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].
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.
“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].
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).
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, ; 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].
“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.
“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].