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France Is Catching Up to Japan, but Not in a Good Way

Inequality and social mobility are hotly debated issues. One important indicator of social mobility are wealth-to-income ratios. If a country’s wealth-to-income…



Inequality and social mobility are hotly debated issues. One important indicator of social mobility are wealth-to-income ratios. If a country’s wealth-to-income ratio is high, the country is not necessarily wealthy. It merely implies that the monetary value of all assets in that country is relatively high compared to the incomes earned. The higher the wealth-to-income ratio, the harder it gets to climb the social ladder, if one starts from the bottom. It takes more years of work and income to reach any given position in the wealth distribution of society. France and Japan are today among the developed countries with the highest wealth-to-income ratios. 

Since the introduction of the euro in 1999, the wealth-to-income ratio in France has been on the same trajectory as it had been in Japan fifteen years earlier during the country’s massive asset price bubble of the 1980s. In France, there was an even weaker price correction after the Great Recession as the European Central Bank stepped in quickly to keep asset prices artificially afloat through unconventional monetary policy measures. Even though France’s wealth-to-income ratio at its peak never reached Japan’s peak of 808 percent in 1990, today they nearly match at 634 percent in Japan and 620 percent in France.1

Overall net wealth in France is thus more than 6 times as big as net annual income. This is a relatively high value compared to other developed countries. In the United States, the wealth-to-income ratio stands at 532 percent, slightly above that of Germany (520 percent) and below that of the UK (576 percent). In all of these countries the trend is positive over the past decades, but France is the most striking case. In 1998, the year before the euro was introduced, the French wealth-to-income ratio was only 363 percent. In less than ten years, on the brink of the Great Recession in 2007, it reached 604 percent. This development is largely driven by monetary policy. The implementation of a common currency area combined with more than a doubling the M1 money stock within that area in only nine years,2 has mobilized a lot of financial capital that flooded the southern European asset markets, including those of France.

Monetary policy around the world targets a positive rate of price inflation. This has systematic effects on how people save. Even with moderate rates of price inflation, the opportunity costs of holding savings on deposit accounts increase. As the purchasing power of money is continuously reduced, people face an added incentive to direct a higher proportion of their savings into financial and non-financial assets that might serve as a hedge against this loss. Inflationary monetary policy thus generates an added demand for all kinds of assets that goes beyond the effects of the mere increase in the stock of money. This added demand pushes up asset prices disproportionately. Very visible incidences of this tendency are overproportionate rates of price inflation in stock and real estate markets.

With the coronavirus outbreak, aggressive monetary easing by central banks has continued to become the new normal. Real estate prices in Japan and France are on the rise again. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, last year’s price per square meter (€7.293 per square meter) has exceeded its all-time high set at the peak of the asset-inflated bubble economy three decades ago (€7.280 per square meter). Meanwhile, the price per square meter in Paris has climbed up to €11.885, with the French house price index reaching an all-time high.

Overproportionate asset price inflation has many further implications, one of them being the increase of the wealth-to-income ratio over and above the point at which it would otherwise stand. This is important in many respects, not least from the vantage point of social policy, because a rising wealth-to-income ratio tends to undermine upward social mobility, in particular when the wealth distribution is very unequal. And this is the case in most countries with a large proportion of households owning practically nothing.

Let us apply a back-of-the-envelope calculation to illustrate the problem: If the wealth-to-income ratio is 620 percent as in France in 2020, you have an average income and no wealth and start saving 10 percent of your income today, then it would take you sixty-two years to reach the average wealth level of society. In France in 1998, it would have taken only thirty-six years. Back then it was much more realistic to achieve the average level of wealth within a working life starting from zero. In this calculation, we abstract from any heterogeneity in inflation rates and assume that all prices, including all incomes, increase at the same rate over time.

Under these ceteris paribus conditions, our representative French income earner with a 10 percent saving rate would need sixty-two years to build up wealth amounting to the equivalent of €176.803. This would buy a meager fifteen square meters in Paris. In spite of the common perception of being a country of equality and social justice, it becomes clear that it is particularly difficult in France to climb up the social ladder if one comes from a modest background. This is also because net incomes are particularly low due to high taxes and social security payments. In France, more so than in other places, it is better to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. If you own wealth already, you are not afraid of overproportionate asset price inflation. You tend to benefit from it. Your own privileged position in the social hierarchy is strengthened. As it becomes harder for people to make it to the top, it also becomes easier to stay on top for those who are already there.

In Japan, the picture is quite similar. During its high growth period (1954–72) individual economic endeavors were adequately rewarded. Climbing up the social ladder was a real possibility. However, with the lost three decades, this has drastically changed. The inhibited upward social mobility is even couched in the Japanese slang term “oya-gacha,” which has come into such an extensive use that it was a contender for last year’s buzzword of the year. It captures the notion that life is like a lottery—winning or losing, like in France, depends mostly on who your parents are.

The social and economic consequences of an inhibited upward social mobility are profound, especially when the causes are not well understood. It is common to blame the market economy for all kinds of social problems, foremost among them are rising inequality and falling social mobility. But all too often political interventions into the economic system cause these unintended consequences. In the context of social mobility, a lot would be gained if monetary policy would be more restrictive preventing disproportionately high asset price inflation.

  • 1. Data are taken from the World Inequality Database.
  • 2. From the end of 1998 to the end of 2007, the M1 money stock has on average increased by 9.1 percent annually within the euro area. The money stock has thus grown by a factor of 2.2 overall.

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Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19…



Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19 vaccination weakens the immune system, potentially making people susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, according to a new study.

A man is given a COVID-19 vaccine in Chelsea, Mass., on Feb. 16, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines lead to higher levels of antibodies called IgG4, which can provide a protective effect. But a growing body of evidence indicates that the “abnormally high levels” of the immunoglobulin subclass actually make the immune system more susceptible to the COVID-19 spike protein in the vaccines, researchers said in the paper.

They pointed to experiments performed on mice that found multiple boosters on top of the initial COVID-19 vaccination “significantly decreased” protection against both the Delta and Omicron virus variants and testing that found a spike in IgG4 levels after repeat Pfizer vaccination, suggesting immune exhaustion.

Studies have detected higher levels of IgG4 in people who died with COVID-19 when compared to those who recovered and linked the levels with another known determinant of COVID-19-related mortality, the researchers also noted.

A review of the literature also showed that vaccines against HIV, malaria, and pertussis also induce the production of IgG4.

“In sum, COVID-19 epidemiological studies cited in our work plus the failure of HIV, Malaria, and Pertussis vaccines constitute irrefutable evidence demonstrating that an increase in IgG4 levels impairs immune responses,” Alberto Rubio Casillas, a researcher with the biology laboratory at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and one of the authors of the new paper, told The Epoch Times via email.

The paper was published by the journal Vaccines in May.

Pfizer and Moderna officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Both companies utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in their vaccines.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the technology, said the paper illustrates why he’s been warning about the negative effects of repeated vaccination.

“I warned that more jabs can result in what’s called high zone tolerance, of which the switch to IgG4 is one of the mechanisms. And now we have data that clearly demonstrate that’s occurring in the case of this as well as some other vaccines,” Malone, who wasn’t involved with the study, told The Epoch Times.

So it’s basically validating that this rush to administer and re-administer without having solid data to back those decisions was highly counterproductive and appears to have resulted in a cohort of people that are actually more susceptible to the disease.”

Possible Problems

The weakened immune systems brought about by repeated vaccination could lead to serious problems, including cancer, the researchers said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 22:30

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Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch…



Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An Australian and Swedish investigation has found that among the hundreds of COVID-19 research papers that have been withdrawn, a retracted study linking the drug hydroxychloroquine to increased mortality was the most cited paper.

Hydroxychloroquine sulphate tablets. (Memories Over Mocha/Shutterstock)

With 1,360 citations at the time of data extraction, researchers in the field were still referring to the paper “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis” long after it was retracted.

Authors of the analysis involving the University of Wollongong, Linköping University, and Western Sydney Local Health District wrote (pdf) that “most researchers who cite retracted research do not identify that the paper is retracted, even when submitting long after the paper has been withdrawn.”

“This has serious implications for the reliability of published research and the academic literature, which need to be addressed,” they said.

Retraction is the final safeguard against academic error and misconduct, and thus a cornerstone of the entire process of knowledge generation.”

Scientists Question Findings

Over 100 medical professionals wrote an open letter, raising ten major issues with the paper.

These included the fact that there was “no ethics review” and “unusually small reported variances in baseline variables, interventions and outcomes,” as well as “no mention of the countries or hospitals that contributed to the data source and no acknowledgments to their contributions.”

A bottle of Hydroxychloroquine at the Medicine Shoppe in Wilkes-Barre, Pa on March 31, 2020. Some politicians and doctors were sparring over whether to use hydroxychloroquine against the new coronavirus, with many scientists saying the evidence is too thin to recommend it yet. (Mark Moran/The Citizens’ Voice via AP)

Other concerns were that the average daily doses of hydroxychloroquine were higher than the FDA-recommended amounts, which would present skewed results.

They also found that the data that was reportedly from Australian patients did not seem to match data from the Australian government.

Eventually, the study led the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend the trial of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients and to the UK regulatory body, MHRA, requesting the temporary pause of recruitment into all hydroxychloroquine trials in the UK.

France also changed its national recommendation of the drug in COVID-19 treatments and halted all trials.

Currently, a total of 337 research papers on COVID-19 have been retracted, according to Retraction Watch.

Further retractions are expected as the investigation of proceeds.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 17:30

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Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Authored by ‘Robert Kogon’ via The Brownstone Institute,

So, word has it that…



Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Authored by 'Robert Kogon' via The Brownstone Institute,

So, word has it that Twitter has withdrawn from the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation, a fact that appears only to be known thanks to a couple of pissy tweets from EU officials. I cannot help but wonder if this is not finally Elon Musk’s response to the question I asked in my article here several weeks ago: namely, how can a self-styled “free-speech absolutist” be part of a “Permanent Task-Force on Disinformation” that is precisely a creation of the EU’s Code?

But does it matter? The answer is no. The withdrawal of Twitter’s signature from the Code is a highly theatrical, but essentially empty gesture, which will undoubtedly serve to shore up Musk’s free speech bad-boy bona fides, but has virtually no practical consequences. 

This is because: (1) as I have discussed in various articles (for instance, here and here), the effect of the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is to render the hitherto ostensibly voluntary commitments undertaken in the Code obligatory for all so-called Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and (2) as discussed here, the European Commission just designated a whole series of entities as VLOPs that were never signatories of the Code.

Twitter is thus in no different a position than Amazon, Apple and Wikipedia, none of which were ever signatories of the Code, but all of which will be expected by the EU to comply with its censorship requirements on the pain of ruinous fines. 

As EU officials like to put it, the DSA transformed the “code of practice” into a code of conduct: i.e. you had better do it or else.

Compliance is thus not a matter of a signature. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And the fact of the matter is that Musk and Twitter are complying with the EU’s censorship requirements. Much of the programming that has gone into the Twitter algorithm is obviously designed for this very purpose.

What, for instance, are the below lines of code?

They are “safety labels” that have been included in the algorithm to restrict the visibility of alleged “misinformation.” Furthermore – leaving aside the handy “generic misinfo” catch-all – the general categories of “misinformation” used exactly mirror the main areas of concern targeted by the EU in its efforts to “regulate” online speech: “medical misinfo” in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, “civic misinfo” in the context of issues of electoral integrity, and “crisis misinfo” in the context of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed, as Elon Musk and his lawyers certainly know, the final version of the DSA includes a “crisis response mechanism,” (Art. 36) which is clearly modeled on the European Commission’s initially ad hoc response to the Ukraine crisis and which requires platforms to take special measures to mitigate crisis-related “misinformation.” 

In its January submission to the EU (see reports archive here), in the section devoted precisely to its efforts to combat Ukraine-war-related “misinformation,” Twitter writes (pp. 70-71): 

“We … use a combination of technology and human review to proactively identify misleading information. More than 65% of violative content is surfaced by our automated systems, and the majority of remaining content we enforce on is surfaced through regular monitoring by our internal teams and our work with trusted partners.”

How is this not compliance? Or at least a very vigorous effort to achieve it? And the methodology outlined is presumably used to “enforce on” other types of “mis-“ or “disinformation” as well.

Finally, what is the below notice, which many Twitter users recently received informing them that they are not eligible to participate in Twitter Ads because their account as such has been labeled “organic misinformation?”

Why in the world would Twitter turn away advertising business? The answer is simple and straightforward: because none other than the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation requires it to do so in connection with the so-called “demonetization of disinformation.” 

Thus, section II(d-f) of the Code reads:

(d) The Signatories recognise the need to combat the dissemination of harmful Disinformation via advertising messages and services.

(e) Relevant Signatories recognise the need to take granular and tailored action to address Disinformation risks linked to the distribution of online advertising. Actions will be applicable to all online advertising.

(f) Relevant Signatories recognise the importance of implementing policies and processes not to accept remuneration from Disinformation actors, or otherwise promote such accounts and websites.

So, in short, vis-à-vis the EU and its Code, Twitter is complying, not defying. Removing Twitter’s signature from the Code when its signature is no longer required on the Code anyway is not defiance. Among other things, not labeling content and/or users as “misinformation,” not restricting the visibility of content and/or users so labeled, and accepting advertising from whomever has the money to pay would be defiance.

But the EU’s response to such defiance would undoubtedly be something more than tweets. It would be the mobilization of the entire punitive arsenal contained in the DSA and, in particular, the threat or application of the DSA fines of 6 percent of the company’s global turnover.

It is not enough to (symbolically) withdraw from the Code of Practice to defy the EU. Defying the EU would require Twitter to withdraw from the EU altogether.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 10:30

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