By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, Firefox got the slows at deadline, so I threw in a few more links!
List of traitors in House and Senate, with phone numbers. Hat tip, reader Vatch. Be sure to visit them when they return to the district. If a traitor is mentioned in Water Cooler, their name is in bold.
“Corruption scandal divides Malaysia’s political elite” [East Asia Forum]. Ruling party “UMNO, rather than Najib, will be the main determinant of developments ahead. The party has been split into three camps — those loyal to Najib and his generous patronage; those opposed to him, but hesitant for an open challenge; and those in the middle, waiting to be sure to land on the ‘safe side’, which will protect their political and economic survival. Najib does not command a confident majority, but relies heavily on those in the middle to stay in office.” Well, “generous patronage” and “political and economic survival” both boil down to policies and institutions that would be considered trade barriers under TPP. How do Najib, and this elite collectively, then sign on to TPP?
Readers, I have recategorized this section. I had been filing items in candidate- and party-focused buckets, but I think that’s encouraging people discussing their votes or, worse, proselytizing for candidates or even parties. We have Kos, Reddit, and any number of conservative sites for that. I hope this recategorization encourages discussion of policy and structural issues, though I have to confess I love the human interest of the campaign trail, which is in there too. I’m retaining the Clown Car because the stupid! It b-u-r-r-n-n-n-n-s!!!!!
Clinton releases four-page compaign sheet on climate [Bloomberg].
“According to the Clinton campaign, the clean energy agenda outlined on Sunday would meet the test that environmental mega donor Tom Steyer laid out last week when he called on all candidates to put forward a plan to ramp up renewable and carbon-free energy so that it accounts for more than half of all power generation by 2030” [National Journal]. Ka-ching.
Voters leaving Puerto Rico could impact Florida race [WaPo].
“Artificial intelligence can recognize speech patterns that distinguish the parties” [National Journal]. Study is about “words and phrases with the greatest predictive power.” Syntax and stylistics would be far more interesting to hear about.
“Interviews with dozens of the more than 1,000 people who came to see the reality-television star showed they have been drawn to him because of their skepticism of polished politicians” [Wall Street Journal, “Iowans Drawn to Donald Trump Praise His Antiestablishment Bent”]. “Silent majority” offers giant upraised middle finger.
“Clinton’s favorability tends to swell when she’s not running for office and dip when she is” [WaPo]. There’s a message there…
“Based on five polls used by RealClearPolitics, eight candidates look like locks to make the [the Republican debate] stage, while the race for the final two slots is headed for a controversial photo finish” [The Hill]. One of whom most definitely will be El Trumpo.
“To Iowans swooning over the insurgent candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination, Clinton said that presidential politics is war and that she knows how to fight and win those battles” [Wapo].
Huckabee: Iran deal will march Israel to “the door of the ovens” [WaPo].
Unforgiveable: Graham had to give up his flip phone for a smartphone because The Donald doxxed him [Politico]. Never give up your flip phone!
Our Nation’s Capital
“Big Social Security Bills in the Works With 2016 Cliff Approaching” [National Journal]. Uh-oh…
‘[P]art of highway legislation that’s before the Senate would greatly increase the number of teenagers behind the wheel of big rigs” [Bloomberg].
Senate votes to revive the Export Import Bank, Boeing ecstatic [The Hill].
Yet another Obama repeal effort: “Senate smackdown: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee efforts squelched by leaders” [Politico].
Durable Goods Orders, June 2015: Near top-end expectations. “These readings are some of the highest of the last year and offer welcome evidence of a long awaited pop higher for what is, however, a still depressed factory sector” [Bloomberg]. Today’s report will confirm for many expectations that the negative effects of the strong dollar on exports are beginning to ease.” But: ” The three month rolling average is continuing to decline and is in contraction. Note that the headline “improvement” is on the back of a downwardly revised previous month data” [Econintersect]. “details of the report were broadly encouraging” [Across the Curve].
Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, July 2015: “Contraction in the Texas manufacturing sector continues to ease” [Bloomberg]. “Unfilled orders, however, remain in contraction for an eighth straight month. shipments are in contraction for a sixth straight month. Inventories are up and price readings are mute.” Company outlook is up.
“Bank loan growth is not accelerating” (FRED charts) [Mosler Economics].
10 states hit by the commodities meltdown [Bloomberg].
“Chinese shares slid more than 8 percent on Monday as an unprecedented government rescue plan to prop up valuations ran out of steam, throwing Beijing’s efforts to stave off a deeper crash into doubt” [Reuters].
“The worry on Wall Street is whether traders in New York will be willing to provide a two-sided market in Chinese shares at a time when the stock market situation there, as well as the economic situation, is deeply clouded” [Wall Street on Parade].
Black Injustice Tipping Point
App Used 23andMe’s open API and DNA database to block people from sites based on race and gender. (“Valid! You are 65.1% of the required European ancestry”) [Fast Company (allan)]. Want to treat race as a biological, not a social, construct? There’s an app for that… Of course, there aren’t that many 23andMe users. But wait ’til a big biometric database gets hacked….
“I believe [the Office of Personnel Management hack was an] infobomb has done catastrophic damage to US security. How? Big data + bots (made smarter via AI) will be able to turn this data into a decisive instrument of warfare” [Global Guerillas]. “[W]ant that guy on the button to stand down? Call him up with a threat to his family.”
“Did Medicare Part D Affect National Trends in Health Outcomes or Hospitalizations?: A Time-Series Analysis” [Annals of Internal Medicine]. No.
“While the public exchanges established by the federal government and 14 states have brought coverage to many previously uninsured people in all parts of the country, the effect on the poorest Americans varies drastically from state to state” because of Medicaid adoption [Reuters].
“Now the Obama administration is weighing in, asking state insurance regulators to take a closer look at rate requests before granting them. Under the Affordable Care Act, state agencies largely retain the right to regulate premiums in their states. So far only a handful have finalized premiums for the coming year, for which enrollment begins in November” [WebMD]. Kaiser: “[I]ncreases should average about 4.4 percent for the two least expensive silver plans in the 10 major cities it studied.” Of course, since wages are flat….
“Although large employers can legally offer low-benefit plants, small employers are not allowed to do so. This leads to an extraordinary discrepancy in potential tax payments between small and large employers. Hence, they face both higher costs for insurance and higher tax penalties if they fail to offer such insurance” [MarketWatch].
CMS creates a web page for state “innovation waivers.” Details with FAQ [Health Affairs].
“But Douglas Bloomfield, a former senior AIPAC executive, suggested the motivation [for AIPAC’s opposition to the Iran deal] may be of a more practical nature. ‘It’s good for business,’ he told IPS.’ AIPAC has spent the last 20 years very, very effectively making a strong case against Iran, and Iran has been a great asset to them'” [LobeLog]. Ka-ching.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s backers are increasingly confident that he can win the Labour leadership, despite a backlash from moderates and Blairites over his hard-Left socialist agenda” [Telegraph]. Or what the Telegraph considers “hard left.”
Tony Blair: “Let me make my position clear: I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it” [Independent].
“Labour is misreading election results: Five years is a long time in politics” [Independent].
“Labour is successful only when the interests of its two constituents – the left bourgeoisie and the working class – coincide. This takes us to the third level of causality: in the modern world, so far, they do not” [Paul Mason, Guardian].
“Lord Sewel, 69, filmed snorting cocaine with prostitutes at his London flat” [Daily Mail]. This is apparently a scandal. Clearly, Lord Sewel should have been a banker.
Our Famously Free Press
Nick Denton: “[I]t is really hard to sell Gawker, Gawker.com in particular, because Gawker.com likes to pick fights with pretty much everybody. That’s just the reality” [Capital New York]. Denton then contrasts Gawker to Vox (which could vanish without a trace tomorrow, so far as journalistic impact is concerned).
“A Clinton Story Fraught With Inaccuracies: How It Happened and What Next?” [New York Times]. Times Public Editor weighs in on Clinton email story.
Wretched Excess Watch
“How Citigroup Courts Wealthy Young Heirs: Teach Them to Buy Art” [Bloomberg].
“Billionaire private-equity CEO David Rubenstein explains how rich kids are at a ‘disadvantage'” [Business Insider].
Headline: “Raising Floor for Minimum Wage Pushes Economy Into the Unknown.” ZOMG, scary!!!!!!! Why: “[T]he sheer magnitude of the recent minimum wage increases sets up an economics experiment the country has rarely if ever seen before” [New York Times]. And: “Even when they don’t lead to job losses over all, minimum wage increases can be disruptive.” Wait, wait. “Disruption” is good when Silicon Valley squillionaires do it, but not when workers do?
“Corporate cash has grown from slightly under $1.6 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2007 to nearly $2.1 trillion dollars at the end of the third quarter of 2014. [P]utting these cash holdings back into the economy will support GDP growth throughout 2015. [I propose] calling for the spending of a substantial portion of the nearly $2 trillion in cash held by corporations in the United States by paying it to lower level wage earners for the purpose of boosting GDP, as Zandi indicates for every dollar you put in the hands of those who live paycheck to paycheck, you increase economic impact by a $1.73 — not a bad rate of return” [Former Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), The Hill].
“The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy” [Guardian], according to analysis by James Henry of Tax Justice:
However, Henry’s research suggests that this acknowledged jump in inequality is a dramatic underestimate. Stewart Lansley, author of the recent book The Cost of Inequality, says: “There is absolutely no doubt at all that the statistics on income and wealth at the top understate the problem.”
The surveys that are used to compile the Gini coefficient “simply don’t touch the super-rich,” [Henry] says. “You don’t pick up the multimillionaires and billionaires, and even if you do, you can’t pick it up properly.”
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Even more interestingly:
In total, 10 million individuals around the world hold assets offshore, but almost half of the minimum estimate of $21tn – $9.8tn – is owned by just 92,000 people.
There are not very many of the Shing.
“While forced labor exists throughout the world, nowhere is the problem more pronounced than here in the South China Sea, especially in the Thai fishing fleet” [New York Times]. “The harsh practices have intensified in recent years, a review of hundreds of accounts from escaped deckhands provided to police, immigration and human rights workers shows. That is because of lax maritime labor laws and an insatiable global demand for seafood even as fishing stocks are depleted.” Hmm… “Harsh practices” sounds like one of those euphemisms we use for torture, doesn’t it? I’d expect these “practices” to increase as resources become more difficult to extract, world-wide.
“[Economist Sam] Wilkin has determined that behind almost every great fortune, there lies what he calls a ‘wealth secret’. This is a piece of knowledge or a technique that, while not exactly criminal, certainly skirts the customs of the time, and possibly the laws as well. All of them, he says, involve ‘some sort of scheme for defeating the forces of market competition’. Many involve legal manoeuvrings or the exercising of political influence. Boldness and fearlessness are a given. Mild psychopathy probably helps, too” [Daily Mail]. “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” –Balzac
“Beginning in 2008 and continuing into 2010, Uncle Sam gave a federal tax break to millions of eligible homebuyers as a means of goosing demand for homes during the worst of the Great Recession. But was it actually a good idea to take the money and jump into homeownership in 2009, or would those millions of buyers have been better off renting and investing their savings instead? For all but the most extremely risk-averse, buying in 2009 was probably a bad idea” [Econintersect]. First, HAMP. Now this.
“Arizona was the first state to impose a testing program. In 2009, it began testing new welfare recipients when there was a “reasonable cause” to suspect illicit drug use. So how many of the 87,000 people subjected to the program have tested positive since then? Just one” [USA Today]. Well, I’d say it was worth it anyhow. It’s always good to kick down.
News of the Wired
“The Strangely Successful History of People Mailing Themselves in Boxes” [Atlas Obscura].
“Satanic Temple’s plans for ‘largest public satanic ceremony in history’ backfire after Detroit protesters force them to unveil huge goat-headed Devil statue in private” [Daily Mail]. Next time, try for the National Mall?
About the pursuit of happiness… [Business Insider]. IIRC, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence had “life, liberty, and property.” No doubt for complex reasons of his own, Jefferson scratched out “property” and wrote in “pursuit of happiness.” He was right!
“While people need a just economy for their self-respect and national pride—Rawls regarded justice as the first virtue of a society—justice is not everything that people need from their economy. They need an economy that is good as well as just. And for some decades, the Western economies have fallen short of any conception of a “good economy”—an economy offering a “good life,” or a life of “richness,” as some humanists call it” [New York review of Books]. “‘As the writer Kabir Sehgal put it, ‘Money is like blood. You need it to live but it isn’t the point of life.'” Sure it is. If you’re a vampire….
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:
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