2:00PM Water Cooler 2/22/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

TTP/TTIP/TiSA

“TTIP will trigger action wave against states in Europe” [Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, via Google Translate]. “Essentially, there are two explanations for the increase in [ISDS] lawsuits. First, the system in the corporate world has become known. You know that so can attack up to public health measures just about everything with environmental laws. And that the system is financially lucrative. Second, investor-state lawsuits have become a separate business area. Estates, referees and litigation funder earn so much money and head up the machine to continue, by encouraging companies to sue.” If you want to see lawsuits, make sure there are two lawyers in town…

“[TPP] should not be adopted without a full, independent health assessment” [New Zealand Medical Association]. “Evidence-based WHO and UN international agreements reflect the cooperation of many governments to limit disease by protecting the physical environment, and controlling hazardous products or behaviours. The only health-related international agreement explicitly supported in the TPPA is the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Environment Chapter 20). Its inclusion is a ‘win for health’ (eg, skin cancer and cataracts), and demonstrates that the TPPA could recognise other health-related agreements. The text is totally silent on other health-protecting UN/WHO agreements.”

“TTIP: Secret document reveals in detail the EU offer to drop 97 percent of its tariffs on US goods” [TTIP: The Deal]. “Four days before the next negotiation round starts, the EU Commission has now indicated that they don’t expect a comprehensive offer from the US side. Sources said, that the US haven’t sent their offer yet and that talks about public procurement will be held after the official negotiation week.” Public procurement” is what the Europeans want in exchange.

2016

Readers, 2016 today will be a little bit light. I overdosed on Links and the post on “The Obama Coalition.”

Policy

“Neither Clinton nor Sanders has a welfare-reform proposal, despite the raft of options they have floated for helping lower-income families. Neither Clinton nor Sanders brings up welfare when discussing what good they would do for the poor. Neither campaign even bothered to get back to me when I requested comment for this piece” [New York Magazine]. “So here is my humble suggestion for the Clinton and Sanders campaigns: If you really want to help low-income families, bring back welfare. Make it easier to get and easier to keep. Rename it, rework it, and destigmatize it.”

Money

Of the $215 million super PACs have spent on behalf of candidates in 2016, just $9 million has been spent attacking Trump [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Seize Leads for Their Parties’ Nominations”]. Hmm.

The Trail

“Britney Spears removes endorsement for Hillary” [Bizpac Review].

“Only if the self-avowed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders were to cop the Democratic nomination and square off against reality-TV star Trump could these would-be Bloomberg supporters imagine him making the race — and even then, there were doubts” [Politico]. Still, we can picture the centrist Democrats agonizing over their crises of conscience before ultimately backing him.

“Yes, Bernie Sanders Wanted Obama Primaried in 2012. Here’s Why” [The Nation]. ” The episode is a Rorschach test for Democrats. Clinton supporters clearly look at Sanders’s remarks and see a disloyal sometimes-Democrat who will pick up his ball and go home when tough compromises are at hand. Many of the same center-left pundits who are now blasting Sanders for being unrealistic were writing in 2011 about how Democrats would have to suck it up and accept Social Security cuts. Sanders represented the other view—that there were certain red lines Democrats shouldn’t cross, and that elite opinion had wandered far astray from where most voters actually were.”

“‘Turn off the lights!’: Donald Trump leads unusual chant after ‘protester’ turns off lights at rally” [Business Insider]. Brilliant kayfabe, whether the protester was real or not:

Trump repeatedly told the crowd that he enjoyed the low lighting. When the lights came back on, the real-estate magnate began waving his arms. He led the crowd in a chant to turn the lights back off.

“No! Get those lights off! Off! They’re too bright, turn them off!” Trump told the event’s staff. “Ready? Turn off the lights! Turn off the lights! Turn off the lights!”

After the stage crew yielded to Trump’s call for dimmer lighting, he said the moment demonstrated how he would negotiate for the US as president.

“And because the lights didn’t work, I won’t pay the rent, so we get better lighting, and we don’t pay the rent, right?” Trump said to cheers. “That’s the way we have to negotiate for our country.”

I remember the Grateful Dead demanding the same thing from the stage. Not, I think, for the same reason…

“Social media has turned Republican & Democratic Parties into host bodies for 3rd party candidates.” [Clay Shirky].

“Is Bernie Sanders’s ‘Political Revolution’ Fading?” [New York Magazine]. A compendium.

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, January 2016: “Doubts over the outlook may be building but January was a solid month for the economy as the national activity index rose to plus 0.28 from a revised minus 0.34 in December” [Econoday]. “Gains in vehicle production were a highlight of the industrial production report which also got a boost from a weather-related swing higher for utility output. Employment also added to January’s headline.” More: “The readings in this report, though in general favorable, are mixed with the current month pointing to above-trend historical growth but not the 3-month average which points to below average growth.” But: “This is volatile so best to go by the 3 mo moving average” [Mosler Economics].

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, February 2016: ” Weak orders and a drop in selling prices are among the striking negatives in the February flash PMI which, at 51.0, is still in the plus-50 expansion column but only barely. This is the lowest reading in three years and is below Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “Production is slowing and growth in new orders and employment have only been marginal so far this month. And, in a special negative that points to more trouble ahead for employment, backlog orders are contracting at the steepest pace since September 2009. Respondents are blaming lack of demand for the trouble, specifically delays in customer spending. The report says weather is not a factor in the readings.” And: “Worse than expected again. And this is the one that’s be overstating things” [Mosler Economics].

Honey for the Bears: “Pessimism among investors reflects not just the indicators pointing towards recession. There is a deeper concern that, if or when that recession comes, policymakers will have very few options for dealing with it” [The Economist, “Unfamiliar ways forward”]. “Since the existence of cash is a limit on how low interest rates can go, Andy Haldane, the chief economist of the Bank of England, and Ken Rogoff of Harvard University have proposed abolishing it altogether. But even if such radicalism were to prove feasible in a few countries, its effects might be limited. Savers would find alternative stores of value, such as precious metals or foreign banknotes, or pass on the cost of having money in the bank to others by making payments early.”

“LONDON — HSBC said on Monday that it lost money in the fourth quarter and warned that it was being investigated for hiring candidates with ties to government officials in the Asia-Pacific region” [New York Times].

“Central bankers are paying closer attention to core inflation, even as they continue to fret about headline numbers. Core inflation figures track the prices that people pay for everyday goods and services like shoes or haircuts. They can be a better indication of economic trends than overall inflation numbers, which get distorted by one-off spikes in oil or food prices. Recently, for instance, headline inflation has tanked largely due to the collapse in oil prices” [Wall Street Journal, “Deflation Fears Dim as Consumer Prices Strengthen”].

And speaking of trustworthy data:


The Times story is behind a paywall, unfortunately.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54, Neutral (previous close: 48) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 22 at 12:31pm. So, the visit to the Nineteenth Hole on Sunday took place, and yes, the needle is on the greed side, albeit still in neutral territory.

Dear Old Blighty

“The pound fell the most since the U.K.’s 2009 banking crisis after London Mayor Boris Johnson, one of the nation’s most popular politicians, said he’ll campaign for Britain to leave the European Union in a June referendum” [Bloomberg].

“A summit-weary David Cameron had barely caught up on his sleep on Saturday morning when the Mayor of London emailed to let his old pal know he would take the opposite side. There was no reply. Less than 10 minutes before going public, Mr Johnson sent the British prime minister a ‘courtesy’ text” [Financial Times, “Brussels Briefing: The Outer Boris]. A very, very good roundup

“Of almost 70 constituency parties contacted, only two reported a majority of party members are in favour of remaining in the European Union. Many others were reluctant to hazard a guess as to the how opinion divided in their constituency parties, but among those who did offer breakdowns, more than half a dozen reported a 50/50 split and 17 a majority in favour of leaving” [Guardian]. So the Tories have fallen to fighting among themselves, while Labour is busy unifying itself by purging the Blairites.

“North London A&E tells patients to ‘go home unless you’re dying'” [Evening Standard]. Rule #2 of neoliberalism

Our Famously Free Press

“Why America turned off Al Aazeera” [John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review] (Re Silc).

Gaia

“The Pacific Northwest could become a major hub for methanol production if three proposed refineries are built along the Columbia River and Puget Sound” [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]. “A China-backed consortium, Northwest Innovation Works, has proposed two plants in Washington and a third in Oregon to convert natural gas to methanol, which would be shipped to China to make plastics and other consumer goods.” The correllation between anything with the word “innovation” in it and crapification and corruption is uncomfortably high.

“The Benicia city planning commission, voting unanimously, dealt a dramatic setback Thursday to an oil company’s plans to ship crude oil via train through Northern California, including downtown Sacramento, to its local refinery” [Longshore and Shipping News].

Militia Watch

“The Oregon occupation is over, but standoffs among nearby residents continue ” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘There’s a lot of people who have been here a long time and lost friendships over it,’ said Nicole Davis, 45, a third-generation Harney County resident who has stopped going to church because she’s so afraid of getting drawn into a personal fight over the armed occupation.”

Guillotine Watch

Too late, alas: “Scalia described himself as an advocate of judicial restraint, who believed that the courts should defer to the democratically elected branches of government. In reality, he lunged at opportunities to overrule the work of Presidents and of legislators, especially Democrats” [The New Yorker]. “Scalia helped gut the Voting Rights Act, overturn McCain-Feingold and other campaign-finance rules, and, in his last official act, block President Obama’s climate-change regulations. Scalia’s reputation, like the Supreme Court’s, is also stained by his role in the majority in Bush v. Gore. His oft-repeated advice to critics of the decision was ‘Get over it.'”

“Some affluent parents are buying and building homes in which almost every room is a classroom—for everything from math to music” [Wall Street Journal, “Haute Home Schools Designed to Give Kids a Bespoke Education”]. “Ms. Taylor says her younger kids work in a large room with educational toys displayed on open shelving; meanwhile, the older boys work independently in their study. Ms. Taylor teaches math on a white board in her office, and, when the weather is nice, the kids do art projects on the outdoor lanai. Piano classes, which each child takes three times a week, are given in a loft.” Sounds great. Why not all children?

Class Warfare

“Increasingly, luck will matter a lot more, no matter how much education kids get. The winners and losers in today’s economic sweepstakes will look a lot more alike: bright, well-educated, sincere. But the rewards and the losses are now more fickle, and meritocracy will ring hollow for those who did get an education but not quite in the right field, or from the right university, or happen to live in the wrong place, or did not have the contacts from parents and friends to land that crucial first job. All that tuition paid, and for what? Another coffee-shop job?” [Economics for Public Policy]. “Sincere.”

“Mr. Meyer, the entrepreneur behind Shake Shack, the Modern and Blue Smoke, has recently embraced this cause, pledging to do away with tipping at his restaurants, as a means to combat income inequality. He contends that paying workers well is not only the right thing to do, but is also good for business — well-compensated employees, the thinking goes, will be happy, loyal and hard-working” [New York Times]. IIRC, there’s a hard core of people, perhaps as much as a third of the population, who prefer tipping, and complain at its absence, because tipping gives them a pleasant feeling of power over the servers.

News of the Wired

“Why Violins Have F-Holes: The Science & History of a Remarkable Renaissance Design” [Open Culture]. Beautiful!

“Citizen Science: In the Shadows of Volcán Tungurahua” [Nature]. Hopeful!

“How this company tracked 16,000 Iowa caucus-goers via their phones” [Fusion]. Horrifying!

“Mini Object Lesson: Still a Staple of Modern Life” [The Atlantic].

I, for one, welcome our new overlord:


And illustrating the art of juxtaposition:


* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Kurt):

vinca

Again, so unfair!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether. http://www.correntewire.com

80 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    We control the horizontal and the vertical, says unelected central planner:

    “We have achieved excellent control over the effective federal funds rate, and we have done so while avoiding unintended effects on the financial system or financial stability,” Simon Potter said in a speech at Columbia University.

    To make sure there would be a floor under short-term interest rates, the Fed lifted the daily cap on its reverse repurchase program to around $2 trillion from $300 billion.

    According to the minutes of the Fed’s January meeting, there was a discussion about when to reduce the $2 trillion daily cap but officials decided “to wait a couple of months or longer” in part to gain experience with its tool kit.

    Potter said lowering the cap would remind money-market funds that the Fed is not going to provide a risk-free investment opportunity indefinitely and on a very large scale.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-official-touts-excellent-control-over-interest-rates-2016-02-22

    QE1 was supposed to be a temporary program too. Then they announced QE2, and QE3, and it went on for nigh on five years.

    The Fed is blowing smoke about withdrawing the RRP floor in “a couple of months.” With nearly $2.5 trillion of excess reserves on tap, overnight rates will fall right back to zero if they aren’t propped up with “direct aid.”

    1. craazyboy

      The Fed could sell their $4 trillion of bonds on their balance sheet as a result of all that QE. Then we might get a clue to what “free market” rates are across the whole yield curve.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They all sound like formaldehyde solution solutions.

      The interesting fact about formaldehyde, and people can learn about in any coverage of laminate flooring and coverage of Lumber Liquidators, is that it is toxic to the living, and yet, magically preserves the dead.

      QEs = Formaldehyde solutions.

      The best we can say is, we don’t want those solutions to our problems.

    1. Pat

      I really think the original piece needs to be sent far and wide. Mostly because the guy is so clueless he actually tells everyone the truth as he knows it. Sure it isn’t Romney dissing the 47%, but it is making clear that unless you are in investment or at Director level your job is on the chopping block, too. And I would say most of the yahoos working in investment better realize same for them.

      People who haven’t figured out we are in a class war and losing need to be hit by the clue stick as often as possible.

        1. Hopel

          Here is that far right corner;

          Daniel J. Arbess
          Born January 23, 1961 (age 55)
          Nationality American
          Alma mater Osgoode Hall Law School
          Harvard Law School
          Organization Xerion Investments
          Title Founder, Chief Investment Officer, Parasite

    2. Massinissa

      They believe you are “clueless” and “voting against [your] own interests”

      Reminds me of what corporate Dems say to Republicans. Its probably the same people accusing both groups of being clueless at this point.

  2. JEHR

    In a Shakespearean way, Trump calls for turning the lights off which in a very real way is exactly what he will do if he becomes President.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, it’s genius. Trump is actually breaking the fourth wall and manipulating the stage machinery to convey a lesson to the audience about negotiation. It’s pure kayfabe! No other candidate would even think of it.

  3. allan

    More Support for Justice Department Than for Apple in Dispute Over Unlocking iPhone

    As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51% say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38%) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11% do not offer an opinion on the question.

    Remember when `liberal’ Democrats touted Jim Comey as a civil libertarian?

    “Comey obviously won a lot of points on the liberal side for the hospital episode,” said Michael Tomasky a liberal columnist and editor in chief of Democracy magazine. …

    “He seems a shrewd choice in that Obama appears to have boxed [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell in and maybe decided to start playing some hardball,” Tomasky added.

    1. bwilli123

      Apple, FBI, and the Burden of Forensic Methodology
      An expert explains there’s more than meets the eye, and why Apple has to refuse the FBI.

      “Not only is Apple being ordered to compromise their own devices; they’re being ordered to give that golden key to the government, in a very roundabout sneaky way. What FBI has requested will inevitably force Apple’s methods out into the open, where they can be ingested by government agencies looking to do the same thing. They will also be exposed to private forensics companies, who are notorious for reverse engineering and stealing other people’s intellectual property. Should Apple comply in providing a tool, it will inevitably end up abused and in the wrong hands.”
      http://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=5645

    2. Darthbobber

      If Apple was a candidate for election to something, I’m sure this polling data would concern them to some extent. But their concerns are focused elsewhere. I love the way polling every issue is somehow seen as a meaningful exercise in its own right.

  4. Pavel

    I turned on the BBC Radio 4 news at 5PM today and they were playing clips from today’s Parliamentary debate on the Brexit/EU Referendum.

    In short order I heard:

    * David Cameron
    * Ed Milliband
    * Nick Clegg

    all pleading for a Remain In EU vote. That alone was enough to make me want to support Brexit.

    On a similar note, I think it was in today’s Guardian (dead tree version so no link, sorry) where a letter to the editor noted that the big UK banks and corporations are all in favour of staying in the EU. Another reason to have doubts.

    1. vidimi

      this is important to understand. leaving the EU could be a potential death knell for the city of london. a key reason why euro countries tolerate their banks’ activity in london is because of the EU issue. london-based banks hire a lot of EU expats and leaving the EU would create visa issues for these workers. dublin would win big in a brexit, in addition to the UK working classes.

  5. PNW_WarriorWoman

    Northwest Innovation Works, a China-based investment and industrial consortium, has proposed building three facilities — including one on the Tacoma Tideflats — to convert natural gas to liquid methanol as a feedstock to replace coal in Chinese plastics plants. Only problem is residents won’t allow it, thankfully. Our city encouraged high income condo development all along the working waterfront for the last decade and our community is highly environmentally aware. Now the realities of a working port with land to lease and high end-development along the waterfront clash. Residents winning, thankfully. The AP article is about three weeks behind in the saga. The affluent Puyallup Tribe also joined the opposition as well as a couple of state legislators that live there. It’s a massive community issue and everyone is against it. The Chinese will have a hard time seeing this proposed plant ever come online. There’s no cover for members of the city council to approve and there’s been a hot-potato toss between Port Commissioners and City Council members on who does the final permitting. I’d say it’s a dead-end but the company says their plans are merely “paused”. That said, we here in Tacoma support moving the plant location to the Port of Olympia, right smack dab down the street from our state’s capitol. We figure if it’s a virtually risk-free plant, the facility and those whopping 200 promised jobs are perfect for our legislature to have in their backyard.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thankfully, that company is probably not involved in the Tianjin port explosions a while back.

  6. Steven D.

    Scalia’s judicial philosophy was YOLO, you only live once. He was in a position to turn the Supreme Court into a third house of Congress and he took it. Why not? Who’s going to stop him? YOLO.

    It was always about advancing his political beliefs. Original intent was one of the bludgeons he used. But whenever it was contrary to his political purposes, he happily threw it overboard.

    1. MikeNY

      You’re right. Not only that, it’s like Scalia never heard of The Intentional Fallacy.

      I doubt the Framers of the Constitution ever envisioned the automobile or the internet; so all federal laws wrt these entities are null and void?

      As a philosophy, his was really a kind of fideism, a judicial fundamentalism, both anti-intellectual and crude. Which, as you say, he blithely dispensed with when it fit his reactionary predilections.

      1. cwaltz

        The idea that the Founders, people who felt screwed over by the East India Trading company and the Tea Act, would have approved and felt the 14th amendment was written with the idea of protecting corporations like Hobby Lobby while actually believing minorities like gay people or women weren’t covered( by an amendment expressly written to protect the AA minority no less) was truly one of the most absurd rulings and a complete tell that Scalia was less about rule of law and more about advancing his own belief set. May he come back as an AA female in a place where he has to worry everyday so he can truly see what it feels like to be vulnerable . (goes off to pray for forgiveness for thinking mean and judgmentally.)

  7. diptherio

    That F-hole thing is great. I’ve recently been gorging on clementine oranges because 3 lbs bags have been on sale recently, and I had noted the interesting double spiral shape, after peeling them, but hadn’t put it together with stringed instrument designs. Pretty f’n cool (yuck, yuck, yuck)

  8. Carolinian

    Re the Cowliphate–the NYT had a story after the final surrender that suggested the yeehawdis may not have been sufficiently potty trained. They left human feces lying around the grounds of the reserve. Meanwhile the WaPo had this article the other day listing some of the fed complaints against Cliven Bundy–patriarch of the wackos. Just a few from the list

    2. He is also a bad rancher
    “While Bundy claims he is a cattle rancher, his ranching operation – to the extent it can be called that – is unconventional if not bizarre. Rather than manage and control his cattle, he lets them run wild on the public lands with little, if any, human interaction until such time when he traps them and hauls them off to be sold or slaughtered for his own consumption.”

    3. His cows don’t even like him
    “[Bundy] has no knowledge of where all the cattle are located at any given time; rarely brands them before he captures them; and has to bait them into traps in order to gather them.”

    4. Bundy is mean to his cows
    “Raised in the wild, Bundy’s cattle are left to fend for themselves year-round, fighting off predators and scrounging for the meager amounts of food and water available in the difficult and arid terrain that comprises the public lands in that area of the country.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/18/the-11-sickest-burns-from-the-federal-complaint-against-cliven-bundy/

    There was some pushback against Fallows’ Atlantic article in Links this morning, but I believe Fallows at least gets it right with his description of our amazingly beautiful and interesting country as seen from his small plane. It’s hard to believe therefore that anyone would see those who would despoil that landscape as victims. Perhaps the real question re Cliven Bundy: is 20 years behind bars enough?

  9. gonzomarx

    saying it again.

    I’ve been waiting for this bastard to trip over his own feet since he parlayed his shtick on tv (Have I got News For You has a lot to answer for, here http://tinyurl.com/qam4z4t and http://tinyurl.com/nhdnwqa ) into being Mayor.

    The villagers are going to love writing about the sexy proxy fight between Boris vs Cameron than the dry, unsexy referendum, heaven help us and if Jerry Hayes is anything to go by then Boris’s enemies in the Tory party are going to have a field day, let alone the rest of us.

    He has been the oligarchs best friend while being Mayor and if his wife and friends can’t trust him why should I.
    I hope he gets nailed to the floor, set on fire and the barbecued corpse eaten by wild dogs.

    1. rich

      MSNBC Cuts Away From Bernie Sanders as He Condemns Trans-Pacific Partnership
      MSNBC cut away from a live Bernie Sanders press conference this afternoon as the Democratic presidential candidate was talking about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Watch the cutaway:

      “You’ve been listening to Bernie Sanders, less of a press conference, more of a speech. I want to turn back to the Republican side of things,” said Kate Snow, as she pivoted to news of Ted Cruz firing a press spokesperson.

      MSNBC owner Comcast has lobbied for the TPP. Last year, it fired host Ed Schultz, an outspoken opponent of the agreement.

      A Media Matters study found that outside of Schultz’s show, the TPP was mentioned only twice on MSNBC during an 18-month period. Last year, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough admitted to The Intercept that his network was “guilty” of ignoring the TPP.

      Top photo: Cancer patients and health professionals at a TPP protest in Washington, D.C. Many fear the agreement would make life-saving drugs unaffordable.

      https://theintercept.com/2016/02/22/msnbc-cuts-away-from-bernie-sanders-as-he-condemns-trans-pacific-partnership/

      TPP..To Perpetuate Poverty?and make life-saving drugs unaffordable. 2 for price of 1…what a deal.

  10. rjs

    Mosler, on the Chicago Fed index, says: “best to go by the 3 mo moving average, as shown…”
    it’s a minor pet peeve of mine…the CFNAI-3 month over month 3 month moving average comparisons aren’t very useful simply because two of the months are being compared to themselves, leaving only prices changes from the current month, and the month before the month before last left in each month over month comparison….this is also the case with any three month average, which we can represent by (a + b + c) / 3, with a being the current month, b being last month, and c being the month before that…another way of writing that same expression is “a/3 + b/3 + c/3 ” …. when one compares that to the prior month 3 month average, represented by (b + c + d) / 3, where d is the month before the month before last, we end up comparing (a/3 + b/3 + c/3) to (b/3 + c/3 + d/3), and since two of our elements in that comparison are identical, the comparison simply becomes a/3 to d/3, or one-third the difference between months a and d….nonetheless, such 3 month averages are used by economists everywhere, including at the Fed, as if they’re providing some special insight, even though the comparison they offer borders on nonsense…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not just comparing a/3 to d/3, but distorted by those 2 common months.

      For example, if a = 5, and d = 10, and b and c are 20 and 30, each,

      a/3 vs. d/3 correspond to 1.67 vs. 3.33.

      a vs. d would be 5 vs. 10.

      Here, the absolute numbers (1.67, 3.33, 5 and 10) are dissimilar (3 times more), but the ratio is 1:2 in both cases.

      (a+b+c)/3 vs (b+c+d)/3 would be 18.33 vs. 20.

      Here, the absolute numbers (5, 10, 18.33 and 20) are dissimilar (2 to 3 times more) and the ratios way off (1:2 compares to 18.33:20, almost 1:1)

  11. jgordon

    From The Nation article: At an MSNBC town hall on Thursday, Chuck Todd asked Senator Bernie Sanders about a radio interview in 2011 in which he agreed that it might be a good idea to primary President Obama for the 2012 party nomination.

    I have a very serious question: why is Bernie being so limp-wristed that people have to go digging through old media archives to find something he’s said that’s even mildly provocative. If Bernie was really trying to say something substantive he could have said that Obama should be impeached for all he’s done, not primaried. And actually he should have said that a few days ago. If he had, he might be enjoying some of the popularity that Trump has right now. The reason Bernie is failing is because he still wants to work inside the tent with Democrats, and he still cares what people think. Err well–in this environment that is a certain recipe for failure, so he’ll fail at this rate. I like Bernie. I’d be sad if he failed.

    I just saw this political cartoon on ZH. Like Trump or not, this illustrates a pretty good point: the neoliberals, neocons, freetrade-tards, and corrupt media apparatus all loathe Trump. And Trump keeps stomping on them like cockroaches and kicking them aside. So sure, Trump may be a bit racist and domineering but at least he’s not a push-over, which would be worse.

    1. Benedict@Large

      And we are having so much success working outside the tent?

      Glass houses, my friend. Glass houses.

      1. jgordon

        No. The tent needs to be burnt down period. Someone inside the tent would understandably be more reluctant to do that. Whether or not the process is directed, we are rapidly approaching the conflagration point.

        1. cwaltz

          You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, however Benedict@Large has a point and I consider it a good one. You don’t burn down the tent until you have a better housing solution.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Then maybe it’s a bad metaphor, because it’s too linear; it assumes sequence and not parallel processing. (And if the tent is also highly flammable, in any case?)

            1. cwaltz

              I have to give the reform the party from within folks a little credit. They may not succeed with Bernie but they are managing to move that Overton window.

              I never ever thought that our country would be having a conversation about capitalism and where it fails and socialism and where it succeeds.

              Mind you I have not changed my mind on the Democratic Party elite nannies or my belief that in addition to working within the system progressives/liberals need to work to create an alternative so the Democratic Party loses this idea they own left wing activists. However, I do think the within the tent people should get credit where credit is due(instead of the circular firing squad that the left likes to employ against itself.)

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I like the hostile takeover metaphor best. The Dem party has assets. Seize them from the corrupt managers currently running the organization (and feathering their own nest).

      1. jgordon

        You have it. Bernie caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, and in return they provide him with plumb committee posts and agree not to run serious candidates against him at election time.

        Despite being an “independent” and a “socialist” he owes complete fealty to the Democratic Party. He’ll get up on stage and praise Hillary to the heavens when the time comes, and in doing that he’ll destroy the Party. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch.

        1. sd

          Here are Sanders Committee posts from GovTrak.us in case anyone is interested.

          Bernard “Bernie” Sanders sits on the following committees:

          Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Budget
          Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
          Member, Subcommittee on Energy
          Member, Subcommittee on National Parks
          Member, Subcommittee on Water and Power
          Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
          Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
          Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
          Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
          Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
          Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
          Member, Subcommittee on Children and Families
          Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

          1. Vatch

            Although the environment and energy committees cover topics that are extremely important, they aren’t very powerful. If a Senator wants to be a major player, he or she needs to be on the Finance, Appropriations, or Armed Services committee. Maybe also the Judiciary and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committees.

            I don’t think that the Democrats have provided Sanders with any plum committee assignments. I’m sure he’s interested in the topics covered by the environment and energy committees, but those committees don’t provide him with the ability to poke the billionaires.

        2. aab

          This isn’t logical. HRC expected to pivot to the general after Iowa. She’s blown through most of her official campaign funds. She unwound most of her GOTV resources in later states back in the fall. She didn’t expect Sanders to be this successful, and he’s not laying down for her. There’s no evidence he owes any fealty to the party. He has cooperated with the party to get stuff done for people that wouldn’t happen otherwise. He got to chair Veterans’ Affairs because no corporate Dem wanted it — no opportunity for big donations. Do you have evidence of some kind of conspiracy? Because frankly, the Ds used to try to run candidates against him, IIRC — they lost. He’s very popular in Vermont, with Ds and Rs. He doesn’t need to make some kind of nefarious secret deal to hold his seat.

          He may endorse her at the end. I have no idea. He may decide it’s better to concede graciously to enable him to keep trying to push things to the left as best he can from the Senate, instead of being a pariah. I hope not, and I kind of doubt it, for exactly the reasons you state — it would crush the spirits and energy of the nascent movement he’s trying to foster. He may not perfectly align with you politically or tactically, but he’s not a sheepdog or a sellout or some other fantasy figure. He’s a leftist politician who’s been plugging away in public life during a period when the country has moved ever further right and become ever more corrupt. I get how Clintonian corruption feeds the idea that they’re all liars, and I’m not saying the guy’s a saint, but come on. All the actual evidence points in the opposite direction from what you’re alleging.

  12. jgordon

    “This photo of our new overlord marching amongst his plugged in subjects is really something”.

    Reminds me of the Borg queen walking past the Borg drones in that one Startrek movie.

  13. dk

    No commont on the NYMag It’s Time for Welfare Reform Again article yet?

    It is written as if wage inequality is a non-issue.

    OF course, Sanders, and more recently Clinton, have called for a minimum-wage increase. This would not automatically fix existing welfare programs, but its impact should be considered before architecting improvements of those programs.

    I would also say that the term “welfare reform” has a lot of baggage for Democrats in this primary election, since the Clinton 1 welfare reform package had such compromised planning and negative consequences.

    But Sanders speaks regularly on the issue, referring to repair of the “social safety net” instead of using the more charged (and ambiguous) term “welfare”.

  14. different clue

    Here’s how to restore and de-stigmatize welfare. Bring back the Nixon Plan and call it the Nixon Plan. Nixon had a plan for guaranteed minimum national survival income for every non-working, never-working person in America. If anyone wanted more than the Nixon Plan suggested, they could always go to work for more money than what the Nixon Plan ( National Guaranteed Income) would have offered.

    Who killed the Nixon Plan? I was pretty young then, but I believe the Nixon Plan was killed by the only people who would have lost from it . . . . the armies of welfare caseworkers and other middle-class gover-paid poverticians who consumed much of the money that went “into” welfare to begin with. And those people were the purest parasites within the welfare system as we knew it. And they knew the Guaranteed National Income Nixon Plan would destroy their worthless jobs and force them to earn a socially beneficial income for the first time in their tax-funded lives. So of course they got together to kill the plan. The money no longer spent on disemployed poverticians could have been spent on Guaranteed Survival Incomes for poor people.

    So bring back the Nixon Plan and fire the poverticians. Let them find good work, or emigrate, or go on the Nixon Plan themselves. It would cost less to put them on the Nixon Plan than what it costs now to let them exploit the case-managed poor.

    1. Skippy

      Godfrey Bloom…. wing nut extraordinaire ?!?!?!?!

      “The former Ukip MEP who called women “sluts” and complained about aid being sent to “Bongo Bongo Land” has quit the party because it is becoming too “politically correct”.

      Godfrey Bloom, who stood down as MEP after provoking national outrage last year, had remained a member of Nigel Farage’s party despite being banned from speaking at events.

      He announced his resignation on Monday, telling Ukip’s newly elected first MP Douglas Carswell to “watch his back”.

      “(Ukip) were supposed to be something new, but now we seem to be drifting towards the political correct mainstream just like everyone else and that’s not the reason people voted Ukip,” he told LBC radio.

      “Instead of it being the libertarian party of common sense, I’ve been banned from speaking. I don’t know where the party has gone astray, but it seems to have gone astray.”

      Mr Bloom, who once shared a flat with Mr Farage, caused several controversies after being elected as a Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and Humberside in 2004.”

      Skippy…. when you get censured and then kicked out of the Ukip party…. ouch…

  15. cm

    Shocker: Dept of Justice finds no H1-B violations for Southern California Edison.

    “About 500 IT workers at SCE were cut, mostly through a layoff. Some of the IT workers complained of having to train foreign replacements on an H-1B visa to remain eligible for a severance package.

    The cuts followed a decision by the utility to hire Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services to take over some its IT work. Both firms are major users of visa workers.”

    Here’s a thought – kill the H1B program entirely. Go Trump!

  16. Skippy

    Visual cortex injections…. next comes Johnny….

    Skippy… why wait for the nail shack hero to manifest naturally…. when you can code them straight out of the box… and one singularity to rule them all…. progress….

  17. dk

    IIRC, there’s a hard core of people, perhaps as much as a third of the population, who prefer tipping, and complain at its absence, because tipping gives them a pleasant feeling of power over the servers.

    I think referring to an effort towards equitable wages and conditions as “eliminat[ing] tipping” trivializes and mis-characterizes that effort. That sounds like neo-liberal spin to me. Of course, the NYT leads off the article with that meme.

    I tip because it contributes to my local economy. Money (actually, value) has to circulate. When it doesn’t, stratification results. I currently earn in much better proportion to my labor than most people (programmer, but the real money is in database management). I need to spend at roughly the same rate as I earn, anything else is economically irresponsible. I also think I should try to spend locally as much as possible (I live in New Mexico, currently one of the poorest states). It’s some small degree of power over my socio-economic environment (so small a degree that the word “power” doesn’t even really apply… more like “duty”).

    When people working in restaurants (and almost everywhere else) are earning in some decent proportion to the value they generate, I’ll reconsider tipping and look for other ways to pass money along.

    1. cwaltz

      I tip and I tip well. Until wages improve I don’t think it’s right to punish workers who are doing the best they can because the owners of their businesses are cheapskates.

    2. tegnost

      I’m with you, i don’t tip punitively, but because I know the waitstaff needs the money, you’d have to be a really rude waitstaff to get me down to 10 or 15%. Money needs to be distributed and the people with the most lock it away as investments. “If you need help, ask a poor person, cause the rich won’t help you” (Ma Joad)

    3. sd

      IT would be great to move away from tipping. To put it into context, a waitress in the US has a minimum wage of $2.13, and yet waitressing is a profession, it should have union representation and benefits, and a starting pay of at least 10 times that amount.

      $85.20 week for 40 hours with an average of $7.50 tips – that’s the federal threshold. Do you really think that’s an appropriate wage?

  18. SJB

    Regarding the first article under class warfare, this article caught my eye because my daughter is now in the process of applying for college. She has straight A’s, more than 2100 on her SAT’s, extra-curriculars, including lots of volunteer work, and got really incredible recommendations from her teachers. On top of this, she has participated in many years of competitive writing workshops, and has won numerous awards for her writing in very prestigious competitions. Because of these things, I thought she would have no problem getting into her choice of colleges (she isn’t interested in the Ivy Leagues).

    Her top preference is a state university which is a highly regarded school, but no Harvard. She applied for early decision for admission, but to my amazement was deferred. She may still be admitted, but I was really stunned that she was deferred. After finding out the students who were accepted, she realized that these students tended to take the same types of classes, including Advanced Placement (AP) Physics, and Calculus. Many of these students take four AP classes at a time—my daughter took two because she wanted to have time for writing. She has also taken two years of Creative Writing, also likely a no-no, even though she applied as an English major.

    Now I know I am a proud mom, and not exactly objective. But it seems to me that what at least some of the colleges want are students who are cookie-cutter STEM students, by their definition “well-rounded.” Except for athletes, who can get by with lesser grades if they are good enough athletes. Students with talents in non-STEM areas seem to be disadvantaged. And students who have enough sense to not drive themselves to a nervous breakdown with lots of AP classes are also penalized.

    I also know this is not a new phenomenon, it just seems to be even worse than in the past. And in the past, there was much more forgiveness for young people who are “late bloomers” or had to take a different path than usual. I am not worried about my daughter—she will do well no matter where she goes to college. But I do worry not just for the young people who don’t fit the accepted mold, and don’t have the athletic abilities to compensate. I also worry for this country and the lack of creativity that may result.

    And I worry about what we are doing to these kids who are overworked and put under constant stress. Youth should be a time to enjoy life, not work 12 hours a day, and spend the rest of the time fretting about whether they will get into any college.

    1. Daryl

      I went to community college before going to state university. One of the only smart decisions I made about my education.

      1. sleepy

        In Iowa, community college is a good deal. Tuition is cheaper and a student can live at home and save a bundle. At least here, transfers to public four year schools is seamless. In some areas, community college is stigmatized as something for losers. It’s not here. We get valedictorians, and mostly folks who recognize the value. In terms of academics, I have had four 2 yr. graduates who have transferred to the Univ. of Chicago, and the vast majority go on to one of Iowa’s 4 yr. public schools with no problem if that’s what they want.

        1. cwaltz

          The thing is if you transfer then no one is going to even know you went to a community college for 2 years. It isn’t like the four year degree lists the fact first two years were spent elsewhere.

          I personally have told my kids that if they decide they can’t live without a degree that they should go the community college route first and save themselves $15,000.

    2. sleepy

      Regarding work and students–

      I taught at a high school in Iowa for a number of years, as well as a community college. Almost without exception, the high school students worked at part time jobs, in many cases up to 20 hrs per week. This was touted as a good thing, proof of Iowa’s self-referential “work ethic”. Most of the work went to pay for a car–insurance, gas, and a car note. Not a whole lot of time was left for time being a kid, being a student, etc.

      When I was a kid 50 yr ago, everyone wanted a summer job, but few worked during the school year. Times are harder now I know, but something is lost when kids are thrown into workforce participation at a level which consumes all their free time. School and work is it.

  19. tegnost

    FWIW i started working at 13, my friends who spent all their time playing video games are all doing much better than i.

    1. cwaltz

      I was 15. I remember my mom telling me to lie about my age so I could help pay bills. E-verify would never allow that today. I also remember I almost flunked out because having money when I never had it before(before they had limitations on how many hours a minor can work) meant my priority was work instead of studies.

      The things they say you learn by holding down a job at that age are things you can just as easily learn and prove at 18 within the first 6 months. My kids were unhappy with me when I wouldn’t let them work but I don’t regret the decision a bit. Their job was to be a kid. You grow up fast enough.

  20. Darthbobber

    Fundraising mailer today from team Hillary Rodham Clinton. Two pages. No mention of the Democratic contest. No mention of a positive platform at all. Just about the need for her strength to defend the Maginot Line against the skeevy Republican menace.

  21. none

    This is an awesome compilation of Hillary Clinton fail: http://m.dailykos.com/stories/1489185

    The Definitive, Encyclopedic Case For Why Hillary Clinton is the Wrong Choice
    Feb 22, 2016 6:25pm PST by Mass Southpaw

    Covers howlers from her on about a dozen different issues, well worth reading for purpose of informing others.

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