2017-07-21

The Decline of the University

From the Socionomics Institute:


Overgrown Ivory Towers


There’s a sense of growing unease in academia: University infrastructure is taking a hit.

“U.S. universities have been putting precious money toward financial aid, academic programs and gleaming buildings that might attract new students—neglecting aging electrical systems and leaky roofs. As a result, schools are staring down a deferred maintenance backlog that has topped $40 billion.” (WSJ)

To add insult to injury, many schools are beginning to miss annual enrollment goals, which have declined each school year since 2011. Meanwhile the annual earnings differential between a high-school graduate vs. a college graduate has been shrinking since 2000. In other words, the cost of college attendance ($1.3 trillion in collective student loan debt) is rising as the financial benefits of a degree are falling.

In his prescient study — published long before the recent spate of coverage regarding higher education’s potential demise — socionomist Alan Hall forecast a massive shift in society’s positive attitude toward higher education and the eventual collapse of the credit-fueled, government-supported education bubble. Hall’s analysis goes beyond linear economics to reveal what’s really behind the problems in universities today.

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Poland Moves to End Communist Judicial System

Good luck finding an mainstream article that explains why Poland is reforming its judiciary. Almost every article is a one-sided condemnation of the Polish ruling party, labeling the move as an authoritarian power grab. What is the media trying to hide?

USAToday: Poland steps away from democracy, EU in judiciary reforms
However, many Poles support the current powers and actually say these reforms are a divorce from old communist judicial systems.

Tomasz Sakiewicz, the editor-in-chief of right-wing newspaper Gazeta Polska and a supporter of drastic judicial reforms, says these changes aren’t about controlling the judiciary.

“We want to change it, to reform because it comes from communist times,” he says. “It’s completely broken by corruption — a mafia system.”

Sakiewicz says most Poles think the courts need reform. An opinion poll in May found 63 percent of Polish citizens think the judiciary needs to make some serious changes.
The Poles are in the process of decommunization, following in Hungary's path.

Communism (progressivism) is the ruling ideology in the West though. Even the capitalists are against them.

FT: The EU has a moral obligation to act against Poland

WaPo is aghast: This is what the gradual erosion of rule of law looks like in Poland
During the 2015 campaign for parliamentary seats, PiS argued that failing to purge the judiciary of former communists and collaborators is a caricature of justice — and that the court system is precisely where communism remains entrenched.

PiS says it plans to “end Poland’s post-communist era” by transforming the court system. Poland’s court system is a complex four-level hierarchy with regional, district, appellate and the highest court. The Constitutional Tribunal stands separate from this hierarchy, evaluating the government’s legislation.
Poland's government is implementing a policy favored by the majority of the public. It is reforming an undemocratic institution filled with communist ideologues, replacing it with a more democratic system.

There is no real moral argument to be made. If Poland was progressive and reforming a judiciary stuffed with orthodox Catholics, the world media would be cheering the democratic reform, Poland stepping out of its past and into the present. Since it is communists on the losing end, and Catholics on the winning side, it is painted as authoritarianism.

All of this is taking place within the context of deteriorating social mood. The EU's response is to push Poland (and likely all of Eastern Europe) out of the union.

Guardian: Poland may be stripped of EU voting rights over judicial independence
The EU is on the brink of taking the nuclear option of stripping Poland of its voting rights in Brussels in response to plans by its rightwing government to “abolish” the independence of the country’s judiciary.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European commission, accused Warsaw of seeking to put judges under full political control as he warned that the EU was “very close” to triggering article 7, a never-before-used sanction in the treaties that allows a member state’s voting rights in the council of ministers to be suspended.

Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) has been in almost constant conflict with the European commission since it was elected. In recent weeks the Polish government has proposed a series of reforms that would give ministers power over the appointment of judges and members of the country’s supreme court.
The EU is still heading for a breakup.

2017-07-20

One in Three Bavarians Want Independence

The Local.de: One in three Bavarians want independence from Germany, poll shows
While many stereotypes that foreigners hold of Germany - such as Lederhosen and Oktoberfest - actually come exclusively from Bavaria - local residents will note that the southern, alpine state often feels a world away from the rest of the country.

The state with its own dialect and cultural traditions even has its own independence movement party - the Bavarian Party - albeit less influential than separatist groups in places like Spain or Scotland.

But a new survey looks to bolster the Bavarian Party’s hopes for a true Free State of Bavaria (the state’s official title). A YouGov poll with Bild tabloid, published online on Sunday, showed that one-third of Bavarian respondents agreed that “my state should be independent from Germany”.

Turkey Still Stirring Up Trouble

ZH: Germany Warns Its Citizens: They Risk Arrest If Traveling To Turkey
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany had revised its travel advice in the wake of the recent arrests of several human rights activists, including German national Peter Steudtner.

Steudtner “was no Turkey expert – he never wrote about Turkey, he had no contacts in the political establishment … and never appeared as a critic,” Gabriel told reporters.

He added that this meant that any German national travelling to Turkey could suffer the same fate.
ZH: Greek President Blasts Erdogan After Turkish Harassment: "Provocations Are Sign Of Weakness, Come & Get It!"
While Pavlopoulos’ helicopter was heading to islet Panagia, pilots received warning calls and threats from the Turkish armed forces. The Turks claimed the Greeks that they were flying in Turkish Flight Information Region. The Greek delegation ignored the Turkish warnings and the President landed safe in Panagia.

A day earlier, the Turkish armed forces called the Greek helicopters nearing the island of Rhodes to leave the area as “they were flying in a demilitarized zone” where such flights are forbidden. The Greek pilots did not respond to the callings from the Turkish side.

A little later, the Turkish side called on the pilots of Shinook to leave the area as they were flying inside “the Turkish FIR.” On board were President Pavlopoulos, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as well as the military leadership of the country.

In one incident, the military helicopters transporting Pavlopoulos suffered radio interference from Turkey.

Wednesday morning, a pair of Turkish F4 fighter jets entered the Athens Flight Information Region at 10 a.m. between Lesvos and Lemnos and flew over the Fournoi islets at 8,900 feet.

2017-07-19

China Ramps Up Central Planning

Bloomberg: Xi's Risk-Off Push Ripples Through China as Transition Nears
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the banking regulator had told lenders to lower interest rates on wealth-management products, a popular vehicle for domestic savers, after yields in the $4 trillion industry jumped in past months. Officials also extended their campaign against risky overseas acquisitions, with conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. coming under scrutiny after a deals spree.

...Some Chinese lenders received an order from the China Banking Regulatory Commission earlier this month to lower their rates on WMPs, according to people familiar with the matter. The requirement applies to on-balance sheet WMPs, which account for only about a fifth of the total market, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter isn’t public.

...An editorial in the Communist Party’s People Daily newspaper on Monday pointed to the seriousness of the campaign, warning of potential "gray rhinos" -- a variation on the black swan events popularized during the global financial crisis, with the difference that the danger from a charging rhino is more immediate and the animals are less rare.

2017-07-17

NBS Spins June Home Price Rise: At Least the YoY Number Declined

China's NBS had to spin the 0.67 percent national increase in home prices in June by showing the year-on-year increase for May 2017 was higher than June 2017. June's one-month rise was only slightly behind May's 0.74 percent increase.

Buying restrictions in the top-tier are working: the total price increase for the four an Xiamen was 0.06 percent of the national total. The seven second-tier "hot" cities from 2016 only accounted for 3.6 percent of the total.

New home prices in Harbin rose 1.6 percent, Chongqing 1.5 percent, Xiangyang 1.9 percent, Beihai 2.1 percent.

Existing home prices climbed 0.59 percent nationally. The top tier cities saw net prices declines, while the hot second-tier cities only accounted for 6 percent of the national increase. Beijing saw the largest decline, 1.2 percent.


NBS: 2017年6月份70个大中城市住宅销售价格变动情况

American Mood Sours

BI: Americans are less happy than they were 10 years ago — and money alone can't fix it
Americans were first asked that question in 2006, and in 2007 the US had the third-highest happiness results of 23 OECD countries. Today, that response is at its lowest point yet, ranking 19th of 34 OECD countries.

"America's crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis,"economist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey D. Sach wrote in a chapter of the report called "Restoring American Happiness."

Sachs mentions that while per capita GDP — an indicator used to gauge the economic health of a country — is rising, happiness is falling.

"The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis—rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis," he wrote.
The scale of crisis is far greater than any time at least since the 1930s. Correcting these problems requires a decline in social mood because people don't reform until mood turns negative. Rising mood will increase the very problems that need to be fixed because diversity and immigration increase isolation, distrust, corruption and inequality. Social mood is in a bear market and the low lies in the future.

Chinext Falls 5.1pc on Regulatory Fears

China is deleveraging and trying to tighten. The Fed will start shrinking its balance sheet by December, maybe September. The ECB might start tapering. Japan is the ever-present fireworks factory in search of a match.