2:00PM Water Cooler 3/8/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Four people dressed as clowns have been kicked out of the first stop of the Government’s Trans-Pacific Partnership information roadshow in Auckland” [New Zealand Herald].



Well, this is pretty feral:

“Clinton’s pledge to curtail fracking falls on unconvinced ears” [Reuters]. Big Oil thinks Clinton means what she says.

“Ontario, Canada announced a plan to test Universal Basic Income for all citizens” [Quartz]. That would never work here. Canada’s metric.

“[O]ur laws should be designed to function as if the people we trust least are in power” [Tech Dirt]. Our constitutional lawyer President didn’t exactly do that, did he? Unless he did.

Our Famously Free Press


Looks like Bezos picking up the Post was well worth it. For him.

The Voters

“Clinton’s support among black women has been key to her ability, thus far, to reassemble the coalition that elected Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Just look at the past week’s primary results” [HuffPo]. “Despite the dominance of support for Clinton, black women voters are not monolithic. Generational, ideological, and regional differences–among others–influence the policy priorities and perspectives of black women voters, as do the experiences they bring to–and value most at–the ballot box. Too often, the strong majorities in black women’s support for any given candidate yield conclusions that their votes come en masse, making it all too easy for their influence to be overlooked and their support to be taken for granted.”

“[I]n a campaign stop Monday in Grand Rapids, Mich., Mrs. Clinton made clear she is aware of what might lie ahead as she talked about the hard-fought 2008 race against Barack Obama and her work in helping the nominee pull in her supporters once he wrapped up the nomination that June” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton Faces a Test Wooing Bernie Sanders Backers”]. There’s actually no data in this story… Personally, I feel that Clinton would throw Sanders supporters under the bus in a heartbeat for the moderate Republican vote.

“When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions” [Thomas Frank, Guardian].

Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself…. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.

Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy.

Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace.” A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.

It wouldn’t be a pretty sight watching Trump eviscerate Clinton on TPP. But he would do it.

And speaking of the professional class wishing the understand the working class Other, here is an earnest explainer entitled “White working-class nostalgia, explained by John Wayne” [Vox]. Vox actually manages to omit the Case/Deaton study: ““Stunning” Rise in Death Rate, Pain Levels for Middle-Aged, Less Educated Whites”. Oh Ezra, Ezra…

Trump Panic

“Trump the Trickster” [American Conservative]. “In the Trump case, it’s like people want to be lied to. Heidegger famously said, toward the end of his life, “Only a god can save us.” What if the god people look to as savior is … Loki?”

“In private conversations in recent days at a Republican Governors Association retreat here in Park City and at a gathering of conservative policy minds and financiers in Sea [not Fantasy?] Island, Ga., there was an emerging consensus that Trump is vulnerable and that a continued blitz of attacks could puncture the billionaire mogul’s support and leave him limping onto the convention floor” [WaPo]. “But the slow-bleed strategy is risky and hinges on Trump losing Florida, Illinois and Ohio on March 15; wins in all three would set him on track to amass the majority of delegates. Even as some party figures see glimmers of hope that Trump could be overtaken, others believe any stop-Trump efforts could prove futile.”

The Trail

“Mrs. Clinton draws support from 53% of voters who said they would participate in a Democratic primary, while Mr. Sanders has 44%, the poll finds. Mrs. Clinton’s lead was 11 points in February and 24 points in January, according to the poll.” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton’s Lead Over Bernie Sanders Narrows Slightly in WSJ/NBC Poll”]. “Strongest support groups for Mr. Sanders include younger voters; he takes 60% of those under age 50.” Democrats to future of party, key members of “Obama Coalition”: Drop dead.

Supreme Court Trench Warfare

“Conservative lawyer says Scalia might never be replaced: ‘There’s nothing magical’ about nine justices” [Raw Story]. Even today, with their party crumbling around them, Republicans go for the jugular. You’ve gotta admire them.

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, February 2016: “The small business optimism index slipped 1 point in February to 92.9, a 2-year low that reflects incremental declines across six of 10 component” [Econoday]. “Underlying strength for business investment and employment, however, is not likely to hold up for very long given weakness in earnings and sales.” And: “the lowest reading in two years, with six of the 10 indices declining and four remaining unchanged.” Below consensus [Econintersect].

Honey for the Bears: “The federal budget deficit was $352 billion for the first five months of fiscal year 2016, CBO estimates – $34 billion less than the shortfall recorded in the same span last year. Receipts were 5 percent higher than they were at this time a year ago, and outlays were 2 percent higher” [Econintersect]. Because draining money out of the economy is a good thing!

Honey for the Bears: “Goldman Sachs: Get Ready for Labor to Crush Capital in the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “Goldman expects corporate after-tax profits to fall to 8.2 percent of gross national product in 2017, down from an estimated 8.5 percent in 2015, primarily attributable to the tightening labor market. The unsettling part of Main Street > Wall Street, however, is that it typically heralds (and in fact, is the impetus of) an economic downturn.”

Honey for the Bears: “Trucking companies started to scale back fleet investment last fall when freight demand began to slow. Although some carriers have reported an increase in activity in recent weeks, many firms remain reluctant to commit to new trucks until conditions improve further” [Wall Street Journal, “Truck Orders Plummeted 43% in February”]. “”Orders for commercial vehicles in February largely mirrored the ongoing U.S. economic narrative,” ACT President Kenny Vieth said in a statement.”

Honey for the Bears: “These are anxious days in the land of start-ups. Another few months of tight money and the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will be feeling real pain” [New York Times]. “The sooner the better, some people here say.” Silly Valuations…

“Daimler Investing €500 Million Into New Lithium-Ion Battery Factory In Germany” [CleanTechnica (PT)].

“Cyprus exited its 10 billion euro ($11 billion) bailout on Monday without any successor arrangement, in fact, about 30 percent of its entire bailout funds were not even utilized. Cyprus was commended in a statement from the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers” [CNBC].

“In the beginning, there was barter. Then, and forever after, there was money” [Real World Economics]. “That’s the myth every student of economics learns, that money grows out of barter. The idea is that monetary exchange solves the problem of the double coincidence of wants. The fact is, as Ilana E. Strauss [ht: ja] explains, the story is false. Human beings did not invent money to solve the difficulties of barter exchange. Barter turns out to be a historical myth.” A history very familiar to NC readers, but it’s worth retelling.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71, Greed (previous close: 73, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 8 at 12:32pm. Stalled in the mid-70s?


“Goldman’s former top banker in Southeast Asia has been subpoenaed by U.S. investigators probing possible wrongdoing at Malaysian government investment fund [1MDB], a person familiar with the matter said.” [Wall Street Journal, “Ex-Goldman Sachs Banker Subpoenaed in U.S. Probe of 1MDB”]. “Tim Leissner, who was Goldman’s chairman in the region until he left the firm last month, has worked on several big deals for the Malaysian fund that together earned Goldman hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Dear Old Blighty

“The origins of conservatism’s modern incoherence lie with Thatcher” [Guardian]. “If international capital did indeed rule the world, then nothing made Britain special. On the contrary, it was on its way to being little more than a brand.”

Class Warfare

“If We’re So Powerful, Why Aren’t We Free?” [Zerowork (Darthbobber)]. 1976.

“Nearly 1 in 5 Americans in their prime working years aren’t employed or looking for a job, and the right mix of tax and benefit policies might draw many of them into the labor force” [Wall Street Journal, “The Hurdles to Getting U.S. Workers Off the Sidelines”]. Rigging the game a smidge less. That’s the ticket!

“Sadly, though, the failure to distinguish between luck and merit doesn’t just help explain the hopefully brief and futile rise of a demagogue. It has longer-lasting pernicious effects. The narcissistic fiction of the rich that they owe their success to merit rather than to a lucky accident of being born in the right country leads to opposition to redistributive taxation. And supporters of immigration controls fail to see that the difference between ourselves and poor Mexicans or Syrians is due mainly to accidents of birth” [Stumbling and Mumbling].

“America’s entrepreneurs are brimming with promising ideas. But they appear to be struggling to transform innovations and insights into successful companies with broad reach” [Wall Street Journal, “The Crisis in American Entrepreneurship”].

“Your Phone Was Made By Slaves: A Primer on the Secret Economy” [Longreads].

Surprisingly, slavery is at the root of much of the natural world’s destruction. But how can the estimated 35.8 million slaves in the world really be that destructive? After all, while 35.8 million is a lot of people, it is only a tiny fraction of the world’s population, and slaves tend to work with primitive tools, saws, shovels, and picks, or their own bare hands. Here’s how: slaveholders are criminals, operating firmly outside of any law or regulation. When they mine gold they saturate thousands of acres with toxic mercury. When they cut timber, they clear-cut and burn, taking a few high-value trees and leaving behind a dead ecosystem. Laws and treaties may control law-abiding individuals, corporations, and governments, but not the criminal slaveholders who flout the gravest of laws.

News of the Wired

“5 ways web apps and sites are the same–and different” [O’Reilly]. “App developers are a smaller but rapidly growing and often highly compensated group.” Because you can collect rents at the walled garden gate.

“Magnetic mind control works in live animals, makes mice happy” [Ars Technica]. Where do I sign up? “Researchers can remotely control specific brain circuits in living animals with just magnets.” Speaking of cell phones….

“According to the Civil Aviation Authority there were 1,440 reports of lasers being pointed at planes in Britain in 2014, the last full year for which there are data. That compares with 746 in 2009. It is not only a problem in Britain: 312 British planes were targeted overseas in 2014. And in America there were 3,894 cases in 2014” [The Economist, “Laser pens and planes: A pointed problem”]. “The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), says that 55% of its members have experienced a laser attack in the past 12 months; 4% have suffered six or more. It has long called for lasers to be classified as offensive weapons.” I must be too naive. Why do people do this?

“Corrupt Techniques in Evidence Presentations: Effects Without Causes, Cherry-Picking, Pruning, Chartjunk” [Edward Tufte]. The Clinton chart on putative “intersectionality” we looked at yesterday was an excellent example of “Effects without Causes.” “Chartjunk,” too.

* * *

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 (from a loyal reader who lives on the New Hampshire seacoast):

hidden treasure

Oooh, a rotting stump!

* * *

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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. Llewelyn Moss

      There was MSN.com article a few days ago with a summary of a Dem debate. The header picture was Hellery and Bernie standing, waving to the audience. And they used a photoshop filter to make a shadow over Bernie. The visual message was Behold the Queen with some unimportant guy in the shadows.

      The corporate media is Despicable.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      Here’s the perfect cartoon re: Hellery’s Freep Press. I especially like the pile of skulls and bones they are standing on and completely ignoring. Hahaha.

  1. Saint Hubertus

    No, there’s nothing magical about 9 justices. Or any. The supreme court is a cesspool. As an apex court it’s an international laughingstock. Let it die off. Set up a National Human Rights Institution in accord with the Paris Principles and let them run the show.

    1. RUKidding

      Nice try. Never happen. The US Supreme Court serves the interests of the corporations and other mega-wealthy individuals. That’s it. Get used to it.

  2. marym

    Latest from David Sirota

    “In interviews with International Business Times, two former Democratic senators [Dorgan and Bayh] took issue with the notion promoted by the former secretary of state that their vote to block Wall Street bailout money somehow put them at odds with the auto industry. Another Democratic senator’s [Wyden] office told IBT that the vote was about reining in the financial industry — not about opposing help for autoworkers.”

    If you’ve lost Evan Bayh…..

  3. Steve H.

    – Magnetic mind control works in live animals, makes mice happy

    They altered genes so the mice create a protein, that they then named Magneto?! Do these people not understand metaphysics?!

  4. Dr. Robert

    “Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions”

    We have a winner for the simile of the week!

    1. jrs

      Isn’t finding out what Trump voters see as their major issues, not what he talks about, a better way of finding out the appeal. The polls of authoritarianism certainly don’t show opposition to trade.

      The thing is if the appeal actually was racism, people might not easily admit that. I think the appeal might be racial in part but is also sometimes just about Trumps personality.

      1. SumiDreamer

        Frank takes the tone of writing as a newbie on the Trump phenomena and we are all worse off for it.

        It is the liberal mindset sticking to the personality issues – the political issues get thrown to the wayside.

        Here three really good commentators take it on full frontal as to what is up and the long-term implications. Worth listening every minute:

        The trade deals is about the loss of a dream. The two big questions are: can the left mount an effective campaign to get to the real issue; neoliberalism. And will black voters, after watching this brouhaha come to sane decisions about who to support?

        Bernie is taking pure golden moments and backing off from being a true rebel. They won’t play well to the stands. MLK warned us about ‘moderate’ “liberals” …

  5. grayslady

    Personally, I feel that Clinton would throw Sanders supporters under the bus in a heartbeat for the moderate Republican vote.

    Yup, and double yup.

    Marshall Auerbach noted recently that Hillary’s speeches to voters in states where polling indicated she was substantially ahead reverted back to neoliberal ideas.

    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      Actually, that’s just one of the ways Hillary regularly throws Bernie supporters under the bus. Just before Michigan, she was widely publicizing, including to FOX viewers, her fear that Sanders might not understand, like she did, the importance of doing what she did with her supporters to get even those who had hard feelings to vote for Obama. It’s just smart politics like having Bill Clinton and other surrogates fear monger that Bernie Sanders is killing America.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      Assuming that Clinton and Trump become the nominees, and assuming that Hilary does indeed aggressively go disaffected Republicans, and in view of the fact that the neocons are moving toward supporting her, Trump may well double down on the hints he’s made about backing away from foreign adventures and moving the foreign policy needle part way back toward what John Quincy Adams said in his 1820 speech as Secretary of State in the Monroe administration:

      “[The United States] goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

      If that were to happen we might have a new map of the political landscape. The Democrats, instead of Fraudulently representing itself as the “peace” party to progressives would overtly become the aggression party they have been de facto for decades. But it would also be the socially and racially inclusive party. The Republicans by contrast would be moving back toward their insular roots in terms of foreign policy but would probably remain socially exclusive. However, Trump may also back off on his heretofore nod to those social conservatives in hopes of getting disappointed Sanders supporters who otherwise might vote with their butts on the couch.

  6. fresno dan


    So I was reading something (another blog – forgive me!!!) and they mention this Federal Reserve chart – so I go to the actual FED site, as I was skeptical (well, I’m skeptical about everything….)
    Now, this can’t be Bush tax cuts alone, cause it says before tax.
    But what I get out of it, is it would be hard to argue that the next president could possibly be easier on business than Obama (unless you think you can goose the DOW up to 38,000…..)
    Indeed, its hard to see how that could possibly be sustainable?
    Kind of makes me wonder about all the emphasis on saving businesses and bailing out banks – are they super duper profitable or are they not? Seemed like the not making money interval for business was very, very,…..VERY short.

    1. curlydan

      Since it’s exponential growth, I took the log of the series. With the exception of a few dips, the trend in the log of corporate profits has been pretty straight line since 1986.

      They’ve all been easy on bidness! Maybe 86 was a point of departure due to tax reform?

  7. Asdis

    Trump is a bit of a Ross Perot reboot to me. Whatever else he may be, I have to admit I do like Trump’s tax ideas (on his campaign site). Shame about the white nationalist dog whistling.

    1. Steve in Flyover

      I’ll say this for Trump…….he’s scaring the crap out of the “right” people (AKA Republican establishment)

      1. polecat

        uhh…….look at who’s at the confab at Sea Island, Ga. ………they’re not all repubs !!

        vote-Oligarchs for Treason!!

        1. hunkerdown

          The right-wing Establishment. We must be inclusive!

          (Michigan 17% reporting, Sanders 50-47)

  8. nippersmom

    Third Way Democrats have been throwing progressives under the bus for over two decades. Why would this candidate and this election be any different?

    1. RP


      The age discrepancy in voting by age group is staggering. Damn the future, save the Empress!

  9. EmilianoZ

    Theres something missing from the Thomas Frank piece: he never mentions Sanders.

    He basically says that it’s the economy rather than racism that motivates the Trump voters. But there are 2 candidates that are giving a voice to the people’s anxiety about jobs/economy: Trump and Sanders. Whether you choose one or the other says something about you. It might not be bigotry. It could also be the craving for a strongman or authoritarianism. Authoritarians seem to have a pessimistic view of human nature. Men are born bad, only a strongman can keep them in check.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A lot of people have commented on identity politics.

      I think, while Sanders laments (I believe) identity politics, Trump sneers at it, or worse.

      And those who think worse, they would never vote for Trump, even if the choice is Hillary.

    2. Ernie

      “But there are 2 candidates that are giving a voice to the people’s anxiety about jobs/economy: Trump and Sanders.”

      It is an unfortunate fact for Sanders that, especially in open primary states like Michigan, the “anxiety about jobs/economy” vote is being split between Trump and Sanders. I suspect that a not insignificant number of Trump voters would be asking for a Democratic ballot and voting for Sanders if Trump were not on the Republican ballot.

      1. hunkerdown

        All the more for Hillary and the Really Really Good Friends of Services in Rochester Hills and Franklin, I’m sure.

        Elementary school in a middle-aged (1980s) neighborhood. Four parking spaces in the parking lot near the door: one occupied by the school cop car, one handicapped, two regular. No queue, all of five voters on a one-question ballot: a couple in their fifties, a thirtysomething guy, and one I didn’t get a good look at. That might or might not constitute light turnout. Ballot numbers in the high 3100s. Apparently a tetchy tabulator, too. Let’s watch and see what happens, sigh.

    3. Starveling

      The media as a whole is ignoring or belittling Sanders. He would be a legitimately better person for the job than Trump and in some ways more ‘disruptive’ their racketeering. I know plenty of folk who would take one or the other, if we are only getting one this year. Most would prefer the Sanders option, but will take Trump over Hillary and the Third Way DLC crowd.

      As JEB!’s brother once said, fool me once…

  10. Steve in Flyover

    “Hillary speaks to God (but won’t reveal her fee)” LOL

    Can you enforce a contract or copyright with God?

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      God would make sure that any contract s/he signs would include a clause stating that it’s terms cannot be enforced in the event of an act of god.

  11. RP

    “It wouldn’t be a pretty sight watching Trump eviscerate Clinton on TPP. But he would do it.”

    This would be one of the few things I’d enjoy watching in this train wreck of an election if they nominate her. Notice I said “they”.

    The “progressive” defender of “children and the working class” arguing for globalism vs a billionaire. What a great pageant we are having.

  12. flora

    re: Thomas Frank article in Guardian.
    Thanks for that link.
    ” The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace.” ”

    And when all the major US manufacturing has moved offshore and the US loses its capacity to manufacture war materiel here at home and a real shooting war starts with say Russia or China or some other large nation, ……. ? ( See China holding its monopolist rare earths supply over Japan and others.) But don’t worry, profits are good for the few.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s why we need to invest more in science and technology.

      So, the overlords can move safely to Mars, once China starts shooting.

      1. HotFlash

        Please, would all the overlords/overladies move to Mars forthwith? Where can I send $$ to help make that happen?

        1. Massinissa

          I dunno. Once they move to mars they would probably start spending money to make our lives worse on purpose like in that movie ‘Elysium’.

        2. Massinissa

          I dunno. Once they move to mars they would probably start spending money to make our lives worse on purpose like in that movie ‘Elysium’.

  13. fresno dan

    “When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions” [Thomas Frank, Guardian].
    “Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.”

    I certainly was indoctrinated in the “free trade” mythology. It seemed is was what all right thinking people believed.
    “China’s emergence as a great economic power has induced an epochal shift in patterns of world trade.
    Simultaneously, it has challenged much of the received empirical wisdom about how labor markets
    adjust to trade shocks. Alongside the heralded consumer benefits of expanded trade are substantial
    adjustment costs and distributional consequences. These impacts are most visible in the local labor
    markets in which the industries exposed to foreign competition are concentrated. Adjustment in local
    labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed
    and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences. Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income”

    To me, its not just what the paper above proves – its how long before economists were willing to open their eyes to challenge one of their “commandments”. Economics is surely a religion….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      Everyone is indoctrinated.

      Those who are more heavily indoctrinated believe they are not indoctrinated at all.

      Bertrand Russell had to prove 1 + 1 = 2.

      But before him and Whitehead, almost all humans believed 1 + 1 = 2…via indoctrination. Some low information humans might have confused 1 + 1 = 3.

      And so, we are not so exceptional that we are immune, free of indoctrination in all the notions that we entertain.

      We just are not aware of it at this moment.

      It’s not that the other side is always indoctrinated and not us.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        I take the indoctrination, instead of spending the time needed to go through 360 pages of proof, not that I can guarantee myself I will understand it, much less always being able to reproduce it on demand (a sign of real understanding).

        You owed me a dollar yesterday.

        And you owe me one today.

        I believe that’s two dollars you owe me now.

  14. Synoia

    Economics is surely a religion

    Possibly. Personally I believe the actual object worshiped is money.

    Economists are in the same class an witch doctor, and fortune tellers (and weather forecasting). The spout bullshit trying to predict and unpredictable chaotic system.

    Within the practice are centers of Dogma, almost identical in structure to the Church of the Dark and Middle Ages. For Example: The Lindisfarne and Rome streams of Catholicism, where the decision on what’s best was settled at the Synod of Whitby.

    One could also discuss the harmony of the four great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Monetarism) where argument over how to worship the same God have spilled, and spill to this day, more blood than any other cause in History.

    Except perhaps Monetarism doe not worship the same god….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Except, in economics, dogmas are called theories.

      But if you tell people their theories are dogmas, you will be crucified.

      1. Skippy

        Cough… dogmas are comported to laws and due to zealotry divine dicta…..

        Skippy…. repetitive chanting as a qualifier….

    2. different clue

      When people speak of “economists”, they consistently forget to mention or even think about the Raw Materials Economists and/or the Ecological Economists such as Herman Daly, Frederick Soddy, Charles Walters Jr., “Red” Paulson, Erhard Pfingsten, etc. Over those people is dropped the cone of silence.

      And Charles Walters Jr. predicted exactly what Free Trade would do to America year after year in the pages of his paper Acres USA. So not all economists are witch doctors or always get it wrong.

  15. DJG

    Antidote: Not just a rotting stump. I see some shelf mushrooms inside. So let’s be good the the fungi. (They will inherit the Earth.)

  16. DJG

    “Cyprus exited its 10 billion euro ($11 billion) bailout on Monday without any successor arrangement, in fact, about 30 percent of its entire bailout funds were not even utilized. Cyprus was commended in a statement from the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers” [CNBC].

    If I remember correctly, Yves wrote all along that the Cyprus bailout was bogus: One or two large banks had gone insolvent, so the result was that the Eurogroup forced the bailout when what was required was forcing the two (?) delinquent banks into bankruptcy and reorganizing them or distributing their depositers among other banks. So is Cyprus a non-problem non-solved?

    1. bob

      The bail-ins were more about protecting the London branches of cypriot banks.

      I can’t in good faith call the subsidiaries in London. By the law of banks, he who is in london is the parent, not the sub.

      That’s how it worked out too. A month before the crisis in Cyprus, the FSA (london) announced that the cypriot banks in London had successfully re-capped, by looting the parents in Cyprus. Cue crisis, london has already made arrangements.

  17. DJG

    Frum’s Law: The Republicans fear their base. The Democrats hate their base.

    So the Democrats, who expected their feebleness to be solved by demographics (more brown people, more young ‘uns) are now angry that the brown people and young ‘uns who have shown up don’t want to vote for the party of the immortal Debbie Wassserman Schultz? How can this be possible? Demographics is destiny, right?

  18. Jim Haygood

    Either way, we’re gonna pay:

    Mr. Netanyahu, who now plans to address the [AIPAC] conference via satellite, was also concerned about meeting with the president before the two nations have ironed out differences over the size of a new 10-year American military aid package, officials said.

    The latest tension unfolded just as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was to travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories for meetings with Mr. Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president. The prime minister’s office said Mr. Netanyahu looked forward to the visit.


    Why does a fellow rich OECD country need a “10-year military aid package”?

    “To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Most men know not to criticize their girl friends.

      “We work our problems out. We never criticize each other. NEVER. We don’t allow it.”

      1. HotFlash

        Most men know not to criticize their girl friends.

        And even more know not to criticize their friends’ girl friends.

    2. curlydan

      Let me guess what happens…Biden steps off plane, gets a couple kisses, then Netanyahu announces 400 new houses to be built for West Bank settlers. Smile, wave at camera.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Joe knows how to deal with that (Mar 10, 2010):

        [Biden] reportedly kept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting for 90 minutes before arriving at a scheduled dinner (a harsh slap-down in the vocabulary of diplomatic protocol) and issued a stern statement condemning the planned construction and accusing Israel of “undermining the trust we need right now” to relaunch peace talks.


        Suffer ‘harsh slapdown’ and collect $3 billion … sign me up! :-)

    3. Rhondda

      Where oh where is the presidential hopeful who will call for rejecting this “10-year military aid package” to Israel?
      Anyone? Anyone??!!
      Huh. I didn’t think so.
      Why is there no one to represent me and my views?
      Nevermind, just a half-strangled cri de coeur from flyover country. Sigh.

  19. TedWa

    I have a question for you, wasn’t the auto bailout due to GM having a mortgage company (GMAC) that bankrupted them and not the cars?? That’s what I always thought after seeing all the bad mortgages they were writing on inflated home values. After all, Ford didn’t need a bailout and they didn’t have a home finance company. Chrysler shouldn’t have been bailed out because it was owned by private investors. I’d like to clear this up and I think the people here would know. Thx

    1. rowlf

      GM, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and BMW all got federal loans. If any one failed it would have sunk suppliers for all, thanks to the just-in-time pay system to the suppliers. The dimwits made the system too brittle with their MBA ideas.

    2. HotFlash

      My recollection is similar, one of my clients at that time was a co that had their GMAC commercial paper not renewed — *PANIC!!!*

      Oddly (or not) Wikipedia is mostly silent on that history. There are several links but not substantive. If you have better luck, I’d love to hear.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ford had been in the midst of a restructuring. The Ford family (Henry doled out shares to everyone; its a huge ownership group) had taken over a few years prior when they put together a controlling ownership group. They passed a favorable to the company union contract which in the short term worked out well and were in the process of shedding unprofitable production lines before the crisis.

      Even then, they were close to being in trouble.

    4. TedWa

      If my original theory is correct then they shouldn’t have been bailed out in total, just the auto works portion, the mortgage company was no better than Wall St and should have failed. I do believe GMAC was bailed out, NOT the auto industry. To say otherwise is deceptive. Someone want to chime in?

      1. Jim Haygood

        GM and Chrysler were both nationalized, according to this source:

        The federal government took over GM and Chrysler in March 2009. It fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner, and required that Chrysler merge with Italy’s Fiat SpA. It took advantage of the take-over, setting new auto efficiency standard to force the companies to become more competitive against Japanese and German firms.

        In return, it bailed out both companies by loaning them enough to stay afloat and providing incentives to spur new car purchases. In effect, the government nationalized the two automakers just as it did AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.


        1. TedWa

          Thanks for the reminder Jim, I seriously almost forgot. What actually occurred was “rescuing” the auto industry from it’s own bad actors by nationalizing them. I would have voted for that too. As far as Chrysler, that was government taking over and rescuing a private business by nationalizing them. Good solution for GM and Ford, too bad it wasn’t used on the banks. I guess that means banks can’t be “rescued” – until they are. Thanks all for clearing that up !

      2. Rhondda

        As I recall, the GMAC toxic mortgage issue was a part of the problem, esp optics…but there were numerous problems. Not least of which was pirate capital feasting on the Daimler/Chrysler near-corpse and threats that auto-worker pensions would all be dumped on the gubmint. My takeaway at the time was that there were real problems but they were mostly a few rich people’s losing money problems and “the crisis” was super convenient for socializing the losses — because “the workers.”

      1. TedWa

        Great article Hope, thanks. Strip mining of corporations is why we can’t have nice things. Greed unfettered by any sense of common decency.

        Bernie’s winning Michigan !

        1. flora

          Go Bernie! Michigan doesn’t use electronic voting machines, uses paper ballots, according to verifiedvoting.org.

    5. different clue

      And anyway, GM wasn’t bailed out. It was crammed down, re-organized and shrunken. The banks never experienced anything like that. The remains of Chrysler got sold to Fiat.

      As to Ford, I thought Mullaly at Ford had spent several years arranging multi-billion dollar lines of private credit with various banks so as not to need any government loan. Is my memory wrong? But Ford also supported the GM-Chrysler loan/cramdown-shrinkdown/re-organization; because a disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation and fire-sale of all the bits and pieces of Chrysler/GM would have created such an insta-depression as to suck Ford down too. Honda and maybe other transplant car companies in the MidWest argued for the cramdown-loans for the same reason.

  20. Daryl

    “Conservative lawyer says Scalia might never be replaced: ‘There’s nothing magical’ about nine justices” [Raw Story]. Even today, with their party crumbling around them, Republicans go for the jugular. You’ve gotta admire them.

    Nothing magical aside from how an odd number is important to prevent deadlock…

    Isn’t this was FDR is pilloried for in every history textbook? Suggesting that anything other than 9 was possible?

  21. Skippy

    Is it just me or does anyone else notice the Hillary brand signifier has the arrow pointed to the – right – “in bold”.

    Skippy…. errr…. should someone rock up and ask her ‘which way too the cliff’ [or the cliff proceeding to hell].

      1. Skippy

        Eco-friendly feminist Goldwater purveyor of discount flexian garb…. must be praxeology – !!!!!

        Skippy…. I do have a donkey and giraffe gif to support that…. but…

  22. ewmayer

    Re. “Nearly 1 in 5 Americans in their prime working years aren’t employed or looking for a job, and the right mix of tax and benefit policies might draw many of them into the labor force” [WSJ] — Mish had a recent piece in this vein, based on a different WSJ article (linked in my comment below):

    Obama’s Legacy: 5 Million Increase in Households Where No One Works | MishTalk

    Mish blames ‘transfer payments’ for the lack of zeal among low-income job seekers, and completely ignores crapification of the job market. The WSJ piece he quotes at length from draws a false contrast based on income inequality trends under Reagan and Clinton, while omitting to note that Clinton’s economic policy was Reaganomics personified, and that in fact the GFC and the dismal state of the productive economy are both ‘triumphs of Reaganomics’.

    1. jrs

      I suspect it’s less the crapification of jobs than there not being enough jobs period. Are people really unemployed because they don’t want to take cr@p jobs (I could see this extending the length of unemployment while people held out for something better, until they realized it was not forthcoming) or because they can’t get jobs at all?

      But believe me those who blame transfer payments WANT jobs crapified, because transfer payment do provide some buffer against further crapification of jobs (although a B.I.G. would be the best guarantee). The thing is I figure the actual welfare state in the U.S. is so stingy as to be almost a non-factor pretty much. AFDC for mothers with young children is long gone, replaced with very stringent work requirements in many states (even if there is no work!), and now they are making work requirements for food stamps.

    1. Skippy

      Now lets not hang shit on just one person here…. neoliberalism is nondiscriminatory… everyone is welcome… sorta progressive you might say….

      Skippy…. One would think MPS and friends deserve a bigger shout out….

        1. Skippy

          To keep it simples I like to start with the end of Eisenhower democracy. When people new to the histrionics grasp that you can extenuate a bit further back.

          Skippy…. thanks for the link tho’

    1. sleepy

      Yeah, seems a bit more important this year than, say, 2008 when with Obama v. Mitt absolutely nothing of much significance was at stake.

      1. sd

        Sarah Palin….the only reason I actually went to the polls in 2008 was to prevent bsc Sarah Palin from getting anywhere near the White House.

          1. Massinissa

            He excited me too, after he beat Hillary.

            Fortunately I was too young to vote for him. I would have regretted it. I voted Stein in 2012.

        1. Massinissa

          Though, 8 years later McCain is still in good health, so she wouldnt have gotten the white house unless someone did a Lee Harvey Oswald on McCain.

          1. RabidGandhi

            I missed the part where John “Carpet Bomb Them All” McCain could be classified as sane.

    2. jrs

      The news is reporting that Hillary and Trump continue dominating the primaries. But Dems are only voting in two states: Mississippi and Michigan and Sanders looks like he might take Michigan which has more delegates than Mississippi anyway.

      So the media lies and Hillary wins another deep red state. Maybe if the media was biased toward Sanders instead of Hillary, it would report: Hillary seems weak in states which she can actually win in the general, only able to carry deep red states. It’s too soon to say for sure, but Hillary’s entire voting block at this point seems to be in the south, she’s a REGIONAL candidate at best.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Michigan: “Sanders leads by 1.8 points, with 84% reporting.”

        Still time for the Clintons to steal this race.

        They’ve got friends in low places.

          1. grayslady

            Yes. Bernie wins Michigan!!! He garnered 70% of the independents. Most polling is based on registered Dems or registered Repubs. I’ve said before that too many people left the Dem party after 2008 for polling to be relevant anymore. Haven’t seen the comparative Michigan voting figures yet for 2016 v. 2008, but, according to the news so far, turnout in Michigan was substantially more than expected.

            1. grayslady

              Some data updates: Bernie won 30% of the black vote in Michigan, with over 50% of young blacks voting for Bernie rather than Hillary.

    3. flora

      “I don’t want to care this much about the election. ”
      yeah, if it was just deciding who would be CEO of the American project, without the project as I understand it changing in any meaningful way, I’d agree. Who needs the aggravation, what with the daily aggravations of life taking enough of one’s energy? But it’s our turn now. It’s our turn to pass on to the next gen a decent America. Sorry for sounding so corny. But there it is. And I do care for the next gens, and the gens following them. Man, how corny is that?!?

      1. Massinissa

        Well, once Sanders loses to Clinton, that wont be possible.

        Im not sure whether Clinton or Trump would be worse, but I actually think its Clinton.

        Im voting Green… Cant stand Trump much either…

        1. MojaveWolf

          People really need to quit calling this over. I think Bernie’s going to win, but it’s a long way from over. Gonna be a streetfight against Clinton, the DNC, lotsa greedy scumbags, and an absolutely pathetically obviously biased media, with the same “cheat to win” outlook as the DNC & Clintons. Streetfight all the way, won’t be over till weeks after the last vote is counted.

          Meanwhile, in good spirits, I point to Nate Silver’s 99% probability of Hillary winning, and that Yglesias dude’s “What makes Sanders think he can win Michigan?” tweet. I don’t know how to screencap or I would put it up. I’ve had a lot of fun laughing at that tonight. I want other people to laugh at him too.

          I’m also calling Idaho for Bernie now after checking that guy’s tweet line. He’s a democrat???? This is why they lost house/senate.

      2. katiebird

        Well, I agree… I mean I DO care. I just hate the internal tension I feel on electioon nights. Watching every fluctuation in the vote count. ..

  23. EndOfTheWorld

    Well, Bernie wins Michigan. MSM admits this quietly then harps on the big delegate lead MRN has. She HAS TO give him the VP slot, with the proviso that they will be more or less a co-president team. Then she can get what she wants—she can live in the white house with her friends, etc. She might come out ahead of Bernie in delegates, but everybody in the US will be acutely aware of the fact that the primary run was fixed by the DNC from the beginning. People already hated her—–now the hatred will be a veritable tsunami of hatred which will carry Trump to the white house.

    1. Propertius

      Surely the Presidential nomination is fair compensation for the hell of spending several years in Obot reeducation camp as Secretary of State! ;-)

  24. Christopher D. Rogers

    Sanders takes Michigan: Excellent Stuff

    Given all the crap heaped on Sanders by team Hellory its good to see that Sanders has taken the Michigan Primary. Lets hope he can keep the momentum going in the States that count going forward after 15 March.

  25. Darthbobber

    Waiting for the narrative to shift to “why can’t Clinton produce a single convincing victory outside the confederacy?”

  26. aumua

    If I was Massachusetts right now I would be hanging my head in shame. Thank you for showing the Massholes how it’s done, Michigan.

  27. Skippy

    Gotta love the Trump post speech or was it a Trump industry’s / consortium infomercial…. so hard to tell thingy…..

    Skippy…. public choice theory meets its inevitable conclusion…. everything is a product… where you don’t vote, but consume the brand identifiers…. vicariously…

    1. jrs

      All three networks stuck with Trump’s long press conference even as it veered into sales pitches for his own product lines, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton, who had won the Mississippi primary in a landslide and was neck-and-neck in Michigan, spoke at the same time. They also mostly ignored Bernie Sanders’ speech, which occurred in the 8 p.m. hour and John Kasich’s speech, which happened during Trump’s event.

      Only MSNBC ran Clinton’s speech in its entirety after Trump finished [hey lookie who is in the tank for Hillary]. And neither Sanders, Kasich, nor any of the other candidates got anything more than snippets of air time.

      this was from politico

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        Eventually the MSM will have to acknowledge the fact that HRC has piled up her delegate advantage mainly in red states which the Dems have no chance of winning in the general election. Also, there is something very wrong with the polling system.

  28. David Mills

    The ad athe bottom of the links section keeps expanding in Android chrome. Causes the comments section to continually scroll down. Help please.

  29. Propertius

    “Ontario, Canada announced a plan to test Universal Basic Income for all citizens” [Quartz]. That would never work here. Canada’s metric.

    So are we, actually. The United States has been legally metric since 1866. The U.S. was one of the original 17 signatories to the Treaty of the Metre in 1875. Customary units (feet, inches, lbs, etc.) were redefined in metric units by the Mendelhall Order in 1893. We’ve been metric longer than Britain.

  30. ewmayer

    Re. Money and the myth of barter | Real-World Economics Review Blog — several major problems with this piece, the two biggest of which are [a] absence of evidence (and see quotes below about this being to no small degree willful blindness by the author) being construed as evidence of absence, and [b] Riccio does not advance any alternative thesis of how money apparently sprang fully formed from the heads of the long-lost geniuses in various prehistoric societies, and only then did barter follow.

    As with most such pieces, the best stuff is in the reader comments — I especially liked the ones by Ken Zimmerman, couple snips, note especially his focus on reciprocity:

    I’ll not speak for [preceding-comment author David Chester]. But for myself the anthropological evidence we have is clear. There was indeed barter, especially with distant groups in early human civilizations. And I mean barter in the sense Adam Smith used the term. Very little in hunter-gatherer societies. More so as humans switched to fixed settlements and planned agriculture. Even more as formal government structures emerged along with changes in technology. But it is also clear from the evidence that barter in this sense was not a primary means of exchange for humans. Primary exchanges were gifts (reciprocity) and redistribution, along with family alliances. These were more effective at dealing with the concerns of humans. By the time Smith wrote there was a good amount of trade in goods and services, some worldwide. But even with this uptick gifts, redistribution, and family agreements remained primary in exchanges. Smith seems to be describing how he’d prefer exchanges to occur not how they were occurring or had occurred historically.

    Discussions like this one remind me of just how off kilter economists’ depictions of the world really are. People make exchanges and have for thousands of years. They make these for many reasons and in many ways. Based on the historical record the reasons seldom fit the economist’s notion of utility and markets are generally not the means. To build a ship, for example the things needed can be acquired in many ways. For example, through family, gifts, obligations of labor/materials from past transactions, slavery, for future benefits (I can ride on the ship), moral commitments, religious obligations, neighbor helping neighbor, etc. The important and interesting question is why have economists chosen to focus their work on only one form of exchange carried out via one means? And even more interesting why they have chosen to elevate this form and this means above all others. Make it the form and means of exchange that determines not only human history but human futures as well. Are they stupid or bad academics – or are there other reasons?

    It is very tempting to dub the modern ‘science’ of macroeconomics as “enclosure capitalism”, since its main aim really does seem to be forcing the mindset that the natural state of humankind is to be – using another commenter’s words – “rabbits on a treadmill”>

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