By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“New Balance is renewing its opposition to the far-reaching Pacific Rim trade deal, saying the Obama administration reneged on a promise to give the sneaker maker a fair shot at military business if it stopped bad-mouthing the agreement” [Boston Globe].
“Under [jargon alert!] regulatory cooperation trade officials will continue to negotiate our future and existing laws. This pushes contentious issues farther away from public scrutiny to be brokered over the coming years after TTIP is passed, giving big business lobby groups ample opportunities to influence the result of the decision-making” [Corporate Europe]. “In addition, TTIP will set in stone a particular type of impact assessment. Future and existing EU laws will have to go through these evaluations. Whilst they may sound merely procedural, in the past impact assessments have been used in highly political ways, for example to water down, delay or abandon any laws which might run counter to business interests. TTIP means existing and future laws will be weighted for their costs and benefits from an extremely narrow perspective. In fact, cost-benefit analysis (Article 8 2 a – good regulatory practices) only looks at costs of laws for business whilst paying little attention to the benefits for society as a whole.”
“One Forgotten Document Casts Embarrassing Light on Krugman’s ‘Sanders Over the Edge’ Column” [Wall Street on Parade]. The document is a chart of AIG’s counterparties, the real beneficiaries of AIG’s 100-cents-on-the-dollar bailout: “The chart shows that Goldman Sachs received $12.9 billion of the funds; Societe Generale received $11.9 billion; Merrill Lynch and its U.S. banking parent, Bank of America, received a combined $11.5 billion; the British bank, Barclays, received $8.5 billion; Citigroup got another backdoor bailout of $2.3 billion from AIG, to name just a few of the big banks.” Not “shadow banks” at all, as Krugman claims. The only “limit” here is the event horizon round the black hole of Krugman’s partisanship.
“If Bernie must, as pledged, endorse her – and he absolutely will, of course – then let him endorse her as the Lesser Evil (let him actually use that phrase) and let him mention the importance of people developing a great grassroots social movement not merely as an adjunct to major party electoral politics (or as a follow up to a presidential election) but as something to function and fight independently of the election cycle and to struggle (this is certainly asking too much of the not-very-radical Sanders) as an agent of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called near the end of his life the ‘real issue to be faced’ beyond ‘superficial’ matters: ‘the radical reconstruction of society itself'” [Paul Street, Counterpunch]. “At the same time, I hope that Bernie’s many young and turned on, in-motion supporters would not have to get the word from Sanders or any other politician to move in that radical direction.” Well worth a read; the starting point is the “qualified”/”not qualified” flap of last week, where readers will recall I was not happy Sanders caved. Street isn’t happy either.
Clinton can’t stop insulting younger women who vote for Sanders [Newsday]. Interview transcript:
[CLINTON] I guess the final thing I would say is that, and again the research I’ve seen, some if it public, some of it not, they like me. They actually are quite admiring of me, but . [Laughter.] And so I have a job, which is a little bit of a downer job in saying, you know, my dad taught me that, if anybody tells you something is free, look at the fine print. And to point out where that disparity is. But I get that. And I am very confident we’re going to have a broad coalition. Right now I am like two-and-a-half-million votes ahead of Bernie Sanders. I’m a million votes ahead of Trump. And I have a much broader, inclusive coalition represented in those votes.
“Are Hillary’s big speaking fees being used to help fund her campaign?” [Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News]. (I’m gonna throw a flag here on the Betteridge’s Law violation.) Here’s the most pungent episode, even worse than the Goldman speeches:
The most problematic talk appeared to be the final speech before [the American Camping Association (!)]. The group is a small nonprofit whose $260,000 payment to Clinton (more than the $225,000 she received for talks to the Bank of America or Morgan Stanley) amounted to more than 10 percent of the group’s $2.1 million budget. That recently prompted the organization to add a special note in its annual tax filing with the charities bureau of the New York attorney general’s office, calling the payment to Clinton (described only as a “high-profile politician”) as a “one-time expense” that is “not expected to occur in the subsequent year.”
The key figure who arranged the talk was the group’s former president, Jay Jacobs, a prominent summer-camp entrepreneur. He is also the Nassau County Democratic Party chairman, a million-dollar donor to the Clinton Foundation and a Clinton campaign bundler who is throwing a major fundraiser tonight at one of the six camps he owns, the North Shore Day Camp, in Glen Cove on Long Island.
“Defense Contractor Employees Give the Most Money to Hillary Clinton” [Truthout].
Hillary still wearing Lannister gold, I see:
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 12, 2016
Monmouth poll: “Currently, 51% of likely Democratic primary voters in New York support Clinton compared to 39% who support Sanders. Another 9% do not have a candidate preference with just over a week to go before the election.” [Monmouth University].
The race is basically tied among non-Hispanic white primary voters (48% for Sanders and 46% for Clinton), while Clinton enjoys a large lead among black, Hispanic and other voters (62% to 22%). Clinton holds a significant advantage among voters age 50 and older (57% to 36%), while the race is much closer among voters under 50 (45% for Clinton to 43% for Sanders). Clinton earns similar levels of support across the state, including Manhattan and the Bronx (52%), Brooklyn and Queens (48%), Staten Island and the metro suburbs of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam counties (51%), and upstate New York (51%). Sanders performs better upstate (44%) and in the metro suburbs (41%) than he does in Brooklyn/Queens (36%) or Manhattan/Bronx (35%). However, 13% of primary voters in these four New York City boroughs say they do not have a candidate preference. “It is worth noting that a significant number of minority voters in New York City are undecided. Based on past primaries, these should turn out to be Clinton voters, but Sanders is making an all-out appeal for their support,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. The race is basically tied among non-Hispanic white primary voters (48% for Sanders and 46% for Clinton), while Clinton enjoys a large lead among black, Hispanic and other voters (62% to 22%). Clinton holds a significant advantage among voters age 50 and older (57% to 36%), while the race is much closer among voters under 50 (45% for Clinton to 43% for Sanders).
Clinton earns similar levels of support across the state, including Manhattan and the Bronx (52%), Brooklyn and Queens (48%), Staten Island and the metro suburbs of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam counties (51%), and upstate New York (51%). Sanders performs better upstate (44%) and in the metro suburbs (41%) than he does in Brooklyn/Queens (36%) or Manhattan/Bronx (35%). However, 13% of primary voters in these four New York City boroughs say they do not have a candidate preference.
“It is worth noting that a significant number of minority voters in New York City are undecided. Based on past primaries, these should turn out to be Clinton voters, but Sanders is making an all-out appeal for their support,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
“Delegate math doesn’t add up for Bernie Sanders in California” [Los Angeles Times]. Delegates are awarded proportionately… With a lot of other establishment bells and whistles.
NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, March 2016: “Small business owners remain pessimistic, with the small business optimism index dipping another 0.3 points in March to 92.6, surpassing February’s two year low and remaining well below the 42-year average of 98” [Econoday]. “[E]arnings trends continued turning from bad to worse in March, and though small business owners were more optimistic than in February in their expectations that the economy will improve, this component of the index is still in deep pessimistic territory at a net negative 17 percent.” And: “Owners remain very pessimistic about the economy, a view unfortunately reinforced by Fed Chair Yellen’s back peddling on the timing of the next rate hike. She seems to be afraid of something, and this only adds to uncertainty on Main Street. Is the real economy so fragile that a 25 basis point increase will sink it, or is she more concerned about financial markets than the real economy?” [Econintersect].
Import and Export Prices, March 2016: “Yes, a 6.5 percent monthly surge in petroleum prices did make for a 0.2 percent overall gain for import prices in March but when excluding petroleum, import prices fell 0.2 percent” [Econoday]. “In a telling sign of how deflationary cross-border price pressures have been, import prices excluding petroleum last posted a gain way back in March 2014.” And: “Trade prices continue to deflate year-over-year” [Econintersect]. Note however: “There is only marginal correlation between economic activity, recessions and export / import prices.”
“[T]he average homeowner who is in foreclosure now has been there nearly three years, which, considering that new foreclosure starts are less than 30 days old, suggests that many foreclosures started early in the crisis are still not yet completed” [Economic Populist]. So awesome.
“Documents Undercut U.S. Case for Taking Mortgage Giant Fannie Mae’s Profits” [Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times].
Honey for the Bears: “Wells Fargo’s foray into oil shows how Wall Street misjudged the risks hidden in an esoteric type of energy financing long thought to be bulletproof. To fuel the growth of its energy desk, the bank targeted some of the least creditworthy borrowers in the shale patch, offsetting the risk by demanding oil and gas as collateral” [Bloomberg].
“The perception was the risk was reasonably low,” Dennis Cassidy, co-head of the oil and gas practice at consulting firm AlixPartners in Dallas, said of reserves-based lending across the industry. “The volume and velocity of deal flow was such that it was a rubber stamp. They were not scrutinizing price assumptions and forecasts. Everyone was open for business. It was full on, full throttle.”
I hope I don’t know how this movie ends… Nevertheless: “If the worst happened, the five biggest U.S. banks would each need at least $9 billion tucked away, according to a recent Moody’s Analytics report” [CNBC]. That doesn’t seem like very much.
Honey for the Bears: “About 36 percent of some 150 energy companies with speculative grade debt will probably default on their obligations by the end of next year if oil holds around $35 a barrel, said Tarek Hamid, senior U.S. credit analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co” [Reuters].
Honey for the Bears: “According to academic research shared exclusively with FTfm, the collective funding shortfall of US public pension funds is three times larger than official figures showed, and is getting bigger” [Financial Times, “US faces ‘disastrous’ $3.4tn pension funding hole”]. Guess the pensions funds had better invest more in private equity for those higher returns [*** cough ***, snort].
“Iran dismisses canal speculation linking Persian Gulf with the Caspian” [Splash247]. Certainly, however, an interesting story to deny.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66, Greed (previous close: 65, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 12 at 11:33am.
“Panama Papers: Abu Dhabi emir’s vast London property empire revealed” [International Business Times]. “Al-Nahyan owns most of prestigious Berkeley Square, according to the Panama Papers and Land Registry records, including the garden in the middle of it all. And he owns huge chunks of the surrounding streets of Mayfair, such as Bruton Street, Bruton Place, Hill Street and Hay’s Mews.” Any Londoners out there? Lively neighborhoods, are they? Bustling streets? Lot of lit windows at night?
“How Malaysia’s 1MDB Fund Scandal Reaches Around the World” (handy map and charts) [Bloomberg]. It’s worth remembering, amidst all the excitement about the #PanamaPapers, that the 1MDB and Unaoil scandals are both ongoing, and both ginornous.
“Last week, the hedge fund backed pro charter school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools (FES) filed a lawsuit against New York City public schools claiming that the civil rights of black and Latino are being violated because “violence” is out of control in our public schools” [City Limits]. “We have seen what happens when people start blowing the dog whistle about violent and dangerous schools. This type of narrative is what was used to build the school-to-prison pipeline.” Terrible history — and bad data, too.
Our Famously Free Press
“O.G. Rightblogger Andrew Sullivan Returns — to a Changed World” [Village Voice]. It was a big moment when Sullivan came out for Obama, I’m tellin’ ya. Can Sullivan revive the magic?
“Hospitals discover their inner venture capitalist” [Modern Health Care]. Gawd help us. “The health systems going down this path have moved well beyond passive investment. They are becoming incubators and accelerators, guiding young companies and entrepreneurs through the healthcare regulatory and commercial maze. ‘They’re investing more and more, and at an earlier stage than ever before,’ said Unity Stoakes, president and co-founder of StartUp Health, which invests in and coaches digital-health hopefuls. ‘It reminds us of 1995 Internet when Netscape first IPO’ed.'” Talking our book, are we, “Unity”?
“More than 80 percent of China’s underground water drawn from relatively shallow wells used by farms, factories and mostly rural households is unsafe for drinking because of pollution, a government report says” [AP].
“Private donors have paid $934,000 of the nearly $1.1 million legal tab racked up by three northern Iowa counties being sued by Des Moines Water Works over high nitrate levels — but county officials won’t identify all of them” [Desmoines Register].
“A group of youngsters just won a major decision in their efforts to sue the federal government over climate change. An Oregon judge ruled Friday that their lawsuit, which alleges the government violated the constitutional rights of the next generation by allowing the pollution that has caused climate change, can go forward” [Think Progress]. A novel doctrine.
“Around 2000 the pole took an eastward turn; it stopped drifting toward Hudson Bay, Canada, and started drifting along the Greenwich meridian in the direction of London. In 2013 Jianli Chen, a geophysicist at The University of Texas at Austin, was the first to attribute the sudden change to accelerated melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The result startled his team. ‘If you’re losing enough mass to change the orientation of the Earth—that’s a lot of mass,’ says John Ries, Chen’s colleague at U.T. Austin. The team found that recent accelerated ice loss and associated sea level rise accounted for more than 90 percent of the latest polar shift” [Scientific American].
“New study estimates global warming of 2.5 centigrade degrees by 2100 would put at risk trillions of dollars of world’s financial assets” [London School of Economics]. A trillion here, a trillion there; pretty soon, you’re talking real money!
“The most dramatic findings [of the White House report] included research suggesting that over the next 15 years, hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions, and cases of acute respiratory illnesses in the U.S. could be attributed to the impacts of climate change. One model projected that in 2030, there would be 11,000 more premature deaths from extreme heat compared to 1990. By the end of the century, that number is expected to spike to 27,000 additional deaths per year” [Bloomberg].
Imperial Collapse Watch
“For me, it is impossible to capture the degree to which counter-insurgency is at the heart of the American paradigm of state making and war fighting without placing the Indian Wars and subsequent efforts at American Indian population concentration and pacification at the center of U.S. political development” [The Disorder of Things]. Excellent long-form article. Amidst all the chaos and madness, we can take some comfort that there’s a great deal of truly excellent scholarship going on (despite the best efforts of university administrations and trustees).
“Quick Come Rent Me, like dozens of similar [Chinese] services, operates through a public account on mobile app WeChat, a widely-used chat service that also acts as a platform for other applications. It’s not the first; the online people-renting business has been popular in China for several years” [Foreign Policy]. “By 2011, users of shopping site Taobao could already ‘rent’ a temporary boyfriend or girlfriend, often during family gatherings at the lunar new year holiday, to deflect parental pressure to find a spouse.” Thank heavens they’re Communists; otherwise, who knows what might happen?
“The current startup model destroys the social connection between businesses and those they employ, and these companies have failed to thrive because they provide crummy jobs that most people only want to do as a very last resort. These platforms show their workforce no allegiance or loyalty, and they engender none in return.” [Medium].
“Wall Street Wages Double in 25 Years as Everyone Else’s Languish” [Bloomberg].
“The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters” (with map) [New York Times]. As Billmon says, re identity politics: You can be rich and black. You can be rich and gay. But you can’t be rich and poor.
“It seems hard to escape the conclusion that people on Wall Street weren’t prosecuted largely because they were part of the same communities as major government agency heads: friends of friends and colleagues of colleagues, all part of the same relatively small social circles that exist at the top of the income ladder. To understand is to forgive, and the elite and the upper class understand their own” [The Week]. Good people.
News of the Wired
“Brilliant IKEA-esque instructions teach you how to eat ‘hard-to-eat’ food” [ShortList]. I dunno “brilliant.” But it is fun. I wonder if the same idea could be applied to other tasks?
“Scientists have for the first time visualized the effects of LSD on the human brain” [CNN]. “Images of the brain under a hallucinogenic state showed almost the entire organ lit up with activity.” No duh!
Then again, some of us prefer to light up our brains the old-fashioned way:
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) April 12, 2016
Readers, I still need to fix my fershuggeneh contact form! Hopefully noting that fact publicly will serve a lash and a spur to my endeavors. (Meanwhile, thanks to readers, who already have my email address, who sent in images of plants!)
See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (RH):
Readers, this is a bit small (as big as you like, but 600px minimum, ideally) but the melting snow and rushing water are so Maine.
Readers, Water Cooler will not exist without your regular support. Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. If you enjoy what you’re reading, please click the hat!