Links 11/23/15

Pensions’ Private-Equity Mystery: the Full Cost WSJ. Shout-out to Naked Capitalism.

Intel Lawsuit Questions Place of Hedge Funds in Retirement Plans Gretchen Morgenson, NYT

HBOS Report: Nothing To Reassure The Public On Accountability In U.K. Financial Services Forbes (RS). The text expands on the headline a little; the report “has done absolutely nothing to reassure a jaded general public that there is any such thing as “accountability” for those at the very top.”

HBOS report will do little to quell discontent Telegraph. Richard Smith: “With mindboggling timeline.”

Why executives are fleeing $500 million startup Rent the Runway Business Insider. More valuation problems.

LivingSocial Offers a Cautionary Tale to Today’s Unicorns NYT. Yet more valuation problems.

Fidelity Joins Growing Field of Automated Financial Advice NYT

Why the Internet of Things Should Be a Bank Thing American Banker. “If you’re paying for groceries with your refrigerator, as a banker I want to have my credentials in your refrigerator making that payment.” What could go wrong?

Why Housing Rebound Hasn’t Lifted Economy Much WSJ

Masters of the Finance Universe Are Worried About China Bloomberg

Noah Smith on the Great Chinese Data Conspiracy The Money Illusion

The Future of Finance Clive Crook, Bloomberg

“A new economics” Stumbling and Mumbling

Inadequate dirty money regulation ‘leaves UK open to terror funds’: report Reuters. Yes, but how does that net out for The City?


Brussels faces third day of lockdown FT

Obama vows to defeat terrorists, urges Americans not to give in to fear WaPo


Reps. Tulsi Gabbard [D-HI] , Austin Scott [R-GA] Introduce Legislation to End Illegal U.S. War to Overthrow Syrian Government of Assad Tulsi Gabbard (WB). Gabbard is vice-chair of the DNC.

Putin’s Syrian bet Le Monde Diplomatique. Donbass for Syria?

Bombing ISIS Will Not Work The Walrus (joe).

Deal with cause, not symptoms, of Isis FT

Sharri Markson: journalist at the Australian in run-in with Israeli security Guardian. Syrian fighters being secretly treated in Israeli hospitals.

US think tank says Israel has around 115 nuclear weapons Informed Comment (original report).

Note the Twitter account:

Southwest Airlines surrenders to racists, refuses boarding to Arab-American passengers Boing Boing. Re Silc: “I don’t feel safe flying with Texans. They could start reading the Bible and cleaning their guns at any time.”


The Great Islamophobic Crusade Tom Dispatch

Washington’s Wave of Anti-Refugee Hysteria is Missing Something: Facts Center for Global Development

Quiet Capitulation: Merkel Slowly Changes Tune on Refugee Issue Der Spiegel

State of emergency declared in Crimea after electricity pylons “blown up” CNBC


Terrorism Worries Are Back; Bernie Sanders Is Up, GOP Is Steady (POLL) ABC. Sanders up, and Clinton down.

Trump leads, Carson second as GOP voters favor change over experience WaPo. “Change over experience.” Oh. OK.

Sanders Casts Democratic Socialism in American Terms Bloomberg

Sanders camp calls Clinton tax proposals ‘Republican lite’ WaPo

Bernie Sanders’s New Deal Socialism Jedediah Purdy, The New Yorker

Donald Trump: Open to Independent Bid if GOP Doesn’t Treat Him ‘Fairly’ WSJ

Argentina elections: Mauricio Macri poised to be next President CNN

Trade Traitors

Initial Analyses of Key TPP Chapters (PDF) Eyes on Trade

Asia-Pacific leaders hope work on China-led free trade deal will ‘intensify’, with 2016 deadline discussed South China Morning Post

So farewell then, Universal Health Insurance RTE News

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Chrome Extensions – AKA Total Absence of Privacy Detectify. FireFox, too.

Class Warfare

Hillary Clinton’s Strange Definition of “Middle Class” Mother Jones

Not So Fast, 1 Percent Whippersnappers NYT

How anxiety scrambles your brain and makes it hard to learn Guardian. Might pose an issue for training the disemployed, no?

Is evil a disease? ISIS and the neuroscience of brutality New Scientist

What Is Disruptive Innovation? HBR. Authors: “Uber’s financial and strategic achievements do not qualify the company as genuinely disruptive.” Meaning that the use of the term in academia is now totally disconnected from its use in the press, let alone in Silicon Valley decks and the world of venture capital.

A Harvard Professor Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on ‘Disruption’ Bloomberg. “A Cambridge Professor Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on ‘Universal Gravitation.'”

Antidote du jour (via):

canada links lynx

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. RedHope

    The WSJ article about the economy and housing is comic gold.

    Ok admittedly I’m barely financially literate :

    One of the reasons cited is untapped home equity value.

    Yeah, bc that’s exactly what Americans with stagnant wages and a questionable jobs economy want to do – use their home equity.

    It’s like 2008 and the subsequent foreclosures did not happen.

    1. PerpetualWar

      What the WSJ article fails to mention regarding the “trillions” of gains in housing prices: these “gains” actually put most homeowners just above the water line, considering the data on how many Americans were under water after the crash.

  2. James Levy

    As was saw with Syriza, if you don’t have the cadres and all your ducks lined up in a row, it is tough to grab the helm of a modern state and have any hope of steering it. Trump seems to be a one man band. Even if by some miracle he won the presidency, he’s got 2500 posts to fill in the Executive Branch. Sanders would be hard pressed to do that, and he’s been in DC for decades. Trump would need to ex nihilo find a group of people who could work together to a single purpose and feed him real information and get him to take it seriously, all while impressing on other nations that America had not suddenly become an ungoverned and ungovernable carnival act. I’m not looking forward to the results, especially when Trump discovers that the only bureaucracy that will swiftly obey his commands is the military. A frustrated egomaniac with bombers and cruise missiles at his instant disposal scares the daylights out of me.

    1. Optimader

      Not meant as an endorsement of trump but maybe part of the problem is that there are 2500 posts to fill?

      1. Eureka Springs

        And with the Bern’s love of all things MIC as well as more than a li’l approval of democrats in general it more than fair, it’s important Sanders supporters ask just who he has in mind for so many of these positions.


            1. Bev

              If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created and Distributed, Rising Inequality Will Trigger Social Disorder

              In comments:
              Karl Marx did not understand money, according to Joe Bongiovanni. See:
              Why Monetary Reform Must Become Your Number One Issue
              start at time 15:45

              How Does the Monetary System Relate to Socialist Theory?

              Marx did not understand money at all. He never understood money. Marx was willing to work with the private bankers. I am not here to criticize Marx, okay, but the fact of the matter is there has never been a socialist or communists theorists who understood money.

              Now having said that, Trotsky was the closest that I felt who understood money. And, a couple of French Socialists whose names just escape me right at the moment, understood money.

              In sum, the entire left of the left do not understand money (my note: with the exception of the Green Party whose platforms include a public debt-free money). In fact they usually refuse to engage it as a substance of discussion, because it doesn’t matter to them. It’s the means of production. It’s all the things that count under both socialism and communism.

              I am kind of a bit of a socialists myself, but when it comes to money I am a nationalist. Money is issued by nations. It is up to the nation to control the issuance of the money. The nation that controls the issuance of the money, all you have to worry about is Fascism. Okay. And so, if you ensure that the issuance of the money is something that happens for the good of the people, you are well on your way to controlling all those other issues that are important, the means of production. Not that you control the means of production, but you influence the means of production by true economic decision making.

              If Bernie Sanders believes in Democratic Socialism then he should support the NEED Act above as the Green Party does in the U.S. and U.K. Then Sanders and all of us should demand paper ballots hand counted in precinct and posted in precinct on primary and the general election night…

              The Bushs are CIA. Is Obama? Are the Clintons? Is that why HAVA pushed by criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff put those e-voting machines everywhere?


              General News 11/19/2015 at 16:32:50
              Scytl has all the tools it needs for election fraud
              By Bob Fitrakis

              (cross-posted from the Free Press website)
              Free Press readers may be familiar with Scytl, the promoter of online and mobile voting, and their apparent connections to the intelligence community. Renewed research into Scytl has revealed new connections to the intelligence community, new market positioning, and new opportunities for both personalized surveillance and electronic election fraud.

              Scytl’s 2012 entry into the American election market occurred through the purchase of SOE software, a Tampa based manufacturer of election management and reporting software known as the Clarity suite. Scytl initially maintained essentially a front address in Virginia while digesting SOE during the the 2012 election cycle. Since then there has been a pattern of SOE rebranding and reorganizing itself along with a merger and new set of strategic partnerships.

              1. Darthbobber

                Actually, as early as 1848 nationalizing the banks was a key Marxist demand. What your source means by “being willing to work with the private bankers” is unclear, since Marx claerly proposed the elimination of private banking.

          1. Massinissa

            Which Marxists? Im a Marxist, and most Marxists I know spend their free time talking about how much they hate other Marxists that differ a tiny bit from what they believe in. Go look at the Communism reddit to see people arguing about ridiculous things like the Russian revolution every. single. day.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The same with socialism and socialists.

              Which socialists’ socialism? That’s the question that came to mind when I first read this, quoted by Wbgonne below at 9:09AM:

              Socialism gets some of its highest marks from Democratic voters under 30, 63 percent of whom rate it positively, and from another crucial demographic that has largely eluded Mr. Sanders — African-Americans, who say they support socialism by a ratio of 2 to 1.

            2. Darthbobber

              Many of the people who lay down various “lines” of an ostensibly Marxist nature in this country are folks who came into this through the various fragments of the countless “vanguard” parties of the 60s and 70s. A time when we loved striking theatrical poses, and using the term “fascist” so freely as to virtually denude it of meaning.
              Harvey is pretty decent, as well as acknowledging disagreements and managing to be civil about them. Heinrich’s introduction to Capital is also a good read, and a useful corrective to those who wax dogmatic. Monthly Review does good and serious work, as does the Socialist Register, though its only an annual.
              People like the senior Milliband, Perry Anderson, Peter Gowan were always pretty solid, as were many like EP Thompson from a Marxian historical tradition.

              Also C. Wright Mills, (not a Marxist per se, but acknowledged a significant debt to that tradition.) Two things all these people have in common is a willingness to subject their theorizing to empirical controls and an aversion to the sort of scholastic argument that tries to “prove” things by citing chapter and verse of this or that approved predecessor.

        1. cwaltz

          While Bernie Sanders is more hawkish then I’d like it is an exaggeration to insist he loves all things MIC.

          Bernie Sanders was a conscientious objector during Vietnam. Bernie Sanders opposed the Iraq War. He voted against the Patriot Act twice. He’s on the record as stating he sees a lot of waste in the DoD budget. That’s a far cry for the argument that he loves all things MIC.

          1. Vatch

            Thank you, CWaltz. That’s twice today that you’ve corrected people who questioned Bernie Sanders’s ideological purity. Senator Sanders isn’t perfect, but he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates. I suppose the purists will keep making their factual mistakes about the Sanders record. My biggest disagreement with Sanders is that he’s been a little too nice to Hillary, yet in today’s links there’s a ray of hope in this article:

            Sanders camp calls Clinton tax proposals ‘Republican lite’ WaPo

            Well done, Sanders campaign official Michael Briggs!

            1. hunkerdown

              Never let the perfect be the enemy of the net useful. Besides, wasn’t it conservative screaming about “librul meedeea” that helped drive the national press firmly and reliably into the right-wing lane?

            2. Eureka Springs

              Purity. Seriously? That’s so 2007/8.

              Many seemed to have learned nothing.

              I recall people like Senator Obama didn’t vote for Iraq war.

              Just how often does Sanders vote to fund all things MIC?

              And I keep reading of Sanders saying things like Obama and Kerry are doing great! And saying things like Saudi needs more skin in the game. Saying “we wont lead against ISIS” is skirting a most important fact – we are the creators of it as much as anyone. And what does “won’t lead” mean anyway? That we will just sit back and bomb from afar like we do for Saudi upon Yemenis now?

              1. cwaltz

                Obama wasn’t a Senator for the Iraq war vote. His record, as far as progressive behavior was pretty thin gruel.

                He voted for FISA(Bernie didn’t). He was given political cover to vote against women’s choice. His favorite President wasn’t even a Democrat, it was Reagan

                Sanders actually pushed a single payer system in the Senate(despite it being a longshot) and when he couldn’t get it he got billions for free clinics. He’s consistently on the record as standing up for average people over and over. Unlike Obama’s record it isn’t weak tea.

                1. different clue

                  Well . . . purity trolls gonna purity troll.

                  Purity jerks gonna purity jerk.

                  Purity assholes gonna purity asshole.

                  Its all a part of life.

        2. 3.14e-9

          Considering that there’s not a huge pool of Socialist/Independent candidates for him to choose from (even smaller when you adjust for which could get the requisite congressional approval), it’s likely that most of his appointments will be Democrats. But who he might appoint is not even on the radar yet with good reason; he’s got to actually win the nomination first, and we’re told daily in just about every media outlet that it won’t happen.

          Although I’ve not mentioned it anywhere — because it’s not on the radar yet with good reason — I’m hoping he’ll nominate Tulsi Gabbard (mentioned in today’s links) for a high-level position in defense/national security. That woman kicks a–. If you don’t know who she is, search for some of her recent conversations with Wolf Blitzer, and tell me, on your purity scale of 1-10, what score you’d give her and how many points you’d deduct because she’s a Democrat.

          That said, I’ve seen some discussion on other boards about whether he’d do what Obama did and keep neocon holdovers from past administrations, a notable example being Victoria “F the EU” Nuland. So for some, it is a very small blip.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think Opti is right there.

        With robots, maybe we need only 50 positions.

        The rest – automation and progress.

        All ambassadors will be androids, except maybe the one to the Vatican.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In fact, I don’t see why a polyglot robot can’t cover all the nations of Europe, for example.

    2. ohmyheck

      “America had not suddenly become an ungoverned and ungovernable carnival act.”

      It’s not like over night, just because of The Donald, the global opinion of America is going to drastically change.

      Most of the world already thinks that, and has thought that for quite some time.

      (Also not meant as an endorsement)

      1. MikeNY

        An ungovernable, dangerous carnival act. On foreign policy, in particular.

        I think that, and I’m an American.

    3. jgordon

      Hmph. The biggest problem with Sanders, other than his love of the military and support for foreign aggression I mean, is that he possible has enough political connections in Washington to fill 2500 posts.

      Trump is winning because he is disconnected from the Washington apparatus and that appeals to people. If he fills his post with (otherwise clueless) appointees who only want to sharpen guillotine blades in preparation all day long, the American people will be wildly enthusiastic about that.

      1. cwaltz

        Oh good God, his “love of the military” consists of actually believing we have a responsibility to the people in the military and his record doesn’t consist of any love of foreign aggression.

        For cripes sakes the guy was a conscientious objector in Vietnam and opposed Iraq. Again that record really doesn’t support the position that he “supports” foreign aggression.

        In recent news he’s even made comments that suggests that he understands that he is part of a global community.;_ylt=A0LEV1SvcVNW1tAARW9XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyN2RpcXU4BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjEzMjRfMQRzZWMDc2M-

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Some of the strong criticisms I’ve read here of Sanders this year here on NC have stuck me as having a complicated relationship with reality, reminding me a little of the strange BLM protest thing in Seattle. At the same time he seems to have garnered a surprising to me amount of respect (or at least a reluctance to strongly criticize) from people I’d ordinarily put in the ‘winger box and would expect to despise him. I think if Hill slips up, Bernie will *destroy* whomever is on the GOP side.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I don’t disagree. I think Sanders is an excellent politician (if, perhaps, a tad less agile then we would like him to be). He didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Can he scale nationally? What about a real movement? We don’t know. It’s also early days. (Also: No signs of infighting in the campaign. They aren’t the story at all.)

            In fact, Sanders and Clinton share one characteristic, one that I find really admirable: Dogged persistence.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              What I don’t get is why a couple of libertarian sorts I know are kind of sweet on Bernie. His New, New Deal platform seems like the near perfect antithesis of what should appeal to a libertarian.

              1. Banana Breakfast

                The same reasons many leftists of various kinds wax nostalgic about paleocons. Leftists would rather their opponent be Eisenhower, and the Libs would rather theirs be FDR or even Lenin, because a principled representative of a coherent ideology is a lot more respectable than the slimy fakes who are the face of neoliberalism. For them, the how and why are afterthoughts to the crass materialism of the what – money. Perhaps that nostalgia isn’t warranted, but it’s clear what fuels it.

  3. Kokuanani

    Glad to see NC mentioned in the WSJ, but they could have given a better description of your extensive and important work.

    1. trinity river

      Re: Pensions’ Private-Equity Mystery: the Full Cost ( WSJ. Shout-out to Naked Capitalism)

      Yes, congratulations and thanks again Yves.

  4. RedHope

    it seems the sanders camp is finally going on the offensive with the WaPo GOP lite attack. To that I say Good!!! That’s how you win a Democratic primary against Clinton. Her strategy is bSed on taking Dems for granted . Now all he needs to do is advertise and organize directly to Latinos and Blacks (eg ads on black and Spanish language radio)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sanders doesn’t seem to do a lot of TV and radio just yet. He seems to want to go around and fill venues. That’s not such a bad thing, if the venue is carefully chosen to be symbolic in the local community*, and especially not bad if more small donors get signed up.

      * For example, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

      1. optimader

        Sanders doesn’t seem to do a lot of TV and radio just yet. He seems to want to go around and fill venues.
        It’s frugal and reasonably shrewd. If BS can consistently fill venues, it can become low hanging easy media opportunities for coverage which is better than commercial time in certain respects (credibility)..

    1. McKillop

      Recently, “The Nature of Things” (a t.v production on C.B.C.) broadcast a show dealing with the relationship of sprucebud worms and rabbits and lynx. The ‘worms’ -caterpillars actually- in their quest
      to stay alive, consume the newgrown tips of the spruce boughs. Over the years the persistently stripped spruce perish, decay, and fall to the forest floor to decay further. The space left by the spruce is then colonized by alder and aspen which provide forage for rabbits, whose population increases because of the plenty.
      Lynx feed on rabbits (as well as other critters) and their chances of survival, and the survival of their kits, are improved.
      While not actually “manna” from heaven, nor a true example of the capitalist analogy of “creative destruction”, ’tis still wonderful.
      Goes to show links to lynx and Naked Capitalism and the voracious sprucebud worm, the sequence of events and fat years/lean years applies. Reminds me of the worst of private equity gamesplaying.

    1. tauko

      Yeah, not sure what’s going on there.

      On the comment, above

      Maybe Obama’s concluded a snatch team while Assange is on the way to Heathrow will be more effective, since Assange now can’t be rendered?

      My thoughts are they are more likely to grab him in time honored fashion, i.e. after he passes through immigration and before he reaches the plane.

      I hope he has a diplomatic laid on.

  5. SomeOne

    The BBC article about Assange is from 2010. Got me confused that there is some new development. Not sure if it is linked for some reason that i do not understand.

  6. semiconscious

    date on the ‘Swedish rape warrant for Wikileaks’ Assange cancelled’ story: 21 August 2010…

  7. HotFlash

    From the Mother Jones article on HIllary’s def of ‘middle class’ —

    Since the Clintons left the White House in 2001, the pair have earned more than $230 million together, and financial disclosures from the current campaign show that the Clintons have a net worth between $11 million and $53 million.

    So, what did they do with the rest of the money?

    1. ambrit

      You don’t think that Secretary of State comes cheap, do you? (This begs the question of whether or not H Clinton has a soul to sell.)

      1. Antifa

        Curious thing about the soul-selling business — the product once sold is still for sale, and can be sold multiple times to multiple parties.

      1. ambrit

        That should be Gold Diggers, as in “Gold Diggers of 2016.” If only the Iron Butterfly were here to do the theme song.

    2. tegnost

      what i liked about the article was the statement that middle class by whatever definition the author used (median/mean, can’t recall) is $54k. This is a terrible place to be in the stack, not really enough to live on in an urban area and in the no subsidy zone of the ACA. Meanwhile elitists from both parties would like you to think that at $205k and breaching the upper 5% makes one middle class. Meanwhile in a bit of a ramble here how many of those 205k will be subject to the not likely to ever be implemented “cadillac tax” on their health plans, you know who I mean, the people who go to the doc all the time for any reason, who go to the dentist, you know, the people who are actually getting the care that everyone else is paying for?

      1. Jess

        Re: $250K middle class — Are we talking $250K gross or Net Taxable Income? If the former, in a lot of high cost areas, $250K a year gross is middle class. Esp. in areas where auto transportation is mandatory due to lack of widespread effective public transit. Mortgage, two car payments, home/earthquake/auto insurance, health insurance and out-of-pocket health care costs, college education costs or set-asides for future costs, kid’s “supplemental” grade school and high school ed costs (fees for extra-curricular activities, SAT tutors, field trips), and of course, the tax bite at every level.

        Granted, by most standards these folks are living well, but that’s what the concept of “middle class” used to be about — living a decent, comfortable life but not “richy-rich”. I remember “middle class” from the 60’s and 70’s: decent tract home, two cars, maybe a camping trailer or a small boat for weekends. Hardly rich, and certainly not at the policy-making power level but just a good “middle” level existence.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I know legions of people in the $200K income area who have been eating their seed corn for years now, spending down savings, borrowing from 401ks, selling that cabin in the woods, just to keep going.
        In 1789 in France it was when the 1% started realizing they were getting screwed that the party started. We have a little ways to go, but not far.

        1. tegnost

          I am aware that the budgets of many in 200k level are stretched, but this group is heavily subsidized, my brother as example is there with 2 incomes, but they spend half that on mortgage and re-fied to a 15 year post crisis, so they had their home value restored to them by the fed, and they cash in the mortgage deduction every year as well as have employer insurance so one could make the case that although to hear them talk say regarding hiring a gardener that they’re being gouged paying $8/hr while taking yearly european vacations, ski trips for the family etc…and those aforementioned doctors visits that are denied to those of us closer to the mean. That they don’t have as good a life as say amid 60’s boeing worker is a bummer, it’s still worse than that down here

          1. Oregoncharles

            $8/hour for a GARDENER? That’s slave wages – I charge $25, and I’m on the low end here. It’s hard work that requires significant skill to do well, unless it’s just a kid mowing the lawn – with their mower.

            1. tegnost

              They live in san diego and as a northwesterner I.m starving at the same rate you are….or rather allocating with care at the same rate. Low demand this year for the people who care about stuff like that, glad I’ve got savings, I mean withheld demand…

          2. tegnost

            Need to revisit this because I don’t to be the class warrior of the finance site, and I have the buddhist view of money which is that it’s just another object and it gains it’s benvolence or evil from what use is made of it. Pondering this I was recalling an exchange with jim in sc where the relative value of pay across the nation varies considerably, other countries wish they had our internal comparative advantages as well as an immigration corridor that can be engineered to produce a large flow (think fast and furious for a very minor example) So anyway my complicating issue here is this, $20/hr in South Carolina may be equivalent to say $50/hr in seattle, I haven’t been to S.C. since 1980 I think so I really have no idea. Another side of this issue, if you live in manhattan you’re probably reading that craigslist ad for the rock and roll house with no chairs and thinking “hmmm I might be able to deal with that” because I’m sure 200k disappears pretty quickly in manhattan. What we can say, however, is that people have the capacity to allocate funds, and in the case of my brother, they allocate over 50% of their income to mortgage payments. Now back in the mid 80’s I had a mormon boss who thankfully felt the need to nudge me in a direction that might have potential for me and brought me in on saturdays to build things in the warehouse, teaching me all varieties of woodworking skills (note to geezers, you can really have a positive impact on kids they really are hungry to do well) In one memorable conversation that I may have imparted on NC many years ago, he asserted that my rent/house payment should not exceed 25% of my income. I think generally he was in that case making sure he was paying me enough because he was relating my pay to a reasonable expectation of expenses. Enter Alan Greenspan and the current allocation is 30% but I say no because I’m a geez. So to the point, a fair number of people in the upper middle have put a large allocation on purchasing a house which is a way to shield your income and make the specious claims of having no money and this is regardless of the housing bubble, they’re playing the game to make money, they almost lost but the fed saved their asses and now they’re kind of obnoxious with their whole meritocracy arguments so I may indeed have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I strongly hold the view that the ACA was a way to give yet another subsidy to this group, who do not pay S.S. on their entire income but will almost certainly collect more than the majority of S.S. taxpayers. I’m afraid I’m just scratching the surface, but I’m done thanks for listening.

        2. different clue

          Well, if one is deTERmined to live a $300K lifestyle on a $200K income, one will go bankrupt in due course. Do you know any people who have chosen to live a $100K lifestyle on their $200K incomes?

      3. different clue


        I should think the McCain Tax WILL be instituted against peoples’ insurance coverage because most of the people receiving adequate coverage are bargained-for union workers or their social class equivalents. The McCain Tax ( which lets start calling it again because he first proposed it in public) is an Overclass Aggression tax against whole bunches of employER-covered workers. So I suspect it WILL be implemented unless the officeholding billpasser billsigner classes can be terrorised into repealing it at the last moment.

      4. cwaltz

        HSAs are the new tax shelter.

        It’s all the rage to fund that HSA and then use it as an investment vehicle.

    3. Jagger

      My non-expert guess is the use of trusts to get money out of their name. Also can insulate money from legal liabilities. Also affordable way for protecting regular people from Medicaid end of life grabs for assets. Maybe charities can serve the same functions.

      1. tegnost

        medicaid clawbacks…trusts are commonly used to shield assets from them, another bennie for the UMC not many of the “poors” have advisors to inform them of this…
        ka’ching as lambert says

  8. wbgonne

    Sanders camp calls Clinton tax proposals ‘Republican lite’ WaPo

    Bernie is warming up. Republican-lite is good framing. And it fits here too:

    Hillary Clinton’s Strange Definition of “Middle Class” Mother Jones

    Just one poll and the aggregates are still bad but still, keep hope alive:

    Terrorism Worries Are Back; Bernie Sanders Is Up, GOP Is Steady (POLL) ABC. Sanders up, and Clinton down.

    And, IMO, a great opening right here if Bernie can get heard:

    Socialism gets some of its highest marks from Democratic voters under 30, 63 percent of whom rate it positively, and from another crucial demographic that has largely eluded Mr. Sanders — African-Americans, who say they support socialism by a ratio of 2 to 1.

    1. Red hopez


      The only move left remaining is to reach out through surrogates, media and etc in black and Latino communities

      1. 3.14e-9


        He got some good coverage over the weekend on BET, a Viacom subsidiary geared toward the African-American community. BET was a co-sponsor of the Presidential Justice Forum at Allen U in Columbia, SC. The main sponsor was 20/20 Leadership America, a group of black city, county, and state officials, law enforcement, etc. Clinton didn’t bother going, and I’ve read comments that it was so small (something like 500 participants) that Bernie shouldn’t have wasted time on it, either. But I have to think that his campaign considered the media outreach as an opportunity too good to pass up. As a bonus, BET conducted a straw poll at the end of the conference, and Sanders won 65 percent to Clinton’s 23 percent.

      2. MojaveWolf

        Yes! Interesting that even tho Hillary isn’t doing anything to specifically piss off minority voters (unless they are of Iranian descent) and the media drumbeat (including what seems like the majority of progressive radio) is all about how she has it won and Bernie has a problem with minorities, minorities are increasingly swinging Bernie’s way as they get to know him.

        In some of the previous posts over the last few days, there’s been a lot of debate among people here about Bernie. I had all sorts of things I wanted say (I worked a LOT this weekend & earlier today and just catching up on last few days stuff tonite), but Killer Mike (who might also wanna consider running for office in the future) says it better than I can:

        You really, really want to click on this link. Shaun King called it the best political endorsement he’d ever seen. I have to agree.

  9. Eureka Springs


    State of emergency declared in Crimea after electricity pylons “blown up”

    On Saturday, the pylons were the scene of violent clashes between activists from the Right Sector nationalist movement and paramilitary police, Ukrainian media reported.

    The pylons had already been damaged by the activists on Friday before they were blown up on Saturday night, according to these reports.

    It’s difficult to imagine CNBC or any other western media outlet labeling this type of violence in such a manner had the “activists” been in any way Leftist.

    1. ambrit

      Are the Russians building or expanding electricity delivery lines across the Straits of Kerch yet? The Crimean Naval Base has to have internal electricity generation capacity, simply from a security point of view. The Russians did mention bringing gas turbine generators on line to supply some ten percent of the areas requirements. The people most affected by this are the civilians of Crimea. It’s a simple and effective form of terrorism by the Neos.
      The Tatars are prominently mentioned as being anti Russian hegemony in this. Will the Tatars fill the function of the Hmong in a previous Colonialist War? One might as well say that the Crimea ‘really’ belongs to the Scythians.
      The ghost of Stalin still haunts South Russia.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Scythians then deeded to the Greeks, who handed over to the Goths and later the Mongols..or something like that.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Mexicans will have to yield to the Aztecs, then the Mayans and the Toltecs.

          “Just follow the eagle home,” said the Mayans to the invaders from north, the Aztecs.

    2. McKillop

      The language, mine, English. is being steadily debased and corrupted. And not only by the so-called uneducated.
      News reports on the once-respected C.B.C, here in Canada have referred to the ‘siege’ of Paris and the ‘militants’ who seized and murdered in Mali the occupants of the hotel. Militants were once those people of an organization -an union, say- who advocated a hard-line approach not armed psychopaths practicing terror A siege did not involve a few terrorists kidnapping and murdering but rather an army, or metaphor, surrounding a town or city in order to gain control.
      People who corrupt our language have been trained, taught and practiced, I think, by our marketing and copywriting courses . They are paid with currency and sycophancy for their equivocation and lies.
      Complaints are dismissed as petty but the propaganda has its way.

      1. TedWa

        1984, Orwell – it’s called “newspeak”. Watched the movie 1984 the other day and it had much more impact and meaning than it did when it was released 3+ decades ago. Maybe because I’m older, or maybe because many the political factors portrayed (endless war, austerity, etc) are more matching up with the way things are in our current system.

    3. different clue

      Stuff like that will make the Crimeans even less-than-ever to re-submit themselves to rule by the nazi-nazi banderazis out of Kiev.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Washington’s Wave of Anti-Refugee Hysteria is Missing Something: Facts Center for Global Development

    It appears that whatever “logic” and “coherence” the argument for accepting syrian “refugees” ever had is getting harder and harder to sustain.

    First someone plants a fake passport next to one of the dead Paris attackers to prove the perpetrator was, in fact, a syrian “refugee.” I suppose this was supposed to engender renewed vigor for everything from sweeping, open-ended “lockdowns” to massive military escalation in Syria.

    Then, the “magnificent tradition” of american respect for “the common dignity of humanity” (as if !) is sanctimoniously invoked to overcome any objections to welcoming thousands of those same “refugees” into sainted america, the “nation of immigrants.” Oh, and don’t forget, they help the “economy.”

    “Fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” is so ten minutes ago.

    And using Madeline Albright as an example of “refugee” policy gone RIGHT is patently insane.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am profoundly ashamed of the suffering and death WE have caused in the Middle East. But the cognitive dissonance resulting from trying to have it both ways is maddening.

    What reaction does anyone really expect from an american population that has been furiously assaulted with the threat of Middle East “terrorism” for the last 15 years as a driver of hegemonic, warmongering foreign “policy?”

    It almost seems like someone is TRYING to get Donald Trump elected.

    1. Brindle

      A few months ago Moon of Alabama had a piece on the marketing of the Syrian refugees / migrants:

      —The current moral hand-wringing media campaign around migrants from Syria has some similarities with the propaganda campaign that accompanied the putsch in Ukraine and the attack on Libya. It includes false information, photos of unknown provenance, lame “heartbreaking” personal stories and no mentioning or questioning at all of the real reasons why people are moving.—

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “includes false information, photos of unknown provenance, lame “heartbreaking” personal stories” have long been feature of all information coming out of Syria from all sides (with the possible exception of Kurdish sources (i.e. not Beltway sources supporting the Kurds)). The stuff coming out of Syria is one reason I concluded “Internet evidence is not evidence” absent really ironclad provenance, like a trusted streamer (say). And those are few and far between.

  11. globaldiplomat

    Swedish rape warrant for Wikileaks’ Assange canceled

    I always thought sweden was saudi arabia of feminists and govt-media-courts use totalatarian feminist laws to defeat few men who come in eyes of TPTB

    The way in which fake rape story was framed and assange was already declared culprit and western MSM started full fledged media campaign.

    With sweden is reporting highest number of rapes from peaceful people from some unnamed parts of world,assange rape story is not too important.

  12. rich

    Ruling From the Shadows

    Consider the technical regulations that govern capital markets — the tedious but critical details that determine how companies account for profits, whether banks have as much capital as they say they do, and how insurance and pension entities should measure their obligations. We might think these regulations are somehow self-evident, derived from fundamental laws of economics. In reality, they are largely social constructs, reflecting expert opinions and political necessities. The meetings where these esoteric rules are imagined into existence are often eerily amiable.

    I call these regulatory processes thin political markets because they seldom attract wide public participation. On any specific rule-making issue, there are usually a handful of business executives — often fewer than 50 — who are truly experts on the subject. They also have the greatest stakes in the outcome. They meet with regulators in genteel isolation, obligingly offering direction for regulation. The rules of the game that emerge reflect their interests.

    But there are no manifest villains here. Executives get involved when they understand an issue, and it matters to them. When they participate, they rarely face serious opposition. Those who might oppose them are sometimes not even aware of the regulatory proceedings. What arises in aggregate is a system of rules that looks as if it was produced by a quilt of special interests. Society as a whole bears the costs of this subtle subversion of capitalism.

    Over three decades of academic research suggests that on average publicly listed firms pursuing corporate acquisitions overpay for their targets. With tens of trillions of dollars spent on corporate acquisitions over that time period, why would this overpayment persist? One likely reason is that the corporate managers and investment bankers involved have found ways to game the accounting rules used to assess a merger’s long-run performance.
    Back in 2000, when F.A.S.B.’s leaders sat down to reconsider rules for corporate acquisitions, they were joined by representatives from what were then the country’s three largest investment banks and by lobbyists for companies routinely engaging in acquisitions, like the tech giant Cisco Systems.
    Because the rules dampen responsibility for potential overpayment, the investment bankers can benefit from higher deal values (which drive their own fees). In other words, the system can enable wealth transfers away from ordinary shareholders.

    the bigger we are, the more power we have, the harder you fall, the more we earn?

  13. Jim Haygood

    By a thin margin of about 3 percent, Argentines have given kirchnerismo a well-deserved tip into history’s dustbin.

    Argentina has mandatory voting. So the result (with close to 80 percent turnout) is an accurate reflection of popular opinion, in contrast to U.S. rotten borough elections in which the next president may be elected by as few as one quarter of the eligible voters (as in Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992).

    The transition period is quick: Macri takes office on December 10th. “Currency controls are a mistake, not providing information, not having access to statistics, not having an independent central bank – these are things we are going to correct,” Macri said.

    By “not having access to statistics,” he means that Argentina has been publishing grossly falsified inflation statistics for a half a decade, which nearly got it expelled from the IMF. Obviously, managing the economy is impossible when economic statistics are degraded into partisan fiction.

    Randy Wray clued NC readers in to “The World’s Worst Central Banker” (the long-gone Mercedes Marcó del Pont) on Oct. 5, 2012. She was succeeded by even greater incompetents.

    Peronism produced the singular achievement of transforming Argentina into the world’s sole FDE (Formerly Developed Economy), driving it from First World wealth to Third World squalor in less than a century. Perhaps Macri will finally deliver on the dream of the late president Néstor Kirchner, to make Argentina un pais serio (a serious country). Macri is its last, best chance anyhow.

  14. Eclaire

    As the White Queen says, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice” in believing impossible things. Do it for a half hour each day and soon you will be able to say, “Why, sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    1. jsn

      That’s the reason I still get the NYT: so I can believe dozens of impossible things each day before breakfast!

  15. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Any readers from Argentina care to comment on what the election of Macri might bode?

    Press coverage seems to focus on the downfall of the Peronists and how Macri will go back to a neo-liberal direction. Los buitres deven estar muy feliz.

    I have a bad feeling about this guy. Anytime you have ” foreign investors” like Soros celebrating a change in government, you better watch your backside if you’re a native.

      1. petal

        Not sure how helpful this is, but a friend posted how they are glad the Kirchner group are out, hoping the corruption gets cleaned up/punished and the markets opened, but is seriously worried about Macri changing tack and letting the people that voted for him(with these hopes) down. Feels like a re-run/very similar effusions when Obama first was elected President/Bush era came to an end in the US.

    1. Gio Bruno

      Well, it was a close election. Folks in the US understand their fate in close elections (GWB in 2000). Now we’ll see how it goes in Argentina.

    2. Jim Haygood

      By a thin margin of about 3 percent, Argentines have given kirchnerismo a well-deserved tip into history’s dustbin.

      Argentina has mandatory voting. So the result (with close to 80 percent turnout) is an accurate reflection of popular opinion, in contrast to U.S. rotten borough elections in which the next president may be elected by as few as one quarter of the eligible voters (as in Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992).

      The transition period is quick: Macri takes office on December 10th. “Currency controls are a mistake, not providing information, not having access to statistics, not having an independent central bank – these are things we are going to correct,” Macri said.

      By “not having access to statistics,” he means that Argentina has been publishing grossly falsified inflation statistics for a half a decade, which nearly got it expelled from the IMF. Obviously, managing the economy is impossible when economic statistics are degraded into partisan fiction.

      Randy Wray clued NC readers in to “The World’s Worst Central Banker” (the long-gone Mercedes Marcó del Pont) on Oct. 5, 2012. She was succeeded by even greater incompetents.

      Peronism produced the singular achievement of transforming Argentina into the world’s sole FDE (Formerly Developed Economy), driving it from First World wealth to Third World squalor in less than a century. Perhaps Macri will finally deliver on the dream of the late president Néstor Kirchner, to make Argentina un pais serio (a serious country). Macri is its last, best chance anyhow.

    3. RabidGandhi

      I’m from Argentina, and I will post something soon for NC readers. Our second daughter was born on the Friday before the election, so the internet is getting the cold shoulder for a bit, but I’ll try to give a somewhat detailed breakdown soon.

  16. Bill Smith

    “Sharri Markson: journalist at the Australian in run-in with Israeli security. Syrian fighters being secretly treated in Israeli hospitals.”

    There is nothing secret about this. Months ago there were interviews shown on TV with the fighters in the hospitals. Some of which didn’t want their faces shown on TV for fear of problems when they returned to Syria.

    1. different clue

      How many of these fighters were either al Nusra or so called “FSA”? How many of them were from the Syrian Arab Republic’s Syrian Arab Army? By figuring out the percentages of “rebels” treated as against SAA wounded treated, we could figure out the percent of Israel’s support for The Rebellion as against for The Government. (My suspicion is that Israel’s treatment-recipients would be biased towards the Rebel side of the equation).

  17. Bunk McNulty

    Re: Internet of Things Bank Thing: “One idea being floated is a little out there, but plausible: “Pattern-of-life” data collected from consumers could help determine creditworthiness or detect signs of risk.

    For instance, a spike in blood pressure data captured on a Fitbit could indicate a person is up to no good.”

    “What could go wrong” indeed.

    1. Massinissa

      And then they send police to the man about to have a heart attack, to arrest him because clearly he is about to do something criminal.

      What could go wrong?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Yea, I was going to post the same quote. The whole article and what the author finds “normal” is chilling. But that tidbit, “[…] a spike in blood pressure data captured on a Fitbit could indicate a person is up to no good.” (Time to send out the drones! ) just goes so far over the top – but still it seems “plausible” to the author.

      These people have gotten loose from somewhere truly nasty…

  18. curlydan

    Written 52 years ago at the height of the nuclear era, but still valid today, especially for the citizens of Brussels:

    “I will not go down under the ground
    ’Cause somebody tells me that death’s comin’ ’round
    An’ I will not carry myself down to die
    When I go to my grave my head will be high
    Let me die in my footsteps
    Before I go down under the ground”

    Bob Dylan, “Let Me Die In My Footsteps”

  19. Tertium Squid

    Hoping to expand the pot of money, the NCAA football postseason has been bloated to 40 bowl games.

    Problem: there are only 132 teams for the 80 slots. Since teams have to have at least a .500 record to be eligible, this imposes an all-children-are-above-average Lake Woebegone scenario.

    This year the probabilities caught up with the sport; with one game remaining there are only 71 bowl-eligible teams, with 13 on the cusp.

      1. curlydan

        That makes sense. Welcome to the “The Enron Loser Bowl” featuring winless Kansas vs Louisiana-Monroe. Come to Houston, drink yourself senseless, and watch one more game between your total crap-tastic teams. Somebody’s got to win!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are all winners – that’ s a corruption of ‘we are all winners.’

        We are all winners. Thus, we watch ourselves play football in the backyard on New Year’s day.

        Will it reduce the GDP? Causing a recession?

        I don’t know. But it’s good (or better) for you, than watching TV.

  20. Dr. Roberts

    Just heard Hillary call for a public-private army of internet shills to propagandize the muslim world as a means of combating extremism. She was speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday. She was also scare-mongering about encryption and wants our “best minds” in Silicon Valley to come up with solutions that respect our privacy and make encrypted communications impossible. She apparently doesn’t realize that a teenager can implement hard encryption with a wikipedia page and a very basic understanding of programming.

    Also “we must never get tired of old-fashioned, shoe leather diplomacy” wtf does that mean?

  21. Jim

    Jedediah Purdy has argued in “Sanders’s New Deal Socialism.” that “Sanders’ socialism is a national living wage, free higher education, increased taxes on the wealthy, campaign-finance reform and strong environmental and racial-justice policies. This is not a program for a different kind of economy, based on cooperation and deepened democracy…The heart of Sanders’s program like FDR’s is economic security.”

    What a tragedy for the “progressive left,” that after the 2008 financial/economic/political/cultural crisis– it seems ready to settle for a political vision of the late 1930s, in which a wise elite of supposed genuine guardians of our collective interest again tries to lead us to the promised land through a defacto dictatorship of benevolent technocratic managers.

    An entire history of calls for structural reform through more direct democracy, localism and cultural specificity which embodies not only the populism of the late 19th century but also the legacy of our colonial experience predicated on self-governing communities–is largely ignored.

    A genuine populist assault against both market fundamentalism and state fundamentalism seems off the Overton agenda.

    1. wbgonne

      A genuine populist assault against both market fundamentalism and state fundamentalism seems off the Overton agenda.

      Some of us don’t agree that the state is the enemy, not necessarily anyway. Who else will set a national minimum wage so that states can’t race to the bottom to serve the corporatists? How will we address global warming without the national state? The state is not the enemy, the state has been hijacked by concentrated wealth, that is the problem. The state must be liberated and once again placed at the service of the people so that it can rein in market fundamentalism and make the economy work for the people. How else can it be done? Without the state the collective power of the people cannot be focused and the corporatists naturally and inevitably assume power. That was the goal of the conservative movement and it is the world we live in today. And restoring “economic security” would be a major milestone because it will give the people the freedom to decide which course is best. I don’t see the objection.

      1. different clue

        Government could be viewed as a powerful bulldozer. Whichever class gains control of the bulldozer will run over other classes with it. But the bulldozer itself is just neutral. What if the Underclass could take control of the bulldozer known as government and drive it over the Overclass?

        1. Massinissa

          To be fair though, has that even been done before? In most countries and civilizations, the rich people buy the bulldozer…

        2. wbgonne

          That is economic populism. That is how a democratic republic is designed to operate. But it is not easily done and it is not self-executing. It requires an informed and engaged citizenry and this is where we are failing, which calls to mind the answer Benjamin Franklin gave at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention:

          “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

          “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

      2. Jim

        Wbgonne: your comment has raised many important issues which need to be discussed in depth if the left is every to move out of its catastrophic decline.

        To just begin the conversation:

        “The state is not the enemy, the state has been hijacked by concentrated wealth, that is the problem.’

        It it really that simple!

        In a way, it appears to be, since the last couple of centuries have been primarily interpreted in terms of the logic of capitalist expansion, leaving out almost completely an equally important mode of domination–political power relations created through the development of the nation-state since the mid-17th century(its bureaucracy, its statistical infrastructure, its armies, its surveillance apparatus and its prisons etc.)

        Is it conceivable that over the past few hundred years we have seen the creation of a new knowledge artistocracy, largely state-based, which rules in conjunction and sometimes in competition with the more traditional capitalist oligarchy?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Did people come into being to serve markets, or are markets supposed to serve the people? If the former, it’s just a worse form of dictatorship than the one you describe above for it is anything but benevolent. If the latter, then where is this beast more elusive even than the truth? There is no market past or present that has served the people for any length of time, only the elite.

      1. tegnost

        This is a good question, I think they can serve one, the other, or both and it’s gov’t that makes the allocation right now we have a gov that believes it’s the former unfortunately

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Agreed, government can make the difference but then “market” becomes what Jim is threatened by. I should have qualified and said, “no market alone or unregulated has served the people for any length of time.”

  22. different clue

    Inadequate money-laundering-for-terrorists- prevention in London . . . ” yeah, but how does it net out for the City?”

    If it buys the City immunity from any of the armed attacks which ISIS and others promise are to come, then it nets out very well, protection racket wiseguyfully speaking.

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