Below is a mashup of "FRED" charts on Velocity of Money and the Probability of Deflation. The Bank of Canada does not publicly publish those metrics.
M1 Money Velocity has been trending down since 4Q 2007 (the "Great Recession") as unemployment rates have been rising (the 10 year change in unemployment in Canada is up 38.4% on the May 2020 data chart). The unemployed consume less; hence they save more. As consumption rates fall, GDP drops: (from 4Q 2008 to 4Q 2009, GDP dropped 1.9% and with the Covid 19 shutdown the March 2020 GDP print is down 6.8% since 4Q 2019).
M2 Money Velocity was trending up until 3Q 1997 and both employment and greater consumption (inflation) increased. The first hit to consumption came with the DotCom crash in 1Q 2000 and the Consumer Price Index began to drop and then plunge into the March 2009 Great Recession. By 2011 the commodity super cycle peaked (see the Deflation Probability chart below and the TSX Indexes chart)
The Bank of Canada's 2% CPI target and their policy framework (ZIRP & NIRP) is to "avoid a persistent drop in inflation". The most recent CPI print (April 2020) was negative at -0.2% via pandemic repricing.
Theses are still early days in the pandemic. New deaths from the novel coronavirus today (June 28, 2020) are the highest in Mexico. The U.S. is ranked 7th and Canada is ranked 72nd (Worldometers). Trade wars are intensifying, supply chains are being disrupted and cash flows are being diverted towards turning debt into equity. Let's take a look at Greg The Analyst's argument and the charts he used:
Argument Bullet Points: Why Greg's view is that this cycle is deflationary, not inflationary.
Thanks to BetterDwelling.com for producing a chart from the Parliamentary Budget Office report of June 17, 2020 "Estimating the Top Tail of the Family Wealth Distribution in Canada" and the PBO's modelling work which produced a new analytical resource, the High Net Worth Family Database (HFD).
I have mashed up the chart with some additional text to highlight the results and if I have done the arithmetic correctly, the data represents approximately 15,349,000 families that collectively possess $10.3 trillion in wealth, or an average household net worth of $671,054.*
*For reference in interpreting the summary statistics, the calibrated HFD represents approximately 15,349,000 families that collectively possess $10.3 trillion in wealth. Appendix B, Page 19
The distribution of wealth among households is heavily skewed toward the wealthiest families. In Canada, a small proportion of families at the top of the distribution possess net worth that is orders of magnitude higher than the country’s median net worth. The high concentration of wealth among a small number of families makes it difficult to reliably measure wealth at the very top of the distribution.
See also my Household Debt Chart which includes plot overlays of GDP, Net Trade and Foreign Direct Investment to see the trends that have made Canadians prized by the world as consumers with lots of available credit. Our willingness to hock the future, supplies net income to entities outside our "borders" financed and subsidized by our own cheap credit and for over 20 years we have switched to becoming net investors offshore instead of net investors in our own production capabilities. The growing capital flight out of Canada is at the expense of Canadian labour. (Employment Chart).
US leveraged loan downgrade ratio hits staggering 43:1 as COVID-19 stalls market
S&P Global Market Intelligence JUN 4, 2020
"In their optimistic scenario — where restrictions lift in May and life gets back to normal by June — 9% of leveraged loans would default within a year. If lockdowns are in effect until June and normalcy returns at the end of August, defaults would hit 14% of loans, they said. In the worst case — the virus keeps returning in waves until the middle of next year — UBS sees the rate at 22%."
- "Collateralized loan obligations, the largest investor segment in the $1.2 trillion U.S. leveraged loan asset class, are exceeding their structural limits for lower-rated debt at eye-watering numbers."
- "As a leading indicator, rising downgrades also typically precede a period of increased defaults."
- "The downgrades that have come at breakneck speed are also predominantly at the lower end of the ratings spectrum, changing the composition of the B- cohort significantly."
- "At the lower rung, Morgan Stanley strategist Srikanth Sankaran expects that nearly a fifth of the loan market could transition to CCC as a result."
The Looming Bank Collapse - The U.S. financial system could be on the cusp of calamity. This time, we might not be able to save it.
by Frank Partnoy The Atlantic JUL-AUG 2020 Issue
Like a CDO, a CLO has multiple layers, which are sold separately. The bottom layer is the riskiest, the top the safest. If just a few of the loans in a CLO default, the bottom layer will suffer a loss and the other layers will remain safe. If the defaults increase, the bottom layer will lose even more, and the pain will start to work its way up the layers. The top layer, however, remains protected: It loses money only after the lower layers have been wiped out.
Despite their obvious resemblance to the villain of the last crash, CLOs have been praised by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for moving the risk of leveraged loans outside the banking system. Like former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, who downplayed the risks posed by subprime mortgages, Powell and Mnuchin have downplayed any trouble CLOs could pose for banks, arguing that the risk is contained within the CLOs themselves.
These sanguine views are hard to square with reality. The Bank for International Settlements estimates that, across the globe, banks held at least $250 billion worth of CLOs at the end of 2018. Last July, one month after Powell declared in a press conference that “the risk isn’t in the banks,” two economists from the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. depository institutions and their holding companies owned more than $110 billion worth of CLOs issued out of the Cayman Islands alone. A more complete picture is hard to come by, in part because banks have been inconsistent about reporting their CLO holdings. The Financial Stability Board, which monitors the global financial system, warned in December that 14 percent of CLOs—more than $100 billion worth—are unaccounted for.
Read the hole story by Frank Partnoy at The Atlantic
Currencies May See Wild Swings if Slow Growth Breaks CLO Market
HOW CAN A GLOBAL SLOWDOWN TRIGGER A CLO COLLAPSE?
As global demand wanes, consumers begin to spend less, business revenue streams dry up and investors pivot away from chasing yields and more toward preserving capital. Corporations that took out these covenant-lite loans – that were then securitized into a CLO – then face mounting pressure as their ability to service their debt is compromised. The probability of an onslaught of defaults then becomes considerably higher.
Furthermore, companies that are on the hook for these loans may attempt to cut corners or lay off employees as a way to trim losses and stave off insolvency. However, in the process, they may end up breaching their covenant(s), consequently giving the lender the right to declare a default on the loan. This in turn could make many of the income-generating tranches in the CLO worthless and bring down the overall value of the security
The CLOs would then shift their position on the balance sheet from assets to liabilities, potentially putting financial institutions outside the regulatory parameters of capital requirements. This may then force them to start selling other assets to compensate for the losses they incurred on the CLOs. Consequently, a selloff iterated across multiple institutions could trigger broad-based panic and hurried liquidation across global financial markets.
HOW WOULD FX MARKETS RESPOND TO A CLO UNRAVELING?
In the event of a downturn, which is further exacerbated by a CLO collapse, anti-risk assets like the US Dollar, Japanese Yen and US Treasuries would likely gain at the expense of cycle-sensitive currencies like the Australian and New Zealand Dollars. Cycle-sensitive commodities like oil – and currencies that frequently track its movement like the Canadian Dollar, Russian Ruble and Norwegian Krone – may also suffer.
While many central banks could lower rates to combat the downturn, the exact simulative effect of further cuts may not be sufficiently conducive in restoring liquidity and confidence. Other central banks with rates at or below zero like the ECB and Riksbank may have to resort to unconventional monetary measures, though even those are sometimes not effective enough to raise inflation and stave off a slowdown.
CLOs may not be the next trigger for a recession, but they could exacerbate an economic downturn. Furthermore, the average recovery rates for defaulted loans have fallen to 69 percent from the pre-crisis levels of 82 percent. Indirectly-connected players like banks that lend to firms that are holding these instruments or have exposure to them could be at risk.
The exact extent of the CLO web remains unknown. However, what the 2008 financial crisis taught the world is that highly integrated markets are efficient but also incredibly vulnerable. This then risks an element of contagion whereby a system-wide disruption could occur. A web of interconnectedness is often welcome by all – that is, until along comes a spider.
Read the Full Report with Charts Here by Dimitri Zabelin Analyst, MAR 2019
The junk debt that tanked the economy? It’s back in a big way.
The Washington Post JUL 2018
Earlier this year (2018), after complaints from banks and dealmakers reached sympathetic ears in the Trump administration, the newly installed chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency Office declared that previous “guidance” against lending to companies whose debt exceeded six times their annual cash flow should not be taken as a hard and fast rule.
The CLO market got an even bigger boost this year when an appeals court in Washington struck down a regulation issued under the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law that required all securitizers — the firms that bundle loans of any kind and sell pieces of the packages to investors — to retain 5 percent of a deal.
Michael Barr, a professor of law and public policy at the University of Michigan who served as point man on the financial reform effort for the Treasury in the Obama administration said, “we have now re-created the condition that led to the last crisis by making it easier to aggregate loans that are not good for investors.”
The three judges who signed on to that opinion were all appointed by Republican presidents, all have a long track record of skepticism toward regulation and regulators, and all have a long association with the conservative Federalist Society.
THE BUYOUT OF AMERICA by Josh Kosman
Marquee private equity firms such as Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, have grown bigger and more powerful than ever. They have also become the nation’s largest employers through the businesses they own. Journalist Josh Kosman explores private equity’s explosive growth and shows how its barons wring profits at the expense of the long-term health of their companies.
He also explores the links between the private equity elite and Washington power players, who have helped them escape government scrutiny. The result is a timely book with an important warning for us all, which unfortunately in 2020 is starting to play out. JoshKosman.com
In his 2009 book The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy, Josh Kosman described Bain Capital (started in 1984 by Mitt Romney and partners) as "notorious for its failure to plow profits back into its businesses," being the first large private-equity firm to derive a large fraction of its revenues from corporate dividends and other distributions. The revenue potential of this strategy, which may "starve" a company of capital, was increased by a 1970s court ruling that allowed companies to consider the entire fair-market value of the company, instead of only their "hard assets", in determining how much money was available to pay dividends. In at least some instances, companies acquired by Bain borrowed money in order to increase their dividend payments, ultimately leading to the collapse of what had been financially stable businesses. Source: Wikipedia
And in Canada
While we wait for May 2020 real estate data, here is the Worldometers global Corona Virus Data Update.
I will update each month end to see the global monthly percentage changes in total global Covid 19 cases, deaths and recovereds. As more and more "tracking and tracing" data come in we should get a more robust picture of when it is appropriate to think again about transnational and international travel because as we know, this virus spread exponentially throughout the world in the containers of buses, boats, trains, and aircraft that are the perfect vehicles for pandemic transmission.
Public transportation and all their attendant hub and support systems should be avoided until herd immunity sets in which only happens when 70-80% of the population has created "natural" antibodies through acquiring the virus through contact or when everyone can be vaccinated.
Until then, don't travel unnecessarily.
First up, here's an abbreviated list of some of the main arguments that "This time REALLY is different" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in their new Bloomberg Markets interview of May 24, 2020 via Moneyweb.
This is an interview update of their 2009 history of financial crises "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly".
CR: So pandemics are not new. But the policy response to pandemics that we’re seeing is definitely new. If you look at the year 1918, when deaths in the US during the Spanish influenza pandemic peaked at 675,000, real GDP that year grew 9%. So the dominant economic model at the time was war production. You really can’t use that experience as any template for this. That’s one difference.
It’s certainly different from prior pandemics in terms of the economy, the policy response, the shutdown... The reversal in capital flows in the four weeks ending in March matched the decline during the [2008-09] global financial crisis, which took a year. So the abruptness and the widespread shutdowns we had not seen before.
KR: Certainly the global nature of it is different and this highlights the speed. We have the first global recession crisis really since the Great Depression.
The economic policy response has been massive and absolutely necessary... But certainly the aggressive crisis response reflects lessons learned in 2008.
CR: Let’s take monetary policy before the pandemic. US unemployment was at its lowest level since the 1960s. By most metrics the US was at or near full employment. It’s very possible that the path was toward rising interest rates. Clearly that has been completely replaced by a view that rates are zero now and that they’re going to stay low for a very long, long, indeterminate period of time, with a lot of liquidity support from the Federal Reserve. So that’s a big game changer, discounting futures.
What this does mean is that the market is really counting on a lot of rescues. The blanket coverage by the Fed is broad, and that is driving the market. And expectations are that we’re going to have this nice V-shaped recovery and life is going to return to normal as we knew it before the pandemic. And my own view is that neither of those are likely to be true. The recovery is unlikely to be V-shaped, and we’re unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic world.
KR: It’s not just the people not working. What’s the efficiency of the people who are working? The monetary response has been done hand in hand with the Treasury. The market is banking on this V-shaped recovery. But a lot of the firms aren’t coming back. I think we’re going to see a lot of work for bankruptcy lawyers going across a lot of industries.
CR: There is talk on whether it’s going to be a W-shape if there’s a second wave and so on. That’s a very real possibility given past pandemics and if there’s no vaccine.
The shock has disrupted supply chains globally and trade big-time. The World Trade Organisation tells you trade can decline anywhere between 13% and 32%. I don’t think you just break and re-create supply chains at the drop of a hat.
Another reason I think the V-shape story is dubious is that we’re all living in economies that have a hugely important service component. How do we know which retailers are going to come back? Which restaurants are going to come back? Cinemas? When this crisis began to morph from a medical problem into a financial crisis, then it was clear we were going to have more hysteresis, longer-lived effects.
KR: So we use a much more modest version of recovery. And still, with postwar financial crises before 2008-09, the average was four years, and for the Great Depression, 10 years. And there are many ways this feels more like the Great Depression.
And you want to talk about a negative productivity shock, too... There’s a lot of uncertainty, and it’s probably not in the pro-growth direction.
So there are going to be phenomenal frictions coming out of this wave of bankruptcies, defaults. It’s probably going to be, at best, a U-shaped recovery. And I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get back to the 2019 per capita GDP. I would say, looking at it now, five years would seem like a good outcome out of this.
“If it drags on, the forces that are pulling the euro zone apart are going to grow stronger and stronger.”
CR: The problem in emerging markets goes beyond the poorest countries. For many emerging markets, we’ve also had a massive, massive oil shock. Nigeria, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico—they’ve all been downgraded. So the hit to emerging markets is just very broad. Nigeria is in terrible shape. South Africa is in terrible shape. Turkey is in terrible shape. Ecuador already is in default status, as well as Argentina. These are big emerging markets. It’s going to be enormously costly.
For the G-20 initiative, I indeed hope it is the G-20 and not just the G-19. China needs to be on board with debt relief. That’s a big issue. The largest official creditor by far is China. If China is not fully on board on granting debt relief, then the initiative is going to offer little or no relief. If the savings are just going to be used to repay debts to China, well, that would be a tragedy.
KR: The IMF at this point is all-in on trying to find a debt moratorium, recognizing there’s going to be restructuring in a lot of places. But I don’t think the US is by any means all-in, and a lot of the contracts of the private sector are governed under US law. And if the US government is not in, if China’s not in, it’s not really enough.
KR: The financial markets think there’s no chance interest rates will go up. There is no chance inflation will go up. If they’re right, and if another shoe doesn’t drop, it’ll be fine. But we could have costs from this. We’re talking about economies shrinking by 25% to 30%. And those [declines] are just staggering compared to the debt burden costs, whatever they are. So certainly we would strongly endorse doing what governments are doing. But selling it as a free lunch, that’s stupefyingly naive.
CR: If you look back to 2008-09, nearly everybody had a banking crisis. But a couple of years later, the focus had moved from the banking problem to the debt problem... And if there’s a shakeout that involves concerns about Italy’s growth, then we could have a transition again from the focus on the Covid-19 crisis this time to a debt crisis. But Italy, as I said, is on a different scale than the peripheral countries that got into the biggest trouble in the last crisis. It potentially also envelops Spain. So I think that if you were to ask me about an advanced economy debt issue, I think that is where it is most at the forefront.
KR: We argued at the time that the right recipe was to involve write downs of the southern European debts. And I think that would have been cheap money in terms of restoring growth in the euro zone and would have [been] paid back. And we may be at that same juncture in another couple of years where you’re looking at just staggering austerity in Spain and Italy on top of a period of staggering hardship. Advanced countries have done this all the time—finding some sort of debt restructuring or writedown to give them fiscal space again, to support growth again. If the euro zone doesn’t find a way to deal with this, maybe eurobonds might be in the picture to try to indirectly provide support. Again, we’re going to see huge forces pulling apart the euro zone.
CR: It’s hard to say in China what is public and what is private, but corporates in China levered up significantly, expecting that they were going to continue to grow at double digits forever. That hasn’t materialised. There’s overcapacity in a lot of industries.
China came into this with inflation running over 5% because of the huge spike in pork prices. So I think initially that the PBOC [People’s Bank of China] has been somewhat constrained initially in doing their usual big credit stimulus by uncertainty over their inflation. I think that’s changing because of the collapse in oil price. So I do think we are going to see more stimulus from China.
KR: There will be a pretty sustained growth slowdown in China. We were on track for that anyway. But who can they export to? The rest of the world is going to be in recession. I think if they can average 1% growth the next two, three years, then that will look good. That’s not a bad prediction for China. And let’s remember, their population dynamic is completely changing. So 3% growth in that, with that Europeanising of their population dynamics, would not be bad at all. But there’s a big-picture question about their huge centralisation, which is clearly an advantage in dealing with the national crisis but maybe doesn’t provide the flexibility over the long term to get the dynamism that at least you’ve got in the US economy.
KR: So central banks all over the world are using the fiscal side of their balance sheet... Monetary policy is essentially castrated by the zero bound.
CR: We really can’t look independently at central banks without also looking at the balance sheet, not just of the government, but the balance sheet of the private sector, which has a lot of contingent liabilities.
On the issue of negative interest rates, I do not share Ken’s views on that particular matter. When you have, as we do today, very fragmented markets, markets that became totally illiquid, I think the way I would deal with that would not be through making rates more negative, but by an approach closer to the one taken by the Fed, which is through a variety of facilities that provide directed credit. Sustained negative interest rates in Europe have led to a lot of bank disintermediation. And often bank disintermediation means that you end up with the less regulated, less desirable financial institutions.
KR: So the probability is, for the foreseeable future, we’ll have deflation. But at the end of this, I think we’re going to have experienced an extremely negative productivity shock with deglobalisation. In terms of growth and productivity, they will be lasting negative shocks, and demand may come back. And then you have the many forces that have led to very low inflation maybe going into reverse, either because of deglobalisation or because workers will strengthen their rights. The market sees essentially zero chance of ever having inflation again. And I think that’s very wrong.
CR: Some of the scars are on supply chains. I don’t think we’ll return to their precrisis normal. We’re going to see a lot of risk aversion. We’ll be more inward-looking, self-sufficient in medical supplies, self-sufficient in food. If you look at some of the legacies of the big crises, those have all seen fixed investment ratchet down and often stay down.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW TEXT "This time really is different" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in their new Bloomberg Markets interview of May 24, 2020 via Moneyweb.
Canada GDP % Growth Annualized
The Canadian economy advanced an annualized 0.3 percent on quarter in the three months to December 2019, below a downwardly revised 1.1 percent expansion in the previous period and matching market forecasts. It was the weakest growth rate since the second quarter of 2016, when the economy shrank 2 percent. (BEFORE THE FIRST COVID 19 CASE HIT)
In his final official speech May 25, 2020, the Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz said:
“Although a minority of observers worry that these extreme policies will create inflation someday, our dominant concern was with the downside risk and the possibility that deflation could emerge... Deflation interacts horribly with existing debt, the two main ingredients of depressions in the past... In effect, then, we were saying that the downside risks were sufficiently dire that there were no relevant trade-offs for monetary policy-makers to consider. Picture the pandemic creating a giant deflationary crater in the middle of the economy; it takes what looks like inflationary policies to offset it.”
A panel of experts assembled by the C.D. Howe Institute and led by David Dodge, a former Bank of Canada governor, on May 25 said the central bank and government should “reinforce their commitment” to the two-per-cent target.
Poloz said the economy will “need significant monetary stimulus in the rebuilding stage,” but that “it is well understood that the bank’s ability to lend without limit must be backed up by the inflation target to anchor inflation expectations.”
"Eight centuries of global real interest rates, R-G [real wealth returns (R) and broader real growth (G)], and the ‘suprasecular’ decline, 1311–2018" Source Material
by Paul Schmelzing, January 2020. Bank of England Staff working Paper No. 845 (all 110 pages here)
The Introduction, in full:
The evolution of long-term real interest rates has in recent years attracted significant academic interest. Partly in the context of the “secular stagnation” debate and related contributions, which in different variants have advanced theories on the drivers behind a low rate environment, supposedly originating in the second half of the 20th century. Partly in the context of “inequality” and “wealth” debates, particularly stimulated by the contribution of Piketty (2014), and its peculiar view of long-term asset and wealth returns in their relation to broader income growth. Despite regular recourse to “history” from the proponents of such theories, it will be posited in this essay that both debates advance a misrepresentative view of long-run interest rate and wealth return trends – and only partly because they overwhelmingly omit archival and other historical factual evidence.
The discussion of longer-term trends in real rates is often confined to the second half of the 20th century, identifying the high inflation period of the 1970s and early 1980s as an inflection point triggering a multi-decade fall in real rates. And indeed, in most economists’ eyes, considering interest rate dynamics over the 20th century horizon – or even over the last 150 years – the reversal during the last quarter of the 1900s at first appears decisive.
Equally, the historical relation between real wealth returns (R) and broader real growth (G) has assumed a central role in the current debates on long-term inequality trends, culminating in the widely discussed contribution of Piketty (ibid.). The latter contended – on the basis of positing a “virtual stability of the pure return of capital over the very long-run” – that excess real capital returns over real growth rates would soon perpetuate an “endless inegalitarian spiral” (ibid, 206, 572).
From what are, at their core, return and capital cost debates, have sprung various related policy and academic contributions. For instance, more recently the spread between “Safe R” (the real capital cost for the “safe” sovereign debt issuer) and “G” (its respective real income growth rate) since 1950 has been documented, and highlighted as a key variable to assess public debt sustainability (Blanchard 2019).
This essay approaches these subjects from a historical perspective, arguing that the recourse to archives, printed primary sources, published secondary works, and assessed written evidence from the past, raises deeper problems for such recent debates. In what follows, I attempt to document for the first time the particular evolution of both GDP-weighted global and “safe asset provider” long-term sovereign real rates over a span of 707 years, relying on a collection of evidence from 14th century European municipal and imperial registers, over Habsburg, British, Dutch, crown documents, to (often ignored) earlier secondary sources, and to current Federal Reserve data.
First, the approach here modifies various of the empirical findings by what is perhaps the most comprehensive existing investigation on interest rate trends, the work of Homer and Sylla (1996, 2005). The latter do not take into account primary sources, and even the secondary source material is limited, once assessed in detail. Neither do they discuss real rate dynamics (bar four pages on the U.S. context), or attempt to build “GDP-weighted”, global series. In consequence, and for all the merits of their work, the timing and evolution of interest rate trends it suggests is partly inappropriate, partly inapplicable for current debates in both the historical and the economics literature.
One key empirical result analyzed here is that there is no evidence of a “virtual stability” of real capital returns, either expressed in R or “R-G” over the very long run: rather, – despite temporary stabilizations such as the period between 1550-1640, 1820-1850, or in fact 1950-1980 – global real rates have shown a persistent downward trend over the past five centuries, declining within a corridor of between -0.9 (safe asset provider basis) and -1.59 basis points (global basis) per annum, with the former displaying a continuous decline since the deep monetary crises of the late medieval “Bullion Famine”. This downward trend has persisted throughout the historical gold, silver, mixed bullion, and fiat monetary regimes, is visible across various asset classes, and long preceded the emergence of modern central banks. It appears not directly related to growth or demographic drivers, though capital accumulation trends may go some way in explaining the phenomenon. But whoever posits particular recent savings-investment dislocations in the context of an alleged “secular stagnation” needs to face the likelihood that such “imbalances” may have been a continuous key driver for five centuries.
Similarly, negative long-term real rates have steadily become more frequent since the 14th century, and I show that they affected around 20% of advanced economy GDP over time, a share that has historically risen by 1.2 basis points every year: once more, this suggests that deeply-entrenched trends are at work – the recent years are a mere “catch-up period” in this and a number of related aspects.
Together, I posit that the private and public assets covered in the following also go some way in enabling the reconstruction of total “nonhuman” wealth returns since the 14th century. Prior to the recording of robust public statistics, wills and tax assessments suggest that around one-third of private wealth is tied to public and private debt assets, with another third in real estate – in an environment where wealth-income ratios may plausibly have reached 150-250% of GDP. Aggregating such evidence, and constructing plausible long-run R-G series over the last 700 years, suggests that real returns on nonhuman wealth are equally downward trending over time. They are by no means “virtually stable”, a cornerstone of Piketty’s (2014) framework. In fact, if historical trends are extrapolated, R-G will soon reach permanently negative territory – a first since at least medieval times.
With regards to “secular stagnation” debates, I argue that in contrast to prevalent theories, global real rates are not mean-reverting within a certain corridor (Hamilton et al. 2016), and history does not suggest that they reach a steady-state value in the medium-term, even if that value is negative (Eggertsson, Mehrotra, and Robbins 2017, esp. 41). The “real safe rate” is not “normally fluctuating around the levels we see today” (Jorda et al. 2017, 4). In this sense, the decline of real returns across a variety of different asset classes since the 1980s in fact represents merely a return to long-term historical trends. All of this suggests that the “secular stagnation” narrative (Summers 2014; 2015; 2016; Rachel and Summers 2019), to the extent that it posits an aberration of longer-term dynamics over recent decades, appears fully misleading.
The data here suggests that the “historically implied” safe asset provider long-term real rate stands at 1.56% for the year 2018, which would imply that against the backdrop of inflation targets at 2%, nominal advanced economy rates may no longer rise sustainably above 3.5%. Whatever the precise dominant driver – simply extrapolating such long-term historical trends suggests that negative real rates will not just soon constitute a “new normal” – they will continue to fall constantly. By the late 2020s, global short term real rates will have reached permanently negative territory. By the second half of this century, global long-term real rates will have followed.
The standard deviation of the real rate – its “volatility” – meanwhile, has shown similar properties over the last 500 years: fluctuations in benchmark real rates are steadily declining, implying that rate levels are set to become both lower, and stickier. But downward-trending absolute levels, and declining volatilities have persisted against a backdrop of a secularly growing importance of public and monetary balance sheets. This would suggest that expansionary monetary and fiscal policy responses designed to raise real interest rates from current levels may at best have a cyclical effect in the longer-term context.
Finally, this paper is not naïve about the remaining limitations of the very long-term historical evidence. The robustness checks below cannot deflect from the fact that late medieval and early modern data can of course never be established with the same granularity as modern high-frequency statistics. One still has to rely on interpolations here, deal with the peculiarities of early modern finance, and acknowledge that the permanency of wars, disasters, and destitution since the times of medieval Condottieri and Landsknechte has irrecoverably destroyed not an insignificant share of the evidence ideally desired. But I suggest that whoever invokes “history” in the present debates needs to advance against the backdrop of these limitations.
This paper will proceed by first discussing empirical aspects across various assets and geographies, and elaborating on the technicalities of aggregating such evidence, before relating it to other economic and (geo-) political variables, and constructing main derivative series including R-G, the real rate standard deviation, and the long-run negative real rate frequency. This is followed by a discussion of robustness aspects, and, finally, by a closer focus on capital accumulation factors during the late 15th century.
The Suprasecular Rate Decline
said Paul Schmelzing, JAN 2020, Bank of England Staff Working Paper No. 845
The Conclusion, in full:
This concludes the long-term survey. First, this paper has argued that – partly given their methodological shortcomings (such as the sole focus on secondary source, nominal, country-level, “lowest-issuer”, scattered rate evidence) – relying on existing narratives obscures historical interest rate dynamics: for one, there is across a multitude of assets no evidence of a “virtual stability” of real capital returns, and I have argued that with the approach here it is now at least able to approximate quantitatively actual trend falls over (sub-) periods and asset classes. This empirical basis, for one, suggests that it was not the Black Death that stands out as an inflection point (Epstein 2000, 61ff.), or the 13th and late 17th centuries as Homer and Sylla’s (1991, 556f.) semi-centennial sketch suggests. A far more relevant turning point – one that initiated a “slope” in real interest rates to which the post-Napoleonic period has once more returned – occurs in the late 15th century. That episode coincides with a sharp surge in capital accumulation trends, and a jump in plausible savings rates – an inflection which also clearly precedes institutional “revolutions” such as those proposed by North and Weingast (1989).
But the value of constructing the first multi-century, high-frequency GDP-weighted real rate dataset for both the global “safe asset provider”, and advanced economies on aggregate goes beyond purely empirical qualifications. In its applied dimension, I sought to suggest that a long-term reconstruction of real rate developments points towards key revisions concerning at least two major current debates directly based on – or deriving from – the narrative about long-term capital returns. First, my new data showed that long-term real rates – be it in the form of private debt, non-marketable loans, or the global sovereign “safe asset” – should always have been expected to hit “zero bounds” around the time of the late 20th and early 21st century, if put into long-term historical context. In fact, a meaningful – and growing – level of long-term real rates should have been expected to record negative levels. There is little unusual about the current low rate environment which the “secular stagnation” narrative attempts to display as an unusual aberration, linked to equally unusual trend-breaks in savings-investment balances, or productivity measures. To extent that such literature then posits particular policy remedies to address such alleged phenomena, it is found to be fully misleading: the trend fall in real rates has coincided with a steady longrun uptick in public fiscal activity; and it has persisted across a variety of monetary regimes: fiat- and non-fiat, with and without the existence of public monetary institutions.
Secondly, sovereign long-term real rates have been placed into context to other key components of “nonhuman wealth returns” over the (very) long run, including private debt, and real land returns, together with a suggestion that fixed income-linked wealth has historically assumed a meaningful share of private wealth. There is a very high probability, therefore, to suggest that “non-human wealth” returns have by no means been “virtually stable”, as posited by recent popular accounts (e.g. Piketty 2014, 206): only if business investments have both shown an extreme increase in real returns, and an extreme increase in their total wealth share, could the framework be saved. If compared to real income growth dynamics over the same timespan, R-G, we equally detect a downward trend across all assets covered in the above discussion.
There is no reason, therefore, to expect rates to “plateau”, to suggest that “the global neutral rate may settle at around 1% over the medium to long run”, or to proclaim that “forecasts that the real rate will remain stuck at or below zero appear unwarranted” as some have suggested (Hamilton et al. 2016, 663; Rachel and Smith 2017, 37). With regards to policy, very low real rates can be expected to become a permanent and protracted monetary policy problem – but my evidence still does not support those that see an eventual return to “normalized” levels however defined (for instance Eggertsson, Mehrotra, and Robbins 2017, 41, who contemplate a “nadir” in global real rates in the 2020s): the long-term historical data suggests that, whatever the ultimate driver, or combination of drivers, the forces responsible have been indifferent to monetary or political regimes; they have kept exercising their pull on interest rate levels irrespective of the existence of central banks, (de jure) usury laws, or permanently higher public expenditures. They persisted in what amounted to early modern patrician plutocracies, as well as in modern democratic environments, in periods of low-level feudal Condottieri battles, and in those of professional, mechanized mass warfare.
In the end, then, it was the contemporaries of Jacques Coeur and Konrad von Weinsberg – not those in the financial centres of the 21st century – who had every reason to sound dire predictions about an “endless inegalitarian spiral”. And it was the Welser in early 16th century Nuremberg, or the Strozzi of Florence in the same period, who could have filled their business diaries with reports on the unprecedented “secular stagnation” environment of their days. That they did not do so serves not necessarily to illustrate their lack of economic-theoretical acumen: it should rather put doubt on the meaningfulness of some of today’s concepts.
Schmelzing on Bonds, Why Investors Face Years of Losses
January 10, 2017
While we wait for April real estate data, here is for the second time this month (first time here) that I have published the Worldometers Corona Virus Data Update. Now that I have some data, I can produce a chart which I will update each month end to see the global monthly percentage changes in Covid 19 cases, deaths and recovereds. As more and more "tracking and tracing" data come in we should get a more robust picture of when it is appropriate to think again about transnational and international travel because as we know, this virus spread exponentially throughout the world in the containers of buses, boats, trains, and aircraft that are the perfect vehicles for pandemic transmission.
Public transportation and all their attendant hub and support systems should be avoided until herd immunity sets in which only happens when 70-80% of the population has created "natural" antibodies through acquiring the virus through contact or when everyone can be vaccinated.
Until then don't travel.
The first thing that caught my eye this weekend is @kyscottt and her satirical comment spoofing "Dr" Trump on TikTok. I'm not alone, Kylie's file has had well over 100k hits.
I have tried to inform readers here and in other blog comment threads about the psyche of President Trump and his malignant narcissism:
NOV 2018 Liar Liar
MAY 2017 Southern Exposure
NOV 2016 Trumped
The Trump Cult brushes off any attempt to inform them about how dangerous Trump's mental state is by equating any critique as the ranting of hysterical socialists.
Well that might be, but it does not obviate the reality that Trump is only president to those who pledge allegiance and fealty to him.
Everyone else, get in line or stay in your cage.
Anyways, I thought I would look around the internet and see if there have been any more insights made into the fascination that is Trump and how it can be, that his extreme malignant narcissistic behaviour can be so nakedly displayed and why so many people can be beguiled by it.
I found some very good psychological insights.
Below, I will abbreviate some of the more cogent parts of the following articles, but I recommend you read them in their complete form to get the whole analysis for citations and references. Index Quick Links >>>
"Leading psychologists explain how Trump’s self-delusions make him stunningly effective at predatory deception." by Daniel Kriegman, Robert Trivers & Malcolm Slavin, APR 6, 2020 RawStory.com
Trump utilizes a propaganda principle—the Big Lie.
Trump is involved in the business of selling himself as an angry, righteous savior to the masses, resulting in a growing number of cultic devotees.
It is the outrageousness of the Big Lie that a listener normally expects would create self-conscious awkwardness in the liar. In turn, this results in a need for a great liar to hide any nervousness that might give away the fact that he is attempting to deceive his audience.
The evolutionary theory of self-deception in the service of deception... if a liar can deceive himself into believing he is telling the truth, he will be far more effective in convincing others.
If certain motives can be removed from consciousness, one can be far more convincing in complex social negotiations.
There is, however, a new science emerging regarding psychopaths, suggesting that they have been shaped by natural selection, meaning that their sociopathic behavior was selected because it was adaptive.
There is a “psychopathy scale” in which the higher you score the more likely you are to favor close relatives over more distant ones—exactly what you would expect natural selection to produce; they show a greater tendency toward psychopathic behavior the lower their relatedness to their victims.
If the behavior of psychopaths entails an evolving, adaptive evolutionary strategy, then they are setting up a co-evolutionary struggle with the rest of us.
Why don’t people spot the telltale signs indicating Trump’s awareness of his own lies?
The answer appears to be that for Trump there is only one reality, one truth: Donald J. Trump is the world’s greatest genius and he, and only he, can solve the problems we face. Yes, that does sound crazy. But that’s precisely the nature of narcissistic personalities; they have delusional beliefs about their own importance and greatness.
Trump uses “fake news.” to refer to any challenges to this great truth. The way things are has no importance if noting the reality would interfere in perceiving and promoting the One Great Truth.
When Trump puffs himself up, he apparently eliminates any awareness of the possibility of failure. This is the narcissist’s sense of personal greatness and ability.
Remember, he is a great genius, probably greater than Einstein. Therefore, he can set aside general reality theory and focus instead on his special theory of reality: Trump alone is here to save the day.
With the notion that reality matters effectively removed from his awareness, Trump never concerns himself with whether the words he speaks jibe with objective reality. He then experiences no trepidation about whether the things he says are actually true. This is the reason he is so convincing to the many people who comprise his base: Donald Trump has no tell.
Please read the whole analysis for citations and references at RawStory.com
Trump doesn't want coronavirus testing: His instinct is always to hide the truth "His whole life, Trump has lied about the numbers: From the beginning, he's tried to deflate the coronavirus count." by Amanda Marcotte, APRIL 22, 2020 Salon.com
Donald Trump's go-to excuse for why the federal government hasn't done more to ramp up efforts to test Americans for the novel coronavirus... "Governors must be able to step up and get the job done," Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon, while also weirdly declaring that the U.S. was the "King of Ventilators." Is he going to start selling them in late-night infomercials?
When governors complain that they can't ramp up coronavirus testing, because there's nowhere near enough capacity, Trump denies it, claiming that governors "don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created."
Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan, told Jake Tapper of CNN, "Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests," and said it was "absolutely false" to claim there's enough testing capacity.
Michigan's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also pointed the finger at Trump, saying that her state has "the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we're doing," but because Trump refuses to enact the Defense Production Act (DPA) to force the production of those materials, they are falling short.
A bit of truth slipped out during Monday's briefing, when Trump muttered, "We really don't need it," apparently referring to the DPA.
Trump isn't capable of seeing widespread testing — and more accurate information about the spread of the virus — as being in his self-interest. He sees it this way: The more tests that are done, the more confirmed cases are counted, and his impulse is to conceal that larger number if he possibly can. So he's trying to keep the official case count as low as possible through the only method he understands: Lying and cheating. In this case, by preventing testing such that no accurate count is possible.
"I like the numbers being where they are," Trump said back in March, in justifying his decision to prevent passengers on a cruise ship where the coronavirus was spreading from disembarking. His logic was simple, if idiotic: As long as those infected people stayed on the water, Trump didn't have to count them in the "official" numbers, which at that point were extremely low. Manipulating that number matters more to him than the health and well-being of human beings.
Trump's strongest instinct is to manipulate the statistics. He can no more stop trying to cheat on the numbers than he can stop cheating on his wives.
Lying about statistics is at the heart of who Trump is. The man has never met a number that he didn't think he should immediately improve to flatter himself through straight-up lying and manipulation.
Trump compulsively cheats at golf.
His first act as president was to force his press secretary to lie about the size of his inauguration crowd, and then to force official photographers to edit the photos to make his crowds look bigger.
Trump spent ungodly amounts of effort bullying and manipulating the staff at Forbes to believe he was richer than he was, in order to get on the Forbes 400 list, where he clearly didn't belong.
Trump has lied constantly on both his tax returns and his loan applications to banks.
Trump's favorite game as a real estate developer was to quote one set of numbers to contractors and then, when they finished the job, to renege on the deal and refuse to pay them what was owed.
Trump has obsessively lied about how many women he's slept with, calling tabloid reporters while pretending to be a publicist to plant stories about dating numerous women that were almost certainly not true.
Trump lies about his television ratings from his time as a reality TV host.
Trump relentlessly lies about his poll numbers, and just this week falsely claimed that 96% of Republicans approved of him.
Trump has lied about his charity giving, claiming to have donated millions of dollars when, in fact, he mostly took checks written by other people and passed them off as his own.
Trump wants to keep people from getting tested so the official case load in the U.S. remains artificially low. But as long as people aren't getting tested, they'll keep spreading the virus around and more people will get sick. Plus, the lack of testing hurts the economy, keeping people from returning to work and leading to more bankruptcy and more economic hardship.
There's no need to tiptoe around the situation here. Trump is doing everything he can to stop Americans from getting coronavirus tests, and lying about it, because he wants to artificially deflate a number he thinks makes him look bad. His every instinct is to lie and cheat, especially when it comes to concealing truth and manipulating numbers, and he simply will never believe there's any situation he can't lie and cheat his way out of. Understand that, and you understand why we can't have adequate coronavirus testing under this president.
Please read the whole analysis for citations and references at Salon.com
Is Trump killing people on purpose? By Chauncey Devega, April 25, 2020 Salon.com
Psychologist and psychotherapist John Gartner, contributor to the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” and co-founder of the Duty to WARN PAC, has an answer: Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist. Our president’s mental pathologies inexorably compel him to hurt and kill large numbers of people — including his own supporters.
Gartner explains that sadism and violence are central to Trump’s malignant narcissism and his decision-making about the coronavirus pandemic. Gartner also warns that Donald Trump is an abuser locked into a deeply dysfunctional relationship with the American people and that, like other sadists, Trump enjoys causing harm and suffering.
Gartner concludes that Donald Trump is engaging in “democidal behavior” and cautions that the tens of thousands of dead (so far) from the coronavirus pandemic are not simply collateral damage from Trump’s policies, but rather the logical outcome of Trump’s apparent mental pathologies and the poor decisions that flow from them.
SALON: How does the human mind remain in denial about Trump’s nature when on an almost daily basis he reveals his true nature through his cruelty, lies, violence and other anti-social behavior? There are many Americans who oppose Trump who continue to claim that they are somehow surprised by his behavior?
GARTNER: Malignant narcissists are very sick people. They are sick in such a deep, disturbed and dark way that a normal person cannot comprehend such behavior. Therefore, normal, mentally healthy people cannot imagine or understand the mind of a malignant narcissist.
SALON: How does someone with his type of mind reconcile claims like “I have total power” with “I take no responsibility”? He has said both things within a few days of each other.
GARTNER: That is a function of how the psychology of a malignant narcissist is structured. When Trump says things such as, “I have total power,” that’s the grandiosity. “I’m in total control” is a function of Trump’s paranoia, where everything bad is projected outward. Therefore, anything negative or bad is someone else’s fault. Bad things are other people in Trump’s mind. The grandiosity and “greatness” are all him. Trump’s mind runs on a formula which bends and twists facts, ideas and memories to suit his malignant narcissism. This is why Trump contradicts himself so easily. He lies and makes things up. His fantasies all serve his malignant narcissism and the world he has created in his own mind about his greatness.
The fourth component of Trump’s malignant narcissism is sadism. That part of Trump’s mind is more hidden. People such as Trump are malignant-narcissist sadists because they, at some deep level, are driven to cause harm to other people. Trump’s life is proof of this. He enjoys ripping people off and humiliating people. He does this manically and gleefully. He has lied more than 16,000 times. He threatens people online and elsewhere. I believe that Donald Trump is also a sexual sadist, who on some basic level enjoys and is aroused by watching people be afraid of him. In his mind, Trump is creating chaos and instability so that he can feel powerful.
Professor of psychiatry and psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg called that phenomenon “omnipotent destructiveness.” The bullying, the violence, the destruction, frightening people, humiliating people, getting revenge and the like — such behavior is what Donald Trump has done his whole life. It is who Donald Trump really is. Unfortunately, too many people are still in denial of that fact.
SALON: I envision Donald Trump as a megalomaniacal puppet master. The American people are his little marionettes. The American people must acknowledge that relationship to cut the strings.
GARTNER: That is a great analogy. Donald Trump is a master at getting negative attention, and the more people he can shock and upset, the better. Donald Trump has been doing such a thing for years.
The pandemic has provided Trump with the opportunity to use his skill at doing such things into overdrive. America, with this coronavirus crisis, is now “The Trump Show.”
SALON: Society is a type of family. Leaders are fathers, mothers, and other types of parental authority figures. In that role, Donald Trump is abusing the American people.
GARTNER: Yes, the American people are being abused by Donald Trump. This is a key dimension of sadists. I also believe that Donald Trump is democidal. I would even go so far as to say that he is a “democidal maniac”. If you look at human history there is one trait that all malignant narcissistic leaders have in common: They kill mass numbers of their own people. Why would Donald Trump be any different?
SALON: Beyond mere negligence, much of Trump’s and his regime’s behavior is malevolent. Trump and his sycophants knew that potentially millions of Americans could die but chose to do nothing. His administration has gone so far as to purge people from the government who were trying to warn the public.
GARTNER: Again, that behavior is part of the psychology of malignant narcissistic leaders. They are democidal. Malignant narcissistic leaders kill many of their own people through wars and political terror, but also through willful incompetence. These types of leaders actively do things that will kill large portions of the population. Causing harm is a type of addiction for them. Donald Trump’s addiction is only getting worse.
SALON: What would you tell those Americans and others who would object to your analysis of Trump and the danger he represents? Because many people would protest that whatever Trump’s flaws may be, of course he loves America, and it’s inconceivable we would have a president who would actively seek to harm the American people.
GARTNER: Follow the facts to the obvious and true conclusion. If all the facts show that Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist with these powerful sadistic tendencies, this omnipotent destructiveness, where he’s getting pleasure and a sense of power from dominating people and degrading people and destroying people and plundering people and laying waste to people, both psychologically and physically, then to deny such obvious facts is willful ignorance.
Salon: What do you think Donald Trump will do if, shortly before Nov. 3, it appears clear that he is going to lose the election?
GARTNER: Rather than making a prediction as to Trump’s specific actions, it is more helpful to describe the type of actions he will take. Rather than trying to say, “This is the move he’ll make.” Like in a relationship, Donald Trump is the abuser. He is the husband or father who is abusing his partner or children or other relatives. The American people are like a woman who is leaving her abuser. She tells her abuser, “That’s it! I am done with you!” She has her keys in hand and is opening the door of the house or apartment to finally leave. What happens? The democidal maniac Donald Trump will attack us, badly. Make no mistake. Donald Trump is going to find a way to attack and cause great harm to the American people if he believes that he will lose the 2020 election.
Please read the whole analysis for citations and references at RawStory.com
Necropolitics by Achille Mbembe
Translated by Libby Meintjes
Duke University Press - Public Culture, Winter 2003 Project Muse
This essay assumes that the ultimate expression of sovereignty resides, to a large degree, in the power and the capacity to dictate who may live and who must die. Hence, to kill or to allow to live constitute the limits of sovereignty, its [End Page 11] fundamental attributes. To exercise sovereignty is to exercise control over mortality and to define life as the deployment and manifestation of power.
In this essay I have argued that contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power of death (necropolitics) profoundly reconfigure the relations among resistance, sacrifice, and terror. I have demonstrated that the notion of biopower is insufficient to account for contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power [End Page 39] of death. Moreover I have put forward the notion of necropolitics and necropower to account for the various ways in which, in our contemporary world, weapons are deployed in the interest of maximum destruction of persons and the creation of death-worlds, new and unique forms of social existence in which vast populations are subjected to conditions of life conferring upon them the status of living dead. The essay has also outlined some of the repressed topographies of cruelty (the plantation and the colony in particular) and has suggested that under conditions of necropower, the lines between resistance and suicide, sacrifice and redemption, martyrdom and freedom are blurred.
Please read the whole analysis for citations and references at Muse.jhu.edu
DEATH BY GOVERNMENT ~ Definition of Democide By R.J. Rummel
Genocide: among other things, the killing of people by a government because of their indelible group membership (race, ethnicity, religion, language).
Politicide: the murder of any person or people by a government because of their politics or for political purposes.
Mass Murder: the indiscriminate killing of any person or people by a government.
Democide: The murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder.
Throughout this book a death constitutes democide if it is the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command (as in the Nazi gassing of the Jews). It is also democide if these deaths were the result of such authoritative government actions carried out with reckless and wanton disregard for the lives of those affected (as putting people in concentration camps in which the forced labor and starvation rations were such as to cause the death of inmates). It is democide if government promoted or turned a blind eye to these deaths even though they were murders carried out "unofficially" or by private groups (as by death squads in Guatemala or El Salvador). And these deaths also may be democide if high government officials purposely allowed conditions to continue that were causing mass deaths and issued no public warning (as in the Ethiopian famines of the 1970s). All extra-judicial or summary executions comprise democide. Even judicial executions may be democide, as in the Soviet show trials of the late 1930s. Judicial executions for "crimes" internationally considered trivial or non-capital, as of peasants picking up grain at the edge of a collective's fields, of a worker for telling an anti-government joke, or of an engineer for a miscalculation, are also democide.
I have found that in the vast majority of events and episodes democide is unambiguous. When under the command of higher authorities soldiers force villagers into a field and then machine gun them, there should be no question about definition. When a group armed by the government for this purpose turn the teachers and students out of their school, line up those of a particular tribe and shoot them, it is surely democide. When all food stuffs are systematically removed from a region by government authorities and a food blockade is put in place, the resulting deaths must be democide. Sad to say, most cases of government killing in this century is that clear. The number of deaths will be hazy for many of these cases; the perpetrators and intent will not
After eight-years and almost daily reading and recording of men, women, and children by the tens of millions being tortured or beaten to death, hung, shot, and buried alive, burned or starved to death, stabbed or chopped into pieces, and murdered in all the other ways creative and imaginative human beings can devise, I have never been so happy to conclude a project. I have not found it easy to read time and time again about the horrors innocent people have been forced to suffer. What has kept me at this was the belief, as preliminary research seemed to suggest, that there was a positive solution to all this killing and a clear course of political action and policy to end it. And the results verify this.
It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.
Through theoretical analysis, historical case studies, empirical data, and quantitative analyses, this web site shows that:
Freedom is a basic human right recognized by the United Nations and international treaties, and is the heart of social justice.
Freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.
Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.
Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines, and by theory, should not. Freedom is therefore a solution to hunger and famine.
Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.
Free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder, and for good theoretical reasons. Freedom is therefore a solution to genocide and mass murder; the only practical means of making sure that "Never again"
Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them.
Freedom is a method of nonviolence--the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.
The purpose of this web site, then, is to make as widely available as possible the theories, work, results, and data that empirically and historically, quantitatively and qualitatively, support these conclusions about freedom. This is to invite their use, replication, and critical evaluation, and thereby to advance our knowledge of and confidence in freedom--in liberal democracy. It is to foster freedom.
Dedicated to those who are not yet living in freedom, who suffer repression, regime-made famine, torture, gulags, and fear for their lives and those of their loved ones; and thanks to the internet, have reached this home page.
Professor Rummel passed away on March 2, 2014. His "Powerkills" website will be maintained by the University of Hawaii Political Science Department.
The problem is Power. The solution is democracy. The course of action is to foster freedom. R.J. Rummel's Death By Government, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994 NOTES
Please read the whole analysis for citations and references at https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html
We are preoccupied with the novel coronavirus and its global wake of death.
Today is Earth Day and our environmental problems have been overshadowed by our woeful unpreparedness to face this pandemic which we have been warned about for years.
"Here are 11 people who seemingly predicted the coronavirus pandemic." APR 2020 BusinessInsider.com
The chart to the left is from the new Biological Conservation paper which outlines four broad, global problems leading to insect loss.
In FEB 2019 Vox.com abbreviated the report: "When insects go extinct, other species follow.
The researchers in the new Biological Conservation paper outline four broad, global problems leading to insect loss. They won’t surprise you. Habitat loss as a result of human development, deforestation, and the expansion of agriculture. Pollution, particularly via pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial wastes. Parasites and pathogens like the viruses that attack honeybees and invasive species. Climate change. In summary: Human activity is to blame."
And if we don’t act, the researchers give a stark warning: "The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least, as insects are at the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems since their rise at the end of the Devonian period, almost 400 million years ago."
Earth Day 1970 - 2020: 50th Anniversary
American Museum of Natural History
Time Will Tell
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In the ensuing years, our population has doubled. We eat more meat, fly more often, use more energy, and produce more stuff. Fortunately, our understanding has also changed. Decades of careful observation have given us a detailed picture of how Earth is responding to our habits. The past is clear. What will the future look like? It depends on the choices we make today. Watch our Climate Change Playlist (from the American Museum of Natural History) to understand what and how we're learning about anthropogenic climate change.
Some of My Easter Reading in Order of Publication Date
MAR 23, 2020 The Atlantic
What the Great Plague of Athens Can Teach Us Now
Disease changed the course of the war, and shaped the peace that came afterward, planting the seeds that would destroy Athenian democracy.
MAR 27, 2020 History.com
How 5 of History's Worst Pandemics Finally Ended
While some of the earliest pandemics faded by wiping out parts of the population, medical and public health initiatives were able to halt the spread of other diseases.
MAR 27, 2020 New York Times
The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response
Trump’s response to the pandemic has been haunted by the science denialism of his ultraconservative religious allies.
APR 6, 2020 The New Yorker
The Truth About Isaac Newton’s Productive Plague
The idea that the bubonic plague woke the brilliance in Isaac Newton is both wrong and misleading.
APR 10, 2020 Vanity Fair
The Art of Making Art About a Plague
How will coronavirus inspire writers, filmmakers, and other creatives? Expect more stories about inequality—and maybe the end of superhero mania
APR 10, 2020 Vox.com
Coronavirus is not just a tragedy. It’s an opportunity to build a better world.
Coronavirus is a great moral drama taking place before our eyes. And the script has not yet been written.
The Search For Nijinsky's Rite of Spring (2004 Documentary)
A 2004 documentary on Millicent Hodson's and Kenneth Archer's attempts to recreate the original choreography by Vasclav Nijinsky and original sets and costumes by Nicholas Roerich for the original production in 1913 of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, The rite of spring. The full reconstructed ballet, Sacre du printemps = The rite of spring : pictures of pagan Russia in two acts (Joffrey Ballet ; Orchestra of the National Theatre, Prague ; Allan Lewis, conductor) follows the documentary.
History, Charts & Curated Readings
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement; and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense
Balance Of Trade
Rent Or Buy