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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The U.S. Pulls Out of the Paris Climate Accord: North-South Redistribution as Unfair


The Paris Climate Accord, President Trump announced on June 1, 2017, “is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” This goes well beyond the deal’s anticipated toll on the U.S. economy. The deal, the president, argued is fundamentally unfair. Indeed, the agreement may reflect more the old North-South differential in economic development than even the climate. In this regard, the president characterized the U.S. assent to the deal as a “self-inflicted wound” made out of weakness—perhaps even guilt foisted by the developing world.  “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” the president said. More to the point—the financial bottom-line, “The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.”

ECB Poised to Approve Italian Bailout of Monte dei Paschi Bank: An Instance of Federal-State Collusion?


Under the E.U.’s banking law enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, the state governments “are not supposed to inject fresh taxpayer money into a bank if it is deemed insolvent. When a bank gets into financial trouble, shareholders and bondholders, assumed to be sophisticated investors aware of the risks, are supposed to take the hit and bear the losses.”[1] Much of the banking reforms were intended, moreover, “to prevent banks from becoming so big and so risky that they could hold the global economy hostage. Politicians and policy makers didn’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for the banks’ mistakes.”[2] What about a mid-sized bank whose financial plight puts a state’s economy and reigning political elite in jeopardy? Should the E.U.’s central bankers look the other way and allow the state’s government to finance a bail-out so stockholders and bondholders need not feel the brunt?
The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon.



1. Jack Ewing, Gaia Pianigiani, and Chad Bray, “Bailout for Italy’s Oldest Bank Tests Too-Big-to-Fail Rules,” The New York Times, June 1, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Goldman Sachs’ Venezuelan Bonds: Power Behind the Throne

Goldman Sachs paid about $865 million for $2.8 billion worth of bonds in May, 2017. This represents 31 cents on the dollar and translates into an annual yield of more than 40 percent.[1] The high yield is due to the high risk that is involved, for the bonds had been held by Venezuela’s central bank in what “the government’s opposition decried as a lifeline” to the regime then in power.[2] Indeed, the central bank’s foreign-currency reserves increased by $442 million to $10.8 billion the day the bond deal was completed, and the government needed to raise money it owed to key allies like Russia and China.[3] In indirectly aiding that government, Goldman Sachs risked the ire of the opposition. Writing to Goldman Sachs, Julio Borges, head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature, indicated that he would “recommend to any future democratic government of Venezuela not to recognize or pay on these bonds.”[4] Hence, the high risk, high return. Though I submit that the risk might have been considerably less than meets the eye on account of the influence of the bank on the U.S. Government.

The fully essay is at "Goldman Sachs' Venezuelan Bonds."



1.  Kejal Vyas, Anatoly Kurmanaev, and Julie Wernau, “Goldman Sachs Under Fire For Venezuela Bond Deal,” The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2017.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Violence at a Trump Campaign Rally Spurs Lawsuits against the Candidate: A Case of Incitement?

Is it natural for people to become enraged at other people at political events? Is violence simply part of the territory? Even if war stems from political differences, a political rally is a long way from being on a battle-field. The psychology, I submit, should be very different, and yet some people at campaign rallies cross the line as if they have no control over their emotions and behavior. That some protesters and a Trump supporter sued U.S. President Donald Trump for his role in inciting violence at one of his campaign rallies makes the matter of rage and violence at political events more public, and thus subject to analysis. The issue, I submit, goes beyond whether Don Trump incited violence against protesters at his political rallies. 

The full essay is at "Violence at a Trump Campaign Rally."