How macroeconomic statistics failed the US

This is a very interesting article on the poor quality of current macroeconomic data about the US economy…and how it altered decisionmaking on our current financial crisis. The article also points out the broader social issue of how we as a society ‘value’ work – both financially and in terms of social prestige. In essence, the value of those who compile our social statistics has fallen…and so has the qualities of the data.

The article

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) HD [1080p]

Director : Luc Besson
Release : July 20, 2017
Production Company : EuropaCorp
Language : en
Runtime : 137 min.
Genre : Science Fiction, Action, Adventure.

Plot
‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is good movie tell story about In the 28th century, Valerian and Laureline are special operatives charged with keeping order throughout the human territories. On assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two undertake a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where species from across the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence, and cultures. At the center of Alpha is a mysterious dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. This movie have genre Science Fiction, Action, Adventure and have 137 minutes runtime.

Cast
Dane DeHaan as Valerian, Herbie Hancock as Defence Minister, Clive Owen as Commander Arün Filitt, Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Rihanna as Bubble, Cara Delevingne as Laureline.

Production
The Director of this movie is Luc Besson. The movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is produced by EuropaCorp and released in July 20, 2017.

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Social Impact Bonds

I was invited to a discussion this morning on Social Impact Bonds…and the likelihood that Rhode Island might participate in a Social Impact Bond offering.

It’s an interesting idea, hatched by the English, to deal with the cost of social interventions (which are difficult to fund). Most of our social service dollars go to the prison, or treating the disease…not to preventing the problem in the first place.

The idea of the Social Impact Bond is to get socially motivated investors to take the risk that a given social intevention (for example, job training and education to prevent prison recidivism) will reduce government cost in an amount greater than the initial social costs (prison, parole care, etc.). If the social outcome ‘contract’ in the Bond succeeds, investors make an agreed upon return paid by the government (out of a portion of their cost savings). If the social outcome fails, the investor takes the loss as a charitable donation.

It is an intelligent approach to ‘curing’ social problems, and it could add substantial capital to private social service organizations that now struggle to finance their very respectable, measureable work.

Rebuilding Infrastructure

Ricardo Bayon wrote an article for the Ecosystem Marketplace this week making the completely sane point that we should rebuild ‘green’ infrastructure while we rebuild ‘grey’ infrastructure (the built environment).

Totally sensible, completely defensible.

I would also ask the next question. How do we develop a plan? Americans certainly have a huge list of built infrastructure needs – roads, bridges, utility systems – all reaching the end of their lifespan.

Less obvious, but just an important, is the need to rebuild/conserve/restore or natural infrastructure. One of the problems, however, with politically defending restoration of natural infrastructure, is the lack of a ‘database’ of what needs to be done. With bridges and roads, we have detailed data on existing conditions, rebuilding needs, and cost estimates. For natural infrastructure, there is no such list.

I was pleased to see in a report John Holdren (the White House Science Advisor) just sent to President Obama a call for such a system -they named it ECOINFORMA. Unfortunately, the description failed to take advantage of the jobs potential of such a project if it made use of regional/local information gatherers (biologist, engineers, etc.) It also needs to be less ‘coarse’ than they propose. But, all in all, a wonderful idea.

My compliments to Ricardo Bayon for starting the discussion. Perhaps we can bring others to the task.

The Purple Plan

As you know, our country is at a critical juncture. Growth has slowed to a crawl. Fourteen million Americans are unemployed, and three million have stopped looking for work. We are saving nothing and investing next to nothing.

Last year’s national saving rate was 0.1 percent, and our net domestic investment rate was 4.4 percent. Saving nothing means we have nothing to invest in our country. Those investing in our country are foreigners, which explains our huge current account deficit. It’s easy to blame foreigners for our problems, but without their investment, our net domestic investment rate would also be 0.1 percent.

Most Americans have experienced no growth in their real take home pay in decades. Those who are doing well are doing better, with income and wealth growing more unequal over time. And our government is broke. Based on the Congressional Budget Office’s latest projections, the fiscal gap separating the present value of projected non-interest spending plus the official debt and the present value of projected taxes totals $211 trillion.

This is the mountain of obligations we ignore while focusing on the $10.3 trillion “molehill” of official debt held by the public. Decades of Enron-style accounting has permitted both parties to keep the vast majority of the government’s debts off the books.

Our fiscal gap is 14 times GDP — a larger ratio than prevails in Greece or, it appears, any other developed country. Eliminating the fiscal gap without structural reform would require either an immediate and permanent 64 percent increase in all federal taxes or a 40 percent cut in all federal non-interest spending. Delaying such adjustments leaves an even bigger bill for our children.

The Purple Plan

…a crazy person running our nation.

James Carville says funny things…and this one struck a chord.

As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation. I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.

Our Environmental Finance Information Meter is Struggling

I have noticed that since we restarted our EcoAsset Weblog in May of this year that the amount of meaningful new information on environmental finance seems very thin in comparison to 2008-2009. (Note to self…we also could just have our head in the sand)

It struck me over the weekend that we are much less likely to publish information/article/etc. on environmental finance in 2011 than in 2009. I think several things are going on:

1) The U. S. economy is in difficulty, and this obviously impacts ecofinance.
2) Ecosystem service market efforts, particularly public initiatives, are having a difficult time.
3) Many of the private deals and corporate planning for environmental impacts on business models do not see much media…so it is hard to guess the activity level.
4) A significant amount of political opposition to well established environmental knowledge and action.
5) The our concentration of wealth leaves only the ‘big deals’ possible. The small ‘support needed from the middle class public’ deals flounder because so is the middle class floundering.

What to expect?

Governmentally, don’t expect much…I notice a lot of reorganization at USDA NRCS…hopefully we just manage to ‘keep our thumb in the dike of natural disaster recovery’.

In terms of private and corporate wealth, there is a ton of capital on the sidelines…and a good bit of it is real (look at the cash in lots of corporate balance sheets…corporations with stable durable product/service and capable management). Google becomes more and more an ‘environmental’ company…so will many others…they will find it a logical decision of creating a durable company.