2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Canada: “After poring over the treaty’s final text, [Jim Balsillie,] the businessman who helped build Research In Motion into a $20-billion global player said the deal contains ‘troubling’ rules on intellectual property that threaten to make Canada a ‘permanent underclass’ in the economy of selling ideas” [CBC]. That’s not a bug… 

Canada: “Unchanged from the leaked text is the confirmation of the extension of the term of copyright to life of the author plus an additional 70 years. This marks a 20 year extension in the term of copyright, dealing a massive blow to access to Canadian heritage and resulting in hundreds of millions in cost.  For example, there are 22 Governor-General award winning fiction and non-fiction authors whose work will not enter the public domain for decades” [Michael Geist].

Tobacco: “For public health more broadly, the carve-out may serve as the exception that proves the rule, essentially reinforcing that all other health regulations will remain subject to dispute resolution systems designed to favor trade over health. Tobacco may be exceptional in that, according to the WHO, it is the ‘only legally available product that kills up to one half of its regular users.’ But it is not the only product that causes widespread disease. How to protect health from these other products, in this era of free trade, remains to be determined” [Health Affairs].



“The Obama administration will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court injunction that has held up a new program that potentially would shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation” [WaPo].

“Arizona’s attempt to privately fund a $50 million border fence has ended in failure. [T]he five-year campaign managed to draw in only a fraction of the donations the proposal required” [New York Magazine].

“In 2006, Rubio released a book called ‘100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.’ In the book’s section on healthcare, Rubio decried the fact that ‘more than 3 million Floridians lack health insurance and may face barriers in accessing needed health services.’ As a solution, Rubio pressed to expand government-run healthcare programs and create an insurance exchange — both core tenets of Obamacare.” [David Sirota, International Business Times].

Clinton admits charters put public schools in a “no win” situation — and that they cherrypick their students — and proposes… proposes… [LA Progressive].


“2016 Election Polls.” Lots of them, Democratic and Republican, over time with handy charts [Wall Street Journal]. And 64.1% say the country’s on the wrong track, whatever the right track might be.

The Debates

Break out the Victory Gin, there’s another Republican debate tonight, this one on FOX Business [Wall Street on Parade]. “The leading candidates (Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Rand Paul) will take the stage at 9 p.m. ET. Lower polling candidates (Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal) will debate earlier at 7 p.m. ET.” 

“GOP debate moderator warns: ‘Be careful about looking like whiners and babies'” [WaPo]. IIRC, the Republican candidates’ list of demands after the CNBC debacle was never supposed to apply to FOX, but whatever happened to it? 


How the interaction between immediate reactions to the last debates on Twitter was shaped by “the narrative imposed by political analysts” [WaPo (!)].


“Wealthiest Americans Ominously Remind Nation They Could Easily Drop Another $10 Billion On Election” [The Onion].

The Trail

“A former staff member of the Yale Record says that he recalls many of the details of a prank that Dr. Ben Carson wrote about in an autobiography” [Buzzfeed].

“The more that Republican voters hear about Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the more they like them. Jeb Bush, not so much” [Politico].

“But a survey of states with March primary and caucus contests suggests [Jebbie] has little advantage, so far, over his rivals. Interviews with political strategists—as well as with members of the grassroots network the Bush team has touted—reveal a campaign that’s struggling to recruit volunteers and gin up excitement amid Bush’s slide in the polls and poor debate performances. They paint a picture of a top-heavy campaign with plenty of endorsements that’s still waiting for the candidate to turn on the ignition” [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Best Not-The-Onion headline ever: “List of Inexplicable Enduring Economic Trends Keeps Growing” [Market News]. Followed by the best Not-The-Onion quotes ever: “So here we are,” [newly arrived IMF chief chief economist, Maurice Obstfeld] continued, “with a fiat monetary system which has worked pretty well up until now. And so, what is going on?” And they buried the lead: “‘I may be asking for a bigger budget,’ Obstfeld said.”

Wholesale Trade, September: “Wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in September following an upward revised 0.3 percent gain in August” [Econoday]. “The September build appears to be intentional based on a 0.5 percent rise in September sales that keeps the stock-to-sales ratio for wholesalers unchanged at 1.31.” But: “The headlines say wholesale sales improved year-over-year with inventory levels remaining at levels associated with recessions. The best way to look at this series may be the unadjusted data three month rolling averages which decelerated keeping the long term downtrend in play” [Econintersect].

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, October 2015: “The small business optimism index remains unchanged, at a moderate 96.1 in October” [Econoday]. “In confirmation of tightness in the labor market, small businesses continue to report the most difficulty in finding qualified workers since 2007.” If only there were some mechanism to solve that… Some kinda invisible hand… And: Below consensus [Econintersect].

Import and Export Prices, October 2015: “Cross border price pressures continue to move lower. Import prices fell 0.5 percent in October including a steep 5 tenths downward revision to September to minus 0.6 percent. And it’s not just gasoline!” [Econoday]. Exclamation points are quite rare in Econoday snippets. And: “Trade prices continue to deflate year-over-year, and energy prices again had little to do with this month’s decline” [Econintersect].

Lumber Prices: “In 2015, even with the pickup in U.S. housing starts, prices are down year-over-year. Note: Multifamily starts do not use as much lumber as single family starts, and there was a surge in multi-family starts” [Mosler Economics]. Mosler comments: “Along with most indicators, this one turned south as oil capex collapsed.”

“The rise of full-time [AirBnB] hosts is spawning a crop of startups offering support services from housecleaning to key exchange” [Bloomberg]. “Airbnb gives investors a chance to scale like never before, said Jake Wegmann, a University of Texas professor who analyzed data scraped from the company’s website for San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Washington and Austin. Listings by hosts with more than one Airbnb property in those cities made up about 40 percent of the inventory last year.” So maybe private equity can get back into home-ownership, now that the property management question is solved?

“A Swiss initiative to ban private banks from creating money has gathered enough signatures to put the matter to a referendum” [Bloomberg]. “This looks like another cranky economic idea that Swiss voters will throw out, as they did last year’s proposal to require the country’s central bank to keep at least a fifth of its balance sheet in gold.”

The Fed: “The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has named Neel Kashkari to be its new President. He is a Goldman Sach alum and traveled to DC with Hank Paulson. He has worked for PIMCO and has unsuccessfully run for office, failing in a bid to unseat Jerry Brown as Governor of California” [Across the Curve]. Quite the fine young Flexian. 

Ag: “Sugar futures rebounded by more than 6% after data showed mills in Brazil’s key Centre South region continuing to lose ground against ethanol in the battle for cane” [Agrimoney]. A sporty game!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 (-2); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)


“Executives are less likely to agree to fix errors in financial statements when the bulk of their pay is incentive-based” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch].

“Executives at one of the nation’s largest natural gas pipeline companies soon deposited more than $80,750 into [the Fred Upton (R-MI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AL)-founded ] joint fund’s coffers. The very next day, Upton delivered on the industry’s aspirations: He rushed a bill through his legislative panel that would not only streamline the approval process for new pipelines but also empower federal officials to impose tight deadlines on state and local governments seeking to review their potential environmental impacts” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. It would have been classier to have waited at least a week.

“[VW] said it would offer up to $1,000 to owners of diesel cars in the United States affected by the [emissions-rigging] scandal” [New York Times, “VW Looks at Cost Cuts and Offers Money to Diesel Car Owners”]. Up to $1,000? How about a new car? One that does what VW said it would do?

“What Happens When The Wash. Post Jeff Bezos Gives A Top Coal Lobbyist A Writing Gig” [Media Matters]. I rarely quote MM because never shines a light on its own “team,” but this is egregious.

“40 years of alleged abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at specialty rehab centers across the U.S.” [Reveal]. Appallling. But ka-ching!

“Too much of the research process is now shrouded by the opaque use of computers that many researchers have come to depend on. This makes it almost impossible for an outsider to recreate their results” [The Conversation]. Just like Excel spreadsheets run by traders… 

“Mexican Federal Police knew about the events leading up to the disappearance of 43 students — but did nothing to help” [Business Insider].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Charlotte Hornets officials said Friday they were shocked[, shocked] to see themselves among a list of 50 sports teams that allegedly received $6.8 million from the Department of Defense so that members of the military could sing the national anthem, host salutes and participate in other forms of what two senators described as ‘paid patriotism'” [McClatchy]. Seems legit: Mercenary military, mercenary patriotism. Because markets.

Class Warfare

“Many [H1B] visas are given out through a lottery, and a small number of giant global outsourcing companies had flooded the system with applications, significantly increasing their chances of success” [New York Times, “Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, and Jobs Leave the U.S.”]. Mission accomplished!

“The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed” [Wired].

“How Class Kills” [Jacobin]. More on the Case/Deaton study. As I keep saying, they call it class warfare for a reason:

Racism — both past and present — is a crucial determinant in producing worse health among blacks as compared to whites. But within demographic groups and US society as a whole, class is an increasingly critical determinant of health. It’s easy to miss the underlying dynamic of this chilling reality when we focus on aggregate statistics.


“Sexual Harassment in Waitressing Is Much Uglier Than You Think” [Vice]. “As Chelsea McQuaker tells me: ‘We’re all treated like objects by customers, and whoever said the customer is always right is talking complete bullshit.'” Intersectionality?

News of the Wired

The Twitter heart: “‘Twitter is the only place I can go that is removed from emotional attachments and now it’s ruined,” [Katherine Timpf] said when reached by phone. She added: ‘Why did you do this to us, Twitter? I want to know why. Not everything has to be flowers and sunshine.'” [New York Times, “Twitter Fans Speak Out Against the Heart”]. They did it because stupid money and craven executives think Twitter should be like Facebook.

“Behind the website trying to bring back GeoCities” [Daily Dot]. “In an era of the Web where personality comes out primarily in what you like and share rather than in what you make, GeoCities has a charm for anyone who cherishes expressionism, even (or especially) when it’s done with more passion than eloquence.”

“‘Big pile of poop’ a key ingredient of Philly farm students’ education” [Newsworks]. Paul Tioxin: “If this doesn’t send you into a swoon, I don’t know what will!  Saul Agricultural HS is a working farm with fields of crops, farm animals and enough chores to wear out a marine. The kids go to school here and study regular HS curriculum and agriculture. They are some of the best products of the public school system who frequently go onto college.   It has been around forever and is another one of those unique Philly places that makes anyone do a double take when you first hear about it.”

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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:


An inviting walkway at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, 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. rich

    John Henry’s ‘ghost newsrooms’ send a shiver through the Boston Globe

    The incremental growth of STAT, which now employs around 60 people and is based in a dedicated space at the Globe’s Morrissey Boulevard headquarters, has corresponded with mounting worries throughout the Boston Globe about the new publication’s potential to cannibalize jobs, coverage and resources long housed in its newsroom. In fact, Globe employees who spoke with the Business Journal said STAT and related efforts midwifed by Henry and Globe CEO Mike Sheehan appear to be little more than a concerted effort to rid the media company of costs, namely by eviscerating its labor union.

    Globe staffers interviewed for this story voiced anxiety over the rise of what they are calling “ghost newsrooms” — that is, news operations that run independent of the Globe’s union-organized operations — since Henry’s acquisition of the newspaper company in 2013. Those worries have spiked in recent weeks as STAT’s formal launch corresponded with the elimination of dozens of jobs at the Globe.

    The Business Journal has learned that leaders of the Globe’s primary union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, met with company executives last week to voice their concerns, namely that STAT appears to violate a number of covenants within the union’s collective-bargaining agreement. Specifically, senior members of the Boston Newspaper Guild say STAT has far exceeded the initial scope of coverage first described by Henry, encroaching on areas such as politics and health care that are already tracked by core units within the Globe’s newsroom.


    1. cwaltz

      What you mean after you found out that VW duped you, you wouldn’t want to go out and purchase a brand new VW for $500 off and a visa prepaid card? (tongue firmly in cheek.)

  2. DJG

    Canadians on Intellectual Property Regime in TTP: Yes, the problem is that the works of Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje won’t go into the public domain fast enough.

    Please. Companies like Disney are abusing copyright and trademark law. But if you are staying up late fretting over the undue influence on the U.S. economy of the Marianne Moore Estate and the George Gershwin Estate, you have messed-up priorities.

    1. Chris in Paris

      An old joke among the copyright bar is that term will always somehow be extended each time it looks like Mickey Mouse might slip into public domain.

      1. Pat

        I wish I thought that was a joke.

        Sensible copyright laws no longer exist in this country. And much as I like Mickey, I’m pretty damn sure that he, is one of the big reasons why.

    2. polecat

      Yeah……. Disney…. corrupting malleable young minds for generations…..disgusting! Speaking of Margaret Atwood, her recent MaddAddam series is light-years beyond anything Disney could conjure!

        1. windsock

          The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi.

          Were there any copyright issues there?

      1. Ian

        Sadly I called it. Many Liberal supporters that I know are dead set against the TPP as well. Really what do you expect after supporting Bill C-51 among much else.

  3. Chris in Paris

    Not sure why Goldman doesn’t just acquire the Federal Reserve. Not enough synergies, I suppose.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Yes, certainly appears that way. “Cash n’ Carry’s” appointment makes him the third consecutive Goldman appointee to the FOMC and the fourth former Goldman employee to be appointed to the Federal Reserve as he joins Harker, new president of the Philadelphia Fed; Kaplan, new president of the Dallas Fed; and Dudley, president of the New York Fed, as former Goldman Sachs managers who are now members of the Federal Open Market Committee, which votes on interest rates. Dudley reportedly gets a vote in every FOMC meeting, while the other regional Fed presidents rotate.

        And with Draghi at the ECB and Carney at the Bank of England, seems ‘The Squid’s’ global network is same as it ever was.

        At least we have implicit assurance that the Fed won’t do anything precipitous that might trigger that $10 trillion in ‘risky’ derivatives bets that have been placed on the books of FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries of the TBTF bank holding companies that Senator Warren mentioned.

        ‪http://on.ft.com/1kKRgw9 ‬

        1. JTMcPhee

          …but, but, but why pick on these guys? After all, they’re EXPERTS at what they do! Just hiring the best off monster.com…

  4. nigelk

    “The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has named Neel Kashkari to be its new President. He is a Goldman Sach alum and traveled to DC with Hank Paulson. He has worked for PIMCO and has unsuccessfully run for office, failing in a bid to unseat Jerry Brown as Governor of California”

    So basically, Kashkari is an enemy of the people and has never had a real job in his life.

    1. Daryl

      This trade court is an entity of the US government that overstepped its historical bounds. It doesn’t seem like it relates to the sort of supranational power that TPP is trying to create.

  5. C

    File this one under what does it actually take to fail?

    According to the NY Times Neel Kaskari, failed manager of the bailout and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Goldman Sachs alum although that does not matter. Will now be the head of the Minneapolis Fed and will sit on the Federal Open Markets Committee.

    Matt Taibbi did a nicely vicious takedown of his gubernatorial aspirations here.

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