2:00PM Water Cooler 11/3/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


TPP: “Agreement in Principle Reached on TPP but Entry into Force Far From Certain” [Kyodo News]. Excellent review of the bidding from a Japanese perspective.

CETA: “The Free Trade agreement between the EU and Canada threatens water management” [European Water]. “The article ‘Rights and Obligations Relating to Water’ is written in fuzzy legal terms, sometimes even in contradiction with EU and national legislation. No doubt the vagueness and loopholes in this article will facilitate a corporate capture of water by multinational companies in Europe and Canada.”



“Opponents of Obamacare have done a good job of making the policy a political issue. It seems likely, especially given the new premiums, that this will continue into 2016” [WaPo].


“Overall, more Americans now identify as politically liberal than did so when the Religious Landscape Study was first conducted, while fewer U.S. adults identify themselves as political moderates” [Pew Resarch]. If only there were a political party that reflected their views.

Reuters/IPSOS: Trump 31%, Carson 18%.  NBC/Wall Street Journal: Carson 29%, Trump 23% [Bloomberg].


Charles Koch: “But I’m kind of like Martin Luther when he was on trial and ‘He said, here I stand, I can do no other.'” [Politico].

“Four pro-Cruz super PACs are sitting on huge sums of money, but have run virtually no TV ads so far” [Politico]. And unfortunately the PACs can’t communicate with the campaign, and the campaign can’t communicate with the PACs. Oh, wait… 


 “Republican defensiveness about debates reveals a fragile conservative bubble” (storify) [@billmon]. “3) The belief system of “movement conservatism” is now so a) whacky, b) self-contained, c) factually barren & c) intolerant of dissent… 4) …that even the purely notional challenge that a primary debate hosted by CNBC (!) presents is intolerable.” Also, the post that originally applied “epistemic closure” to movement conservatism.

“Donald Trump Leads Republican Scabs Across Their Own Debate Picket Line” [Wonkette].

“Just 24 hours after the Republican campaigns declared they were seizing debate negotiating power from the Republican National Committee — and empower themselves to deal with networks — the advisers said they were beginning to consider handing it back” [Politico].

The Trail

“Despite Clinton’s early edge and Sanders’s surge through the summer months, the race in New Hampshire is now just where smart observers expected it to be: close, and likely to remain that way right up until the Feb. 9 primary” [Bloomberg]. With Sanders relying on volunteers, and Clinton building an organization. 

“In the new poll, conducted October 25-29, 62 percent of Democrats chose Clinton as their top choice to win their party’s presidential nomination, while 31 percent picked Sanders. Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley received just three percent support” [NBC]. ” That’s up from Clinton’s 25-point lead earlier in October, 58 percent to 33 percent.”

The Hill

“Is President Obama Launching an Illegal War?” [National Journal]. No. If the President does it, it is not illegal.

Stats Watch

Gallup US Economic Confidence Indicator, October 2015: “Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averaged minus 13 in October. This is essentially the same as the minus 14 average for September. The index has declined since peaking at plus 3 in January 2015, and has remained below minus 10 for four months” [Econoday]. “In October, 24 percent of Americans described current economic conditions as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 31 percent rated them ‘poor.’ This resulted in a current conditions average of minus 7. The economic outlook average was minus 19 for this same period. This was the result of 38 percent of Americans saying the economy is ‘getting better’ and 57 percent saying it is ‘getting worse.'” I’d love to see these figures broken out geographically.  But what’s wrong with these people? This is the greatest recovery in the greatest economy ever!

Factory Orders, September 2015: “New orders for the export-hit factory sector fell 1.0 percent in September for the 11th decline in 14 months with August revised 4 tenths lower to minus 2.1 percent” [Econoday]. “Primary metals were down in the month as were both machinery and computers. Orders for core capital goods, despite the decline for machinery, were flat though shipments improved from an especially weak August. Industries showing gains for orders in the month include fabricated metals and electrical equipment, both getting a lift from what are strong gains in construction spending. Orders for vehicles were also up.” And: “The health of manufacturing is gauged by the growth of unfilled orders. The 3 month rolling average rate of growth is currently decelerating” [Econintersect].

Motor Vehicle Sales, October 2015: With 2/3 of October’s data in, North American-made vehicles sold at a 14.4 million annual rate in the month which is at the top end of the Econoday consensus but still down slightly from September’s outsized 14.7 million rate” [Econoday]. “A decrease for sales, despite the prior strength, would lower estimates for household spending and in turn lower the chances of a December FOMC rate hike.”

Ag: “The floodgates may break early next year on crops that farmers are hoarding in hope of higher prices, said [Soren Schroder, the Bunge chief executive], flagging the potential for presidential elections to provoke a particular pick-up in Argentine sales” [Agrimoney]. “‘I would say that the biggest overall surprise is probably the amount of farmer retention we have globally,’ Mr Schroder said. ‘It’s not just North America. It is pretty predominant throughout most of the world,’ with the exception of Brazil, where a weaker real has protected growers from declines in dollar-denominated crops values.”

Shipping: “Japan’s three largest container lines saw their group revenues miss forecasts and remain almost flat in the first half of the current fiscal year, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) slipped into the red” [Longshore & Shipping News].

Honey for the Bears: “Investors just got two huge wake-up calls,’ says one veteran debt banker, in reaction to the drop in prices for VW and Glencore debt. ‘It’s a timely reminder that in the extr’emely low-risk world of quantitative easing asset values are all over the place'” [Across the Curve]. “So for those who remember previous scandals, such as the collapse of Enron and WorldCom more than a decade ago, corporate problems are just an indication that the credit cycle is starting to turn.”

Honey for the Bears: “It’s not every week that the regulator of the biggest banks in the U.S. and one of those biggest banks are both warning of growing financial risks” [Wall Street on Parade]. (Michael Hartnett, Bank of America’s Chief Investment Strategist and his team, and Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.)

Honey for the Bears: “You Too Can Now Invest in Startups! What Could Go Wrong?” [Wired]. Sounds like froth, to me.

Honey for the Bears: “The ‘McCulley indicator’ — which measures ‘core’ capex orders, or orders of capital goods excluding military orders and planes — is now at its lowest level since 2009” [Business Insider].

Honey for the Bears: “‘The Fed’s latest Senior Loan Officer Survey suggests that growth in business investment in equipment will remain muted over the remainder of this year,’ Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth said” [Business Insider].

The Fed: “Absent from any of the commentary is that apart from a blip in mid-1985, which was soon followed by rate cuts, you have to go back to the late 1970s to find a time when the Fed thought it prudent to raise rates with the ISM at or below 50” [Reuters]. My priors are those of a Maine bear, but and so I don’t think this is complicated. For the best part of a decade, the Fed has been in the business of giving free money to rich people through QE. They won’t like having that taken away by a rate rise, any more than a dog likes having its dish taken away while there’s still food in it that he’s eating. If there’s no reason to avoid “lift off” now, therefore, one will be seen to have arisen — the dog will snarl — by the time December rolls around. So, I’m long Hermés stocking stuffers.

“Money is flooding out of Canada at the fastest pace in the developed world as the nation’s decade-long oil boom comes to an end and little else looks ready to take the industry’s place as an economic driver” [Bloomberg]. Looks like Harper left Trudeau holding the bag…. 

“While there is much more work to be done, I believe that, as of right now, the right presumption is in favor of hysteresis effects, despite their exclusion from the standard models used in almost all central banks” [Larry Summers, Wonkblog, WaPo]. And by “despite” we mean “especially because of.” Fixed it for ya.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 (+1); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Drug War: A Brilliant Strategy to Divide People Along Racial Lines When All Boats are Sinking” [LA Progressive].

“Ferguson in Focus” [Common Reader]. The text doesn’t really live up to the subhead, but this is an important post nonethelesss.


“Chris Christie: Law Firm Of Longtime Aide Supplies Campaign Cash, Gets New Jersey Government Business” [David Sirota, Business Insider].

“Tom Hayes schooled brokers and traders on how to downplay requests to manipulate Libor as scrutiny of the benchmark rate intensified in 2010 after he joined Citigroup Inc., according to e-mails and messages at a trial in London” [Bloomberg]. Apparently, we pay executives the big bucks to remain ignorant.


“Humans created a new top predator that’s taking over the Northeast — but that’s just one example of the evolution we’re driving” [Business Insider].

Guillotine Watch

“The High-Class Chaos Engulfing One of London’s Wealthiest Neighborhoods” [Vanity Fair]. “Bobby is a board member; he’s supposed to increase shareholder value [wrong]. It’s going to be very hard for Sotheby’s to earn out that guarantee. And they are so greedy that they were willing to do business with the people responsible for sending their father to jail.” Stupid, entitled, and up to their eyeballs in a cesspit they can’t even see.

Class Warfare

“Activists with Moral Mondays Illinois protested at the Chicago Board of Trade to demand a tax on financial trading in Chicago. According to Chicago police, 41 protesters were arrested and one has been cited” [ABC7]. “The protest comes less than a week after the City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget, which includes a $588 million property tax increase.”

“You and I will soon pay 10.25 percent sales tax at the store,” said Toby Chow of Fair Economy Illinois. “Right now, big banks and corporations buying stocks and futures in Chicago don’t pay a cent. A tiny sales tax amounting to less than .002 percent of the average contract value would scarcely be noticed by the big corporations, but it would generate billions of dollars for vital resources that we need in our communities.”

“Some traders and other workers at the Board of Trade were noticeably agitated by the demonstration, with some banging on the doors, others shouting at the demonstrators, and even one man throwing a handful of change at them” [Chicagoist]. I like the change-throwing; maybe I should file this under Guillotine Watch.  At this point we might remember that the rant from CNBC’s Rick Santelli which gave the rhetorical spark to the Tea Party — and, by blaming the foreclosure crisis on mortage-holders, took the heat off CEOs for accounting control fraud — took place on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. So there is no shortage of reactionary nitwit blowhards in that venue. Tax them heavily, say I.

 “[Japan] is a country that uses people to do the work of traffic lights and where big-name companies running 10-year-old software is the norm. There are even tape cassettes for sale in the ubiquitous convenience stores for office use, along with fax machines – remember them? Even tech visionaries like Sony still use a fax.” [BBC]. Reminds me of the Archdruid’s Lakeland Republic. “SMEs account for 99.7% of Japan’s 4.2 million companies, according to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. So the world’s third biggest economy is driven by minor establishments, not the giants everybody knows outside of Japan.”

“The Art of Getting Opponents to ‘We'” [New York Times]. Whenever you hear the word “conversation,” look out. Somebody doesn’t want to talk about power relationships. Democrats are very fond of that word.

News of the Wired

“Our Logo Looks Like Underpants: A Case Study in Internationalization” [Medium]. From 2013, but still interesting.

“Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing” [Smashing Magazine].

An appreciation of Sheldon Wolin [Corey Robin, Jacobin]. ” At each step, Wolin was attentive to how the location in time and space alters the vocabulary, the questions, the categories of theoretical inquiry.” More books to read…. 

Arvo Pärt: “I apologise, but I cannot help you with words. I am a composer and express myself with sounds” [Guardian].

“Man wakes up after a big night out with Ray Bans tattooed on his face” [The Age]. Just… Wow.

“What Happens When a Famous Instagram Teen Stops Being Polite and Starts Getting Real” [New York Magazine]. Good for her!

“The Case for Bad Coffee” [Serious Eats]. No hipsters at the IHOP!

“The Decay of Twitter” [The Atlantic]. Great platform — 340 million users aren’t chopped liver — with lousy management backed by stupid money. For example, Twitter has just changed the favorite icon from a gold star to a heart:

Reaction was, well, what you would expect. Friend of the blog Harry Shearer:

But this tweet gets to the [coughs gently] heart of the matter:

I remember favoriting a tweet storm from a guy laying low in an alley while he covered an assault by a SWAT team. A star works for that, not a heart. Save the squee for Facebook, please.

* * *

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 (Marise):


Our foliage seems to be turning quite late…

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is almost here, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too. And thanks so much for the donations during the annual fundraiser. They are much appreciated, both practically, and as signs that you enjoy the work.


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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. Daryl

    > “Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing”

    I have been using them to great success for a number of years. Most importantly, static websites reduce the attack vector, making static websites less hackable than most websites and recently, refrigerators.

    1. Massinissa

      “And recently, refrigerators”

      3 years ago I would have thought you were joking. Today, I know youre not.

      Its a crazier world today.

  2. rich

    HHS Announces Forum on Pharmaceutical Innovation, Access, Affordability and Better Health

    The Department of Health and Human Services today announced a public forum to explore pharmaceutical innovation, access, affordability and better health. Below is the text of the invitation:

    Modern medicine, including new pharmaceuticals that cure or help combat life threatening diseases, continues to deliver significant benefits for patients. And in general, the development of new, innovative medicines has been good for both patients and our economy. However, the high and growing cost of drugs has created hardship for families, employers, and states.

    Specialty medications represent only 1% of all prescriptions but, in 2014, these medications resulted in over 31% of all drug spending.

    Secretary Burwell is asking stakeholders to share information as to how to address this complex problem.


    wonder how many HF types attend?,…hmmm..better late than never?

  3. allan

    The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good 5-year old with a gun:

    Grandfather left 5-year-old alone in Arizona desert with loaded gun, sheriff says

    A man stands accused of leaving his 5-year-old granddaughter alone in the Arizona desert with a handgun, which was loaded and cocked, authorities say. …

    “She was given the gun and told to shoot any bad guys,” Arpaio old Reuters. “I don’t know how a 5-year-old can tell a good guy from a bad guy, but that’s what she said she was told.”

    America, 2015: Joe Arpaio as the voice of reason.

  4. gonzomarx

    2 charts that show what the world really thinks about capitalism

    A major new report into the state of capitalism is due to be launched by George Osborne on Wednesday. Ahead of its release, a YouGov survey finds there is deep concern about the state of the economic system around the globe

    Although the poll was done for the launch of a new think tank (and article has a typo it’s corrupt not correct) the answers are still interesting.
    The response from the think tank is weak. I think they weren’t expecting the answers they got.

    1. Vince in MN

      I’m not sure how much creedence to give this poll, since in the US anyway, at least 95% of the people belong in the “I don’t know” category.

  5. optimader

    “Man wakes up after a big night out with Ray Bans tattooed on his face” .

    “When I first came home, obviously I was subject to a lot of stares, but I kind of got used to the tattoo and decided not to get rid of it.”

    He thought they were prescription??

  6. JohnnyGL

    “Our foliage seems to be turning quite late… ”

    I’m in Eastern MA, and I just picked 5 nice, ripe raspberries this morning. I’m a bit new to gardening, but I’m not supposed to be doing that in early November, am I?

    1. kj1313

      Think El nino is screwing up the jetstream this year. Last couple of years the polar vortex was making it’s presence felt in the fall.

      1. optimader

        I’ve posted this in the past, one of my daily clicks


        a visualization of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers updated every three hours

        ocean surface current estimates

        updated every five days

        ocean surface temperatures and

        anomaly from daily average (1981-2011)

        updated daily

        ocean waves

        updated every three hours

        Community |

        Facebook Page

        Author |

        Cameron Beccario @cambecc

        Free Version of Source |


        Modules |

        D3.js, backbone.js, when.js, node.js

        Weather Data |

        GFS (Global Forecast System)
        NCEP / National Weather Service / NOAA

        Ocean Currents Data |

        Earth & Space Research

        Sea Surface Temperature |

        Real Time Global SST
        MMAB / EMC / NCEP

        Waves |

        MMAB / EMC / NCEP

        Aerosols and Chemistry |

        GEOS-5 (Goddard Earth Observing System)
        GMAO / NASA

        GRIB/NetCDF Decoder |

        UCAR/Unidata THREDDS

        Geographic Data |

        Natural Earth

        Hosting |

        CloudFlare, Amazon S3

        Font |

        M+ FONTS, Mono Social Icons Font

        Color Scales |

        Kindlmann Linear Luminance
        Dave Green’s cubehelix

        Waterman Butterfly |


        Earlier Work |

        Tokyo Wind Map

        Inspiration |

        HINT.FM wind map

        atmospheric pressure corresponds roughly to altitude

        several pressure layers are meteorologically interesting

        they show data assuming the earth is completely smooth

        note: 1 hectopascal (hPa) ≡ 1 millibar (mb)

        1000 hPa |

        ~100 m, near sea level conditions

        850 hPa |

        ~1,500 m, planetary boundary, low

        700 hPa |

        ~3,500 m, planetary boundary, high

        500 hPa |

        ~5,000 m, vorticity

        250 hPa |

        ~10,500 m, jet stream

        70 hPa |

        ~17,500 m, stratosphere

        10 hPa |

        ~26,500 m, even more stratosphere

        the “Surface” layer represents conditions at ground or water level

        this layer follows the contours of mountains, valleys, etc.

        overlays show another dimension of data using color

        some overlays are valid at a specific height

        while others are valid for the entire thickness of the atmosphere

        Wind |

        wind speed at specified height

        Temp |

        temperature at specified height

        TPW (Total Precipitable Water) |

        total amount of water in a column of air
        stretching from ground to space

        TCW (Total Cloud Water) |

        total amount of water in clouds
        in a column of air from ground to space

        MSLP (Mean Sea Level Pressure) |

        air pressure reduced to sea level

        MI (Misery Index) |

        perceived air temperature
        combined heat index and wind chill

        SST (Sea Surface Temp) |

        temperature of the ocean surface

        SSTA (Sea Surface Temp Anomaly) |

        difference in ocean temperature from
        daily average during years 1981-2011

        Peak Wave Period |

        period of most energetic waves,
        whether swells or wind generated

        HTSGW (Significant Wave Height) |

        roughly equal to mean wave height
        as estimated by a “trained observer”

        COsc (CO Surface Concentration) |

        the fraction of carbon monoxide present
        in air at the earth’s surface

        SO2sm (Sulfur Dioxide Surface Mass) |

        amount of sulfur dioxide in the air near
        the earth’s surface

        DUext (Dust Extinction) |

        the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) of
        light at 550 nm due to dust

        SO4ext (Sulfate Extinction) |

        the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) of
        light at 550 nm due to sulfate

        about ocean waves

        Significant Wave Height is the average height of the highest 1/3 of waves at a particular point in the ocean. There’s a great writeup here describing what this means.

        Peak Wave Period is the (inverse) frequency of the most energetic waves passing through a particular point, whether wind generated or swells. Certainly, there are many more groups of waves moving through an area, each in different directions, but trying to show them all rapidly becomes complex. Instead, we show the one wave group contributing the most energy. This has the effect, though, of creating “boundaries” between regions of ocean where the #1 wave group suddenly switches to second place. Often these boundaries represent swell fronts, but other times they are just artifacts of the ranking mechanism.

        about aerosols and extinction

        An aerosol is air containing particles. Common particles are dust, smoke, soot, and water droplets (clouds). These particles affect sunlight primarily through absorption and scattering, which combine to reduce the amount of light reaching the ground. This loss of light as it passes through the atmosphere is called extinction.

        One common measure of extinction is aerosol optical thickness (AOT), which is (the log of) the ratio between the power of incoming light and the power of transmitted light. This helps us understand how “thick” the air is with particulates

  7. ewmayer

    Re. Twitter twits gratuitously change Like icon from star to heart – ever see those little circular stick-on decals featuring a picture of a screw, designed for guerrilla snarksters to stick over the heart on various self-congratulatory bumper stickers in the dead of night? (E.g. ‘I Heart My Doberman.’) Twitter could use that as an extra tagger icon.

  8. Nigelk

    Re: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/2-charts-that-show-what-the-world-really-thinks-about-capitalism-a6719851.html

    I am a political junkie. People know the game is fixed. People under 40 REALLY know its fixed. It’s never been any other way for us. There’s one candidate who has mentioned it with any credibility.

    I live in California. I have not met 1 — NOT 1 — Hillary supporter. Senator from Wall Street. Wal-Mart board member #Hillary4Who

    Bernie stickers and signs everywhere. The only non-Bernie supporters under 40 I met are career Christians with a vested interest in the GOP-Christian alliance continuing (despite the fact the Christians get nothing out of it…). But I keep hearing about her “lead”.

    She’s going to get Baracked again, just like 2008. Here’s hoping the rest of the country doesn’t, too. Sanders ’16.

    1. Massinissa

      The Christian Republicans do get something out of it. They get dead muslims in far away countries.

      Oh wait… Voting Democratic would have gotten them the same thing…

  9. Jeff W

    “Just 24 hours after the Republican campaigns declared they were seizing debate negotiating power from the Republican National Committee — and empower themselves to deal with networks — the advisers said they were beginning to consider handing it back”

    Better to be disempowered and be thought a fool than to empower oneself and remove all doubt.

      1. cwaltz

        If we have to have a clown running then I’d rather it be Trump then Carson. Trump may at least be a useful idiot. I hear he’s asking the networks he appears on to pony up some of the revenue they earn from his appearances to charities like veteran groups. Although I don’t think any have yet to take him up on it.

  10. Ivy

    Conversation, new-style: where I tell you what is going to happen, and you’ll like it.
    Even if you don’t like it, I don’t care because I don’t have to care.

  11. jjmacjohnson

    Happy to see non balts and eastern europeans starting after way too long to enjoy the the music of Pärt and hopefully the Latvian Vasks too.

  12. jjmacjohnson

    Totally wrong! Hipsters love the IHOP! It is cool because it ain’t. More when they go home to mom and dad.

Comments are closed.