Links Christmas Eve

Coming to LAX: 13 ‘comfort dogs’ for frazzled fliers Los Angeles Times

This ‘alien’ mushroom is like something from a horror movie …and it’s in Britain Metro. With photos….

When Does Bargaining Become Fraud? Bloomberg

Big Winners as Fed Raises Rates: Foreign Banks WSJ

After Math Error, Fitch Doubles Student-Debt Downgrade Estimate Bloomberg

US banks hit by cheap oil as Opec warns of long-term low FT

Obama’s foreign policy goals get a boost from plunging oil prices WaPo

Why Big Oil Should Kill Itself Project Syndicate

The 6 major adverse shocks that have hit the U.S. macroeconomy since 2005 Washington Center for Equitable Growth

China overshadows global outlook for 2016 FT

Europe?

Mr. Schäuble’s ultimate weapon: The restructuring of European public debts Brookings

Seismic Political Shock in Spain NYT

The Plane Crash Conspiracy Theory That Explains Poland Foreign Policy

Poland’s Walesa calls for early election, sees democracy at risk Reuters. (And see “David Gilmour – Live in Gdansk 2008”)

China Cosco Is Sole Bidder for Stake in Greece’s Piraeus Port WSJ

The gauge of history The Economist. Train travel in Russia

Holidaze

Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh Is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future Gizmodo. Owned by Google. Of course.

Can you spot the panda hidden among all the snowmen? Independent

Australian government urges holidaymakers to kill two-factor auth The Register

Why the best bargains for women might be in the men’s section Sidney Morning Herald

2015 Lists

The 10 Best Lists of 2015 Vulture. The meta! It b-u-r-n-n-n-s-s!

2015’s Best TV: I Hate Top Ten Lists, but O.K., Fine, Here’s a List The New Yorker

What a year: The Top 10 moments in politics of 2015 McClatchy

Four Readings On Health Philanthropy: A Holiday Potpourri Health Affairs

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA Helped British Spies Find Security Holes In Juniper Firewalls The Intercept

Pennsylvania Cop Charged with Fabricating Ambush on Herself, the Ninth Cop This Year to Fabricate Such a Story (Updated) Photography is Not a Crime

Moral Panic: Who Benefits From Public Fear? Psychology Today

The last time an American tycoon exploited terrorism Pando Daily (unlocked by GU).

U.S. Cold War Nuclear Target Lists Declassified for First Time National Security Archive

2016

Bernie Sanders: To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed Bernie Sanders, NYT. Bloomberg summary.

Poll: Against Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump Would Get ‘Schlonged’ Rolling Stone. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished…

Trump rips up rule book of U.S. ‘retail politics’ Reuters

Hillary Clinton’s cargo cult economics The Week

Judge upholds Seattle’s ‘gun violence’ tax Reuters

U.S. plans raids to deport families who surged across border WaPo

Class Warfare

Buybacks fueled by cheap credit leave workers out of the equation Reuters. Thanks, Janet!

Did the Great Recession Lead to the Great Vacation? CEPR. Important take on our “new normal” of a permanently lower labor force participation rate.

And it’s not a “great vacation.” Disemployment is a human tragedy played out across the country, and, via “hysteresis,” a fantastic waste of human capital, so called. Disemployment should also be a savage indictment of the elites who threw millions on the trash heap by the policies they chose, but of course that will never happen. Could use a better headline, CEPR!

Home is where the cartel is Interfluidity

[T]here is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of housing capitalism. We encourage people to take on highly leveraged, undiversified exposure in homes with promises that they are good “investments”, meaning they will increase or at least retain their values over time. We also claim that housing is a consumption good that should be efficiently provided, a good for which competitive markets should expand supply to drive prices down to a technologically declining marginal cost of production. Housing cannot be both of those things at once.

The Firm as a Time Lord Conversable Economist

5 Reasons Why You Should Build A Small Business — Not A Start-up Medium. I’m so sick of hearing about start-ups.

24 Pull Requests: The journalism edition Another Word For It

Is T-Mobile degrading online videos? YouTube thinks so. San Francisco Chronicle

Study Finds Mechanism That Causes Normal Cells to Become Cancerous WSJ (original).

Knitters With Hopelessly Knotted Yarn Call ‘Detanglers’ for Help WSJ. I can think of plenty of other problems to “detangle”!

Retrotopia: A Gift to be Simple and Too Little, Too Late The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour (Kokuanani):

links chow

A Christmas chow.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

53 comments

  1. Carolinian

    Dean Baker is being sarcastic with the Great Vacation headline–might want to take another look.

    And a couple of movie recommendations: Best of Enemies where Gore Vidal mops the floor with a clearly nervous and unglued William F. Buckley and Trumbo where blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (eventually) mops the floor with red-baiter Hedda Hopper. It isn’t entirely fanciful when Bryan Cranston finally quips: “I am Spartacus.” Thumbs way up.

  2. allan

    Thanks for the links and have a great XmasEve.

    I for one look forward to our fungi overlords.
    At least they don’t babble on about public-private partnerships.

  3. Jef

    “Bernie Sanders: To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed ”

    I predicted this headline. You can put any candidate name up there but its all bovine excrement.

    Name the last Prez that was able to follow through with the big promises.

  4. Arizona Slim

    Personally, I could do without the dogs in airports. To me, they aren’t the least bit therapeutic.

    1. tongorad

      Dog lovers think that everyone loves dogs, and/or that everyone must put up with their boorish, smelly presence by default.

      1. perpetualWAR

        And those of you with children think they need to be tolerated.

        Why not add a loving comment on Christmas?

  5. Christian B

    First, as someone who does not celebrate the holiday, thanks for the links.

    On “Study Finds Mechanism That Causes Normal Cells to Become Cancerous”; the gene they point out is isocitrate dehydrogenase. Basically it helps DNA express itself by removing methly groups from DNA and is a key enzyme in the Krebs Cycle. The enzyme uses Magnesium and Maganese as cofactors. A deficiency in Magnesium or Manganese will slow the enzyme activity and DNA will be hypermethylated which changes gene expression and possibly causing cancer. Increasing Magnesium intake will speed up the IDH enzyme and will remove the methyl groups from the histones allowing for gene expression. When an IDH gene has a mutation or a polymorphism it will need more Magnesium and maganese to operate with the same efficiency and it is what accounts for the variation of cancer outcomes.

    For more on histone methylation see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histone_methylation

    Note that it frustrates me because this is nothing new!
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130701

    But what frustrates me more is that these “scientists” will never mention the role that Magnesium or Manganese deficiency plays in the enzyme activity of IDH1 and IDH2.

    I want to add to that a study that came out a few days ago linking low Magnesium to pancreatic cancer.
    http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/more-magnesium-could-equal-less-pancreatic-cancer/81252128/

    Medicine is so far behind because it constantly neglects the role that vitamin cofactors have on gene expression. But may e the is a feature and not a bug.

  6. Dino Reno

    Everyone can stop worrying about Trump being President because he already is. Bowe Bergdahl, a year after his Taliban release is now suddenly on trail, Obama has reversed himself on negotiating with Russia and Assad and given up on regime change, a crackdown on foreign visas is now underway and the White House has just announced stepped up deportation of Central American immigrants. By the time the general election starts, assuming it’s Clinton vs. Trump, Obama will be in full Trump mode including hot tub outings with Putin in the Siberian wilderness and calling Europeans losers for their failure to close their borders to immigrants. Obama is constantly morphing into the shape of his greatest critic at any particular moment in time.

    As was noted by Rolling Stone, Bernie is the only one who can Schlong Trump. Clinton’s negatives are just too high to win. Trump’s attacks, literally below Hillary’s belt (bathroom breaks and schlonging), are both mocking and au current. The current state of our popular culture is a non-stop stream of lowbrow bathroom humor that produces the biggest bucks and biggest gut-busting laughs. Nothing is sacred, not even politics, as if it ever was.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe some of his supporters believe he should be called Jesus (the Spanish pronunciation) Trump.

    2. Carolinian

      You left out turning back a Muslim family on their way to Disneyland at the London airport. However wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the hot tubs. Those two really don’t like each other.

  7. Dave

    Re 10,000 “families” crossing the border illegally. Perhaps some of these children should be taken away from their illegal alien parent for the benefit of the children? Place them in the U.S. foster care system. There are tens of thousands of infertile Americans–thanks G.M.O.s–who want to adopt. We know couples who have been waiting years to adopt.

    This could work both ways at the border. Aliens who are deported are protected and excused in a mantle of protection by howls of outrage about “families being broken up”. Is there some reason that they can’t take their U.S. born children home with them when they are deported? These kids could also be placed in the U.S. foster care system if the alien parents don’t want to return to Mexico or Central America with them.

    All these children could benefit from that and it would assimilate them to American society rather than just allow more welfare dependent burdens on the U.S. that they and their single parent would and usually become when the alleged “family” remains intact. It is hypocritical to excuse the incoming wave of unskilled foreign labor and then lament the lack of living wage jobs for America’s poor.

    As to Iowa, “The Moline, Illinois-based tractor maker, hit hard by a slumping farm economy, has shed hundreds of workers as sales and profit have fallen.” No, it’s not the “farm economy”, it’s because Deere retains ownership of the software on it’s overly complicated and fragile products. It’s illegal per federal law to hack the controls on your own property that you have bought. Farmers lose days of production waiting for a Deere “tech” to come out to their field and do the equivalent of turning a screw on a carburetor. Farmers don’t want Deere technogarbage and they are boycotting the company. Who wants to buy Deere stock? They are loaded with debt and with technogarbage products, their stock is a sure long term loser.

    p.s. Screw Monsanto.

    1. craazyboy

      Some people might want to adopt a French kid. Maybe hang around a Disney World hotel and wait for a French mom to drop one on American soil? That would work.

  8. RUKidding

    Archdruid is always a good read. Thanks for link to push me there.

    Minor quibble that Sydney is spelled with a “y” not an “i”. Otherwise interesting article re the costs of things marketed to women v men (girls v boys).

    Seasons Greetings to one and all.

  9. griffen

    Regards to the ratings on student debt securities, at the very least Fitch determined their error prior to any downgrades taking place.

    Gotta love that bidness model, it’s only an opinion of course.

  10. Vatch

    Knitters With Hopelessly Knotted Yarn Call ‘Detanglers’ for Help

    Hah! I know how Alexander III of Macedon would detangle those knots!

  11. perpetualWAR

    Chows. They are my least favorite dog breed.

    But want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas anyway, despite my Chow prejudice.

      1. ambrit

        Proof that Ancient China traded with Meso America. The Aztecs and related cultures also use canine protein, calling it, “Chow-wow-ahhh.”

    1. Kokuanani

      Sorry, perpetual, for whatever bad experiences you’ve had. Chows, like most breeds, are a reflection of their owners and how the owners raise them. It’s not the fault of the dog itself.

      We’ve rescued chows for 35 years and have attempted to raise them to be sweet and obedient. You do need to be a good “alpha” to them. But having raised two kids, it’s all about the same. Far too many chows are given up [and hopefully end up in rescue] because they are adorable little lions/fuzz-balls as pups, but grow into DOGS. Then the troubles begin.

      Personally, I hate the small yappy breeds that are always trying to pick fights with larger dogs. But to each his/her own. And happy holidays.

  12. snackattack

    Didn’t think I’d like it, but the meta-list is great! Particularly like the list of weird presidential candidates, I think I’ve found who I’m voting for!

    EMPEROR FREDERICK LINDSEY LOHAN GOKU 2016!!!!!!!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China…Cosco…Greece’s port Piraeus.

    China’s contact with Greece dates back more than 2,000 years, even before they ran into Persians, when they sent soldiers to look for Tian Ma and met Bactrian Greeks along the way. There, they discovered Buddhism and, afterwards, many Gandharan monks traveled to Chang An to spread the teachings of Tathagata.

    Perhaps this is Deja Vu all over again.

  14. rich

    Bernie Sanders Accuses Hillary Of Being Too Cozy With Big Pharma And Health Care Industry

    In a feisty fundraising email sent to supporters on Wednesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Hillary Clinton of being too cozy with health care and pharmaceutical companies, asserting that the Democratic front-runner has taken more money in campaign contributions from those industries than the top three Republican presidential candidates combined.

    “Now, and let’s not be naive about this, maybe they are dumb and don’t know what they are going to get?” Sanders wrote of the health care and pharmaceutical companies. “But I don’t think that’s the case, and I don’t believe you do either.”

    The email marks perhaps the most aggressive shot Sanders has taken at Clinton, who has endorsed Obamacare. In contrast, the 73-year-old democratic socialist supports a single-payer, nationalized health care system.

    According to Sanders, one factor holding Clinton back from supporting single-payer — which he asserts will guarantee health care to all — is that the former secretary of state “has received millions of dollars from the health care and pharmaceutical industries.”

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/23/bernie-sanders-accuses-hillary-of-being-too-cozy-with-big-pharma-and-health-care-industry/

  15. optimader

    Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh Is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future Gizmodo. Owned by Google. Of course.

    I think a few Czech Wolf dogs would pretty quickly out flank these, knock ’em over and reduce them to several pieces before getting bored. And you can run them on “alternative fuel”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czechoslovakian_Wolfdog
    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is very playful, temperamental, and learns easily. However, it does not train spontaneously, the behavior of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is strictly purposeful – it is necessary to find motivation for training. The most frequent cause of failure is usually the fact that the dog is tired out with long useless repetitions of the same exercise, which results in the loss of motivation.
    — me as a kid, then well, as an adult

  16. Jim Haygood

    Venezuela disease spreads to Africa:

    Some of Africa’s largest economies, including Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique, are restricting access to the greenback to protect dwindling reserves.

    The shortage comes as the inflow of dollars from resource exports, from oil to cotton, has plummeted with the prices of these commodities. The commodity rout also is putting pressure on local currencies, which some central banks are trying to support with their dwindling supply of dollars.

    In the summer, the Nigerian central bank introduced a list of 41 items, from meat to concrete, that it won’t release dollars for. But no matter what a buyer wants their dollars for, their request has to be vetted against this list, slowing down any attempt to buy the currency.

    Angola now lists industries—including the oil and food sectors—that have priority for the country’s dollar reserves, In Mozambique, the government requires companies to convert half of any dollar revenues into the local currency, as it looks to shore up its reserves.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/african-firms-hit-by-dollar-shortages-1450832154

    This is the horror of fiat currencies: they trade like penny stocks, going to absurd extremes of under- and overvaluation. Governments try to smooth the spikes, but end up either running out of forex, or getting swamped with so much that it creates a bubble.

    Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has authorized Chinese yuan as part of its currency basket, having wisely given up on the fiat currency game after making every Zimbabwean a millionaire (in worthless Z-dollars). Our Randy Wray coulda fixed that …

    1. Yves Smith

      This is a very incomplete information about many countries in Africa. As Nicholas Shaxson describes at some length in his book Treasure Islands, they are in most cases net capital exporters due to exploitation by multinationals and local insiders when developing economies should be net capital importers.

      1. Jim Haygood

        No doubt. The late kleptocratic billionaire Mobutu Sese Seko still casts a long shadow.

        Inherently, the discretionary nature of capital controls creates winners and losers, some of whom are simply looters.

        Sounds like a window of opportunity for Uncle Sam to roll in with a fistful of dollars for some new Africom military bases. FCPA will ensure that every penny is accounted for. /sarc

    2. I.D.G.

      No, this is the horrors of allowing unlimited liquidity and unconstraint capital flows. Get the causality right.

      Same thing HAS happened under fixed exchange or gold standard.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Communiqué from American exceptionalist Steven Breyer — we’re born to rule!

    This Supreme Court must increasingly consider the world beyond our national frontiers … in determining the reach of an American statute.

    We Americans have an essential contribution to make … strongly tied to who we are [and] the nature of our government.

    Our system, far from being a hindrance, is perfectly well equipped to meet [the legal challenges of global interdependence]. It is the need to maintain a rule of law that should spur us on.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stephen-breyer-global-interdependence-today-affects-even-the-supreme-court-2015-12-22

    ‘Maintain the rule of law,’ enthuses Breyer, in our post-constitutional, martial law, NSA-monitored Potemkin democracy.

    Lofty rhetoric, from a lowly rubber stamp.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We need to be able to enforce our statues (and the status of our global reserve currency).

      Luckily we have the exceptional means. Not many countries can make that claim.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Star Chamber that appointed our Dear Leader in 2000 and 2004, packed with misogynistic fairy tale believers and gender fascists, issuing a “law of the land” that is now widely ignored and unenforced, unless of course you are not of the moneyed class…what could possibly go wrong?

  18. rich

    Trinidad Central Bank Chief Dismissed, State Media Report

    Trinidad & Tobago’s central bank Governor Jwala Rambarran has been fired, state television C News reported late Wednesday, without giving an explanation.

    While the central bank didn’t respond to a request by Bloomberg News for comment, the move follows a controversy that erupted this month when

    Rambarran disclosed the names of companies that have been among the biggest purchasers of U.S. dollars in the Caribbean nation.

    Finance Minister Colm Imbert said he was contacted by

    business representatives who complained the comments represented a breach of privacy.

    On Dec. 8, the central bank rejected those accusations in a statement.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-24/trinidad-central-bank-chief-dismissed-state-media-report

    how much $ trade ??hmmm…

  19. Will

    “Why Big Oil Should Kill Itself” —

    Now that oil prices have settled into a long-term range of $30-50 per barrel (as described here a year ago), energy users everywhere are enjoying an annual income boost worth more than $2 trillion. The net result will almost certainly accelerate global growth, because the beneficiaries of this enormous income redistribution are mostly lower- and middle-income households that spend all they earn.

    After an opening paragraph like that, I can’t be expected to take anything in this piece seriously, right?

    …Right?

    1. efschumacher

      Any rational far-seeing government would soak up the energy dividend by whacking a $2 a gallon tax on hydro-carbons to fund sustainable, cleaner ways for everyone to get around. Not Republicans of course. Because American Exceptionalism.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Venezuela’s President Maduro gets a brainwave from Frank Roosevelt (circa 1936), followed by a Kumbaya moment:

    CARACAS—Venezuela’s lame-duck parliament on Wednesday rushed through 13 new Supreme Court justices, as President Nicolás Maduro’s allies sought to block the agenda of the incoming, opposition-controlled National Assembly.

    National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello then led the magistrates as they raised their hands and swore to uphold the constitution in the name of God, the 19th-century liberator Simón Bolívar, and Hugo Chávez, who holds a quasi-religious status for government officials.

    After the justices were sworn in, the entire assembly sang along to a recording of Mr. Chávez singing the national anthem.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/maduro-s-allies-stack-venezuelas-supreme-court-1450912005

    That singalong musta been a riot. Like watching Kim Jong Il and a cast of thousands belt out My Way with a chorus of chipmunks.

  21. Irrational

    Re. two factor authentication: It seems that everyone is keen to move the second factor of two-factor authentication to the mobile phone which in Europe means you get charged for the roaming. Reliability of receiving the SMS is an excellent point though, which I shall make to my bank, which insists on retiring functioning tokens. Thanks for posting the link.
    RE. women shopping in the men’s section: I even do this for clothes, especially running gear, to get things that match my needs (women’s shorts are a criminal 7 inch, men’s normally a more comfortable 11 inch), and sweaters (men’s sweaters tend to be double ply, so warmer, but women tend to need the warmer clothes). Of course it does not work for all items (!), but where it does I will happily save the money.
    Merry Christmas to Yves, Lambert and all the readers.

    1. efschumacher

      Personal observation only, mind you, but I believe that women’s clothing is dearer than men’s because half of all items bought are returned, and the other half is left in the changing room. Hence the difference can be accounted for in re-stocking costs.

      Me, and other men of my acquaintance, know what we want, buy it and wear it.

      Please do not bring those flibbertigibbet clothes buying habits into the men’s section, pushing up costs for all of us.

  22. Elliot

    @efschumacher

    This is a holiday so I will be polite, and say, ‘sexist nonsense’. Studies undertaken over the past few decades on this topic always come to the same conclusion… (greedy) men running businesses charge women more for the same services because 1) they can, 2) they think of women as defective men and thus, their clothes need not be as good, last as long, wear as well, or be cleaned for the same price. That you choose to blame women for being overcharged pretty much illustrates my thesis.

    As a person of the female gender, who has been by trade a farmer, stagehand, mechanic, gardener, and other types of things requiring heavy duty gear, it has always been harder to find smaller sizes that weren’t cheap and tacky or in submissive pink. As a member of a large family, and now as a retailer these many decades, I have observed men dither and fart around trying to decide on which color of socks to buy, or the brand of TV, or (my favorite) spend a half hour deciding which type of fan-spray attachment for the garden hose to buy. And then bring them back for returns.

    But hey, it’s the womens’ fault.

    ~~~~
    I’m not particularly a dog person, but anything that brings some life and empathy to the horrors of modern day airports is a good idea, and unless I read the articles wrong, nobody is forcing passengers to play with the dogs or take them home; they are there as de-stress support personnel. Far nicer for the rest of the passengers than the old version of stressy passengers flying drunk.

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