if you think the Vatican is a cesspit of financial shenanigans, wait till you see this incredible documentary on Romanian Orthodox Church and its leader, Patriarch Daniel of Romania, aka 'The Great White'

(1.2 million views in opening day)

this is an outrageous story of Church milking public funds at national, regional and local level with help from politicians across the political spectrum

of a Patriarch doubling as local baron

of a Patriarch covering priests' sexual abuse
most rich men (yes) in Romania have become rich by stealing from the state, by legal and illegal means, but so far we knew little of the Orthodox Church's role, including its unholy cuddling of far right politicians
Patriarch Daniel's most visible project, largest after Ceausescu's 'House of People'

The People's Salvation Cathedral: built on prime Bucharest land donated by State (EUR 180 million), with public money (EUR 120 million)

Money that went to construction firms linked to Daniel.
the network of favours for contracts includes Adrian Videanu, liberal ex minster of finance and Mayor of Bucharest (EUR 20 million contract for marble)
under Daniel, the Orthodox Church has become a successful corporation, with annual (declared) revenues of EUR 160 million.

Daniel's business model: the Church must absorb as much public money as possible
The Great White presides over a three layer corporate structure for milking the state:
- executive layer of priests
- politicians and civil servants that implement politicians' commitments to Daniel
- business men that get Orthodox Church contracts to spend public money
investigative journalists at Recorder managed to infiltrate this ecosystem through a social-democrat (PSD) politician, Lazar Neacsu.

Neascu is a local PSD councillor in Bucharest, real estate entrepreneur and expert in channeling money from local budgets to Orthodox Church.
this is excellent: at first meeting w journalist passing as European funds consultant, Neacsu asks that all mobile phones be left in a separate room.
Neacsu is, in his own words, one of the 45 chosen 'Romanian elite' lay men sitting on the Orthodox Church's governing body alongside 45 bishops.

those 45 lay men are the transmission belt from public budgets to Church coffers.
OMG, this beats any Netflix series:

Neacsu, wondering which party to join to become a local councillor & push Church interests, gets this advice from the Great White in 2016:

'join PSD (social democrats), they will win everywhere*'

*w a bit of help from the Orthodox Church
'how did Daniel know that PSD will win?', Neascu asks rhetorically

'he's Secret Service (securitate, or Romanian KGB), he's the best informed man in the country'

thus confirming suspicions of many in Romania.
the other hero of this story is clergy Aurel Mihai, the Great White's right hand and organiser of shoddy deals in chief: 'once we get approval from his Holiness, it's better than Strasbourg, you will get your share of the money'
two days after Recorder released the video, both Neacsu and Aurel Mihai have resigned from Bucharest's City Council and the Patriarchy respectively.

The Great White, in all his CEO glory, knows how to sacrifice scapegoats.
timing of this scandal is priceless:

political crisis at the height of deadliest COVID wave so far, result of killer combination of political incompetence and decades long underinvestment in public health.

Romanians will now connect the dots.
finally, Recorder made another video - with English subtitles - 'The Cathedral of Humiliating the Gentile'

Jesus would certainly weep to see the logic of its grand opening: politicians and influencers in, poor people freezing outside

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More from @DanielaGabor

12 Oct
louder for the ones in the back, voluntary decarbonisation doesnt work.
unless it's fancy greenwashing.

and this Carney framing - that finance cannot do it alone - is the cherry on the greenwashing cake.

more consistent with a carbon finance lobbyist than a UN climate envoy. Image
one of the big strategic wins of ESG tsunami was to convince politicians that Big Finance cares about climate.

never mind that it's common knowledge that ESG is rife with greenwashing.

Read 5 tweets
1 Oct
let's all remember that a wage-price spiral only occurs if
firms dump wage increases into prices, instead of reducing their profits.

German workers here are asking for some share of that nice profit pie earned during pandemic.
I am also puzzled by the collective terror of worker power, only a couple of months ago central bankers and IMF chief economists were clamouring for exactly that.
workers of the world unite, just a bit below the inflation target?
Read 4 tweets
29 Sep
this paper is much more interesting in how it portrays mainstream macrofinance rather than its critique of MMT.
first, Quantity Theory of Money is, to cite Charles Goodhart, weak lark, imposing a monetarist causality on an identity.
holding that against MMT is not a serious intellectual effort. Image
fair enough, they recognize money multiplier (critical to QTM/monetarism) is nonsense Image
Read 5 tweets
28 Sep
exciting panel on inflation panel at Sintra, with @Isabel_Schnabel chairing.
Charles Goodhart: we are in an extraordinary moment, we dont have a general theory of inflation.
we used to have two - monetarist and Phillips Curve - but none has performed well.
we also have the expectations theory of inflation - but that doesnt work either, since inflationary expectations are backwards looking and adaptive Image
Read 22 tweets
22 Sep
fascinating WEF conversation on private equity as the new climate warriors:

- PE increasingly home for high carbon assets as less regulatory scrutiny and disclosure requirements
one bold claim: PE business model can reduce carbon footprint

PE make money on way out, when they sell companies to another party

if PE inherits a certain ESG/carbon footprint, if it can reduce it in 5 years time, it can create value.

ergo, PE ultimate climate warriors.
of course, 'value' is keyword, and claims that PE will have to green their companies because there are reputational costs are nonsense - Blackstone shrugged off @leilanifarha critique of their practices as institutional landlords
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep
the natural gas crisis in UK is a stark reminder that corporate farming makes us vulnerable and that the low-carbon transition cant be driven by them

unfortunately, UN remains captured by agri-business

'70% of world’s population is fed by diverse network of small-scale producers and peasants - this group uses less than 25 percent of resources necessary in agricultural production.
industrial food chain feeds only 30% of world, while using over 75 percent of resources'
Read 4 tweets

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