By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Elizabeth Warren on ISDS: “[The tobacco carve-out] is a clear admission by the administration that companies can use and have used the investor-state dispute settlement process to weaken regulations. Tobacco regulations are very important, but so are rules against polluting rivers, rules to stop another financial crisis, rules to make nuclear power safer. The administration needs to explain why every other industry can still use ISDS to challenge public interest rules in this agreement” [Boston Globe].
ISDS: “As chairman of the world’s leading legal arbitration firm – Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP – [George Kahale III’s] core business is to defend governments being sued by foreign investors under ISDS. Some of his clients are included in the TPP, and he says the trade minister’s critics are right” [Guardian]. Kahale: “There are significant improvements in this treaty, but they do not immunise Australia from any of these claims. If the trade minister is saying, ‘We’re not at risk for regulating environmental matters’, then the trade minister is wrong.”
ISDS: “The USTR’s office points to statutory language guaranteeing the right to regulate financial institutions in pretty much any way governments like as long as it’s nondiscriminatory, but experts I’ve spoken to allege that ISDS panels routinely ignore this kind of language, and the arbitration process is inherently corrupt due to huge conflicts of interest” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. “The administration’s general counter to this is that in reality the US government basically never loses ISDS claims. And with regard to financial services, the administration has what it sees as a trump card ISDS critics aren’t really wrestling with: a provision that allows a government to kick a dispute out of the ISDS process entirely and settle it instead on a state-to-state basis between financial regulators… This seems persuasive if you are willing to accept the good faith of the Obama administration…”
“[A]greements such as the TPP are about implementing policies that have nothing to do with comparative advantage, policies that are often designed to lead to higher consumer costs and concentrated corporate power. Treated as marginal issues, these policies are ‘free-trade free-riders,’ coasting along on an unearned legitimacy” [Globe and Mail]. Not a trade deal!
“For at least one major sector – the auto industry – the agreement will make a huge difference, bringing considerable disruption to the industry but offering sizeable gains for car buyers” [VoxEU, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement, and then some”]. Considered in the aggregate, the World GDP benefits are minuscule, and nobody has shown why bilaterial agreements won’t bring the same benefits. No, the TPP is not a trade deal!
“For years, some academics have argued that far-right parties, however unsavory they may be to the mainstream, can help defuse radical tendencies by giving voters who feel abandoned by the political establishment a voice” [Politico]. Germany, but…
TPP: “Calling it a ‘horrible deal,’ Donald Trump spoke out against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership during the Fox Business Republican debate, saying it would cause Americans to lose their jobs and was ‘designed for China to come in as they always do through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone’ [The Week]. Vox, HuffPo, and Slate frame this as Paul fact-checking Trump. But they airbrush out what Paul went on to say:
[Paul] said he does agree with Trump in that the U.S. should “negotiate from a position of strength, and we also should negotiate using the full force and the constitutional power given to us.” It’s a mistake, however, to give up “power to the presidency on these trade deals” and “the power to amend.” Over the last century, he said, “so much power has gravitated to the executive branch. Congress is kind of a bystander; we don’t write the rules, we don’t make the laws, the executive branch does. So even in trade, and I am for trade, I think we should be careful about giving so much power to the presidency.”
It sounds like Paul would be amenable to Fast Track’s repeal, at the very least.
Still on TPP, Los Angeles Times does exactly what Vox, et al. did above, including approving tweets from Joan Walsh through David Frum to Grover Norquist. So the political class takes a unified view on the TPP, eh? It’s worth noting that Trump said “designed for China to come in as they always do,” to which Paul is not responsive: “[W]e might want to point out that China’s not part of this deal,” does not mean, after all, that TPP is not designed for China to come in; in fact, Obama has suggested (even if he’s probably lying) that China should do just that. Oddly, or not, Joan Walsh didn’t mention this.
The economy: “Barring disaster, President Obama will finish his term with a growing economy. Republicans need to show Americans that they can do better—that they can deliver growth and resources to the people who need them. Otherwise, little else matters. The Democratic nominee will inherit the Obama economy and prevail” [Jamelle Bouie, Slate].
The Fed: “On Tuesday night, several GOP candidates expressed skepticism of the Fed’s effectiveness and voiced concern over the range of its powers. They blamed the central bank for widening inequality and penalizing savers. Some even called for a return to the gold standard” [WaPo]. Headline: “This is one issue that the Republican presidential candidates agree on.”
Immigration: “The clash over how to deal with immigrants in the country illegally sparked the ugliest exchanges of Tuesday’s debate, as the two sides showed little taste for even a hint of compromise. They may show agreement on the basic outlines of other core conservative issues, notably tax policy, but the schism on immigration shows no signs of fading” [McClatchy]. “Those candidates marshaling voter anger are determined to clamp down on what they see as an uncontrollable flood of undocumented immigrants. Their followers are roughly the same voters who created and energized the tea party movement six years ago. On the other Republican side are the politically practical conservatives. “Philosophy doesn’t work when you run something,” argued John Kasich, the governor of Ohio. The pragmatists appreciate Kasich and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, who say Trump’s immigration ideas are nuts.”
Health care: “Until Carly Fiorina criticized Obamacare during Tuesday’s prime-time Republican debate, there hadn’t been much attention to health care in the GOP debates. During last week’s Democratic candidate forum in South Carolina, I didn’t detect a single question about health care or the Affordable Care Act” [Wall Street Journal, “Health Care and the 2016 Debates”].
The winnah: “Some 24% of debate-viewers named Mr. Trump and 23% picked Mr. Rubio as the winner of the eight-candidate event, which was sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business News. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson followed, with 13% declaring each to have won” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump, Marco Rubio Won GOP Debate, Poll Finds”].
The winnah: “[Ted Cruz], considered a mid-tier candidate in terms of his standing in opinion polls, had the highest social media sentiment analysis score of 11 as well as the highest number of mentions on Twitter during the debate, according to Thomson Reuters data” [Reuters]. They turned the knobs up?
The winnah: “Chris Christie delivered another strong debate performance Tuesday, rekindling hope that despite a demotion to the undercard event, the New Jersey governor’s natural charisma and blunt style is giving the long-shot campaign a chance to build momentum as the GOP presidential primary heats up” [National Journal]. A chance to shine on the undercard!
“Clinton did take a couple of questions from those who lined up to get into Tuesday’s event… She did not answer any questions from the local media. Adam Sullivan has covered her visits several times in New Hampshire, where she has not taken questions from the local media. In contrast, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders have all been willing to answer questions: [WCAX]. “So while her campaign travels the state holding town halls and forums like this one, it is clear her approach to the nomination is much more controlled than that of other candidates.” Still wrapped in tissue paper. I mean, I can see stiffing the national press — everybody hates them — but the locals?
Trump in New Hampshire: Christie could have “a place” on my ticket [The Hill].
“The Bridgegate corruption trial of a former Port Authority official and a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie on charges they conspired to close George Washington Bridge access lanes has been postponed yet again” [Star-Ledger].
“The [Republican] campaign has moved beyond the period of introduction. The next phase will bring more heated engagement and with it, perhaps, greater clarity. To date, the campaign has produced anything but” [WaPo]. Dan Balz channels Elizabeth Drew!
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 6, 2015: “After swinging wildly through October on new lending disclosure rules, mortgage applications settled down for a second straight week” [Econoday].
The Fed: “San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said Tuesday there’s a ‘very strong case’ for the Fed to raise interest rates next month if the economy continues to improve and policymakers are confident that inflation will pick up” [USA Today]. “Williams’ remarks are significant because he’s a voting member of the Fed’s policymaking committee and considered a centrist whose views generally align with those of Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Williams was Yellen’s research director when she headed the San Francisco Fed.” Kremlinology…
Shipping: “Maersk will cut a fifth of its workforce and cancel options for huge new ships as it tries to rein in costs. One major culprit was decreasing trade between Asia and Europe, which pushed freight shipping rates to, in the report’s words, “new historic lows'” [Fortune].
Ag: “Farmland Partners revealed it was already in talks over further US farm acquisitions even as it, with a $197m deal, unveiled its biggest purchase yet getting the company close to joining the club of owners of more than 100,000 acres” [Agrimoney]. “The closing of the deal, expected in the January-to-March period of 2016, will though debt secured against the new land ‘provide approximately $100m of capital for additional acquisition’, Farmland Partners said.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 (-3); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)
Black Injustice Tipping Point
“A 19-year-old student at a second Missouri university was arrested early Wednesday on charges of making a ‘terrorist threat’ [over Yik Yak] to the campus of the University of Missouri–Columbia, which has been roiled in recent weeks by racial tension, campus police said” [USA Today]. Details, including a screen shot of the Yik Yak [Riverfront Times].
“Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri who was captured on video Monday aggressively confronting a journalism student covering a campus protest, has apologized for her actions and resigned her courtesy appointment with the Missouri School of Journalism” [Chicago Tribune]. Amidst the fog of war, a conflict of rights: Journalists have the right to cover a story, but nobody said that any given citizen has to be covered (modulo a discussion about public figures). I see the issue as tactical, not moral; does barring the press advance the protester’s cause? (And my first reaction to the “safe space” rhetoric is that it’s asinine and juvenile — but then we think of shooting after shooting after shooting, eh?)
“From Washington to Miami, and from Maine to Hawaii, college athletes are watching the Heartland and seeing undeniable proof of the power they hold. A show of unity and strength from Mizzou’s football players essentially forced Pinkel, the $4 million-per-year coach and most influential man on campus, to back their boycott” [Kansas City Star]. I have priors that make me not unqualifiedly enthusiastic about the leading role of the football team, but I do think a union would help them.
“Rangers lose the Big Tax Case – what now?” [The Offshore Game (NS)]. These are the Rangers of Scotland, not New York. Tax law is full of humor; here’s a sample: “The scheme was set up by Rangers’ owners, the Murray Group, on the advice of Paul Baxendale Walker, who since leaving the tax advisory profession has become a pornographer.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“New York charges 44 with sweeping fraud in heating oil industry” [Reuters]. Small fish, as usual. What about market manipulation?
“Dems abandon Obama on ‘Cadillac tax’” [The Hill (RS)].
“About 7.5 million taxpayers paid a total of $1.5 billion for not having health coverage. This was higher than the Treasury Department estimate that 3 to 6 million taxpayers would pay the fee” [National Journal]. “The fee levied on those who go without insurance but who can afford it sharply increases in 2016, a result of a three-year phase-in of the penalty. ‘The more money you’re throwing away for nothing, the more likely you are to change your behavior,’ [Linda Blumberg, senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center] said. ‘You’d rather put more money toward getting something than throw away this amount of money for getting nothing.'”
“In the past 10 years, the number of frac sand mines in Wisconsin has grown from five to more than 60. The number of dairy CAFOs — concentrated animal feeding operations — ballooned from 50 to 250. There are more than 3,000 high capacity wells — which pull at least 70 gallons of water out of the ground each minute — in one region alone, up from fewer than 100 five decades ago” [Al Jazeera]. “Many say governor Scott Walker’s administration has had an unprecedented impact on the state’s natural resources, and that Wisconsin’s bountiful waters are more imperiled than ever. The most recent state budget written by Walker’s administration and approved by Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature in June cut half of the [Department of Natural Resource’s] senior science staff — 18 positions — as well as 60 percent of the agency’s education staff.”
“The powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided Tuesday to begin negotiations to buy thousands of acres including four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an effort to secure steady flows of water amid the historic drought” [San Francisco Chronicle].
“In a release dated Oct. 29, [Detroit’s] Department of Water and Sewage said that since May, it has warned 49,824 account holders that they face water shutoffs” [Fusion]. “Just over half of those account holders have taken advantage of a donation-backed fund created to help pay their bills.” Donation-based fund?
“Evidence of Polyethylene Biodegradation by Bacterial Strains from the Guts of Plastic-Eating Waxworms” [ACS]. Neato!
“How does a parasite create zombie-like behavior?” [Experiment]. “Our results suggest that the fungus takes over the brain, secreting LSD-like compounds, expressing proteins that change serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, and altering the ability to communicate with nearby ants. … In the long run this work might even lead to discoveries related to human brain health.” Paging Michael Hudson!
“Billionaire CEO Marc Benioff on the important topic every business school fails to teach”: equality [Business Insider].
“People in line for organ transplants gain an advantage by getting on the waiting lists at multiple centers. But that privilege appears to favor wealthier patients and may be exacerbating existing inequities in organ transplantation, according to data presented November 9 at the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions” [Science Daily]. They call it class warfare for a reason…
“This is a talk about what happens when a culture is driven by the need for money to make more money” [Medium]. “We want Kickstarter to be similarly in sync with society. Earlier this year we became a Public Benefit Corporation. This means we are legally obligated to consider the impact of our decisions on society, not just our shareholders” (Yancey Strickler is CEO of Kickstarter…)
News of the Wired
“The counterintuitive, GIF-tastic plan to redeem the modern Internet” [WaPo].
“Why babies should sleep in cardboard boxes, explained in 2 charts” [WaPo].
“Epic slide deck from former Yahoo board member lays out the future of tech and media” [Business Insider]. “The Tech & Media world is evolving into an increasingly unified stack.”