2:00PM Water Cooler 6/15/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


It ain’t over ’til it’s over, so call your Congress critter and make sure they understand the right way to vote. You can even call your Congress critter to thank them if they voted the right way. When I did that last week, the staffer on the other end of the line was shocked into silence. So I think on a simple human level it would be good karma to do that. How often do you get a chance to make a stranger’s whole work day better?

Rubinite Larry Summers weighs in: “Perhaps success can be achieved if the TPP’s advocates can acknowledge that rather than being a model for future trade agreements, this debate should lead to careful reflection on the role of trade agreements in America’s international economic strategy [WaPo]. Give credit, Larry knows how to sell. I’m sure that will play in Peoria.

TPP is important because Asia pivot [New York Times]. Really? Why won’t bilateral agreements without the sovereignty destroying ISDS and “Living Agreement” clauses do the trick? OTOH, if you view TPP as an anti-Chinese military alliance in embryo, this grand strategery foo-frah makes total sense. Oddly, or not, I didn’t get the memo on this from elite thought leaders.

Fine compilation of TPP evasions by Clinton spokesholes over the weekend [Alternet].

“The administration and House Republicans would somehow need to convince approximately three times as many Democrats to vote in favor of the measure, knowing that by doing so they would effectively be granting the TPP negotiation process a major boost. Getting Republicans to back TAA isn’t a serious option for either Boehner or the president” [The Diplomat].

“Do they really get 90 members of the House to switch their votes to enact something by Tuesday?” [Guardian]. With sufficient money and muscle.

“House Republicans to Assess Next Moves on Obama’s Trade Bill” [Bloomberg].

“[T]he other guys get to have do overs until they get the outcome they want” [Truthout].

UPDATE “ISDS Provisions in TPP Violate Article III of the U.S. Constitution” [Down With Tyranny]. Nut graph: “[ISDS] improperly removes a core judicial function from the federal courts and therefore violates Article III of the Constitution.” Important point to raise with your Congress critter, and tees up court challenges as well.


O’Malley takes his shirt off [WaPo]. Well, it worked for Obama.


Warren Mosler endorses Sanders [George Fisher].

Sanders on Warren: “Senator Warren is a good friend of mine and her views and mine are pretty close on most of the major issues, so we’ll be bringing in some of those people into our organization” [Politico].

The S.S. Clinton

The rollout: Hillary goes populist up to a point [John Cassidy, The New Yorker]. Readers, does the New Yorker represent the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, or both?

The rollout: Clinton comes out swinging [The Atlantic]. But did she land any punches?

Clinton signals aggressive engagement if ObamaCare is overturned in King v. Burwell [WaPo]. Somebody should ask her whether that would include joining with Sanders to support single payer.

On ObamaCare fixes, Clinton does not address estate recovery: That when ObamaCare forces over-55s into Medicaid, their heirs can lose the family home if they get sick, thereby vitiating what was ostensibly one of the main purposes of the law [Des Moines Register].

“Why Hillary Clinton Will Be Hard to Beat ” [Wall Street Journal].

Long-form essay on the Republican candidates [London Review of Books]. “Failure isn’t just an option for the vast company of Republican presidential hopefuls, it’s a well-trodden career path.” A brutal compendium of oppo.

Republican Establishment

“Five generations of an American dynasty” [Wall Street Journal]. Indeed.

Jebbie unveils his logo [Bloomberg]. I think Clinton is ahead in the all-important “trade dress” primary.

Republican Clown Car

Ivanka wholeheartedly supports The Donald [Daily Mail].

The Hill

Another Blue Dog, Joe Baca (“D”-CA) admits he’s a Republican and switches parties [Down With Tyranny]. Good. There are many trade traitors in the list of Blue Dogs in the post; get rid of them. And speaking of the Democratic debacles in 2010 and 2014: If Massachusetts voters hadn’t voted for Scott Brown and against establishment Democrat Coakeley in 2010, Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t have that Senate seat today. 

Herd on the Street

“Misrated Muni Market Hoists $1.8 Billion Annual Tab on Taxpayers ” [Bloomberg].

“Bond Swings So Extreme Even BlackRock Rewrites Risk Measures” [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Portuguese 10-year bonds: “GSPT10YR:IND Yield 3.253; up 0.216; change: 7.11% [Bloomberg]. Not a double digit bump, but bigger. Mr. Market’s contagion worry approaches consciousness.

Housing Market Index, June 2015: “The new home market is perhaps becoming the economy’s leading sector, underscored by the recent jump in new home sales and the surge in starts & permits and now by a major 5-point spike in the housing market index to 59 for June which is well outside Econoday’s high-end forecast” [Bloomberg].

Empire State Mfg Survey, June 2015: “no bounce at all in” [Bloomberg]. “[N]ew orders point to greater weakness ahead.” “The manufacturing sector is supposed to be building up steam, not losing steam.”

Industrial Production, May 2015: “instead of rebounding from a weak first quarter, appears to be slowing further” [Bloomberg]. Weak exports?

Police Watch

Useful map of Twitter followers of the Baltimore PD [Technical.ly]

“[P]olice work inherently exposes officers to death, tragedy, violence, and trauma. Being aware of how those stressors affect officer decision-making and performance is an important part of improving law enforcement by protecting officers and civilians alike” [Talking Points Memo]. Fair enough. But we should really figure out a way to do policework such that cops don’t whack people with impunity, stressed or not.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“[UK’s] Sunday Times’ Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods” [First Look]. Sunday Times responds with a DMCA infringement notice [News UK]. Classy!

Squillionaire Wretched Excess Watch

The Rothschild mansion (photo) [New York Review of Books]. Super-ugly and vulgar.

Class Warfare

Study: “In fact, one in four consumers would even consider sharing their DNA with their financial institution, if it meant it would make authentication easier and their financial and personal information more secure” [Realwire]. A PR feed, to be sure, but…. Yikes.

Headline: “Class war locks poor kids out of top U.K. jobs” [CNN]. Amazing to see “Class War” in a headline on CNN Money, even if it is the UK.

“Cartier boss with $7.5bn fortune says prospect of the poor rising up ‘keeps him awake at night'” [Independent].

News of the Wired

“The forgotten legacy of Tom Green, the original troll [Kernel]. I dunno. Slathering one’s entire body with mustard in a convenience store, having established an identity as a Mustard Inspector, seems a bit more creative than mere trolling.

The Clash, “Live in Tokyo” [Open Culture].

Making sense of complex data with acoustic infographics [Storify]. Neat idea.

About Twitter’s investors…. [Farukat.es].

“Why Apple Should Kill Off the Mac” [Wall Street Journal].

13 Ways to be a Winner, according to Anna Wintour [The Fashion Law].

“Pizza Hut thinks this insane hot dog pizza can save it” (with picture (!)) [Fortune].

Governor Abbott signs bill allowing people to carry guns on college campuses — and carry handguns out in the open [KXAN]. At a gun range. Finally, ammosexuals can come out of the closet!

Non-violent discipline and violent flanks [Rational Insurgent]. 

“The Magna Carta laid a foundation for lasting legal concepts like the ban on cruel and unusual punishments, trial by a jury of one’s peers and the idea that justice should not be sold or unnecessarily delayed” [History]. 1215. In 2015, we get Listicle headlines: “6 Things You May Not Know About the Magna Carta.”

* * *

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 (Anne):


Her neighbor’s roses…

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And pay the plumber….


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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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.


  1. Kokuanani

    Don’t you mean Scott Brown??

    If Massachusetts voters hadn’t voted for Scott Walker and against establishment Democrat Coakeley in 2010

  2. michael hudson

    Re TPP and the Asia Pivot, it seems that Fukushima has radiated Japanese crops substantially. So no wonder Obama is seeking to placate Japan for its re-armament against China (“Let’s you and Russia fight, just as Ukraine did”) by not labeling “country of origin” for radioactive vegetables.
    perhaps they are good for us after all? Maybe some Americans will become Spiderman mutants, or Super-creatures just like in the comics.

    1. hidflect

      I don’t doubt that irradiation is occurring but I hope your not getting your news from enenews. They are serial alarmists producing endless, false bunk that goes down the memory hole before their next click-bait, panic-attack article. I was in Japan for the Big One and went to an area they claimed was poisoned with thousands of becquerels and tested it myself with my new $400 Geiger counter. Nothing.

  3. diptherio

    Here’s another interview with the CEO of Mondragon Cooperative Corp, world’s largest worker co-op, this one from YES! Magazine. He’s got some interesting things to say about TPP and the like:


    Hansen: What do you think about international trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership?

    Ugarte: Trade deals of that type tend to result in factories being moved overseas. Whereas Mondragon aims to keep existing businesses, while sometimes building new ones abroad. It’s the difference between delocalization and multilocalization.

    Delocalization is moving businesses and destroying employment at home. For the United States, that’s normal. Mondragon cannot do that because we would need to vote in the general assembly. Our workers aren’t going to vote to eliminate their own jobs.

    We see multilocalization as a winning strategy. In the end, if you have different factories in different parts of the world, the risk is reduced and performance is better.

    For example, we have one company, Orkli, that has facilities in Spain, China, and Brazil. It’s a leading manufacturer of heating equipment, like water heaters and components for central heating systems.

    Hansen: When did Mondragon first establish a plant outside of Spain?

    Ugarte: The first one was in Copreci, Mexico, in 1989.

    1. frosty zoom

      my toilet seat is made in my home town. i couldn’t believe it when i found it in the store. kind of a metaphor i guess.

      i think one day even the most avaricious of corporate leaders are going to realize the true pricetag of hydrocarbons and all their nasty externalized costs and shut a lot of trucks and trains (that’s you, warren.) down.

      then the only choice is to have localized production, something that strikes me as common sense.

      i’m so tired of humans and their “countries”. can’t we just grow up?

      1. hidflect

        I’ve never met a toilet seat maker. I guess they keep their professional identity on the down-low…

  4. EmilianoZ

    Why won’t bilateral agreements without the sovereignty destroying ISDS and “Living Agreement” clauses do the trick?

    ISDS is why a corporation will choose to build a factory in say Vietnam instead of China. Investors need confidence in the judiciary and predictability.

    1. frosty zoom

      but why does this confidence in the judiciary and predictability have to be arbitrated by such an arbitrary panel of people far removed from the consequences of their decisions? isn’t there a better way?

      and why on earth would someone want to invest in a place where they have no confidence in the judiciary and there is unpredictability?

      i think a good plan is: “don’t do business with cretins”.

      and you may say, “investing in these places alleviates poverty by providing jobs”. but at what price? and who pays that price and who makes the money? the person with a “job” who spends all day long filling their lungs with phlychlorium dyfast?

      “la tierra es de quien la trabaja con sus manos.”

      1. David

        Without legal means to address a voided contract, you might end up with more corporate sponsored coups. At least this would give a country a peaceful path away from the cretin government and their bad deals.

        1. tegnost

          That’s confusing logic, if they don’t get what they want they’ll take it by force? So i guess you think let’s save them that costly inconvenience and surrender now? Possibly some gaps there, “corporate sponsored coup” i think must mean buy the government and have them launch the armed forces upon the disobedient because corporations currently, correct me if i’m wrong, don’t have their own armies. Any corporation that wants to do biz in a different country should both understand and undertake the risks, they certainly plan on keeping the money they make.

        2. hunkerdown

          There are legal means to address unfulfilled contracts. Most if not all Pacific Rim nations have court systems that are already substantially pro-business. Besides, business has no business going where it’s not welcome.

          I think that’s the first time I’ve seen the term “address” used in the sense of “resolve without in the least disfavoring the corporations’ interests”.

  5. diptherio

    Question of the Day: If the Magna Carta were written today, what would it be called?

    “45 Rights You Didn’t Know You Had”

  6. anon

    Joe Baca ran for my district in 2014 after losing (a mostly-different district) in 2012. This guy was an elected “Democrat” in Congress for 12 or 14 years, and his campaign ads literally just said “Baca – Veteran”. His whole career was spent in a safe seat gerrymandered especially for a Hispanic Dem, and he couldn’t find one single thing he did in his entire career to remind anyone who he was or why he was running.

  7. Jess

    Re: the Bloomberg article on re-rating muni bonds: Am I correct in assuming that this would not affect interest rates on munis already rated AAA? Or would rising interest rates on munis moved up from Single-A to AA result in lifting dividends on AAA as well?

  8. Chris in Paris

    I think France must be a testbed for Pizza Hut’s insane ideas because we’ve had the hotdog crust pizza here for the past 3 months or so. A couple of hipsters I know make a point of going there each time the Hut introduces something odd so obviously they’ve focus grouped this.

    1. sleepy

      So, as a test market I guess if it’s good enough for Paris it’s good enough for the folks back home here in Iowa.

      I can just see the billboards–“Good enough for Paris and Dubuque!”.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Most pizza in Paris seems to be delivered on a scooter and is generally neither bad nor good. Domino’s is better there (or in the UK) than in the US but screw that right? I’ll put in a plug for Les Artistes Gourmands on Roquette near Place Blum/Voltaire metro in the eleventh. Laugh if you will, but pizza is important.

  9. Rex

    TX guns on campus. What is wrong with these people? Maybe they should just give a free revolver or semi-auto (hi-cap of course) of your choice when you vote Republican at the polls. I object to the TV station calling this of expansion of “rights.”

  10. grayslady

    Judge Wheeler just ruled in favor of Greenberg in Starr v. U.S. but no damages because: 1) there can be no “taking” (and therefore an award of damages) when the whole process of assuming control of AIG was illegal, and 2) without the illegal actions, AIG’s only alternative was bankruptcy. Wheeler seemed cross that he couldn’t allow retribution against U.S. govt. Am sure Yves will have a succinct write-up in the next few days, but it is worth reading the Findings of Fact in Wheeler’s opinion for an explanation that even a fifth grader could understand of both the shadow banking sector (that clearly still exists, unregulated) and the events that led up to the 2008 meltdown.

  11. petal

    Lovely photo today-looks like a Livin’ Easy rose. Had a few of those before I moved. Definitely one of my favourites!

  12. ian

    “Rubinite Larry Summers weighs in: “Perhaps success can be achieved if the TPP’s advocates can acknowledge that rather than being a model for future trade agreements, this debate should lead to careful reflection on the role of trade agreements in America’s international economic strategy [WaPo].”

    Is this kindof like the Supreme Court placating us in Bush v. Gore by saying that their decision shouldn’t serve as a precedent?

    1. Mel

      Literally, it’s sort of a nothingburger, a subjunctive bit of verbiage. I can actually agree with it. The debate can lead to the realization that private courts have no place in the affairs of sovereign nations, and the whole ISDN thing can be scrapped forever. I think that’s success.
      Based on Paul Krugman’s assessment way back when that trade was already pretty free, the rest of the Partnerships can be tossed, too.

      1. tegnost

        after i read your comment i went back to the quote and was astonished by the ambiguity. words about good stuff, i think…

  13. ewmayer

    Re. Pizza Hut story: Didn’t click the link because of clickbaity-annoyance factor, but will try to make it serve a useful end.

    We need to come up with a simple formula yielding a “clickbait score” (by way of the famous crank score (a.k.a. crackpot index) used in sci/math contexts) for these kinds of BuzzFeed-style online-n00z-media “click me! click meee!!!”titles.

    First let’a work on the list of basic ingredients – three off the top of my head:

    1. A numerical list-item counter in the title, e.g. “17 charts that…”;

    2. The word “this” or “these” not-as-part-of-a-quote, e.g. “Pizza Hut thinks this insane hot dog pizza can save it”;

    3. Use of hyperbolic adjectives such as “scary” or “shocking”.

    Other ingredient suggestions from my Fellow readers are solicited!

    Once we have those finalized I’ll take a stab at a numerical recipe for weighted-summing them.

    A snappy name for the resulting score analogous to “crank score” would also be nice. Suggestions? Is simply “clickbait score” catchy enough?

    1. ambrit

      Just the word Clickbait next to a picture of a sultry looking Lolita. There’s your brand logo.
      Any headline with the word ‘never’ in it. Eg. “Never go without French Brand pizza again!”
      Any headline with an exclamation mark at the end. (For Spanish sources, an exclamation mark at beginning and end.)

    1. Yves Smith

      Any financial asset is someone else’s liability. This is indeed not sound but I don’t have the time and energy to debunk it. For instance, she’s dead wrong about derivatives regulation. Citibank was THE pioneer in the swaps business in the 1970s, fer Chrissakes.

      1. Skippy

        Thanks Yves, I’m not a TiSA wonk and the lack of social control associated with TTP hit a trip wire, guess Brown will never change from distortions to suit an agenda.

        Skippy… Cheers

  14. rich

    Stanford stem cell product, delayed for more than a decade, to be tested again

    STANFORD — In the 1990s, n’s Irv Weissman created a unique way to grow and deliver blood stem cells to desperate patients with aggressive cancers, boosting survival rates.
    But then the discovery itself died — a victim of the heartbreaking economics of commercial stem-cell development, where the long and rocky road of research, especially in the field of “personalized medicine,” often discourages investment.
    Now, 10 years after the technique’s sale and then abandonment by a biotech company, it is back in Weissman’s hands. The goal, he said, is to finally resume his research to prove, once and for all, its effectiveness in patients with no other hope.
    “I am frustrated by more than a decade of delay,” said Weissman, who codirects the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. “But I’m delighted that medical need, rather than rapid profits, is now the primary criterion to translate our stem cell discoveries.”

    In its initial small trial in women with advanced breast cancer at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the mid to late ’90s, patients who received aggressive high-dose chemotherapy — followed by Weissman’s “rescue” with their own purified stem cells — significantly boosted their chances of long-term survival. More than 12 years after treatment, 33 percent of the women with advanced metastatic breast cancer were still alive, compared with 7 percent of those who received a therapy that was not purified, according to a 2011 Stanford study.

    “As long we have a health care system that puts profits before patients we will always be at the mercy of corporations looking to make profits. Any new innovation needs to be evidence-based and proven safe and effective no matter what money is to or is not to be made,” she said.

    Now, a quarter-century after it was conceived, the technique is finally back in Weissman’s hands at Stanford — although Novartis still holds the patent.


  15. MikeNY

    So tomorrow’s the big day! I doubt even Ivanka can be more excited than I am. There is something endlessly wondrous to me about The Donald’s Brobdingnagian blow-hardery. And I have a prurient, morbid fascination with his comb-over. I mean, how is it even possible?

  16. Louis

    The fact that Twitter can last as long as it has, despite having never turned a profit, should say something about the way the financial system actually works: it’s much closer to a game of musical chairs than anything in an economics textbook.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I use Twitter all the time; I think it’s great for following breaking stories an emergent movements. But Mr. Market decided to value it like Facebook. As a result, Twitter management is trying to make Twitter more like Facebook. But we already have Facebook. If they hadn’t trashed their relations with the developer community, they could be look there for genuine (user-, not analyst-driven) innovation. I hope they survive…

  17. tegnost

    For he record, even though it’s late, estate recovery has proven to be my slam dunk in arguments about obama…oops i mean the affordable care act, never call it the slang term anymore…anyone i know with enough money for good health insurance has been advised by their financial advisor to set up a trust, so focused on taking less fortunate peoples property…that my response when it gets around to whats the horror story time…they were doing it here in washington before the affordable thingy. Think about that, less than a week in the hospital is 150k, nursing home care counts too so you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose everything while drugged into unconciounsness and hooked to medical devices

  18. Kim Kaufman

    well, I know it’s late commenting here on this but nevertheless from 8:15 pm (east coast time?) on HuffPo “GOP On Trade Deal: ‘No One Will Be Negotiating With Leader Pelosi On A Path Forward'” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/nancy-pelosi-taa_n_7590154.html:

    “For now, House Republican leaders simply don’t have the votes to pass the trade package and need more time to find them. They plan to take a procedural vote on Tuesday to give themselves until July 30 to come up with a way forward.

    “We remain committed to getting TPA done, and this will give the president more time to communicate the consequences of not moving forward with his party,” said Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith.”

    Consequences of telling Prez to shove it on his heinous bill? lol.
    July 30 – good work!

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      It does indeed look like the GOP had to climb down front their false bravado about having another vote on TAA this week.

      Reason for celebration, though of course we will need to stay focused on this threat over the summer. I’m sure some corporatist stooge like Paul Ryan is plotting to sneak it back into an appropriations bill rider.

  19. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Guns in schools, hyper-militarized cops, generals talking about the “nuclear option” for Russia…what a scary country. Glad I live in Australia

    1. ambrit

      Talking about the “Nuclear Option,” have you read Nevil Shutes’ “On the Beach?” Spoiler Alert- No one gets out alive.

  20. UESider

    Having been a New Yorker reader for nearly 40 years, I’d say it pretty reasonably is both an East Side and West Side magazine. And they even know about Brooklyn.

  21. Ziontrain

    Class war locks poor kids out of top U.K. jobs”….

    The US “mainstream” press is notorious for throwing stones out of glass houses. We have class barriers right here at home. The OECD calls it just that. But you wont hear that from CNN. They want to talk about other countries.

  22. DataShade

    “The forgotten legacy of Tom Green, the original troll [Kernel]. I dunno. Slathering one’s entire body with mustard in a convenience store, having established an identity as a Mustard Inspector, seems a bit more creative than mere trolling.

    Really, it’s the standard all trolling should be held to: provocative and/or subversive performance art. Anything less is a failure, your troll is bad and you should feel bad, etc etc.

Comments are closed.