1st Anniversary! Media, Money & Bitcoin

19 September 2016 – We are ONE! This is our first year podcast-aversary and we truly want to thank those at Netroots Radio who were so much a part of getting us launched. Also right at the top of the show I talk about where we came from and where we are going. We’re pretty excited about the future.

We do not have an interview this week. Alex Lawson, of Social Security Works!, had a family emergency and had to cancel at the last minute but we can all look forward to having Alex with us next week.

In his segment Will focuses tightly on a terrible article in New Republic which exemplifies one of the dramatic failings of the media during election cycles. Guess what, folks, most of the time it isn’t “both sides.” Most of the time it is facts and reality on one side and absolute make-believe fear mongering on the other side. What is amazing is how easy it is to slip lies into the public space when journalists, like Clio Chang, completely fall down on the job.

I get really wonky and go into the differences between money, sovereign currency, monetary instruments and commodities like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is no more a form of money than is a Beanie Baby. Both are commodities which only have value because the market has deemed it to be such and just like the infamous Pet Rock or, historically, tulips, that “value” can dry up and blow away at any time. Bitcoin is also not a cybercurrency. Thinking of it that way is Bitcoin Bro hype which has been accepted by journalists sheep. These are the links to some of the articles I mention in the show.

Bitcoin is Not a Currency by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

Everything I was Afraid to Ask About Bitcoin but Did by Lambert at Naked Capitalism

Money & Banking Part 16:  FAQs About Monetary Systems by Eric Tymoigne at New Economic Perspectives

Bitcoin’s Deflationary Weirdness by Dan Kervick at New Economic Perspectives

A note about the music in this show:  I wanted to use some short snippets which fit with the themes of the blocks we were doing this week. As in the past this will not be a common thing for us, I just really love these particular songs and I thought you might want to hear them too. Selling the News, by Switchfoot, and and Channel 5 News, by Bo Burnham, both have dense and brilliant lyrics. The songs are well worth hearing in full and many times. At the very end of the show I slip in a tiny part of Cyndi Lauper’s genius acoustic reworking of her hit Money Changes Everything. It is seriously wonderful and a must-own piece of music.

Thank you to all of you and a huge thank you to Will. It has been such fun and I can’t wait for more. Carrots! – Arliss

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We’re BACK with Failed Tech & Blockchain

12 September 2016 – The stars have almost fully aligned. Will and I are both fully functional this week. Sadly, we have no interview or Extra Mad, because we are both frantically catching-up at work, but the show is all new this week and next week, for our 1-year anniversary show, we have an interview I have been trying to get for a while so I’m excited.

At the top of the show I talk about the bankruptcy filing by South Korean shipping giant, Hanjin. Sea freight is a canary in the coal mine economic indicator and the sinking of Hanjin speaks volumes. Also, with Christmas on the horizon, the Toy Shippers Association (no joke, there’s clearly a club for everyone), is expressing deep concern. It is already apparent that the stranding of so many toys will be putting extra pressure on reindeer-based transport systems on the night of 24 December. Also during the top block, Will, as predicted/promised, gets into the appearance of Nigel Farage at a Trump rally in Mississippi. Fascism is real and it’s gone mainstream. The “Lauering” of the bar by the press has allowed it to go unchallenged for years and now we are all reaping the crop of hate so carefully nurtured by the AltRight.

In his block Will has some fun talking about the history of tech and projects that failed because they were too far ahead of their time. The Scottish efforts to build a canal across Panama, the Macon and Akron airships and the Apple Newton were all failures. Still, there is a tiny bit of Newton in every iPhone. Eventually, good ideas tend to take root. The photo below is of the USS Macon during a visit to new York City in 1933.

enosmacon

US Navy Photo colorized by Jared Enos.

 

In my segment I answer the question, what is blockchain? Bitcoin, the first iteration of blockchain, is an interesting experiment but it has substantial limitations. Blockchain itself, however, will have a big future and be used in many applications. It will not replace currency, for reasons I will get into in more detail next week, but it is an important technology which is on the rise. I do spend some time on the technical limitations of blockchain including the Byzantine Generals problem. There are many serious descriptions of this hurdle as it has been an unresolved challenge, both for programmers and applied mathematicians, for nearly forty years but there was one genuinely short but funny article and I promised to link to it here.

Both Will and I thank you for sticking with us through the past few weeks. – Carrots! Arliss


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HRC & DNC Conspiracy Theories & the IMF Says “Whoops!”

8 August 2016 – This week we had a lot of territory to cover and very little time due to scheduling issues. We have no interview or Extra Mad today but do start with breaking news on a new and unexpected humanitarian crisis. From there I plunge into Trump’s views on and utter lack of knowledge about nuclear weapons. (Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.) Will then moves on to the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, which represents an incredible opportunity missed and a sad story we will be hearing for a very long time.

Will wanted to spend some time this week really talking about several of the conspiracy theories surrounding Hillary and some of the misunderstandings/conspiracy theories which are frustrating regarding the Democratic National Convention and Committee. Will talks about the truly hideous conspiracy theory about Hillary having Vince Foster Seth Rich murdered recently. Will also, apparently for my entertainment, brings up an old theory where President Obama has ordered a nuclear attack against Charleston…South Carolina. He then chats about the false claims that the DNC rigged the primary election and I end up ranting while reminding everyone that the DNC is not a public organization and not part of the government. It’s a private organization, a club…a treehouse, and because this is the case the DNC gets to write its own rules. I also mention why I feel like Bernie delegates, to the national convention, had expectations which could not be met because they were not fully briefed by the Sanders campaign. I do feel bad that it happened this way.

I close out the show with a review on the recent report from the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the International Monetary Fund, “The IMF and the Crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.” This is a WOW report. The IEO has provided a very constructive but extremely brutal review of the many, many failures of the IMF in dealing with the European banking crisis. The thing I am most pleased by is that so many of the things the MMT community has been shouting for years now are bourn out in this report but this is small comfort beside the gravity of the impact of the errors made by the IMF and the troika.

Will is traveling this next week but we will be back on 22 August with an all new show. – Carrots! Arliss

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Frances Coppola, Putin & Rajan

1 August 2016 – It is always glorious when we can have the well-known banking expert,  economics wonk and bloggerFrances Coppola on the show.  We were thrilled to welcome her back this week to talk about threats to the independence of central banks. We also discussed her recent panel at the Financial Times Festival of Finance where she consistently pointed out that the rise in populism expressed both through the Brexit vote and in the Trump candidacy, is all about the local.

Will and I had a lot of fun at the top of the show where he reveled in the number of GOP pundits who had to admit they loved the Democratic National Convention and I revealed what is, perhaps, the single most important polling result of this election cycle.

Will then goes on to tear into what we know (and what we don’t) about the relationships between Donald Trump, members of his campaign staff, Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin and various Russian surrogates and agencies. The word “traitor” does indeed come to mind. Seriously.

I spend my time on an overview of the economy of India, the modernization efforts and challenges and a bit about the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) including its recent upheaval. Since the soon-to-be former Governor of the RBI may very well be the incoming head of the IMF, after Lagarde steps down later this year, it’s worth getting to know a bit more about him. Rughuram Rajan is a neoliberal economist but he is also extremely accomplished, qualified and would be a much stronger voice for developing nations.

In spite of Trump, this has been a great week to be a Democrat and Will and I are still in the post-convention glow. In the next 100 days this country may well rise or fall. Let’s get to work. Carrots! – Arliss

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Jesse LaGreca, China & Italian Banks

25 July 2016Jesse LaGreca (@JesseLaGreca), political activist and commentor, manages to be both incisive and hilarious with his jackhammer-pounding, nailgun-fast insight into the underlying structure of the current election cycle. In the first half of the interview Jesse both breaks down the structural problems with the GOP and brings true thoughtful analysis to the pick of Tim Kaine. In Extra Mad he gets into more detail and provides some of the sharpest wit I have heard on these topics to date.

At the top of the show I round-up the latest developments in court rulings on voting rights summarizing the Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia decisions. I also take a moment out to remind everyone that, (to paraphrase James Carville), “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!” Will , then, takes a few minutes to talk about just how dangerous the GOP has become and concludes by quoting Professor Halford E. Luccock, of the Yale Divinity School, who said during World War II,

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called ‘fascism;’ it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism.’

If you did not hear Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the word “Americanism” features prominently. No joke.

In Will’s block he brings us all up to date on the ruling handed down addressing the conflict between the Phillippines and China over the Spratly Islands and, more importantly, the surrounding sea lanes. What is especially interesting about the ruling really comes down to how international law will be enforced in the foreseeable future.

In my block I get into the Italian banking crisis and talk about the difference between a bail-out and a bail-in. Just when you were thinking that Italian banks can’t possibly be a big deal for you personally, I explain why the new bail-in regime Italy is fighting will likely cost you money when you go to buy a car or a house.

We had fun this week and I hope you do too. – Carrots! Arliss

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PPP & NN16

18 July 2016 – Will and I drove out of St. Louis yesterday full to the tippy top with almost too much information. We were extremely lucky to be able to capture some interview time with Tom Jensen the Director of the highly respected Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP). I know why PPP has managed to maintain its edge as a scientific pollster with just a dash of the ludicrous, Tom is a funny guy and he laughs a lot. That bodes well for anyone who operates all day, every day in the political sphere. Tom takes us behind the scenes and talks with us about the basics of polling and about what PPP learns even from the funny questions they ask. [Hint: keep an eye out on an upcoming PPP poll for an answer to the question I find to be the most critical for this and every year.]

Will and I begin the show still bathing in the glow of Netroots Nation 2016 (NN16) and then I spend a little time on 10 Things I Learned. Will shares his comments and notes from one of the sessions he attended, How to Have a Conversation About Race Without Everyone Running Out of the Room then I do the same for How the Next President Can Bust Up Big Corporations.

St. Louis was glorious and Raven Brooks’ last Netroots Nation a true success. Thank you to all who worked with such dedication from the day NN15 ended to bring NN16 off. We can’t wait to see y’all in Atlanta next August. Carrots! – Arliss


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SNP Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess

27 June 2016 – Well, THAT happened. Brexit basically ate the news cycle of much of the world this past week. Who knew so many people could find legitimate use for the word “gobsmacked.” We were lucky to be guided through the chaos by Scottish National Party Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess. Will has been wanting to have the Inverclyde Council representative on for a quite a while and this seemed like the moment. In fact, the timing was so good that Will trimmed down his block and I ditched mine completely because there was just too much ground to cover. I am especially interested by the way austerity is playing in elections and politics around the world. It’s insidious. We also talked about the upcoming Scottish referendum on leaving the UK, the terrific leadership of Nichola Sturgeon, the mess that is trying to pass as the Labour Party, the horror that is the Conservative party, commonalities between current UK and US politics, land reform and the general future of Scotland. Also, I think Angela Merkel joined Nichola Sturgeon on a very short list of people who managed to look like world leaders this week.

I began the show with a short tribute to Amjad Sabri, the sublimely talented Sufi Qawwalis singer and musician who was killed on Thursday in Karachi, Pakistan. He was a man who had devoted his life to a message of peace and love. His loss is unspeakably great. In tribute to Amjad, all of our interstitial music this week is his.

Will took a few minutes to hit the highlights of the ruling by the Hague on the case being brought by the Philippines against China over the Spratly Islands. The Philippines won. Enforcement is another matter entirely. *sigh*

It was a big week and I don’t think anyone knows what comes next. Hang on to your ears!  Carrots! – Arliss

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