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Friday, January 30, 2009

Gold and the Dollar Crisis

I have to admit that I get some kind of a bizarre (sadomasochistic?) joy out of these intellectually challenging economics books. But then I like to read for Faulkner for fun and devote a significant chunk of time to the upkeep of a blog whose number of hits (aka readers) is, well, not overly impressive, maybe I simply am bizarre when it comes down to it. In any case, Robert Triffin's Gold and the Dollar Crisis - The Future of Convertibility was fun, even if I only read the first half (the second half deals with his proposed changes to the Bretton Woods system finally truly in place in 1958 - analyzing never enacted reforms to a system not in place anymore felt a little bit too hardcore).

Triffin of course is the source of the famous (maybe my perception has become a little bit skewed here) Triffin dilemma, which states that a continued American capital deficit is necessary in order to provide the liquidity needed in an economically expanding world, while it will at the same time undermine the dollar's credibility as the global reserve currency because of the increasing gap between American gold reserves and greenbacks circulating (metaphorically speaking).

In his own words:
'The gold exchange standard may but does not necessarily, help in relieving a shortage of world monetary reserves. It does so only to the extent that the key currency countries are willing to let their net reserve position decline through increases in their short-term monetary liabilities unmatched by corresponding increases in their own gross reserves. If they allow this to happen, however, and to continue indefinitely they tend to bring about a collapse of the system itself through the gradual weakening of foreigners’ confidence in the key currencies.'

Very similar to Eichengreen's analysis at times, he argues that up to 1914 the gold standard worked and provided stability (to major Western countries in any case) because of cushioning, private financial flows (because of the expectancy that problems would be solved and currencies not depreciated) as well as 'higher endurance of macroeconomic suffering' (unemployment namely) feasible due to very restrictive voting rights (and in turn a lack of democratic accountability). He differs from Eichengreen in the sense that these explanations do not suffice in his opinion. He thus adds the 'widespread acceptance of long-term deficits' and the fact that major imbalances were prevented ex ante before its impacts on employment or growth could be felt. Finally, 'financing of expenditures over production did not exist in any dangerous manner.'

All of this changed after WWI. Especially private financial flows became accentuating rather than cushioning of the impact of current account imbalances simply because the belief that currencies would not depreciate had evaporated (here his and Eichengreen's analyses are congruent again). Basically the same situation developed around the Dollar (not the Pound Sterling of the interwar years) after WWII.

Triffin's dilemma of course perfectly summed up the situation and his definition quoted above describes perfectly what 'happened to the UK in 1931' and (unbeknownst to him in 1960 of course) to the USA in 1971 and 1973. Ironic in retrospective is that Triffin shows himself convinced that this situation would not arise again. 'Only an incredible complacency on our part could [...] force us to suspend or modify the legal gold cover requirements of the Federal Reserve System.' His main concern lies with the deflationary consequences of an adjustment to the American balance of payments deficit instead.

His suggestion to solve this problem lies with an international lender of last resort, more powerful and better financed than the current (or historic) IMF since 'the basic absurdity of the gold exchange standard is that it makes the international monetary system highly dependent on individual countries’ decisions about the continued use of one or a few national currencies as monetary reserves.'

Manias, Panics, and Crashes

Continuing my preparation for my last university exam (assuming I am not going the PhD route that is) as well as my self-education concerning economics. I finished Manias, Panics, and Crashes - A History of Financial Crises by Charles P. Kindleberger a few days ago. While the edition I read dated from the mid-90s and did not include the financial crisis of our times a few weeks ago, Kindleberger's book did provide for an interesting analysis of the nature of crises in general. In fact, it was quite the spooky read at times simply because some of the quotes on, say, the Tulip crisis of the 17th century seemed like a perfect description of the recently exploded bubble.

In more general terms, Kindleberger presents a model and an analysis of crises over the last 400 years that leaves the reader stunned due to the lack of singularity of our financial crisis. Evidently, this one was bigger, as far as countries hit by it as well as sheer numbers, than most other crises but the basic underlying principles are the same. Kindleberger sees an exogenous event such as a new invention (.com bubble!) at the origin of every speculative bubble (I am not quite sure what this could have been in our case, 9/11 and the fact that (turning the non-existence of something negative into a positive element) nothing bad (economically speaking) resulted from it?). This is followed by a monetary expansion (global low interest rates, especially in the USA; massive capital imports into the US from especially China) including the emergence of new credit instruments (sub primes!) multiplying this expansion. Finally, 'overtrading', the creation of a speculative bubble takes place.

Describing a housing boom in Chicago in 1857(sic!):
'In the ruin of all collapsed booms is to be found the work of men who bought property at prices they knew perfectly well were fictitious, but who were willing to pay such prices simply because they knew that some still greater fool could be depended on to take the property off their hands and leave them with a profit.' Putting it more succinctly: 'The first taste is for high interest, but that taste soon becomes secondary. There is a second appetite for large gains to be made by selling the principal.'

When this bubble bursts, everyone tries to get out as fast as possible and prices fall only faster. Individual rational actors and decisions result in collectively irrational results. Or, 'the actions of each individual is rational – or would be, were it not for the fact that others are behaving in the same way.'

Talking about bad omens for today's situation (not that we need any considering we're already in a recession in any case): 'A 'financial crisis [can be][...] the culmination of a period of expansion and lead[...] to downturn.' The only piece of good news would be that Kindleberger believes that a 'lender of last resort shortens depressions.' Yet, here Keynes (and Krugman today) comes in arguing that in the special circumstances of deflation combined with a zero interest rate monetary policy becomes ineffective (1, 2 book reviews on this topic). I definitely do not want to open this Pandora's box right now though.

A fun quote on the irrationality of economics to end this post instead (even when I am not certain as to the validity or importance of this part of his argument):
'A competent driver of an automobile, for example, or an expert chess player [or an experienced basketball player I might add] has moved beyond the stage of calculating what needs to be done at a given time. That individual sees the situation and does what is required without pausing to reason out the optimal course of action [...] The notion that asset markets are made up of [...] intelligent, well-informed [...] speculators who calculate by rational steps is [...] not [necessarily true].'

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Macroeconomically speaking this is completely irrelevant of course. What are $18 billion when Congress will spend over $800 billion after all. Plus I guess this recession needs high incomes in order to kick-start consumption again. But, talking symbolic politics (which I admittedly criticized a mere two days ago), how am I supposed to develop any kind of respect toward these leaders of global capitalism (that's what these people are after all to some extent)? How am I supposed to respect this thing called capitalism in the first place, if the immediate response to the biggest financial crash since 1929 is a massive payout to the people responsable for just that crash?

I guess Churchill must have been right, capitalism is clearly the wort imaginable economic system, except for all the others.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama's challenges

Afghanistan seems to be ignored to some extent when compared to the financial crisis, the recession, Guantanamo or the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But, now that Iraq seems to be more or less established as a semi-democracy (good-bye model for the greater Middle East, good-bye all you idealistic neo-cons), it represents the biggest challenge of Western (aka American) credibility and it's not looking good. This is one place where political symbolism (closing Guantanamo, Geithner commenting on China, increased governmental transparency) doesn't even do the slightest good. It's a question of putting your money (troops, actual money, but also ideas, nation-building not war-making) where your mouth is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The War over Iraq

I guess this was my personal goodbye to the Bush administration book. Lawrence Kaplan & William Kristol: The War over Iraq - Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission. A very short booklet, written on the eve of the American invasion, it does for a very entertaining reading (for a cynic such as myself in any case). The two neocons argue for invasion of Iraq and criticize American foreign policy by Bush (the father) and Clinton along the way. Basically, Bush should have marched into Baghdad during the Gulf War when he had the chance but his realistic convictions (and Powell's reservations as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) prevented from endeavoring this course not directly linked to American's vital interests. Clinton on the other hand out of an exaggerated moralism (and liberalism), the perception that every display of American power is a bad thing as such, refused to become more active in Iraq than with a few missiles here and there, never truly threatening Saddam's hold on power. Bush (the son) on other hand represents a glorious mixture of a hard-handed approach (from the realists' school) and moralism (taken from the liberals), something that the authors call a distinctively American internationalism (aka neoconservatism).

An American invasion of Iraq will end Saddam's tyranny and torture chambers (some of the descriptions eerily resemble the ones about American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, even when in Saddam's case these are the low-intensity ones), will create a liberal democracy to Iraq which will act as an ally to Israel and the US in the region, as a counterweight to Iran and maybe most importantly be a kind of city upon a hill showing that democracy is possible in the Middle East. All this can be achieved with 75.000 soldiers, staying in Iraq at most one or two years and at the cost of $16 billion only. Definitely sounds like a good deal if you ask me.

Some of the more amusing arguments:
- American spending on military capabilities is far too low
- civil war in Iraq cannot erupt because there is no historic precedent for it
- Iraq is a safe haven for international terrorism as the PKK is operating from its territory
- quotes from the Bush administration during the gulf war explaining their decision not to march on Baghdad ('the Lebanonization of Iraq' for example) that are being mocked

The Paradox of American Power

Joseph Nye's The Paradox of American Power deals with the American dilemma in today's world. Too strong to be truly challenged, yet too weak to go at it alone (as a quick glance at Bush's policies and failures confirms). According to Nye this is the case for a variety of reasons, most importantly the fading unipolar world. Remnants still exist, militarily most of all, but Nye separates the world in three chess boards (a military one, an economic one and a transnational one) only one of which features a dominating USA on top (you can guess which). Further eroding American power are transnational developments such as information flow, which lead to states in general being less capable of solving problems on their own.

The only way to preserve American (benign of course) hegemony is a concept Nye introduced in the 1990s called soft power (as opposed to hard military power). Soft power describes one's capability to 'get[...] others to want what you want.' Considering the impressive array of cultural and political appeal that the United States still possesses (apart from the usually cited Hollywood movies, one need only glance at the fuss made of Obama's inauguration outside of the US), Nye sees a distinct possibility that American hegemony can be prolonged significantly in this manner. For me personally, a large part of this argument is wishful thinking, beginning with the benign American hegemony (examples of its far less benign aspects abound I believe) soft power is exactly not what the US owns in abundance currently. In fact the Bush administration has been highly successful in eroding this kind of power and the good-will extended to Obama as of right now will undoubtedly change with the first unpopular decision of his government (say American support of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites or extended excursions into Waziristan in order to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan).

While I find the concept of soft power and its impact on international relations quite appealing (Zivilmacht Europa) and relevant and agree with Nye's basis of analysis, his criticism of American emphasis on defense over diplomatic budgets (16:1) for example, I cannot share his optimistic view concerning American capabilities to preserve their hegemony. Even assuming that Obama will reclaim some (or all) of the soft power lost under his predecessor, that will not change the fact that a variety of actors have begun to act as regional hegemons (the EU, China, Brazil). The US cannot counter this movement and while it will remain the most important voice on the international scene for a long time to come it cannot allow itself to even try to go at it alone anymore.

Les États-Unis ont-ils besoin d'alliés?

Recommandé par un de mes professeurs à Sciences Po Yves Haine développe une théorie des relations entre les États-Unis et l'europe très intéressant dans Les États-Unis ont-ils besoin d'alliés? - Les États-Unis et leurs alliés européens, de la guerre froide à l'Irak. Le titre du livre est un peu trompeur parce que Haine n'est commence pas en 1989 (ou 1991) mais en 1949 (le fondement de l'Otan) et revient même plus tôt à Washington, Madison et Wilson et leur impact sur la politique étrangère des États-Unis.

Haine se prouve très lettré en montrant comme le libéralisme et le réalisme ne réussit pas à expliquer l'existence et (surtout) la continuation de l'Alliance après la disparition du danger soviétique. Il est persuadé qu'il y a un aspect de personnalité, de caractéristique personnelle ainsi que nationale qui a contribué à la création et la persévérance de l'Otan. Haine n'essaie pas d'expliquer trop mais se contente à montrer les défauts du raisonnement libéral et réaliste suivi par une descriptions de quelques situation fondamentale dans l'histoire de l'Otan (Cuba, la réunification allemande, le Kosovo).

Il est persuadé que la guerre en Kosovo marque un 'tournant dans l'évaluation de l'outil atlantique par Washington' et qu'en conséquence les américains ont préféré de mener l'attaque en Afghanistan hors de la structure de l'Alliance même vu la volonté de ses alliés à contribuer à cause des mauvaises expériences de 'la guerre en comité.' Pour moi, et en considération de l'inauguration d'Obama hier, je ne suis pas convaincu si cet éloignement n'a pas été une phase temporaire à cause d'une situation et un Président exceptionel(le). Haine lui-même admet que les alliés aujourd'hui contribuent en Afghanistan dans le cadre de l'Otan, qu'il y avait un processus d'apprentissage de l'administration Bush déjà. Il craint surtout un 'partenariat [qui] [...] se réduisait à une division du travail entre une Amérique se chargeant de la haute intensité technologique et une Europe réduite au rôle de gardien de la paix'. Je partage cette analyse d'un avenir probable, mais ne réussis pas à voir le problème dans cela. Vu le capability gap existant aujourd'hui dans le cadre de la révolution militaire entre les États-Unis et le reste du monde (dont Europe), la rattrapage des européens coûterait beaucoup trop chère. Pourquoi pas profité de l'avantage comparative des européens, le peace-making ou nation-building, alors? Même l'administration Bush vient de réaliser que la dominance des américains dans la seule dimension unipolaire au monde aujourd'hui (la dimension militaire) suffit pour gagner n'importe quelle guerre, mais ne pas assez pour assurer la paix après. Sous Obama une alliance plus équilibré pourrait bien redevenir un contributeur important dans la sécurité occidentale.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NY Times article

Haven't posted a simple link to a news article in quite some time, but I found this one really interesting. I have of course written a decent amount of posts on the question of race in the United States here, one very positive, others more negative (1, 2, 3, 4) plus a variety of book reviews (1, 2, 3, 4). The article deals with Obama's impact on social interracial relations in the US:

Two studies on strategic colorblindness [...] concluded that whites, including children as young as 10, may attempt to avoid talking about race with blacks, or even acknowledging racial differences, so as not to appear prejudiced.

The studies also found that blacks viewed that tactic as evidence of prejudice.

I don't luckily have that kind of sensitivity, timidity or whatever you might call it. Maybe always being the foreigner helps, in any case I never encountered a negative response to my curious question or remarks.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Operation Walküre

Hollywood celebrates German resistance against Hitler with a widely publicized movie featuring Tom Cruise as Claus Graf von Stauffenberg as the principal character in a coup d'état against Germany's Nazi-government. Not just an attempt to assassinate Hitler, there were numerous, the 20th July of 1944 represents the biggest and most threatening uprising to the NSDAP's reign.

Me, I am here to tell you why you should not watch this movie.

On the face of it, Stauffenberg seems to be a hero of German resistance. He plants a bomb near Hitler during a high command meeting, assumes he is dead after that bomb explodes (he was wrong of course), and sets in motion Operation Walküre which was the government's emergency plan. A circle of up to 600 people were (to some extent or another) involved in the planning of this takeover (that's how many the Nazis killed afterwards in any case), a civilian government stood ready to take over, a new army high command as well. Yet, Hitler didn't die and managed to establish contact with a young SS-leader stationed in Berlin who entered the Bendlerblock (where the German army's high command was/is stationed) and swiped out the main conspirators.

You might ask yourself now why you should not watch this movie now. The one example of a well-prepared challenge to Hitler's government after 1933 and a militantly anti-fascist, left-wing German tells you not to watch it?

Quite simply, history (and thus the movie) glorifies the wrong person. Stauffenberg is a perfect example of a representative of the conservative nobility of Prussia. An elite group of rural landowners that ran Germany until 1918, a group believing in a class society (remember that Prussia had a three-tier voting system until 1918), emphasizing social hierarchies, in general clamoring for the glorious days of the 19th century. These conservatives fought the Weimarer Republik (1918-1933) with a passion and brought about its final downfall when they coalesced with Hitler against the Communists.

Now, when does these people start rebelling against the NSDAP-regime? Think about the timing here for a second, the Soviet Union is steadily progressing towards Germany, the Battle of Normandy has been lost and Anglo-American forces have secured their foothold in France. Basically, these officers start their famed opposition against the NSDAP only when it becomes clear that Germany cannot win the war anymore. Their rebellion is not one of principle against an unjust regime, it is not even directed against the mass murder of Jews and other minority groups. No, instead it is simply an attempt to limit the effects of a possible disastrous defeat. Plans were made to offer the Allies an immediate armistice and in that way preserve Germany's existence in the border of 1914 (not even 1918!).

What these guys wanted was not a democratic, just Germany. Nor did they truly care about the mass extermination of Jews in Auschwitz et al. They were not going to reestablish the rights of Communists and Social Democrats. I could go on with this, but I feel like the point is obvious. Stauffenberg supposedly died in front of a firing squad yelling for the preservation of unser heiliges Deutschland (our holy Germany).

Yes, what they did courageous but it was not enough and most importantly it came far too late. If you want a hero of German resistance have a look at Georg Elser. But don't lend your support to the glorification of Stauffenberg. He already gets far too much credit as it is.

As Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen put it more eloquently than I ever could:
Ah, wirklich also? Ein wenig spät, ihr Herren, die ihr diesen Erzzerstörer Deutschlands gemacht habt, die ihr ihm nachliefet, solange alles gutzugehen schien, die ihr, alle Offiziere der Monarchie, unbedenklich jeden von euch verlangten Treueid schwort, die ihr euch zu armseligen Mamelucken des mit hunderttausend Morden, mit dem Jammer und dem Fluch der Welt belasteten Verbrecher erniedrigt habt und ihn jetzt verratet, wie ihr vorgestern die Monarchie und gestern die Republik verraten habt.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

La France de Vichy

I read this book for three reasons. Firstly, I had to write a fiche de lecture in French on a book written in another language (aka either German or English for me). Secondly, I am doing an exposé (oral presentation) tomorrow about Vichy. Thirdly, the book is considered the classic on Vichy-France, it changed perceptions of France under German domination significantly (in France in any case) and after my disappointing book written by a Communist I felt an outsider's point of view would be interesting. The book kept its promise, a really good and interesting reading, it took me 2 days and some, but was decidedly worth it. My French teacher didn't really believe me that I had simply read it because it interested me, which is quite ironic since it had been on my reading list for a while, but whatever. I'll simply write another summary, not like I don't read enough books.

The text is in French because I had written it for my class and just a tad too long for me to translate, but I assume most non-French speakers don't really care enough about Vichy and German occupation here to read even a two-page summary anyway.

Hitler, Nazis and so on and forth

So, I've been spending too much time on the Third Reich lately, but what can I do, it's fascinating, the dark side of human existence, whatever. Maybe I'm just dumb and incapable to devote my attention to more current and relevant(?) events. In any case, I spent a decent amount of time on youtube and today looking at old footage, after having read 3-4 books on this topic the last few weeks. Youtube being what it is, there is a massive amount of crap on there (old and new songs celebrating Pétain for example, and no I didn't even look for any of these on Hitler, no tolerance for that kind of shit).

To make a long story short, I found this video (or refound it, I had known about it). It was done by a German comedian who also made a comic about Hitler who has survived the war and is confronted with life as we know it. Moers (the author, writer) makes me chuckle I have to admit it. But is that legitimate? Am I even allowed to laugh at this (not that I really do, but you get my point I think/hope)? Can you poke fun at this man by making him seemingly ridiculous and pitiable. I mean he was ridiculous, but not in the sense conveyed here. Definitely more questions than answers, I wish I had some (answers that is).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

De Munich à Vichy

Germaine Willard De Munich à Vichy - la drôle de guerre est ma première introduction dans la France de la guerre (hors de Sartre est ses oeuvres littéraires La Mort dans l'âme et Le Sursis). Le livre m'a deçu, Willard est peut-être une historienne forte mais elle est aussi une communiste et cela se voit trop. Parfois son livre est plutôt une défense de la PCF qu'un bouquin sur la France de ces années. Je suis sûr que beaucoup de ces idées ont beaucoup de validité, mais comment est-ce que on peut défendre Stalin en 1969? Ou ignorer la politique de rien faire de la PCF entre 1939 et 1941 (jusqu'au début de la guerre d'Allemagne contre l'URSS)? Je n'aime pas les auteurs qui sont incapable de se libérer un peu au moins de leurs conviction politique, cela leur vole la crédibilité à mon avis.

Ayant dit cela, il faut admettre qu'il est choquant de voir que le Parti communiste a été interdit en France avant même l'attaque des allemands en 1940 et que ses députés ont été arrêtés. Je n'avais pas réalisé combien de temps cette drôle de guerre a duré non plus, presque rien se passer sur le front franco-allemand dès septembre 1939 jusqu'au mai 1940. La thèse de Willard est que l'accentuation sur la campagne menée contre les communistes (en France et en Finnlande contre qui l'URSS avait déclaré la guerre) affaiblissait la France et ses forces militaires autant que sa conquête devenue facile. L'armistice devient une acte basée sur la peur d'une révolution populaire et communiste. Les capitalistes profitent de la vente des produits en Allemagne et soutiennent l'occupation (et Vichy) à cause de cela, même s'ils ont refusé de changer leur production pour assurer l'effort de guerre de la France avant. Je ne peux pas juger ces opinions, mais la partialité évidente de Willard m'oblige à douter sa version de l'histoire.

Top 8 of 2008

I had posted my personal album charts during the last two years already (2006, 2007), welcome to the third installement thus. As last year I haven't actually discovered enough good music (or, more accurately, haven't actually listened to enough music published during the course of 2008) for a Top 10 and will have to limit myself to 8 albums only.

8 - Solomon Burke - Like A Fire
On a roll ever since Nashville (2006), just another beautiful soul production by Solomon Burke.

7 - Otis Taylor - Recapturing the Banjo
A black blues musician repossesses the banjo which today is associated virtually only with white musicians. I am not quite sure what kind of music this is. Blues? Folk? Americana, yes, but what does that even mean? A wonderful, modern folksy artist.

6 - GZA - Pro Tools
A Wu-Tang album in 2008? Yes, and it's a good one too. The ODB might be dead, but the GZA is still around. Great beats, great rhymes. As simple as that.

5 - Dr John & The Lower 911 - City That Care Forgot
By now one of the elder statesmen of New Orleans piano music, Dr John seems to be like a fine wine, he only gets better with age. Ever since Katrina he basically sings about New Orleans having disappeared, which, culturally speaking, seems brutally true and sad at the same time. What would modern American music even be like without New Orleans? And from everything I've read and heard about this, New Orleans will only come back as a kind of Disneyland or Las Vegas with the touristy parts of the French Quarter dominating a once thriving (if poor and violent) city. Dr John laments his demise and he does so beautifully.

4 - Nas - Untitled
Nas always seems to suffer from the simple fact that he recorded some of the best rap albums ever, in comparison some of his other stuff simply cannot compete. This is a great album though when compared to virtually everything else. Political as always (the original title was supposed to be a 6-letter word starting with N, his record company refused to release it as such), Nas (luckily) is not going away.

3 - BB King - One Kind of Favor
How old is BB King by now? 80 something? 83 actually, I looked it up. Can one still record great records at that age? Hell, some people cannot even walk anymore at that age, but evidently this is not a problem for the Blues Boy (or is he too old for this moniker by now?). Covering the immortal Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and even the Mississippi Sheiks, BB King seems to move back to a more traditional sound on this album, away from some of the more poppy Blues that made him so famous, and obviously I appreciate this. Finally, Dr John's presence on and T-Bone Burnett's production of this record are noticeable and positively so.

2 - Immortal Technique - The 3rd World
One of the most politically aware rappers is back. Hailing from New York, Puerto Rican, Technique gives us that rare breed of socially conscious rap, I wish this kind of stuff would actually chart every once in a while. Sampling the early (and sadly unknown) Wailers (I Made a Mistake), my personal highlight of the album is a song about learning processes (Mistakes)

1 - John Hiatt - Same Old Man
I never knew much about John Hiatt, nor do I particularly like some of his older stuff, I deleted one of his older albums a few days ago in fact, but his two most recent albums are great (Master of Disaster in 2005, Same Old Man in 2008). How did a friend of mine describe it once? Old men picking a guitar, singing about dying. John Hiatt sings about the Old Days, about the men he toured with, he encountered, who have passed on ever since. Wonderful.

This then leaves us with some honourable mentions that I have not listened to sufficiently yet, in a few months they could have very well made or prolonged this list:

Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
Black Milk - Tronic
Devin the Dude - Landing Gear
Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life
Nach - Un Dia En Suburbia
Q Tip - The Renaissance
Scarface - Emeritus
Snoop Dogg - Ego Trippin'
The Blind Boys of Alabama - Down in New Orleans
Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis - Two Men With The Blues