U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds - "The Defense Department's Inspector General, in a [July 26 (pdf)] report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up... The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress' annual budget – spends the public's money."
How two American kids became big-time weapons traders - "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via; previously on arms contractors)
From the Pentagon to the private sector - In large numbers, and with few rules, retiring generals are taking lucrative defense-firm jobs [more inside]
The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. "The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup." [Via Firedoglake.]
"All this costs money. It costs more than we have." One year ago today, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned of a "subtle and implacable" adversary whose "brutal consistency...stifles free thought...and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk." It wasn't freedom's obvious foes; he was referring to waste in the Pentagon. The DOD uses so many different financial systems and interfaces it won't have auditable books for another five to 10 years. It still manually enters purchases made with electronic purchase cards. It fires whistleblowers who call attention to shady missile defense deals. And every year, it completely loses track of a quarter of the world's biggest military budget.
Percent of World Military Spending. The US and its allies dwarf the rest of the world in what it spends on defense. On the one hand I see the need to bring overwhelming force in a conflict and I think just having it is in itself stabilizing. But I can also see money and resources put to better use elsewhere (e.g. healthcare, education, basic research) the effects of which I think might even do more to affect global peace and prosperity than any loss that may obtain from a reduced defense budget. (other Thoughts of the Fortnight by J. Bradford DeLong including this draft he presented with Larry Summers! at the Fed symposium in Jackson Hole :)