2:00PM Water Cooler 4/6/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“TTIP is not primarily about removing tariffs and quotas. The average tariff levied by the US on goods from Europe is just 2.5 per cent. Getting rid of them would be worthwhile – but no big deal” [Conservative Home]. “It is mainly about harmonising product specifications and creating a special regime for investment. … In or out of the EU, we should question whether ISDS tribunals are necessary, reject the 20-year stabilisation clause and insist on excluding the NHS from the treaty (as France has excluded movies). That would be less difficult if Britain leaves the EU and negotiates a parallel treaty – though the simplest thing would be to negotiate a pure free trade agreement restricted to abolishing remaining tariffs.”

“Let’s start with my favorite area in which to expand trade, highly-paid professionals. Our doctors and dentists, and to a lesser extent our lawyers, make far more than their counterparts in other wealthy countries. This is not the case for our autoworkers and steel workers” [Dean Baker, HuffPo]. “We can correct this imbalance by removing the barriers that make it difficult for foreign professionals to practice in the United States…. If taken together, bringing the pay of dentists, lawyers, and other highly-paid professionals more in line with global competition led to comparable gains, we would be looking at benefits of $180 billion a year or $600 per person. This vastly exceeds any projections of gains from the TPP.”



Sanders getting it right early on what became #PanamaPapers:

UPDATE The headline: “What Bernie Sanders Gets Right.” Mark Thoma (!), quoting Sanders: “We are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society…” [Fiscal Times]. Thoma: “I don’t know if the forces that have allowed special interests to become so powerful can be overcome, but I am far more optimistic than I was before this year’s presidential campaign that change is on its way”

UPDATE “[Trump’s tax plan is] not consistent with historical experience,” said Alan Cole, an economist at the Tax Foundation who helped model Trump’s tax plan” [WaPo]. “It’s more consistent with a world where we’re hiring butlers for our vacation homes on Ganymede.”

The Voters

“Meet the Greenpeace Activist Who Confronted Hillary Clinton over Ties to Fossil Fuel Industry” (video) [Democracy Now!].

AMY GOODMAN: She says you’re a Bernie Sanders representative who was trying to bird-dog her. Is that true?

EVA RESNICK-DAY: It’s absolutely not true. I am a democracy organizer for Greenpeace USA. I have no affiliation to the Sanders campaign. And Greenpeace is an independent organization that does not support or oppose candidates.

“Obama, you’re wrong about Sanders” [Brent Budowsky, The Hill].

UPDATE “Optimism Is a Casualty in Campaign 2016” [Wall Street Journal].

UPDATE “At its heart, this anger is economic. Ever more Americans are having trouble making ends meet. Many of the jobs created since the financial crisis are low-wage. And voters do not expect better incomes in the future. For a nation accustomed to believing that each generation would live better than its predecessor, this is a bitter pill” [Roger Altman, Financial Times, “The fury of American voters is in its infancy”]. “This economic pressure is not temporary either, because the trends undermining incomes — technology and globalisation — are in their early stages and still accelerating.” Feh. Technology and globalisation are curtains. Behind the curtains is a man. To whom you should pay no attention. Author was a Deputy Treasury Secretary under Clinton I.

Quinnipiac: 37. The old way of doing things no longer works and we need radical change:



Wisconsin readers, please keep us updated!

“Challengers Need Big Wins in Wisconsin Primary to Keep Nomination Within Reach” [New York Times].

The Trail

NBC National poll: “Clinton has 51 percent support heading Tuesday’s primary. But Sanders is beating Clinton by more than 20 points among independents who lean toward the Democratic Party” [The Hill].

“To Hillary Clinton supporters: The facts on where the race stands” [Robby Mook, Medium]. If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

“TRANSCRIPT: Bernie Sanders meets with the Daily News Editorial Board” [Daily News]. Establishment framing: “Bernie Sanders Struggles To Explain How He Would Break Up The Banks” [Talking Points Memo]. Unlike TPM, I read the transcript as a serious discussion on both sides. What amazed me is that Sanders interlocutor seems to regard what Teddy Roosevelt called “trust busting” as if it were being propagated by Martians.

“Bernie Sanders’s false claim that he has released his full federal tax returns” [WaPo]. Guy can’t even afford a haircut, and Clinton gins this up. Pathetic.

Barney Frank on Sanders: “Because of this kind of lack of information and, I think, misunderstanding of how you really get change done in America, a large chunk — a third, I saw recently quoted — say they won’t vote for Clinton. That’s why [Sanders] does better now” [Raw Story]. Right. I mean, look at the abolitionists! Or the Civil Rights movement! Or ACT-UP! And Sanders voters are low information?

“Misinformation? About arcane delegate selection rules?” Yeah, kidding, right? [WaPo]. Fun explainer on how the Republican delegate selection process culminating in the convention works.

“Ted Cruz Affair Rumors Circle After National Enquirer Claims Madam’s Black Book Proves Cheating Scandal Is Real” [International Business Times]. “Palfrey’s lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, wants to release the names and numbers in the book because the information is important for “voters [to know] before they cast their ballot.”

Stats Watch

Gallup US Economic Confidence Index, March 2016: “Americans were slightly more confident in the economy in March than they were in February; however, their confidence has not drastically changed in the past nine months” [Econoday]. “In the most recent polling, 39 percent of Americans said the economy was “getting better,” while 56 percent said it was “getting worse.” This resulted in an economic outlook score of minus 17, up from minus 20 in February.”

JOLTS, February 2016: “Labor participation has been on a sharp rise but job openings in the JOLTS report are down” [Econoday]. “The dip back in job openings is a negative but the level of job openings is strong and is the 4th highest of the recovery. Still, a slowing in new postings does not point to increasing improvement for labor participation.”

PMI Services Index, March 2016: “The bulk of the nation’s economy expanded but only modestly in March based on Markit Economics’ service-sector sample” [Econoday]. “But the improvement does not include new orders where growth, in an ominous indication for overall activity in the coming months, is at its lowest point in the 6-1/2 year history of the report… The order readings in this report point to increasing slowing for the economy’s main engine, services.”

ISM Non-Mfg Index, March 2016: “The ISM non-manufacturing index rose a sharp 1.1 points in March to a 54.5 level that points to solid economic growth for the great bulk of the nation’s economy” [Econoday]. “This report is very positive and contrasts sharply with the very soft services report released earlier this morning from Markit Economics.”

ISM Mfg Index (yesterday): “The shallow industrial recession we have had for the last year is ending, either now or within the next 3 months” [Angry Bear].

International Trade, “The nation’s February trade deficit came in at a wider-than-expected $47.1 billion in a report, however, that mostly points to rising cross-border demand” [Econoday]. “The spots of weakness on the export-side [capital goods, and services] are a concern but this report is mostly positive even though, given the wider-than-expected headline, it will scale back first-quarter GDP estimates.”

“Now, for only the fourth time since data the early 90s, there have been no tech company I.P.O.s in a quarter” [New York Times].

“A degree of tunnel vision has prevented startup entrepreneurs from seeing that their business model often is not scalable or sustainable at the billionaire unicorn leve without ongoing VC welfare subsidies” [Salon]. “Some things that seem like great ideas—like paying low wages to personal assistants to shuffle around at your every whim, or lowballing wages for someone to hustle around parking cars for yuppies—only make sense inside the VC bubble that has lost all contact with the realities of everyday Americans.” Valuation problems in the Valley.

“Groupon, the daily deals ecommerce operator which has been struggling since a hot public share offering, said Monday it received a $250 million investment from a private investment fund” [France24]. “Groupon said it would use the cash infusion from Atairos to boost share repurchases [!!] and to revive growth.” More valuation problems.

“Is anyone concerned about the future of Nest?” [Reddit]. Yet more valuation problems.

“Tesla misses delivery target, citing company ‘hubris'” [Los Angeles Times]. So is Tesla solving cash flow problems with reservations on the Model 3?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68, Greed (previous close: 74, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 5 at 11:09am. Back to Greed from Extreme Greed!


“Not surprisingly, though, a lot of people are asking: If this is the biggest data leak in history – and our biggest window ever onto the offshore world – where are all the Americans?” [Fusion]. Why go to Panama if we’ve got Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming?

“[T]he U.S. is itself becoming a tax haven” [WaPo]. “Providers in rich countries in the OECD — including especially the United States — were much happier to set up shell corporations. Only three out of 27 U.S.-based providers demanded some proof of identity.”

“Banned on China’s Internet: all discussion of the Panama Papers” [Boing Boing].


What is strange, however, is the level of venomous excess found in nature. Why does a snake possess the capability to kill hundreds of thousands of mice with each bite? This is especially odd when you consider what an expensive weapon venom is” [BBC]. I should really file “venemous excess” under 2016….

Our Famously Free Press

“Given that Vox does little original reporting, much of their selling point is quick, easy-to-understand analysis. A meaningful amount of this analysis, however, pivots on the toxic cliche, “most economists agree/think/say/believe,” and its equally toxic cousin, “most experts agree/think/say/believe.” This cliche is frequently used without a shred of evidence for said consensus” [FAIR]. Ouch!

Class Warfare

“Etsy Wants to Crochet Its Cake, and Eat It Too” [New York Magazine]. “Can a company upend capitalism without really earning a profit?” I wanted to make fun of tea cozies and the Brooklyn flannel, but then I felt there was more there. Readers, I’d like to know what you think of this (even though it’s a long read). And are any of you selling on Etsy? Is it a long tail phenomenon?

“The Brainbelt Awakening” [Foreign Policy]. Yet another in a recent spate of writers going out into the heartland to see what the heck’s going on out there where the Acela doesn’t go. This a different take from most, and if there are in Akron, or Research Triangle Park, or Lund (Sweden), I’d be interested in your views. (“Brainbelt” is a play on “Rustbelt.”)

“An illusion of success: The consequences of British rail privatisation” [Science Direct]. “The starting point for this analysis is a paradox between stories of brilliant success achieved by private train operating companies (TOCs), and a financial backdrop of accumulating public liabilities and complex state subsidy arrangements.”

“Satellite Images Can Pinpoint Poverty Where Surveys Can’t” [New York Times]. The headline is triumphalist and deceptive. Integrating a lot of data sources, some of them aerial, may help.

News of the Wired

“Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own” [Medium]. Ha ha. “Own” “hardware.” What a kidder!

“Want to avoid being auto-tagged by Facebook, Google photos, flickr, and the like? Want to create a party environment for all your cohorts that ensures all attendees remain unrecognizable to the collective scrutiny of the bots? Whether you’re familiar with the Many-faced God or not, you can benefit from the dark magic that streams from its collective. Here’s how” [Indistinguishable From…].

For all you people with shelves of O’Reilly books:

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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 (CR):


Early April, Cleveland. I love forsythia, the most hopeful sign of all! (At least in the Northeast…)

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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. Kim Kaufman

    ““Clinton has 51 percent support heading Tuesday’s primary. But Sanders is beating Clinton by more than 20 points among independents who lean toward the Democratic Party” [The Hill].”

    Except they can’t vote in this closed primary.

    ““Bernie Sanders’s false claim that he has released his full federal tax returns” [WaPo]. Guy can’t even afford a haircut, and Clinton gins this up. Pathetic.”

    Actually, I think this might be legitimate. He apparently hasn’t released them. Obviously: why not?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a national poll; I should have made that clear.

      On Sander’s tax returns: Sounds to me like a staff slip-up, not getting the papers out of the shoebox, combined with Vermont smallness. If you read the whole article, you’ll see that nobody’s obligated to, candidates differ in their practices, and the definition of “tax return” differs (not just 1040s, I guess; who knew). I see why the Clinton campaign would be gleeful, but honestly, compared to the Clinton Foundation?

      1. katiebird

        There is one entry from 2014 available for Sanders on the Tax History Project website: a Form 1040 (a summary of his federal income tax return) and a one-page Vermont state income tax return. The campaign referred to this entry when we inquired about Sanders’s claim.

        Is it possible that people who file really complicated Tax Returns think of the 1040 as a “summary document”?

        2014 is the most recent year for taxes filed — how far back is he supposed to go with just basic salary and Social Security income? If his house is paid for, would he have enough deductions to matter?

        1. nippersmom

          Exactly, katiebird. For many taxpayers who do not have financially complicated lives, the only “additional pages” would be copies of the actual form(s) W-2.

        2. Ed S.


          His “complete” return would include a Schedule A, Schedule C, Schedule SE, and probably a few ancillary forms. The 1040 provided tells you everything that you need to know. He grossed $156k in salary and $46k in Social Security. Schedule C (business income) was $4,900. Schedule A (itemized deductions) totaled $56,000.

          We don’t know the composition of his itemized deductions or the source $4,900 in SE income.

          Who cares

        3. jrs

          I don’t know hard to imagine pulling in 200k a year and not having some investments and the associated schedules.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Wonder if they show donations to the World Socialist Website, Occupy or Naked Capitalism?

      2. Darthbobber

        Maybe this is an odd question, but its one that only occurred to me today. In all the years that candidates have been “releasing their tax returns” has there ever been any discussion of the verifiability of those returns? The IRS remains silent on whether they match what it actually received, does it not? So it appears to me that for all this talk of transparency, nobody is checking or is in a position to check on whether what campaigns release to the media actually MATCHES the real thing.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      Bernie’s tax returns. AYFKM. He lives in a 3 bedroom colonial house. To get a pic of the entire Clinton mansion you need pic from a helicopter. IMO, Bernie should wait until he is nominated (which will only happen over the DNC’s dead carcass). It’s just a fishing expedition to get something/anything to change the subject from Clinton’s Trustworthiness numbers.

      1. craazyboy

        Maybe the Clintons will do something environmentally responsible and put in electric rail service between bedrooms powered by rooftop solar? There’s a tax deduction on the solar panels too!

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          To save money, Hellery does all her “laundry” in the basement of the Clinton Foundation. That is all I can say on an open forum. Hahahaha.

      2. gary headlock

        He should “look into it”. Heck, maybe if “everyone else releases their tax returns, and maybe their foundations’ tax returns too”.

      3. sid_finster

        All Hillary’s returns prove us that the Clintons can afford the best accountants and tax attorney money can buy.

    3. mitzimuffin

      Jane does their income tax. She’s been busy. Besides, the past tax returns are available, no?

      1. Kim Kaufman

        No, not according to something I read about this a few days. At the time I just thought “hmmmm… let’s see how this goes.” I’m neutral here, want to see more info. Or remember where I read that first piece.

        1. Kim Kaufman

          A quick google brought up the least right wing piece out there right now:

          WaPo Fact Checker Gives Bernie ‘Four Pincocchios’ For Claiming He Released Tax Returns


          Bernie probably does have a couple of hundred $$ hanging around where he could give his very busy wife a break and let a professional finish the tax returns. Just a thought. I’m neutral… just waiting to see how this plays out.

  2. Mav

    Barney Frank on Sanders: “Because of this kind of lack of information and, I think, misunderstanding of how you really get change done in America

    Hey Barney.. How’s Hopey/Changey working out after Dodd-Frank reforms to end TBTF?
    Oh..what do you mean the TBTF banks are even bigger now??

    Watch John Oliver’s take on Congressional fundraising to see how congressmen like Barney brunched on oysters and then sweated out in DCCC fundraising cubicles.


    1. RUKidding

      Like many before him, Barney Frank has turned into a huge disappointment. A friend in Australia wrote about going to see him speak there recently. I said: don’t bother going; waste of your time. Yet another sell out on parade.

        1. Massinissa

          I dont care about the way he looks, but yeah, listening to sleazebag sellouts makes my ears cold.

  3. grayslady

    Regarding Etsy: I don’t do a lot of shopping, period; and, on the few occasions when I’m looking for something vintage, I find the prices on Etsy to be way too high. However, a friend of mine recently needed some elbow patches for a favorite sweater, and I found a seller on Etsy who was marketing patches in attractive colors (who would think it would be so difficult to find patches the color of a deerskin jacket?), and the price, including shipping, was very reasonable. Turns out the seller is located in the second largest city in Bulgaria. I received the patches in just under two weeks and they were the finest quality I’ve ever seen. So I think that Etsy can offer shoppers a wider marketplace and the opportunity to purchase items that are still well made, but you really have to know the alternatives before buying there.

  4. TomD

    “Etsy Wants to Crochet Its Cake, and Eat It Too” [New York Magazine]. “Can a company upend capitalism without really earning a profit?” I wanted to make fun of tea cozies and the Brooklyn flannel, but then I felt there was more there. Readers, I’d like to know what you think of this (even though it’s a long read). And are any of you selling on Etsy? Is it a long tail phenomenon?

    My uncle has been trying for 3 years to make a living selling aluminum jewelry on Etsy. It’s not going very well because for the most part jewelry buyers want gold, silver, platinum, and precious or semi-precious stones. He doesn’t like any of that stuff. That said he has found a few dedicated buyers who share his specific tastes.

    I keep telling him he needs to sell on every possible online store there is to maximize eyes on his stuff, but he just sticks with Etsy thinking places like Ebay will devalue his work.

  5. Higgs Boson

    “Bernie Sanders’s false claim that he has released his full federal tax returns”

    Here’s a wild theory:

    They are probably in a file cabinet drawer in his home, in Vermont. Paper TurboTax copies. Just like the vast majority of U.S. filers. It’s not like he or Jane can call up the accounting firm & have “their people” issue copies to the press. Somebody has to go home and actually get them. Kind of hard to do when you’re on the campaign trail?

    1. Anne

      Here’s what Sanders said when asked about the returns:

      On Sunday’s State of the Union, Jake Tapper asked Sen. Bernie Sanders why he has released only the summary page of his 2014 tax returns, while presidential rival Hillary Clinton has posted the past eight years of her full returns on her website. “I have to say, I’m kind of surprised you haven’t gone further on transparency,” Tapper said. He asked Sanders if he would release his full returns before the pivotal New York primary. “To be very honest with you, do you know who does our tax returns?” Sanders replied. “My wife does our tax returns. We’ve been a little bit busy lately.” He added that “there ain’t going to be very much exciting in them,” and “we will get them out as soon as we can.”

      I guess there’s nothing too small for the Clinton folks to try to make into a controversy.

    2. curlydan

      Let’s put this in perspective…”Sanders and his wife reported a total income of $205,617 in 2014.” So for the full year of 2014, the Sanderses made $20K less than HRC made in a sixty minute speech.

      Cue George Castanza voice: HE’S HIDING SOMETHING!! I KNOW IT!

      1. craazyboy

        But Seinfeld always was the smarter one. “that’s not a speech. that’s collecting a bribe!”

    3. fakie wallie

      He ought to make a big show of it, saying he’ll “Look Into It”. Then actually follow through, unlike a certain, uhm, someone.

  6. craazyboy

    Why go to Panama if we’ve got Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming?

    Answer – Bush 1 ruined it for everyone when he decided it was time to topple Noriega. That’s why Americans have Grand Cayman, instead.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      I have no doubt that Mossack Fonseca runs an exquisite hospitality suite at the Fed’s annual economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

      We [Mossack Fonseca] offer research, advice and services for the following jurisdictions: Belize, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Malta, Hong Kong, Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Panama, British Anguilla, Seychelles, Samoa, Nevada, and Wyoming (USA).

  7. willf

    Dean Baker, HuffPo]. “We can correct this imbalance by removing the barriers that make it difficult for foreign professionals to practice in the United States…. If taken together, bringing the pay of dentists, lawyers, and other highly-paid professionals more in line with global competition led to comparable gains, we would be looking at benefits of $180 billion a year or $600 per person. This vastly exceeds any projections of gains from the TPP.”

    Due respect to Dean Baker for trying to move the needle on economic issues, it interesting to note that his solution to pay inequity is not to install protections that would pay workers more, but to remove the protections that prop up the pay rates for the highly paid professionals.

    1. hunkerdown

      It is very interesting to note that, because it is largely the professional class that has driven and benefited from the precarious and weak economic state of those beneath them. They are the central component of the narrative of professional liberalism: the commandment to self-improvement and aspiration means the world ought to be run according to best practices and competitive office politics. Indeed, if they want fwee twade and a race to the bottom, let the buttercups suck it all up. H-1Bs for doctors and real estate agents, stat!

    2. Pat

      I can’t speak for Baker, but I think he is rather pointedly making it clear that protectionism does exist for jobs in America but it is limited to the highly paid professionals who are in a better position to insure those protections exist and remain in existence. While at the same time helping a few of them realize that in time even their protected class might be threatened and this really should not be just a battle for those grubby blue collar types. As in that famous little litany done about the Nazis, only in this case it is the 0.0001% class, first they came for the farm hands,but…

      Or Dean Baker might just be a neo liberal in an outspoken progressive dirty friggin’ Hippie suit.

    3. MikeW_CA

      I didn’t read that article so much as a serious economic proposal, as a calling-out of the hypocrisy of the professional, technocratic class that is the support base for the institutional Democratic Party, and the focus of that party’s attention for most of the last 20 years.
      But maybe that’s because I just started listening to Thomas Frank’s (so far) excellent “Listen, Liberal”.

    4. Synoia

      Our doctors and dentists, and to a lesser extent our lawyers, make far more than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.

      Yes and the graduate more in debt than other countries. We also have to fix the cost of higher education (by nationalizing universities, and laying off all administrators).

      1. Massinissa

        Yeah I agree with that. It sounds to me like Dean Baker wants to import more people with H1B visas. No thanks. Screwing over the professional class just because the working class got screwed over just seems to me like an excuse for more general labor exploitation.

        1. Beans

          Exactly. The corporations running health care would love to have an inexhaustible supply of H1b visas to import foreign labor for services that cannot be exported to cheap foreign destinations. The opportunity to increase their profit by cheap (and often undertrained) foreign labor dependent upon corporate sponsorship of their Visa is a private equity dream come true.
          To think the savings would be passed on to the patients, oops I mean consumers, is short sighted. There would be some savings at first , followed by rapidly crapifying of the services along with fraud. We’ve seen the script before – it always ends badly.

          1. inode_buddha

            The slap in the face is when they say that the investors (your pension fund/401k) made them do it. Its just an insult to my intelligence at that point.

  8. rusti

    This a different take from most, and if there are in Akron, or Research Triangle Park, or Lund (Sweden), I’d be interested in your views.

    Well, I can say a few words here. From the article:

    In Sweden, we visited Lund and the nearby city of Malmo, which had taken a serious blow in the mid-1980s when the major shipyard in the area went bankrupt, another victim of the low-cost advantage of manufacturers in Asia and elsewhere. In response, local politicians, entrepreneurs, and Lund University came together to create Ideon, Scandinavia’s first technology park, in Lund. Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson brought its research group to the park, as did many pharmaceutical companies. Today, the leaders of the cities of Malmo and Lund meet regularly, and Lund University is the engine that drives the corporate spinoffs that create cutting-edge products for the life sciences industries.

    This paragraph is sort of amusing for me personally. I work at this much-touted intersection between industrial development and university research. Formerly it was a contract job working at one of those multinationals at the Ideon Technology Park in Lund, a job I lost a few years ago when that particular multinational was bleeding money and closed up shop locally. Then I moved about 250 km away to another city to another “Science Park” where University and Industry are supposed to work together seamlessly to create futuristic products. The adjacent University here is similarly just a geographically-convenient recruiting pool for engineers and consultants who get tryouts via thesis projects (as I did) and product development decisions are subject to the whims of upper management MBAs as always. There are some startups there at Ideon but I’m not aware of any other big local success stories other than Gambro, which long precedes any other events in the story.

    I get the impression that the author had an idea for an article and they traveled around looking for things that would confirm it, and was met by PR types who were happy to have a receptive audience and then the article wrote itself. Seems sort of puzzling that he’d think that Lund (a tiny university town) would have dilapidated neighborhoods as a result of the shipyards in a city 20 km away closing. Funny enough that area in Malmö (Västra hamnen) has been turned into a bit of yuppie neighborhood with expensive apartments, including the photogenic Turning Torso building but that wasn’t the result of any “Brainbelt” activity that I can identify.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Yeah, you could say the same about any college town. Call it a 20-mile radius around any large public research university or private institution. The “brain belt” is just another way of saying “entrepreneurs preying on newly-graduated college kids who don’t know how to negotiate employment contracts.”

      Take Boulder, Colorado for example (going by the shout-out to well-marketed university systems in the NYT “Sunny Side” article). In a 20-mile radius you’ve got NIST/NTIA, NCAR, NOAA, NREL, Raytheon, Sierra Nevada, Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, Oracle, IBM, Seagate, Xilinx and that’s just big business/big government.

      1. Stefan

        My son and his wife conduct breast cancer genetics research as members of the medical school faculty at Lund University in Sweden. Last year, he developed an assay that predicts cancer recurrence after surgery with very, very high accuracy. Article:


        And now, with the help of the University, he has established an enterprise, SAGA Diagnostics AB, to try to commercialize his techniques. Press Release:


        A few points:
        Though quite convenient to Copenhagen, Lund is often considered a backwater, so it is hard to get eminent scientists to come visit.
        Similarly, it is hard to get the attention of major journals for publishing results.
        Unlike America, where universities take the lion’s share of financial interest in a discovery, in Sweden scientists retain most of the rights.
        But in Sweden, the commercial numbers are quite smaller than in the US.

        I don’t really know how these facts jibe with the article or other comments; perhaps it’s too early to tell.

  9. Peter Pan

    “Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own” [Medium]. Ha ha. “Own” “hardware.” What a kidder!

    It’s an IoT that “automates” your life and they bricked it before it was hacked & really f*cked up your life. They did you a favor, dude.

    1. reslez

      Maybe they should sell a pre-bricked version instead. Nest Thermostat + Time Machine! Get all the functionality of your Nest device 2.5 years from now… immediately. Whatever functionality hobbyists are able to coax from the item is yours free!

  10. thoughtful person

    Wisconsin is an open primary, per article from Madison dot com I just came across.

    Haven’t read the WaPo article but consider the source. We know Clinton’s net worth is many times Sanders, and we know where her income comes from. I smell a red herring…

    1. Vatch

      Has the Washington Post’s squillionaire owner Jeff Bezos released his tax returns? Probably not. Ramona Quimby must be so disappointed in Beezus Bezos.

    2. nippersmom

      Wisconsin IS an open primary, and they also allow same-day registration at the polls (and college students can register using their on-campus addresses). You do, however, have to have photo ID, thanks to Scott Walker.

  11. Massinissa

    On Etsy, you can purchase home made things its hard to find in other places. I used to be a doll collector, and I dont know a better place to find good home made doll clothes than Etsy.

    Now, thats more of a way to earn a little extra money through a hobby than anything else. I sort of assume everything else on etsy is mostly by hobbyists and such, but I could be wrong.

    1. reslez

      There are a fair number of proto-industrialists, people who crank out “hand made” items from Chinese factories or Eastern Europe. The items are made by hand-ish, just not in the hobbyist sense you might associate with Etsy’s image.

  12. Matthew Saroff

    Fershuggeneh, huh?

    It’s an interesting Yiddishism, used most frequently by Ashkenazi Jews and aficionados of Mad Magazine.

    Which are you?

  13. Savonarola

    “Venemous Excess” is the perfect name for a punk band. Perhaps that is what I should do when I’m replaced by a robot at my current job. . . .

  14. Sammy Maudlin

    Wisconsin update:

    On my way to work I saw Trump’s “motorcade” (a Toyota Sienna with flashing lights (?!) followed by a two/three cars and State Trooper’s cruiser) on his way to a stop at Waukesha Fire Station #5. Apparently this was in violation of state campaign laws. Also, this particular polling place was “swamped” and very much in the heart of “establishment conservative” country.

    Trump taking a page out of the Clinton Massachusetts playbook?

    There are also pictures of Bernie Sanders looking very relaxed and happy having breakfast at Blue’s Egg in Wauwatosa (incredible place located about a mile from Scott Walker’s soon-to-be-old-house). He had my personal favorite there: the blueberry pancakes.

    There are also reports of high turnout.

    General consensus among those I know (mostly Republican) is that this election is less about who the voter likes, but is more about anybody-but-Hillary-or-Trump.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        In my precinct in Madison (near but not at UW), they moved the voting out of the community room and into the gymnasium, which normally they only do for presidential elections (and Walker recalls). When I voted about noon, it wasn’t super crowded but there was a steady stream in and out.

      2. Sammy Maudlin

        Wow, just got done voting in my little Walkersha burg. Huge turnout, according to local poll volunteer higher than the recall election. That’s sayin’ something.

        While big turnout here isn’t unusual, I did notice some very prominent differences between this election and years past.

        First, a LOT of young people. Many teen/early twenties. Most registering for the first time, many were there with parents. This is really unusual here. There’s no college nearby, and the polling place usually could pass for an insurance broker convention. I also didn’t get the sense that this was the product of a Young Republican get-out-the-vote effort. Most didn’t look the part.

        Which brings me to the second difference: many more blue collar voters than usual. This particular area is pretty diverse economically. But from what I’ve seen in past trips to the poll it’s always been dominated by the more professional-looking types (and the retired). I saw many more voters there that looked like they just came off of a shift at the factory.

        Reading the tea leaves, looks like some support for Bernie and Trump came out here in the heart of conservative Wisconsin.

        1. craazyboy

          Cruz just did his victory speech – 53% to around 30% for Trump. Sanders has been called the victor by Fox and CNN, tho the margin so far is less than what I’d like to see.

          WI Rs must really confused, having to vote for Cruz.

          1. Sammy Maudlin

            Really, the vast majority around here don’t give a second thought as to their choice of candidate. The Republican Party, via their radio mouthpieces, determines who that is and they loyally march to the polls and pull the lever.

            The Republican Party machine in SE Wisconsin rivals that of Richard J. Daley in some respects. Like the Daley Chicago machine, with the Party’s seal of approval, you are a shoo-in if running in a Republican primary election or in a local election in Republican areas. Judicial elections, County Clerks, State Rep and Senator elections are all tightly controlled. Without it, you’re fortune reads: “SOL.”

            The big difference is that the Party can’t necessarily determine the outcome in the general.

            But they sure can control who gets the seal of approval on the R side.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Wisconsin? The home of Bobby Kennedy’s mentor, Joe McCarthy? I don’t know. Cruz seems like the kind of guy to bring back the good Ole days of hunting commies. I doubt there is any confusion. Nasty Scott Walker Republicans recognized one of their own.

            1. craazyboy

              I guess all Cruz had to do was send out a letter to the Walker Rs saying he’s just a fake evangelist and it’s all an act to get the southern white trash vote. It all makes sense then. But MIC and Oil is a TX thing.

      1. ekstase

        This is good. RT was reporting earlier that there were a lot of hassles for students and people had been getting turned away. I hope not.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Perhaps it’s over kill, but bear with me, I’ve had a vision of a Spinal Tap 2 documentary following Spinal Tap tribute bands and mostly a character played by Bob Odenkirk. Chuck (Michael McKean) could audition for one of the tribute bands.

    1. Sammy Maudlin

      Here’s a link to live county-by-county results

      Keep an eye on when Waukesha County (located directly west of Milwaukee County) reports, and the results thereof. It tends to be one of the last. In the past the late results have been justified by reliance on outdated technology. Not sure if they’ve updated or not.

      In addition, it’s extremely conservative and has almost impossibly high turnout. 80% is predicted for this election and it’s been as high as 97% in others IIRC. At times the County has provided, if not the winning margin, a cushion against a potential recount to a particular candidate.

  15. Shirley Ende-Saxe

    Ummm, Luis Proenza left the U of Akron with a huge pile of debt that the trustees and the new president (trustees are appointed by our “moderate” Republican governor, Kasich) decided to pay down by getting rid of tenure track and renaming the university. Other sordid things have happened as well but the whole community is in an uproar here. While I think Proenza was correct in some sense, he was much like all university administrators and loves happy talk. I agree with the former commenter, the conclusions preceded the article.

  16. Benedict@Large

    “… the trends undermining incomes — technology and globalisation — are in their early stages and still accelerating.”

    This is typical neoliberal garbage. What has undermined income is the belief that an economy can run solely on monetary policy. In fact, fiscal policy is what creates the new money that causes wages to rise. The more fiscal policy is restrained (effectively creating a gold standard without the gold), the slower the growth in wages. Technology and globalization have always been with us. They are merely excuses for not letting the people own their money.

    1. farrokh bulsara

      “Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade US taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. The Panama free trade agreement will make this bad situation much worse. Each and every year, the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations evade about $100 billion in taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and in other countries.”

      -Sen. Bernie Sanders on October 12, 2011

      “These initiatives are the leading edge of a job-creating trade agenda that will open markets, level the playing field for our businesses and workers, and champion America’s working families in an age of tough global competition. They deserve the historic and widespread support they received in Congress tonight. We will continue our work to rebuild an American consensus on trade.”

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on October 13, 2011

      1. pretzelattack

        see american working families can offshore their obscene profits too! it’s a level playing field! now if you’ll excuse me i have to go sleep under a bridge.

  17. Bas

    Budowsky quoting Obama:

    “When people put their faith into someone who can’t possibly deliver his or her own promises, that only breeds more cynicism.”

    Obama seems to have forgotten all that hopey changey stuff he campaigned on. I guess the difference is Obama knew he really didn’t mean any of it. Thanks for breeding all the cynicism that is driving Bernie’s and Trump’s campaign, Obama.

  18. ScottW

    Clinton Foundation was taking millions from oil companies at the same time those oil companies were seeking approval by the State Dept. of a controversial tar sands pipeline. http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/oil-companies-donated-clinton-foundation-while-lobbying-state-department-2348832 Of course, they got the approval they were seeking.

    At what point is the link between Clinton Donors and favorable State Dept. policies too much for even her most ardent supporters to ignore? And what happens to the Clinton Foundation if Hillary & Bill return to the White House?

    Hillary needs to be pressed by Bernie on these issues. Most Americans have no clue the Foundation was taking tens of millions (or more) from foreign governments, corporations and individuals at the very same time Hillary was Sec. of State issuing decisions directly affecting those donors’ interests.

    Anyone who believes those special interests were donating a dollar to the Foundation with no expectation of favorable treatment are hopelessly naive. And anyone who doesn’t believe Hillary’s decisions were influenced by those donations is crazy.

    1. Bas

      She knows “how to get things done”. This is how things get done in Washington.

      At what point is the link between Clinton Donors and favorable State Dept. policies too much for even her most ardent supporters to ignore?

      This is why they love her. Special Interests grease the wheels because money is speech, and where will all that go if Sanders wins. I think her followers think this is it, and everything will fall apart, including their own lives, if She does not win, they are that brainwashed.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “how to get things done” = corruption. The two are one and the same. Of course, in real life things are more complicated with grey areas, but that formulation will certainly work in combat on the twitter.

  19. steelhead23

    It passes irony that a billionaire is fueling his run for the presidency with the anger of blue collar Americans. I also find it telling that only 14% of Hillary’s supporters strongly believe that “The old ways of doing things no longer works and we need radical change”, while 55% of Trump’s supporters and 41% of Sander’s supporters do. Folks, we are living in the “ownership society” GWB envisioned as the next leap forward for U.S. prosperity. Look around, those that own things like stocks and politicians are doing quite well. Those who actually do stuff, or make stuff, not so much. It seems to me that the situation in Paris in 1789 was similar. Lambert, this was a very telling poll. Thanks for posting.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On Quinnipiac: I’m surprised there wasn’t more commentary on that poll. I mean, it shows that the only class of voters content with the status quo are Clinton supporters (!!).

      1. Eric321

        its probably the safest position to hold when HRC supporters are told to lower expectations for things like single payer or election reforms.

  20. Gareth

    If one goes to youtube and does a search under “Hillary Clinton Panama free trade” there is a nice video of Hillary promoting the Panama free trade agreement in 2011, complete with various made up stats pulled from her butt. It makes a compelling contrast with the video of Sanders on the same subject. I tried posting the link earlier but it gotten eaten by moderation.

  21. EGrise

    That tweet from Practical Developer is brilliant, and absolutely true. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen good candidates run through a wringer just so the interviewer can prove what a great coder he (always a he) is. I’ve gotten to the point that if my portfolio isn’t good enough for you and you still want observed code exercises/whiteboards/weekend projects/etc., I just get up and leave.

    While this is apropos to my current life.

  22. ewmayer

    Re. “level of venomous excess found in nature” — two possible causes spring to mind, not mutually exclusive:

    1. Co-evolution: One’s favored prey species will naturally evolve resistance to one’s venom;

    2. Defense: One needs enough venom to deter a larger predator from attempting to eat one.

    Also, not automatically buying the “high cost of venom” argument – the exquisite chemistry venomous critters have evolved is exquisite precisely because it is able to biosynthesize stunningly potent toxins … potent implies “low dose”, which further implies “low feedstock/energy requirements for synthesis.” And clearly from an evolutionary-tradeoff perspective, the cost is not too high, otherwise such biomechanisms would never have come about.

  23. allan

    Silicon Valley startups come down from the clouds

    Last month Optimizely, which helps companies test and improve their websites and mobile platforms, announced it was laying off 40 people, or 10 percent of its team. Despite raising more than $146 million in funding from some of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms, the company was struggling to break even. …

    Insurance software startup Zenefits announced it cut 250 jobs in February, after revelations that some of the company’s employees were selling insurance without a license. The company, which sells health insurance and provides companies with software to manage employee benefits, once had been revered as the software industry’s fastest-growing startup. In two years the company ballooned from 15 employees to 520, and CB Insights reports it’s now valued at $4.5 billion.

    Selling insurance without a license? Sounds positively disruptive.
    Why let the dead hand of government regulation strangle a unicorn in its cradle?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      Oh, and any company name of the form ____ly (e.g., “Optimizely”) should be considered overvalued by definition. The era of cute names is over, guys.

      1. clinical wasteman

        Ugh! The linguistic equivalent of a slasher film where body parts are crudely sewn together. A proper (so to speak) noun from the lab of a pervert who grafts adverbial endings onto infinitive verbs that already smelled bad.
        “Overvalued” is by far the nicest thing you could say.

  24. B1whois

    Perhaps someone can explain to me why everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that Wyoming caucuses this Saturday on April 9th? The mainstream media and everywhere I look it’s talking New York New York New York, what about Wyoming? And that’s a caucus, Bernie strongest format

    1. craazyboy

      Bernie is there right now. He’ll be making his WI victory speech from there – so the media can ignore both things and continue to babble about Cruz and Trump.

  25. Barutanseijin

    Rather poor show from HRC who is only up by 3% in Milwaukee County. So much for her great appeal to minorities. Her real strength is people who’ve already voted.

      1. Cry Shop

        That just means the hourly wage poor, who don’t get a holiday on national holidays, will be the only ones who can’t vote, or still have to pay for the privilege of voting.

        Further, much public transport dries up on public holidays, making their lives even more bitter.

        1. crittermom

          While I agree that early voting is not working since people vote before even knowing much–if anything–about any “new” candidates (like Bernie) & a new system is needed, you bring up an extremely valid point & I think you’re dead-on with it.
          I see a national holiday for voting as only making things worse, unfortunately, with the exception being for those closer to the ‘top’ (40 hr week with benefits).

          Yet there still HAS to be a better way than the current one. (Readers?)

          Many, many of those I know (me being among ’em before retirement), cannot find full-time employment, instead being forced to find 2 or even 3 part-time jobs they can coincide with each other, in an effort to make ends meet & keep a roof over their heads.

          Even six years ago the best job I could find would not allow you to work a 40 hr week. No more than 36 was allowed, & it took me 6 mths to even acquire that, up from the 24 I was originally hired to do.
          My son was in the same position around that time, as well as his wife having gone through that for several years until finally finding full-time employment just 6 mths ago (after being a “probationary” for the 6 mths prior to that, with no benefits).

          Very few jobs are full-time today, with employers preferring to have numerous part-time employees, instead. I believe some of it has to do with having to provide benefits (like paid holidays) for full-timers.

          Hence, many now have 2 or 3 jobs/bosses, rather than just one. None pays any benefits, such as paid holidays. (Another saving for the employer?)
          The worker is stressed out going from one job to the next, making lower wages than they would at one full-time job.

          With the disgraceful way things have gone so far regarding the voting including “computer” glitches,
          lines over 5 hrs long, no standard time for polls to be open or closed (Hawaii being a prime example, with some closing after just a few hours, or very early in the day), few of those working more than one part-time job can afford to take off what could amount to a “full” shift at 2 jobs. Not only regarding the lack of income but for fear of losing one of all of their jobs. (part-timers are much more easily replaceable).

          Yes, it’s the law you can take off work to vote, but when you’re a bottom-level part-time employee that may still be frowned upon by a boss. You’re very much at their mercy. (ie: easily replaced with no requirement to justify it. Employment is greatly “at will” these days)

          While a national holiday makes many think of a day off, who do ya think is working at the gas stations, trucking companies (they NEVER close. 24/7, 365. I worked for ’em for several years), & many, many other service industries that ARE open on national holidays?

          It would prevent those who have the least income (yet whose voices need to be heard the most, perhaps?) from being able to exercise their right to vote.

          This is not an either/or predicament. There HAS to be a better way.
          (Yet over a couple centuries, we have yet to find it?)

          I believe the “people” possess more common sense than most of those in government, so how ’bout some more suggestions?

          I would welcome your feedback, Lambert.

          1. TomD

            Here’s a simple idea. Make voting a national holiday, give everyone who votes a $100 bill. That will easily cover any lost wages (hell a full day at 7.25/hr is $58 minus taxes), and any travel expenses.

            Also make sure there are polling places within walking distance to anyone not in remote rural housing.

            1. Cry Shop

              Bless you for at least attempting an answer, but you missed several of her points.

              While a national holiday makes many think of a day off, who do ya think is working at the gas stations, trucking companies (they NEVER close. 24/7, 365. I worked for ’em for several years), & many, many other service industries that ARE open on national holidays?


              Yes, it’s the law you can take off work to vote, but when you’re a bottom-level part-time employee that may still be frowned upon by a boss. You’re very much at their mercy. (ie: easily replaced with no requirement to justify it. Employment is greatly “at will” these days)

              I’d add that issue of exhaustion isn’t the best condition to be standing in a line for 5 hours, plus the struggle to get to and from the voting place, and then if your skin is dark, the extreme personal risks of going anywhere non-routine, where you don’t know how to avoid being beaten, shot, and then fined by the cops if you live (or your family stuck with the EMS bill if you die)

              My father put the fire into me to finish school by doing what would now be illegal, getting me a summer job at 12 years old picking beans in the fields together will illegals and rural poor blacks. At the end of every day I was a wreck, my hands and eyes burning from the pesticides. Give me 10 minutes of peace and I’d be sleeping between the damp often urine soaked rows. What really upset me was watching the local elected sheriff shake down some of the workers right after every payday by handing out ridiculous fines. The idea that that sheriff is going to simply let those workers get into a polling booth is mad. As I said, it’s never simple.

          2. Cry Shop

            Amen, crittermom. Your voice was heard at least by me.

            I expect your post was missed by Lambert, as our comments got posted late, so don’t give up. You might want to save it, polish it and re-post it again when the topic is right.

  26. tony

    Re: Poisons

    “Primates just don’t seem to be prone to developing venom resistance,” explains Wuster. So chances are something that has evolved potent venom to take down highly resistant targets will possess more than enough firepower to kill a human.

    There is a very strong correlation between primate eyesight and the amount of poisonous snaked that hunt said primates. So the new theory is that primates evolved their eyes and brains to avoid getting bit in the first place.


  27. Praedor

    As for Google bricking your Nest device…I think you could setup a linux box gateway, run Snort on it and block any google traffic, short-circuiting their attempts to shut down YOUR hardware.

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