Category: Economics (Page 1 of 2)

Trump economics and the crisis of fake conservative populism

Trump is trying to stimulate the economy when the economy is booming.

Noah Rothman writes at Commentary that Trump’s economic proposals are “Keynesianism without a crisis.” The economy is chugging along, growing at 3.2 percent in the third quarter, and unemployment is below 5 percent. The U.S. has outperformed its peer competitors in Europe and North America over the past 4 years, topping France and Germany in GDP growth every year since 2012 and growing faster than Canada and the UK in 2015. This is important to note, because as economic critics point to 3% and 4% growth in the 1970’s and 80’s, they neglect to point out that the entire developed world has been growing slower since then. It’s harder to keep up a high percentage rate of growth on a bigger total.

But an even more important point of dispatch is that conservative critics and “populists” base their view on faulty emotional assumptions and incorrect data. Trump, for instance, said to Time that, the government needs to “prime the pump” “in order to get jobs going and the country going, because, look, we’re at 1% growth.”

In fact, the GDP has grown at 2.4% for each of the past two years. The slowest it grew since 2008 was 1.5% in 2013, still considerably faster than France and Germany. Moreover, quarterly economic GDP growth has never grown slower than 1% for the past three years. Trump is doing what he is so good at: making shit up.

But it’s not just Trump who is the problem. For most of Obama’s term, Republican and conservative “populists” have resorted to counter-factual appeals to the pain of the working class and consumers no matter what the economic conditions.

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Brexit, Slovakia, and direct democracy

However unpleasant and undesired the British popular decision to leave is, the post-referendum analyses only confirm the long held EU-wide trends.

In the light of the decades of survey reports shelved in the EU archives, the outcome should not have caught anyone by surprise. The fact that it did, indicates the lack of attention to public opinion expressed by the means of surveys and polls. Local and national experience could have been similarly utilized to avoid repeating the common miscalculation in national strategies which do not address the faltering public interest in politics. The Union has been investing in Eurobarometer surveys for over four decades without actually delivering the message to national governments; and sadly, also without actively committing itself to solving identified problems. Worse, in line with the knowledge collected through polls, misinformed public involvement sprinkled with a pinch of frustration normally has catastrophic longer-term repercussions. The British referendum, power of Robert Fico´s faction stretching over the third consecutive term and penetration of the Slovakian decision-making structures by far-right neonazi party, all illustrate the dark side of neglect of public opinion and subsequent misinformed participation in major decisions.

If sufficient attention had been paid to polls, it would have been clear that on the European scale, most people feel insufficiently informed about what happens in the Union. Low EP election turnouts confirm the survey´s conclusion; lack of knowledge and information on processes and impact on an individual and the country results in one of the two possible scenarios. The first is a neutral attitude towards the Union and related lack of interest in participation due to the uncertainty regarding the individual´s role. The second scenario is the opposition to integration based on circumscribed or misrepresented information and the lack of more in-detail knowledge on internal functioning. The general trend then goes as follows: the more interested the one is in developments unfolding in politics, the more positive attitude towards the Union he harbours. The higher the education he acquired, the more supportive of the EU and further integration he is. This relates not only to better information regarding overall benefits the Union offers to its member states, but more specifically to a personal gain from skills in the larger market. Full-timers are generally more optimistic about the integration prospects. Further, the older the individual is, the less enthusiastic about the whole European project he is likely to be. Local and national political elites influence public opinion and the attitude towards the European Union tends to reflect the one held towards national government.

Finally, media should responsibly fill in the knowledge gap; however, the record of fulfilling the function is rather vague. 

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“I’m European, and the Leave campaign is wrong about EU”

Brexit and the art of deception : Why Jacob Rees-Mogg is wrong


 

The chances of the Great Britain leaving the European Union have never been as high as in the aftermath of the decision to hold a referendum. Preceding the involvement of public opinion in the issue, had been the great political power game of threatening the EU with the aim of extracting concessions on questions of British concern.

reesmogg_2781411bWith the D-day just behind the corner, campaigning activity is apparently gaining momentum. Particularly striking is Jacob Rees-Mogg´s speech on Brexit; much less for the theatrical glimpse of pain on his face when he speaks about the catastrophe of common policies and 1973 tragedy of British membership, than for the way the knowledge of procedures and overall functioning of the Union can be precisely twisted and manipulated to serve specific ends. People deserve to have a say in politics producing outputs with a direct impact on population, however, their decision should be well-informed and grounded on facts. The European Union is a complex entity characterized by even more composite structures and procedures; thus complicating the full understanding by citizens. Speeches should help fill in the knowledge gaps, however, deceptive and misleading quotes as the one delivered by Rt Hon Rees-Mogg only enhance masses´ misunderstanding about the Union. The repercussions for the final decision might be severe. Here’s why. 

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Rage Monsters

The rise of Bernie and Trump: The issue of causality

Everyday there’s a new argument on the rise of Trump, or Bernie, for that matter…to a political scientist both are same, populists. There’s no qualitative difference between two old male, proposing free stuff to everyone, feeding on rage and nostalgia for a past that never existed, and blaming free trade for everything that’s ill in modern America. But is it prudent to attribute a chain of causality? Is the Rise of Trump and Bernia even monocausal?

It is interesting to see journalists, historians, and media pundits trying to draw parallels but as a political scientist, I have my doubts. First of all, it’s easy to call Bernie a socialist, he has fixed economic and social ideas, no matter how senile and craven they are. But to assert Trump is a fascist, or a racist, or a realist, or a mercantilist, is to ascribe a logical coherence, when there’s none.

It is not prudent as a political scientist to decide what factors gave rise to what, when the situation is ongoing, that’s why we don’t do research on current events. Deng Xiaoping once joked, when asked about the effect of the French revolution, and he said, we are still trying to find out. Imagine someone in 1970s thinking about if US won or lost in Vietnam, trying to imagine that in 2016, Vietnam and US would be in talks to balance against China? My point is, it is impossible to understand what might happen in future, and it will be foolhardy to ascertain why Trump chose to run this campaign and what was on his mind.

Does he feed on racism of a certain section of American population? Most definitely. Is he personally a racist? Maybe, anecdotal evidence might lead to that conclusion. Does his campaign strategy involve feeding on the rage machine including extreme xenophobic, insular, anti-semitic rhetoric? Absolutely. Is he an anti-Semite? We don’t have direct evidence, but we know his daughter married a man of Jewish faith. I don’t think David Duke would have allowed that. Is there a section of left, which blames Israel and Zionists for everything? Ofcourse. Is Bernie an anti-Semite? You must be joking.

It’s extremely contradictory, and fluid, and difficult to answer.

My hypothesis is Donald Trump is bigoted, yes, but he is more of an unhinged buffoon and a demagogue. He can say anything to win votes (or sell his book after election), but there is no logical coherence or principle in any of his policy, domestic or international. As of Bernie, he is stuck in a 1960s obsolete worldview. And his young supporters don’t care, as long as he promise to make everything free.

A far interesting academic challenge, and I am planning to build up on that later, is to find out the causes which led to the rise of this phenomenon, this perfect storm, obviously avoiding the trap of monocausality.

I came up with these three factors. 

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So, next time anyone tells you wars are all about oils…

Cg5NHGAWsAAjTa-I met Dr Joseph Parent from Miami Uni today. Also attended his seminar and talk, and frankly, it was the best talk I heard since I started my PhD! Dude’s an absolute legend!

The basic idea of his talk was the Great powers retrench, whether they like it or not, and it’s upto them how they can use it to their advantage and what policies they can adopt. Here’s his Website and his published papers. Check it out.

But that’s not what I am here for. There is a common argument, from the left and ultra right, that all the wars that happens, are because of oil. You can see the echo in conspiracy theories, in journalists who has no knowledge of IR trying to find a meaning and causality in an anarchic world, and people find it hard to believe that, take it or not, oil is not why states go to war. So, next time, you see a Greenpeace/CodePink/StopTheWar protest placard about war and oil, or Donald Trump lamenting how he would have “taken the oil” after “bombing the sh*t” out of the ISIS oilfields, (whatever in seven hells, that means) just know it’s garbage.

Here’s the path breaking research paper that dispels the “war for oil” myth. The abstract goes like this. 

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Barry crashes the Brexit party!

So, this happened.

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If you’re living under the rock (or you’re American) then you probably don’t know that UK is heading for a Brexit vote in a month, a situation, where ideologies are blurred and a civil war is raging.

In that moment, enter Barack Obama with the casual Chicago game. Now, say what you may about this guy, or his politics, but one has to admit, he is perhaps the greatest and the most gifted extempore speaker of his generation. Well, maybe Bill Clinton, at his prime, not at his diminished stage like now, was better than Barry. But anyway, he changed the game, in a way David Cameron couldn’t have imagined, and the backlash from the “out” camp was severe. Socialists were livid that an American President is dictating another country how they should vote. Rebel Conservatives and ultra-right wingers are livid as well.

Some of them do have a point. Without going into the merits of BREXIT, it is unbelievable to think any country, or even the British PM urging Americans to sign and ratify UNCLOS, or form a borderless union with Mexico and Canada, or join AIIB led by China. Not going to happen. Ever.

Also, curiously, this campaign has divided the left. I mean, by definition, if you’re a red-blooded Marxist, you should be against a free trade espousing, neoliberal, hegemonic union, which dictates economic policies of small countries, crushes left movements like Greece, and throws its military weight around, right? 

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Money doesn’t grow on trees: What Bernie Kids don’t understand

So, this came out.

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Highly opinionated and ideological with zero economics knowledge, laced with perceived victimhood, privileged, wasting thousands of dollars on subjects with minimal job prospect, and expecting a bailout from the taxpayers. This is what welfare queens look like these days.

Now, here’s something deeply troubling with this tweet. And that goes into the heart of the problem we are facing today, not just in US but across the World.

First of all, who in their right mind borrows $226,000 dollars to study Speech Pathology, and then expect a bailout from taxpayers? I never borrowed ten dollars to study something, which doesn’t have job prospect, just because I am bleeding in my heart to help people, unless I am smart enough to get a scholarship.

(Thankfully I always had, not because I am the smartest man in this planet, but in this volatile and fluid era, with chances of conflict between great powers increasing, which might result in massive death unless a grand strategy pattern is predicted, my research is in a field which analyses the aforementioned foreign policy patterns of great powers. Demand, meet supply.)

Look, it is simple economics, and here’s how it works. 

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Weekly Reading List: So, I got published in War on the Rocks and Nottspolitics

Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.

To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.

The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.

Other than that, here are my weekly columns.

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Bern-ed out…

Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel, is just a freight train coming your way – Metallica 


 

We have often heard that we are obsessed with Trump. We’re not, ofcourse. Really. We’re not obsessed with Donnie Littlefinger at all. But yes, in this election cycle, we have sometimes given undue attention to Trump, as our incredulity turned to shock to borderline panic, but is now slowly returning to a careful equilibrium, as we realise that the majority of American people have not given in to the vile, race baiting, nativist demagoguery.   We didn’t pay that much attention to the other side, after all Dems are supposed to be the “normal” ones in this election cycle, right? Not like the crazy bunch on the other wise having a d measuring contest…literally.

Wrong.

After the trainwreck of an interview of Bernie Sanders, which was analysed here by my colleague and co-editor, I thought of exclusively doing a post of Bernie memes, after all with followers like the ones Bernie has, its easier to hammer a point home with memes than words and maths, most of which will be too difficult for them to comprehend anyway.

2But, it gave me a headache. I started following his twitter feed, till I couldn’t distinguish it from parody anymore, and realised, if I even try to ascribe a coherent policy it would be an injustice to the discipline of economics.

So, I chose the best FP bits for your entertainment. Please have a few bottles of Merlot right next to you. You’ll need it.

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So, is Donald Trump a Neo-Realist?

I guess this was inevitable.

After the debate about Obama being a Realist, (he’s ofcourse not) it was inevitable the Neorealist tag would be on Donald Trump after his interminable dross for New York Times. It is an incoherent mess, with talking points which will make, Hayek to Say to Ricardo to Morgenthau to Waltz, all cringe in shame, but it had some interesting moments.

But not as interesting as this debate which started right after.

If you click on the above images, you will get the crux of the argument. Is Trump a Neorealist or not? The argument for, is that he wants Japan and South Korea to have independent deterrence, and rid United States of carrying the security burden in Asia. The counter argument is, well…he is insane.

Here’re my points.

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