2:00PM Water Cooler 9/28/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“‘If we reject TPP, we take a giant step backwards,’ Kerry said in a speech at the Wilson Center. ‘It will be a unilateral ceding of American political influence and power with grave consequences for the long term.’ Across town at the Center on Foreign Relations, [General Electric Co. Chairman Jeffrey Immelt] hit on almost the same theme, warning that failure to approve the trade deal would weaken the next president in his or her economic dealings with other countries” [Politico].

UPDATE “In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office” [RealClearPolitics].

“The governments negotiating the Trade in Services Agreement are setting a Dec. 5-6 meeting in Geneva as the “finish line” for the negotiations, U.S. ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke told POLITICO. That leaves a mere 10 weeks to wrap things up, including a major disagreement between the U.S. and European Union on how to update the agreement in the future” [Politico].

“A new coalition of cloud companies on Tuesday published a code of conduct to keep European data inside Europe, just as the issue looks set to become one of the most hotly contested points in the controversial Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)” [Ars Technica].

“Another big point on their TTIP agenda concerns clinical trial data. Clinical trials are crucial in the development of new and reliable treatments, but at the same time very time-consuming and they require a lot of resources – resources that the public domain often cannot provide for. Therefore, medical researchers for the most part have to rely on the pharmaceutical industry for funding. These companies are, of course, working for profit and can pressure researchers to bring on quick – and preferably positive – results, allowing for a swift market launch. This practice is highly problematic as biased or otherwise distorted reports on those data can cause severe harm to human health. Access to the data in order to be able to scrutinize it is therefore important. With TTIP, Big Pharma could be able to restrict public access to clinical trial data by arguing that it should be considered ‘commercially confidential information'” [Bilaterals.org].


Days until: 39.

Debate Wrapup

“‘To me, it was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates,’ Mr. Kaepernick told reporters. ‘Both are proven liars, and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist. And at this point, talking with one of my friends, it was, you have to pick the lesser of two evils, but in the end, it’s still evil'” [New York Times].

“”We are in a big fat ugly bubble, and we better be careful,” declared Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the first of three debates with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on Monday” [MarketWatch]. “In an op-ed written in The Wall Street Journal late Wednesday Morgan Stanley chief economist, Ruchir Sharma, says, Trump’s bubblicious depiction of the state of equities isn’t off base.”

“There’s another important factor that will make it hard for Trump to turn things around: The second debate will use the “town hall” format. Questions will be asked by ordinary citizens in the audience” [The Week]. “[I[magine Donald Trump looking into a voter’s eyes and answering a complicated, demanding question from them. Does anyone think that’s something he’s going to do well at? Probably not, which is why it’s possible that the second debate will turn out even worse for him than the first. Even if he finds some time to practice.” Clinton, by contrast, is actually good on specifics and good on policy one-on-one; that’s what really worked for her in 2008 (after she fired the first campaign team after the caucus debacle). It’s also true that Trump knows how to play to the crowd, and I imagine he has one-on-one experience from The Apprentice. Whether he can cope with a citizen who delivers a zinger is another matter; as it would be for Clinton.

“Undecideds are undecided for a reason… To move undecideds, Trump needed to make Clinton look like a politician who doesn’t get it, who doesn’t get you. Over and over again, Trump hammered this point Monday night, arguing she’s had 30 years in politics and little to show for it. … The same is true for Clinton. And the best opportunity to move undecideds her way is to convince them Trump’s political ignorance is frightening and disqualifying. And on this one point, she didn’t deliver Monday night” [New York Daily News].

“What was missing, though, [from Clinton’s responses] was any kind of emotional investment, any sense of being genuinely offended on behalf of the people Trump insults” [Matt Bai, Yahoo.com]. “as Karl Rove used to say back in the day (and here he was right), you beat your opponent not by attacking his weakness but by undermining his strength. And emotion — ostensibly on behalf of white, working-class Americans — is the only ballast that keeps allowing Trump to bob back up to the surface…. Loss of control, creeping chaos, contempt for the political class — these are the emotions that have been building in the electorate for years now, and Trump has brilliantly distilled and exploited them. There are a couple of more debates coming up, and I’d guess that Clinton might win those too, on both the arguments and the atmospherics. But I’d also guess that, without a more emotional assault on his case for the presidency, Trump can remain viable, at least, straight through to Election Day.”

“Without question much of the Trump side of the debate was a discontinuous morass. But Donald Trump oozes contempt for the status quo. That visceral disdain offsets a lot of missteps and whatever Hillary’s fact-check drones are putting up on her website” [Wall Street Journal].

UPDATE “[Trump on trade is] effective not because it’s true, or because it suggests a plausible plan of action, but because it speaks to the pain and anger felt in many of the former manufacturing areas of the country that have been particularly hard hit over the last 40 years. The North American Free Trade Agreement, which was negotiated by George H. W. Bush and signed into law by Clinton’s husband, may not be directly responsible for as much of that pain as it has been blamed for over the past three decades. But Trump’s bleak portrait of life in middle America suggests a knowledge of areas hard hit by the decline in manufacturing—blighted areas like my home town in central New York—that isn’t present in Clinton’s Reaganesque paeans to the goodness and greatness of America. Trump may not know what he’s talking about on trade, but his message is working” [The New Republic]. “But at the beginning of the debate, when the audience was at its largest, Trump was calling the shots: He argued that Clinton was just another politician who was saying things just to get elected. And then Clinton… said things that made her sound like just another politician who was just saying things to get elected.” After which Trump ran out of gas!

The Voters

“Hillary Clinton To Nation: ‘Do Not Fuck This Up For Me'”‘ [The Onion]. Too good not to run again…

“The youth vote was one of the pillars of the Obama coalition. But thus far it’s proven perhaps the most difficult one for Clinton to rebuild. Polls show the nominee failing to earn the confidence of young voters—only 33 percent of those between ages 18-29 told Gallup this month that they approved of her—and running far behind where she would hope to be against her Republican opponent. The polls also show Clinton currently winning under half their votes, while Obama got over three-fifths of that demographic in both of his campaigns” [Bloomberg]. Some coalition. “The only true swing state left in the Northeast, New Hampshire remains vital to nearly every viable path Trump has to reach 270 electoral votes.” Which went for Sanders big time…

War Drums

What Clinton’s no-fly zone means, operationally:

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2016 (final): “A badly needed upgrade for nonresidential fixed investment helped to give a boost to the second revision of second-quarter GDP which, though still modest, now stands at an annualized rate of plus 1.4 percent for a 3 tenths gain from the first revision” [Econoday]. “The early outlook for third quarter GDP is roughly in the 2-1/2 to 3 percent range.” But: “Getting real, the economy grew because the population grew – per capita GDP hardly grew. There is little good news in this third release” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of September 24, 2016: “Jobless claims remain very low and continue to point to strength in the labor market” [Econoday]. But: “The trend of the 4 week moving average is continuing to marginally trending down. On the other hand, the trend of year-over-year improvement of initial unemployment claims is moderating – and this trend historically indicates a weakening GDP” [Econintersect].

Corporate Profits, Q2 2016: “fell a revised 1.7 percent year-on-year” [Econoday].

Wholesale Trade, August 2016 (preliminary): “Wholesale inventories fell a preliminary 0.1 percent in August with nondurables down 0.6 percent in what likely reflects price weakness for energy products. Inventories of durables in the wholesale sector rose 0.1 percent” [Econoday].

International Trade in Goods, August 2016 (preliminary): “The nation’s deficit in goods trade narrowed slightly to $58.4 million in August. Exports rose a solid 0.7 percent in the month reflecting strength in industrial supplies, vehicles, and also consumer goods” [Econoday]. “Imports also rose in the latest month, up 0.3 percent and reflecting a bounce back for capital goods as well as a gain in food.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of September 25, 2016: “The surge in the monthly consumer confidence earlier this week sits in contrast to continued softness in the weekly consumer comfort index which is still soft” [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, August 2016: “Existing home sales, in sharp contrast to new home sales, haven’t been able to build any strength this year and today’s pending home sales report points to outright weakness in the coming months” [Econoday]. “[T]his report is not about strength but weakness, weakness that persists despite very low mortgage rates and strength in the labor market.” And: “well below expectations” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “Despite escalating industry pressure for approval of package-delivery drones, safety experts and federal documents indicate widespread flights aren’t likely before the next decade” [Wall Street Journal, “Package-Delivery Drones Likely Years Away From Federal Approval”]. “U.S. aviation authorities only recently kicked off the formal, time-consuming process of defining the types of collision-avoidance systems considered essential for such operations to receive broad regulatory authorization. Drafting the technical standards is projected to take three or four years, envisioning a suite of ground-based and airborne sensors that haven’t yet been developed. Even strong proponents of unmanned aerial vehicles predict that delivering packages to individual customers probably won’t gain significant momentum until at least roughly 2020.”

Shipping: “As a shipper, you need to understand a thing or two about shipping alliances and something called “slot sharing”. Most of the carriers of significant size operate within one of 3 global alliances in a very similar fashion to that of the airlines alliances and their “code sharing” arrangement. On a complicated journey, passenger’s ticket is issued by one carrier, but the plane they will be flying could be operated by another airline within the alliance or an outside carrier that has a bilateral agreement with the airline issuing the ticket. The same principle applies to ocean carriers” [Splash247]. In 2016, ships flying flag of one carrier are not just carrying the cargo contracted with that particular carrier. The vessel is more akin to a hotel. As per explanation above, a service operated by single carrier could in fact be also sold as maybe 20 “code sharing” services of other carriers. Once your freight order is confirmed, the carrier uses network optimization software to make the final decision how they will ship it, so that their own margin contribution is maximized.” So, you could have been shipping via Hanjin without even knowing it!

The Bezzle: “The Disaster that is Bitcoin” [Medium]. “This is my short story on why it’s easier and cheaper to use old fashioned bank wires when you have to transfer money.”

The Bezzle: “[S]ince 2008, both Dodd-Frank and the macroeconomic climate have made it tougher for the largest financial institutions to make as much money trading. So, retail banking and consumer finance has become the new target profit center. (Witness even large investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley trying to go into this area.) It’s no wonder that the latest banking scandal isn’t a London Whale-style trading debacle, but a consumer fraud” [Time]. “We can expect more of this, and probably in this very area of banking, in the future. It’s where companies are now desperately trying to make a profit.”

Honey for the Bears: “I never add the rise of scrap to my forecasts largely as a fail-safe to my bearish outlook but I have seen very credible forecasts of it tripling to satisfy 200mt of Chinese steel demand within a decade. Needless to say, that would knock an huge hole in raw steel production” [Macrobusiness].

“The perils of “7” and “9” in Cantonese” [LanguageLog]. As in “Samsung’s Galaxy On7.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 12:56pm.

Dear Old Blighty



“A 10th of children have a “monkey-like” immune system that stops them developing Aids, a study suggests” [BBC].

Class Warfare

World’s Greatest Newspaper:

News of the Wired

“On Phone Numbers and Identity” [Medium]. Very good; a technical detective story!

“So not only are ‘smart’ refrigerators, TVs, tea kettles and power outlets leaking your unencrypted data to any nitwit with a modicum of technical knowledge, they’re being utilized to amplify existing [DDoS] attacks … The [IoT-driven DDoS] attack [on security researcher Brian Krebs] comes directly on the heels of Bruce Schneier warning us the check is about to come due — after IoT companies and evangelists that prioritized hype and sales over security fundamentals helped introduce millions of new network attack vectors into the wild over the last five years or so” [TechDirt]. So, will self-driving cars be part of the Internet of Things? I’m guessing yes.

* * *

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:


From my own garden: Zinnias in context. I’m sorry for the crab grass. Every summer there comes a time when I just give up weeding, and unfortunately the clover and wildflowers aren’t strong or fast enough drive out the grasses. This year I bought a propane weedwhacker, and next year I hope to flame the soil to kill all unwanted seeds, especially grass seeds, before reseeding with zinnias, sunflowers, Black-Eyed Susans (not shown), and sunflowers.

Readers, yellow waders don’t come cheap. Please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


Readers, I am behind in answering contact form mail. I will catch up soon, beginning now!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. cocomaan

    For those in the real world, not in the trenches of conspiracy, who haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video someone put together of Hillary’s secret hand signals to Lester Holt the other night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjanJwODj-U

    It seems like a lot of nonsense but hey, stranger things have happened. Like Donald being the R nominee.

    What I think this brings up, though, is that the nation has a lot of healing to do in the wake of this election. People are furious and are latching onto strange theories.

      1. Anne

        My take is that she probably does the same thing when she plays poker – it’s a kind of tell, a nervous tic, that may just be what she does to focus herself. It’s been said that people touch their faces when they lie – or when they are hearing lies:

        The Nose Touch – In essence, the nose touch gesture is a sophisticated, disguised version of the mouth guard gesture. It may consist of several light rubs below the nose or it may be one quick, almost imperceptible touch. Like the mouth guard gesture, it can be used both by the speaker to disguise his own deceit and by the listener who doubts the speaker’s words

        I have to say, there are an amazing number of conspiracy theories out there, my favorite being that Clinton actually died, and the person we’re seeing is just a double.

        1. pretzelattack

          well if she’s a double, she may well be a better choice than trump. unless she’s a doppelganger.

    1. jgordon

      The media and the Hillary campaign are a bunch of outrageous liars. The American public now has a right, I’d even say a duty, to latch on to whatever strange theories they feel like when it comes to Hillary. Hillary and the media have lost the right to receive the benefit of the doubt about anything.

      Secondly there is no more healing for America; the US is in terminal decline and the absolute best any of us can hope for is that we don’t start a nuclear Armageddon on the way out, an extremely probable likelihood if Americans are foolish enough to let Hillary get elected.

      Our leaders are neither good natured nor competent. They can and will sleep walk right into a nuclear war if we elect the wrong ones. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-29/us-suspend-syria-diplomacy-russia-prepares-military-options

    2. Oregoncharles

      More odd twitches from Hillary? Reminds me of the Atreides ” battle language.” Not actually possible, of course, so a problem in the movie.

      Debates can be very revealing without anyone apparently noticing. For instance, Reagan’s Alzheimer’s was visible in the debates for his re-election; during his peroration, he mentally wandered off down the coast highway and obviously forgot where he was. Everybody loved it. So who was running the country for the next 4 years?

    1. Emma

      It’s gorgeous Lambert.

      By the way, for those of you in and around the NY area in the US, you might like to visit or get involved in the Thain Forest Program:
      “The Thain Family Forest is a 20 hectare (50 acre) old growth, urban forest in the heart of the New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG) 250 acre landscape and is the largest remnant of forest that once covered much of New York City. A canopy of centuries-old oaks, tulip trees, sweetgums, maples and other native hardwoods rises over dramatic terrain that includes the Bronx River floodplain and gorge, intermittent streams, ephemeral pools, and rocky ridges.”
      More information is provided here: http://www.erabg.org/project/75/

      And, only yesterday in The Guardian, they were talking about protecting endangered plants and putting a stop to the illegal international trade of endangered plants:

  2. Jim Haygood

    Trouble in the biggest eurobank:

    A number of funds that clear derivatives trades with Deutsche Bank AG have withdrawn some excess cash and positions held at the lender, a sign of counterparties’ mounting concerns about doing business with Europe’s largest investment bank.

    Some funds that use the bank’s prime brokerage service have moved part of their listed derivatives holdings to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document seen by Bloomberg News.

    The lender’s New York-listed shares fell as much as 6.5 percent as of 12:53 p.m. local time.

    The financial pressure on the lender is also spilling over into German politics, stirring speculation Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government might be forced to offer support.


    It’s Europetown, Jake” — meaning the best bet is that Germany rescues DB.

    But markets move faster than governments. And so do nervous customers, withdrawing funds at a keystroke. So there’s a risk of events sliding out of control before political leaders can reach a consensus.

    And Monday’s a bank holiday in Deutschland, giving depositors an extra day to reflect on their plight.

    Comment from some dude on the internet: “This is better than the debates!

    1. curlydan

      You’re on your own now, Angela…

      “Farewell, Angelina, the bells of the crown
      Are being stolen by bandits, I must follow the sound
      The triangle tingles and the trumpets play slow
      Farewell, Angelina, the sky is on fire and I must go.”
      -Bob Dylan

      1. Jim Haygood

        DB’s 1.8 billion euro balance sheet is about 60% of German GDP.

        As a tendency, European companies use more bank financing compared to American ones, which rely more on issuing bonds.

        So European banks are huge in proportion to their national economies.

        Presumably Greeks are feeling a bit of Schadenfreude today.

        1. steelhead23

          I’m visualizing Yanis Varoufakis sticking his tongue out. How about that fear and greed index – 36 according to ZH right now? Some have suggested that it is obvious that the German government is going to bail them out. I sure hope so because their derivatives book dwarfs Lehman’s. But you know, it has to be a bit hard for Deutschland – after they rigorously opposed bailing out Greece. So Angela, how’s that shoe fitting?

    2. Teun

      Since DB was thrown to the dogs by the US (or the captors of its policies), and right on time and purpose, those captors must either not consider DB a global, systemically important bank, believe the US and EU banking systems have (unilaterally and sufficiently) decoupled, or hope to profit from a ‘European Lehman moment’.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Dog eat dog, Deutsche already got a not-so-stealthy bailout by Greek grandmothers and pensioners, now that it might be German grandmothers and pensioners footing the bill, oh oh such outrage.
        What a cluster, Eurozone banks leveraged 25:1, cue MMT’ers to tell us how the transmogrification of even more debt will solve the problem.
        The party’s over, we borrowed all the demand in the known universe from the future, MaestroBernankeYellen poured gallons of vodka into the punchbowl at 3 A.M. and the drunk is about to fall over and smack his head on the curb. One candidate yelling “it’s a bubble!” and of course he is just called a loon for stating the blindingly obvious.

  3. allan

    Unexpected rewards induce dopamine-dependent positive emotion–like state changes in bumblebees [Science]

    Abstract: Whether invertebrates exhibit positive emotion–like states and what mechanisms underlie such states remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that bumblebees exhibit dopamine-dependent positive emotion–like states across behavioral contexts. After training with one rewarding and one unrewarding cue, bees that received pretest sucrose responded in a positive manner toward ambiguous cues. In a second experiment, pretest consumption of sucrose solution resulted in a shorter time to reinitiate foraging after a simulated predator attack. These behavioral changes were abolished with topical application of the dopamine antagonist fluphenazine. Further experiments established that pretest sucrose does not simply cause bees to become more exploratory. Our findings present a new opportunity for understanding the fundamental neural elements of emotions and may alter the view of how emotion states affect decision-making in animals.

    A stinging rebuke to the behaviorists.

    1. Steve H.

      Not exactly. The sucrose increases sensitivity to stimuli, which overall only runs at about 0.8, not 1.0.

      Increased activity is a known finding. If there’s increased food in the area, reward probabilities go up and organisms respond.

      1. From Cold Mountain

        When will people realize, there is no separation between the environment and our genetics. It is a briny estuary when the river meets the sea. You need to be a god to separate the salt water from the fresh.

        1. clarky90

          Hi FCM. What a beautiful and wise observation. You have made my day!! I have written your words down so I do not forget.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Any inherent or biology-based response is a rebuke to behaviorism, at least as it once was. Haven’t heard of it for a long time.

        It’s a sensible learning theory, but much narrower in application than its advocates once claimed (note: it’s what I learned in college as “psychology,” but even then the limits were pretty obvious. In practice, a lot was dismissed as “self-reinforcing”, meaning not learned.)

  4. temporal

    In a bubble.

    Compared to China and places physically close to it like Australia and New Zealand our bubble doesn’t look quite so ferocious. Australia’s house price to income is currently supposed to be 11, New Zealand is only 9.8 while China is somewhere north of 20. At 20 times it’s hard to imagine how the buyer even pays the interest, guess that is what Zirp is for. Of course the buyers in most current cases are following the old Japanese rule that you can never lose on property. Until you do.

    We bought our house at less than 1 and expect to lose money when it sells. That’s assuming the bubble doesn’t pop first. Then we’ll just lose more.

    Whether we are careful, as people including Trump have suggested, is question that has already been answered. The only way out for quite a few current owners will require that we be invaded by rich Martians that believe that they can never lose some valuable commodity buying property. That or the aliens just take what they want and current owners hope the insurance will cover.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Clearly we need to catapult some stronger propaganda, to serve notice to the Syrian fanatics that they are not going to take their country away from us.

      1. OIFVet

        Don’t forget those eevil Ruskies who have brazenly occupied the entirety of Russia, thus deniying Anglo-Saxons access to all these natural resources.

        1. Jim Haygood

          All in due course: one set of usurpers at a time.

          And they’d better have rose petals and chocolates ready to shower on our liberators.

          Or it won’t go well for them.

      2. Pat

        The elected leader of Syria, the fanatics that follow him and the Russians are not going to deny America its desired regime change! And if we have to arm and fund Al Qaeda to do it, so be it. Consequences be damned.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I heard Trump thinks he’s going to rule all 50 states, if he wins the election, too. The madman won’t stop until he gets his way! :)

      1. Alex morfesis

        Luckily for all the clowns watching the children of guernica…I mean allepo…die, tsipras does not have the manhood package to march 150 thousand spartans to liberate the city…he is too busy having lunch with john paulson and wilbur ross at the metropolitan club…deciding which assets he will sell to the grave dancerz….

    3. Spring Texan

      This is one place I differ with most of the NC folks. I think what has happened in Syria is the sort of event that DOES demand intervention. The Syrian government’s actions are comparable to the German WWII actions we said “never again” about, and the key to seeing that is not only people killed but the number of refugees that have been produced. We can not act like this is like Iraq or Afghanistan where yes we SHOULD ahve stayed out of it. This is very different.

      The Syrian revolution was truly inspiring and to act like ISIS is the only problem in the country instead of Assad and to allow him and the Russians to continue to bomb is deplorable.

      1. OIFVet

        What was the part that inspired you most? I felt rather inspired by the use of chemical weapons by the moderate, freedumb- and democracy-loving islamists we arm. And then I felt positively orgasmic when US-armed and supported democracy lovers beheaded the little Palestinian boy. Let freedumb ring, amen and hallelujah!

        PS: /SARC

      2. cwaltz

        So let me get out my US scorecard…..genocide by Israelis- peachy genocide by Assad- bad No double standard there.

        And in order to root out the guy who I’m sure just coincidentally put a kibosh on the pipeline we wanted to run through his country to screw over the Russians then we must, must, must get out this evil, evil leader even if it means arming the “moderate” AQ folk who took credit for the “moderate” act of killing 100s of Americans on American soil in the name of jihad.

        Does anyone else think that this sounds like insanity?

        The Syrian revolution is appalling. You’ve got a bunch of foreign actors encouraging the country to tear itself apart so they can hopefully profit from the power vacuum.

        Your proud of this?

        The Assad government opposed the U.S.’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration undertook to destabilize the regime by increasing sectarian tensions, showcasing and publicising Syrian repression of radical Kurdish and Sunni groups and financing political dissidents.[153] Assad also opposed the Qatar-Turkey pipeline in 2009. A classified 2013 report by a joint U.S. army and intelligence group concluded that the overthrow of Assad would have drastic consequences; the opposition supported by the Obama administration was dominated by jihadist elements. According to Michael T. Flynn, the then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the report was ignored by the U.S. administration.[153]

        I’d be ashamed. We knew this was going to be a disaster and we encouraged it anyway.

          1. cwaltz

            Tell that to the Palestinians.

            Yeah when you mow over buildings full of people who were there before you ….it’s called genocide …and it isn’t a dream for the Palestinians, it’s a nightmare.

            Heck, it’s gotten to the point that even many of Israeli citizens themselves are appalled.

            1. S M Tenneshaw

              Genocide means mass extermination. Everybody damn well knows no such thing has happened in this conflict.

    1. Lee

      I should add, that a $97K annual income might or might not qualify a buyer for a $712K home even with 20% down. It would be a close run thing.

    2. Pat

      It also depends on whether that is per person not per family. But It isn’t a lot in New York City either. It is certainly better than $50,000 and god knows a lot better than the level that the Federal government believes is poverty level. But in a city where a subsidized studio still costs $1000/month, trying to house, feed and pay for insurance for a family of two, three or four is still pretty hard.

  5. Paid Minion

    I can’t wait until the pushers of package delivery by drones start screaming “excessive government regulation”. Of course, they won’t mention that this “excessive regulation” is a (minimal) standard to keep drones from colliding with manned aircraft and helicopters.

    The simplest way to insure separation would be to limit drone operations to 100 ft AGL, and 1 mile from airports/runways/helipads.

    Currently, there is a mandate for all aircraft flying in US airspace to be equipped with ADS-B by January 1, 2020. Will this be extended to drones? If it is, I can easily envision the ATC system being overloaded by the drones, to a point where the manned aircraft are impossible to pick out of the clutter. Or continuous “conflict alerts”, soon to be ignored by the ATC guys. At least until someone actually runs into something

    Drone operations at night? LOL Good luck with that.

    Same with bad weather. Are they going to be equipped with anti-ice/de-ice systems. Nobody has ever claimed that they are immune to airframe icing. I, for one, will be pizzed the first time some frozen, iced up drone crashes into my car sitting in the parking lot.

    And what if they don’t address these problems? Will they ground them in darkness or bad weather. Or will all of those truck drivers be turned into 1099 employees, to be called in on bad weather days? OTOH, they could go develop a partnership with Uber. Think of the “synergies” they will be able to brag about.

    I can see it now………”Double your money! Haul people AND packages……”

    (It will never happen that way. The drivers will be told “…..well, you were heading that way, anyway…….” )

    The FAA found out a long time ago that you cannot underestimate the stupidity of a significant portion of the general public (“Didn’t see it coming”/”Didn’t occur to us” is the new National Creed). And of business using their leverage to scam money from their employees and customers.

    Which BTW, is the whole point behind drone delivery. Any savings generated will be pocketed by the drone operators and the shippers, not the receivers of the shipment.

    1. nippersdad

      Good luck trying this in my (exurban) neighborhood. Lots of people with guns needing target practice.

      They will be perfect!

    2. Lee

      Recent news story covered drones delivering life saving medicines to remote locations. That seems a wonderful, legitimate use of them. Not much money in that I would suppose. But delivering the next piece of iCrap to millions, that’s where the money is.

      1. Mark P.

        ‘delivering the next piece of iCrap to millions, that’s where the money is.’

        Not to start with, it isn’t. Here’s why.

        [1] Just like Africa leapfrogged putting down phone landline infrastructure for mobile networks, you’ll see drone delivery networks there first. The Chinese would do it as an infrastructure play — most people have no idea how the Chinese are taking over there.

        I’m not being speculative. I’ve talked to three companies working on drone delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa. All are already deployed in tests in Africa. Cargo drone networks make all the sense in the world there.

        [2] Conversely, someone dropped radioactive matter on the Japanese parliament building’s roof a few months back and the notion of similarly sprinkling radioactive matter over Wall Street or GS headquarters is going to be too attractive to too many of us for last-mile delivery to happen in the developed world’s urban areas too soon.

        We’re going to see drone battles overhead in the near future, not incidentally. The only way you can stop drone swarms is with other drone swarms. Geofencing — jamming drones’ GPS reception — will not work against anybody sophisticated in the long term.

        in the context of the developed world, places like Switzerland or some rural regions of the Western US or Russia make the most immediate sense. They’re already testing drones for mail delivery in the Swiss Alps, for instance.

  6. DWD

    I posted this on the “Links” Thread but I am not getting a response and I would actually like one.

    I enjoy this blog immensely, but I am hardly a financial services professional. In fact my background is in the teaching of reading and early elementary education.

    But I know when something sort of smells.

    Yesterday, while out of town – having a good time in Traverse City, MI – I went to use my debit card and it failed. (We had first been advised that a new card would be issued on our expiration date – DEC in this case) We were not concerned about the cryptic EMail I received the other day saying new cards would be issued. Guess I should have been, eh?

    Though it was a damned inconvenience, we made it back home (with less than ten bucks and change) and retrieved our new cards (Which had arrived while we out of town)

    We activated the things and went to an ATM to get some cash.

    Failed again.

    Went to the CU and they told me that my debit card (That I have been using about 15-20 times a month) was never intended to be a POS card and that I would have to – BY LAW – apply for a Master Card credit/debit card and furthermore I would be limited — BY LAW – to eight transactions a month for free and after that there would a $1.00 per transaction feed (Payable to MC I assume. I already have a VISA and see no need of another card)

    This sounds like bullshit: there is a law saying I HAVE to have a credit card to use a debit card and that I can only use this less than twice a week without a fee?

    Please advise. (I love my CU but convenience will will-out)

    1. Oregoncharles

      Michigan law? Sounds very weird. For one thing, Visa IS a credit card.

      I’d talk to some other CU’s, and go up the management chain at yours. Lodge a vitriolic complaint, if necessary. At a CU, you’re an owner as well as a customer. They shouldn’t be yanking you around like this.

      The unexpected card fail was not good service, and they should hear that.

    2. Roger Smith

      Wow, did your credit union have it’s own independent card service up until now? It sounds like you CU has a customer service plan that passes the burden of managing card service fees onto the users. Is it a smaller credit union? Credit Companies are a bane of existence and charge fees at every point in a sale (cards, machines, transactions).

      1. pretzelattack

        yeah using your own money for free, that’s like assad invading syria. there has to be a line somewhere.

        1. ekstase

          :) There’s something about having our money come out of “their” machines. Do they think they’re making the money materialize for us?

    3. Anne

      That seems odd to me. We also have a credit union account – and the CU we belong to is really small – only two offices in the entire state. We have a Visa debit card that we can use as a credit card (using it as a CC means we avoid the transaction fees), and I know we use it more than 8 times a month. Now, we are limited to the number of transfers we can make online per month between checking and savings – but there is no limit on transfers made at the branch or at an ATM. I didn’t find out about this until we were planning our older daughter’s wedding almost 10 years ago, and I was moving money out of savings to checking as I needed it to cover wedding costs. I had no small amount of panic when I got a message online that my transfer couldn’t be completed…after that, I made the adjustment, and it’s been fine.

      I don’t know about the whole “by law” thing – I guess I’d want to see the user agreement and see what’s in it; my guess is this is all spelled out there. But it also sounds like the relationship with MC is driving this, and we know with any of the CC companies, all they want is to make money off you.

      But, seriously, what a pain to run into the “transaction declined” thing – you know you have funds, but you’re made to feel like you’re some schlub whose account is overdrawn or whose credit is at the limit.

      Let us know how this turns out – and good luck!

    4. Waldenpond

      Those are minimums established by the law. They can force you onto a credit card ‘if’ but they do not have to.

      My CU locked my checking account once. I save and then spend. They hate it that I don’t use a credit card. When I exhibited unusual spending (that I saved for) they locked me said the couldn’t help me, said contact the credit agency which was a recording. I just took out cash.

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        September 29, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        How in the world do you know that?

        and speaking of worlds ;)
        what in the world would be the rational for limiting activity on savings accounts???

        1. Jim Haygood


          in 1994, with no fanfare, the Greenspan Fed changed the rules to let banks do “overnight sweeps” of checking deposits into savings deposits. My bank notified me of it in 1995, and I went, whoa, WTF?

          Checking deposits have reserve requirements; savings deposits don’t. With this hinky Cinderella dodge, banks turn checking account horse-and-carriages into savings account pumpkins overnight — then back again to magnificent carriages as the sun rises. This way, they evade reserve requirements, which are based on overnight balances.

          Of course, the whole purpose of reserves to back checking accounts is defeated by this sleazy dodge. But it’s “all legal.” *wink, wink*

          Transaction limits are to prevent reserve-free savings accounts from being used like checking accounts. But those rules are for little people, of course. The banks have their own sweet insider deal to use checking accounts like savings accounts — without 99% of their customers having a clue. Why trouble their innocent little heads, over things too complicated for them to understand? /sarc

        2. lyman alpha blob

          I believe it has something to do with banks monitoring how much money their customers in aggregate have on deposit although I’m not sure of the exact rationale behind it. If you’re constantly yanking your money out it’s harder to keep track of. For that there’s checking accounts.

          This practice really isn’t that nefarious (one of the few) and fairly common sense. It was a while ago so my memory may be a little shaky but I once opened an account at a straight savings bank to get a slightly higher interest rate and their charter didn’t allow them to even issue checking accounts – had to use a separate bank for that.

          Only time the rule has been a problem for me is at my credit union where the savings and checking are linked. I try not to keep much in my checking account which is linked to the debit card in case it’s compromised and would just transfer funds into checking if I had an expense to pay. I did run into the transaction limit after making several small transfers to checking and made sure to transfer larger amounts after to avoid having funds shut off.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            After reading Jim’s reply looks like this practice may be a little more nefarious than I thought, at least in banks that offer both checking and savings accounts.

    5. Waldenpond

      Another in the list of frustrating interactions. Person just came to do an estimate for a roof job. Good thing I climbed up and checked before I put the ladder away…. he put a boot sized hole in the roof walking around up there and we have rain coming.

    6. fresno dan

      September 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      I would have had an apoplectic fit if I were you.
      I have never had an account at a credit union, but that just strikes me as an inept credit union. (REALLY – just issuing a new card on the same day as the old one expires with no slack in case you were out of town or something???)
      Best of luck finding a new one because it strikes me that it is mostly poor customer service

    7. Spring Texan

      Loving your CU is good but maybe someone bad is worsening it and it’s time to look elsewhere, if this is their policy. I don’t believe that bullshit about any law. If it’s a small CU you might talk to board members too.

      Check other CUs in the area, after reading reviews (it’s a lot easier to join CUs that it used to be, so there are probably ones you can join).

      I have two good CUs and always check them against each other even so.

  7. Paid Minion

    Drone timeline? 2020? LMAO.

    Example……current state of ADS-B implementation for General Aviation aircraft.

    ADS-B development was started in the early 2000s. Equipment installation was mandated in 2012, with a “Drop Dead/Turn airplanes into giant (grounded) pumpkins” on January 1, 2020).

    250K aircraft in the USA will need the equipment. Currently, many aircraft do not have an “approved” ADS-B installation available. And there won’t be for many airplanes built before approx. 1999-2000, so they will be aluminum scrap in 2020.

    Even if there were enough engineers around to design and certify the installations (which there isn’t), there aren’t enough available technicians, parts or maintenance slots to do all of the airplanes that need to be done by 2020.

    In fact, there are a bunch of bizjet owners who are totally screwed, and don’t know it yet. (They might know, if they hadn’t kicked all of their full time mechanics to the curb, and replaced them with 1099s or a pilot wearing two hats, but I digress…….). If you aren’t already on the schedule somewhere to do this installation, you are going to have problems. This pooch is already screwed.

    Hmmmm………a drop-dead government mandate, large demand, very limited supply. Must be the reason the Private Equity guys have been buying up all of the major General Aviation maintenance shops in the past 2-3 years. In this case, they are incentivized to screw the peons installing the equipment even harder. Pay raises might create competitors.

    1. Jim Haygood

      An analogy would be the Real ID Act of 2005, which originally mandated compliance of state drivers license security features by May 2008.

      Today, some non-compliant states have been given further extensions past the November 2016 election date. Politicians don’t want to infuriate voters in those states by rendering them unable to fly because of their non-compliant state IDs.

      Five hundred thirty-five well-coiffed KongressKlowns can issue any imperious dictate they want. But the reality is that their multiplying, sagging library shelves full of ambitious laws and regulations can’t all be enforced.

      Thus the majesty of the law is mocked by effete, ward-healing poseurs who wouldn’t know whether a nut screws on clockwise or counterclockwise.

  8. Fiver

    If the US approves private lawsuits against Saudi individuals and the Saudi State, does that mean:

    1) The Saudis involved would be able to demand any and all documents in the possession of the US Government or any of its agencies or personnel?

    2) That in terms of International Law would that confer a reciprocal rights, that any victim of US terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan(s), Syria, Indonesia, Philippines etc., etc.?

    Millions of people would be eligible.

    1. RPDC

      The teeth gnashing about the Saudi bill is completely disingenuous. It sets no precedent, because the precedent was set 20 years ago, when families of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 were granted an exception to the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act) to allow them to file suit against Libya for damages. The families received the exception from Congress, filed suit, and recovered nearly $4B.

      As for discovery in the civil case, the government will invoke the State Secrets doctrine (among a host of other BS protections that our corrupt federal courts allow), and virtually nothing will be produced.

      As for the reciprocal rights, in those jurisdictions, we were operating with the consent of the domestic authorities. Where that is the case, there is no exposure.

      1. Fiver

        Thanks for the response. I suggest that the US was not operating with consent of the sovereign authority in Iraq, Libya, Syria, at minimum, and arguably in a number of other jurisdictions if the Pan Am case is considered either the national or the international precedent (assuming International Law has any standing whatever in the US – a dicey proposition as far as I can tell).

        Maybe the concern re Saudi Arabia has to do with their relative ‘weight’ vs the others.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Maybe the Saudis can demand to see Hilary’s emails and then release them, we seem to be having some trouble getting our US justice system to operate correctly. Probably just needs a reboot.

      1. aab

        If Hillary wouldn’t hand them over after all the money the Saudis have invested in her, they could certainly buy them from China, or any one of a number of other foreign governments that have them.

        It’s only American citizens, who were her employers, who are blocked from seeing them.

  9. Jeff W

    The direct link to the Language Log post on the “The perils of ‘7’ and ‘9’ in Cantonese” is here.

    Numbers in Cantonese are indeed fraught with peril. As the post notes 4, 7, 9, 19, 24, 67, and 69 are all pretty risky. Samsung should know better but it’s probably too preoccupied with avoiding the number 18 in Korean.

  10. allan

    If elected, Clinton under pressure to appoint tough Wall Street sheriffs [Reuters]

    [blah blah blah] …

    The New York-based Roosevelt Institute think tank is seeking lesser-known candidates, some outside Washington, for at least 120 administration jobs. Their potential candidates include state attorneys general who have taken on for-profit colleges and handled large mortgage settlements.

    Tom Miller? Eric Schneiderman?

    I love the smell of Veal Pen in the morning.

  11. Tom Denman

    “Hillary Clinton To Nation: “Do Not Fuck This Up For Me'” [The Onion]. Too good not to run again… (First link under “The Voters”)


    And The Onion ran that 17 months before Madam Clinton’s tantrum when she demanded to know why she isn’t leading Trump by 50 points. [1]

    Sometimes fiction is prophetic.

    [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/clinton-why-arent-i-50-points-ahead-of-trump/2016/09/21/d9142b3e-8072-11e6-9578-558cc125c7ba_video.html

    1. Jim Haygood

      The article is from before Hillary’s biggest donor, Haim Saban, bought The Onion in Jan 2016.

      Surprised this disrespectful screed hasn’t been taken down.

      Likely Hillary’s AG will prosecute the author for lèse-majesté.

  12. Rosario

    Jesus, the clip with the general had me rolling. Like something out of a Coen brothers film. What a dark comedy this all is.

  13. Cry Shop


    I think many us have been there: broke and looking for any kind of gig that will get us enough money to make it from one day to another. I did phone sales of subscriptions to a right wing Orange County newspaper. I was 16 and living on the streets of L.A. and needed money… badly. I worked with a dozen or so runaway kids sitting in a miserable loft dialing numbers all day and spewing made up stories of how the subscription revenue was going to help our high school build a new gym (I was a high school dropout) or help Vietnam vets get back on their feet (if they still had any). I lied all day, every day. And for all my bullshitting, I rarely walked with any money. The lying was easy. I read from a script. When I got really bored, I’d improvise. ….
    … The mag crews are tight knit bands with an almost cult-like devotion to their crew leaders—very much like a hooker’s relationship to their pimp

  14. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Fixing Kerry’s statement on the TPP:

    ‘If TPP fails it will be a unilateral ceding of American political influence and power”

    Corrected version:
    ‘If TPP fails it will be a ceding of unilateral American political influence and power”.

    That was easy!

  15. 3.14e-9

    Naked Capitalism, the antidote to feeling like a “meatloaf flying in space all alone”

    Several weeks ago, I posted a comment about a friend who announced she was no longer posting political commentary on Facebook because of all the hate it was generating, even from close real-life friends. I ran into her today. She immediately cornered me and asked in a low, conspiratorial tone whether I’d watched the debate and what I thought.

    I told her that I tried to watch but couldn’t get past two minutes. Further, I had planned to stay sane by following the Naked Capitalism live blog, but it just coincidentally was down (actually, it was up and down in my location, but access was too spotty and random to get comments in real time). She had never heard of Naked Capitalism, so I filled her in and plugged it as arguably the most sane, intelligent commentary on the Internet.

    At the end of our conversation, she let out a big sigh of relief, saying that I was the first person with whom she felt safe discussing her thoughts. With the discussion effectively shut down on her FB page and the hostility of real-life friends to her views, she said she felt like a meatloaf flying in space all alone. I urged her to join the conversation on NC or at least lurk until she felt comfortable commenting, but that she might find she didn’t even have to comment, because someone already would have written what she was thinking. She said she’d check it out. I hope she does, because I know she will be greatly comforted to discover that she most definitely is not alone.

  16. allan

    Harken Health to exit Illinois Obamacare exchange, leaving Cook County residents with 3 choices [Chi Trib]

    Harken Health is abandoning the state’s Obamacare health insurance marketplace.

    Harken, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, said Thursday it will not offer plans on the exchange next year. Insurers Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Land of Lincoln already have announced they won’t offer plans on the exchange next year.

    “It’s just another reduction in options for Illinois consumers,” said Phil Lackman, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.

    Harken’s departure will leave Cook County residents who buy insurance through the exchange with three choices of insurers, according to Illinois Department of Insurance data. …

    The state Department of Insurance recently submitted to the federal government rate increases ranging from averages of 43 to 55 percent for some types of plans that will be offered on the exchange next year. …

    The wreck that is the ACA does not seem to have positive train control.

  17. Shwell Thanksh

    Blaming bitcoin because your bank charged you fees to move them in/out and bezzled you for the 4 day float (when if you held your own coins in your own wallet it would have cost you pennies and taken tens of minutes) = priceless.
    Drink the bankers’ koolaid!

Comments are closed.