Famous People You Might Not Know Were Socialists
  • Mark Twain
  • Helen Keller
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Albert Einstein 
  • The Writer of The American Pledge of Allegiance
  • Pablo Picasso
  • George Orwell
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • W E B Du Bois
  • H. G. Wells
  • Malcolm X
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Ghandi 
  • Jack London 

anonymous asked:

Is Cersei's "Golden Bank of Lannisport" notion really a good idea? From the text is always assumed it was another silly, unattainable pipe dream like her thought about building a new castle across the river???

It’s an incredibly good idea. Casterly Rock has an enormous, enormous amount of gold that’s sitting in the vaults not doing anything or at most being used for the Lannister war machine and nonproductive political loans. If you turn it into the liquid reserves of a bank, through the magic of fractional reserve banking, you can create many, many times more money than is in the Rock while still retaining a fairly conservative reserve rate (i.e, what percent of your reserves aren’t lent out so that they’re on hand to pay depositors who want to access their money). 

The Lannisters lent 3 million gold to Robert Baratheon without blinking, paid off Jaehaerys II’s war debts without breaking a sweat. Their yearly income is at least a million a year, given how much they gave to Robert on a yearly basis. Forbes thinks that they have around 2.1 million gold in the Rock; I’ve seen estimates of up to 200 million gold. As a max figure, based on 6,000 years of earning a million a year (not considering any interest), they may have around 6 billion gold dragons in the vaults of the Rock. 

So let’s take an average of these estimates and say they have 2 billion gold saved up. To begin with, that 2 billion equates to 380% of Westeros’ GDP. If they lent it out at a relatively conservative 10% reserve rate, they’d generate 20 billion in deposits and 17 billion in loans. In other words, just by putting the money into circulation instead of sticking it under a big rock, the Westerosi economy would grow by almost 4,000%

Self-regulating markets were basically created with government intervention. It was a political project. Certain assumptions of how these things work just aren’t true. People don’t do wage labor if they have any choice, historically, for example. So in order to get a docile labor force, you have to create police and a large apparatus to ensure that the people you kick off the land actually will get the kinds of jobs you want them to…this is the very beginning of creating a market. Basically, we assume that market relations are natural, but you need a huge institutional structure to make people behave the way that economists say they are ‘supposed’ to behave.

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness.

Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

This is what my weekend looks like😳

Better get started!

"Most ‘impossible’ goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine."
-Dan Lancaster

Job 'Creation'

My understanding of macroeconomics is that there is two kinds of unemployment: ‘voluntary’ unemployment caused by search frictions, and the degree of such frictions determines the “natural rate”, and ‘involuntary’ unemployment caused by monetary disequilibrium/insufficient aggregate demand. So anything that purports to create jobs that doesn’t affect these two determinants, search frictions or monetary disequilibrium, does no such thing.

This is why I recoil when I hear some politician claim that some programme or some investment will “create X number of jobs”. There are two reasons in my mind why such statistics (even if completely truthful) are irrelevant:

  1. The long-run level of jobs is determined by the “natural rate”. The analogue is pretty clear when applied to any other resource: if an investment uses Y acres of land, it is clearly absurd to say that this investment “creates Y acres of land”. Everyone intuitively understands that the market for land must clear.
  2. Similarly, it’s obvious that a private investor or politician would hardly want to advertise their wastefulness. Evidently the sensible aim should be to achieve as much production as possible per unit of land. This is just as true for labour as it is for land. If anything the fewer jobs an investment “creates” the better.

This doesn’t mean investment is has no good effect: the actual effect of increased net capital investment (abstracting from any effects on aggregate demand) is not a reduction in unemployment but an increase in wage rates. Investments such as the Keystone XL pipeline, for instance, makes labour-suppliers better-off not by lowering unemployment but by increasing the overall demand for labour. The reason for this is clear: the only way to attract new factors of production away from other applications is to bid-up their compensation.

If the argument rested on a Keynesian theory that the level of autonomous investment determined the level of employment that would at least be coherent. But given that this claim is made both in booms and busts, both by Keynesians and anti-Keynesians, and aggregate demand is never mentioned in context, I can’t help but think that people imagine if some investment occurs that requires 1000 personnel then it follows that the unemployment rate has fallen by 1000.

Valuations: Public and Private Markets Misleading Each Other?

With the NASDAQ going above 5,000 for the first time since the year 2000 valuations in tech are once again on everyone’s mind, mine included. It has been a long period writing here on Continuations that I have thought valuations were too high and they have only gone higher since. All the arguments I provided back in 2012 are still true and in particular the line that “rates of return available on many other investments are at historic lows” — this is especially true for interest rates. Very low interest rates provide double fuel for stock prices. First, because investment dollars migrate from fixed income to equities. Second, and more importantly, because discount rates are low. If you have ever built a DCF model you know just how insanely sensitive the valuation is to the interest rate. And with technological deflation it is actually a reasonable expectation that interest rates will stay super low.

Yesterday, Mark Cuban wrote a click-bait titled rant on valuations which I read after it had popped up multiple times in my Twitter stream. While I didn’t think it was entirely coherent it did give me an interesting idea though for a weird interaction between public and private markets that I had not previously considered. During the original Internet Bubble, public market valuations relatively quickly sky rocketed in an all out frenzy. Private valuations didn’t have that much time to follow because a lot of companies went public quickly and then the bubble burst.

This time round things have been growing much more gradually over time and the supply of public companies has been small compared to the amount or private wealth creation as companies have been slow to go public or have avoided it altogether (see my related posts on still waiting for IPO 2.0). So now we have a different phenomenon: demand in the public markets outstrips supply which results in well higher prices. But then in turn it is those high public market multiples that inform private market valuations. And voila you have a case of MC Escher's famous picture of hands drawing each other (dear Internet: someone please put “public” and “private” on the hands and have them write 10x each; addendum: gorgeous illustration provided by Alec Hutson).

Because it is happening gradually and because the logic looks internally consistent (and add to that the low interest rates), this could continue to go on for quite some time. This strikes me as the classic case of Nassim Taleb's point about fat tailed distributions where it is the higher order moments (kurtosis) that really matter. So the process looks very smooth and gradual for quite some time until there is a sudden and fairly violent swing

Terrorist attacks cannot destroy the values on which our societies are grounded – but laws and policies can. Measures that build what has been termed the “national security state” – such as arbitrary or prolonged detention; torture and ill-treatment; massive surveillance that contravenes the right to privacy; unfair trials; discriminatory policing; and the abusive use of legislation to curb legitimate rights to peaceful protest and to freedom of expression – are human rights violations. They generate legitimate resentment, harm social cohesion, and undermine the essential values of the international community.
—  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

If you take a look around america and think “Wow, capitalism has a lot of issues, I think we should try communism” then you have no idea what actual capitalism is, you’re ignoring the sum of human history to believe that communism can work or is humane, and you don’t actually understand why america is having issues.

Please do a weeks worth of real research on economics and communism instead of reading propaganda on tumblr.


Zaï Soil Rehabilitation

As featured in the 2010 documentary The Man Who Stopped the Desert, Zaï pits (called Tassa in Niger) are a simple, but effective drylands soil rehabilitation strategy.

A practice indigenous to the arid Sahel strip, they were reintroduced and brought to prominence again in the 1980s by Yacouba Sawadogo, an activist and expert farmer from Burkina Faso. He modified the traditional design into the multi-functional model used today.

Zaï pits deal with the related problems of aridity, erosion, and soil compaction, particularly on difficult-to-cultivate sloped land: crusted land exhibiting these features is locally called “Zippelle.”

During the dry season, pits are dug 15-20cm deep, and 20-50cm wide, and earth from the pits is arranged in a semicircular formation on the lower grade of the slope, to increase water retention. Organic matter such as raw compost, plant matter, or manure is added to the pits, creating a depressed, moist, water-retentive, nutrient-rich cavity in which trees or crops can be planted. 

The raw compost in turn attracts termites, who burrow in the surrounding soil, loosening it to increase water and root penetration, and also digesting the raw organic matter in order to make the nutrients bioavailable to the plants.

Anschuetz et al. (2003)

Roose and Rodriguez (1990)

The World Bank reports that if done properly, this technique increase yields by 500%. [1] Combined with agroforestry strategies, like the planting of leguminous trees (traditionally, Acacia: see the “Great Green Wall”), it has the potential to reverse further soil erosion, compaction, desertification along the border of the Sahara.

Images: The Man Who Stopped the Desert, Chris Reij

h/t to ultrafacts

#soil science #arid #agroforestry #Africa