Thursday, December 25, 2014

Putin's Russia and New Expansion --- What Is Liable To Happen

Buggy Rregrets . . .

 that he hasn't posted for over a year on his blog-site.  This is now changing.  He will start now with this posted commentary at RealClearWorld that is a reply to a very stimulating and informative article by Dr. James Jay Carafano entitled "Putin's Progress."   Click here for it and Prof Bug's comments about it --- essentially an extension, with some historical analysis of Russia's struggle for several centures, to overcome its almost non-stop backwardness, technologically and economically, compared to the lead-countries in parts of West Europe and in the USA on these two key scores. 

The hard fact is, Russia is not now and never has been a noticeably innovative country --- rather, a later copycat of big scientific and technological breakthroughs made by the West.  Without its high levels of oil and gas exports, its economy will continue to falter and decline relative to the USA.  Worse, rampant corruption and ongoing authoritarianism will further increase the country's failures to create a modern economy near the technological frontier.  Expect Putin's rule to resort ever more frenziedly to the last age-old stratagem of both the Czarist and Communist regimes: endless drumbeats for the Russian masses of fervent nationalism, along with manipulative lies that Russia's massive internal problems derive wholly from the threats and frightening dangers from abroad.   And, of course, along with those enemy countries' treasonble operatives at work inside Russia itself . . . such as these days the helter-skelter leaders of democratic opposition to the former KGB officer now in power.

The likely end resort of all this?  Well, read first Carafano's informative article and then Buggy's comments (reproduced below).


 The Buggy Reply

An outstanding post, Dr. Carafano --- the most enlightening I've read in the past few months about the complex alternatives open to Putin in his self-entangling troubles. It's always worth remembering that he has a strong KGB background, compounded by a massive ego and a belief-system that Russia deserves to be fully respected as a giant super-power . . . this, despite the Soviet Union collapse a quarter of a century ago and Russia's flimsy, backward economy dependent on oil and gas exports (and little else) for its GDP growth annually.

Russia has always been backward, economically and in technology, compared to West Europe and eventually the USA.

Again and again, its Czarist and more recent Communist dictatorships struggled to keep abreast of the lead Western countries, only to find themselves --- after large-scale efforts and wasted resources (as well as tightening tyranny and various degrees of government-sponsored terror) --- to still be behind as major breakthroughs in new technologies materialize in the more advanced parts of the Western world. And again and again, the response in Moscow has been heightened, even crackling nationalism as adjuncts of the new tyranny.

Yes, Russia has also been attacked over its long history of about 1000 years --- both from the East (Tatars and other Mongol-Turkish peoples) and the West (Sweden, France, Germany), and come to that Ottoman Turks from the South -- but its people, at great sacrifice, would fight back and stop or defeat its enemies.

Note though. Sooner or later, after the defeat of its enemies, the Czarist and later Communist regimes would expand once more across 1) Central, Southern, and Eastern Asia (followed by the conquest and occupation for a century or two of Alaska, parts of Canada, and parts of the coastal areas of what are now the states of Washington and Oregon). And 2) once more, northward along the Baltic Sea and westward across much of central Europe.

In the end, Russia has never experienced any long period of restrained and accountable government and effective civic society independent of rigid government-control of its people. It's no different today (minus the horrid terror of the Stalinist era).

If anything, Putin's current autocratic control of the Russian media, full of massive nationalist manipulations (with those Russian groups critical of them quickly silenced one way or another), shows that the new communication and information technologies invented in the lead Western countries can lead to new form of tyranny and ultra-nationalism, and not --- as many journalists, economists, and political scientists claim --- just democratic openings . . . witness too what has happened to the laughable Arab Spring.

Michael Gordon, AKA TheBuggyProfessor (name of my blog)

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 11:18 AM PST

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud? Part V

 This is the final installment in the 5-part series on Derrida, Critical Theory, and Post-Modernism.  Be sure to read the first four parts before you tackle this one.

        What Might Explain All This Pompous, Head-Spinning Turgidity?

All the obscurantist abracadabra, you'll remember --- which the first four buggy posts dealt with ---  originated in  German and French philosophy  or sociology and literary disciplines, only to be emulated later by their bedazzled epigoni in the USA, Britain, Australia, and Canada  . . .but not, note quickly, in English-speaking philosophical circles.  Just the opposite.  Adorno, Heidegger, and Marcuse in Germany --- and, Derrida, Foucault, and the other overblown French-thinkers-of-the-month --- have been widely regarded in those circles as essentially pretentious bullshitting  poseurs.  The epigoni followers, by contrast, are found overwhelmingly in sociology, ethnic studies, feminist studies, literary studies, some historical work, and among certain journalist copy-cats of these studies . . . all of which have been dominated for three or more decades now by postmodernist theoretical work.

That said, what follows by way of explanation is some tossed-out buggy opinions, nothing more, to account for these French and German intellectual origins.  If these opinions have any substance, it's because they're based on prof bug's own studies and teaching abroad in the 1960s and 1970s in France, Germany, and Switzerland . . . with Oxford, where he earned two degrees, a real contrast with these Continental countries. 

And from what bug has learned from others, things haven't changed that much over the last three to four decades. 

Against This Background, Start Here:

Which means --- start, above all, with the traditional structures of European universities, at any rate on the Continent  . . . Britain, please observe again, noticeably different here (more like American universities).  Everywhere in Continental universities, thanks to long-standing aristocratic and other status-hierarchies that had marked European societies for a millennium or more, professors in the humanities and social sciences have been treated, historically, as aloof demigod-mandarins . . . essentially untouchable and unaccountable to others.  And far, far above any explanations of their ideas, verbal or written, to lowly students or young academics.  

If you didn't and don't understand what they've said or written, however obscure, tough luck.  You're too callow and lame-brained to grasp their deep thoughts. And how dare you, a nobody, interrupt Herr Dr. Professor Somebody or Monsieur le professeur très important.

No surprise, Then,

. . .that in these markedly hierarchical universities these days --- over-crowded , under-funded, and distressingly impersonal as well--- students can't raise their hands in classrooms and ask their pontificating professors to clarify or elaborate on what they're claiming. So the professors can say anything and never be challenged. Ditto outside the classrooms. Their treatment of students, both historically and today, is formal and aloof.  Small wonder that there are no office hours or any personal access by students to their professors. 

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 01:25 PM PST

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud: Part IV

Remember: You Should Read the First Three Posts Before Continuing. Remember Too: The previous post dealt less with Derrida than the Famed Critical Theorist Theodore Adorno


What Happens If You Criticize Adorno's and Other Intellectual Inanities Disseminated For Decades Now In ...

. . . in virtually all postmodernist work, full of obscurist writing and psycho-ward attacks on contemporary life in the rich democracies in Europe and the USA ---and full, too, come to that, of overwrought dogmatic declarations, passing for brilliant insights, that have been inspired by French masterminds like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-Francois Lyotard and on and on since the late 1960s. An exaggeration? No, not really. With very few exceptions, these postmodern writings unfold in an impenetrably tangled syntax, an orgy of turgid neologisms , wildly imperious claims by the boxcar load, and very little evidence . . . all leading to a reader's head-spinning confusion, assuming he or she tries to hack and hew their way through the thickets of contriver malarkey to the very end. (In Foucault's case, please observe, there is lots of selective cherry-picking of historical examples chosen to illustrate his own sweeping, half-truth claims about power-driven mind-controls across different modern epochs, with the mental dominance and manipulation getting worse and worse from which, he added,there was no escape . . . . all these claims by Foucault delivered with convoluted Delphic complexity and obscure neologisms galore.)

What Then To Do?

Well, suppose you say in a reply --- maybe in a review, maybe in conversation with the devotees ---that their silly and garbled insights into the alleged horrors of modern Western societies lack clarity, logic, and hard evidence . In turn, they reply --- assuming they deign to answer you--- you lack patience; you can't read with focused concentration; or your mental faculties aren't up to it. Or, face it, you're just an idiot. (Maybe you should go see a Donald Duck cartoon, huh?)

Note that the idiot-ploy, to bring all into a relevant focus, was actually used by Derrida with Michel Foucault. Foucault, you see, had publicly dared to criticize Derrida's latest dogmatic featherbrained meanderings. Derrida's public retort? "Vous m'avez mal compris, vous etes idiot!" "You've misunderstand me, you idiot!" (This is like the pot calling the kettle black here, n'est-ce pas?) On Foucault's pretentious and nearly impenetrable writing style, see this talented dissection by a British professor French (a francophile to boot): John Weightman, "Not Underestanding Michel Foucault", American Scholar (1989)

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 01:51 PM PST

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud? Part III

             Please Be Sure To Read the First Two Posts on Derrida Before This One 

             What Follows Is a Much Fuller Version of the Buggy Comment . . .

. . . sent originally in reply to the NYRB post on the life of Jacques Derrida and how it helps to explain much of philosophical work.  Click here for the post.   Oh, now that prof bug found some time to finish this fuller version, it turns out to be so long that it will have to be divided into two more posts to reach the end.

The Fleshed-Out Buggy Stuff:

Like the rest of the posters here, Ms. Eakin, I [prof bug'] appreciate your illuminating comments on Jacques Derrida's life --- all of which help to make sense of his philosophical writings and public utterances. 

They're doubly illuminating, come to that, thanks to the clear and straightforward writing you've used here . . . no pretense whatsoever.  Too bad the followers of Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, and all the other post-modernist thinkers in France and elsewhere haven't used a similar writing style.  Far from it.  One and all, it seems, they have emulated to near-perfection the convoluted verbiage and utterly obscure hot-air prose-style of their intellectual heroes.  The same is true of those equally avid devotees who regard Theodore Adorno in his German and American phases during the 1920s through the mid-1940s as a giant philosophical wonder, even if --- as the leading member of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of Critical (Cultural) Theory --- he wasn't at all a post-modernist and said lots of ludicrously silly things about American life in muddle-headed pompous ways. 

In any case, since Adorno (as you'll see soon) is a big heroic thinker in most postmodernist circles, we'll have a fair amount to say about his recklessly nutbin claims before we get down to Derrida's even more preposterously screw-loose hocus-pocus.

We Can Go Further

All of these postmodern superstars and their epigoni here and abroad have done little more than churn out agitated swirls of lengthy gibberish and snobbish harebrained views . . . yes, even when they claim to be championing populist social movements and saving the Others and the rest of the exploited and downtrodden masses in America and Europe: the masses, you see, not just victimized by rabid capitalism and pseudo-democracy of the standard Marxist lingo, but also, for certain groups, by remorseless white racism and male-enforced misogyny.

Adorno was in this vein, but with a twist.  Along with the rest of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School specializing in cultural studies, almost all of whom migrated during the Nazi period to Britain or the USA, Adorno himself concentrated in exposing what he called the implacably cunning and nefarious inanities of the new culture-industry . . . and especially in the United States, the vanguard in all aspects of mass popular culture after WWI: above all, thanks to big technological breakthroughs in radio, popular music, records, magazines, and movies.  Not to forget, needless to add, TV's relentless spread after WWII before Adorno returned to Frankfurt, Germany in 1949. 

For Adorno, almost all of it was horrendous: not just stupid and vacuously anti-intellectual, you understand . . . rather, calculatedly exploitative, the modern equivalent of Roman bread-and-circus stuff for the miserable masses. 

Meaning More Concretely?

Meaning that the new popular culture, in all its variety, was at bottom a ruthless form of deliberate brainwashing.   The more the populous "standardized pap" spread from the 1920s on, the more the endlessly ruthless moneybags boss-class running the culture-industry could count on brutalizing the minds of the already dimwitted American masses, making them (in Adorno's view) even more unreflective and anti-intellectual than before while, simultaneously, you understand, seducing them, bit by bit, into submissive acceptance of their miserable and oppressive existence in class-ridden American life.  And to what end of all this fiendishly furtive mind-control?  Nothing more, but also nothing less, than to enshrine monopoly capitalism and the existing status quo as something irrevocable --- totally unchangeable. 

With the real beneficiaries, of course, just a tiny few --- the  ever richer top-dogs in the culture-industry, along with those in the rest of the new giant corporations, the big banks, the proliferating mass-media, and what have you.  Not to overlook, needless to add, the less wealthy but well-off toady politicians at all levels of government in the USA, themselves, in all but name, prisoner-puppets manipulated by their rich donors.

The Political and Economic Fall-Out?

What with the growing impact of the fiendish double-dealing culture-industry, soon joined after WWII by a new prosperity and consumer-industry, socialism ---so Adorno and the other Frankfurt immigrants lamented --- could never be a reality for the American masses.  As for Franklyn D. Roosevelt's New-Deal, it was tepid to begin with.  Worse,  by the time Adorno gathered and published in one book all these mind-controlling insights into the core nature of American society and culture --- in 1944, and in German (a book we'll return to in a few moments) ---the New Deal had lost all its radical reform-aims. 

 So, politically speaking, what lay ahead for America?

Simply said, Fascism.  No, not necessarily in the blatant Hitlerian or Mussolinian militarized jack-booted manner. Rather, so Adorno and lots of other Frankfurt Critical Theorists agreed, in einem im amerikanischen Stil.

Or, as the stalwart Criticial Theorist Herbert Marcuse put it later in a popular 1964 book, One-Dimensional Man, a shallow, banal, mindlessly submissive Fascist-style, with consumerism and ever horrid pop culture that emerged after WWII inisidiously buying off the masses, who --- for all their mindless and dreary existence as exploited underdogs --- came to believe that their meaningless lives weren't so bad after all.  And, to ask once again, the daily hit-the-jackpot con-men winners of all this crafty hocus-pocus ?    Needless to repeat, the rich big-shots in what Adorno had called two decades earlier the ever more manipulative stage of capitalism --- AKA, advanced industry society.  The brainwashing fraud all the more nefarious, from the 1950s on, as the scheming elites in the pop culture-industry were now aided --- so Marcuse argued --- by the moneybags bosses in the fast-growing mass media, the new giant advertising complex, the monopolistic industrial corporations, the behemothic banks, and of course, as before for Adorno, by  their strong-armed political sycophants who managed the new industrial-military complex of the cold war. 

And it gets worse.  What with the masses now inveigled, so Marcuse argued further, into an ever more vapid and submissive  life- styles, thanks to the continual spawning by the dominant elites  of bamboozling and alluring  "false needs" that required ever more consumption, loans, and piled-up debt.  In short it was Fascism in an American style all right . . . from which all critical thought had faded away into oblivion. 

A buggy exaggeration surely --- surely? --- of what any sane and thoughtful scholar might think in 1944, with a year to go in the global war against Fascism and Militarism, never mind twenty years later on in the cold war, and especially for Marcuse by the mid-1960s.

Nope: No Exaggeration ---Just  the Opposite. 

Want harder evidence of Adorno's (and other Frankfurt Critical Theorists') views?  Then bear with prof bug as he examines a little deeper Adorno's extravagantly pompous, screw-loose animus toward popular culture and its relation to the ultimate outcome of mass-brutality, mass-stupidity and mass-submission sooner or later to some form of Fascism a l'Americain 

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 03:32 PM PST

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud? Part II

                                         Be Sure to Read Part I First 

                                  WHAT IS DECONSTRUCTION SUPPOSEDLY?

1) Start with the Core Destructionist Claim: A Domineering and Violent Linguistic Hierarchy, Full of Self-Entangling Confusion, Resides at the Base of All Western Thought

Yes, begin here: According to Derrida and his followers, all language --- at any rate, in Western civilization (other civilizations are ignored or apparently don't suffer from what Derrida calls logocentrism) --- is invariably shot-through with elusive ambiguities, confusion, and self-refuting contradictions.  Any text's claimed "truths" are really biased fictions . . . only (to use a confusing but typical deconstruction concept) for these fictions to have been forgotten and so figure as written-in-solid-concrete forever.

The result of all this confused, self-contradictory language and fictive true-claims, dubbed as logocentrism in deconstructionism?  To put it bluntly, in standard deconstruction views, a "violent linguistic hierarchy" has allegedly prevailed in Western civilization --- used in a taken-for-granted manner ---for a good 2500 years, in other words way back to the ancient Greeks.  Yes, on the Derrida-inspired view, it has prevailed in Western language-usage from the days of Plato and Aristotle on, dominating Western thought, accordingly, from the start of all European philosophy, sciences, art, and literature. 

2) How Does the Violent Linguistic Hierarchy Operate in Practice?

For Derrida and his followers, all language-usage operates by means of binary word-opposites.  In all Western languages, logocentrism has entailed the last 2500 years the "privileging" of a predictable set of words that the great thinkers, with few exceptions, have automaton-like employed over their opposites.  Such as: logic over intuition;  reason over feelings;  speech over writing;  man over woman;  rulers over the ruled;  majority European peoples over ethnic-racial minorities;  bosses over employees;   religious true-believers over non-believers;  state-enforced religion over dissenters (say, Jews in Christian lands);  intellectual conformists over dissenters;  elites over the masses, and so on.

The upshot? 

Since no thinking can be done without the use of a language, virtually all the great thinkers in Western life have done little more --- whether intentionally or more likely unwittingly --- to rationalize and justify the dominant real-life hierarchies of power everywhere in Western civilization, past or present. 

That has been the case in all prevailing politics, legal systems, economic life, religious life, journalism, and all forms of education and intellectual centers.  With, you understand, only a few exceptions like Socrates --- and you know what happened to him. (Remember: these are Derrida's views, not prof bug's.)  Otherwise, for over two millennia, the inescapable usage of language for all manner of thought by the influential in Western life for the last two millennia-plus has spawned and sustained little more than  mind-spinning, mind-controlling belief-systems and  practices.  The inevitable beneficiaries?  The dominant elites in each every Western society over time.  The inevitable losers?  All the weak and helpless, power-wise . . . dubbed by deconstructionists and other post-modernists the subordinate and excluded "Other(s)"

3) Who, More Specifically, Have These Marginalized and Oppressed Inferiors Been? 

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 12:40 PM PST

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud?


Today's Buggy Topic Was Inspired by . . .

...By a stimulating blog-article, published recently in the New York Review of Books, that dealt with the life of the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida . . . the famed creator of deconstructism whose voluminous writings have been widely admired in post-modernist circles since the 1970s.  Prof bug left some lengthy commentary in reply that appeared in the comments section.  Alas, they were noticeably truncated, and so the buggy guy has decided to post them all here. 

Well, maybe "here" is misleading.  The full buggy commentary will actually appear in the next bugged-out post. 

Meanwhile, to make sense of Derrida's deconstruction-work, please read the rest of today's comments.  Note that at their end, you'll find the link to the NYRB blog about Derrida's life.  Be sure to read it--- even if you skip the comments section there --- before you read the next buggy post in reply to it.)

What the NYRB Blogger Tried To Do, And With Some Success:

Tersely put, in a review of a new biography of Derrida, the NYRB blogger sought to illuminate the tangled complexities of deconstructionist theory and methods that he spawned from the 1960s on by showing how they reflected his personal life-long struggles as a rebellious intellectual outsider and high-voltage enemy of prejudice and discrimination. . . which he and his numerous post-modernist devotees claimed to be embedded in all dominant Western thought and practices since the time of the ancient Greeks.  In other words, for the last 2500 years. 

How, specifically, did these views of Derrida reflect his own life-long personal struggles?   

The Fuller Answer,  

. . . Needless to add, requires that you read the NYRB blogger's book review.   

Here, just in passing, note that Derrida was born in 1930 as a French citizen to a French family in Algeria.  With the Nazi conquest of France itself in 1940, the German-collaborating Vichy regime extended its fascist-like authority to most of France's colonies.  Algeria was no exception, and it was there that Derrida, still a young boy, rebelled for the first time against the vicious anti-Semitic laws applied by the Vichy-controlled colonial rulers in education.  Specifically, Jews were barred from attending the prestigious French-speaking schools.  Only 12 at the time, Derrida was obliged to attend an inferior makeshift Jewish school.  An intellectually preconscious youth with a ranging mind, he bristled with disgust and hatred of the wider, virulent anti-Semitism that he and the rest of the Algerian Jewish community now encountered everywhere in daily life, whether perpetrated by bureaucrats or among both the Arab or French-speaking communities.  For that matter, Derrida himself was physically assaulted a few times by both Arab and French-speaking hoodlums. 

You can guess the outcome.  For the rest of his life, Derrida hated and sought to combat all forms of bigotry and discrimination--- whether religious, ethnic, racial, sexual, or class-based; and much to his credit. 

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 05:53 PM PST

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Topsy-Turvy Life of Recent American Declinist Claims: The 5th Time It's Happened

Today's Buggy Topic

It's found here as RealClearWorld --- an outstanding twice daily blog full of links to international relations. Note too, once you're online there, there are lots of other RealClear categories at the top: on US politics, markets and economics, defense (yes, though you may have to run a google search for RealClearDefense), policy, energy, technology, science, history, and religion.  Far and away, in prof bug's opinion, these Real Clear-offerings add up to the best site for up-to-date news and analyses pm all these topics . . . thanks to hundreds of links to various media sources and some original work.

More Specifically, For Today's Topic . . .

Is found in Buggy's lengthy reply to Dr. George Friedman's praiseworthy post on how the US remains the primary global power on all indices --- whether military power of all sort, or economic revival and percapita income, or technological innovation, or growing domestic energy sources, and so on --- do little more, that reply, than add some omissions in Dr. Friedman's wide-ranging persuasive analysis. Something else. You''ll likely profit reading all of Dr. Friedman's posts; they're, found weekly or so at RealClearWorld. He himself holds a Ph.D. from Cornell and is the head of the impressive Stratfor Global-Intelligence Institute.

And note: there are other good analytical studies that his institute produces, all highly recommended.

Keep In Mind Something Else: Worries (or Hopes) for American Decline --- all depending on the countries and the political views of pundits making the pronunciamentos ---Are Over 50 Years in the Making

These declinist dictums, delivered in ex-cathedra ways, have surged for years in duration, off and on, over a good five times since the mid-1950s . . . roughly one a decade. And would you believe it? Each time they have proved wrong.


  • In the late 1950s, after the Soviet Union sent its Sputnik earth-satellite into outer space in 1957 --- a few years before the US sent its first space-satellite into orbit. There followed fears, widespread, of a growing Soviet dominance in nuclear-missiles, economic growth and innovation, American educational decline ("Johnny couldn't read as well as Ivan"), and the Cuban missile conflict of 1962. The end of these first and second declinist dicta--- a dangerous satellite gap, a growing nuclear gap --- was reached in 1969 when the US landed men on the moon.


  • The third declinist claptrap burst into endless media chatter in the late 1970s, toward the end of the dismal Jimmy Carter presidency. The US was now in irreversible economic decline, compared to Japan and Germany and the growing EU. Its Carter-adminstration couldn't even mount a successful rescue mission of the hostage-captives in the new radical Islamist Iran; and worse yet, American intervention in Vietnam had ended in disastor the US. A British scholar at Yale, surveying the rise and fall of Great Powers since the Middle Age, added his own biased, noticeably exaggerated analysis to the media and political chatter.� Only Japan and the Rhineland countries in Europe --- Germany, France, Belgium, and Netherlands --- had the necessary large statist-economy and educational wherewithal to become the front-runners in global influence.

Then the Reagan era again reversed the declinist rhetoric. During the next 8 years, the US increased its economic lead in the OECD --- the organization that included all the democratic advanced countries in its membership. The Soviet Union crashed.� Communism everywhere crashed, except in Cuba and North Vietnam . . . China's post-Mao economy opening up, after 41 years of mass murder on a vast scale and endless economic stagnation.

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 04:46 PM PST

Monday, March 25, 2013

Israel's Christian population grows steadily, even as Christians exit swiftly Arab countries


Today's Buggy Entry

It's found at Real Clear World: click here.  Buggy, please note, has had to deal with some health problems the last year or so, and hence the absence of any posts in that interval.  Now feeling much better, he hopes to post more regularly.

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 03:18 PM PST

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



                                     The First Problem:

 Germany's Vulnerable Dependence on Export-Driven GDP Growth

1. The German export-performance, admirable as it is, depends in large measure on the shared euro among all 17 member-countries in the Eurozone. How so?

Tersely put, by being in the Eurozone, German firms are able to export their products at a highly competitive currency rate --- not just outside the Eurozone, but inside it too.  That's because the "real" exchange rate between Germany and the 16 other member-countries in the Eurozone is lower for Germany than for almost any of its trade-partners inside it in "purchasing power parity" terms.   

What does the "real" exchange rate of a national currency mean?  Well, it contrasts with the "nominal" exchange rate that prevails in foreign exchange markets, as when you're in Germany and go into a bank and exchange $US for Euros.  What the "real" exchange rate does is take into account the different price and wage rates that prevail across countries trading with one another

Here's a concise definition taken from this site:  The  real exchange rate refers to the  . . .

‘. . .  purchasing power of two currencies relative to one another. While two currencies may have a certain exchange rate on the foreign exchange market ---[buggy: that exchange rate called the "nominal" rate] -- this does not mean that goods and services purchased with one currency cost the equivalent amounts in another currency. This is due to different inflation rates with different currencies. Real exchange rates are thus calculated as a nominal exchange rate adjusted for the different rates of inflation between the two currencies'   

And also, prof bug adds, adjusted additionally for different wage levels too in the production of similar goods and services. 

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 02:35 PM PST

Friday, March 30, 2012



What follows is the third part of a lengthy series of analytical comments about the German economy.  The first two parts, please note carefully, have been posted by in a thread at The Economist, and can be found here. Be sure to read The Economist's brief article that started the comments, and then prof bug's two posts ---the initial one at bottom of the online page --- before you proceed to the third installment below. 

Oh, almost forgot.  There's a fourth part, all finished, that the buggy professor will post here tomorrow. 


Part two of this series, you might recall from The Economist thread, underscored the successes of the German economy's impressive reforms of its job market since 2005.  In that year --- a boom year for the global economy --  the German rate of unemployment was a staggeringly high 12.5%.  Yes, in a fast-growing worldwide economy.  And yet in 2011, a year of at best sluggish economic growth in most of the world, the German rate had fallen to 5.5%.  That latter figure uses  OECD standardized criteria across its member-countries.  (The USA Department of Labor, please note --- which uses the same standardized criteria --- nonetheless adjusts German and other countries' unemployment data, sometimes up, sometimes down, if it finds even minor discrepancies with USA data collecting and analysis.  For what it's worth, as you'll see later, it adjusted German unemployment upward to a rate of 6.3% for February 2012.  The equivalent rate for the USA was 8.3%---still way behind the German performance.) 

 Dig deeper though, and as the second buggy post in this series  hinted at a couple of times, the German job performance since the start of the Great Recession in late 2007 turns out --- like the USA's - to be less than glittering. 


I. . To the 5.5% official rate --- or 2.8 million jobless Germans still looking for employment ---there are another 7.3 million Germans in "non-standard" or "atypical" jobs to use OECD jargon.

  • These jobs, as noted in part two of this comment-series, come in a variety of ways: one- or two-euro jobs, short-term jobs, and involuntary part-time jobs . . . some of which involve additional welfare benefits, others that don't like internships. (Ralf Jeremias, a German academic specializing in the labor-market changes in his country, estimated that there were 7.3 million Germans in these jobs, most of whom, remember, are not there voluntarily. They have no choice. Either they lose their unemployment subsidies or other government- benefits, or they don't have such benefits but would like to have full-time or better paying part-time jobs. For the Jeremias article, click here: l )

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Posted by gordongordomr @ 05:51 PM PST