Links 4/12/16

Just Like Human Skin, This Plastic Sheet Can Sense And Heal NPR (David L). Terminators are coming!

In Iowa corn fields, Chinese national’s seed theft exposes vulnerability Reuters. EM: “Any threats to Monsanto profits clearly deserve to be covered in such ‘national security threat’ terms.”

Zika virus ‘scarier than thought’ says US BBC. I don’t like the use imprecise and emotional language to discuss public health risks. This comes off like scaremongering, not an assessment.

Doctors Hear Patients’ Calls for New Approaches to Hypothyroidism Wall Street Journal

Turning up to work sick could be costing the economy billions Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

World Wobbles

World economic recovery: Fragile and fleeting? Financial Times

Demand for World Bank loans nears crisis levels Guardian

The world’s largest investor says negative rates are breeding a disaster for the economy Business Insider

IMF commends negative rates despite the risks Agence France Presse. Since the IMF has wrecked emerging economies, why should they stop there?

US calls for more aggressive IMF policing Financial Times. Treasury begs to differ with the IMF on negative rates, since the only way it has a positive impact on growth is through currency depreciation, although it hasn’t worked that way in practice for Japan lately or Switzerland.

Mossack Fonseca

A guide to the 5 biggest revelations from the Panama Papers (so far) Vox. Notice it includes Putin but not Ukraine’s Porshenko.

White Collar Watch: Panama Papers Show How Lawyers Can Turn a Blind Eye New York Times. “Can turn a blind eye”? That’s what they were paid to to.

Cameron vows to stop tax cheats Austrailian. Note that this is part of the Brexit story, since the pro-Brexit Tories are attacking Cameron over his the Panama Papers revelations and his record of being soft on reining in tax haven abuses.


Top Washington Lawyer Cleared Unaoil In Anti-Corruption Report Huffington Post


China voices anger at G7 comments on disputed islands BBC

The Rise of Shadow Banking in China Federal Reserve of Atlanta blog


Brazil impeachment: Vote deals new blow to Rousseff BBC. British understatement.

Impeaching a Brazilian President Is Complicated: a Quick Guide Bloomberg

The EU’s “suicide by reality denial” Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)

Why Germany’s Griping on ECB Policy Misses the Mark Wall Street Journal

Italy bank rescue plan watched closely by EU Financial Times

Greece, Portugal make common cause against austerity, refugee crisis France24

Spanish government discretionary fiscal deficit rises and real GDP growth returns Bill Mitchell


Boris Johnson, David Cameron and the day after Brexit Financial Times

Who Loses the Most From ‘Brexit’? Try Goldman Sachs Wall Street Journal


Kiev Junta is Preparing to Shoot Down Planes Over Crimea Fort Russ (Wat)


Russia and U.S. Near De Facto Alliance in Syria Bloomberg

Kerry’s “Please Make Assad Go” Begging Rounds Look Utterly Silly Moon of Alabama (Wat)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Russia and China Increase Defense Spending While US Continues Cutting Daily Signal. As if that were a bad thing…

2016. A weird lull in election stories today.

How Many States Does Hillary Have to Lose Before the Mainstream Media Calls It a Losing Streak? Alternet. Includes an SNL clip.

Hillary’s Palestine Problem: Could Her Israel-Right-Or-Wrong Approach Hurt Her At The Polls? | Alternet (Chuck L)

From Deontos, an interesting appeal for crowdfunding, via Faceborg: The ‪#‎BattleofNewYork‬ will be distributed this week, before the New York primary. We expect it to have a catalytic effect, amplifying and projecting a movement in motion. We will build on that by making the release of the special issue a news story in itself. It will give tangible (attractive) form to the popular surge needed to push Sanders over the top in New York. ‪#‎GiveBack‬ ‪#‎FeelTheBern‬ ‪#‎NYPrimary‬

Hillary Clinton Received a Massive Donation From Walmart Heiress Alternet

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Hold Strong Leads in New York Ahead of Primary, Poll Finds Wall Street Journal. This poll finds a wider lead for Clinton than some earlier ones.

Record Barrage of Attack Ads, and More Than Half Hit Trump New York Times

Mass arrests in Capitol demonstration against “big money” in politics Washington Post

Introducing IOGCC: The Most Powerful Oil and Gas Lobby You’ve Never Heard Of DeSmogBlog

Aetna Hires Tom Daschle, Other Former Government Officials, As Feds Consider Its Merger With Humana International Business Times. 15 former officials, to be exact.

Amid clinic closures, young doctors seek abortion training Reuters (EM)

Sierra’s Snow Won’t Quench West’s Thirst New York Times

Human error caused train derailment, BNSF says: LaCrosse Tribune Reuters. EN: “It would seem that antilock braking technology has not yet come to the world of rail, but proposals for such modest tech-interventions will be drowned out by the ‘we need robots to replace humans!’ pushers.”

The Land of the Rising Yen

The yen may be sending investors a dire warning CNBC

>Mr. Yen has a new prediction for Japan’s currency


A former advisor to Janet Yellen has proposed 4 radical changes to the Fed Business Insider. Potentially a big deal.

Does the Fed chair have too much power? CNN

Oil bust leaves energy industry, real-estate sector locked in battle over empty oilfield worker camps Financial Post

The case for more capital FT Alphaville. The study sounded promising enough that I wanted to write it up too but then I saw this comment:

Also “Gambacorta and Shin found higher ratios of equity to assets are associated with lower borrowing costs and faster loan growth.”

I’d argue that the R-squareds the authors reported (0.16 for funding cost scatter, 0.14 for lending growth scatter) suggest they found nothing of the sort, but figured they’d just regurgitate the popular narrative and assume no one really cares about the data.

Goldman Mortgage Settlement Is Much Less Than Meets the Eye New York Times. OMG, the New York Times finally puts a headline on one of these mortgage settlements that should have been applied to all.

For a Generalist, ‘Too Big to Fail’ May Be Too Tricky to Judge New York Times. Andrew Ross Sorkin departs from his usual big finance fanboy-dom. But insurers are not important sources for him, and his TBTF friends are probably annoyed that Met Life got off easy.

US Commercial Bankruptcies Suddenly Soar Wolf Richter

The Mohamed A. El-Erian interview: How bad a slowdown do you need as a wake-up call? Business Insider

Class Warfare

The Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction Medium (John L)

Uber Is a Nightmare: They’re Selling a Big Lie and the New York Times Keeps Buying It Salon

Antidote du jour (martha r):

hugging polar bears links

And a bonus video (John M):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Llewelyn Moss

    New York is likely dropping its “Tampon Tax”. Oh very cool. Wait What?

    In NY, feminine hygiene products are currently taxed as “luxury items” !? You gotta be shi++in me. Is that because being born a woman is a life style choice? What Sociopaths created this tax?

    1. Boldizar

      I was reading about these awhile ago. Absolutely ridiculous. This is something that should be brought up by presidential candidates, though I only imagine one would actually care.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Yup. You gotta wonder if the timing is related to the election rather than the politicians finally deciding the tax is Sociopathic.

        BTW, link is broken in my first comment. This one should work.

        1. inhibi

          I always thought that having old white men ruling on feminine issues was perhaps some of the most backwards logic encountered in politics. What happened to the age old women’s council?

          The native Americans had a better political structure than we do today.

          1. john

            and a much more advanced economic structure than is genreally recognized. A quick note on the californian native culture.

            Sacrifice of totems settled the highest level issues. Lesser region conflicts solved by burning palm oil on a fire with both chiefs mock-cordially pouring more on until one chief went broke by running out of oil… or the heat made a chief relent.

            Don’t even get me started on the priest-caste that made wampum.

    2. abynormal

      “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” John Marshall

      “Women Are 2nd Class Citizens” Joan Jett

    3. Teddy

      Typical excise tax, even if it isn’t called so. What are women going to do – stop being women? Thus easy way to extract additional revenue.

    4. Jim Haygood

      All well and good.

      But we’ll still be paying the douchebag tax for a long time to come.

      1. ewmayer

        Well, for pads over the eyes, sure. Tampons OTOH will make you temporarily deaf, if you stick ’em in your ears, as intended. Great for nosebleeds, too!

        Seriously, I was gonna make a similar point about it being a sin tax, if one considers things from the point of view that the role of women of childbearing age is to be more or less continuously pregnant. Clearly, if you are a premenopausal gal and not knocked up, you are refusing to fulfil God’s (or evolution’s – take your pick) purpose for you on this earth. That’s gonna cost you, missy!

    5. cyclist

      When I was in college back in the ’70s I recall the campus Women’s Center advocating the use of reusable natural sponges in place of tampons. Less fear of toxic shock (or so they claimed), and you were sticking it to big business and creating less waste. More conventional types were grossed out.

  2. allan

    SEC charges Texas attorney general with fraud in alleged stock scam

    Federal securities regulators have filed civil fraud charges against Texas attorney general Ken Paxton – whom Ted Cruz once called a “tireless conservative warrior” – over his recruitment of investors to a hi-tech startup before becoming the state’s top prosecutor. The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed the lawsuit against Paxton and former executives of Severgy. Paxton is already under felony criminal indictment in Texas over allegations that he defrauded wealthy investors in the company in 2011.

    Paxton is also tirelessly defending Texas’ voter suppression law in Federal court.

    1. abynormal

      “hi-tech startup”…could Robot start-ups remove the investor?
      The Robot Signed Off…

  3. EndOfTheWorld

    “Goldman Mortgage Settlement Is Much Less Than Meets The Eye”—“They appear to have grossly inflated the settlement for P.R. purposes to mislead the public…” This is the reason I support Bernie…He can’t really just snap his fingers and get free college and universal health care. There’s a limit to what he can do to change the perpetual war policy, since the Pentagon basically runs itself. But he CAN and WILL tell the Attorney General to throw the Wall Street crooks in jail. HRC CAN’T and WON’T.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      So GS will pay $4-5B penalty. How much did GS make off the taxpayers in bailout money? And where did all those trillions in toxic mortgage backed securities disappear to (down the taxpayers throats I assume)? I’ll wait til Taibbi tells us what really happened.

      1. craazyboy

        Most went into bond funds for the little people. I heard of one friend of a friend whom was surprised that his bond fund lost about 40% of his principal over the last 6 or 7 years. He said the interest nearly made up for it, so IMO he got stealth NIRP policy. But the interest is taxable at full income rates every year, making it a pretty stiff NIRP. Then when you sell you can take your capital loss as a write off against future income….if you have future income. This is called “making your money work for you.” Tough for the little people to get ahead.

      2. tegnost

        I know, right? If I go into any starbanks or other coffee emporium and tip my over indebted barista a dollar can I get a three dollar credit off of my student loan? I think this would spur groaf, jus sayin’, on the bright side, though, brexit could cost GS, but if hill wins she’ll probably shell out triple damages in taxpayer dough to GS to cover their losses…need to keep wall st “competitive” and all that

      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Of course no perp walks, I guess the Goldman headquarters building committed the crimes.
        I think I’ll go rob a 7-11, when the cops come for me I’ll just tell them my house did it.

    2. FriarTuck

      It appears to me that the headline has been stealth edited. The headline I see is, “In Settlement’s Fine Print, Goldman May Save $1 Billion”

      Much less judgemental, don’t you think?

    3. Procopius

      If Alan Grayson doesn’t win the primary to run for Senator from Florida, maybe Bernie could tap him for Attorney General. I’d love to see that. Grayson is another guy who doesn’t have any f%cks to give.

  4. abynormal

    [BP] “We consider the pay of the CEO to be simply too high, and particularly so in a year when the company suffered a record loss of $6.4 billion in 2015. Even so his pay went up by 20 percent,” wrote shareholder advisory group ShareSoc, pressings its members to vote against the company’s proposed salaries. WolfSt.

    “The sea is endless when you are in a rowboat.”

    1. diptherio

      Meanwhile, the CEO of the UK’s Co-operative Group just gave himself a 60% pay-cut, in the name of fighting inequality. And this in a year where the Group has done well financially. Not all CEOs are created equal.

  5. abynormal

    ICIJ reporter Jake Bernstein has details on some of the more high-profile art-world scandals where Mossack Fonseca has been involved, although multi-million-dollar paintings turn up in other stories, too. Russian oligarch Dmitri Rybolovlev, for instance, incorporated a company called Xitrans Finance Ltd in the British Virgin Islands, to own paintings by Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Rothko. When he split from his wife Elena, he used Xitrans to move the art out of Switzerland – and, not coincidentally, out of the jurisdiction of the Swiss divorce courts.

    Consider the man who sold Rybolovlev most of those paintings. Yves Bouvier is connected to five different Mossack Fonseca companies (Rybolovlev is comparatively modest, with a mere two), and would mark up the paintings he was selling by astonishing amounts. As Sam Knight has reported for The New Yorker, Bouvier started off by buying a Gauguin for $9.5 million and then selling it for $11.3 million, but soon got more ambitious. He bought a Picasso for $4.8 million and then flipped it to Rybolovlev for $34.4 million. He sold the oligarch a Klimt masterpiece for $183 million, including a $60 million profit for himself. There was also a Rothko that he bought for $80 million and sold for $189 million.
    What kind of person invests in an asset that sits expensively in a warehouse, is never exhibited, and never generates any cash, but can be liquidated for a huge amount of money in case of emergency? To ask the question is to answer it. The secrecy of the art world, enabled by agents such as Mossack Fonseca, is a cancer that withholds masterpieces from public view and that turns the art market into a billion-dollar game of ultra-high-stakes hide-and-seek. Yes, the amount of money in the art world has never been greater. But the Panama Papers are a welcome reminder of the real-world cost of all that money.

    1. Alex morfesis

      Art work is the cleanest bribery in the world…all the “important” people have some and throwing away money on art instead of building a medical clinic…well there is all the noise around the top end of the arts…hard to prosecute if the parties are all in….

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not every billionaire is ‘artistic.’

        If you are not sure, buy from established art manufacturers, or masterpiece factories.

  6. vlade

    trains do have anti-lock braking, it’s called wheel slide protection (WSP). not sure how relevant to the article though..

  7. abynormal

    A former Glock executive was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison yesterday after an FBI investigation uncovered a scheme that found he was selling guns meant for law enforcement officials to the general public.

    According to a federal indictment, Welcome D. “Bo” Wood, a former sales manager for the gun manufacturer’s Eastern Region, was taking bribes from an independent firearms distributor in Kansas. In return, Wood would supply the distributor with a tier of weapons marked for sale to law enforcement—which go for a lower price, since agencies usually buy guns in bulk and are usually subjected to a bidding process.

    “So the unwanting soul
    sees what’s hidden,
    and the ever-wanting soul
    sees only what it wants.”
    Lao Tzu

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      12,000 here, 5,000 there and 8,000 over there.

      In the rare instance that the number of attendees at a clinton event is quoted, the number is usually in the “hundreds,” and usually for bill.

      And yet clinton is, completely uncritically, reported to be ahead in the “polls” by “double digits.”

      This. Makes. No. Sense.

      1. petal

        Agreed. No one really brings up the Clinton numbers.
        I am streaming the speech now. They fit in 4500 on a Tuesday morning and had to shut it down to newcomers because it was interfering with students arriving for classes. Very raucous crowd. He missed an opportunity to tailor it to Rochester and bring up Valeant buying B&L, or about Xerox and Kodak, though. It is the usual boilerplate he has been giving.

        1. petal

          And Heluva Good Cheese out in Sodus. They lost 50+ good paying jobs in a rural area. Big missed opportunity there.

      2. Michael

        It does make sense, unfortunately. Old people are voting for Clinton and they can’t be bothered to make it out to rallies. They’re sitting around watching TV enjoying their accumulated privilege that they are oh-so-terrified that Sanders and those silly, idealistic young’ins who “don’t do their own research” are going to take away.

        Hillary trashes the young for a good reason. She is winning on the backs of old people who actually don’t do any research at all but just rely on the telly.

        The polls are probably accurate. I’m still phone banking for Bernie four hours a day until the primary. Whispers of a dream and all.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      I stopped reading the Guardian. They have hired too many Clinton zombies as “writers”. Too bad, it was once one of the good news sources.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “To me, a campaign about more than the electing a president meant pushing Clinton left, even as Sanders maintained a completely respectful tone and did everything in his power to protect her from the coming attacks in the general election. But now, as the primary stretches into mid-spring, his message is increasingly about beating Clinton – both how he can do it in the primary and how he is better positioned than she is to win in November.”

      The horror of Sanders not being “completely respectful” or not doing “everything in his power to protect her from the coming attacks in the general election” is surpassed only by the horror at the “quality” of proofreading at the guardian.

      And, just so we’re clear, attacking clinton for having “cankles” is a “personal” attack. Attacking her for her positions or voting record is required when running for office, and millions of voters are depending on Sanders to do exactly that.

      1. sid_finster

        For someone whose entire schtick is based on what a hardass she claims to be, even the mildest criticism sends HRC and her surrogates to the fainting couch.

        1. nippersmom

          Yet another example of her overweening hypocrisy. She accuses everyone else of sexism, but she is the one who expects to be treated with kid gloves and not held to the same accountability as other (male) candidates.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think she’s still fuming over people making fun of her dress choice in one (or maybe more that one) of the debates.

            “No man has to suffer that indignity!”

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          As far as I’m concerned, that is the primary reason hillary should NOT be the first woman president.

          Her knee-jerk default to “sexism” or “misogyny” in deflecting legitimate criticism demeans all competent women everywhere. My gawd, Bernie should be “protecting” her!!!!

          It would appear her “strategy” is to take us back to the days when women were grudgingly accepted as “tokens,” and tolerated because it was “time.” Decades of hard-fought progress wiped out in one fell self-aggrandizing swoop.

          Thanks for nuthin’, hillary.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Her path to power is through her marriage.

            That’s the original suffering. It’s not a scalable model, nor long term desirable from the gender equality perspective.

            That she has had to endure Bill – no everyone has that towering strength. Hopefully women in the future will not have to go through that, again, in order to serve the country.

          2. Massinissa

            You know, although she is universally reviled, and for good reason, Magaret Thatcher never played the female victim card the way Hillary does. In fact, I don’t think other female world leaders do that either. Pretty sure Angela Merkel and Dilma Roussef don’t play that card, if only because it wouldn’t work.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Hillary is still the first presidential candidate who might have won. The English had Queen Mary.

      2. TK421

        It was the same in 2008: Obama was supposed to protect Hillary from right-wing attacks. I guess she was too busy taking calls a three in the morning.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Recall that the child shown in the 3 a.m. phone call video had grown into a teenaged Obama supporter. Because the poor, impoverished Clinton 2008 campaign couldn’t afford to use anything but years-old stock video footage.


      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Respectful is good, on both sides.

        We don’t need a replay of the hit Republican show on this side.

    3. jhallc

      Re: Guardian article – I almost lost tossed my lunch.
      I lost my repsect for Hillary when……” ________ ” It’s a multiple choice answer.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Haiti Development Fund, LLC.

      One is the Acceso Fund, LLC, which was registered by the Corporation Trust Company at 1209 North Orange Street in 2009. The Clinton Foundation has used the company to channel money to its Colombia-based private equity fund, Fondo Acceso.

      Haiti. Colombia. Honduras. Libya. Syria. Ukraine. The depravity is spectacular.

    2. Waldenpond

      Don’t worry, the media and Clinton’s real opponent will be all over this in the general.

    1. abynormal

      you do know a Russian Oligarchy presented an albino alligator to his 7yro daughter for her birthday…“The weak thrive on indulgence.”~Groat, A Punctual Paymaster

    1. NeqNeq

      The converse headline:

      Company uses extortion to force Government to buy expensive and/or shoddy products

      Abstract from the ‘trade deal’ (and your feelings about it), and all that is left is another example of corporate power in politics.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That is really more disconcerting.

        Not one tempted human being, but the persistent dominance of money and wealth.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Woodstock in Recoleta as Evita Cristina returns:

    Militants of La Cámpora [the de facto Kirchner Youth Corps] and other political groups affiliated with kirchnerism awaited — with songs, drums and flags — former President Cristina Kirchner in front of her apartment in Recoleta, at the corner of Juncal and Uruguay streets.

    Cristina had to return to Buenos Aires to testify tomorrow before Judge Claudio Bonadio in a case involving the alleged below-market sale of US dollar futures.

    Consulted on why they waited for the former president, a chorus of those present recalled that she “is the representative of the people” and the fact of her being charged in several cases is a “maneuver of the partial judiciary and the hegemonic media.”

    Standing atop a news kiosk, some young people were scrambling to hang Argentine flags and banners with the insignia of La Cámpora. La Nación wanted to talk to several of those present, but most simply replied: “We don’t talk to the press.”

    A young man who declined to give his name said they expected about two thousand people and there would be militants dispatched from all of the sectors where Cristina, his political reference, circulates.

    As night fell, youths and adults in the familar azure shirts emblazoned with the La Cámpora logo brandished their flags. As the hours passed, more demonstrators arrived. Meanwhile, some neighbors watched and expressed contempt and anger.

    “It seems incredible that people don’t mind being robbed. They want us to leave the neighborhood. We can’t live like this, with the streets blocked every time they show up,” a woman exclaimed while entering her apartment.

    The objections of some didn’t seem to bother the militants, who besides dedicating songs of adoration to Cristina, concluded with cries of “Macri’s a wimp” and “There’s a gorilla loose in the Casa Rosada.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Some context from the IMF:

        Argentina’s economy will recover in 2017 and grow by 2.8%, according to the latest forecast of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also foresees a slowdown in inflation.

        The Fund maintained its forecast for this year’s GDP, in which the agency expects a fall of 1%.

        Oya Celasun, head of the Division of Economic Studies of the agency, said that the improvement in the growth outlook of Argentina is due to the reforms implemented by the government of Mauricio Macri.

        The IMF estimated that unemployment will rise this year to 7.8%, only to fall next year to 7.4 percent, and that inflation for 2017 will be 19.9 percent, below the government’s expectation for this year.

        Inflation of 19.9% is still a bloody horror. Going cold turkey usually works better than trying to taper off from the poison.

        1. Alejandro

          IMF is known for after-the-fact accuracy, but their crystal ball has proven less than reliable. Neoliberalism does have a track record, and I would concede that it hasn’t been bad for everyone and really does depend on your POV…

          From the link above-“ The First 100 Days–Wall Street In Charge (Again)
          Macri took office on December 10, 2015 and very quickly went to work on his version of “change.” He took a number of bold steps during his first 100 days in power, steps that in clearly differentiate his administration from those of the last 12 years. Macri’s economics team is made up of ultra-neoliberal economists, former international bank execs, and former transnational corporation CEOs. Such is the corporate bias in Macri’s economics cabinet, that some in the press have dubbed his government a CEOcracy, the government of the CEOs. went even further—a March 8, 2016 article proclaimed: “Wall Street is in charge in Argentina (again)”. The policies so far implemented tend to confirm this”…

          For a different Argentine POV:

      2. frosty zoom

        al querido fmi:

        Si supieras que aún dentro de mi alma
        Conservo aquel cariño que tuve para ti
        Quien sabe si supieras
        Que nunca te he olvidado
        Volviendo a tu pasado
        Te acordarás de mí.

        siempre tuya,

        la argentina

  9. vidimi

    Russia and China Increase Defense Spending While US Continues Cutting Daily Signal. As if that were a bad thing…

    well, half of that is a bad thing

  10. ScottW

    Interesting polling on the Dem primary from WSJ/NBC/Marist:

    1. Hillary is up 14 points on Bernie (note Hillary beat Obama by 17 points in ’08)

    But in Hillary v. Repub. and Bernie v. Repub. in NY, Bernie beats Trump, Cruz and Kasich by more points than Hillary:
    Trump: +4, Cruz: +7 and Kasich +7 Of course, either Hillary or Bernie will take NY in the Pres. race.

    Since the latter poll captures all voters, not just Dems (NY is a closed primary), it seems to indicate a Bernie v. Hillary NY primary that allows all voters would be much closer than 14 points. That goes along with Bernie’s huge support over Hillary with Independents.

    After Bernie’s strong performance in caucus states and open primaries, I imagine party loyalists will do away with all but Dem only primaries in future Pres. elections. I changed from Independent to Dem in Mass. so I could vote. Had Mass. been an open primary, Bernie would have easily carried Mass. The pre-election prediction by 538 was Hillary winning by 7% when in fact she only won by 1.4%.

    1. nippersmom

      With the rate at which the Democratic Party is alienating its membership, it’s becoming increasingly possible they will be a non-factor in future presidential elections.

    2. RabidGandhi

      The DNC’s 2 step plan:

      1. Get rid of independent voters.
      2. Get rid of Dem voters.

      O, that the Everlasting had not fix’d his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter.

    3. TomD

      Luckily parties are quite federal, state parties (and laws) decide who participates in primaries and caucuses. A lot of state parties have self serving interests in attracting independents, and a lot of state voters and legislatures decided on open primaries.

    4. Llewelyn Moss

      This is why Bernie’s Revolution could be a formidable force even if Bernie loses the primary. It comprises about 50% of registered Dems, larger percent of Independents, and probably some percent of pissed off Repubs who find Trump to be just too Cra-Cra. If all these voters walked away to third party land, the two established Neo-liberal parties will be left sitting on their thumbs.

    5. craazyboy

      Lately I’ve been forced to wrangle with this brain teaser – who wins the General, Hillary or Ryan, when you factor in 37% voter turnout?????

      I think I need help from the experienced political wonks for that answer.

      1. TomD

        Well the Republicans do much better in mid-terms when turnout is low. On the other hand the electoral college is gerrymandered more in favor of the Democrats than the congressional districts are.

        Tricky call.

      2. optimader

        Warm up with ….You have a Fox (Trump–I), a Duck (Ryan –R) and Cabbage (HRC–D) that you want to get across the River Rubicon in boat…

  11. RabidGandhi

    On Brazil: good interview of Lula by Glenn Greenwald. It included this whopper:

    GREENWALD: Is it possible to justify the austerity programs put forward by the government? Do you think it would be worse under another political party?

    DA SILVA: Let me tell you something, there is no austerity.

    GREENWALD: No such thing in Brazil?

    DA SILVA: What we have here is a lack of tax revenue and without any revenue, you can’t spend — same thing goes for my house and yours and for the government and for a company. In other words, the government lowered its tax collecting believing that the world economy would recover quickly, but it did not, neither did Brazil.

    So what needs to be done now? The government cannot go on another year talking about cuts, what we need to discuss is growth. Let’s talk about investment.

    Lula channeling Thatcher is pretty conclusive evidence of just how far to the right the LatAm “socialist” movements actually are (Comrade Haygood take note).

    1. Jim Haygood

      Lula does seem to be blind to an option that immediately presents itself to rich country minds: borrow!

      Why does Lula think this way? One reason is that every rich country can float 10-year govies at rates between less than zero and 2 percent — effectively, it’s free money.

      By contrast, Brazil’s 10-year bonds yield a punishing 13.7%. Even after adjusting for 9.4% inflation, that’s still an equally harsh 4.3% real yield.

      Brazil’s extraordinarily high nominal and real rates have carried on for decades. No one is quite sure why. Until a couple of years ago, carry traders were borrowing in USD and collecting those fat yields in Brazil. Then the real took a tumble and they got their fingers burnt off.

      1. craazyboy

        But, but, if they would just print USD to pay the interest???? Don’t they understand MMT?

        1. Jim Haygood

          Strangely, MMT gets no traction in economies that suffer from chronic inflation.

          It only appeals to ZIRPlanders and NIRPlanders.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In this 11 dimensional chess game, the inflation queen is more powerful than a monetary sovereign king.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In this lowly 4 dimensional chess game, an inflation queen is always more powerful than a monetary sovereign king.

              Inflation Queen to King: “I dare you to print more, sovereign or no sovereign.”

              (Sorry, got distracted by visitors here)

              1. TomD

                I suppose I phrased that poorly. Obviously more money can be printed, but eventually you cause high inflation which may be bad for your subjects.

          1. RabidGandhi

            I’m pretty sure we’ve been over this a gazillion times on this blog, but it bears repeating: in economics text books inflation is a solely monetary phenomenon, but in the real world there are far more complicated factors that gum up that simplistic fantasy.

            For example, Brazil’s recent spikes in inflation are clearly related to a devalued Real causing price increases throughout the supply chain. Brazil– unlike say the US– has fairly strong unions that demand COA increases, leading to a classic inflationary spiral: regardless of whether the BCB expands M1.

            And last I checked (rumblings within the Sanders camp notwithstanding) MMT has yet to gain traction in any Ministry of the Exchequer, and it is unlikely to as long as those who benefit from it not gaining traction are kept in power.

              1. Massinissa

                Devaluing currency and practicing MMT are not the same thing, even if it is something proscribed by MMT, so I hear.

      2. craazyboy

        “Until a couple of years ago, carry traders were borrowing in USD and collecting those fat yields in Brazil”

        The commodity boom helped the trade balance – the currency was lifted in forex, but Brazil’s long term history of running it’s currency down to zero was still priced into bond yields. It was a wonderful time for foreign bond investors. Same went for Mexico (oil). PIMCO was salivating over Brazil and Mexico bonds. No more.

    2. James Levy

      I think he’s wrong but you have to remember that what works in the USA with dollars might not work in Brazil with their currency. America seems capable of spending onto oblivion (or creating “liquidity” unto oblivion, which is essentially the same thing) without generating the massive, runaway inflation you see in 3rd World countries on a pretty regular basis. And the Panama Papers show us that the threat of a capital strike (or whatever you want to call the bug-out of capital from China) is very real and not, as one of my grad profs at the New School proclaimed, a fairy tale told by Leftists who didn’t know how to manage their economies.

      1. RabidGandhi

        I’m curious what you would think the difference might be (besides US exceptionalism). I would even use a better example, though, in order to take the whole reserve currency issue out of the equation: why is it the EU or Japan can run QE and NIRP and the result is still deflation, but when South American countries run the printing presses the result is somehow inflation? Something doesn’t add up.

        1. craazyboy

          Trade balance. It’s difficult to export enough iron ore to be able to import enough ‘fridges and cars for everybody. Japan almost always has a trade surplus.

          Now Brazil is in better shape in this regard than most 1.5 world countries because they are fairly industrialized and don’t need to import everything..

          That’s not the only factor. Financial flows are a big factor too. In countries that have high domestic inflation/devaluing currencies, the only way to save any money is to convert it to more stable reserve currencies or invest in stock/bonds in reserve currency countries.

          The US is the bank of the world /seller of Treasuries because everyone likes the US Taxpayer so much.

          The EU has the Euro! Euros are cool. Sometime inertia and tradition are the only explanation.

        2. James Levy

          The US isn’t better, but being enormously rich and powerful and not having to worry too much about capital flight really helps. the fact that the petro states take dollars and that the US is food independent also helps. And we can syphon off demand via trade deficits, which Brazil couldn’t do because it needs dollars to purchase many goods from overseas. These factors seem to make the United States a different case than most. As for Japan, I honestly don’t have a clue why their policies haven’t led to hyperinflation, but it may have something to do with booming wealth inequality there (the velocity of money slows to a crawl because it is being horded in fewer and fewer hands).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Even their rice-straw tatami are made in China these day.

            Take the BOJ money and go invest in a tatami plant in Manchuria.

            That’s not hyperinflation, but deflationary.

            The Chinese then take that money and invest in mansions in Australia. The money never trickles down the Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki (or are they Mr. and Mrs. Watanabe?).

          2. vidimi

            a very sober assessment. people who think that non-imperial or non-fully self-sufficient countries can print themselves into prosperity are delusional. whatever else money is, it is also a claim on resources, and if these resources aren’t closed off from the outside, printing a bunch of reals won’t do anything but increase their price in reals.

        3. Jim Haygood

          ‘Why is it the EU or Japan can run QE and NIRP and the result is still deflation, but when South American countries run the printing presses the result is somehow inflation?’

          Part of it seems to be expectations, particularly on the part of residents.

          South America has an extended history with chronic inflation. When South American governments open the credit and currency taps, residents are all too ready to lapse into reflexive inflation hedging behavior.

          Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are all tolerating levels of inflation now that would be politically unacceptable in developed economies.

          Rogoff and Reinhart observed in their book about debt defaults that countries with a history of defaults (again, much of South America) tend to default at much lower debt-to-GDP ratios than developed countries, since they are profiled by investors as multiple offenders and thus likely recidivists.

      2. reslez

        Brazil has a trade surplus, contrast with the US which has a massive trade deficit. The US needs deficit spending for that reason alone, in Brazil the situation is not the same.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Little People can potentially do (a lot) for the country, as the country has already done a lot for the Little People.

          Don’t ask the country to do for more. Ask ourselves what we can do.

          And we can do a lot (for the country and for the economy) with Basic Income.

          “The more you can spend your Basic Income, the more you will help to save the country.”

          Why should the government do all that hard work? Let the Little People contribute for once.

    3. Adam Eran

      “without any revenue, you can’t spend — same thing goes for my house and yours and for the government” …Really? This is the essence of Thatcher. (BTW, Edmund Muskie got there first, but the idea of conflating national and household budgets is a guarantee of bad economics.)

      Brazil has a sovereign, fiat currency (the real), and, like the U.S., is the monopoly producer of that currency. Where would people paying Brazilian tax obligations get the reals to pay those taxes if government didn’t spend them out into the economy first?

  12. windsock

    This is brilliant:

    A sample:

    “At night, we gathered on a starlit veranda to watch the arrival of the cash. It’s one of nature’s most epic sights. First we heard the grunting, faint at first but then louder, until by just the accents alone we could almost tell the Russian from the Australian from the French. The sea began to foam, the frenzied activity just offshore. And then they landed. Huge creatures, some as massive as an alpha walrus. Fat, and breathing heavily, they heaved themselves on to the shore. Hundreds, if not thousands. Lawyers, drug lords, politicians, prime ministers, mafia members, businessmen, peers of the realm, sex offenders and a cellist. Their bodies warm and fleshy. It had been a good summer.”

  13. allan

    San Francisco city officials using messaging app that lets texts vanish [subscr. req.]

    An encrypted messaging app that allows users to delete their texts automatically after just a few seconds has become a favored way of communicating among some San Francisco supervisors and their aides, raising questions about whether technological advances are subverting public-records laws.

    Sine the SF new-economy is built around flouting laws and regulations,
    shouldn’t the local officials get to share in the fun?
    Anyway, FOIA is for little people.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Jim, should you accept this clandestine dark mission, the message will self-destruct.”

  14. Blurtman

    Re: A former advisor to Janet Yellen has proposed 4 radical changes to the Fed Business Insider.

    I thought Yves said the banks don’t have an ownership position in the Fed?

    “Part of the financial crisis was due to mismanagement in the division of supervision at the Fed,” Levin said in an interview.

    So an incompetent former NY Fed president and a financial criminal, Hank Paulson, as Treasury Secretaries! A veritable banana republic with nukes.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    Breaking “News”:

    obama designates new national monument honoring women’s equality

    In his remarks, obama noted that “early suffragettes” preceded by a generation the granting to women of the right to vote. As he tells ‘young people” all the time, it’s not a “sprint,” it’s a “marathon. (In other words, incrementalist pragmatism is, and always has been, the only way to make real change.)

    The names of Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Lilly Ledbetter were invoked.

    No mention was made of the fact that Bernie Sanders is NOT a woman.

    In other news, the president declined to endorse a candidate in the democratic presidential primary, maintaining that any such “endorsement” could be construed as attempting to influence the outcome of the contest.

    No, he didn’t really say that last part. I just made it up. Obviously.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Go Women Power!!
      So the site was already Museum. Now that he declared it a National monument, it will probably be closed for 9 months of the year due to Obama’s Sequester cuts. Just kidding kinda. But that’s what happened to a local Army Corps of Engineers park. Due to Sequester, they cut the park open season down to 3 months from 6. And as added insult kept the annual pass fee the same.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Nine months for women to get really angry.

        “More special place in h*ll for men who voted for that.”

    2. Jim Haygood

      Suffragette City — both the petticoated founding mamas and David Bowie’s update — definitely will be on the history syllabus at Obama Prep … if it ever gets off the ground:

      The controversial selective-enrollment public high school on Chicago’s north side that at one time was to be called Obama Prep has lost more support this week.

      Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. took his new seat as chairman of the City Council’s education committee and promptly defied Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support for the high school, which is flagged to receive tax-increment financing — itself an often controversial slush fund tapped at the mayor’s discretion.

      “I don’t know how we justify more schools of any kind when everybody has pointed to the fact that the city of Chicago is losing population,” Brookins said, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

      *sheds a nostalgic tear for his idyllic school daze at Commie Martyrs High*

      1. Jess

        The Commie Martyrs High comment is funny, considering that the Catholic grade school I went to is named American Martyrs, after a group that was martyred by Native Americans (who evidently saw through that “saving the heathens for Christ while we take your land” trope early on).

    3. craazyboy

      I expect the gubmint will announce a new $250,000 Federal Reserve Note with Hillary’s head on the front. Deems it necessary to satisfy “tipping” demand.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Timing is always a critical arrow in the manipulation quiver.

      We are being reminded that we are still waiting for our first female president.

      That’s why one should avoid talking about what is in the news today, but instead, discuss last year’s news, or last decades’s top movies.

      That way, you avoid timing manipulation.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      Fun fact: Apparently this honorific was bestowed today because it is “Equal Pay Day”…… for white women. According to USA Today,

      If you’re Latina, your Equal Pay Day isn’t until Nov. 1. African American women have to work to Aug. 23. For Native American women, Sept. 13.

      All somewhat inconvenient when considering the scheduling of the democratic national convention in the “context” of issue exploitation and non-endorsement endorsements.

      And, in the “viva la pragmatic, incremental approach” arena, Forbes has this:

      The wage disparity analyzed on a global basis is even worse than in the U.S., with the 2015 global average, annual earnings of women only 52% of men’s. Based on the slow pace of progress towards gender economic parity, the data suggests that it could take another 118 years (until 2133) to close the global pay gap.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s trickle down here as well.

        Today, a woman president is paid the same as a male commander in chief, in this country, and likely in other countries as well.

        Tomorrow, all jobs, however lowly, will be like that too.

        HIllary: “Let’s start somewhere. Get me to the White House now.”

  16. Ignacio


    I will have the opportunity to see Bill Mitchell’s book presentation in Madrid the 5th of may.

  17. cassandra

    Zika scary? I’m as bothered by Yves about the tone of the report. Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat must be aware of the political and emotional impact of what she’s saying. I’d certainly have expected a measured, objective presentation in light of the seriousness of the issue. Might there be a billion dollar, sole-source, vaccine initiative in the works? Tamiflu 2.0.

    (PS: this is 3rd posting attempt; too much browser-jumping. Pls excuse if earlier versions appear)

  18. Andrew Watts

    RE: The yen may be sending investors a dire warning

    The value of the yen is the canary in the coalmine. The first sign of the financial crisis of ’08 was the increasing value of the yen shutting down the carry trade in the summer of 2007. When the trade stopped assets that were mostly priced in dollars/euros fell. Assets like commodities, mortgage backed securities, sovereign debt, and virtually anything else that had a higher yield. Yves wrote about this briefly in Econned and I don’t know how she’d feel about posting or otherwise re-producing her work in the comments section so refer to that for more information.

    Bottom line, if the yen continues to increase in value hold onto your butts. Sh– is going to get real again and we’ll find out how dismal the Federal Reserve’s asset re-inflation policy really is.

    1. craazyboy

      Except that right now every major currency in world is the carry trade currency.

      Stocks are tulips because everything else is crab grass. It’ll happen different this time.

      Then after the fact everyone will have at least a dozen different reasons to select from as “The Number One Cause (TM) Of The Financial/Economic Crisis”.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Except that right now every major currency in world is the carry trade currency.

        I’d say it’s mostly dollars and yen now but I can’t say for sure with any degree of certainty. The dollar rallying against other major currencies that aren’t the yen would be a sign that something similar was unfolding assuming I’m right.

        Stocks are tulips because everything else is crab grass. It’ll happen different this time.

        Then after the fact everyone will have at least a dozen different reasons to select from as “The Number One Cause (TM) Of The Financial/Economic Crisis”.

        Eh, maybe. Maybe not.

    1. cwaltz

      You can’t expect the investment class and the jahb creators to carry the risk all by themselves you silly!

    2. Vatch

      I don’t think the taxpayers are on the hook for 75% of the BP settlement. $15.3 billion is expected to be taken as a tax deduction (not a tax credit), so if the top marginal corporate tax rate is 35%, then the tax payers will be on the hook for 35% of $15.3 billion. That’s $5.355 billion, which is a huge amount of money, but “only” about 27% of $20 billion, not 75%.

      If I’m wrong about the 35% rate, please correct me.

  19. Emma

    Re World Wobbles (over negative rates) articles
    You’d think adult men with years of economic experience and a comprehensive understanding of what exactly their decisions amount to would know their ass from their elbow. Unluckily for us, many do not when it comes to negative rates.
    Cheapening currency boosts exports at the expense of your neighbors who then counter so it’s a zero sum gain. What really needs to happen is………ENDING AUSTERITY. You need demand, stooopid! You’d think they’d surely know this too. And they do, don’t they? They’re talking their book just like Soros does. “Oooh, let’s move the market to reinforce the position we’ve got!”
    Yuummeee Mummeee!
    It’s really about advising a policy that’s good for them…….Only, it really isn’t necessarily good policy, is it?! What’s required is fiscal spending and a NEW NEW DEAL. That’s what’s required for demand. But, oh no, heaven forbid! The deficit hawks will go ape-shit with the bird-shit, won’t they?!
    The ‘more thought, less authority’ types like Stephanie Kelton, a prominent MMT advocate (& Bernie Sanders advisor), get shoved out the way. You don’t need to ride the NY subway for it to happen either. You just have to say no to being the sycophantic tool of Blankfein Bros. You just have to say no to taking advice from men “doing God’s work” when it comes to making important economic policy decisions.
    Soooo…….Kelton won’t get the Presidency but she may get a Nobel instead. Or maybe not. There are just too many Disciples of Scarcity who hate her talk. They’re with Hillary ‘fighting for us (for them)”. You see, you can’t control people in a land of plenty, can ya?! So keep calm and wobble on, keep calm and wobble on…….

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