Yesterday, apparently I disappointed several people by analysing the Australian National Accounts release instead of concentrating on what ripper music release we could discuss. Well, I cannot stop the ABS releasing the GDP data on a Wednesday. But I can call Thursday Wednesday when they do release the data and so here we are. I also have to travel a lot today so it is good that I don’t have to spend much time writing this blog post. The music tribute today is to the famous Bunny Livingstone, one of the best Jamaican musicians who died earlier this week. What else could it be. I also have some other snippets that interested me, including a rather interesting BBC video short which well and truly tells us that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ideas are invading the mainstream even if they would never care to admit that publicly. Happy days.
MOOC Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century
Our edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century – started yesterday (March 3, 2021) and will run for the next four weeks with new material being added each Wednesday as the weeks progress.
When I last checked there were 2,682 total learners (as edX calls the participants), which is a really good sign that people are interested in learning more about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in an educational environment.
We have worked hard to provide a diversity of content and allow for a lot of interaction between students in real time.
Here is the latest map of participants (those who volunteer there location – not all do):
It looks like we have to make an expedition into Russia and Central Africa to get the MMT train rolling there (-:)
It is not too late to become involved.
The course is self-paced learning with some interaction from myself. But all the material is there and you just have to invest some time each week to get through it.
It is designed for the beginner without any prior economics training. That is, it is meant to be as inclusive as possible.
This is our first – MMTed – venture and the experience of putting together a digital on-line learning course will help us in our next ventures – a more advanced course in the coming months.
And I continue to be grateful to those who have donated amounts to help get MMTed off the ground.
The MOOC is a sort of demonstration case of what we think can be achieved.
The functional EU – not!
On December 15, 2020, the Austrian Bundesministerium Soziales, Gesundheit, Pflege and Konsumentenschultz (Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection) published a document – FAQ: COVID-19 vaccination – which noted that:
The 27 countries of the European Union have established a working mechanism with the European Commission for this purpose. This includes a steering group in which all 27 member states are represented, together with the European Commission. This steering group is co-chaired by Austria together with the European Commission. A joint negotiating team explores and negotiates with the manufacturers and reports to the steering group on a regular basis.
So the Committee dealing with this was co-chaired by a senior Austrian representative.
The process has been mired in secrecy.
See this Report from the Corporate Europe Observatory (February 2, 2021) – Vaccine scarcity: how the EU’s appeasement of Big Pharma damages COVID-19 response.
They sought information through FOI processes from the European Commission, which they documented in this report – Power and profit during a pandemic – why the pharmaceutical industry needs more scrutiny not less (September 21, 2020).
They concluded then that:
In a pandemic the pharmaceutical industry is hailed as a saviour; yet the industry is using the crisis to lock in its problematic, profit-maximising model. Pushing for public money with no-strings-attached, and stronger monopoly patent rules, the industry’s wish-list could restrict access to COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, prolonging the pandemic in the name of profit.
No surprises there, which is why we need nationalised pharmaceutical facilities.
The most recent CEO article reports the refusal of the Commission to disclose anything relevant to the public, including the “names of the members of the Joint Negotiation Team” (mentioned above).
The conclusion is that corporate cabal which is the EU is doing what corporate cabals do, cooperate with other corporate cabals to generate profits and to hell with the rest of us.
Then fast track to this report yesterday in the UK Guardian (March 3, 2021) – Austria and Denmark to work with Israel on future Covid jabs, saying EU ‘too slow’ – which reported that the:
Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, described the EU’s vaccination deployment as “too slow” as he announced that his country and Denmark would work with Israel on protecting their citizens against new coronavirus variants …
The move by the two member states to form a vaccine manufacturing partnership comes as the latest figures show that 7.5% of the EU population have received a vaccine dose compared with 52% in Israel and 31% in the UK.
Remember that Austria co-chaired the Joint Negotiating Team – but the EU wouldn’t let us know who the co-chair was (although we all know who it was).
The UK Guardian report quotes Kurz as saying “We must prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent solely on the EU in the production of second-generation vaccines” and that Austria “will no longer rely on the EU in the future”.
EU solidarity going on there! Not!
Regular readers will know that while I think the EU should be broken up I have always held that it should be reconstituted as intergovernmental agreements (which democratic states can withdraw from any time they are not working for their citizens).
What purpose would that achieve? Well there are some issues that require scale and impact across currency borders. The pandemic is one of them. We all need to work together to get rid of the virus threat.
But the way the EU has handled this issue doesn’t generate any confidence that even a reconstituted body would work.
And you Remainers out there that still read my blog – what do you think of Austria and Denmark realising the EU has failed them on this life and death issue while the UK is out there vaccinating at a rate of knots?
I know what I think.
This Politico article is background (January 27, 2021) – How Europe fell behind on vaccines. The situation has deteriorated since then.
The paradigm is shifting – and fast
With the release of the latest fiscal statement by the UK government yesterday (March 3, 2021) – which I will write about next week – the commentary has been interesting.
I saw this 45 second snippet from the BBC News which demonstrates just how fast things are shifting.
There seems to be a disconnect within the BBC, which always happens when the old ideas are being jettisoned but the old guard linger.
Here is a headline on their finance page this morning.
It is very entertaining at present seeing the Tories acting all ‘Keynesian’ and the Labour Party chasing its tail wondering how they can spin the debt issue to their advantage, without realising that any such talk just makes them more unelectable than they already are.
They should be seizing this opportunity some years out before the next general election to drive home the ‘skies are not going to be falling in’ narrative – that national debt is private wealth, that fiscal deficits are essential to provide employment and incomes and allow for a green transition and that taxes do not need to rise any time soon.
Go with it and they will be on the winning train.
Music – Simmer Down – RIP Bunny Livingstone
This is what I have been listening to while working this morning in memory of one of the great Jamaican musicians – Bunny Livingstone – who died this week (March 2, 2021) at the age of 73.
This was the first song released by the Wailing Wailers via Studio One – Simmer Down.
The Wailing Wailers were comprised of Bunny Livingstone (aka Bunny Wailer), Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith (who did not sing on this song as she was home looking after her child) and Beverley Kelso (backing vocals).
With Bunny Livingstone now gone, Beverley Kelso is the only surviving member of this pathbreaking band.
The band came together when Bob Marley moved to Kingston and lived in the same apartment block as Bunny Livingstone.
The song is about the violent criminal ghetto gangs in Trenchtown (Kingston) who effectively ran the city – the Rudies.
This marked the beginning of Bob Marley’s career and the Wailers fell apart as he started to assert his own career image, which was sad.
The backing band was – The Skatalites – which comprised all the great Jamaican studio players.
It was produced by – Clement Dodd and was released in 1963 and reached No.1 in Jamaica in February 1961.
A classic four-chord song and still one of my favourites.
Here is an obituary for Bunny Livingstone – Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies aged 73.
Here is his last interview:
And because he is gone and not coming back here is another one of this great songs released in 1981 – Rise and Shine.
This is the 12″ dub version – one of the best. It is still on my regular play list.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2021 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.