By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Repeating from yesterday: Thanks to reader TedWa, we find that the USTR has solicited comments at regulations.gov on the “Employment Impact” of TPP (and not on anything else, apparently). Here’s the link, which includes the submission procedure. “Written comments are due by Wednesday, January 13, 2016.” That would be today! Thanks to alert readers for parsing through the site, especially dk and JTMcPhee.
“Demystifying TTIP” [Alliance for Responsible Commerce]. As you might guess, these are pro-TTIP talking points.
“The embarrassing lack of any compelling economic justification for the deal probably explains why there are so few studies: anything even half-way rigorous would show the same, thin gains, which would hardly bolster the case for TTIP. That dearth of high-quality research makes the recent appearance of a new report from the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture entitled “Agriculture in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Tariffs, Tariff-Rate Quotas, and Non-Tariff Measures” (pdf) all-the-more welcome” [TechDirt]. “GDP gains from TTIP are likely to be tiny: in the best case, around 0.1% for the US, and 0.29% for the EU. Both of those are cumulative gains, which means that the annual GDP boost for both sides is once more extremely small.” Ergo, whatever these monstrosities are, they’re not trade deals.
New Zealand: “The TPPA is a direct denial of the rights of Maori as stated in the 1835 Declaration of Independence and as reaffirmed in the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples” [Scoop].
The transcript [Boing Boing]. Please don’t even mention Magic Markers™; I don’t have the strength.
“Obama’s complicated victory lap” [CNN]. Pundits weigh in.
“Obama Praises Own Strength, Resilience In Face Of Hardship During State Of The Union” [The Onion].
“In his final State of the Union, Obama did not directly address race or policing” [WaPo]. Not exactly a victory for #BlackLivesMatter.
“President barely mentions guns in SOTU” [The Hill]. “Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson).
“In his roughly hour-long speech, Obama drew groans from Republicans when he described as ‘political hot air’ the idea that America is getting weaker while its enemies are getting stronger” [Military.com].
“In 2008, Obama’s promise was simple: he would pass sweeping policy changes by bridging the deep divisions in American politics” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Which was at best delusional, as some of us pointed out at the time.
“Hillary Clinton Whiffs on Reforming Wall Street’s Ratings Agencies” [David Dayen, The Intercept]. And NC readers are well aware that ratings agencies were key players in the financial crash. Interestingly, Sanders adopts a Franken proposal, about which Clinton has nothing to say.
Shockingly, Chelsea Clinton lies like a rug on Sanders and health care [Wall Street Journal, “Chelsea Clinton Channels Hillary Clinton on Campaign Trail”]. Just like her Mom.
Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare and dismantle private insurance
Replacing it with the extremely voter-friendly single payer Medicare for All, which Chelsea’s “dismantle” somehow fails to convey. To be fair, Chelsea’s not concerned with voters, but funders (see Zeke Emmanuel’s remarks under Heatlh Care). Just like her Mom.
“Clinton Wants Higher Estate Tax, Closed Hedge-Fund ‘Loopholes'” [Bloomberg]. I put this under policy, because I suppose that’s the bucket it goes in, but why would anybody take it seriously? In the words of Winston Churchill: “This pudding has no theme.” It’s just one of a number of talking points Clinton is only emitting because Sanders is in the race.
Yet another chart with a massive inflection point in the mid-70s [WaPo].
New Hampshire: “Sen. Bernie Sanders has widened his lead over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary to 14 points, according to a new poll out Tuesday” [CNN]. “A Monmouth University survey finds the Vermont senator leading Clinton 53% to 39% in the early voting state. That’s a reversal from Monmouth’s last poll, taken in November, that had Clinton up 48% to 45%, though Sanders led in September by 7 points.”
Clinton: “Don’t talk to me about standing up to corporate interests and big powers. I’ve got the scars to show for it, and I’m proud of every single one of them” [WaPo]. Which would explain why they’re so willing to contribute to her campaign.
Eric Holder endorses Clinton [AP]. Unsurprisingly, since Holder’s firm, Covington and Burling, lobbies for banks.
Sanders is the only candidate with a positive image, 44 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable [WaPo].
Iowa, Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll: “Ted Cruz sits atop the Republican pack in Iowa with just 19 days until the caucuses, but Donald Trump is just 3 percentage points behind” [Des Moines Register]. “It has now been nearly five months since Trump has worn the crown of front-runner in an Iowa Poll. But a desire to disrupt the way government typically works is a major consideration for caucusgoers. And they see The Donald as a demolition agent.”
Iowa: “It’s Cruz vs. Trump and Rubio vs. Carson in Home-Stretch Iowa Poll” [Bloomberg]. Cruz and Trump in the top tier, Rubio and Carson in the second tier. And then Jebbie and the other riff-raff.
“[A] growing number of Republican centrists are coming to view Bush’s campaign as a distraction — one that could hurt their ability to keep the nomination away from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz” [Politico]. $250 million to Jebbie, and nothing to show. Hilarious!
“Republicans Lining Up To Punch Foreigner Ted Cruz Right In His Poutine Curds” [Wonkette]. Another splendid headline from Wonkette, but the article is a fine compilation, too.
MBA Mortgage Applications: “Purchase applications surged 18 percent in the January 8 week with refinancing applications up 24 percent. These gains, however, also reflect volatility in weekly measures and largely reverse giant swings in the prior week’s data [Econoday].
Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, January 2016: “Sagging inflation expectations will not help the Fed achieve its 2 percent inflation goal. Business inflation expectations are down 1 tenth this month, to a year-on-year plus 1.8 percent for the January headline. This reading spent nearly all of 2015 under 2 percent with December’s late peak to 1.9 percent now having fizzled” [Econoday]. “In a separate reading that, however, may hint at emerging wage pressure, is a minus 20 reading for the profit margin index, for a steep 5 point fall from the minus 15 readings of the prior three months. The possible emergence of wage inflation is the wildcard right now.” Maybe Janet can’t find the punchbowl because it’s so small.
Jobs: “January and February are likely to see a significant decline in retail employment. Since 2010, non-seasonally-adjusted employment in the sector has fallen by an average of 787,000 jobs in the opening two months of the year” [Econintersect].
Supply Chain: “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider an appeal by three major companies seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging they aided and abetted child slave labor on cocoa plantations in Africa” [Wall Street Journal, “Supreme Court Denies Nestle, Cargill, ADM Appeal in Slave Labor Case”].
Shipping: “Greece’s state sell-off fund TAIPED has asked [China’s] Cosco Pacific to increase its offer for the 51% stake in Piraeus Port Authority after its bid was unsealed in Athens yesterday” [Splash247]. But Cosco is the sole bidder…
“Investors wanting to take out insurance on Saudi Arabia’s debt have to pay as much as they would for Portugal, a nation still saddled with a junk credit-rating five years after an international bailout” [Bloomberg]. “So far US companies have fought off similar lawsuits quite easily as judges ruled the cases brought against them did not directly touch upon the US. This is a result of a ruling in 2013 that made it harder for plaintiffs to sue corporations in US courts for abuses alleged to have happened overseas” [Independent].
“Illiquid investments slow shutdown of SAC Capital” [Francine McKenna, Marketwatch]. “The lengthy period SAC has taken to sell off assets draws attention to what are called side pockets, which are hard-to-sell investments segregated in accounts.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 18 (0); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).
PFOA, the toxic chemical Dupont dumped into a West Virginia creek, is an ingredient in Teflon [Alternet]. Civilization got along for many thousands of years without non-stick frying pans…
“Flint sending out 1,800 new notices for past-due water bills” [Detroit News]. Can’t keep lead out of the city water supply, but they can sure send out the bills with the best of ’em. Meanwhile, I could hardly believe that the Flint Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, who was responsible for the water supply debacle, was promoted to head the Detroit Public School system, but it’s true, it’s true! I guess if students start dropping dead after drinking from the water fountains, we’ll know who to blame…
Interview with the vile Zeke Emmanuel, now with Oak HC/FT, “a venture capital and growth equity firm focused on the healthcare and financial services sectors,” on Obamacare [Fortune].
I think [ObamaCare] cannot be repealed for a whole variety of reasons. First, almost every part of the healthcare sector―including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies―has built its entire strategy around the direction that ACA is taking the country. So I think that repeal would face resistance from almost every player in the marketplace.
Ka-ching. Sounds like the same strategy used by weapons manufacturers…
Dear Old Blighty
“Exclusive: Jeremy Corbyn accused of plotting to ‘stitch up’ upcoming by-election” [Telegraph]. Translating, that means that the elected party leader wishes to help an ally win office. Why “moderate”
war criminals BlairitesLabourites think the road to power is paved with whinging (and stiffing and blinding) I will never understand. Trump would have a field day with these guys though, to be fair, Cameron already has.
Our Famously Free Press
“The organizers of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland want attendees to focus on the challenges of the future: The theme of this year’s annual meeting is Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a catchall rubric that describes advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics” [Bloomberg].
The Davos attendee list [Quartz].
“[H]andheld devices are an almost perfect expression of the “never switched off” employment culture that has been growing over the past 15 years. It is not surprising that research by the Chartered Management Institute has found that employees unwittingly cancel out their entire annual statutory holiday time with the after-hours work they do” [Guardian].
The trouble is that many workers in the gig economy seem to fall into a legal no-man’s-land, not quite meeting the definition of employees because they generally choose their hours, but not quite independent contractors either because the online platforms exert control over many elements of their work” [Financial Times, “What the small print tells us about Uber, Task Rabbit and Upwork”].
“China to expand social inequality trends: 1 percent of households accounted for one-third of the national property” [yicai.com, via Google Translate]. ” The past 30 years, Chinese residents’ income Gini coefficient from the early 1980s to around 0.3 rise above 0.45 now. According to estimates CFPS2012 data, in 2012, the national income Gini coefficient of about 0.49, well above the warning level of 0.4.”
“The same phenomenon is at work with Powerball: Customers focus their attention less on that incomprehensibly tiny 1-in-292-million probability, and more on what they’ll do with the billion-dollar prize when they win it,” and the Powerball algorithm was tweaked to increase the pot, and decrease the odds of winning [Los Angeles Times]. “It’s also well-understood that in economic terms, the people who are exploited by this mismatch of expectations tend to be disproportionately low-income and less educated.”
News of the Wired
Beans, chickpeas and lentils are good for you [WaPo].
“Terry Gilliam’s Lost Animations from Monty Python and the Holy Grail Are Now Online” [Open Culture].
“Why Do Fascists Have Such Good Graphic Design?” [Print]. So I guess Trump’s off the hook?
RIP Willie Reed, 76, who risked his life to testify in the Emmett Till murder trial [WaPo].
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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Martine):
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