By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“In November 2014, Polish support for TTIP stood at 73 percent, only to drop to 66 percent one year later. In the Czech Republic support levels stood at 62 percent of Czechs in favour of TTIP in November 2014, and then plunged to 49 percent twelve months later.” [BorderLex]. “Public opinion in former communist EU member states is on average much more supportive of TTIP than the rest of the EU. TTIP signals closer ties with the United States, something that is key to national security in the eastern flanks of Europe. TTIP will likely lead to more imports of liquefied natural gas from the US, thus improving energy security in the region. TTIP also signals modernity and jobs. Economic studies back up popular opinion. A study by the World Trade Institute released in December 2015 estimates that Lithuania would be among the biggest winners of TTIP among EU member states, gaining 1.6 percent in economic output thanks to the deal. Slovakian exports could surge by 116 percent, so the study.”
“There is no doubt that Americans want major changes in the way government operates, and they see Mr. Trump as much more likely to change business as usual in Washington. But this does not necessarily translate into support for his overall approach” [Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Is Still the Favorite”]. “Hillary Clinton represents continuity, while Donald Trump represents change: advantage Trump. But Mrs. Clinton represents security while Mr. Trump represents risk: advantage Clinton.”
“Those of us who do economics for a living turn to it to answer all the big social questions. To explain the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, we reflexively blame stagnant incomes that have left voters angry and frustrated. Lately, though, I’ve come to question this approach.” [Wall Street Journal, “It’s Not the Economy, Stupid”]. “For all the shared prosperity, the 1960s was not a period of social tranquility or political cohesion. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. A year later the Republican Party nominated its most conservative presidential candidate ever, Barry Goldwater. From 1965 to 1968, race riots hit Los Angeles and major northeastern cities. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson declined to run for re-election, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, Vietnam war protests disrupted the Democratic National Convention, and Richard Nixon became president by prying white southerners from the Democratic Party. For many Americans, economic prosperity could not change the feeling that the world was coming apart.”
“Two of the three largest gender gaps on record – 11 points in 1994 and 10 points in 2012 and 2014 – occurred in two of the worst years for Democrats nationally. This happened because Democrats performed horribly among men, winning just 42 percent each time” [Real Clear Politics]. “Democrats won the female vote in almost every election in the past 20 years (2010 is the sole exception, when Republican narrowly won among women).” 2010?!
“A Letter to a Bernie-or-Bust Voter” [Salon]. “I get it. I was just like you once.” Shorter: Grow the **** up!” If there is one Beltway genre I loathe above all others, it’s the “Letter to _____” format. The condescension drips from the headline, and then just oozes all over everything as you read on. This is a splendid example of the type. #Messy
Chris Matthews seems to be going off message:
“Clinton has a new weapon against Trump: Elizabeth Warren” [WaPo]. So the giant sucking pit of need that is the Clinton campaign has managed to deploy the Democrat Party’s best explainer on economic issues as a low-road attack dog.
Harry Reid: “I think we should just kind of lay off Bernie Sanders a little bit” [The Hill]. So Democrat internals on appealing to “moderate” Republicans say that’s not gonna work after all?
“”People forget that Hillary Clinton flew to New Hampshire, endorsed Obama and started campaigning for him very quickly. And so the question is how quickly Bernie will do that,” [Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim] Messina added” [The Hill]. And people erase that Clinton cut a deal with Obama in Denver before she did that, and as a result became the Secretary of State and the annointed candidate of the Democrat Establishment in 2015. So where’s the deal now?
To be fair, I like the idea of “a truce” (ending on November 8) between Sanders and Clinton a lot, and in fact when Clinton says “I think what brings us together is Donald Trump. I think that’s what brings us together” (from the transcript of her recent interview with CNN) she’s essentially proposing a truce, too. And Sanders, in his inimitable fashion, is fighting Trump by supporting down-ticket Democrats like Canova (Obama supports Wasserman Schultz) and getting some reasonable people on the Democrat Platform committee, as opposed to scumbags like Neera Tanden.
” Bernie Sanders lists Hillary Clinton criticisms he doesn’t raise” [Sacramento Bee].
Bernie Sanders, responding to Gov. Jerry Brown’s concern about a “scorched earth” primary hurting Hillary Clinton, said Tuesday he has avoided hitting the likely Democratic nominee on “major, major areas” – and then proceeded to list them.
“I’ve been asked 5 million times about the emails, and I haven’t said anything,” Sanders said in a brief interview before a rally here. “I’ve been asked about the Clinton Foundation, didn’t say anything. Bill Clinton’s personal life? Never said a word.
“So I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that I am running a scorched earth policy.”
Sanders was responding to Brown’s apparent criticism of Sanders over the weekend, when he said, “I don’t think anybody should be seeking the Democratic nomination with a scorched earth policy.”
Ask a question, you get an answer. And a superb example of paralipsis, albeit induced, from Sanders!
“Hillary’s summer of scandal” [Politico]. And it’s only May….
Clinton Email Hairball
“State Dept. watchdog: Clinton violated email rules” [Politico]. (Clinton supporters in three, two, one: “But everybody does it!”). Some of the choicer details:
“Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” the report states. “At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”…
Clinton and her top staff did not cooperate with the investigation, which was requested by current Secretary of State John Kerry. She, her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills and top deputies Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin are among those who declined interviews. Kerry and his predecessors Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, however, did interviews.
Sure is odd who testified and who didn’t.
PMI Services Flash, April 2016: “Recent signs of strength in the economy do not include the PMI services index which slowed by 9 tenths to 51.2, only slightly above breakeven 50 to indicate monthly growth, but slowing growth, for the bulk of the nation’s economy” [Econoday]. “Growth in new orders, hit by weakness in investment spending, continues to slow and is among the weakest readings in the 7-year history of this series. Respondents in the sample say clients are unwilling to commit to new projects. Backlog orders are in outright contraction for the worst reading in two years.”
International Trade in Goods, April 2016: “The nation’s goods deficit widened to $57.5 billion in April vs a revised $55.6 billion in March, results that point to a widening for the overall trade deficit which will be reported next week” [Econoday]. “But the results do point to improvement in cross-border demand with exports up 1.8 percent in the month and imports up 2.3 percent. Exports of industrial supplies rose 5.1 percent reflecting in part higher prices for petroleum-based products. But exports of autos show special strength, up 4.5 percent, with exports of consumer goods up 1.0 percent. Foods also show strength, up 4.4 percent in the month. Exports of capital goods remain soft, at only plus 0.3 percent.” But: “The advance trade report for April yielded a much smaller than expected goods deficit of $57.5 billion. The trade gap had narrowed sharply in March, as both imports and exports of goods fell sharply. The presumption was that this reflected the timing of Chinese New Year, so estimates for April called for a significant backup as imports (and to a lesser extent exports) returned to more normal levels. However, trade flows remained restrained in April” [Amherst Pierpont Securities, Across the Curve].
MBA Mortgage Applications, May 20, 2016: “Purchase applications for home mortgages revived in the May 20 week, increasing by 5 percent from the prior week, while refinancing activity managed to post a gain of 0.4 percent despite slightly higher rates” [Econoday].
FHFA House Price Index, March 2016: “Home-price appreciation had been flat but now appears, after yesterday’s very strong new home sales report and today’s FHFA house price report, to be trending higher” [Econoday]. Not that I’m foily, but I can’t help but put this wealth effect-y result in the context of the 2016 election. “You never had it so good!” Then again, if a substantial portion of the appreciation goes to private equity owners, and if much of the remainder is concentrated in already-doing-just-fine-thank-you blue zips, the effect may not be as great as its manipulators, if any, imagine.
Real Estate: “So far in 2016, Chinese companies have purchased or are buying 47 U.S. properties worth $9.3 billion, according to deal tracker Real Capital Analytics. That makes them the most active foreign buyers in the U.S., with more than double Canada’s $4.2 billion worth of deals” [Wall Street Journal, “Chinese Investors Pour Money Into U.S. Property”]. “By contrast, for all of last year Chinese investors did 71 U.S. deals worth $6 billion.”
ETFs: “[T]he biggest outflow was seen in the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Eurozone ETF (HEZU), where 6,250,000 units were destroyed, or a 7.7% decrease week over week” [Forbes]. “And on a percentage change basis, the ETF with the biggest outflow was the First Trust Taiwan AlphaDEX Fund (FTW), which lost 50,000 of its units, representing a 25.0% decline in outstanding units compared to the week prior.” I’m putting this here, even though it looks like it was generated by a bot (which the author bio does not disconfirm) because people who worry about such things worry about ETFs so I’d like to track them. Can readers supply more sources that aren’t behind a paywall? Or use the contact form? Thank you!
Shipping: “Singapore Exchange wins race to take over Baltic Exchange” [Splash247]. “For SGX, which has seen derivatives trading become enormously popular, the acquisition would be a huge coup. Its last attempt to buy an overseas exchange, the ASX in Australia, failed in 2011.” And: “the Baltic said that most of the structures of the institution would remain the same for at least five years following any sale” [Splash247]. The Baltic Exchange produces the famous Baltic Dry Index….
Shipping: “US container exports grow but far from blossoming” [Journal of Commerce]. “U.S. containerized exports rose in the first quarter of the year for the first time after declining for six successive quarters. Nevertheless, first-quarter growth of 3.2 percent is far from remarkable as it is compared to a very weak base in the first quarter of 2015. Exports for the full-year are expected to grow 1.3 percent compared with a previous forecast of a 1.5 percent decline. Looking forward, the trade will continue to experience headwinds through the rest of the year as global demand continues to be very weak, and the adverse effects of the severe U.S. West Coast port congestion in early 2015 continue to be felt in the form of waning trust from Asian buyers.” Note “headwinds” as an airplane metaphor, a sure sign of bullshit. From actual, measurable congestion, we go to “Waning Trust,” the Confidence Fairy’s sketchy brother-in-law, I suppose.
Shipping: “April saw the region’s airlines carry 24.2m international passengers, a 4.8% increase compared to the same month last year, on the back of continued strong regional demand” [Air Cargo News]. “By contrast, said [Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA)], air cargo demand was ‘flat,’ with volumes in freight tonne km (FTK) terms similar to those registered in the same month last year.”
Shipping: “Seven types of counterparty: part three” [Splash247]. “A few years ago at the annual dinner of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association I found myself sitting next to an eminent Greek shipowner – so eminent, indeed, that his family name is to be found in the law reports of shipping cases as long ago as 1921 – who happily informed me that his hobby was litigation!”
The Bezzle: “Ethereum is the Forefront of Digital Currency” [Medium]. A brilliant combination of technical brilliance and puffery. This caught my eye. Here is one reason for investors to back Ethereum over Bitcoin: “Developer mindshare is the most important thing to have in digital currency.” In other words, exactly as with Uber, political risk drives valuation.
The Fed: “Yellen likely to wait until key June 6 speech to signal Fed path” [MarketWatch].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72, Greed (previous close: 63, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 25 at 11:40am. Feet jammed on the accelerator. Zoom!
“[S]ection 220 of Delaware’s corporate law, which can compel locally incorporated companies such as Domo to open up their books to shareholders. The law, little known in Silicon Valley, is a potentially valuable tool for thousands of tech workers who received stock awards to join fast-growing startups, as well as other small investors, who now question their shares’ worth” [Wall Street Journal, “Startup Employees Invoke Obscure Law to Open Up Books”]. I smell business model…
Our Famously Free Press
— Elana Zak (@elanazak) May 25, 2016
“Facebook is making some big changes to Trending Topics, responding to conservatives” [WaPo]. That was fast!
Big Brother is Watching You Watch
“Facebook is not only watching, but also listening to your cell phone. It all starts with enabling your microphone feature in your settings. Once you do, choose your words carefully” [News10]. One more reason smart people have dumb phones.
“Google aims to kill passwords by the end of this year” [Guardian]. “Android users will be able to log in to services using a combination of their face, typing patterns and how they move.” So that’s the operational definition of identity. Swell.
“[T]oday, there are signs that the promise of the great dam has run its course” [Econintersect]. “But today, there are signs that the promise of the great dam has run its course…. what is perhaps the most egregious failure for a system intended to conserve water, many of them lose hundreds of billions of gallons of precious water each year to evaporation and, sometimes, to leakage underground. These losses increasingly undercut the longstanding benefits of damming big rivers like the Colorado, and may now be making the West’s water crisis worse.”
“Greek port workers will strike again tomorrow for 48 hours, protesting privatisation of the country’s top two ports. Unions have warned of further strikes too” [Splash247].
“A Revolution of Values: Five Ways to Address the Value Gap” [Progressive Army].
“Why Are So Many People Dying on Everest?” [Bloomberg]. I’ve read Into Thin Air, so the answer is there are enough people for whom the $74,000 per person fee is pocket change to fund a small industry of tour guides, who exploit the Sherpas to service the whacky aspirations of their clients. Meanwhile, the sacred form of Sagarmatha is clothed with frozen corpses, frozen shit, and discarded oxygen bottles, a splendid metaphor for our times. Next question.
“Rise of the robots: 60,000 workers culled from just one factory as China’s struggling electronics hub turns to artificial intelligence” [South China Morning Post]. The workers and peasants can’t be happy about this. Then again, I imagine they can just join the service economy.
“Networks offer many benefits for tackling wicked problems, in contrast to traditional hierarchal organizational approaches. Perhaps foremost, they can be formed as a “co-owned” space by stakeholders in the system—in this case, the food and agriculture system” [Nonprofit Quarterly]. That’s true, but let’s also remember that hierarchies are, by definition, networks with certain structural constraints. For example, I would bet anything that the participants at this Clinton Foundation event concieve of themselves as participating in a network, when the sycophantic markers of a hierarchy couldn’t be more clear to an outside observer.
News of the Wired
“Concordian Economics, Part 1: Introduction” [Econintersect]. Interesting, if true. Seems like the economic equivalent of intergrating gravity into the Standard Model.
“In Kampong Cham, a near-fatal ordeal for accused sorcerer” [Pnomh Penh Post]. Sad.
“The equations of love” [Nature]. “Clearly, the arts are superior when it comes to capturing the depths of love. Yet disarmingly easy maths powerfully captures the underlying drivers of stable alliances and transient dalliances.”
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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Dan):
Speaking of “a permaculture-y type of photography that sets plants in the context of whole, dynamic systems”…. How about beetles? Worms? Ants? Fungus? Readers?
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