By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
A little behind today, after yesterday’s late night…
“Business groups on both sides of the Atlantic have upped their lobbying for financial regulatory cooperation in TTIP by forming the Transatlantic Financial Regulatory Coherence Coalition. Right off the bat, the new coalition made clear that simply improving existing regulatory dialogues won’t satisfy them. It consists of 14 organizations from the U.S. and Europe, including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the European Services Forum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce” [Politico].
“India Seeks To Renegotiate 47 Investment Treaties Because Of Their Corporate Sovereignty Clauses” [TechDirt].
“Local governments could be required to abandon buy-local requirements” [Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy].
Lambert here: Clinton’s presumptive nomination comes with a number of key policy decisions that liberals must own “going forwards,” as we say:
1. Corruption. To protect Clinton, liberals have adopted the majority doctrine in Ctizens United: Only a quid pro quo is proof of corruption.
2. Transparency. To protect Clinton, liberals maintain that high government officials can, at will, privatize their communications to shield them from FOIA.
3. Militarism. To protect Clinton, liberals minimize her AUMF vote, ignore Libya, ignore Honduras, ignore Ukraine, and treat unwavering support for Israel as an unqualified good.
4. Health. To protect Clinton, liberals reject Medicare for All.
5. Working Class. To protect Clinton, liberals deny that there is or can be a working class electorate. The electorate is only to be viewed through the prism of identity politics. Two category errors follow: The “white working class” is deemed to be racist, by definition, and the non-white working class is erased. Consequently, it’s impossible to think through the universal effects of the FIRE sector on the working class, nor its differential effects on particular working class identities. This is not an accident.
That’s quite a platform. And if you’re thinking the Democrat Party isn’t the Democratic Party you knew and loved, that’s not an accident either. This has been a wonderfully clarifying primary, for which I congratulate all the players.
Our Famously Free Press
“This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept]. “But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter”
“Why the AP called it for Clinton” [Politico]. “AP spokesman Paul Colford said the news agency had been in the process of contacting superdelegates throughout the day and evaluating the results from the weekend’s primaries.” So, AP has no answer for (1) the election eve timing or (2) the anonymity of its sources, which violates its own Style Guide. So if you believe AP on this one, I have a headquarters in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
UPDATE “[AP‘s election-fixing call] was as undemocratic an act as I have ever witnessed after Bush v. Gore and the shenanigans in Ohio in 2004, and there will be consequences down the line, especially for Clinton. Good luck bringing Bernie’s folks into the fold for the big push to November after that crud. It was disgraceful” [William Rivers Pitt, Truthout]. Oh, and the margin for AP‘s call? One vote. You got that right. One vote.
UPDATE Nina McElmore would be s-o-o-o-o déclassé…
Hillary giving a speach on economic inequality wearing a $12,500 Armani coat pic.twitter.com/iCXXr8IscA
— anys (@JeSuisAnys) June 6, 2016
Clinton: 55%; Sanders: 43% [CNN].
“Hillary Clinton’s Remarkable Comeback” [Peter Beinart, The Atlantic]. “We may never know exactly when Clinton decided to take another shot. But in so doing, despite her advanced age and despite the humiliation of her 2008 defeat, she displayed a resilience surpassed only by Nixon.”
“The campaign aide said the cuts were driven in part by the calendar. Now that the primary season is almost over—the District of Columbia votes next week—the campaign no longer has use for field directors in California and other states, the aide said” [Wall Street Journal, “Bernie Sanders Prepares to Cut Staff as Last Push Falls Short”]. “Another campaign aide said some aides would be transitioned into other roles as the primaries end and the campaign moves into convention mode.”
“Bernie Sanders needs to fall in line” [Boston Globe]. Wait. Isn’t that bullying?
“Sanders has the image of an authentic, independent, non-corporate conviction candidate that contrasts perfectly against Clinton’s scandal-tainted persona. He’s attracted an enthusiastic far-left vote, which has amplified its beliefs disproportionately through social media and other activism. His campaign has probably given that wing more cohesion and voice in progressive politics going forward. But there aren’t that many socialists out there, and that isn’t who Clinton needs to win over” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine].
“The Daily 202: Primary wins show Hillary Clinton needs the left less than pro-Sanders liberals think” [WaPo]. WaPo really needs to stop confusing liberals, a subset, along with conservatives, of the neoliberal consensus, with the left, which does not share that consensus.
Clinton begins appeal to Sanders voters; interview [ABC].
CLINTON: Well I’m certainly reaching out. Our campaigns are talking to one another. I wanna unify the party and I look forward to talking with him personally, because I think his campaign has been a really dynamic and exciting experience for the millions of Americans, particularly young people, who supported him. And I want them to know that I’m going to be working on a lot of the same issues that Senator Sanders and I spoke about, that we both care about, and that we have so much more in common than we do with the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
MUIR: Give me an example. Can you give me one thing that he has said on the campaign trail that resonates with you particularly?
CLINTON: I think his absolute commitment to universal health care coverage is something that I have believed in and fought for for 25 years, we have slightly different approaches toward how we’re going to get there but we made it a major part of this campaign and I’m very happy that we did. I think the stress on income inequality is something that every American should take seriously, we have got to figure out how we’re going to provide more economic opportunity — good jobs with rising incomes — and I’m excited to work with Senator Sanders in doing that.
Sanders is committed to Medicare for All. That’s not “slightly different” from the (neo-liberal, market-based) “universal health coverage.” Alternatively, if as Clinton avers, the difference is “slight,” why not extend the right hand of good fellowship and put “Medicare for All” in the platform at the convention?
Obama to meet with Sanders, at Sanders request: “The statement continues, ‘The President looks forward to continuing the conversation with Senator Sanders about how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead'” [ABC]. Let me translate: “Bernie, I need your list. Hillz needs the money.”
“But the increasing bitterness and anger from ‘sore winner’ Clinton supporters on Twitter and other social media sites often dodges the main reason why their candidate struggled to put away a 74-year-old ‘democratic socialist’ from a tiny state: Hillary Clinton herself” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “The ‘political experts’ are baffled, but it’s because most of Sanders’ supporters want a revolution that won’t end because their guy didn’t win. But that Clinton revolution — despite the history that she made this week — begins and ends with Hillary Clinton, period.” (“The old is dying and the new is struggling to be born; in the interim a great variety of morbid symptoms occur.” –Antonio Gramsci.)
“Bernie Sanders endorses Eric Kingson for Congress in Syracuse primary” [Syracuse Post-Standard].
“Toned-Down Trump Promises to Make GOP Proud” [RealClearPolitics]. Interesting compilation of Republican views.
“Trump, With TelePrompter Assist, Tries to Turn the Page on Curiel” [Bloomberg].
“Four Thoughts on Trump’s “Mexican” Judge Remarks” [RealClearPolitics].
Pass the popcorn:
“Hopping in His Matchbox” [LRB]. This is a must read, both for its portrait of the Prussian civil servant who coined the phrase “working towards the Fuhrer,” and for its consideration of Hitler as a person (instead of a demon figure).
Clinton Email Hairball
“If the FBI decides not to make the recommendation to indict, or the Justice Department declines to follow one, it would be hard to give these decisions enough spin to be credible after all the expert commentary on the mishandling of classified information at the core of the investigation” [MarketWatch]. And the key point:
There is also the further threat that emails shielded from Freedom of Information Act requests by the use of a private server and subsequently deleted without any outside review could have contained information about donations to the Clinton Foundation that represented clear conflicts of interest with Clinton’s official activities.
For some definition of “deleted,” of course.
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of June 3, 2016: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose strongly in the June 3 week and were up 12 percent from the prior week when seasonally adjusted to account for the Memorial Day holiday, while refinancing increased by 7 percent. Unadjusted, however, purchase applications decreased by 12 percent from the previous week” [Econoday]. “Mortgage activity continues to benefit from very low rates [*** cough *** manipulation ***cough***].
JOLTS, April 2016: “Job openings are up but hiring isn’t, in what are mixed but still favorable results from the April JOLTS report. Job openings rose to 5.788 million from a downward revised 5.670 million in March. The job openings rate also rose, up 1 tenth to 3.9 percent. The hiring rate, in contrast, fell a sharp 2 tenths to 3.5 percent in what perhaps confirms anecdotal reports that employers are having a hard time finding qualified applicants for skilled positions” [Econoday]. “In a separate indication that points to weakness in worker confidence, the quits rate fell 1 tenth to 2.0 percent suggesting that workers are not shopping their skills around to other employers. Back on the positive side, the layoff rate fell 1 tenth to a low 1.1 percent. This report is mixed and embodies what are increasingly mixed signals across employment indicators in general.
Quarterly Services Survey , Q1 2016: ” Information revenue rose 1.3 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter. Information revenue in the fourth quarter is revised 1 tenth higher to plus 1.9 percent. Year-on-year, information revenue rose 5.7 percent in the first quarter vs a revised 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter” [Econoday].
Retail: “[S]hoppers now made 51% of their purchases on the web compared with 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014, according to the survey by UPS and analytics firm comScore Inc. The survey polled shoppers who make at least two online purchases in a three-month period, excluding groceries” [Wall Street Journal, “Survey Shows Rapid Growth in Online Shopping”]. I know that’s true for me, with the local hardware store gone, and public transport meaning a four-hour trip to the supermarket. “And as for shopping by smartphone users: the survey found that 63% of millennials use their phones to shop, while 19% of baby boomers and 8% of seniors use their phones to make purchases.”
Shipping: “Korea aims to be world’s third-largest shipping industry despite billion-dollar losses” [Splash247].
Shipping: “Cargo theft is a $15 billion to $30 billion a year problem according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and still on the rise. If you want to know why, take a look at the recent spate of nut thefts in California and new theft hot spots like the city of Dallas, TX. The first highlights the greater focus cargo thieves are placing on food and beverage freight shipments, the second recognition by thieves that regional development can create ideal targets and conditions for stealing freight” [Fleet Owner]. “Nut thefts.” For a minute, I thought I should file this under political risk…
Political Risk: “Many investors are unaware how their political biases can impact their investment decisions (usually with negative results). My experience has been that Republicans were much better investors during the Bush administration, and Democrats were much better investors during the Obama administration” [ETF.com]. “The reason is that when the party they favored was in power, they tended to be more optimistic. That led to a more disciplined investment approach, which helped them avoid panicked selling.”
Political Risk: “Fund managers and economists, including Harvard professor and Democrat grandee Lawrence Summers, puzzle endlessly as to why UK and European markets are gyrating ahead of the ‘Brexit’ vote but U.S. assets have barely blinked at the success of celebrity businessman Donald Trump’s bid for the White House” [Futures]. “‘Brexit is a bigger risk,’ Francois Perol, Chairman of France’s second biggest lender BPCE, said last week. ‘American democracy has strong institutions and counter-powers.'”
The Fed: “Not overly scientific here…but, with Yellen taking June off the table and putting July in doubt, I think we are basically waiting on the next month’s payroll data, no? Sure, I guess CPI and and PCE numbers could move things, if they were upside surprises, but last Friday’s number really poured cold water on what could have been an interesting month” [Across the Curve].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80, Extreme Greed (previous close: 81, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 8 at 11:58am. Start flirting with 90?
Big Brother is Watching You Watch
“The country’s rulers do not just suppress history, they recreate it to serve the present. .. [C]hange often starts when the past is challenged” [Guardian]. Fooled ya! It’s China.
“Tor/Appelbaum Separation Agreement” [Cryptome].
“Some academics even argue that with a few new upgrades, a modern tontine would be particularly suited to soothing the frustrations of 21st-century retirement. It could help people properly finance their final years of life, a time that is often wracked with terribly irrational choices. Tontines could even be a cheaper, less risky way for companies to resurrect the pension” [WaPo] (2015). Heaven forfend we should simply fund Social Security!
“Jobs Threatened by Machines: A Once ‘Stupid’ Concern Gains Respect” [New York Times].
Jeffrey D. Sachs of Columbia University has been working with a series of colleagues on an economic model of a world in which robotization both raises economic output and immiserates workers, pushing them out of their jobs. It is not a theoretical impossibility.
“The point for me is that these two scenarios — robots lead to nirvana and hell — can happen side by side,” Professor Sachs told me. “Generally capital wins and all labor can lose. It shows up as a fall in the labor share of national income.”
In that event, preventing a dynastic society of relentlessly growing inequality would require large-scale redistribution
Good thing liberals have erased class from the “national conversation.”
“[A] main theme is that what most of us think about ‘finance’ can be divided into two parts: the part that directly helps actual people and firms and governments operate in the real world, and the part where the financial sector becomes self-referential and starts to interact largely with itself” [Conversable Economist]. So we have the parasitical part, and the cancer part? (Full and very interesting Bank of International Settlements paper: “Towards a ‘new normal’ in financial markets?”)
“Assuming the poor are more prone to impulsivity doesn’t properly consider the severe circumstances in which many are forced to live, and how those circumstances shape a person’s rational behavior” [WaPo]. Or to rape when you see a woman lying behind a dumpster, or collect a commission from a fraudulent sale. It’s a complex world!
News of the Wired
Smart fish can recognise human faces, scientists find” [Guardian]. Despite the glass bowls…
* * *
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:
Readers, I’m running out of plants! Whether your intentions are artistic and/or documentary and/or amusing, you know what to do…. I’ve liked the creativity of plant videos, fungi, stumps, triptyches, and so on, but if your tomatoes are doing well, send them along too!
* * *Readers, Water Cooler will not exist without your regular support. Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. If you enjoy what you’re reading, please click the hat!