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Understanding Cyber Risk: Lessons from a Recent Fed Workshop

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 9:00pm in

Gara Afonso, Filippo Curti, Ping McLemore, and Atanas Mihov

 Lessons from a Recent Fed Workshop

Cyber risk poses a major threat to financial stability, yet financial institutions still lack consensus on the definition of and terminology around cyber risk and have no common framework for confronting these hazards. This impedes efforts to measure and manage such risk, diminishing institutions’ individual and collective readiness to handle system-level cyber threats. In this blog post, we describe the proceedings of a recent workshop where leading risk managers, academics, and policy makers gathered to discuss proposals for countering cyber risk. This workshop is part of a joint two-phase initiative run by the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and New York and the Fed’s Board of Governors to harmonize cyber risk identification, classification, and measurement practices.

Cyber Risk and Financial Stability
In the keynote address, Patricia Mosser of Columbia University presented her recent work on how cyber events can interact with other financial risks to cause systemic crises and thereby threaten the resiliency and stability of the financial system. To bridge the gap between cyber risk and financial stability, she introduced a general framework to better understand how cyber events at financial institutions can have destabilizing consequences. These effects may arise through interconnectedness and the financial system’s reliance on a few key hubs—electronic trading platforms, exchanges, and clearing houses—that perform crucial functions and provide services for the entire financial industry. Viable workarounds might be hard to find should an incident significantly affect these systems or institutions. Cyber attacks might also result in data integrity concerns, potentially triggering a loss of confidence with systemic consequences. In her concluding remarks, Mosser emphasized the importance of data collection and quantification efforts to further understand and assess the effects of cyber risk.

Identifying and Classifying Cyber Risk

In the first of three panels, Steve Bishop (ORX), Deborah Bodeau (The MITRE Corporation), Todd Waszkelewicz (Federal Reserve Bank of New York), and Dawn Rieth (PNC) discussed the identification and classification of cyber risk. There was consensus among panel participants that the existing frameworks and methodologies—in particular, the Basel operational risk classification—were not designed to address cyber risk threats that pose significant challenges. In addition, financial firms’ risk management frameworks have traditionally focused on direct financial losses as triggers for the identification of cyber events. However, cyber attacks that do not result in direct financial losses may still lead to significant clean-up and reputation costs for the institutions involved. Some participants also noted that IT and risk management teams are not well integrated and do not communicate easily with each other when it comes to cyber risk, creating barriers within individual institutions. Finally, to foster a better understanding of cyber risk, the panelists suggested developing the taxonomy further, standardizing the classification, and improving the recording and benchmarking of data.

Measuring Cyber Risk

In the second panel, Gilles Hilary (Georgetown University), Patrick Naim (Elseware), Denyette DePierro (ABA), Phil Collet (American Express), and John DeLong (Morgan Stanley) discussed the impact and measurement of cyber risk. The discussion highlighted the variety of approaches currently used, with most frameworks using quantitatively driven scenarios to estimate cyber risk exposure. Typically, subject matter experts first assess the parameters associated with various cyber attack scenarios, including the frequency of attacks, the likelihood of a successful attack, and the impact of such a breach. These scenarios are then quantified through statistical frameworks.

One proposal called for financial institutions to each conduct a standardized scenario analysis, then share the (anonymized) results with one another. The panelists had different views on whether a report aggregating those results would yield insights for the participating institutions. On the one hand, panelists agreed that it would be helpful to link a set of observable factors—such as IT applications, third-party vendors, and number of customers—to cyber risk exposure. On the other hand, designing a set of standardized scenarios that are applicable in a consistent way to the entire industry would be a challenging task. An additional impediment is the variety of analytical frameworks that banks use and the potential lack of comparability of outputs across such frameworks. Some panelists also expressed the concern that if regulatory agencies were to collect cyber loss data and design the scenarios, such information could later be used for unrelated supervisory purposes.

The Role of the Federal Reserve System

The third panel spoke to the role of the Federal Reserve System in the cyber risk space. Panelists René Stulz (Ohio State University), Todd Vermilyea (Board of Governors), Keith Gordon (Ally), and Nida Davis (Board of Governors) agreed that the Fed should play a role in mitigating the systemic consequences of cyber risk. Participants pointed out the Fed’s advantages in being able to provide a horizontal perspective and identify best practices; they also highlighted the need for consistency and close collaboration between the private and public sector, both domestically and internationally. Others also noted the current lack of talent in cyber risk, and suggested collaborations with academic institutions to enlarge the pool of talent available to both private companies and government agencies.

Next Steps

Cyber risk and cyber risk resilience are top priorities of the Federal Reserve System, as pointed out by Vice Chair for Supervision Randal K. Quarles in a speech at the Insurance Information Institute’s 2019 Joint Industry Forum. To build on the steps laid out during the workshop, the organizers will prepare a white paper summarizing the proposals and discussions of the workshop. Further discussions on these proposals will occur at a workshop to follow later this year. The Federal Reserve will continue to evaluate cyber risk issues and propose additional initiatives to better measure and assess cyber risk exposure, and enhance the overall robustness and resilience of the financial system.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Gara AfonsoGara Afonso is an assistant vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Filippo CurtiFilippo Curti is a financial economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Quantitative Supervision & Research Group.

Ping McLemorePing McLemore is a financial economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Quantitative Supervision & Research Group.

Atanas MihovAtanas Mihov is a financial economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Quantitative Supervision & Research Group.

How to cite this blog post:

Gara Afonso, Filippo Curti, Ping McLemore, and Atanas Mihov, “Understanding Cyber Risk: Lessons from a Recent Fed Workshop,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), May 17, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/05/-understanding-cyb....

Nigel Farage’s Deception of the Voting British Public

Despite the horrific views and antics of UKIP and its leading activists Carl ‘Rape Tweet’ Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, Mark ‘Nazi Pug’ Meechan, alias Count Dankula and Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, the real Fascist threat comes from the Fuhrage and his wretched Brexit party. That’s the view of Kevin Logan and his guests Mike Stuchbery and The Cognitive Society, as they argued on the latest edition of Logan’s Let Them Eat Kek anti-Fascist Youtube broadcast. And it’s hard to argue against them. UKIP’s vote has collapsed. In recent polls, they score 0.O%. The Brexit party, on the other hand, is scoring somewhere like 30%. It’s set to be the winner of the Euro elections in Britain. In some areas, according to some polls, it’s taken over from the Tories. But its success is based on deception and an increasing appeal to militant, intolerant nationalism.

Some of that success is based on the idea that getting the Brexit candidates into the EU parliament will somehow achieve a no-deal Brexit. Which is a lie. The Brexit deal has to be made by the British parliament and the EU. It can’t and won’t be done by a tiny minority in Brussels, as Mike points out in his blog.

But Farage and his dodgy crew also owe their popularity through presenting Brexit as the cure for all the ills of British society, while offering little in the way of concrete suggestions or proposals. The Brexit party has issued no manifesto, and Farage apparently got very stroppy on Andrew Marr’s show when Marr dared to ask him what his policies were. Farage also positions himself as somehow a man of the people, despite the fact that he is the most fake, most inauthentic politico of the lot.

Mike in his article about him today has a meme from The Left Bible pointing out that in reality, the Fuhrage couldn’t give a crap about the working class. He has abstained on voting for help for small farmers, abstained on voting for help for minimum wage workers, abstained on voting for help for workers on Zero hours contracts, and turned down EU funding for food banks.

Who’s spreading the lie that voting for the Brexit Party in the EU elections will actually make Brexit happen?

At the same time, he and his wretched party are trying to get the voting public to forget that Farage is a millionaire venture capitalist, that he’s a pal of the rich and greedy, and his schemes would set our fair nation to be asset-stripped by his fellow disaster capitalists. They are also trying to get the British people to ignore how authoritarian the party is, and its sheer racism. Logan, Stuchbery and Cog also discussed in their video how appeals for ‘Brexit’ have been interpreted as more than simply a call to leave the EU, but a justification for racism and the deportation of immigrants.

A few days ago Zelo Street put up a piece in the style of 1984, which points out exactly how Orwellian Farage and his crew are. They are like the Party in 1984, deliberately deceiving the public, in Zelo Street’s parody personified by Winston Brit, whom they exploit and oppress while telling them that everything will be great after Brexit. The article ends

So Winston Brit voted for Big Brother Farage. He belonged. He mattered. But one day, when he sat there in his modest little home, with no work and no income, and reached out to The Party, there was no-one there. Only then did he realise that Brexit had not made things Better for him, that Farage had indeed been taking the money and giving nothing back, that The Party was a vehicle for unprincipled freeloaders, and he’d been had.

Sadly, by then it was too late. Winston Brit had lost his job, his democratic rights, his hard-won protections against exploitation, his clean water, his good air quality, and food standards. His country had been sold out by those disaster capitalists he thought did not exist. Brexit meant his country was now owned by another, much larger, country.

The Party sought power entirely for its own sake. Welcome to Farage’s 1984.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/05/nigel-farage-says-welcome-to-1984.html

A friend of mine works in one of the deprived areas of Gloucester. This is an area of acute poverty, afflicted by crime and drug addiction. Many of the people she sees, who have absolutely nothing, are determined to vote for Farage. Because somehow he’s one of them. He’s a man of the people. She asked me if people really were voting for him, because every time he appears he’s got a pint in his hand.

But that’s it, or part of it. He drinks, he smokes, traditional pleasures that are now being discouraged. He has an easy speaking manner with him, appears confident when he appears on shows like Marr’s, and is constantly presenting himself as somehow being the ordinary man against the Establishment. Despite the fact that he very definitely not an ordinary man, and very much part of the Establishment. And his supporters, and those of UKIP, get very angry whenever anyone points out that these two parties are not on the side of ordinary working people. Anyone who says they are is immediately denounced as spreading Establishment propaganda.

In many ways the type of people Farage is appealing to are the same type of people Johnny Speight based the monstrous, racist Alf Garnet on. Speight was a left-winger, and based on the character on working class Conservatives. People for whom the Tories had done nothing, and who lived in poor homes with smashed windows. Extreme patriots with a hatred of coloured immigrants and gays.

American Conservatives often quote a line from Republican president Gerald Ford, the man who was so thick, he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Ford said that ‘a state can give you everything you want, can take from you everything you have.’ But it my experience, that’s also done by unfettered capitalism and free market private industry. The private industry that Ford, and Farage, stand for. As Logan, Cog and Stuchbery have pointed out, the concept of Brexit Farage is promoting is so nebulous, that it leaves its supporters able to project their own hopes on to it, no matter how these may conflict with those of others.

But it’s an illusion. A no-deal Brexit won’t benefit Britain. Brexit won’t benefit Britain, and it won’t be a blow against the Establishment. It’ll be a blow for the super-rich establishment, including Farage, and they will use it to take from us everything we have and cherish, from our civil liberties, to whatever remains of the welfare state and NHS. A vote for Farage is a vote for autocracy and exploitation.

 

 

Ten Years Later—Did QE Work?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/05/2019 - 9:00pm in

Stephan Luck and Tom Zimmerman

Ten Years Later—Did QE Work?

By November 2008, the Global Financial Crisis, which originated in the residential housing market and the shadow banking system, had begun to turn into a major recession, spurring the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to initiate what we now refer to as quantitative easing (QE). In this blog post, we draw upon the empirical findings of post-crisis academic research–including our own work–to shed light on the question: Did QE work?

Unconventional Monetary Policy and Quantitative Easing

First things first: What does the term QE describe? QE is part of what is now referred to as unconventional monetary policy. Over the two decades prior to the Global Financial Crisis, central banks mainly conducted monetary policy through two instruments. First, a central bank would set the short-term money rate—in the United States, the fed funds target rate. Second, the central bank would try to “manage expectations” by giving the public a sense of where the future policy rate would be through its official communications with the public. This way of conducting monetary policy is based on the premise that a lower (expected) interest rate will lead to an expansion of economic activity, enabling the central bank to minimize economic volatility over the course of the business cycle and to fulfill its (explicit or implicit) mandate to achieve price stability and maximum employment.

When the nominal interest rate is close to zero, this way of supporting the economy becomes less effective; should a central bank consider negative nominal rates to be an option, the effectiveness of the tool is still limited, since nominal rates can only be pushed so far below zero. Alternatively, the central bank can attempt to support the economy by buying large amounts of financial assets to make risky assets more liquid and/or lower longer-term interest rates. A form of unconventional monetary policy, these large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) are often simply referred to as QE.

After the financial-market disruptions experienced during the summer of 2007, the FOMC started to lower the fed funds target rate. However, the fed funds target rate lost its power to provide further stimulus to the economy when it reached the zero lower bound in December 2008 (see the chart below). Over the next several years, the Fed conducted three rounds of LSAPs:

  • On November 25, 2008, the FOMC announced what came to be known as QE1: The Fed would buy up to $100 billion of direct debt obligations issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and an additional $500 billion of agency MBS. The program was extended and expanded in March 2009, and, by the end of QE1 in March 2010, the Fed had bought $1.25 trillion in MBS, $175 billion in federal agency debt, and $300 billion in U.S. Treasury securities.
  • In August 2010, the FOMC signaled the start of a second round of quantitative easing (QE2), which was then officially implemented in November 2010. QE2 consisted of a total purchase of $600 billion in long-term Treasury securities.
  • Finally, the FOMC announced a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) in September 2012, calling for monthly purchases of $40 billion in agency MBS and, starting in January 2013, $45 billion in U.S. Treasury securities as well.

Ten Years Later—Did QE Work?

Did QE Work? What the Data Suggest

The three rounds of QE were controversial at the time, and they remain so today. Some observers have argued that QE creates new risks for financial stability or inflation but is not helpful in fulfilling the Fed’s mandate to achieve price stability and maximum employment. Using empirical data to test such claims is challenging, since it is difficult to draw causal inferences from macroeconomic events. This conundrum is described well in Ben Bernanke's memoir The Courage to Act, where he writes, “We can't know exactly how much of the U.S. recovery can be attributed to monetary policy, since we can only conjecture what might have happened if the Fed had not taken the steps it did.”

With this caveat in mind, we nonetheless discuss a selection of empirical findings that now, ten years later, give us some sense of how QE may have affected the real economy.

1. Yields: QE had a large impact on the yields of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities and the effect varied across the different rounds of QE. These findings are presented by Krishnamurthy and Vissing Jorgensen (2011, 2013), who, among other things, illustrate that QE1 and QE3 decreased MBS and Treasury yields. However, the authors also show that MBS yields were more strongly affected (across both rounds) and QE3’s effect on MBS yields was much smaller than that of QE1. Moreover, the authors show that QE2, which consisted only of Treasury purchases, had very weak effects on yields.

2. Mortgage refinancing: Building on this finding, Di Maggio, Kermani, and Palmer (2018) show that when the Fed bought MBS during QE1, it led to a boom in the refinancing of existing mortgages, in particular those types of mortgages that are eligible for purchase by the Fed. Refinancing an existing mortgage at a lower interest rate increases the respective household’s net worth as its debt burden is decreased. Increased net worth, in turn, allows households to increase their consumption. QE can thus stimulate aggregate demand by making refinancing of mortgages attractive. However, for this channel to be active, household leverage becomes a crucial factor. In particular, Beraja et al. (2018) provide evidence that in areas in which households have higher leverage, and are hence more likely to owe more than their homes are worth, this channel is impaired.

3. Bank lending: Another important finding is presented by Darmouni and Rodnyansky (2017), who study the effect of QE on bank lending more generally. The authors show that banks that owned more MBS prior to QE saw faster growth in loans to firms and households than banks that had little or no MBS holdings. This indicates that, by purchasing MBS, the Fed was able to stimulate additional credit provision by banks. In particular, the authors provide evidence that the credit stimulus stems from QE making banks’ assets more liquid.

Combined Effects on Real Economic Activity

The question that then arises is whether the additional credit provision resulted in additional real economic activity, thereby helping to fulfill the Fed’s mandate. In our paper, we build on the existing research discussed above and ask whether the additional lending from banks has real effects, such as an increase in employment, consumption, or investment. Our empirical strategy exploits the fact that some banks are more affected by the Fed’s asset purchases than others, as suggested by Darmouni and Rodnyansky (2017). We also draw on the fact that bank activity varies geographically. Given that employment and consumption data are available at the regional level, we can hence construct a link between bank lending and real activity. We track which regions received most of the additional credit after a given round of QE and study how credit growth correlated with change in local consumption, investment, and employment.

Our paper reveals that the impact of QE1—an increase in commercial banks’ mortgage refinancing activity—had effects on local consumption and employment in the nontradable goods sector, but no overall employment effects. In contrast, QE3-driven increases in commercial and industrial lending and home mortgage originations translated into sizable growth in overall employment. The main results are best illustrated in the chart below, which plots the average growth of employment in two sets of counties: those whose banks had high MBS exposure and those whose banks had low MBS exposure. While there is virtually no differential effect after QE1 and QE2, there is a substantial difference after QE3.

Ten Years Later—Did QE Work?

To Sum Up

Altogether, the empirical studies of recent years suggest that large-scale asset purchases can affect real economic outcomes via a bank lending channel. Like an interest rate cut in a conventional monetary policy setting, QE can lead to additional bank lending, which in turn translates into additional economic activity.


Disclaimer


The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Stephan Luck
Stephan Luck is an economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Tom Zimmermann is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Cologne.


How to cite this blog post:


Stephan Luck and Tom Zimmerman, “Ten Years Later—Did QE Work?,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), May 8, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/05/ten-years-laterdid....

Tony Greenstein on Zionist Anti-Semitism

Last Wednesday Tony Greenstein, a veteran Jewish opponent of racism, Fascism and Zionism, put up on his blog a piece about how Zionists resort to anti-Semitic rhetoric when attacking their Jewish opponents. He made it very clear that this was because, in his view, anti-Semitism was at the very heart of Zionism.

The Hate Mail Directed at Jenny Manson, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein

Greenstein began his piece with some very nasty examples of Zionist anti-Semitic hate messages sent to himself, Jenny Manson, the chair of Jewish Voice for Labour and Jackie Walker. Manson was left a vile message on her voice mail calling her a ‘f***ing Nazi bitch’, ‘Nazi cow’ and ranting that she should be burned in a gas oven, and should burn in hell, in acid. He points out that this disgusting rant mixed the Zionist accusation that non-Zionists are Nazis, with the real Nazi abuse that a Jewish person should be gassed like the innocent millions in the Holocaust. He compares this with another unpleasant message sent to Jackie Walker, which questioned whether she was really Jewish and that she should be put into a burning bin. He also put up the full text of a hate message he received, which called him a ‘traitorous b***ard’, ‘a left-liberal Jew’, ‘a cowardly traitor’, who should go back to the shtetls and ghettos under non-Jewish domination, and said that it was a pity that Hitler or the Angel of Death missed his house, that of his family, and Naturei Karta’s, the Jewish anti-Zionist organisation. Greenstein compared this with another message he’d received which denied the existence of the Holocaust. Greenstein states he passed on both of these messages to the Community Security Trust, which compiles lists of anti-Semitic incidents. They duly logged the second message, but refused to list the first, as they don’t include anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by Jews. Discussing the reason for this omission, he quotes the Jewish American anti-Zionist, Aurora Levins Morales, who states in her book, On Anti-Semitism, that she gets anti-Semitic abuse from Zionists, because they really believe that the only way Jews can be safe is to have their own homeland where only they are the privileged people.

The Nazi Nicknames Adopted by Israeli Soldiers

Greenstein goes on to make the point that under the right circumstances, every people can become racists. It was, he states, inevitable that Jewish Israelis should develop the same mindset and attitudes as their Nazi oppressors. He cites articles in Haaretz and al Hamishmar from 1989 about Israeli army units that called themselves after Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor, who experimented on Jews and other human victims in the concentration camps; ‘Our Nazis’, for those squaddies in the IDF who liked to beat Arabs, and ‘the Auschwitz 10’ and ‘Demjanjuks’, after a sadistic concentration camp guard, who was just being tried. He also quoted a supporter of Lehava, the Israeli group that campaigns against racial mixing, who said that it was ‘unfortunate’ that Hitler attacked the wrong nation, as Jews were the chosen race. He also describes an incident from 2012 involving Israeli schoolchildren, who had been taken to see the play Ghetto, about Jewish life in Vilna during the Nazi occupation. Instead of sympathising with the suffering of their parents’ and grandparents’, the kids instead applauded the Nazis, even cheering on a scene in which a kapo struck a Jew.

Herzl and Anti-Semitism

Greenstein then goes on to show how there always was a confluence of interests between Zionism and anti-Semitism. He quotes Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, who believed that gentile anti-Semitism contained the Divine will to good by forcing Jews to close ranks. He also quotes a piece from the Jewish paper, Davar, from the 1950s in which the writer stated he would like to select a group of ‘efficient young men’ who would be sent to countries in which the Jewish population are engaged in ‘sinful self-satisfaction’. These men would then paint anti-Semitic hate messages on walls disguised as non-Jews and demanding that they go to Palestine. He states that Zionism was never really concerned with fighting anti-Semitism. It was concerned with gathering the Jewish people together to establish a Jewish state. And so Zionists came to see their real enemies as the Jewish opponents of Zionism, who should themselves be the victims of anti-Semitism.

He states that, contra France’s President Macron, who declared that anti-Zionism was a new version of anti-Semitism, Jewish history shows that it is Zionism that actually has the closest similarity to gentile anti-Semitism. He illustrates this with a passage from Herzl’s The Jewish State, which lays the blame for anti-Semitism on the Jews themselves. For Herzl, Jews, who married gentiles were lost to the ‘Jewish tribe’ and he declared he had no quarrel with the ‘honest anti-Semites’ who would spur on Jewish emigration. He also recognised that people would accuse him of ‘giving a handle to anti-Semitism’ when he said that the Jews were one people. One of the very many Jews, who did consider Zionism anti-Semitic was Lucien Wolf, the head of Britain’s Conjoint Committee and British Jewry’s ‘unofficial foreign minister’, who is quoted as saying

‘I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies.’

Herzl also admired Edouard Droumont, a notorious anti-Semite and anti-Dreyfusard, who Herzl declared was ‘an artist’ and was delighted when Droumont gave The Jewish State a glowing review.

The Zionists also agreed with the anti-Semites that the Jews were an ‘asocial’ body that did not belong among gentiles. The Marxist Zionist left, which followed the doctrines of Ber Borochov, Hashomer Hatzair and later Mapam, believed that there were too many rich Jews at the top of diaspora Jewish society and not enough workers. The reality, however, was that the vast majority of Jews in the Russian Empire lived in grinding poverty. The Zionists also agreed with the anti-Semites that Jews were either rootless cosmopolitans behind Communist agitation or the excesses of capitalism. He once again quotes Herzl, who wrote

When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse.

This is exactly the sentiments of that terrible Tsarist anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has inspired so much Nazism, Fascism and real Jew-hatred in the 20th century.

Other Zionist Anti-Semitism

Greenstein goes on to quote the Israeli novelist, A.B. Yehoshua, who said that Jews treated other people’s countries as hotels. And when Zionists described diaspora Jews, they sounded exactly like gentile anti-Semites. The first Israeli Minister of Justice, Pinhas Rosenbluth, described Palestine as an ‘institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’. Jacob Klatzkin, the co-editor of the Jewish newspaper, Die Welt, and co-founder of the Encylopaedia Judaica, wrote that Jews were

‘a people disfigured in both body and soul – in a word, of a horror… some sort of outlandish creature… in any case, not a pure national type… some sort of oddity among the peoples going by the name of Jew.’

Hashomer Hatzair’s Weltanschauung, first published in 1917, and then republished in 1936, also described Jews in hostile terms:

“a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline.”

Greenstein concludes

Why is this relevant? Because even today Zionism considers the Jewish diaspora as essentially worthless. Whenever a choice has to be made between the Jews and the Jewish state then the interests of the latter always take priority.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-when-zionists-abuse-their-jewish.html

The Identification of the Oppressed with their Oppressors

This is deeply shocking stuff, and it shows that Zionists have absolutely no business whatsoever accusing decent people, particularly self-respecting Torah-observant and secular Jews, of anti-Semitism. Greenstein has elsewhere argued that Zionism is a capitulation to anti-Semitism. It also reminds me of a comment the great journalist of the gogglebox, Clive James wrote way back in the 1970s. He observed in a piece about Roman Catholic children identifying with the British army in Northern Ireland, that oppressed peoples often supported and took on the views of their oppressors. I think James may have been wrong in the case of Ulster Catholics, as many of them initially supported the deployment of British troops, because they expected them to be far more impartial than the police. But it does seem to apply to many Zionists’ view of the degraded nature of diaspora Jewry following Herzl.

Israel’s Abandonment of Diaspora Jewry for Its Own Interests

And Zionists have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to sacrifice diaspora Jews to real anti-Semitism if it will benefit Israel. Greenstein has blogged about how one of the Zionist pioneers – I have a feeling it may have been David Ben Gurion – said that he would rather half of Europe’s Jews were wiped out by the Nazis, if half of them went to Israel, than all of them being saved by going to Britain. George Soros, the billionaire financier, who is cordially hated by Zionists and gentile anti-Semites, despises Zionism because of the deal Kasztner, the leader of Hungarian Zionism during the Nazi occupation, struck with the Nazis. This allowed for tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews to be sent to the death camps in return for a certain number escaping to Israel. And they’re still doing it today. David Rosenberg has written time and again on his blog, Rebel Notes, about the threat posed to eastern Europe’s remaining Jews by the extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim regimes in Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltic states. But these have received little criticism from Israel, because they support the Israeli states and buy its armaments. Stephen Pollard, the gentile editor of the Jewish Chronicle, notoriously declared that a far-right Polish MEP wasn’t an anti-Semite, but a true friend of Israel. This was a politician, who among other things, supported legislation banning any discussion of Polish collaboration with the Nazis in the Holocaust, contrary to historical fact and ordinary, common morality.

Anti-Semitism and the Idea of a Chosen People

As for that comment by the Lehava supporter stating that Hitler shouldn’t have attacked the Jews, because they were the Chosen People, this is deeply offensive and dangerous for a variety of reasons. One common anti-Semitic accusation is that the Jews believe themselves to be superior to everyone else because they believe themselves to be God’s elect. There have been many attempts by Jews to tackle this misconception. In the 1920s, I believe, some German synagogues removed a prayer from their services referring to them as the Chosen People, because they were afraid it would give their non-Jewish compatriots the wrong idea. Other Jewish authorities have pointed out, citing the Bible, that their status of the Jewish people does not confer on them any kind of superiority. Rather, God chose the Jews because they were the smallest, weakest people, who are called upon to be a servant people.

Many Jews are uncomfortable with the idea of being a Chosen People, and some reject it outright. My guess is that some of this discomfort may also be due to the apparent similarity of the doctrine to secular ideas of racial superiority. I knew a lad at college, who bitterly hated Christianity, though he definitely wasn’t an anti-Semite nor any kind of Nazi. Quite the opposite. He believed that the roots of Nazi racism lay in the Old Testament and the idea of a Chosen People. He was wrong. Nazism grew out of western biological racism, which was founded in the 19th century by the French count, Gobineau. This also inspired Nazism, although the Nazis also took over and exploited Christian anti-Semitism. The Lehava supporter’s statement about Hitler and the Jews as the Chosen People would support the prejudiced views of the opponents of Judaism and Christianity as the origins of racism.

Zionist Silence over their Anti-Semitism

The existence of the virulent anti-Semitism in Zionism, which Tony Greenstein describes, also raises another issue. Why won’t Zionist organisations like the Community Security Trust log anti-Semitic incidents and hate speech committed by Jews? It seems to be a prohibition that really only goes one way. As we’ve seen, very many of the decent people vilified and smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour party and elsewhere for their opposition to israel’s oppression of the Palestinians have been Jewish. Their Zionist opponents have shown themselves to have no qualms about accusing them of Jew-hatred. But it seems they do not want to record instances where decent Jewish critics of Israel have been so reviled.

Not only is this a disgusting double standard, it also makes you wonder what they’re hiding. Is there so much of this vilification, that if it was recorded, Zionists would find themselves exposed as some of the worst anti-Semites?

Labour in 10 Point Lead Over the Tories

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/04/2019 - 6:00pm in

This little snippet from the I might explain why the Sunset Times may be preparing to run more anti-Semitism smears against Labour this Easter Sunday. According to the paper, Labour have a 10 point lead over May’s wretched gang of thugs and profiteers.

The article by Florence Smead in the paper’s edition for 19th April 2019 ran

The Labour Party emerged with a 10 per cent lead from a poll that asked people how they would vote at the next general election.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party would take 33 per cent of the vote if a ballot was held tomorrow, according to the ComRes survey, with the Conservatives trailing on 23 per cent.

The Brexit Party was backed by 14 per cent of respondents, while the newly named Independent Change UK party achieved 9 per cent. The Liberal Democrats were fourth with 7 per cent, ahead of UKIP on 5 per cent and the Scottish National Party and the Greens tied on 3 per cent.

ComRes said its research suggested that just over half (53 per cent) of voters who backed the Tories in 2017 intended to do so again at the next election. However, a quarter of the same group said they planned to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. (p. 9).

The Mail on Sunday last week was trying to panic its readers that Labour were set to win, and ruin their savings and investments, while Pogrund – or Poo Grunt, as I feel he should be called – Kerbaj, or Garbage and another hack ran yet another anti-Semitism smear story in the Sunset Times, a paper with a proud future behind it. The Tories are afraid, and hence the attempts to smear Labour and paint its leader as the reincarnation of Hitler.

But hopefully this is going to have less and less effect as people wake up to the fact that these are baseless smears by an exploitative and entitled media-political elite. With luck, it’ll get worse for the Tories, and we can look forward to a Labour government. 

Radio 4 Programme on Journalistic Impartiality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/04/2019 - 9:15pm in

According to next week’s Radio Times, for 20th-26th April 2019, Radio 4 are due to broadcast a programme questioning the notion of journalistic impartiality, ‘Call Yourself an Impartial Journalist?’, hosted by Jonathan Coffey. The blurb for the programme by Simon O’Hagan on page 138 of the magazine runs

In a febrile political age, fuelled by social media, the BBC has felt the heat as possibly never before – guilty, in its accusers’ eyes, of failing to reflect the full spectrum of opinion over not just Brexit but such culture-wars issues as transgenderism. With the BBC due to publish a new set of editorial guidelines in June (the first since 2010), Jonathan Coffey explores the idea of impartiality and whether any sort of consensus around it is possible. Contributors include the Spectator columnist Rod Liddle, the BBC’s director of editorial and policy standards, David Jordan, and Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the editor of online media The Canary.

The programme’s on at 11.00 am.

I don’t think there’s much doubt about the Beeb’s political bias. Academics at the media monitoring units of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff universities found that the Beeb was twice as likely to seek the opinions of Conservative MPs and financial experts as Labour MPs and trade unionists. Barry and Savile Kushner also describe how the Beeb pushed the austerity agenda in their book, Who Needs the Cuts?, to the point that the opponents of austerity were rarely invited onto their news and politics programmes to put their case. When they were, the presenters actually tried to silence them, even by shouting them down. And years ago Tony Benn in one of his books said that the Beeb considered itself impartial, because its bias was largely slightly to the left of the Tories at the time, but way to right of everyone else.

There could be some interesting things said on the programme, particularly by the excellent Kerry-Anne Mendoza, but my fear is that it’s going to be like the Beeb’s programme, Points of View, and just be an exercise in the corporation justifying itself and its own bias. 

Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/04/2019 - 9:00pm in

Richard Peach and Casey McQuillan

HOUSING SERIES: Post 4 of 5

LSE_2019_Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?

From the fourth quarter of 2017 through the third quarter of 2018, the average contract interest rate on new thirty-year fixed rate mortgages rose by roughly 70 basis points—from 3.9 percent to 4.6 percent. During this same period, there was a broad-based slowing in housing market activity with sales of new single-family homes declining by 7.6 percent while sales of existing single-family homes fell by 4.6 percent. Interestingly though, these declines in home sales were larger than in the two previous episodes when mortgage interest rates rose by a comparable amount. This post considers whether provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) might have also contributed to the recent decline in housing market activity.

A Liberty Street Economics post published last April reviewed in detail the pieces of that legislation relevant for determining the after-tax cost of owning a home. The analysis concluded that homeowners across a wide range of home prices would experience a significant increase in after-tax ownership costs, especially in areas of the United States that have high income and property taxes on the state and local level. This post intends to build on that analysis by providing circumstantial evidence that specific provisions such as a $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes, a lower limit on the amount of mortgage debt on which interest is deductible, and lower marginal tax rates have negatively impacted the housing market. (In a follow-up post, our colleagues will provide empirical evidence that reaches this same conclusion. Unfortunately, neither analysis will estimate exactly how much of the recent slowing is due to higher interest rates versus changes in tax law.)

A Close Look at the Decline in New Home Sales

The table below presents information on the decline of new home sales during the period from the fourth quarter of 2017 through the third quarter of 2018 broken out among the four major census regions of the United States and by home price range. We compare this most recent episode with two other relatively recent periods when mortgage interest rates increased by a similar amount: From the second quarter of 2016 through the first quarter of 2017, mortgage rates increased about 60 basis points; from the first quarter of 2013 through the fourth quarter of 2013, mortgage rates rose around 80 basis points.

The first difference to note is that, at the national level, new home sales have fallen significantly over the most recent period. In the period from the first quarter of 2013 through the fourth quarter of 2013, new home sales simply leveled off while the period from the second quarter of 2016 through the first quarter of 2017 actually experienced a 10 percent increase in home sales. Second, in the most recent episode, the largest declines in sales tended to be in the highest price range, which is where homebuyers would be most affected by the tax changes mentioned before. To the extent that sales fell in previous periods, the declines were concentrated in the lower price ranges while the sales in higher price ranges continued to increase.

Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?

What is Unique about the Current Episode?


Given the overall strength of the U.S. economy in 2018 as well as the subsequent strong pace of job creation, one might expect the housing market to be able to shrug off the increase in mortgage rates, much like the two previous episodes discussed above. However, this most recent episode is qualitatively different because of changes in the tax code. In what follows we will demonstrate how, in addition to the rise of interest rates, different provisions of the TCJA combine to increase the marginal user cost of capital for homeowners, especially for higher-priced homes and homes in high-tax jurisdictions. We will also consider the role of expected increases in house prices.

One of the fundamental results in housing economics is that the relationship between the price of a home and the cost of renting that home can be defined as Rent=Price * μ, where μ represents the user cost of capital for owner-occupants. A subsequent post from our colleagues will explore the relationship between price and rent further, but our analysis focuses on μ. In the literature, it is widely accepted that the user cost of capital strongly influences demand for owner-occupied housing. Thus, to understand the recent trends in housing, we employ the user cost of capital framework as outlined in Poterba (1984) or Poterba and Sinai (2011), defining the marginal user cost for homeowners who itemize deductions( μI) to be:

Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?

where owner-occupants pay mortgage interest at the rate rm on the mortgage balance (LTV = 1 - θ) and property taxes on the value of the property at rate tp. Since those payments can be deducted from gross income for itemizers, their after-tax marginal cost is represented by (1- ty) * ((1 - θ)rm+tp), where ty is the marginal income tax rate. Owner-occupants have to pay the cost of maintenance and depreciation (δ) associated with the property, but benefit from the expected growth in home values (g).

In the table below we estimate the changes in the owners’ user cost of capital that occurred in 2018 using this model, and then compare that amount with the changes during the 2013 and 2016 episodes. It is important to note that these estimates are not exact, but help us to approximate the magnitude and sign of the change in the marginal cost of owning a home across these different time periods.

Looking at the first part of the table labeled “Recent Period,” the relevant variables for calculating the user cost of capital are reported for the fourth quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of 2018. In the fourth quarter of 2017, mortgage interest rates were at a 3.9 percent quarterly average and median property taxes on owner-occupied homes in the United States were 1.2 percent of the homes’ estimated value, according to the American Housing Survey. (The median property tax rate is calculated as the median annual real estate taxes paid as a share of the median home value in the United States according to the American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.) Both the mortgage interest and the property taxes were fully deductible with a top marginal income tax rate at 39.6 percent. Thus, we estimate the marginal after-tax cost of mortgage interest and property taxes at 3.1 percent ((1 - ty) * ((1 - θ)rm + tp) = (1 - 0.396) * (0.039 + 0.012) = 3.1 percent).

Next, we add in the estimated annual rate of depreciation for a home of 2 percent, which brings the cost up to 5.1 percent. However, the expected home price appreciation represents a capital gain that offsets some of the cost of ownership and is therefore subtracted from this calculation. Although measuring home price expectations can be challenging, we use the standard practice of assuming prospective home buyers have “adaptive” expectations whereby they align future expectations with the recently realized rates of appreciation in the housing market. For our measure of expected home price appreciation, we use the annualized sixteen-quarter percent change in the Price Index of New 1-Family Houses Sold published by the U.S. Census Bureau to measure the change in price of a “constant quality” new home, including the value of the land that the home sits on.

Using this metric, the expected home price appreciation was 5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 measure, which brings the final user cost of capital for the quarter to essentially zero, or 0.1 percent. This calculation is replicated for each quarter with the relevant housing cost variables. Using these calculations, we estimate the total change in the user cost of capital for each period, as well as the contributions to this change from the mortgage interest rate, property tax rate, and expectations for home price appreciation given the marginal income tax rate.

Moving forward to the third quarter of 2018, in addition to the increase of mortgage interest rates, there has been important changes in the tax treatment of homeownership. The top marginal income tax rate fell from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, meaning that the tax savings from itemized deductions fell by 2.6 percentage points. Additionally, we present two cases for the most recent period with different property tax rates. For this case, property taxes are assumed to be at the national median of 1.2 percent of property values so that, at the margin, property taxes are no longer deductible although mortgage interest payments are still deductible. The effect is to raise the effective property tax rate by 0.5 percentage point. Using these assumptions, our analysis estimates that the user cost of capital to owners increases from 0.1 percent to 2.1 percent, and that a major part of this is due to a 1 percentage point decline in our measure of expected home price appreciation.

Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?

In the next section we present analysis of the recent period focusing on high-priced homes in areas with higher tax rates. We assume property taxes are 2.5 percent of the home value, which is typical for a high-tax jurisdiction, and that the amount borrowed to purchase the home exceeds the cap of $750,000, which is often the case for homes in higher price ranges. This means that the mortgage interest is no longer deductible at the margin, raising the effective mortgage rate by 2.2 percentage points. Under these assumptions, the cost of capital appears to increase from around 1 percent to 5 percent for these homes.

Comparing either case with the estimated change in the two previous episodes, we see that the most recent period experienced the greatest increase in user cost of capital. From the second quarter of 2016 through the first quarter of 2017, the marginal user cost rose around 1.5 percentage points as the result of higher mortgage rates, a slight increase in the median property tax rate, and lower expectations for home price appreciation. In the first quarter of 2013 through the fourth quarter of 2013 episode, the marginal user cost rose by only 0.5 percentage points because of the increase of mortgage interest rates. For both of these past episodes, the increase in the marginal user cost of capital is less than in the most recent one, particularly under the assumptions for higher-priced homes in high-tax jurisdictions.

Conclusion


While certainly not conclusive, the evidence presented above is consistent with the view that changes in federal tax laws enacted in December of 2017 have contributed to the slowing of housing market activity that occurred over the course of 2018. Specifically, this slowdown stems from a higher user cost of capital caused by lower marginal tax rates, the $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes, and the lower limit for the amount of mortgage debt on which interest payments are deductible.


Disclaimer


The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Richard PeachRichard Peach is a senior vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Casey McQuillanCasey McQuillan is a senior research analyst in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.


How to cite this blog post:


Richard Peach and Casey McQuillan, “Is the Recent Tax Reform Playing a Role in the Decline of Home Sales?,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), April 15, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/04/is-the-recent-tax-....

Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 10:00pm in

Sean Hundtofte, Michael Lee, Antoine Martin, and Reed Orchinik

LSE_2019_crytocurrencies-perception_martin_460_art

Having witnessed the dramatic rise and fall in the value of cryptocurrencies over the past year, we wanted to learn more about what motivates people to participate in this market. To find out, we included a special set of questions in the May 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, a project of the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data. This blog post summarizes the results of that survey, shedding light on U.S. consumers’ depth of participation in cryptocurrencies and their motives for entering this new market.

Cryptocurrency Ownership and Demographics

The survey covers a sample of 1,146 people from ages eighteen to ninety-six, with broad representation by race and gender. Eighty-five percent of respondents had heard of cryptocurrencies—perhaps a testament to Bitcoin’s name recognition. Around 5 percent of respondents reported that they currently or previously owned cryptocurrency and an additional 15 percent reported that they were considering buying cryptocurrency.

Actual and potential ownership of cryptocurrencies is concentrated in younger, wealthier demographics. Anecdotal evidence suggests that enthusiasm for cryptocurrency is highest among younger generations. Consistent with that pattern, we find that individuals aged eighteen to thirty-five (the “young” group) were 13 percent more likely than those over thirty-five (the “old” group) to own or express an interest in buying a cryptocurrency. (All results reported in this post are statistically significant at the 5 percent level.) Individuals belonging to the young group were more likely, on average, to report greater knowledge about cryptocurrencies, as shown in the chart below.

Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies

In contrast, individuals belonging to the old group appear less familiar with cryptocurrencies. For example, they were much more likely to cite “not knowing how to buy” cryptocurrencies as a reason for not owning any. This suggests that a lack of knowledge or familiarity with the cryptocurrency market could be an important barrier to entry for older demographics.

Individuals with an annual income of at least $100,000 are 5 percent more likely to own or express an interest in buying cryptocurrency relative to those with income of less than $100,000. Importantly, individuals in the young group are significantly more likely to report “lack of funds” as a reason to not buy. This suggests that financial constraints may have hindered otherwise enthusiastic members of the younger demographic from participating in cryptocurrency markets.

Cryptocurrency Is Like…?

In a previous blog post, we discussed how currencies may function as a method of payment or a store of value. Given the uncertainty surrounding the fundamental value of cryptocurrencies, parallels have been made between the rise of cryptocurrencies and the dot-com boom or even the impulse to buy lottery tickets. To understand people’s views on cryptocurrency, we asked survey respondents what they perceived cryptocurrency to be most similar to, given the following options (multiple answers were allowed, with the exception of “none of the above”):

  1. Gold
  2. Traditional money, such as U.S. dollars
  3. A new technology
  4. Stocks or bonds
  5. A lottery ticket
  6. None of the above

The dominant view was that cryptocurrency is most similar to “a new technology,” with 47 percent of respondent choosing that option. About 24 percent likened cryptocurrency to stocks or bonds, and 17 percent likened it to traditional money. Only 8 percent viewed cryptocurrency as similar to gold.

Individuals who owned cryptocurrency or were interested in buying it were particularly likely to perceive cryptocurrency as being similar to gold (41 percent) and stocks or bonds (39 percent). This suggests that such individuals may think of cryptocurrencies as an investment vehicle. In addition, 37 percent of respondents within this group likened cryptocurrency to traditional money. If we think of traditional money as a means of payment, then this distribution of views is consistent with the idea that cryptocurrencies are currently perceived less as a payments mechanism than as an investment, even if they can play both roles.

By contrast, individuals who viewed cryptocurrency as being akin to a lottery ticket were 12 percent less likely to have owned or considered buying a cryptocurrency than those who viewed cryptocurrency as being similar to one of the other choices. The gap between the latter group and those who responded “none of the above” was 11 percent, as shown in the chart below.

Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies

Motives for Owning a Cryptocurrency

We asked survey participants to identify the most important reasons for buying cryptocurrencies, or choosing not to. The most-cited reason for buying was that cryptocurrencies are a “good investment.” Many buyers also pointed to the anonymity properties of cryptocurrency and their lack of trust in the existing financial system—factors that were mentioned almost the same number of times. Convenience was not viewed as a reason to buy, perhaps because the majority of cryptocurrencies struggle to be a stable means of payment owing to price volatility, and the fact that cryptocurrencies are not accepted broadly as a means of payment.

Among respondents who chose not to participate in the cryptocurrency market, the most-cited reason was that cryptocurrencies are a “bad investment”—the opposite of the prevailing view among buyers. This dichotomy could reflect the speculative nature of cryptocurrency markets and suggests that there are large disagreements between respondent groups about the investment value of cryptocurrencies.

“Lack of trust” ranked second as a reason not to buy cryptocurrencies, perhaps reflecting their lack of institutional backing. Again, the “buyer” and “nonbuyer” camps are clearly divided on this matter; the former lack trust in the financial system, while the latter lack trust in cryptocurrencies. Respondents cited a lack of need as the third most significant reason for not buying cryptocurrency, consistent with the fact that cryptocurrencies are little used as a means of payment.

The issue of trust, or mistrust, appears to be perceived quite differently by the young and old groups. Individuals over thirty-five were much more likely to express distrust of cryptocurrencies relative to the existing financial system.

Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies

The young group’s more sanguine view of cryptocurrencies could be related to the fact that financial crises appear to have long-lasting "experience effects" that take a greater toll on younger individuals than older ones, both psychologically and financially. In the wake of the Great Recession, younger cohorts may have less faith in the financial system and more openness to unconventional alternatives.

To Sum Up

The survey reveals that a very high fraction of respondents are aware of cryptocurrencies and that they hold a wide variety of views on the topic. This is perhaps related to the fact that cryptocurrencies are still a relatively new phenomenon. As with many new things, younger respondents seem to have a more positive view of cryptocurrencies than their older counterparts. As the technology matures and new applications for cryptocurrencies emerge, it will be interesting to find out how these views change.


Disclaimer


The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Sean Hundtofte, formerly an economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group, is chief economist and head of credit risk at Better Mortgage.

Michael Lee
Michael Lee is an economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Antoine Martin
Antoine Martin is a senior vice president in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Reed Orchinik, a former intern in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group, is a student at Swarthmore College.


How to cite this blog post:


Sean Hundtofte, Michael Lee, Antoine Martin, and Reed Orchinik, “Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), March 25, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/03/deciphering-americ....

The Rights’ Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Capitalism and the Erasure of Left-Wing Jewish History

Just as the Jewish Chronicle may have itself been guilty of anti-Semitism by denying that one of the signatories to the letter of support for Corbyn and the Labour party sent to the Sunday Times, so other members of the right may also be aiding anti-Semitism by their repeated use of the conspiracy theory that the Jews are the real force behind capitalism.

Three days ago, on 16th March 2019, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, an ardent campaigner himself against racism, anti-Semitism and thus Zionism, put up on his blog an article discussing this very point, which had been published that day in the Morning Star. He began by commenting on the statement by Blairite Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh to John Humphrys on Radio 4 that ‘anti-capitalist politics are at the root of anti-Semitism’. Rosenberg states that it’s an appalling slur against everyone fighting against the poverty and inequality of Tory Britain, but it also revealed that the Right, even those, who think they are pro-Jewish, still believe anti-Semitic stereotypes, as McDonagh obviously thinks that Jews are rich capitalists.

He goes on to discuss how this is at the heart of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that sees the Jews as using their wealth to control the banks and governments. A theory that was pushed by Henry Ford, an Episcopalian Christian and founder of the car manufacturer that bears his name, in his paper the Dearborn Independent. Ford believed that the Jews caused World War I, and published the infamous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And someone else who believed this poisonous nonsense, and was Ford’s biggest fan in Europe, was one A. Hitler.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss how there are Jews, who identify the Jewish community with capitalism, banking and property and so accuse the anti-capitalist left as anti-Semites. He then cites Richard Mather, who claimed in an article in the Jerusalem Post that ‘the Labour party’s call for the seizure of property’ was part of ‘anti-Semitic class warfare’, and pieces written by the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, and one of his journos, Alex Brummer, who both claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semitic threat to Jewish capitalists, with Pollard harking back to Corbyn’s attack on the bankers that caused the financial crash ten years ago. Rosenberg tweeted in response to this nonsense that of Pollard and Corbyn, one of them thought all bankers were Jews. And it wasn’t Corbyn.

Rosenberg goes on to say that

In my 61 years I’ve never met a Jewish banker. I’ve met unemployed Jews, Jewish decorators, post-office workers, van drivers, taxi drivers, shopworkers, social workers, secretaries, teachers, pharmacists, and several comedians.

He reinforces this point by describing how Arnold Brown, a Jewish comedian, who came from a poor background in Glasgow, tore up the floorboards at his home one day after the other schoolkids told him that all Jews were rich. He also makes the point that the racist Right use the stereotype of the rich Jewish capitalist to divert popular anger away from capitalism to particular Jewish figures, who are supposed to be responsible for its ills, such as Rothschild and Goldman Sachs to George Soros today, demonised by Trump and a slew of extreme right-wing regimes because he funds agencies for migrants and refugees and anti-government demonstrations.

But he also makes the point that this stereotype also erases the strong history of Jewish left-wing anti-capitalist activism, writing

When McDonagh, Mather and Pollard repeat stereotypes of Jews as capitalists, they not only feed these conspiracy theories, but also erase an outstanding tradition of Jewish anti-capitalism. People know the famous Jewish revolutionaries, like Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman, but it was in mass Jewish workers’ movements such as the Bund, and among the Jews so numerous in socialist and communist parties over the last 120 years, that anti-capitalism was ingrained. In 1902, a Russian Jewish bookbinder, Semyon Ansky, wrote a Yiddish song to honour the Bund’s struggles for social justice. The movement adopted it as its anthem. One powerful verse translates as:

“We swear to the heavens a bloody hatred against those who murder and rob the working class. The Tsar, the rulers, the capitalists – we swear that they will all be devastated and destroyed. An oath, an oath, of life and death.”

He goes on to say that he is going that day to march and speak with the Jewish Socialist Group on a national demonstration in London against racism and Fascism, including the anti-Semitism that is rising in central and eastern Europe and Trump’s America with the Pittsburgh shooting.  He concludes

At street level, far right organisations concentrate physical attacks more frequently on Muslims, Roma, migrants and refugees, but when they want to explain to their supporters who they believe holds power in the world they fall back on Jewish conspiracy theories as surely today as they did in the 1930s. The fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant propaganda are absolutely linked and we must combat them together.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-anti-antisemitism-that-actually-promotes-jew-hating/

Absolutely. Rosenberg’s blog is particularly fascinating for the pieces he publishes about the Bund, the socialist party of the eastern European masses in the Russian Empire. It’s a history that I doubt many non-Jews know about, as the Yiddish-speaking communities the Bund represented were murdered by the Nazis. If people outside the Jewish community know about it at all, it’s probably because of the movement’s connection to the Russian Socialist movement. The Bund were, with the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, part of the Russian Social Democratic Party, the parent organisation of the Russian Communists. It was their withdrawal from the party conference in 1909, when Lenin demanded that there should be no separate organisation for Jewish socialists, that made the Bolsheviks the majority faction and gave them their name, from ‘Bolshe’, the Russian word for bigger.

But the articles by David Rosenberg and other left-wing Jewish bloggers and vloggers reveal a rich, lost history of Jewish anti-capitalist struggle. One of the remarkable consequences of the anti-Semitism smears is that this history is being rediscovered and brought to public attention as Jewish Marxists and socialists refute these smears. Jon Pullman’s film, The Witchhunt, attacking these smears and particularly the libelous hounding of Jackie Walker, includes a brief mention of the Bund, including black and white footage of their demonstrations and banners. If Channel 4 had kept to its original charter as an alternative BBC 2, the Bund and its legacy would be a very suitable subject for a documentary. It could also easily be screened on BBC 4. But I doubt that this will ever happen because the stereotype of the rich Jew is too important a weapon against the anti-capitalist left for it to be refuted by such a thing as actual history.

And if left-wing Jewish history, like that of the Bund, is being forgotten, some contemporary works on the Jewish community may inadvertently reinforce the stereotype of the rich Jew. Back in the 1990s an aunt gave me a book about the Jewish community in Britain, The Club. It was a mainstream book by a very respectable mainstream publisher, but from what I can remember about it, it was about the elite section of British Jewish society, the top 100. I think it was written from an entirely praiseworthy standpoint – to celebrate Jewish achievement, and to how how integrated and indeed integral Jews were to British society and culture. But books like it can give an unbalanced picture of Jewish society in Britain by concentrating on the immensely wealthy and successful, and ignoring the ordinary Jewish folk, who live, work and whose kids go to school and uni with the rest of us, and whose working people marched in solidarity with us.

It’s fascinating and necessary that the history of Jewish socialism is being rediscovered, and that activists in the Bund’s tradition, like Rosenberg, continue to write, demonstrate and blog against racism and anti-Semitism as part of the real struggle by working people.

 

 

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media Exposes BBC Anti-Labour Bias

The Beeb has been hit with several scandals recently about its right-wing bias, and particularly about the very slanted debates and the selection of the guests and panel in Question Time. Members of the audience have been revealed as UKIP and Tory plants, the panels frequently consist of four members of the right against only one left-winger, chair Fiona Bruce intervenes to support Conservative speakers and repeat right-wing falsehoods. When she and other members of staff aren’t making jokes for the audience against Diane Abbott, of course.

In this eleven minute video from Novara Media, presenter Aaron Bastani exposes the anti-Labour, anti-socialist bias across BBC news programming. He begins with Brexit, and a radio interview by Sarah Montague of the Beeb’s World at One and Labour’s John Trickett. Trickett talks about how they’ve been to Europe, and suggests changing the red lines and forming a consensus. He is interrupted by Montague, who tells him that May’s deal has been struck, and gives Labour the customs union they want. She asks him why Labour would not support it. Bastani points out that the government is not in favour of a customs union. If they were, the Irish backstop would not be an issue. Does Montague not know this, or is she laying a trap for the opposition when now, more than ever, it is the government that needs to be held to account.

The Beeb’s Emily Barnett asked a simply question of Labour’s Emily Thornberry the same day. Barnett states that the EU have said that it’s May’s deal, and asks her if she has any evidence that they’re open to another deal. Thornberry replies with the letter Labour had written to the EU, with its entirely viable suggestions. Barnett repeats that they aren’t supported by the EU. Thornberry responds by saying that Michel Barnier said that it was an entirely reasonable way they could have negotiations. Bastani points out that Barnett’s assertions aren’t true. Guy Verhofstadt, Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk have all welcomed Labour’s suggestions. Tusk even told May that Corbyn’s plan could break the deadlock.

Bastani states that it isn’t just on radio that there’s bias, where basic facts are not mentioned or denied and where there is a great emphasis to hold Labour to account than the government. He then goes on to discuss the edition of Newsnight on Tuesday, the day before those two radio broadcasts, where presenter Emily Maitlis talked to the Tories’ Nadim Zahawi and Labour’s Barry Gardiner. This was the evening when May’s withdrawal agreement was voted down for the second time, but it looked like there was a tag-team effort between Maitlis and Zahawi against Gardiner. He then plays the clip of Maitlis challenging Gardiner about what will be on Labour’s manifesto. Gardner replies that it will all be discussed by the party, which will decide what will be put in the manifesto. Maitlis rolls her eyes and then she and Zahawi join in joking about how this is ‘chaos’. Bastani says that the eye roll was unprofessional, and states that the Guardian talked about it because it was anti-Labour.  He goes on to describe how Maitlis has form in this. In 2017 she tweeted a question about whether the Labour party still had time to ditch Corbyn. She’s not impartial and, when push comes to shove, doesn’t have much time for democracy. He plays a clip of her asking a guest at one point does democracy become less important than the future prosperity of the country.

Bastani goes on to discuss how the Beeb had a live feed outside parliament during the Brexit vote. This was, at one point, fronted by Andrew Neil, who had as his guests Ann McElroy from the Economist, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Matthew Parris. He submits that this biased panel, followed by Maitlis’ eye roll and the shenanigans the next day by Barnett shows that the Beeb’s current affairs output simply isn’t good enough.

He then moves on to Question Time with its terrible audience and panel selection. He says that there is an issue about right-wing activists not only getting access to the audience, but to the audience question, but on last week’s edition with Owen Jones the rightists asked five questions. Bastani states that the purpose of Question Time is to show what the public thinks beyond the Westminster bubble. But if the audience is infiltrated to such an extent, then what’s the point. He also argues that it isn’t just the audience that’s the problem. You frequently see the panel set up four to one against the left. There may be some centrist figures like the economist Jurgen Meyer, who voted Tory, but in terms of people supporting a broken status quo against socialists, it is anything but a fair fight. And almost always there’ll be a right-wing populist voice on the panel, whether it be Isobel Oakeshott, Nick Ferrari, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and their function is simple. It’s to drag the terms of the debate to the right. You almost never see someone from the left performing the same role.

He goes on to discuss how some people believe that since in 2017 election, the Beeb has recognised some of its failing and tried to correct them. Forty per cent of the electorate is barely represented in our television and our newspapers. Bastani states that he finds the changes so far just cosmetic. You may see the odd Novara editor here and there – and here he means the very able Ash Sarkar – but the scripts, the producers, the news agendas, what is viewed as important, have not changed. This is because they still view Corbynism a blip. They still think, despite Brexit, Trump, the rise of the SNP and transformations in the Labour party and the decay of neoliberalism, that things will go back to normal. This is not going to happen as the economic basis of Blairism – the growth that came out of financialisation and a favourable global economic system and inflated asset prices – was a one-off. This was the basis for centrist policies generally, which is why the shambolic re-run with the Independent Group is bound to fail. And there is also something deeper going on in the Beeb’s failure to portray the Left, its activists and policies accurately. Before 2017 the Beeb found the left a joke. They would have them on to laugh at. In June 2017, for a short period, it looked like it had changed. But now we’ve seen the Beeb and the right close ranks, there is class consciousness amongst the establishment, who recognise the danger that the Left represents. They don’t want them on.

The radical left, says Bastani, has made all of the right calls over the last 15-20 years. You can see that in innumerable videos on social media with Bernie Sanders in the 1980s, Jeremy Corbyn in the Iraq demonstrations in 2003, or even Tony Benn. They got everything right since 2000. They were right on foreign policy, right on the idiocy of Iraq, right about Blairism, as shown by the collapse of 2008. They were right about austerity and about the public at large being profoundly p***ed off. mainstream print and broadcast journalists missed all of this. They want to be proved right on at least one of these things, which means they have a powerful incentive to prevent Corbyn coming to power and creating an economy that’s for the many, not the few. Corbyn represents a threat to Maitlis and her colleagues, because it’s just embarrassing for them to be wrong all the time.

This is a very good analysis of the Beeb’s bias from a Marxist perspective. In Marxism, the economic structure of society determines the superstructure – its politics and culture. So when Blair’s policies of financialisation are in operation and appear to work, Centrism is in vogue. But when that collapses, the mood shifts to the left and centrist policies are doomed to fail. There are many problems with Marxism, and it has had to be considerably revised since Marx’s day, but the analysis offered by Bastani is essentially correct.

The Beeb’s massive right-wing bias is increasingly being recognised and called out. Barry and Savile Kushner describe the pro-austerity bias of the Beeb and media establishment in their book, Who Needs the Cuts? Academics at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have shown how Conservatives and financiers are twice as like to be asked to comment on the economy on the Beeb as Labour MPs and trade unionists. Zelo Street, amongst many other blogs, like Vox Political, Evolve Politics, the Canary and so on, have described the massive right-wing bias on the Beeb’s news shows, the Daily Politics, Question Time and Newsnight. And Gordon Dimmack posted a video last week of John Cleese showing Maitlis how, out of 33 European countries polled, Britain ranked 33rd in its trust of the press and media, with only 23 per cent of Brits saying they trusted them. Now that 23 per cent no doubt includes the nutters, who believe that the Beeb really is left-wing and there is a secret plan by the Jews to import Blacks and Asians to destroy the White race and prevent Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson getting elected. But even so, this shows a massive crisis in the journalistic establishment. A crisis which Maitlis, Bruce, Barnett, Montague, Kuensberg, Robinson, Pienaar, Humphries and the rest of them aren’t helping by repeating the same tired tactics of favouring the Tories over the left.

They discrediting the Beeb. And it’s becoming very clear to everyone.

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