2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“If we get a Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trump may well roll out a whole new story about how Republicans and Democrats alike are conspiring with a shadowy cabal of international elites to help China and other foreign countries continue destroying the living standards of American workers” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. Crazy talk!

“Pacific trade ministers will extend talks on a free trade deal between a dozen nations through Saturday in a bid to reach a final agreement, representatives from Japan and Mexico said on Thursday” [Reuters].

Malaysia: “Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed, before leaving Thursday night for Malaysia, said a fair amount of one-on-one sessions between countries were still needed to resolve the remaining issues. ‘A few more bilaterals. Many more. A few more bilaterals to do,’ Mustapa said in a brief conversation with reporters. ‘We’re not finished yet'” [Politico]. “Asked if another ministerial meeting would be needed to wrap up the negotiations, Mustapa said: ‘We don’t know.’ Then he slipped into his car and left.'” That looks like no agreement in principle by all signatories, to me, regardless of how the sausage-making on auto and dairy turns out.

Tobacco: “A U.S. proposal that would carve out tobacco regulations from being covered under TPP investor-state disputes faces opposition from Mexico and Japan, who don’t want to see major changes to this part of the trade agreement and are pushing back, according to sources closely following the talks. The proposal would broadly exempt ‘tobacco control measures,’ according to language obtained by POLITICO” [Politico]. Perhaps McConnnell plans to reluctantly choke down the loss of sovereignty his fellow Republican Jeff Sessions deprecates for tobacco money ka-ching ka-ching, but isn’t this proposal assuming prominence rather late in the day?

“Is This the TPP’s Make-or-Break Moment?” [Foreign Policy]. “The current talks are being cast as ‘make or break.’ Brinksmanship is not uncommon in trade talks, since negotiators usually need some special inspiration to make difficult tradeoffs.” From the pro-TPP standpoint, papering over a failure in Atlanta is better than Congress failing to consider an agreement, or rejecting it. I can’t see how there will be an agreement, even crossing off auto and dairy, given tobacco, pharma, IP, and ISDS. And I can’t see how there will be an agreement in principle, unless the Malaysian minister signed his name on a blank sheet of paper before he blew town. So it looks to me like the pre-2016 TPP campaign will end with this battle; and now the “rainy season” of the election, when there is no fighting, begins. However, there’s a whole industry devoted to pumping blood into this still-undead zombie, and gutting national sovereignty is very much in the interest of the trans- and post-national 0.01%, so the war for “free trade” will continue.

Auto, yes: “Japan, the United States, Mexico and Canada on Thursday overcame a major sticking point in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations Thursday by agreeing to set a 45 percent local content requirement for automobiles, sources said Friday” [Japan Times].

Auto, no: “Japanese media reported that Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Japan had in fact struck a deal on autos but Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast’s office on Friday morning vehemently denied this was true” [Globe and Mail].

Dairy: “Countries are still in the thick of negotiation over opening dairy markets to more foreign imports in countries such as Canada and the U.S.” [Globe and Mail].

Canada: “Western provinces are coming out in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which they say will boost their exports to Asia. Eastern provinces, however, are sounding the alarm over the impact a deal could have on the dairy and auto sectors” [CTV]. I don’t know, however, how Harper counts his votes.

Canada: Potential Constitutional issues with Harper signing a deal [CBC].

When the campaign started in August, the federal government fell into “caretaker” mode: no significant new programs or spending will happen until after the Oct. 19 election.

However, knowing the TPP talks were ongoing, Harper’s Conservatives sought and received a clarification that “where a major decision is unavoidable,” such as due to an “international obligation,” the trade minister could carry on representing Canada’s interests.

The guidelines specify that consultation with opposition parties “may be appropriate, particularly where a major decision could be controversial or difficult for a new government to reverse.” However, both the Liberals and the New Democrats say they are not being consulted about what’s happening at the table this week.

The real question might be not how the election impacts the ability to get a deal, but rather how getting a deal might impact the election: Will Conservatives be credited with success? Or will concessions cost them seats?

The U.S. Council of Mayors holds a pro-TPP dog-and-pony show in Atlanta [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

[USTR Michael]Froman said Colgate [Mattress] is ’emblematic’ of the need for a free trade pact with Asia partners….

Colgate’s Vice President Richard Wolkin admitted some worry about the pending deal. He’d like to expand his international trade, but is mindful of what impact the TPP will have on imports and his operations.

‘Our wages are higher, our overheads are higher, and even more importantly our regulations are definitely stricter. We have undergone massive changes in those areas and those challenges,” he said.’

Asked his prediction for whether TPP will be a boon for Colgate: “I can’t answer whether it will, in fact, be better for us or not.’

Pretty sloppy advance work, where Wolkin gives a quote like that. But you can see very clearly what Wolkin would like from the deal, right? I could file this under Class Warfare.

“The administration’s negotiating objectives in the ongoing Trans Pacific trade talks in Atlanta make a mockery of the President Obama’s promise at the United Nations to implement global Sustainable Development Goals” [Friends of the Earth]. From the FOE backgrounder (PDF):

Other TPP chapters like the one covering trade in goods can be the basis for state-to-state suits challenging climate policies. Big fossil fuel companies strongly support the TPP because it would encourage a massive expansion of trade in oil, coal and liquefied natural gas across the Pacific. Specifically, the TPP would provide them with legal weapons to counter campaigns launched by climate activists to impose regulations and controls on U.S. fossil fuel exports to the region. The TPP would reinforce industry claim that controls on energy exports are illegal under international trade and investment law.

“The trade deal could be a powerful lever to improve worker rights and fix some of NAFTA’s mistakes. It’s not there yet” [Sandor Levin, Politico]. It isn’t, and it won’t be.



Lemony Snicket gives Planned Parenthood $1 million [Boing Boing].

“Of the 302,000 employees at the company, not one has given a reportable amount to help Fiorina fund her 2016 presidential campaign, according to the campaign’s most recent FEC filings, which lists all donations over $200” [Daily Beast].

The Voters

UPDATE “The next month will bring with it the third GOP debate and the first Democratic debate, an important congressional hearing (Clinton in front of the Benghazi committee) and more scrutiny on the newest frontrunners Fiorina and Carson as well as the surging Rubio” [The Cook Political Report]. Good report on “who won the summer,” the “gold standard” NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, and what is to come.

The Trail

“Joe Biden: ‘I’m no Bernie Sanders’ on economic populism” [CNN]. So that’s why Biden — after he comes out of mourning — will run, then?

“Will Hillary Clinton benefit from an ‘un-American double standard’?” [McClatchy]. Contrast Clinton’s treatment to what happens to whistleblowers:

On Sept. 18, 2012, Criscione sent a 19-page letter informing Commission Chair Allison Macfarlane that Duke Energy had grossly underestimated odds that a dam upstream of its Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina might burst and knock out all power supplies needed to keep its reactors cool. He shared the letter with 13 members of Congress.

The nuclear agency’s internal watchdog sought Criscione’s criminal prosecution.

Such preferential treatment has engendered cynicism and resentment among some lower-level government employees who risked their careers to release sensitive information about waste, fraud, abuse or dangers to the public health or safety. Some believe Clinton, still a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, will get off easy.

“If a career civil servant had a server with Top Secret information in his basement,” Criscione said in a phone interview, “he would without a doubt do time” in prison.

But he said he believes Clinton “will not be prosecuted because of political reasons.”

Criscione said even if Clinton avoids prosecution over her handling of now-classified material, she deserves to face criminal charges for setting up a private email account to circumvent disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act.

Exactly so. I don’t see how the worker bees in the District can be happy about the Clinton email saga at all, and that has to add to the Clinton campaign’s worries about the “drip, drip, drip.” Who else has got what?

UPDATE “Throughout the 2016 presidential primary campaign, Clinton has taken a markedly less critical view of large financial institutions like Citigroup Inc. than Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and presidential rival Bernie Sanders. Instead, Clinton has placed the blame on ‘shadow banking,’ a term she has used to describe hedge funds and high-frequency traders” [Bloomberg]. NC readers know this is bullshit.

David A. Fahrenthold wraps some prose round quotes from Cato to take a whack at Sanders [WaPo]. I mean, seriously. Who does a story on how expensive single payer will be without citing, say, Stephanie Woolhandler? At best, lazy.

“Rubio campaign boots Bush-backing tracker from Iowa event” [Politico].

“Hank Greenberg Says He’s Backing Jeb Bush” [Bloomberg]. Should be the kiss of death….

“If [Lessig] manages to gain the one percent of national support required to enter the first Democratic debate, Lessig could entirely upend the dynamic of the conversation” [Harvard Crimson].

“The already quirky campaign allowed supporters to vote online for who they wanted to be Lessig’s vice president — a poll that included progressive celebrities like Jon Stewart and Neil Degrasse Tyson, along with seasoned Democratic officials. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) won by a landslide, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)” [Think Progress].

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, September 2015: “The September employment report came in weaker than expected on all scores with nonfarm payroll at 142,000, well under the low estimate for 180,000. To seal the matter, downward revisions to the two prior months total 59,000. Average hourly earnings also came in below the low end estimate, at an unchanged reading and a year-on-year rate of 2.2 percent which is also unchanged. And the labor market is shrinking! The labor participation fell 2 tenths to a nearly 40 year low of 62.4 percent.” [Econoday]. “Forget about an October rate hike and maybe forget about a December one too.” Cue crocodile tears. Didn’t I say the 1% would want to keep their free money for stocking stuffers?

And: “The unadjusted data shows growth is at the lowest levels since the Great Recession. Yah gotta look hard to find anything in this report which would warm your heart. In fact, this report would have been worse if the BLS did not remove 350,000 people from the workforce” [Econoday].

And: “A shocker for most analysts/entirely in line with my narrative of insufficient deficit spending-public or private-to offset unspent income, aka demand leakages. And it’s only going to get worse until appropriate fiscal adjustments are implemented. The cut in oil capex, which was the only thing supporting growth after the tax hikes and sequesters, triggered a downward spiral, with lower employment, lower income, and lower spending working it’s way through the economy” [Mosler Econonmics]. I woke up this morning and checked my Twitter feed, which was full of excited speculation about [snort] how good the report would be. Patter for the marks, perhaps, but it’s a sad day when the priors of a very cynical Maine bear keep matching up with reality.

“The labor-force participation rate—that is, the share of the population either working or looking for work—declined to the lowest rate since 1977. The employment-to-population ratio, that is, the share of the population with a job, fell to 59.2% from 59.4%” [Wall Street Journal, “The September Jobs Report in 11 Charts”]. I keep wondering where all those people not in the labor force disappeared to, and what they’re doing. System D? Shuffleboard? The streets? I can’t recall an academic study, or any long form journalism on this topic. Readers, did I miss it?

“Holy disappointing jobs report! Headline weakness coupled with nonexistent wage growth, and a further decline in the participation rate suggests the U.S. labor market is undergoing a significant slowdown in the second half of the year. Furthermore, keep in mind, weakness in the labor market generally translates into weakness in headline economic activity as well” [Wall Street Journal, ” Economists React to the September Jobs Report: ‘Nothing Good to See Here’ “].

The Fed: “Everyone I have chatted with this morning thinks the FOMC is now out until at least March 2016. The impression is that this [jobs] number was so weak that there will not be sufficient evidence to justify a hike in December. I guess we can start waiting for Humphrey Hawkins testimony in February!” [Across the Curve].

Factory Orders, August 2015: “[D]own 1.7 percent and under the Econoday consensus” [Econoday]. “Global weakening, as underscored by the FOMC, is a wildcard for the economy and the nation’s factories are at the front line.”

Fear & Greed Index, October 2, 2015: 16 (-1); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 18 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

Study: How ObamaCare nets out [NBER] (summarized here). Important:

This paper estimates the change in net (of subsidy) financial burden (“the price of responsibility”) and in welfare that would be experienced by a large nationally representative sample of the “non-poor” uninsured if they were to purchase Silver or Bronze plans on the ACA exchanges. The sample is the set of full-year uninsured persons represented in the Current Population Survey for the pre-ACA period with incomes above 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The estimated change in financial burden compares out-of-pocket payments by income stratum in the pre-ACA period with the sum of premiums (net of subsidy) and expected cost sharing (net of subsidy) for benchmark Silver and Bronze plans, under various assumptions about the extent of increased spending associated with obtaining coverage. In addition to changes in the financial burden, our welfare estimates incorporate the value of additional care consumed and the change in risk premiums for changes in exposure to out-of-pocket payments associated with coverage, under various assumptions about risk aversion. We find that the average financial burden will increase for all income levels once insured. Subsidy-eligible persons with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty threshold likely experience welfare improvements that offset the higher financial burden, depending on assumptions about risk aversion and the value of additional consumption of medical care. However, even under the most optimistic assumptions, close to half of the formerly uninsured (especially those with higher incomes) experience both higher financial burden and lower estimated welfare; indicating a positive “price of responsibility” for complying with the individual mandate. The percentage of the sample with estimated welfare increases is close to matching observed take-up rates by the previously uninsured in the exchanges.

Dear Old Blighty

“The question for the future is whether this mobilised constituency will be strong enough to shield Corbyn from the attacks coming his way, and indeed whether it can be sustained. An onslaught is inevitable because on many issues Corbyn’s positions are directly opposed to what the British state considers to be its interests” [Le Monde Diplomatique]. Very level-headed and well worth a read; describes Corbyn’s coalition.

“[The NHS] is taking the unprecedented step of ceasing to provide free hearing aids to mainly elderly people in its area with mild hearing loss” [Guardian]. Useless eaters!

“[NHS] GP practices offered ‘ethically questionable’ incentives to cut urgent cancer referrals” [Pulse] Under Rule #2 of neoliberalism, no doubt. (Note how the BBC tones down the headline while linking to the Pulse story.)


“The more than 80 House Democrats who have lined up against the Obama Administration’s proposed fiduciary rule are using much of the language of their Wall Street supporters” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. “The Democratic lawmakers’ letter also likens annuity products to “the guaranteed lifetime income option, similar to what defined benefit pensions and Social Security offer.” What an ugly comparison.


“[A] trend spreading rapidly across a shale industry that’s scrambling to remain profitable after oil prices sank 50 percent. More and more sand is getting stuffed down wells to try to better pry open the rock and bolster output” [Bloomberg].

“Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s” [The Atlantic].

Guillotine Watch

“Jason, whose surname is Zhang, was different from other young Chinese. He had a job, at a media company that produced reality TV shows, but didn’t seem especially busy. He’d studied in the U.S., but at a golf academy in Florida, and he’d dropped out after two years. His father was the head of a major HR company, and his mother was a government official. He wore a $5,500 IWC watch because, he said, he’d lost his expensive one. I asked him how much money he had. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘More than I can spend.’ So this was it: I had found, in the wild, one of the elusive breed known in China as the fuerdai, or ‘second-generation rich'” [Bloomberg]. Quite unfairly, I feel about golf the way Yves feels about the payday loan industry; all players except whistleblowers should be barred from goverment.

Class Warfare

“New Data Reveals Stark Gaps in Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students” [Econintersect].

“Much of the rest of the world is turning its back on privatisation and developing innovative new and hybrid models of public ownership” [The Conversation]. The context is Corbyn’s entirely sane and popular proposal to renationalize the British railroads. But get a load of this:

Since 2000, 86 major cities around the world have taken back their water systems from private contractors. This started in Latin America with violent uprisings in 2000 against massive hikes in water prices in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia but then spread to La Paz and other cities and regions throughout the continent. Subsequently cities as diverse as Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Berlin have followed suit. In Uruguay and Mali, national water services have also been returned to public hands after failed privatisation experiments.

There are many other examples in the article.

News of the Wired

“How Best-Self Activation Influences Emotions, Physiology and Employment Relationships” [SSRN]. Reminds me of Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations, but it apparently it takes another person.

“Tumblr today introduced a feature that lets you hide your blog from the web so its content can only be viewed on Tumblr.com and in its native apps for mobile devices” [The Verge].

Twitter may allow tweets longer than 140 characters (and how the 140 character limit came to be) [WaPo]. Stupid money and weak management ruining a great product.

“A close examination of women’s political participation in peace processes in Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Kenya, and the Philippines” (PDF) [Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security].

* * *

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 (Pat):

Japanese Maple

Japanese maple.

Readers, I’d also be interested in any projects you did this summer (now that the time to put the garden to bed is approaching)….

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is coming, I need to fix my laptop, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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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. wbgonne

    “If we get a Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trump may well roll out a whole new story about how Republicans and Democrats alike are conspiring with a shadowy cabal of international elites to help China and other foreign countries continue destroying the living standards of American workers” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. Crazy talk!

    This is neoliberal propaganda at its most vile and manipulative. A phony “liberal/progressive” Washington Post columnist using Trump-hate to manipulate people into supporting “Republicans and Democrats [who are] conspiring with a shadowy cabal of international elites to help China and other foreign countries continue destroying the living standards of American workers.” Yes, Mr. Sargent, Trump is dead right: that is exactly what your hero Obama and the rest of the Democratic and Republican traitors are doing and you are helping them: you are an aider-and-abetter in the neoliberal assault on the American Middle Class. Greg Sargent should be ashamed of himself but I guess he sold his integrity long ago. What a disgrace to journalism.

    1. sleepy

      I’d think WaPo would like that framing, blaming “China and other foreign countries” for the TPP.

      Takes the heat off the US oligarchs who are the prime movers and shakers behind the deal. And of course China isn’t even at the table. Useful strawmen all.

      1. different clue

        Viewing TPP as something which someone would have to be “blamed” for would be viewing TPP as a bad thing. The WaPo views TPP as a good thing, and will certainly not support “blaming” anyone for it. The WaPo would support “thanking” somebody for it if/when the WaPo feels it is indicated.

        1. wbgonne

          No kidding. Here is another excerpt from Sargent’s odious piece of propaganda:

          Who will these voters listen to on the Trans Pacific Partnership — Jeb Bush, who is trying to talk in reasonable tones about the virtues of lowering international trade barriers, or billionaire Trump, who is warning that foreign elites are looking to rip off American workers even more than they have done already?

          See that? If Sargent wanted to sink TPP he would say something like this: Why in the world would Democrats follow Jeb Bush (and Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, and the Chamber of Commerce, etc. etc. etc.) in supporting this monstrous surrender of national sovereignty to transnational corporations, this perhaps fatal assault on the American middle class? Instead we get manipulative neoliberal propaganda like this: “Jeb Bush, who is trying to talk in reasonable tones about the virtues of lowering international trade barriers.”

          Sargent clearly backs TPP (and Obama and Hillary and the entire neoliberal project) but he doesn’t have the guts to say it so he uses deceit and manipulation (just like them). He must be so proud of himself.

  2. wbgonne

    Tobacco: “A U.S. proposal that would carve out tobacco regulations from being covered under TPP investor-state disputes faces opposition from Mexico and Japan, who don’t want to see major changes to this part of the trade agreement and are pushing back, according to sources closely following the talks. The proposal would broadly exempt ‘tobacco control measures,’ according to language obtained by POLITICO” [Politico]. Perhaps McConnnell plans to reluctantly choke down the loss of sovereignty his fellow Republican Jeff Sessions deprecates for tobacco money ka-ching kc-ching, but isn’t this proposal assuming prominence rather late in the day?

    Now think about this. Tobacco is being removed from ISDS protection. Why? Because otherwise tobacco companies could recover damages for lost profits from government regulation. But all other industries will have exactly that power. Under TPP, transnational corporations will be empowered to punish sovereign peoples — including Americans — who pass laws to protect themselves from corporate predations. This tobacco carve-out proves it beyond dispute and Obama’s double-talk to the contrary is now exposed as nothing but a web of deceit.

    1. nippersdad

      Could just be kabuki. As corporations are now people, Philip Morris could take the government to court for disparate treatment under the equal protection clause and thereby invalidate the carve out. The Roberts court would see no problem with that. They’ll get their moneys’ worth no matter which court they take it to.

      1. wbgonne

        No, I don’t agree with that. There is no provision in U.S. law comparable to ISDS’ scheme of awarding damages for expected profits lost to health and safety regulations. The closest is the Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment but that is much, much more narrow than ISDS. Further, at least when SCOTUS does it that is an American court and the Supreme Court justices are selected by officials elected by the American people. That is some measure of accountability. There is no accountability whatsoever for the secret ISDS tribunals run by corporate lawyers. That, in fact, is the very point of the TPP/ISDS effort: to establish a mechanism that allows transnational corporations to bypass democratic self-rule and national sovereignty.

        1. nippersdad

          I meant that only half in jest, but Bush v Gore proved that, at this point, the law is what they say it is; any rationale will apparently do. When in the market shopping for court venues, those who are in favor of TPP could do a lot worse than the Roberts court.

          1. wbgonne

            When in the market shopping for court venues, those who are in favor of TPP could do a lot worse than the Roberts court

            No doubt about that. And assuming the TPP/ISDS regime is enacted, this Supreme Court will almost certainly approve it.

            1. nippersdad

              The good news, such as it is, is that this will be coming up for a vote during a presidential primary election concurrently with increasingly bad economic data on everyones’ newsfeed. I just cannot think of a worse time for them to push something like this; the entire House of Representatives is going to be up for election and the Republican majority in the Senate is not all that large.

              The populist candidates on both sides of the aisle (particularly Trump and Sanders) will be panning it with a regularity that will force the establishment candidates to follow suit, making TPP politically toxic all the way down the political food chain right about the time it comes up for a vote, if it ever does. Republicans are (rightly) afraid of their base; Trump, say, blasts out a diatribe about the sovereignty issues ISDS represents and the Republicans who largely passed TPA will be running for the hills with wet pants in panicked self defense mode.

              Maybe it is not all bad news. The press may have kept up a media blackout on this issue all year, but it is going to be difficult to shut out a call to arms from populist candidates. We may ultimately get the public debate that we have all been waiting for, and that would kill all of these trade deals, not just the TPP.

  3. frosty

    Lessig won’t get 1% in the polls if the polls aren’t counting him, which currently they are not. The DNC strikes again!

    1. cwaltz

      I’m actually kind of surprised they aren’t counting him. It’s not like they have a super strong bench.

      That being said, his “vote online” thing reminds me of Carly Fiorina’s smart phone vote thing. Gimmicky.

      1. Massinissa

        Because, you know, who DOESNT have smart phones these days, right Carly?

        Oh, I dunno Carly, I for one don’t have one. And apparently a third of Americans don’t either.

  4. Martin Finnucane

    On water “reclamation”: This [i.e., re-taking municpal water systems from private contractors] started in Latin America with violent uprisings in 2000 against massive hikes in water prices in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia ….

    As always, only the wretched of the earth can lead man to salvation. Camels, eye-of-the-needle, and all that.

  5. optimader

    …They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

    Americans are eating more meat than they were a few decades ago, and many animal products are treated with hormones and antibiotics in order to promote growth. All that meat might be changing gut bacteria in ways that are subtle, at first, but add up over time. Kuk believes the proliferation of artificial sweeteners could also be playing a role.

    Internal inconsistency in the study?
    1.) Not all protein and fat macronutrients are equivalent.
    2.) I skimmed this , so to double check I did a word search on carbohydrate. Does not appear in the article. Is carbohydrate consumption identical? I think not.
    3.) as mentioned yesterday, HFCS is also missing. HFCS inhibits satiation
    4.) http://www.bls.gov/TUS/CHARTS/LEISURE.HTM This simply wasn’t the case 30 years ago, let alone 50 and 70 years ago.
    5.) RE: cardio vascular health, I will bet that how far American’s will elect to walk vs how short a distance they will elect to take vehicular transportation is trending toward maximizing sedentary behavior. Same goes for recreational choices in general..

    More recently, fructose’s unique metabolism, mainly through energy balance regulatory hormones, has been suggested as a possible mechanism to explain temporal trends in HFCS consumption and obesity (16). Fructose, unlike glucose, does not stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells (25). Insulin may be a key element in the chain of events that leads to increased satiety with the ingestion of most carbohydrates (37). As a result of high blood glucose, increased circulating insulin can amplify satiety through actions within the central nervous system (37-41) or by stimulating leptin secretion (42). Whereas insulin is secreted in acute response to meals, leptin stimulation is delayed for several hours (43, 44).

    Insulin-mediated glucose uptake and metabolism in adipose tissues play a key regulatory role in leptin concentrations (41, 45). Leptin, the diurnal patterns of which have been shown to be regulated by insulin (46), is recognized as a medium- to long-term regulator of energy balance through its effects on reducing energy intake and stimulating energy expenditure…. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/6/1738S.full

    This study may well have some validity regarding gut changes due to hormone mimicking plasti compunds, presence of antibiotics and steroids in meat but I do not buy into the premise that the diet has not dramatically changed

    1. DJG

      Thanks, optimader. I have been thinking about this piece since Yves posted it yesterday. I am surprised, in a way, that meat consumption is up. But then I find out that there are such things as Bacon Fest and doughnuts with bacon on them. The digestiblity and metabolic pathway of high-fructose corn syrup have turned out to be even more worrisome than anyone expected, too.

      And to top it off, U.S. cookery seems now to be limited to four flavors: salty, sugary (not necessarily sweet), capsaicin, and fatty.

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    Thanks, Lambert, for including the link and mention of Lawrence Lessig’s Democratic candidacy. He is the only one in the arena offering a specific plan for addressing the single most important cause behind the dysfunction of American politics, and that is the tilting of the electoral playing field in favor of the very wealthy. Let’s have more coverage of his campaign. Much more!

    1. Daryl

      I lost interest when I saw he intends to resign after passing his campaign finance reforms. And that his interests seem to be limited to campaign financing.

      What about public servants going on to private sector jobs? What about corporations being allowed to make electioneering communications?

      Campaign finance is only one small portion of the rot. It will take much more than a 4-year presidency to get rid of it.

  7. Brindle

    2016 / Warren

    Something for the many astrological minded here at NC (snark). This is probably the best, or most entertaining anyway, of astrological profiles of Warren.

    —-Her Sun at 0 Cancer puts her squarely in the “world axis” of zero degrees of Cardinal Signs, a placement often described as the point where “the personal becomes political.” It is also exactly squared to the supermassive Black Hole at the center of Galaxy M-87 at 0 Libra, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware, holding more than 100 subsidiary galaxies in its gravitational thrall. This point is incredibly powerful and magnetic, a source of Warren’s instant popularity and her ability to manage or manipulate events to provoke outcomes she desires, for good or ill.—


  8. Vatch

    “Hank Greenberg Says He’s Backing Jeb Bush” [Bloomberg]. Should be the kiss of death….

    I wonder who Angelo Mozilo and Dick Fuld are supporting.

  9. kiers

    is the TPP attempting at being passed by some 51% vote? shouldn’t it be 2/3s majority? it is a major treaty after all.

    1. Vatch

      One would think so, but no! It’s not a treaty, it’s a free trade agreement, so it isn’t subject to the constitutional requirements of a treaty! If you think that’s bogus, you’re not alone — plenty of reasonable people agree with you. But instead of 2/3 of the Senators present during the vote, the vote will be based on the majority in both houses of Congress.

      The Wikipedia article on Fast_track_(trade) says this:

      If the President transmits a fast track trade agreement to Congress, then the majority leaders of the House and Senate or their designees must introduce the implementing bill submitted by the President on the first day on which their House is in session. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(c)(1).) Senators and Representatives may not amend the President’s bill, either in committee or in the Senate or House. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(d).) The committees to which the bill has been referred have 45 days after its introduction to report the bill, or be automatically discharged, and each House must vote within 15 days after the bill is reported or discharged. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(e)(1).)

  10. New Deal democrat

    As to why we are experiencing a long term decline in the prime working age labor force participation rate, the best explanation appears to be the combination of rising child care costs plus decreasing wages, which causes more spouses to decide to stay at home and care for their children:



    Click on through to the Pew Foundation reports, which are pretty close to a smoking gun.

    1. cwaltz

      The cost of child care definitely factored into my decision to stay home when my kids were young. The time involved in caring for children was a factor as well. I didn’t want the fact that I had these people depending upon me used against me or other women as a reason to pay me less.

      In the 90s I paid 90 for our first child and then 60 dollars for each additional one weekly. I consider that a bargain when you think about what goes into caring for a human being. That being said, with 4 kids my weekly cost would have been $270. Minimum wage today after taxes wouldn’t cover my costs. It was lower back then.

      We looked at what I’d have to make to make it worthwhile and factored in that only one of us could essentially have a career since kids need to be placed first(someone would need to take the hit when they were sick or needed to go to the dentist, etc, etc) and decided against me working once he acquired a job that supported us. Before that we had a hodge podge schedule that meant he worked I watched the kids, I worked he watched the kids. It was an incredibly stressful existence and one I suspect many people live.

      It’s actually kind of interesting because the dynamic in our relationship changed when we went from public service(where I outranked and outearned him despite having children) to private sector where I knew my gender and the fact that I had kids would be used to justify paying me less. I wonder how many other women have tossed their hands up and said “fine, I just won’t work,” because they know society sees raising those kids as something that detracts from work rather than adds to our work experience(even though parenting essentially improves your time management, people skills, delegation and a whole host of other skills that can translate to improved leadership in a workplace. )

      1. Bridget

        And then there are those, like myself, who thanked their lucky stars every single day that they were able to not work, and instead stay home and raise their (fabulous and endlessly fascinating) children, and to hell with how society sees does or does not see it.

        1. cwaltz

          How lucky for you to find arguing with toddlers and teenagers endlessly fascinating! I’ve found the art of raising children to be a decidedly mixed experience. My heart is filled with love for my kids. However, the words I’d use to describe it would challenging and exhausting with alternating bouts of heart bursts and heart breaks(perhaps your children weren’t as stubborn as mine. And although they get it honestly I would be lying to say it is fun to watch your kids learn things the hard way or to see them struggle to find their place in the world) It would be wonderful to say to heck with society, however, at some point we all have to live in that place that we’re saying to heck with and so do our fabulous children.

          1. Bridget

            Yes we do all have to live in that place, and it’s a much easier place in which to live if we do not let ourselves be unduly bothered with how it may perceive or value our life choices.

    2. JCC

      And some more insanity from the Atlanta Fed

      According to the latest Atlanta Fed paper “The decrease in labor force participation among prime-age individuals has been driven mostly by the share who say they currently don’t want a job.”

      No mention of the reasons, of course, like low wages or no available jobs or…


      Open the section of the page “Focus on prime working-age individuals”.

      These people are insane… but they have their hands in every pie if not flat out running every facet of the country today.

  11. tegnost

    Thanks for yesterdays “in praise of idleness”. Long time fan of Bertrand Russell and it was a nice visit.

  12. Pepsi

    This is a very vague question, I apologize in advance, but what does the american economy look like in an ideal TPP world? What would be different? Have they released in papers about it?

    1. cwaltz

      Ideal for whom?

      TPP is ideal for businesses because they can essentially be above the law. Example: France doesn’t allow growth hormones in milk there. Using TPP though they’d be FORCED to allow the sales of milk from the US where hormones are allowed in milk. If France balked the Dairy farmers here could force France to pay them for not allowing them to sell milk there(kind of like paying a protection racket.)

      TPP is a loser for consumers because countries would not be able to enact individual regulatory control without being challenged and the person the challenge goes to happens to be a board that corporate America will handpick.

      All the details haven’t been released because as per usual something that will effect all of us is being discussed behind closed doors by a select few(600 corporations have access and you have to wonder how many of them are actual taxpayers and how many of them are keeping their profits offshore to protect their profitability.)

  13. EmilianoZ

    To be filed under class warfare:


    Complaints have been streaming in about security guards, hired by wealthy beachfront homeowners, removing beach-goers from public beach areas with claims that they are private.

    In 2013 the Guardian reported how entertainment mogul David Geffen had deliberately restricted public access to the beach near his home in Carbon Beach.

    To be fair Californian laws about the status of the beaches seem pretty byzantine:

    Some portions of California’s beaches are in fact privately owned, but according to the California Coastal Act public access begins where the sand is wet (below the mean high tide line). Most beaches are either entirely accessible by the public or, as is the case in Escondido, privately owned but have stretches including walkways from the street which are open to everyone.

    You have to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you bought this superb beachfront house and then any riffraff can wade in the water in front of you, You’d be ashamed to invite your billionaire Saudi friend or Russian oligarch.

    Surely, if it were all privatized, wet or not, property prices in Malibu would go even higher. It would be wealth creation.

    1. Carolinian

      That would be the same David Geffen who just bribed the NY Philharmonic to rename Avery Fisher Hall starting this year. The new name, modestly enough, is David Geffen Hall. Some months ago the NYT questioned the lowball tax deductible contribution which brought this about. No word on whether cheap seat music goers will have special walkways to guide them past the high dollar patrons.

  14. fresno dan


    Russia, he (Obama) predicted during a White House press conference, would get stuck in a “quagmire,” adding, “It just won’t work, and they’re going to stay there for a while.”


    Hey, getting stuck in mideast quagmires is our job!
    Considering the Soviet Union actually was first in Afghanistan, you wonder if the points system is actually based on who can be more idiotic….

    1. Vatch

      The British fought two wars in Afghanistan in the 19th century, and a third war in 1919. The ancient nation Bactria occupied approximately the same area as modern Afghanistan, and Alexander the Great probably had at least as much trouble subduing Bactria as he had conquering the mighty Persian empire. Eventually he solidified his position in Bactria by marrying Roxana, who was a princess in one of the local tribes.

      Afghanistan is known as the Graveyard of Empires. If one is going to invade Afghanistan, one needs to have a extremely good reason for doing so, and a thoroughly air tight plan.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Mission creep is always an issue, and the security of the Russian operating bases is the easiest path towards mission creep. Limited engagment can avoid the issue. One the various “rebels” have not been supplied with sufficient anti-aircraft platforms. The Syrian airforce, although u til recently under supplied and reliable transportation on domestic made weaponry, is flying. Russian jets can operate with impunity and aren’t relying on emergency pilots. The Russian bases are well protected, and despite three years of war haven’t been hit except for a recent skirmish they crushed. It’s likely would be fighters have withdrawn to clearer borders. The Russians won’t have to invest in transit from supply depots to forward positions.

      The topography of Afghanistan was an issue. The Mujahideen had places to hide and attack the Russian helicopter fleet. The U.S. wasn’t supplying the Taliban or other groups during our occupation, and they still managed to present a threat. If these maps of confirmed strikes are accurate, the Russians are avoiding rugged terrain which is considerably more difficult in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

      The “rebels” are heavily composed of foreign fighters. Their commitment is in question especially if they are fighting for money or promises. They don’t want their safe havens to start getting bombed.

      Unlike our invasion of Iraq, the Russians are interested in stabilizing the existing regime, not conquering and handing out government contracts. Did we ultimately stay in Afghanistan because we (not me personally) wouldn’t be able to sell an Iraq occupation without pretending to rebuild Afghanistan and “trying” to catch Bin Laden? Short of major Russian casualties driving the population mad, I don’t see the Russians becoming stuck, and I suspect it’s approaching wishful thinking for Obama. He couldn’t sell an invasion two years ago and was forced to do it on the down low. He’s wasted much of his Presidency on a failed and half-assed conquest. I bet it eats at him. Instead of acknowledging popular opposition, Congress was too scared to vote and Cameron lost a vote to Ed Milliband, Obama blames a convenient villain for shadowy outside interference.

      I think the Iranians are in greater danger of mission creep.

  15. Oregoncharles

    “The labor-force participation rate—that is, the share of the population either working or looking for work—declined to the lowest rate since 1977.”

    IOW, in percentage terms, Obama has now cancelled out the entire effect of the Women’s Movement.

    TBF: how does this compare with the number of people going on Social Security? There should be a substantial spike over the last few years, which would partially explain the falling participation rate. Apparently there’s also been a decline in the number of undocumented workers.

    That said, I second Lambert’s question: what’s become of all those people?

    (in response to Lambert’s post up above – but Iguess it’ll stand alone.)

  16. rjs

    on factory orders…the totals for new orders for non-durable goods and shipments of non-durable goods are identical, ie, all the amounts for June, July, August and year to date are identical, as are the percentage changes shown…
    i downloaded the excel files for both and they also showed non-durable data to be identical…i called the Census bureau before 5PM and left a message notifying them of this error, but apparently they’ve all gone home…

    i suspect the error is with the new orders, but it’s hard to tell, since the monthly difference between orders and shipments has been around 0.6%..

    you will be pleased to know, however, that all of the MSM and econobloggers reported on this data as it was reported by the Census despite the obvious glaring error…

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