Readers, I stayed up too late, and got up too late. I’m going to add more material to the stats section. –lambert
“CREDO, which is actively fighting the TPP, has released a video and begun circulating a petition that urges Clinton to ‘personally and publicly’ stake her opposition to a vote on the agreement after the November election. Clinton has said she is against the deal, and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, said in a post on Twitter last month that the former senator ‘opposes TPP BEFORE and AFTER the election.’ But CREDO says in its petition that it is seeking leadership on the issue, in the form of a public statement, from the nominee herself'” [Politico]. Not an unreasonable demand, surely?
“[Morning Consult] Poll: Support for TPP grows” [The Hill]. So “the summer of TPP” — all those visits by administration flaks with Chamber of Commerce types — is having some effect. From the article: More than half of registered voters surveyed, 62 percent [72% in March], said they have heard little or nothing about the agreement. Meanwhile, 35 percent [26% in March] said they somewhat support or strongly support the TPP, compared with the 22 percent [29% In March] who oppose it. Another 43 percent either didn’t know how they felt about the agreement or had no opinion [72% in March]. … . Meanwhile, only 30 percent each of Republicans and independents favor the TPP.” So it’s Democrat voters who are the problem, and probably Clinton voters, given Sanders’ views. Perhaps that explains Clinton’s real views on the matter.
John Conyers: “It’s now up to President Obama and the very small number of pro-TPP Democrats in Congress to follow Hillary’s lead. Allowing the possibility of a lame duck TPP vote to remain on the table wouldn’t just undermine trust in government and validate perceptions of rigged system—it could play into Donald Trump’s small and unsteady hands, with potentially disastrous consequences for the country” [The Hill]. The administration has pro-TPP shills fanning out across the country, as we’ve seen above. It’s highly unlikely Obama will stop that operation in its tracks, and if Clinton’s base is for TPP (see above) it’s highly unlikely that Clinton’s “lead” means what Conyers thinks it does.
“A new study from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business finds that international trade has a direct influence on U.S. presidential elections, and it shows there is an Electoral College incentive for candidates to protect the manufacturing sector and to oppose trade agreements” [Politico]. “[T]he negative effects of low-skilled workers [opposed to trade] were found to be three times as large in the all-important swing states as they were in other states — making them far more influential in the election than high-skilled workers primarily found in non-swing states.” So Clinton will square the circle as she’s been doing; collect the votes by allowing surrogates to voice anti-TPP sentiment, and then throw them under the bus, because her base won’t punish her for it, and hates the working class anyhow. Also too ka-ching.
“E-mails show State, Clinton Foundation links” [Boston Globe]. “A new batch of State Department e-mails released Tuesday showed the close and sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.” That’s called corruption: Public office used for private gain. However, the whole concept may need a rethink: I think Clinton’s base in the 10% — which includes a lot of non-profits who depend on squillionaires for funding — views “access” as a positive good. For example:
@mtaibbi As fund-raiser 4 college & hospital(yr total), major donors got access 2 upper levelsbut in my experience there was no quid pro quo
— Doris Murdock (@DorisMurdock) August 11, 2016
So there you have it. Extrapolating freely: Factions within Clinton’s base of professional women in the 10% have fully accepted the doctrine of Citizens United.
UPDATE tl;dr: Assimilated Republicans politely ask Clinton to do away with the stench. “With the Clinton Foundation once again the recipient of negative headlines, former Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) — another Republican who says he’s backing Hillary Clinton — recommended that the Clinton family should shut down the foundation if she becomes president. ‘I would sure as heck suggest that they don’t have it,’ Shays said on ‘MTP Daily’ yesterday” [NBC]. “Maybe the Clinton Foundation doesn’t have to close its doors if Hillary wins in November, but it will be unsustainable — for the Clintons and for the foundation — if it’s viewed as a conflict of interest. As former GOP Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) noted in 2009 during Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, ‘The core of the problem is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state. Although neither Senator Clinton nor President Clinton has a personal financial stake in the foundation, obviously its work benefits their legacy and their public service priorities.’ And as we found out, any safeguards that the Clintons and Foundation established to eliminate perceptions problems while Hillary was secretary of state didn’t exactly do the trick.” Another public relations problem, then…
UPDATE “While in the White House, Economist Received Personal Loans From Top Washington Lawyer” [Pro Publicla]. Gene Sperling. One big happy!
“An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton about Pragmatism in 2016” [New Economic Perspectives]. A doubter straight from the heart of Clinton’s 10% base, so be kind.
Obama has never effectively made the case to the public that his stimulus program rescued the country from another Great Depression and the recovery did not filter down to the rank and file in large part because the Republicans blocked the measures most likely to help the working class (as opposed to bailouts for the banks) and when they regained the House in 2010 the first thing they did was to end programs that were succeeding. While Hillary gets most of this right, . In fact, as Paul Krugman points out at least once a weak [sic] that conviction is in the same league with denying the reality that humans are causing climate change. .
“Hillary Clinton has touted as a virtue in her battle for the presidency” [Bloomberg]. “‘The usual question you get in Washington is, ‘Shouldn’t we be reducing the deficit and the debt?’ said [even Jared] Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington and former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden. ‘And now people are asking, ‘Shouldn’t we be increasing the deficit and the debt?’; One of the people not shying away from talking about borrowing money to invest in priorities such as infrastructure and the military while rates are low: Trump himself. He recently said he’d more than double Clinton’s $275 billion, five-year proposal to rebuild roads and bridges.'”
In other words: Clinton’s “fiscal rectitude” is the “the progressive give-up formula”: “[A]ccepting the deficit hawk’s framing of the problem is to accept, for the indefinite future, the idea that every progressive Government spending initiative must be evaluated from the viewpoint of whether ‘we can afford it’ or not, or whether it de-stabilizes the debt-to-GDP ratio, regardless of the benefit it will deliver to Americans.” And note, from Bernstein, that’s not even conventional wisdom any more! So, Grand Bargain, here we come!
“If you believe there is a coming realignment, then the future of the Democratic party is big business, and big business, especially the technology sector, will love Basic Income. The tech sector likes minimal government regulation, which has allowed them to gain monopoly power, amass giant profits, and control and manipulate entire areas of the economy. These companies are very opposed to heavy-handed market interventions such as breaking those companies up (Google, Amazon) or heavily regulating what it means to be an employee (Uber).” [New America]. “With Basic Income, these companies don’t have to change their behavior, but everyone would become more economically secure. Uber employees will be financially secure, even if they don’t get paid much, and are automated away later by driverless cars (the same logic explains why Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, supported Obamacare).”
“My socialism” [Stumbling and Mumbling]. “Capitalism did not spring fully-formed from a single great mind, but rather evolved over centuries. The same will be true for socialism.” For example:
Expansionary macro policy and job guarantees are important in two different ways.
First, economic growth makes people more liberal and tolerant and hence supportive of beneficial change; the notion of some ultra-leftists that recessions create demand for socialism has surely been refuted by history.
Secondly, full employment would greatly undermine capitalist power. In my socialism, awful working conditions such as those at Sports Direct wouldn’t exist not because they have been outlawed but because workers have the real freedom – via a basic income and good jobs elsewhere – to reject such conditions. One step to socialism consists in enabling people to follow Johnny Paycheck’s example.
UPDATE “President Obama has nominated Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, a logistician, to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making Selva the first military official with significant logistics expertise to rise so high in the Joint Chiefs’ hierarchy” [DC Velocity]. I remember how during the run-up to the Iraq War, the clearest indication that the decision for war had already been taken — thanks, Hillz, for lending your voice to the efforts to stop it. Oh, wait… — was the months-long, steady buildup of materiel prepositioned in what was to become the theatre of war. So it looks like Obama’s priority is to rationalize that process, and no doubt speed it up. One can only wonder why.
“In the past three decades, the share of U.S. citizens who think that it would be a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ thing for the ‘army to rule’—a patently undemocratic stance—has steadily risen. In 1995, just one in sixteen respondents agreed with that position; today, one in six agree. While those who hold this view remain in the minority, they can no longer be dismissed as a small fringe, especially since there have been similar increases in the number of those who favor a ‘strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with parliament and elections’ and those who want experts rather than the government to ‘take decisions’ for the country. Nor is the United States the only country to exhibit this trend. The proportion agreeing that it would be better to have the army rule has risen in most mature democracies, including Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. … Lower support for democracy seems especially high among younger adults.” [Conversable Economist] (original). I’m sure that for many Trump will spring to mind, but it’s also noteworthy that the Democrat nomenklatura just spent a solid year stamping out a movement that was struggling for democratic norms through the electoral process. Not perhaps the best of tactics, if a healthy democracy, as opposed to a well-funded Democrat Party, is your goal.
“Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S.” [The Intercept]. The party left me…
“The larger conclusion from the data is that the Trump campaign — both through the support Trump generates among working-class whites and the opposition he generates among better educated, more affluent voters — has accelerated the ongoing transformation of the Democratic Party. Once a class-based coalition, the party has become an alliance between upscale well-educated whites and, importantly, ethnic and racial minorities, many of them low income” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times]. Citing this tweet:
— Lee Drutman (@leedrutman) August 7, 2016
So, the Democrat 10% plans to run a tournament for the “ethnic and racial minorities,” where they do what they do so well: Sort the worthy from the unworthy, and promote the “talented tenth” to elite status, while throwing the rest under the bus. I suppose you could call this new approach “suck up economics”? As opposed to “trickle down?”
UPDATE “Democratic incompetence has made the previously unthinkable possible: Republicans are reimagining themselves as a labor party” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. What’s “incompetent” about it? Al From must be so happy!
UPDATE “Trump Prediction Update” [Scott Adams]. “As you know, Donald Trump has been sinking in the polls, thanks to the Clinton campaign adopting Trump-like persuasion tactics and framing the GOP nominee as an unstable, racist maniac. That approach is working, and time is running out for Trump to change things…. If nothing changes, Clinton will win in November. But things rarely stay the same. Here are several ways Trump could still win from behind.” It’s a good list, and readers should check it out; that could be one reason Trump’s not spending on TV.
“We said this in May, and in August we’ll say it again: There is no obvious sign of a Donald Trump drag on congressional Republicans in their primaries” [WaPo]. “there is evidence that discontent with Washington is still stirring among the Republican base…. In primaries for three open seats across the country, the GOP primary candidates who have fashioned themselves as the outsiders won, beating others in the race probably preferred by the Republican establishment. In fact, in two of those races, the outgoing Republican lawmaker has indicated or outright said he wouldn’t support the primary winner.”
“That squares with our current projection: a 10-15 seat Democratic gain, which even at the high end would still be just half of the 30 seats the Democrats need to win the House” [Larry Sabato]. “But Hillary Clinton’s big post-convention lead in the presidential race should concern House Republicans, because we’re starting to see Democrats creep up on the House generic ballot, the national polls that ask voters which party they are supporting in their local House race.”
“With the presidential election 90 days away, the Donald Trump campaign is scrambling to set up the basics of a campaign in Hamilton County, a key county in a swing state crucial to a Republican victory, a recent internal email obtained by The Enquirer shows” [Cincinatti Enquirer]. “The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn’t yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party’s central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee.” Combine that with zero (0) television dollars… WTF?
“Two factors make me suspect that even if Clinton wins by a much larger margin than, say, Obama’s win over Romney four years ago, I don’t think the down-ballot implications would be that huge. In the House, there are fewer competitive districts than at any point in our lifetimes; between natural population sorting and gerrymandering, there just isn’t much elasticity in the House these days. In the Senate, the GOP majority is absolutely on the line; my guess it will end up 50-50, give or take a seat or two, but given voters’ doubts about Clinton, the ‘don’t give Hillary Clinton a blank check’ argument may well be a politically potent one, and a lot of hold-their-noses Hillary voters may well look for a check and balance down-ballot” [Charles Cook, National Journal]. “This could be the first presidential election with more people voting against than for someone. That, I think, will prop up voter turnout to a fairly typical number.” Funny to think of fear and loathing driving turnout, but why not, given the givens?
UPDATE “From the beginning of the campaign, we’ve been hearing that Pennsylvania is the key state (you might even say the “keystone” state) to Trump’s strategy for victory, because his unorthodox positions on trade and immigration could pull in disaffected blue collar white voters who feel both parties have abandoned them” [The American Conservative]. “So it’s probably worth noting that Trump is consistently underperforming his national numbers in polls of Pennsylvania.” It would be nice to see a breakdown by precinct on that. Are warehouse workers in Harrisburg really voting with suburban Philadelphia? Maybe so, but I’d like to know why.
Squillionaires and Establishment Republicans for Clinton
“Clinton’s Republican outreach a step too far for already suspicious liberals” [WaPo]. “But on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, many Sanders delegates watched in agony as retired generals took the stage and endorsed Clinton. What Clinton’s campaign packaged as a popular front against a dangerous candidate, progressives saw as a needless swing to the right — one that empowered discredited foreign policy thinking.” Hirohito Award candidate for “discredited foreign policy thinking.”
Clinton Email Hairball
“The way to find out is for the FBI to release the contents of its investigation. One might hope that the FBI would have a transcript of its July 2 interview of Mrs. Clinton. But in his testimony to Congress the following week, Mr. Comey admitted that the agency neither put her under oath nor had a stenographer present” [Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal, “How Hillary Can Come Clean”]. I love the smell of concern trolling in the morning:
FBI agents involved in such interviews customarily prepare a list of questions. One agent poses them, while the remaining agents take notes that are used to draft a “Report of Interview,” commonly called by its document number, “the 302.”
To prove that she told Americans in public the same things she told the FBI in private, as she claims, Mrs. Clinton should ask Mr. Comey to release the agency’s list of prepared questions and the 302 from her interview. Only then might voters have the information to decide for themselves whether Mrs. Clinton is being truthful or layering one lie on another.
These documents would also help resolve another question: What advice did Mrs. Clinton receive regarding her home-brew email server?
Smart guy, Rove. One can only wonder what he would have achieved with a budget the size of David Brock’s.
Jobless Claims, August 6, 2016: “Jobless claims are steady at historically low levels pointing to a low rate of layoffs and strength for the economy” [Bloomberg]. But: “Rolling averages again marginally worsen” [Econintersect].
Import and Export Prices, July 2016: “Cross-border price pressures continue to show some life” [Econoday]. “Global demand is holding steady and is perhaps firming slightly based on today’s price report.” But: “Trade prices continue to deflate year-over-year – although the rate of deflation again declined this month” [Econintersect]. “There is only marginal correlation between economic activity, recessions and export / import prices.”
Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 7, 2016: “Fell sharply” [Econoday]. “[T[he decline is a surprise given strength in the labor market and record levels in the stock market.”
Rail: “Rail Week Ending 06 August 2016: Still In Contraction But Short Term Trends Continue To Improve” [Econintersect]. “The contraction began over one year ago, and now rail movements are being compared against weaker 2015 data – and this is the cause some acceleration in the short term rolling averages. Still, rail is weak to very week compared to previous years.”
Rail: “Class I rail traffic has remained weak through July 2016; July witnessed further declines year-over-year (YOY) at negative 7.4 percent versus June’s negative 6.7 percent, reflecting a 70 basis point, bps decline. The key measure to keep an eye on as always, continues to be the weekly 800,000 rail traffic level, which has been breached for three consecutive weeks for the second time this year” [James Sands, Seeking Alpha].
Rail: “Norfolk Southern pours capital, sweat equity into its new Premier Corridor” [Progressive Railroading]. “In terms of total intermodal traffic, about 1.6 million loads — or 43 percent of NS’ annual volume — were moved on the corridor’s lines in 2015, including domestic, international and premium service loads. To support international traffic, NS has the capacity to grow loads moving either east or west, says [Norfolk Southern VP of Intermodal and Automotive Jeff Heller]. Another big bet on globalization, and by extension TPP, as well as a bet on warehousing in Harrisburg, PA and environs.
UPDATE Shipping: “Prospects for container-shipping lines are going from bad to worse. Hapag-Lloyd AG reported a loss in the first half of 2016 compared with a $297 million profit in the same period last year, the WSJ’s Costas Paris writes. Plunging freight rates were behind the loss, indicating that a wave of mega-mergers between shipping lines has yet to lead to the reduction in capacity many believe is needed to stabilize the market. Hapag-Lloyd isn’t suffering alone” [Wall Street Journal].
UPDATE Shipping: “Cosco takes control at Piraeus Port” [Splash 247]. ““The Piraeus project represents a key milestone in the Belt and Road initiative, and the port’s growth and prosperity will boost economic development both in China and Greece, ushering in a new era of trade cooperation and cultural exchange between east and west,” said Wan Min, president of Cosco Shipping.”
UPDATE Supply Chain: “Investors are pouring money into logistics startups. Private-equity firm Warburg Pincus will invest $255 million in BlueGrace Logistics, a Tampa, Fla.-based company that matches shippers with the lowest-priced option for transporting their goods, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Robbie Whelan writes. The announcement comes after another startup, Transfix, raised $22 million in a funding round in July. Dozens of startups are vying to disrupt various corners of the logistics business, with connecting shippers and carriers a particularly inviting target” [Wall Street Journal]. Because of the words “startups” and “disrupt,” I could have filed this under “The Bezzle.” One can only wonder how their business models break laws and regulations, and how many working people will get screwed over, since, at bottom, that’s what Silicon Valley valuations depend on.
Housing: “Both the number and share of Americans living in multigenerational family households has continued to rise in recent years, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived in a multigenerational household, up from 42.4 million (17%) in 2009 and 27.5 million (12%) in 1980. Multigenerational families — households with two or more adult generations, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren — is growing among nearly all racial groups and age groups, says D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer and editor at Pew” [Marketwatch]. And the Democrats keep using this shopworn “working families” trope when family structures are changing.
Employment Situation: “What’s Really Wrong With the Unemployment Rate” [Bloomberg].
I wonder how many of them, like Eric Garner (selling loosies) or Alton Sterling (selling CDs), are in System D, the underground economy. That’s a level even below the precariat, and for those in direct contact with the police (as they must be if they sell on the street) actively dangerous; Garner and Sterling were both killed.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 11 at 12:07pm. A year ago it was 10…
“The Dirty Little Secret of Finance: Asymmetric Information” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg]. Watch Smith apply the “asymmetric information” airbrush here: “Taking complicated credit [accounting control fraud-driven] products to a ‘mechanic’ didn’t work in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis — the more opaque [fraudulent] the product, the more willing the [corrupt] credit rating agencies were to sign off on it.” Smith needs to get out more. He should read up on Akerloff’s newer work: Phishing equilibria.
UPDATE “When the masks came off: An exposé into financial misdoings in Singapore” [Splash 247]. “My story is not about money lost, it’s about poor corporate governance, lack of transparency, forgeries, threats, false information and much more,” she says, adding: “I never thought in a million years that I would become embroiled in the situation that I have found myself in, a David having to stand up to the financial and legal might of the Singapore Goliaths.” Eesh. I always pictured Singapore as (relatively) clean….
Victorian Era pearl-clutching about demagogues [Mimi Matthews]. If you read between the lines of the outraged commentators of the day, it’s quite clear they wish the franchise had never been extended past, say, the Reform Act of 1832. (“In county constituencies, in addition to forty-shilling freeholders, franchise rights were extended to owners of land in copyhold worth £10 and holders of long-term leases (more than sixty years) on land worth £10 and holders of medium-term leases (between twenty and sixty years) on land worth £50 and to tenants-at-will paying an annual rent of £50. In borough constituencies all male householders living in properties worth at least £10 a year were given the right to vote.”) Keep out the riff raff!
News of the Wired
“How English gave birth to surprising new languages” [BBC]. Five, including Singlish, la!
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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (JN):
Bee with hydrangea. Adding: I just now heard the first cricket. Winter is coming…
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