 
    – develops vaccines and 
    – drones and is equally cozy with law enforcement and luxury clothing brands, and 
    – owns the leading platforms for gamers, 
    – movie buffs, and 
    – deeply dehumanizing on-demand labor. 

    “In 2019, the company’s sprawling worldwide warehouse presence took up more than 38 Pentagons-worth of physical space. Over the past two years, that footprint’s nearly doubled.

    “In other words, this company is big—arguably too big—in a way that makes keeping tabs on all of Amazon’s brands and businesses a near-impossible ask. So we did it for you.

    “A quick disclaimer: in order to keep things from sprawling into something as long as a textbook (and just as boring), we’re only including the company’s many, many businesses here in the U.S. This blog won’t go into the company’s international footprint, which—at least from our research—seems to stretch into at least thirteen other countries.

    “In 2017, for example, Amazon bought one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the Middle East before also gobbling up one of the regions premiere delivery startups soon after. Amazon also owns a payment processor in India, a solar energy station in Japan, and anocean freight operation in China.

    “But just getting your head around Amazon’s U.S. acquisitions is an overwhelming feat.”

  4. The source of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is STILL unknown. Difficult puzzle or cover-up? It still could be either but the longer it goes without a solution the more suspicious it begins to look.

    It’s not a stretch to believe;

    (a) There is secret research which only the upper echelons of the government / corporations revolving door community are privy to; and

    (b) The virus leaked from the lab accidentally.

    I am still keeping my mind open. We need more data. Will we ever get it?

  5. Crimea or bust?

    Zelensky last night (9 August):
    “This Russian war against Ukraine and against the entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation.”

    I think this is where Ukraine’s allies should say “Whoa”. It’s understandable that the Ukrainian victims of Putin’s horrible war of aggression might see the recovery of the Crimea as an essential war aim. But its allies, who have backed it, albeit from a safe distance, with munitions, money, intelligence and costly sanctions on Russia, have little reason to share it.

    It’s a complicated situation but many observers would agree with this capsule:
    1. The Crimea has few historical links to Ukraine and its main cultures are Russian and Tatar, not Ukrainian.
    2. The Crimea was unquestionably part of Russia from Catherine the Great’s conquest in 1783 to Khrushchev’s frivolous and undemocratic gift of it to Ukraine in 1954.
    3. Russia’s practically unopposed invasion and re-annexation in 2014 was a blatant violation of international law and has not been recognized by most other countries, and notably not by China.
    4. The annexation was quickly endorsed by an unreliable but not totally rigged referendum, which probably (but not certainly) accurately reflected the preferences of the population. Russian immigration since 2014 has tilted the balance further towards Russian identity.

    What to do? Ukraine’s allies would be right to hold out for recovery of the Donbas and other occupied regions, plus massive reparations and trials for war crimes. They have no reason to maintain sanctions on Russia simply to allow Ukraine to recover the Crimea. If the Russian army collapses completely, Ukraine may be able to re-conquer the territory before diplomacy has the time to kick in. But if Putin is replaced before that by a rational Russian leader controlling a functioning military, the prospect of a lengthy and costly campaign could open the door to a negotiated peace.

    One idea for the future status of the Crimea is a 50-year régime of >de facto interdependence under a UN trusteeship mandate. At its end, the population would have the choice between rejoining Ukraine, rejoining Russia, or full independence. The area is 27,000 km2 and the population 2.4m, compared say to Estonia’s 45,000 km2 and 1.3 m. I don’t see why they shouldn’t make a go of it. Lots of tourism potential, I’ve been there and liked the place a lot.

  6. Handy debating point on the myth of wage-push inflation today. From no less than the sainted Adam Smith:
    “Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”
    Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 9, paragraph 24

  7. Above is in YOUR backyard… think of the bombs shown as nuclear weapons.

    “B61 nuclear bomb … “with a yield of 0.3 to 340 kilotons in its various mods. It is a Full Fuzing Option (FUFO) weapon”# (^3.)

    It is now 100 seconds to midnight – Nuclear War? Democracy? Did you vote for… an intelligence gathering and data relay, distributed, potentially autonomous, AI driven nuclear war machine, with potentially 3,155 nuclear bombs being dropped by ‘US’ (bad pun) because … “We simply cannot operate effectively by ourselves in this environment”. (^1.)

    B-2’s in Australia. Now. Practicing to beat China, and if used, beating climate change by bombing us into the stone age. I prefer a slow fry please. 

    Australia is stupid enough to be used and set up by US DoD as an intelligence gathering and data relay distributed potentially autonomous AI driven nuclear war machine as “We [USA] simply cannot operate effectively by ourselves in this environment, and learning to effectively integrate with our partners is absolutely critical to success” Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, commander of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (^1.)

    “The presence of so many B-2s in Australia clearly sends a very public signal that the U.S. is prepared to use the B-2, and do so from new operating locations, should a future conflict with China unfold.”…(^1.)

    “The bomber is subsonic and can deploy both conventional and thermo-nuclear weapons, such as up to eighty 500-pound class (230 kg)Mk 82 JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400-pound (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.”

    “The total program cost, which included development, engineering and testing, averaged $2.13 billion per aircraft in 1997.[4]”

    ““The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”
    Edmund Burke

    “20 Percent Of The USAF’s B-2 Force Is Deployed ‘Down Under’

    “The B-2 deployment to Australia comes as the USAF ramps up its presence in the Indo-Pacific region amid growing tensions with China.

    “We simply cannot operate effectively by ourselves in this environment, and learning to effectively integrate with our partners is absolutely critical to success. We’re training against that ‘tyranny of distance,’ alongside our Australian partners on this deployment, and that experience is truly invaluable.” Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, commander of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron

    “While several USAF B-2s are expected to stay at Amberley for at least another few weeks, it’s likely that the service’s presence in Australia will only increase with U.S. bombers setting up shop ‘down under’ becoming a common occurrence.”

    “Document Confirms B-21 To Be Delivered Optionally Manned And Nuclear Capable

    “Details about America’s next stealth bomber have been scant to say the least, but now we have confirmation on two key capabilities of the aircraft.

    “Another part of the B-21 program where there has been much speculation is on the aircraft’s nuclear mission. The answer as to when or even if the aircraft will have this capability seems to be different depending on who you ask. The FOIA documents clearly lay out the requirements for the nuclear mission and its activation timeline, stating:

              “Nuclear Capability. According to the acquisition strategy, the baseline capability will include all hardware and software necessary to make the LRS-B capable of carrying (i.e. loading, carrying, releasing, initializing, authorizing, and pre-arming) the B61-12 nuclear weapon.”

    “B61 nuclear bomb … “with a yield of 0.3 to 340 kilotons in its various mods. It is a Full Fuzing Option (FUFO) weapon”

    “No. built – 3,155

    “According to the Federation of American Scientists in 2012, the roughly 400 B61-12s will cost $28 million apiece.[1]

    #Apologies to JQ and others if this flexes your your depression muscle. If this triggers you call in Australia – Lifeline – 13 11 14

  8. The origins of the new monkeypox variant become more clear. The world was asleep at the wheel as usual. Third World people and their doctors and scientists were ignored and things sort of hushed up. So short sighted. The world will soon pay many thousand-fold, maybe many million-fold, for these mistakes. Make no mistake. Monkey-pox is a runaway global outbreak now.

    “He discovered the origin of the monkeypox outbreak — and tried to warn the world .”

    These are legacy mistakes coming to bite us now. How many more legacy mistakes can we expect as well as totally new pathogen outbreaks? My guess, we haven’t seen the end of this by a long way. Failing to maintain world health is like any other systemic maintenance failure. It costs you many times over to clean up the runaway mess later. And if it gets away badly enough, well COVID-19 shows that governments, corporations and people just give up. Yes, they just give up and let disease, morbidity and death win, even against children. It’s disgraceful and sickening.

  9. 3,854 variables and over 500 constraints solved in SIX SECONDS.

    Q: Any comparable or sized econometric models?

     Sean Carrol at the Preposterous Universe interviews JQ.

    Keeping your light under a bushel JQ, by not posting this… (click on show transcript).

    0:16:10.1 SC: …”…it is literally beyond our calculational capacity to correctly figure out ahead of time how to price things in a society better than the market could do.”…

    Try this:
    “”3,854-Variable Problem Solved in Six Minutes With Quantum Computing

    By Francisco Pires 
     28 July 22

    “QCI Achieves a Quantum Landmark for BMW by Solving 3,854-Variable Problem in Six Minutes

    “QCI Using its Entropy Quantum Computing (EQC) System Achieved Superior Results in BMW Sensor Optimization Challenge

    “LEESBURG, Va., July 20, 2021 –Quantum Computing Inc. (QCI) (NASDAQ: QUBT), a leader in accessible quantum computing, today announced that it has solved an optimization problem with over 3,800 variables in six minutes, delivering a superior and feasible solution. The Company achieved this landmark by applying a new quantum hardware technology called Entropy Quantum Computing (EQC) to the BMW Vehicle Sensor Placement challenge, a complex problem consisting of 3,854 variables and over 500 constraints. In comparison, today’s Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) computers can process approximately 127 variables for a problem of similar complexity.”

    “205 | John Quiggin on Interest Rates and the Information Economy

    July 25, 2022 

    “.  talking about Red Plenty, which was a sort of science fiction novel imagining if they really tried to plan the economy all the way, using all of the science and et cetera we could. Cosma Shalizi, I guess, made the point that it is literally beyond our calculational capacity to correctly figure out ahead of time how to price things in a society better than the market could do.”

    And I like Cosma Shalizi.

    “In the fall I will, again, be teaching my class on inequality

    “36-313, Statistics of Inequality and Discrimination 

    “Description: Many social questions about inequality, injustice and unfairness are, in part, questions about evidence, data, and statistics. This class lays out the statistical methods which let us answer questions like Does this employer discriminate against members of that group?, Is this standardized test biased against that group?, Is this decision-making algorithm biased, and what does that even mean? and Did this policy which was supposed to reduce this inequality actually help? We will also look at inequality within groups, and at different ideas about how to explain inequalities between groups. The class will interweave discussion of concrete social issues with the relevant statistical concepts.
    Prerequisites: 36-202 (“Methods for Statistics and Data Science”) (and so also 36-200, “Reasoning with Data”), or similar with permission of the instructor”

  10. Worth a look at this graph.

    I would add the below comment.

    Non-pharmaceutical interventions are brilliant. We should have them all the time. We could be mostly rid of colds, flus and sarbecovrisues for ever plus RSV and probably several more. Why would we pass up this super-bargain on health? Because we are idiots.

    It would not hurt people to mask all the time in public enclosed spaces except where there are adequate HEPA filters or equivalent for clean air. It would not hurt people to be tested, traced and isolated properly all in a state-subsidized manner. But people would rather catch, spread, get morbidity from and die from a seriously dangerous virus, C-19 to be clear, and not take the attendant benefits or reducing other avoidable and not inconsiderable diseases. It appears humans are not intelligent enough, nor caring enough of others, to survive in crowded civilizations, even though we have the resources and technological wherewithal to do so. Cue Requiem for a Species.

    I still have sympathy and empathy for humans, as a species and as individuals. I have no respect for their (our) historically persistent lack of good judgement and morality. There is sadly something very deeply flawed about us. I sorrow and despair for all us. We are doomed if we cannot change.

  11. This excellent thread by a UK doctor nails down all the things happening with COVID-19 in Australia and UK. This is an advancing catastrophe.

  12. Ikon, Geoff etc,

    School is my main problem now for covid.

    After reading all your posts Ikon, and school being STILL a superspreader event – no masks, poor ventilation, no distance etc, I feel like keeping the “I love school Dad” kids doing all classes remotely. Already math, English and science online so swapping to home would be no problem.

    But … social & sport & mental health.

    So I’m awaiting the 2nd bout.
    Not Happy Jan!

    I don’t think ‘we’ – humans – are doomed as a species Ikon, but many have been and ‘we’ will all be paying a higher damage toll for a generation or two.

    So for your mental health Ikon, perhaps nuancing doom may beneficial for you doom scenarios.

  13. “You’ve Been Played

    “How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All

    by Adrian Hon
    Brad DeLong says;
    “Hon has written a wonderful book about one aspect of our glide towards a soft-lock dystopia, as techniques that were supposed to be cheerleaders and coaches turn out to make more money for their deployers when they are transformed into taskmasters and grifters.”
     —J. Bradford DeLong, J. Bradford DeLong,

  14. US centric.
    “Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon

    “Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that many experts don’t foresee much change anytime soon. While there will be ups and downs, some forecasts project 100,000 annual Covid deaths, if not more, for the next several years. Ignoring seasonal variation, that’s some 275 deaths a day.

    “It’s hard for me to see, barring any massive change in the way we’re treating the virus right now or trying to manage it, that anything inherent to the virus is really going to change much,” said Stephen Kissler, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We’re going to continue to see the emergence of variants, we’re going to continue to see spread outside the winter months, we’re probably going to see more spread in winter months in temperate regions — basically any time people are crowding indoors.”

    “What that means, Kissler said, is that going forward, Covid could generate two to three bad flu seasons’ worth of deaths each year.

    “That won’t necessarily be the case forever. Many experts see SARS-2 retreating to something more on par with the other human coronaviruses as we keep building up additional layers of immunity. But how long that process takes — three years? five years? 10 years? — remains an open question.

    h/t nakedcapitalism

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