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.

23 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The Truss bust

    Simon Wren-Lewis as usual talking good sense on the fiasco of the 50-day Truss administration in Blighty:

    “To summarise, because the fiscal event was one sided (unfunded), it increased the uncertainty involved in holding sterling assets, which would lead to a depreciation in sterling and higher returns on UK government debt. This is why calling this effect a moron risk premium is justified, because normally UK governments are not so stupid as to announce tax cuts without saying how they will be paid for. “

    The error was completely unforced. Truss and Kwarteng chose freely to announce their mini-budget in haste outside the normal calendar. They had a choice between two bad policies: massive tax cuts financed by spending cuts, and massive tax cuts financed by borrowing. Either could have been worked out in another month. By just announcing tax cuts without the financing, they created the double-edged panic in the financial markets that brought them down.

    Be I do wonder if Wren-Lewis’ account isn’t incomplete. Perhaps traders were thinking of a third uncertainty reinforcing the other two: that the error was so grave that the government making it might collapse – largely and self-referentially under pressure from the markets. This is what of course happened, and quickly.

    In this very plausible scenario, the traders would be faced with an alarmingly open universe of possibilities, some even worse than Truss. How about a triumphal return of Boris Johnson from his Caribbean beach? As things turned out, we know there is a substantial body of insane Tory MPs who really thought this was their best option, and many of the rest are only sane on good days. The xenophobic sisterhood of Patel and Braverman? Beyoncé and Larry the No. 10 cat on alternate weeks? IBM’s Watson computer playing Hal? The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist)? (Wikipedia: “Not to be confused with Communist Party of Great Britain, Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist), or Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist).”) In the end, as we know, the Tories settled for the very conventional Sunak – but that does not mean the risk of far worse wasn’t real a month ago. There’s a moron risk premium all right. Maybe there is also a lunacy premium.

    PS: the Beyoncé/Larry duo is far from the worst option. Since they very probably know their limitations, they would let policy be guided by Sir Humphrey mandarins (Case, Scholar, Bailey or their very similar successors). Policy would be unexciting CW, a lot better than most of the alternatives. This is roughly how Zhelensky has led Ukraine in war, and it’s working fine.

  2. More cute solar tech

    “As part of their Sunalgae Life project, the team cultivates single-celled photosynthesizing algae called diatoms to extract their shells, which reportedly have unique light-manipulating properties, including blocking ultraviolet (UV) light. The shells are then added to the encapsulant of silicon modules or to the anti-reflective coating on the glass of thin film modules, which the Swedish team claims could boost their efficiency by 4% and 36%, respectively.”

    Diatoms are superabundant oceanic unicellular phytoplankton. They protect themselves from the waves by building elegant glassy shells called frustules.

    Why are they translucent? The only plausible explanation is to trap and filter the sunlight they need for photosynthesis. There is no improvisation; each species grows its own specific and highly ordered geometric form. In reproduction, the frustule splits along a waistband, each daughter cell inherits half, and hastily grows a new other half. They have been doing this since the Jurassic so it’s a very reliable process. To grow diatom soup, you need a bucket of purified seawater, a seed specimen and sunlight. It’s inherently cheap and reliable. There is no obvious reason why it can’t be readily scaled up.

    The problem addressed by the Swedish project is an important one to the PV industry. Flat solar cells are most efficient when they face the sun orthogonally, and less at oblique angles, the standard case. Panel-makers try to deal with this by cutting grooves or building tiny pyramids on the cell surface, but this is tricky and adds to the cost. The proposed alternative of diatom paint optimised by evolution looks very promising.

    Nothing critical hangs on this. Solar panels are already cheap enough to drive the energy transition without further movements. Jinko alone shipped 10 GW of them last quarter. Still, even cheaper is welcome. So is elegant and respectful of the wonders of nature.

  3. James, a potential headline – “There’s a moron risk premium all right. Maybe there is also a lunacy premium.”. I expect you will get a byline soon.

    And thanks for “Diatoms are superabundant oceanic unicellular phytoplankton. They protect themselves from the waves by building elegant glassy shells called frustules.”

    These will be added to the game we are developing with the working title of CAGTAG – The Crazy Awsome Game: The Adaptation Game – Any real adaptation form any biological source to enhance in game abilities.

  4. Conservative pro early death, and pro life… oh, the irony. 

    Voting for early death and facism. Exceptional.

    US states conservative (dinosaur) ‘pro death’ policies cost 3+ years of life, ironically cancelling abortion percieved gains… “a fully conservative orientation might have cost 217,635 lives.”(^1,2&3)

    And  CBS Poll – “We asked simply what concerns you more: whether the U.S. will have a strong economy, or have a functioning democracy.”
    Only 29% of Republicans support a functioning democracy compared to a strong economy. (^4.)

    “Simulations indicate that changing all policy domains in all states to a fully liberal orientation might have saved 171,030 lives in 2019, while changing them to a fully conservative orientation might have cost 217,635 lives.”

    “U.S. state policy contexts and mortality of working-age adults.” PLoS ONE 17(10): e0275466.

    “Shorter lives in stingier states: Social policy shortcomings help explain the US mortality disadvantage”

    “Models that lag the measures of social policy by ten years produce similar results, suggesting that the results are not driven by endogeneity bias. There is evidence that the US mortality disadvantage is, in part, a welfare-state disadvantage.

    “We estimate that life expectancy in the US would be approximately 3.77 years longer, if it had just the average social policy generosity of the other 17 OECD nations.”

    Via ^3.
    “Americans die younger in states run by conservatives, study finds

    “More liberal policies on environment, gun safety, labor, economic taxes and tobacco taxes associated with lower mortality”

    “Republicans head into final week with lead in seats, voters feel things are “out of control” —

    CBS News Battleground Tracker poll
    OCTOBER 31, 2022

  5. Labor is almost as entangled in Neolib ideology and practice (?) as the libs. No great hope for change after the tax cuts episode.

  6. “Is SARS-CoV-2 an oncogenic virus?”(^1.)

    Yes it seems “Long-term reduction of p53 could have impact on carcinogenesis.”(^1.)

    The Consequences of the Pandemic include disruption of “apoptosis” – programmed cell death – and hijacking of p53 protiens – “p53 has been described as “the guardian of the genome””. Wikipedia 

    And “The 8-month study looked at humans who experienced mild to moderate CoV2. By the study’s close, subjects still hadn’t rebuilt their T- and B-cells. Humans need B-cells to make antibodies and T-cells to fight specific pathogens. The damage to the immune system is unprecedented. “(^2.)

    – Apoptosis
    …”In addition to its importance as a biological phenomenon, defective apoptotic processes have been implicated in a wide variety of diseases. Excessive apoptosis causes atrophy, whereas an insufficient amount results in uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as cancer. Some factors like Fas receptors and caspases promote apoptosis, while some members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins inhibit apoptosis.”

    – p53
    …” The p53 proteins (originally thought to be, and often spoken of as, a single protein) are crucial in vertebrates, where they prevent cancer formation.[6] As such, p53 has been described as “the guardian of the genome” because of its role in conserving stability by preventing genome mutation.[7]Hence TP53[note 1] is classified as a tumor suppressor gene”

    “Is SARS-CoV-2 an oncogenic virus?

    • “Npa2 and Npa3 SARS-CoV-2 protein have the ability to hijack and degrade p53.

    • “Gene expression of p53 is downregulated in blood of COVID-19 patients.

    • “Downregulation of p53 persists at least 24 weeks after infection in long COVID-19 patients.

    • “Long-term reduction of p53 could have impact on carcinogenesis.

    Alberto Gómez-Carballa
    Federico Martinón-Torres
    Antonio Salas
    August 09, 2022

    “This is precisely why eliminating covid will remain an issue. Long covid will be decimating health and productivity of our populations, as reinfections will wreak ever greater havoc. We either eliminate covid or we will have a population of invalids.@yaneerbaryam @CecPhil
    — Krzysztof Mroczkowski (@K_Mroczkowski) 
    October 30, 2022

    “The 8-month study looked at humans who experienced mild to moderate CoV2. By the study’s close, subjects still hadn’t rebuilt their T- and B-cells. Humans need B-cells to make antibodies and T-cells to fight specific pathogens. The damage to the immune system is unprecedented. 1/

    Via naked capitalism – links-11-1-2022

  7. JQ, and answer or comments?

    In the twenty years between these two tax vs morality / ethics papers by Susan Pace Hamill she asks an excellect question;
    “Given that most Americans claim Christianity or Judaism in some form, why does objectivist ethics continue to be a stumbling block?”

    …and concludes;
    “My research for the article this essay is based on shows that the conclusion I reached almost twenty years ago is still true. Christianity has become obsessed with low-sacrifice decoys covering up the message that real faith demands high sacrifice.”

    “An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics

    113 Pages
    Posted: 11 Jun 2004

    Susan Pace Hamill
    University of Alabama School of Law

    “Susan Pace Hamill (Alabama), 
    “Moral Reflections on 21st Century Tax Policy Trends”,
    52 Cumb. L. Rev. 1 (2022):

    Click to access 3ec4ea_21cb4904904942d1babeec04d6e691e4.pdf

  8. (political climate)

    “Nearly two in five adults (38%) said the state of the nation has made them consider moving to a different country, and a similar proportion of adults (40%) agreed that the political environment in their state has made them consider moving to a different state.

    “… results from this poll revealed that when adults are feeling stressed, around three-quarters (76%) reported there are aspects of their lives that were negatively impacted. Specifically, their mental health (36%), eating habits (33%), physical health (32%), and interest in hobbies/activities (30%) were among the top aspects negatively impacted by stress.

    “Stress in America 2022
    Concerned for the future, beset by inflation”

  9. There are those that argue that Putin is a rational thinker. I would agree subject to the caveat that he acts rationally within his own boundaries. It is the selection and movement of these boundaries that is of concern – his particular circumstances and emotional state are obvious factors at play.

    It seems that while Russia has inflicted great damage and trauma on Ukraine the consequences of these actions have hurt Russia immeasurably. This self inflicted damage to the psyche of the nation will be the end of Russia, as we know it.

  10. rog, you say, and with caveats I agree – “There are those that argue that Putin is a rational thinker. I would agree subject to the caveat that he acts rationally within his own boundaries”.

    Here is Putin quoted be Yves Smith in “A Disordered World – Part 3: Pathways… This final post in Satyajit Das’ series on the breakup of the world order looks at what might come next.”

    My next comment is on “infantile insanity”.

    YS: “More recently, the demonised President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin provided an updated analysis:
    “… It will come as no surprise if eventually the niches currently occupied by European businesses, both on the continent and on the global market in general, will be taken over by their American patrons who know no boundaries or hesitation when it comes to pursuing their interests and achieving their goals.”

  11. 1. Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture: 
    “”It’s a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay.”…

    “What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons”

    (As an infantile insanity example in Australia,  ‘history rhymes” yesterday – Robo Debt Commissioner Holmes: “But if you’ve gotten advice even if it’s in draft form, it’s legal advice, it’s come from lawyers, it’s paid for, it exists. It’s like a child putting its hands over its eyes.”. Picture Scomo with hands over eyes. Same with AGW, AUKUS, pork, and…)

    Caption: “Countries targeted for regiem change by the U.S. during the Cold War.”

    Image above from:

    “A Disordered World – Part 3: Pathways

    Posted on October 28, 2022 by Yves Smith

    “This final post in Satyajit Das’ series on the breakup of the world order looks at what might come next. He describes the considerable conflicts of economic interest between the US and Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan that are being greatly exacerbated by the sanctions blowback and US military overextension. He looks at the UK’s fall from dominance and argues that it may prefigure what is in store for the US. His look at the longer-term future is sobering.”…

    “Based on World Bank data, the UK’s reserves, as at end 2021, were $194 billion. This compared to China ($3,427 billion), Japan ($1,405 billion), India ($638 billion), Russia ($632 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($474 billion). The actual amount available as at August 2022 might be lower at around $108 billion. ”

    Sanjit Das: “”Fortune’s Fool : Australia’s Choices

    “Australia’s prosperity relies on the continent’s extraordinary natural – primarily mineral – riches and good fortune. But economic, financial, environmental, geopolitical and societal pressures now threaten the nation’s high living standards. The COVID-19 pandemic is the first of many trials to come. Lacklustre reform proposals are mired in ideological necrophilia: ideas which have been tried and failed. Politics is trading insults and slogans. Institutions lack the quality, skills, organisational memory and courage to deliver the required solutions. A disengaged citizenry are focused on preserving their entitled way of life, refusing to accept that the well of plenty is approaching exhaustion. Critics are derided as permanent professional pessimists, the doubting Irishman Hanrahan in John O’Brien’s poem warning of ‘roon’. Cognitive dissonance is a national religion.”

    “In his 1930 Prison Notebooks, Anton Gramsci elliptically anticipated the dystopian present: “the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
    © 2022 Satyajit Das All Rights Reserved


    3. Regieme change for capital still happening:

    “Tory-linked lobbying firm agreed to help swing DRC election, leak suggests
    “Exclusive: CT Group, co-owned by Lynton Crosby, planned secretive African campaign on behalf of Canadian mining giant”

    Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture

    “The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. ‘Democracy’ had prevailed.

    “But this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

    “The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

    “Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

    “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

    “I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’

    “It’s a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. 

    “What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons – is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.”…

  12. Light relief from above.

    Can do capitalism in Australia as Harold Pinter reminds us is; “infantile insanity”, and Robo Debt Commissioner Holmes says of the legal advise to Australian Government: “It’s like a child putting its hands over its eyes.”.

    Skillfully parodied by…
    “Coach celebrates 1,000 budget announcements | Sammy J (S5 Ep7)”

  13. Two statisticians walk into a DGSE zombie. Ouch!
    “(2) when we swap series at random, so that (e.g.) what the model gets as the inflation rate is really hours worked, what it gets as hours worked is really investment, etc., the fit is often only slightly impaired, and in a large percentage of cases actually improves (even out of sample).”

    “Empirical Macroeconomics and DSGE Modeling in Statistical Perspective
    By Daniel J. McDonald, Cosma Rohilla Shalizi

    “Taken together, these findings cast serious doubt on the meaningfulness of parameter estimates for this DSGE, and on whether this specification represents anything structural about the economy. Constructively, our approaches can be used for model validation by anyone working with macroeconomic time series.”


    JQ on “Zombies”.
    “And of course, we can thank DGSE models for predicting that nasty crisis in 2008 and prescribing the policy responses that fixed it so completely. Good think we didn’t have to rely on that old-fashioned Keynesian stuff.”

  14. KT2

    You seem to be inferring a position without having to state your position. Reading through these inferences, you seem to be victim blaming eg ‘she dressed inappropriately’.

    Let’s be clear, Russia chose to wage war and chooses to continue to wage war on a sovereign nation.

    Your prejudice against the US is on full display.

  15. Lula’s victory in Brazil has been celebrated as a victory of left over right, progressives over conservatives, good over evil.

    In a recent interview of his views on the invasion of Ukraine he was reported as having said

    “ Q: Can you really say that to Zelensky? He didn’t want a war, it came to him.

    A: He did want war. If he didn’t want war, he would have negotiated a little more. That’s it. “

    Again, the victim is being blamed for the crimes of the perpetrator.

  16. rog, I appreciate you challenging me.

    rog: “You seem to be inferring a position without having to state your position.”
    Stated inflexible positions it seems to me are what gets us into say, a Ukraine. Putin has been inflexible in his a/historical perception of grand Rus or whatever he percieves to want and keep him in power. If you were to go back the the early threads on Ukraine you’d see I made a long (rare) comment or three,  justifying a case Putin is comparable to Hitler. Some agreed. I’d have to write a book everytime to elaborate my position. Which I am hardly capable of doing via text. I need graphics, or the model which I invariably crash!

    rog: “Reading through these inferences, you seem to be victim blaming eg ‘she dressed inappropriately’.
    If you take one comment at a time the reader may infer I “seem to be victim blaming eg ‘she dressed inappropriately’. Quoting Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech would, if taken as a single instance encompassing the totality of my opinion / thoughts would reinforce ‘she dressed inappropriately’. Yet the US needs a kick, regularly. Exceptional cuts both ways.

    rog “Let’s be clear, Russia chose to wage war and chooses to continue to wage war on a sovereign nation.”

    Absolutely agree.

    Posting a summarion from a historical figure of US “excursions” indicating their ‘power plays’ in no way diminishes my agreement with “Russia chose to wage war and chooses to continue to wage war on a sovereign nation”. I’d replace Russia though – with Putin et al.

    I’m amazed JQ and many of you put up with me. It is daunting for me to post to this blog, more so crooked timber, as the hosts and commenters are so erudite and knowledgeable. I hardly know what an apostrophe is, which for grammer oficianados is a deal breaker. A flaw? I grapple with Oxford commas every paragraph. Yet I am able to parse, in my opinion, a wider set if positions than some here, as I spent 30+yrs going from the garage to the boardroom and lecture theatre.

    My rule set is by osmosis, not clay tablets. Yet I want to have J-D’s powerful, lazer like logic knife. I asked J-D once to be a draft reviewer of a paper I proposed. No reply. Too triggering, as I’m at best seen as a 1st year student, unworthy of such a powerful comprehension fault finder I assume.

    I rebelled at school. Yet at 26, 10yrs out of school, I realised many of the power players, politicians and polymaths were also capable of “victim blaming eg ‘she dressed inappropriately”. Me usually. Or bogging down in rhetoric, sophistry, logic or dogma.

    From that time to this I have read newspapers everyday. Read. But I wasn’t engaged. 

    Only at 50yo sid I become engaged due to becoming a parent. I was a free rider all those years as I was capable of being the chief factotum to polymaths, the only people I felt able to work with and for.

    One of those polymaths introduced me to system dynamics, modelling and simulation, and ecological economics, both of which gave me access to power players and smarts I’d only ever glimpsed by the light in Plato’s cave. I wasn’t a philosopher, yet I had access behind the fire for once, able to see in a raw state the objects to be projected. 

    I was disgusted at capital owners using their money and power to game or rig the system to thier ends.

    I was disgusted at the ecological economists, both for their lack of power and singular focus on research, avoiding the messy game of implementation of better system outcomes. Loved their work though.

    Hence JQ, so here I am for good or ill. Posting others writings which resonate, providing and proving I am as ignorant and disgusted at myself for the reasons I was disgusted at capital and academics.

    And like my tsundoku, I’m just trying to make myself aware of my ignorance and weather away at my biases. Hoping, trying to escape the chains and cave.

    Now rog, thought experiments.

    1) why does anyone rarely challenge JQ? Particularly dogmatic conservative dinosaurs?

    2) where have all the woman gone barring Ernestine? (hope you are well Ernestine)

    3) which topics does JQ avoid? (and how do you manage so much output JQ!?)

    4) what historical stories characters set, (Shakespeare,  Greek tragedies) has JQ’s blog optimised & settled into?

    5) which topics produce the most controversial and voluminous comments? Why?

    As with free speech and crappy products, feel free to engage or not.

    Thanks for engaging rog.

  17. Free speech champion Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has raised more than just a few eyebrows. The price paid, $44B, seems astounding until you consider the value of advertising paid in the past and the potential revenue stream for the future. His actions have alarmed these advertisers, who have disassociated themselves from a potentially degraded site.

    The argument put forward is that this is a strategic manoeuvre by Musk to ingratiate himself with autocratic regimes, particularly those residing in Moscow and Beijing. The real value of Twitter has been as an outlet for independent analysis and expert commentary which is perceived as a threat to the power and control desired by these regimes.

    It’s an interesting analysis.

  18. Rog, Musk’s politics are all over the place. In the past he has supported the Democrats, wants action on climate and supports a universal minimum income. I don’t think he has sought to ingratiate himself with Beijing and Moscow. Just offered solutions that he believes will help ensure peace. I think he is probably right on Ukraine – give up some territory (specifically end any claims on Crimea), guarantee not to join NATO etc to stop your country being destroyed. Rewards the Russian tyrant a bit but saves many lives and stops economic devastation.

    I’ll bet he makes money from the Twitter acquisition. The sentiment against him will fade and the advertisers will return.

  19. Harry

    Twitter has taken quite some time to gain trust and in a moment Musk has damaged, maybe destroyed that trust.

    A slow build and a quick fall.

  20. Rog: lula’s inanities on Ukraine were only exceeded by Bolsonaro, who added insult to stupidity by suggesting an “Argentine solution” as in the Falklands (i.e. a quick Russian victory). It is remarkable how the right-wing kleptocracy that succeeded the Soviets in Russia has managed for 20 years to trade in the Third World on the mummified anti-colonialist elements of Soviet policy. These stemmed from Marxist and socialist ideologies the Kremlin has completely abandoned, even rhetorically.

    Harry Clarke: I too have speculated here about a clever Crimean carve-out to secure a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. It’s true that Russia has a decent historical case – which it blew by its illegal annexation in 2014, a crude grab which even China has not recognized. But it’s unlikely the option will be available.

    Ukraine’s allies will support its other claims: strong (NATO-equivalent) security guarantees, restoration of the Donbass, repatriation of deportees, war crimes trials, and reparations (bids start at $300 bn). Putin is still holding out for the destruction of an independent Ukraine, so real negotiations are a long way away. Ukraine is only being realistic when it rules out talking to Putin. The peace also realistically requires the complete defeat of the Russian Army. But if Ukraine can drive its dispirited survivors out of all the other invaded provinces, why should it be unable to retake the Crimea too before the ceasefire? Nobody else has an interest in the Russian naval base at Sevastopol that Potemkin built for Catherine. Chamberlain had a realpolitik case for selling out the Czechs at Munich in 1938. What’s the point of a rerun?

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