Elizabeth Warren Opens Broad Attack Against Rent-Seeking Oligopolists Like Amazon, Apple, Google, Walmart, Comcast

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While the media has been obsessed with Elizabeth Warren acting as the new heavy in the Clinton campaign against Donald Trump, it has curiously neglected a front she and other progressives are opening against powerful companies that are strong backers of the Clinton presidential bid. She has called out some of the most powerful companies in America as having too much economic power and has called for them to reined in.

At a minimum, this suggests that Warren has not fallen into Clinton’s orbit, nor is operating under a delusion as far as the likelihood of her becoming Vice President is concerned, despite some unseemly behavior, like at one point stating her willingness to take the job. Warren and Trump have a strong mutual antipathy. Warren will be able to play a more influential role in a Clinton administration than in a Trump administration whether she is offered a post or not. And as we’ve pointed out, reading some of the Clinton e-mails that Wikipedia has posted online, Clinton surrounds herself with sycophants. It may be that Warren has decided she needs to play up to Clinton for a bit, particularly after having held out from endorsing her for what the narcissistic Clinton team no doubt deemed to be an unacceptably long amount of time. So while we can’t be sure, Warren’s recent fawning behavior may simply be playing up to Clinton’s ego so as to secure some bargaining chips for later use.

The text of the speech is at the end of the post. You can see it is mass audience friendly but hit hard on the central issue of concentration of power in multiple fields, including drug stores, airlines, technology, and publishing, and the damage that does.

The reason this matters is that firms like Google and Amazon have become so powerful that they are distorting markets to the degree that even good neoliberals are becoming critics. From the Economist in March:

America’s airlines used to be famous for two things: terrible service and worse finances. Today flyers still endure hidden fees, late flights, bruised knees, clapped-out fittings and sub-par food. The profit bit of the picture, though, has changed a lot. Last year America’s airlines made $24 billion—more than Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Even as the price of fuel, one of airlines’ main expenses, collapsed alongside the oil price, little of that benefit was passed on to consumers through lower prices, with revenues remaining fairly flat. After a bout of consolidation in the past decade the industry is dominated by four firms with tight financial discipline and many shareholders in common. And the return on capital is similar to that seen in Silicon Valley.

What is true of the airline industry is increasingly true of America’s economy as a whole. Profits have risen in most rich countries over the past ten years but the increase has been biggest for American firms. Coupled with an increasing concentration of ownership, this means the fruits of economic growth are being hoarded. This is probably part of the reason that two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, have come to believe that the economy “unfairly favours powerful interests”, according to polling by Pew, a research outfit. It means that when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic contenders for president, say that the economy is “rigged”, they have a point…

Profits are an essential part of capitalism….But high profits across a whole economy can be a sign of sickness. They can signal the existence of firms more adept at siphoning wealth off than creating it afresh, such as those that exploit monopolies. If companies capture more profits than they can spend, it can lead to a shortfall of demand. This has been a pressing problem in America. It is not that firms are underinvesting by historical standards. Relative to assets, sales and GDP, the level of investment is pretty normal. But domestic cash flows are so high that they still have pots of cash left over after investment: about $800 billion a year.

High profits can deepen inequality in various ways. The pool of income to be split among employees could be squeezed. Consumers might pay too much for goods. In a market the size of America’s prices should be lower than in other industrialised economies. By and large, they are not. Though American companies now make a fifth of their profits abroad, their naughty secret is that their return-on-equity is 40% higher at home.

This isn’t just a matter of paying way too much for your cable bill or cell phone. Monopolies and oligopolies limit choice. For instance, despite long-standing rules against predatory pricing, Amazon has managed to crush competitors in the book business by selling below cost. They’ve then used their dominant position to squeeze publisher margins. The result is that they’ve killed what used to be the bread and butter of the book business, the so-called “mid-list” offering where the publisher would do OK if a book sold 5000 copies and the trick was selecting authors and their ideas so that the average book did better than that and some wound up being best sellers. Now the game revolves solely around trying to find big hits. They result is that writers of books in the former “mid-list” category have seen advances collapse. I can’t afford to write a book because I won’t get an advance big enough to make it worth the trouble.

And please don’t tout self-publishing as a better or even good alternative. It means the author fronts all the costs and risks (layout, proofreading, legal review, indexing, and yes, you do need a professional indexer). You will not sell as many copies. A publisher does add value in getting you into bookstores, getting academic sales, getting book reviews, and if you sell to a mass market publisher, advertising. From a consumer perspective, self-publishing results in what verges on adverse selection: people with money and egos get their books out, irrespective of whether they are any good, while publishers do exercise some quality control in their proposal review and editing process.

As Washington Monthly said of the speech:

Warren is, of course, famous for her attacks on too-big-to-fail banks. But in her address yesterday, entitled “Reigniting Competition in the American Economy,” she extended her critique to the entire economy, noting that, as a result of three decades of weakened federal antitrust regulation, virtually every industrial sector today—from airlines to telecom to agriculture to retail to social media—is under the control of a handful of oligopolistic corporations. This widespread consolidation is “hiding in plain sight all across the American economy,” she said, and “threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”

The article contends that Warren’s speech “could change the course of the campaign”. That is wishful thinking at best. If Sanders with over 40% of the primary votes can’t get any concessions from Clinton as far as the Democratic party platform is concerned, mere speechifying Warren certainly won’t move Clinton.

But Warren is continuing to be a thorn in the side of powerful interests. And even though bona fide progressives are disappointed on her support of our misadventures in the Middle East, and her general fealty to feckless Team Dem positions outside her particularly interests, the concentration of economic power and the resulting high corporate profit share of GDP is a big part of why capitalists are partying while workers struggle. Warren is taking on a central topic that is starting to mainstream traction. Even if Warren falls well short of being the Great Progressive Hope, it’s a mistake to disregard how she uses her bully pulpit to undermine a key justification for the rise of inequality in our society: that the operation of markets is always and ever virtuous and therefore outsized pay and profits are justly earned. The more monopolist wannabes are seen as parasites, the better off we will be.


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  1. Andre

    Oh, you think Warren is playing eleven dimensional chess? Please, spare me. Someone said she’s a “shallow ender”, and so she is. At this point she’s just like Obama – all talk. I voted for her but my next vote is questionable. From what I hear and what I see, she’s a phony.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Straw man. I am simply saying that despite her hyper-aggressiveness in stumping for Clinton and against Trump, she is in fact not acting as a loyal member of Team Clinton. She is opening attacks on very important Clinton allies.

      1. ThePanzer

        Which is a reasoned nuanced position.

        Unfortunately people HATE a phony. And when EW talks tough on banks/corps then leads an applause session for the candidate who’s the living embodiment of banks/corps it creates a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

        EW is likely outsmarting herself. She’ll garner about as much political leverage and clout with a Hillary administration as Bernie has, which is to say…none. Simultaneously campaigning for the antithesis of her supposed values destroys her credibility with her supporters.

        As an old Colonel I used to work for said “the only thing you get from straddling a fence is a sore butt.”

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is a fair point. And I get completely that for many people, Warren supporting Clinton makes her unacceptable. I’m not happy with Warren doing that. This was one of the reasons I never liked the idea of her becoming a Senator, and was one of the few to say so even before she made up her mind: she’d have to act as a good member of Team Dem on pretty regular basis, and that would mean supporting some pretty unsavory causes.

            1. TheCatSaid

              Doing what she did before–being an academic, author, and respected pundit on issues relating to bankruptcy, financial services/consumer protection, and the decline of the middle class.

              She had an effective voice before becoming a Senator. The question is whether being a Senator is adding to her overall effectiveness or whether having to play nicely with others to some extent means she is overall less effective. It’s a hard call.

              It feels like she is being positioned for something else in the future, requiring her to have a certain national profile now. That is exactly the feeling I had when I heard Obama’s speech at the Dem convention when he was a relative unknown. It’s the feeling of chess pieces being put into position.

          1. Andre

            She’s certainly ‘talked the talk’, but when she had a chance to ‘walk the walk’, that is, endorse Bernie, she flubbed it. And a Bern endorsement arguably could have made a difference in this state (MA). He lost by four percentage points. And I do not like being on the losing side,

            1. John

              I read Sanders won in districts there that were paper ballots
              and lost in districts there that were electronic machines.
              Just saying.

            2. Ken

              Andre , you’re not on a loosing team, the fix is in . EW has broken a lot of hearts , big time disappointment :(

        2. Roger Smith

          EW is likely outsmarting herself. She’ll garner about as much political leverage and clout with a Hillary administration as Bernie has, which is to say…none.

          Which is exactly why she should have been honest and done the right thing as soon as Bernie started running (assuming her progressive side is true form). Party establishment be damned, it was time to go all or nothing and she floundered. Even if Bernie still lost, she would have had a great influence on Political Revolution in the lower chambers/elections. The vitriol over her support of Clinton is nothing compared to her utter failure to do the right thing. She blew it, big time.

          1. Brian

            Clinton knows she will either lose this election or be impeached immediately. Warren is the only tool to keep those nasty others from impeaching her. She thinks.
            But lets ask ourselves about Warren; Has she ever used her senatorial power to block a bill designed to fleece the people? Has any democrat? No, they enacted more punishing legislation guaranteed to fleece.
            Pure political shite. Their truths are but creations of necessity. There is no conscience on display

          2. Fool

            Why “go all or nothing”? This isn’t a poker game. If in fact the Sanders campaign was about something much larger than his becoming President — which was never going to happen — it would make sense for him to leverage his political capital as the convention approaches to get Warren in there as VP, an ace in the hole.

              1. Fool

                The tl;dr answer…from the start, between the superdelegate “anointment” and Schultz’s shenanigans — all before a single vote was cast — Sanders never had a chance, and he knew it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have pussyfooted around the emails, the Clinton Foundation, etc.. Getting 43% of the popular vote was the best he could have done, and it’s a testament to the righteousness of his positions, the direction of the country, and the 12 million voters (at least) who can swing the election and over whom he holds significant influence.

                On that note, his political capital expires in less than 5 months. Clinton, for all her treachery, is just blind ambition; all she wants is to be the most powerful person in the world. But she needs Sanders voters, which means these 5 months are a window of opportunity to move the party left. And at the end of the day, you need power to effect real change.

                So who’s he going to spend it on — Teachout? (Not that she’ll need it — she’s a star, or at least she will be — but it won’t cost him any of that political capital to email his list and get her name out there and their respective $27 behind her.) “Liberal” though she may be, Warren’s stood up for the right issues and the right people, and I would be damn delighted if she’s the VP (much less under the most impeachable President who hasn’t even been elected yet).

                I’m not a fan of the Obama comparisons, as he was always a business friendly type of politician about whom we (or I at least) should have known better — cue Mark Ames circa 2008 — but, true, Warren could sell out her left-leaning base. But again, I just don’t see how we can effect the change we want to see without the people in power who can carry it out, and I don’t see who else it could (or should) be. Who else is there?

                What I’m wondering is what needs to be done (and what can we be doing) to tip the scales in Warren’s favor in the coming weeks.

          3. Kemal Erdogan

            Well, she did not blew it. When she become senator, like many,I already thought she is preparing for something big for herself. Like someone said before in this thread, her moves were calculating, like all careerists. A woman of principle would not make such calculations at important junctures, like the choice she faced for the endorsement of Bernie Sanders.

            It just proved that she is actually not really that progressive but a careerist. All careerists, by definition, want to work with existing structures and but also want to make “a difference”. Not a real one, of course; just to make sure that they have something to show. Being on the progressive side was probably just because she was born to a liberal family.

        3. neo-realist

          She’ll garner about as much political leverage and clout with a Hillary administration as Bernie has, which is to say…none

          She may be under the impression that she can get a 1/4 loaf or a 1/8 of one in an HRC administration. She may be totally wrong about believing that, but that’s what she probably believes.

          Or she is playing a longer game of raising consciousness about monopoly corporatism for centrist democrats to hopefully campaign on and legislate against in years…or administrations to come?

          1. Emma

            Who knows? Maybe Warren is temporarily stumping for Clinton after temporarily dumping her ‘friend’ Sanders. Does it matter? An unreflective Clinton posse are pumped for it though, aren’t they? When you live in a ‘propagenda propagender’ bubble where ‘History Made’ is malformed, it’s just as exciting as a bus taking a wrong turn.
            Maybe next, Warren will wax lyrical about the demand for $15 minimum wages or ‘Spank-a-Bank’ week. Because constantly trying to reinforce a false sense of Hillary Clinton simply accomplishes one thing, and one thing only, it reinforces the status-quo of a heavily compromised power-structure rather than the common good. I mean, what’s better? Dominating others to maintain a falsehood (filled with ineptitude) or, as Bernie Sanders does, promoting awareness and understanding of what’s real and beneficial to all? That’s leadership.
            So, assuring Clinton supporters that two compliant subordinates like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren have all the answers to economic issues at the same time as they, in reality, take their cues from ‘corporate-rabiders’ like the Podesta Bros, and support TPP, fracking, fee-paying schools which don’t provide lead-filled water…..etc. etc. is like pretend-playgirls offering up milk-filled boobs after ‘Armagettiton’. But in reality, they’re merely offering up composite-filled boobies for a Great Flood of spotted-dicks. Call it ‘crookery with beans-means’ if you like, and it’s at the expense of the voters too…..
            The willful delusion by supporters to either Clinton and Trump, of a manufactured state-imposed ritual serving up fear, personified by Trump on the one hand, and dependency in the guise of Clinton on the other, not only thwarts the courage to strive for better, but handicaps any potential for real progress as an entire nation. And any progress for a strong female leader. If you don’t want monsters, don’t pick monsters! Perhaps though, a sad majority of Americans are unable to discriminate between a morally broken “Hillegitimate” who jumps ship when it suits (likewise Warren….), and a ‘live n’ kicking’, unbroken Shipmaster…..like Mary Robinson, Helen Clark, Jullia Gillard, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel….
            The ‘duopo-monopo’ fear-v-dependency approach to US politics and acceptance of it, ‘dumbo-mumbo’, is only reinforcing an ‘ass-out-of-whackwards’ patriarchal old-world order of division and greed, but also reinforcing the resistance to, willing lack of respect for, and unacceptance of, genuinely strong women whose actions change the course of history for good. If too many Americans persist being on the poor receiving end of this chauvinistic engineering then it’ll be Titulus Regius no matter what’s between the legs!

              1. Emma

                Better yet, let’s make fine points together! Clinton, an “ex-Republican”, with the misplaced support of Elizabeth Warren, another “ex-Republican”, are fast becoming a dark Beatrix Potter nightmare. It’s like calling yourself Target without any ammo. The Democratic Party of America hasn’t just gone to the dogs under the Clintons, but to donkies instead. Just like Lamu, the donkey capital of Africa!

      2. Spring Texan

        Thanks, Yves. Excellent column. Some of the comments are too cynical, although time will tell, but my read is like yours.

      3. Nik

        I don’t totally disagree, but didn’t she behave loyally by keeping a lid on all of this during the primary campaign, and by sticking to promoting them only discursively now that the establishment/Clinton is firmly in command of the nomination, the party, and as we’ve seen this week, the platform?

        I can only imagine that it would have benefitted Sanders greatly had she been hammering away on these things in say, February, since they would have aligned so well with his own points. That would have been the way to ensure her issues were aired and dealt with most widely. Plus, the media was so openly speculating about what Warren was going to do, it would have been a little harder for them to avoid giving her any screen time.

        Warren may not be totally in the bag for Clinton, but she definitely did her a huge favour and her own causes a huge disservice. Making speeches now is classic Team Dem: all optics and rhetoric that don’t need to be backed up by any action.

        1. flora

          That’s my take. I see a lot of reputation rebuilding going on right now; with AP reporting (now they’ll report on the email stuff, after declaring her the winner before the votes were counted); with NYTimes (stories pretending to take seriously middle america’s economic depression after scorning the ‘mouth breathers’ before the primaries); and now Warren giving a sock’em anti-monopoly speech (after holding her fire during the primaries and cheerleading Clinton, the monopolists’ candidate.)

        2. Agave

          Don’t agree. Absolutely agree its necessary to take the crowbar to the uh Monet like Sanders, but some of the how of his platform was anachronistic. I have been saying from the start this revolution might come from the cynics not the dreamers, or the bigots. We’re failing because we can’t be dreaming cynics or Zen. Minds don’t clean up that quickly. Further the difference between journalism, legends, anecdotes and so on is basically dust or someone would have faulted EVERY major religion for settling for legendary not truth. Shakespeare to Sheherezad to Clark Kent to Thor had reason to weep that day in September for what forgetting their principles on the ground unleashed. Don’t add to the tragedy by not being a deeper voice in your own mind. I believe we start life a protagonist, become a narrator and if lucky end an author. Please remember.

    2. Pirmann

      Thank you. She “has called on them to”. Ooo! Yes, we’re always calling on entities to do things, and they never do them… and then what?

      No, I think Liddy Warren is up to something. She needs to hold the interest of the Berniecrats, so she offers up this apopros of nothing speech. Need the Bern’s to feel like “I trust Bernie, he trusts Liddy, she trusts -H>, so therefore I can trust -H>.”

      Wouldn’t surprise me if Clinton staffers worked the phones beforehand, calling the companies to reassure them that the bezzle is still in effect.

      1. Julia Versau

        That’s what I’m afraid of, too, Pirmann — “I trust Bernie, he trusts Liddy, she trusts -H>, so therefore I can trust -H>.” It helps Clinton while still giving Warren plausible deniability because it sounds like she’s her same-old-self.

        Let’s face it: even Hillary has to bash the banks a little these days. But I agree about the bezzle. The big money donors — from Wall Street to Big Pharma to Media to the Lockheeds — already are clued in that they have nothing to fear. Frankly, on every issue bugging the American people, Hillary’s usual acquiescence is nothing more than a vague statement like “we’re going to take a look at that.”

        Unfortunately, I already know what she does when she “takes a look.”

        1. Pirmann

          I’ll take your thought a step further and say that I think this looks like a classic Clinton focus-grouped theater production. They saw the vitriol leveled at Liddy of late and realized that the Sand-dogs are not eating the Warren brand dog food. And since that was to be Liddy’s primary function, they had to go back to the drawing board and make her feel “authentic” again.

          “The matching pantsuits… was that too much??”

      2. hunkerdown

        In 2008 Obama had Austan Goolsbee to help out with the back channel and calm down Canadian financial elites brandishing the threat of a NAFTA dispute over campaign rhetoric.

        When a corporation gets the Jo Cox treatment, then and ONLY then I will believe liberalism can be rehabilitated.

  2. Kokuanani

    This event comes a little too late for me to retract the “unsubscribe” I replied to a Warren e-mail the other day, citing her “endorsement” of Clinton

    1. Rhondda

      I also unsubscribed. I feel no need to retract.

      “She’s with her.”
      Nuff said.

  3. Grizziz

    Where would the monuments reside if competition squeezed the bottom line? Presidential libraries and foundations are not built with profits which are re-invested.

  4. TG

    Nobody can read minds, but talk is cheap. Remember all those wonderful speeches that Obama gave back in 2008, and they were all lies? It’s hard to know, but Warren giving total support to Hillary Clinton – the most corrupt enabler of Wall Street and War we have ever seen, who makes Trump look like the second coming of FDR – and the fact that Warren did not ‘grasp the sword’ and run this election cycle, even though she surely could have triumphed where Sanders fell short – surely suggests to me that Warren is a phony.

    1. john Wright

      I’ve mentioned before that Obama campaigned against NAFTA while his economic advisor Austan Goolsbee quietly assured interested parties it was “political maneuvering” .

      “While campaigning in Ohio, Mr. Obama has harshly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Ohioans blame for an exodus of jobs. He agreed last week at a debate with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States should consider leaving the pact if it could not be renegotiated.

      On Monday, a memorandum surfaced, obtained by The Associated Press, showing that Austan D. Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who is Mr. Obama’s senior economic policy adviser, met officials last month at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

      According to the writer of the memorandum, Joseph De Mora, a political and economic affairs consular officer, Professor Goolsbee assured them that Mr. Obama’s protectionist stand on the trail was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”

      It also said the professor had assured the Canadians that Mr. Obama’s language “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.” ”

      Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/us/politics/04nafta.html

      Elizabeth Warren certainly could be functioning to cast a populist sheen on HRC while angling for future Warren power in an HRC administration.

      I don’t see real change occurring until we have MANY more populist politicians, the handful of populist Senators (Franken, Bernie, Warren(?), Merkley) and outsiders (Teachout) indicates to me that things have to get much worse economically before a critical political mass is achieved.

      HRC supporters SHOULD be quite troubled that the Clinton Foundation has been so successful in extracting funds from wealthy firms, nations, and individuals. ($214 million in 2012, $262 million in 2013, $223 million in 2015 per Wikipedia)

      But where is the HRC supporter concern about this?

      I suspect Warren is now part of the Clinton con.

      1. Duck

        Quite a commentary that we have become so corrupt and cynical as a society that “political manuevering” as a euphemism for lying rolls so easily off the tongue. And most hearers wouldn’t bat an eye.

      2. oh

        Good points. However, a few things about Al Franken: Per salon.com, Franken said that he’d accept if (S)hillary offered him the VP slot. The article went to say that their friendship goes back many years and that HRC helped him with his Senate run.

        I can tell that readers of NC are not easily fooled. But alas! The nation’s sheeple will drink the blue Kool-Aid every time!

        If EW had been sincere. she’d have supported Bernie from the get go and that may have put him over the top for the nomination.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Man, I hate that smug “sheeple” trope. Nothing like insulting the very people who’ve got to win over. And who among us is not driven by forces we ourselves only dimly understand? Sheesh.

      3. NeqNeq

        I thought I remembered HRC and BO’s making those comments about NAFTA, but could not find a link (my search skills seemed to be lacking yesterday). Thanks!

    2. a different chris

      I don’t think they were “lies”… because in hindsight, I don’t think he ever said he was going to do the stuff he was talking about. It was more “wouldn’t it be great (for you guys) if this were done..” ;)

      We just weren’t listening carefully enough.

      1. oh

        yeah, he couldn’t find the comfortable shoes to put on to help labor against Wisconsin’s governor!

  5. Carla

    Thanks for an excellent post, Yves. I hope Warren will follow through.

    In his 2010 book “The Master Switch” Tim Wu gave a good treatment of this subject. Alas, not much attention was paid.

  6. so

    I rely alot on my feeling about things. This feels like the same old same old. There’s nothing she can say now that I’ll believe. I guess i’m just a purist. Trump seems like the lesser evil now.
    It’s always the lesser evil. Tells you everything you need to know.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The post launched before I had completed it

      The completed version makes clear that this is about Warren. Clinton is not going to change her spots. What Warren does or does not do should not influence your decision re how to vote in November.

      The mistake people make generally with Warren is to expect too much of her and therefore not give her credit for what she does do. This is a case example of cognitive bias called halo effect, of seeing people as all good or all bad. In too many readers’ eyes, because Warren is not all good, she must be all bad. This is just a mirror image of her cheerleaders, who tout her even when she’s making dubious political compromises. Both responses are distorted ways to view the world.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And they obviously have not read her autobiography. Which makes something very clear: Elizabeth is not prepared to be President.

        1. Binky

          Nobody who is prepared to be the president should be president. The preparation is beyond Faustian.

      2. Pirmann

        Giving a speech is not “doing”. What exactly did the above actually accomplish?

        OTOH, putting on a matching blue pantsuit and going full-on sycophant IS “doing”.

      3. Spring Texan

        Agree. In general, Warren is very good on banking and finance issues, where she has thought about things for years and has genuine concern for ordinary people (evinced in some ways by books she wrote giving people advice about how to avoid financial distress, such as “All Your Worth” and “The Two-Income Trap”. She’s not so good on stuff like foreign policy that she has not examined and studied so carefully. Agree about the VP stuff is just a feint (and I hope so). She’s most useful in the Senate and I expect her to stay here.

        And Warren has not dissed Sanders when invited to.

        Yves is exactly right about: “The mistake people make generally with Warren is to expect too much of her and therefore not give her credit for what she does do.”

        1. Pirmann

          “Genuine concern.”. Sure. In any case, I hope you asked for receipts. (HT-Lambert)

      4. Strolling one

        There is another behavoural trait called Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, which is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

        Examples might include:
        “It may be that Warren has decided she needs to play up to Clinton for a bit”

        When admittedly there is no evidence, attributing motives is more likely to be the result of one’s own internal biases.

        And here it is again – “So while we can’t be sure, Warren’s recent fawning behavior may simply be playing up to Clinton’s ego”

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Your remark is a classic example of projection. You are assuming I am pro-Warren and therefore engaging in confirmation bias with respect to that mistaken view.

          I have been a regular and sharp critic of Warren when she is off base. And I loathe Clinton and am personally appalled by Warren throwing her weight behind Clinton on the campaign trail.

          Given my priors, I am bending over backwards to give Warren the benefit of the doubt.

          Better trolls, please.

      5. ChiGal

        well said. this way of viewing the world, seeing things as all-good or all-bad, is characteristic of a fairly early stage of development, when thinking is concrete and very egocentric: reality does not exist outside of ones own experience of it as either pleasurable or noxious

  7. Carolinian

    The notion that Warren is manipulating Clinton rather than the other way around is interesting and perhaps even true but Hillary has already said she will turn the economy over to her husband who is probably even more devoted to neoliberalism than she is. And even if Warren could push Hillary to the left domestically–not impossible–there’s still the bought and paid for Republican congress to deal with. And finally while airline price gouging is a bad thing it is surely the finance sector that is the real danger as readers of this blog are constantly being told. Frankly I am dubious of the notion that Americans pay higher prices for goods and services (health care excluded) than other first world countries. Could evidence be provided for that? Our retail sector–including Walmart believe it or not–seems to be the last remaining part of our economy that is still highly competitive.

    A cynic might say that Warren is more worried about her plunging favorables and wants to shore up her cred. But at least in this case the “just words” are the right words.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      With the cast of characters for this November pretty well set (choices for Pres, Senate, House), there is IMO no chance of serious (good) change coming from Washington in the near future. The question for Warren, who presumably can play a longer game than HRC, is whether this is, as with HRC, the preferred state of affairs, or if she (Warren) is about trying to really change national politics. If she really wants to change things, we need more than good speeches (though we need those, too).

  8. Anon

    Probably stepping into the den of thorns here, but self-publishing is, like all entrepreneurial matters, purely an effort game. People with blogs/dedicated readerships tend to do better on the book sales front than just self-publishing without a base. Considering how much NC has grown (I can only take a guess at, btw) since when you wrote Econned, I’d imagine that you would do better at the next book that you wrote compared to this once, by virtue of being more known and audience engagement, which you excel at.

    These days, there are a few authors that do those things and have done quite well for themselves, but I just threw this out there show that in some cases, it can be viable. In short, build the audience up and the sales should follow.

  9. oho

    uh oh, the comment section looks like it’s tacking one way……

    to be cynical the Vice Presidency is the perfect holding pen into which Team Clinton can quarantine Warren (and by implication the left-wing). And historically the vice-presidency has been the consolation prize for political rivals who end up being forgotten outside of history textbooks.

    Look at the current administration: who has more power Valerie Jarrett or Joe Biden?

    1. tegnost

      I think warren will be most effective for the left if she remains in the senate. I understand the disappointment with warren and am disappointed myself, why not in february, for instance, but taken as a whole the stance is one that is consistent with her historical views, regardless of the inconvenient timing, so it’s not really a “flip flop” situation and potentially requires a more nuanced view in light of messiah thing. Just as bernie has said “I can’t be your leader” it’s a team effort and in that sense VP Warren is least best for berniecrats because she’s very effective in this narrow framework. Indeed in the event bernie goes back to the senate he will be much more powerful than he previously was, and on banking issues he and warren could likely do some good things so I’m not in favor of her being VP and as I said was pretty disappointed but think Yves view as the seasoned negotiator among us takes the first step towards constructive engagement. My way or the highway doesn’t work that well IMO, we now know more of warrens weaknesses but that does not erase her consistently positive aspects and it’s best if we support those and remain disappointed with what is less savory and try to nail down some of the gains we’ve made, and be proud of ourselves for doing so. I was for instance very impressed with Nina Turner post nevada and recommend her convictions to all of us berniecrats. The hillary side of the left is off the rails crazy and has given us a great opportunity, one that has been missing for quite some time.

  10. Knifecatcher

    I also don’t think that Warren is getting the VP nod unless Clinton feels she has no other choice. But while I share some disgust at the public love-fest between Warren and Clinton I think the tactic has some strategic benefits for two reasons:

    – If the e-mail tarball gets worse Warren’s increased prominence – and her nice-making with Hillary’s supporters – makes her a stronger candidate to take over the Democratic nomination

    – Hillary Clinton is not a healthy woman. When LBJ was asked why he agreed to the VP slot with Kennedy, a man he despised, he responded “One out of every four presidents has died in office. I’m a gambling man, darling, and this is the only chance I got.”

    Obviously those odds have changed since the ’60s but there’s certainly a non-trivial chance a President Hillary doesn’t make it the full four years.

    1. Nik

      Those are both excellent reasons why there is no way in hell Warren will be the VP pick, which she is smart enough to understand completely.

      1. Knifecatcher

        Not to get too 11th dimensional chess on you, but I don’t think she has to be the VP pick for #1 to become operative. If things go south for Hillary with the FBI and there either hasn’t been a VP pick named or the pick is a relative nobody the Liz Warren momentum would be hard to stop.

        1. aab

          I’m curious. What momentum and from what quarters? Are you imagining the establishment turning to Warren to rescue the presidency for them? Because I’m pretty sure real progressives would recoil from Warren being picked as a presidential replacement over Sanders.

          I can sort of see the establishment pols thinking: we know Liz is really in our corner and she’ll peel off a nice chunk of Sanders’ votes while still giving us the chick thing to ride on. But I don’t see her being acceptable to the donors, no matter how many jigs she dances, and stuff like this speech doesn’t help. And isn’t the evidence now dispositive that the party is wholly owned by the donors?

      2. John

        Exactly why Clinton will pick a Republican pretending
        to be a Democrat like Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

    2. WG in SC

      “Hillary Clinton is not a healthy woman.” Seriously. I have not really seen mention of this, so I kind of feel I am in a twilight zone when I see pictures or video of her and think just how not-well she appears. Thank you for being another person to notice this, and articulating it! Clearly her health is taking a bad turn down the past coupla years. But, then, we all thought (hoped?) Cheney would be dead long ago… he will probably outlive us all. I’m guessing Clinton has access to the same type of “meds.”

      1. Arizona Slim

        I also believe that she’s unwell. Just look at how her appearance has changed during the past year on the campaign trail in comparison to, say, Bernie or The Donald.

  11. Derek

    Folks, the reality is the Democratic leadership has always wanted Hillary. But Obama did not get that memo. So they set her up as Secetary of State (for which she had no qualfications) to keep her quiet. How did that workout? And so it goes. Emails to you home ..??? What was she thinking – if at all. There is nothing there. But the Democratic leadership wants her and I suspect the Republicans are OK because a Huntsman or even a Romney would beat her; but Trump …? My point: Democrat leaders are enthralled with Hillary and if you want to have any say in the party, then you had better get in line – ergo Warren’s unfortunate support for Hillary. Give EW a break.

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s a faith-based trope that compliance leads to influence in an organization, that lots of liberals like to wave around. Arguably, having one’s “say” subsumed into a liberal party such as the Democrat Party means your “say” becomes their “say”, and I’m not sure I see the value in that.

  12. Pat

    I cannot disagree with anyone’s points here. What I will say is that I sense from Warren a visceral hatred of Trump. Her reactions to him, remind me of my reactions to the Clintons. I think that hatred is fueling her choices as much as anything else. I don’t know if that is blinding her to the greed, corruption and capture that is at the core of Clinton’s ideology, or is just kidding herself that she will be able to work within that because she has been doing that under an Obama administration.

    The sad thing is that her vigorous campaigning for Clinton is now the story, not her truth telling regarding the results of governmental tacit endorsement of monopolies, or regulatory capture or…. And as others have pointed out, the distrust of her that has engendered among those she most needs to continue to have any power to fight these things.

    I , for one, do not entirely discount ‘speeches’. Part of the reason I despise Obama is his abuse of the bully pulpit. It is not just that his speeches are largely meaningless or outright lies, it is also always tepid show to distract the supporters. I cannot say that so far about Warren. And losing a powerful voice that has found a working megaphone on subjects like the one above would be a blow. Warren has always been a limited partner in lefty, traditional Democratic, true liberal goals. I can only hope that we don’t find her entirely silenced by her
    entry into the Clinton sphere of betrayal and perfidy. Although the crickets about this probably means it has.

    1. Skip Intro

      It could be that she is using the spotlight from Clinton’s attempts to wave her like a shiny object at the left, to make important points about the rigged system. You say her support for Clinton is the story, and I won’t disagree, but would this speech have got more attention if she weren’t part of the campaign theatrics? In a way, engaging with Trump in a very powerful, visceral way may be like wrestling with a pig, but it also exploits Trumps automatic media coverage. I’m not ready to condemn her yet, an endorsement of Bernie would have been great, but holding off on endorsing Clinton was the smartest thing for her to do for maintaining her own power. I’m thinking she is trying to stay out from under the bus.

  13. Romancing the Loan

    Yeah, I see this as sheepdogging for the Bernie fans, too. If Warren thinks she can move Clinton an inch, she’s delusional. If she thinks she can swing my vote, she’s an idiot. Anything these people do comes off as insincere. I still see Trump as the lesser evil. He’s probably insincere too (or at least unable to pull off any of the good stuff he’s promised on trade, foreign policy, etc.) but thinking how much he’ll irritate the political establishment gives me the warm fuzzies. If that’s all our two party system is offering, I’ll take it.

    1. John

      Apparently it just takes a cup of chia with Clinton
      to make Warren forget what she has been ranting
      about the banks for 8 years now.

  14. johnnygl

    I can get past sucking up to clinton if warren goes hard on this issue. Anti-trust is such an easy sell with the public, regardless of partisan loyalties. It’s long overdue. Everyone hates comcast. Everyone hates the pharmacies. Everyone hates the airlines.

  15. openvista

    Consider these phrases from the speech and notice who they are directed toward:

    I love markets! Strong, healthy markets are the key to
    a strong, healthy America.

    This is a big one – and it should terrify every conservative who hates government intervention…. Government intervention in concentrated markets inevitably becomes more and more complex and technocratic, as it attempts to impose complicated regulations in an effort to recreate the benefits of competitive markets.

    I see no conflict between this speech and Hillary’s efforts to reach out to moderate R’s.

    I guess, given Warren’s love for markets and trust busting, she would feel right at home in the Republican party of Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s. Indeed, she was a Republican up until the mid 90s.

    Considering she’s on the left spectrum of the party, this indicates how serious the Democrats are when it comes to addressing climate change. Unfortunately, there’s an inverse relationship between the health of the markets and the health of this planet.

    The “green economy” is the final bubble that Wall Street hopes to blow whereby it assigns a market value to every living thing and resource left on the planet. It wants to commodify our biosphere. Virtually all the big, “environmental” organizations are in on this scheme.

    There simply aren’t enough resources remaining to build out the infrastructure needed to replace fossil fuels (see also link above). Even if there were sufficient raw material to replace trillions of dollars worth of “sunk costs”, you’d have to do it primarily with *fossil fuels* and that would emit tremendous amounts of heat trapping gasses into the atmosphere. How many decades would this project consume, all while we increase emissions? Total insanity.

    One way or the other, we are headed back in time. Our only choice is one where we choose to do it or it is forced upon us.

    This is how our best and brightest respond to the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You have put your finger on the big reason I’ve always had reservations about Warren.

      The very first time I saw her speak, and this was before she was appointed to the Congressional Oversight Panel (ie, not a player in DC), she started her speech with the same “I love markets, I’ve taught contracts” patter.

      I cringed. It sounded so weird. I thought “Maybe she gets accused of being a pinko and is way too defensive about that.”

      But I have come to get a better mental model of her. Probably still not right but a closer approximation.

      She really is a neoliberal and a technocrat. She will step outside the orthodoxy only when she has done her own homework, like on banking regs. But otherwise she defaults to neoliberal fixes. See Lambert on her student loan plan, which was full of bad think tank cliches, like “skin in the game.”

      So here she has done some real work and she’s on solid footing. But otherwise, she’s a Democratic party stooge.

      That is why I regard it as important to call attention when she takes on real issues in a serious way and lambaste her when not.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        It’s a little hard to conceptualize a Warren who on the one hand is sophisticated enough to cook up and play out a ruse with Clinton to further her [Warren’s] ends with all Clinton’s advisors and all the paranoia and scrutiny that goes on there, yet who on the other hand [back to Warren] lacks the intellectual horsepower to extrapolate the general weaknesses of neoliberalism based on her clearly exhaustive and perceptive work with finance. It doesn’t square.

        Warren is either as manipulative as Hillary and therefore soon to be as corrupt, or she is very confused and is playing a dangerous no win game. How can she be “playing up to Clinton’s ego so as to secure some bargaining chips for later use.” while at the same time eviscerating in speeches the very things Clinton stands for? Of course it’s possible, but something about it just doesn’t seem to work.

  16. local to oakland

    Her Sanders decision is IMHO a bad yardstick to measure Warren. Warren has been a high prestige university professor for a lot longer than she has been a politician. That would make her more cat than dog by temperament. She has forged her own record in politics over the past 10 years. She took an independant and risky position vs the banks during the financial crisis. The team players were falling over themselves to pass TARP.

    Faced with the unexpected Sanders run, she stepped back and waited to see who would win. She didn’t merge with the Sanders movement. Neither did she fall in with the Clinton boosters until very late in the primary process. Warren has an ego. I suspect she looked at the Sanders run re how it would impact her priorities, not the reverse.

    To say that talk is cheap re Warren is to ignore the real work she invested to create the CFPB from nothing. Now she has a bully pulpit and she’s using it. The fact that she’s using it against Walmart, where Clinton was a member of the Walmart board, speaks to the difference between the two. If she follows this speech with real action re antitrust, she will have accomplished some serious good.

    I agree, she missed a real opportunity re Sanders and did real harm, but no one knew how close he would come to winning. It would have been an easy mistake to make.

    1. openvista

      What if Sanders did win the primary? There was widespread electoral fraud in many states, likely enough to tip the balance. If figures like Liz Warren were to stand up, maybe Hillary wouldn’t be getting away with it. But, instead, she stuck her finger to the wind and decided to SUPPORT the primary beneficiary of the crime.

      We have accessories, not leaders now.

      Yes, Warren does good things on banking. But the house is on fire and there’s Elizabeth Warren eagerly painting the wall that’s been damaged by the leaky roof. Does that make much sense?

      1. aab

        This. I don’t see how this dance will actually benefit citizens and there’s the little matter of endorsing a criminal. Let’s call a spade a spade, here at least. Hillary Clinton broke numerous laws as Secretary of State, some quite serious, and evidence is already public about that. The public evidence (as opposed to reasonable extrapolation) regarding the illegality of the Foundation may be less robust right now, but come on — that duck is quacking up a storm. And the evidence of election fraud in the primary is perhaps not yet dispositive, but there’s a lot. The testimony in front of the elections board in Chicago, the scapegoating of BofE functionaries in New York, the limiting of hours and locations in various states — especially the last minute changes in states Sanders was surging in, the vote flip shown ON TV in Kentucky, the AP “call.” Does anyone here really think a court wouldn’t rule it fraud, if it was all gathered and investigated formally? That the US wouldn’t rule it as election theft if it happened in another country?

        Hillary Clinton is a criminal. Elizabeth Warren, a law professor, chose to endorse a criminal for President, who moreover explicitly stands against everything Warren has built her public service reputation on. Setting aside her potential ability to have helped Sanders, the endorsement on its own makes her a person and politician of no honor and little value.

  17. Anne

    I have such mixed feelings about this, it’s hard to know where to start.

    One of the things I always liked about Warren is that she not only clearly knows what she’s talking about, she knows how to deliver her knowledge in ways that are easy for average people to understand; some of that derives from her not being born on third base and believing she hit a triple: she gets what it means to live paycheck to paycheck, or to have no paycheck at all, and the role that business and government play in that equation.

    It’s why I believed the message she has been so passionate about, the things that have been a constant theme in her working life, meshed with the Sanders message and not with Clinton’s. Seeing and hearing her out now rallying the voters for Clinton just feels phony to me; I get that perhaps she believes this is the best way she can help defeat Trump, but it’s having the effect – on me, anyway – of doing less to strengthen Clinton and more to weaken her own credibility. It’s made me ask how dedicated she can be to the issues that seemed to have mattered to her for decades if she can go all in for a candidate who is part of the problems she rails against.

    And if she believes that she is helping force Clinton to adopt her beliefs, she need look no further than the Democratic platform fight to appreciate that Clinton has no intention of adopting the Sanders ideology that was supposed to have forced her to the left. Oh, she could occasionally mouth some semi-progressive/liberal talking point, but it was clear to me that, even before the end of the primaries, her message was “I won, I got more votes, get over it,” with no interest in appealing to the millions who voted for Sanders.

    But there’s one more aspect of the Warren thing, and that is, of course, how the media is choosing to manipulate “the news,” That manipulation takes place when minutes are spent on the blue pantsuit duo, and no time is given to an actual major economic speech by one of those blue-suited women whose name is not Clinton. Why is this? Pretty sure it’s because the media has defined the narrative and isn’t going to deviate from it. Especially, in this case, because what she said in that speech undermines the Clinton candidacy if for no other reason that it would be near impossible for anyone to believe that Clinton has any interest in going after/reining in/using the power of government to change the trend.

    I have friends and co-workers who think Warren walks on water and makes Clinton more palatable to them as someone they could vote for. They haven’t parsed the details, haven’t dived into the dissonance – and the details and the dissonance don’t interest them when it gets raised. They, like so many, just don’t want Trump to get elected, and believe this is the only choice they have. These are people who say things like, “if you don’t vote for Clinton, it’s like you’re giving your vote to Trump.”

    I don’t know if Warren has any idea how much damage she is doing to her own credibility on the issues she cares about, but by the time she figures it out, it may be too late. For her and for the people whose interests she used to be such a champion for.

  18. jawbone

    I see Hillary using Warren, that by having Elizabeth by her side Hillary can lay claim to the reflected caring and concern Warren genuinely shows for the lower economic quintiles.

    Hillary will never say anything in a concrete way which indicates that she would enact what Warren wants done; she will use careful phrasing as caveats she can claim the voters should have understood.

    As in her now infamous statement about not supporting TPP…as it was then written. A few tweaks and she’ll sign that monstrosity in a nanosecond.

    (I keep asking myself why and how I could have seen her actual policies as much different from Obama when I backed her in 2007-08. Of course, her stint in State has shown that she is very likely be the most hawkish and reckless president since…uh, LBJ? Who tarnished his reputation by following the warmongers advising him concerning Vietnam. But he has social programs which rescue him from being a bad president. Voting rights, Medicare, etc.)

  19. dimmsdale

    I have to confess I’m at a bit of a loss with regard to Warren. There’s a lot of skepticism about her in this thread, and probably for good reason (for instance, if you look at politics as an inherently corrupting process or simply have your skeptic meter set way high, or are intimately familiar with times when she talked the talk but did not walk the walk–Eric Schneiderman, NY State Attorney General, being a conspicuous example of the latter, who had an opportunity to bring mortgage fraudsters to trial, and wiffed big time).

    But when I look to see who in congress does BETTER than she does, on issues I care about, that’s when I’m at a loss. Nadler, maybe. Anybody else? Who am I missing? Who in congress actually gets it right, most of the time? Does anyone?

      1. John

        Yeah Ellison is the real deal
        for flooding this country with
        tens of millions of foreigners
        to take jobs from Americans
        and drive wages into the ground.
        Some real deal.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Precisely. People point to Feingold, who did some very honorable things while in the Senate but has done virtually nothing to make us a better country for the last six years except pine for his old job. Tammy Baldwin is another one with a famously “progressive” platform. She ostentatiously introduces single-payer legislation every new congress but has had no trouble jumping aboard the HRC train.

      The only way to get DC to become responsive to the concerns of most Americans begins with A LOT of new faces in Washington. We are still a long ways off.

    2. openvista

      Are you sure the question isn’t “who in Congress actually gets it right [besides Bernie Sanders]?” Because otherwise….

      There was a meme on Facebook awhile back that said “For every major mistake America has made in the last 30 years there is a video of Bernie Sanders trying to stop it. “

  20. Robert Dannin

    Make no mistake, Warren is an old-school opportunist. They are useful but only as long as we understand that their policies will always be “one step forward, two steps back.” Warren is beginning to sound like the Progressive reformers when the railroad monopolies were the primary threat to the textbook myth of capitalist competition. Back then it was the ICC and allied legislation, today reflected in Dodd-Frank and other milquetoast reforms. As a matter of the historical record, the Progressives acted to preempt the Populist uprisings organized during the Long Depression (1873-96). The Progressives weren’t very progressive at all. Their key reform, the ICC, was actually Pierpont Morgan’s brainchild. Anyone interested in a preview of what can be expected should have a look at Gabriel Kolko’s forgotten masterpiece, Railroads and Regulation (1977-1916), New York: W.W. Norton, 1965. Bottom line: Warren is just another fox guarding the hen house.

    1. John

      I saw Warren give a speech a few years back.
      She kept lauding Eric Schneiderman getting a 7 billion dollar fine
      (around that amount I remember) from Wall Street
      and wanted us to to clap wildly for such
      chicken feed.

  21. Robert Dannin

    Sorry for the typo. Its
    Gabriel Kolko’s forgotten masterpiece, Railroads and Regulation (1877-1916), New York: W.W. Norton, 1965.

  22. Jim Haygood

    “As Barry mentioned, before I was a Senator, I was a law professor.”

    Like Barry Obama. And Bill Clinton before him.

    It isn’t clear that “law professor” is a very useful qualification for improving things.

    Law professors have done a bang-up job of starting unconstitutional wars with unconstitutional executive power grabs though.

    1. sd

      I’ve come to the conclusion that having been a law professor is essentially just knowing how to ignore the law.

      1. Ivy

        And to say that depends on what the definition of “law” is.

        The trend of lawyers in particular obfuscating legislative content and impact, while pretending otherwise, has been the norm for so long that the average citizen has tuned out the process and product.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Lawyers have an inherent conflict of interest serving in the legislative and executive branches. This is why 81,611 pages were added to the Federal Register in 2015 under lawyer Obama — to be interpreted, administered and litigated by other lawyers:

        (Dec 30, 2015) The Federal Register contains 81,611 pages with only one more day left before the new year. In 2014, there were 77,687. The previous record high was in 2010 with 81,405.

        President Obama is accountable for six out of the seven yearly all-time high Federal Register page counts, according to CEI.

        CEI’s Wayne Crews documented the record of federal rules for 2015, noting, “Among this year’s pages so far are 3,378 final rules and regulations. Of those final rules, 545 are recognized as having effects on small businesses.”


        Lawyers are to small businesses as hawks are to small mammals: predators.

        1. Noonan

          “The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.”

          Charles Dickens, Bleak House

    2. ambrit

      Well Comrade ‘H’, that would depend on how one views the concept of “law.” Is ‘law’ a codification of relationships worked out over time, a philosophically based attempt at control structure building, or a mix of the two? (Talk about ‘wriggle wroome!’) Given the two different sets of requirements for lawyer and politician, mixing the two becomes danger fraught. Unless, of course, one of the two is a subset of the other. (Hmmm. Ronnie Reagans career becomes somewhat more understandable when cast in that light.)
      The greatest difference I can see between the two fields of endeavor is that the lawyers I have known all wanted to win at any cost. The real politicians I have known or read about understood the necessity of conceding when necessary. Even though, as the famous phrase puts it, “All politics is local,” that ‘local’ will usually encompass a lot of people, and a lot of agendas. Most law cases I’m aware of are much more narrowly focused.
      What I’d like to see is a candidate stand up before a crowd and proudly state: “Before I was President, I was Mayor of a small city.”

      1. Carolinian

        the lawyers I have known all wanted to win at any cost. The real politicians I have known or read about understood the necessity of conceding

        Going by that statement HRC is definitely a lawyer, not a politician. Her penchant for taking everything personally is disturbing.

        And while lawyers like to pretend it’s all about seeking justice, the reality is that lawyers are simply advocates for whatever client–including themselves–they happen to represent. The justice component is up to somebody else. The perfect example of this is Dershowitz who considers himself a noble guy for offering representation to a large assortment of sleazeballs. The law, for them, is just an elaborate form or rationalization.

  23. FluffytheObeseCat

    I like Sen. Warren much more than most of the leading lights of the senate. I like her emphasis on middle class economics, and her simple awareness that monopoly power is still a danger.

    However, I sometimes think she is the senate leader we really needed in the late 90s, when the legal framework that had protected us through the postwar era was torn apart. She is I suspect, fighting a war now that needed to be fought 15 years ago. It’s better late then never however.

    A a poster above said, we need more, and more varied progressive (or truly liberal) people in the Congress. We have only a handful, and they are commonly scorned by the kind of wackadoodle libertarians, doomers*, and other rightist cranks who throng the internet. Absent a few Warrens, Frankens, Sanders, Wellstones and such……. we are really utterly screwed.

    *(ZOMG!!! We are all gonna die. Go long ammo and windmills!! I can’t do math, percentages confound me, but I’ll state loudly that we can’t transition off fossil fuels because……… concrete!!)

  24. Alex morfesis

    Warren can be interesting…thought when she rambled off that $hillary “knows what it takes to beat a thin skinned bully driven by greed and hate”…

    the look on the face of $hillary was the same as mine…

    I thought she was talking about bill…

    Everyone wants a perfect hero…but it took Odysseus ten years to defeat illium…

    You fight with the army you have…

    1. ambrit

      It took Odysseus ten more years to come to terms with his own fate.
      As for the army and its’ leaders who burned the topless towers; was it worth the sacrifice of Iphigenia?

      1. Alex morfesis

        2 million sunsets later…two annoying greek brothers, too busy watching football matches at the kafenio, ignore their wives…and the world ends up with rome…menelaus & agamemnon…one is such a stud his most beautiful wife ends up in troy & the others wife was happy to see him leave so she could be with a real man…


  25. Phil

    Whether or not she gets the VP slot, Warren is setting herself up to run, in 2020; she sees what’s coming. (My fantasy is that Hillary knows she doesn’t have the stamina to go through to 2024, and picks Warren because she sees what’s coming).

    No POTUS can stop the accelerating worldwide structural train wreck. Some “passengers” will survive, depending on what which rail cars they are riding in, and can afford. Right now, those in the know are jockeying for the safest seats (noting that most “passengers” are not in the know; they will be 2020’s fuel).

    For the next four years, it’s about trying to keep the train from flying off the track, but in the meantime the middle classes and poor are going to to continue to see opportunity dwindle. For instance, what does it matter if one has free education, but one cannot find opportunity after said education? Or, what does it matter is one brings back manufacturing if the new factories can operate with just a small fraction of the labor formerly used to run them?

    1. John

      She’s 66. And already a frail looking woman
      that doesn’t inspire strength and leadership.
      She won’t be running in 2020.

  26. Norello

    My interpretation seems to be quiet different unless I misunderstood your post. Warren’s actions look to be consistent with someone seeking power, be it as being picked vice president or perhaps from raising her political presence on the national stage.

    Every time Warren advocates on behalf of Clinton she damages her reputation with her base of supporters. My assumption is that Warren became aware just how much damage she had done to her own reputation and is attempting to salvage it. In my estimation there is a tiny chance Warren may be sending a signal to Clinton if she is not picked to be vice president she will retaliate for being strung along.

    It’s my opinion people such as Warren have some principles when it comes to advocating societal reforms, however unconsciously or not they only truly care about a portion of the professional class. Say perhaps the top 5% to top 20% depending on the individual.

    What exactly am I supposed to be impressed with by Warren? Her involvement with the consumer financial protection bureau? Did I miss the banning of pay day loans? Perhaps usurious credit card rates have been made illegal? What ever happened to the simple two page financial contracts Warren always talked about that was going to prevent the average person from getting screwed over? I can’t recall her strongly advocating those types of positions in a long time.

    It reminds be too much of Obama claiming to support single payer. It is worse than that, Warren’s solutions are only about “increasing competition”, which reeks of the type propaganda I’ve been hearing all my life. Warren identifies Walmart’s low wages as a problem, her increasing competition solution sure as hell wont help them. Warren use to be vocal about raising the minimum wage, however since the presidential campaigns began I can only find one tweet about it. When I do internet searches about Warren and increasing minimum wage all I can find is things from 2014 and earlier. Where is the proposal to increase the minimum wage or tax companies such as Walmart to pay for welfare programs their employees use? I’m sure it is just a happy coincidence that Clinton isn’t in favor of a $15 minimum wage, it couldn’t have anything to do with positioning to be vice president.

    Until Elizabeth Warren accomplishes a major reform, such as breaking up large banks, I will view her as just another politician seeking power and their own self interests.

      1. John

        Once the Republicans succeed in privatizing the Post Office
        maybe we’ll hear more about it again.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Persuasive argument. I am down grading my expectations of what Warren can and will do. Down to about the level you suggest.

  27. Sound of the Suburbs

    As business complains about the minimum wage.

    What drives the minimum wage?
    The basic cost of living.

    Throughout the West we have been incredibly stupid in allowing housing booms to roar away raising the basic cost of living through high mortgage payments and rent.

    It’s another one of those problems with neoclassical economics.

    Strangely the globalisation project chose to resurrect neoclassical economics that had led to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression before the New Deal came in and ushered in the Golden Age of the 1950s and 1960s after the war.

    Keynesian economics went wrong in the 1970s and the old neoclassical economics was dusted off and bought back again.

    No one seems to have looked at its problems in the mean time, as we have already had another Wall Street Crash in 2008; suffer with 1920’s levels of inequality and are dealing with another global recession.

    Neoclassical economics is a perversion of classical economics that misses out important parts of classical economics to cause inequality.

    Adam Smith:

    “The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers.”

    Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business.

    He sees the lazy people at the top living off “unearned” income from their land and capital.

    He sees the trickle up of Capitalism:
    1) Those with excess capital collect rent and interest.
    2) Those with insufficient capital pay rent and interest.

    He differentiates between “earned” and “unearned” income.

    You tax “unearned” income to reduce the taxes on “earned” income.

    It makes you internationally competitive by lowering the costs of labour.

    You don’t have massive housing booms, increasing rents and mortgage payments making you internationally uncompetitive by raising the costs of labour. (Wages have to cover these costs)

    Classical economics is not taught otherwise people would see the contradictions; it gives rise to conclusions that are the opposite of today’s philosophy.

    You want:

    1) Low cost housing
    2) Free or low cost services
    3) Free or low cost healthcare
    4) Free or low cost education

    This keeps the basic cost of living down, keeping the minimum wage down and making you internationally competitive.

    This is funded through taxes on “unearned” income.

    Low wages paid for by Capitalism’s parasites.

    It’s great for business.

  28. Denis Drew

    None of the above listed power distortions would be taking place in the US if the US had high (German level?) union density.

    But as long as nobody talks about re-unionization (as the beginning and the end of re-constituting the American dream) — nobody thinks it is possible to talk about …
    … or something.

    Easy as pie to make union busting a felony in our most progressive states (WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, NY, MD) — and then get out of the way as the first 2000 people in the many telephone directories re-define our future.

    So when are we going to make the most promising (see progressive states’ legislatures) therapy for all our complaints the chief topic of our discussions? ???????????!

  29. DolleyMadison

    I just cannot believe her, or in her, anymore. She is like that dreamy boyfriend who promises you are the only one…that he PREFERS the shy brainy types…then ditches you the first time the buxom head cheerleader crooks her little finger in his direction.

  30. NeqNeq

    I am not sure how convinced I am that EW is putting the screws to HRC constituents. I say that because when you think about the policy platforms hrc has, and who (in this case corporation s) they would directly impact, EW doesn’t make the strong case against the corps.

    Consider that EW calls out airline consolidation netting $22BIL. Adding the actual dollar figures plays an important role in the rhetoric. $22BIL is a lot of cash by many people’s accounting.

    Notice, however, that the 2015 profits (operating. EW uses same metric for airlines) for named health ins. companies is left out. By a quick tally using the 2015 fillings was $23BIL (i used amigobulls dot com for info because it was quicker than accessing each company site. If the info is wrong I will amend my comment).

    My concern is that EW doesn’t call attention to the matter because it would put pressure on HRC. As it stands she can make vague gestures to the problem without endangering the actual relationship HRC has with health ins companies or pushing her towards single payer (which health ins opposes).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The reason I differ with your reading is that:

      1. Airlines consolidated long ago. That deregulation was on Carter’s watch and it is not obvious how to undo that.

      2. More important, precisely due to 1., airlines are not big lobbyists in DC and not influential donors to HRC.

      3. By contrast, Google is the new Wall Street and is a big backer of Hillary, not just in $ terms but in soft ways, like skewed search results. Silicon Valley, which is full of oligopolies, is behind her. And Walmart is an even longer-standing Clinton ally. Recall Clinton was on its board.

      So the companies that Warren is featuring most prominently are core Clinton backers. Warren is most assuredly poking Clinton in the eye.

      1. NeqNeq

        I think the info you mention about airlines actually supports my view since its easy to throw people who don’t matter (#2) under the bus.

        The google/Apple/Amazon parts of the speech were, imo, ignorable problems because the ‘bad’ practices are so limited in population effected. Who used Google Plus? How many people care if the user reviews from G+ were highlighted? How many iPhone users are really angry that non-apple services and apps are shitty (thanks to apple)? The specific cases EW invoked to exemplify the problems of oligarch tech markets are not ones that (I think) resonate with loads of people. Moreover, EW spends very little time talking about these corps (and again, no dollar signs). As far as I know, HRC doesn’t have any policy platforms that these specific cases interact with so its not clear where the friction is supposed to be. Therefore, its easy for HRC to affirm the overall gloss while simultaneously ignoring the specific instances. Which lets her weasel out of any uncomfortable positions wrt to their relationship. At the end of the day I think we might differ about the severity of the problems EW creates in this domain. Which is fine as there can be reasonable difference in this regard.

        You do, however, bring a really good point up with Walmart. EW spends the most time bashing Walmart and adds adollar figure to their unofficial subsidies. So EW is making some problems for HRC with the speech. After going back over the speech I realize that EW makes more problems than I originally thought. I will be interesting to see if HRC’s opponents can connect the dots in a way that both resonates and damages her.

      2. aab

        I’ve been thinking about this since you posted it, and have read a lot of the back and forth in the comments.

        I don’t see how anything Warren says in speeches now that she has endorsed Clinton can mean anything. In such a corrupt system, it’s common for those in power to say the right thing. Their owners know it means nothing. Whatever power she had beyond being the junior Senator from Massachusetts in a party complicit in the corruption has been significantly undercut by the endorsement. Who will be afraid of her now? What actions can she take beyond what the Democratic Party leadership would? How does her saying this is bad really matter significantly more than you saying it, or David Dayen? Yes, she’ll get more news coverage. For the time being. While her support is perceived as being useful to Clinton. Then what? If Clinton loses, Warren’s own power is weakened and tainted. If Clinton wins, Warren will be marginalized.

        This strikes me as a servant complaining. She’s now in chains, and so she lashes out in the one way she can: make her mistress nominally uncomfortable. But it won’t change Clinton’s behavior, and it won’t result in Google, Amazon, et al. distancing themselves from Clinton. Maybe they’ll demand Warren be punished, but I don’t see how it will hurt THEM. She can poke Clinton in the eye all she wants. That won’t hurt the oligopolies, and it won’t help us. Is it interesting that Warren may mistakenly believe her words matter, and that her leash possibly has some slack? Sure. But that doesn’t seem to be how you’re framing it. What am I missing?

  31. Mattie

    I don’t understand the point of this… Is Ms Warren calling for the DNC platform to include an unambiguous commitment to spearheading a revival of anti-trust enforcement in the U.S?

  32. John

    Regarding airlines:
    the litlle people have
    about a decade or two to keep up
    this fantasy of flying wherever
    their increasingly smaller
    paychecks will take them.

    As the age of oil comes to an end
    only the elites will be flying once more
    just the way commercial flying began decades ago.

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