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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“Negotiations to establish an EU-Canada free-trade deal could be dead in the water after one of Belgium’s five regional governments voted this week to reject it… CETA’s failure would deal a devastating blow to the EU, which has spent seven years working on the tariff-slicing agreement with Ottawa” [Politico].
“German Court on CETA: Important success for our democratic rights!” [Stop TTIP!]. “[T]he German Constitutional Court – unlike the Commission or the German government – has taken the criticism of CETA’s democratic deficit very seriously and laid down important criteria to ensure the rights of parliaments in the approval and implementation process.”
And then there’s this:
Hillary Clinton flipped her public position on TPP after her team discussed how she would be "eaten alive" by Labor https://t.co/AXJy3ouZuq
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 14, 2016
Of course, after the election Clinton can throw labor under the bus, exactly as Obama did with card check.
“Elizabeth Warren Calls For Obama To Fire SEC Chairwoman Over Failure To Draft Corporate Political Spending Disclosure Rule” [International Business Times]. Another party baron throws their weight around. Before November 8.
“Saban, who’s worth $3.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has two targets at the moment. He wants to take Univision public. His other goal is to elect Hillary Clinton president” [Bloomberg]. “Last summer he told Bloomberg TV that he would give ‘as much as needed’ to ensure her victory, and so far this election cycle he and his wife have donated $10 million to Clinton’s super PAC.”
Our Famously Free Press
“The shadowy war on the press: How the rich silence journalists” [Columbia Journalism Review]. Of course, if you’re rich enough, you just buy your own paper.
UPDATE “Donald Trump will broaden his attack against the media to hit globalism and the Clinton Foundation by charging that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is part of a biased coalition working in collusion with the Clinton campaign and its supporters to generate news reports of decades-old allegations from several women” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump Prepares New Attack on Media, Clinton”]. Another reason this election has been so wonderfully clarifying is that the veneer of “journalism” has been stripped away from the Beltway press; they are simply members of the political class, like lobbyists or campaign operatives, and openly work for the victory of their favored candidates. We saw yesterday from Thomas Frank how the press worked to defeat Sanders, after all. So Trump’s charge is not on its face implausible. No doubt there will be howls of outrage at Trump’s latest transgresson, but the stuck pig squeals.
UPDATE “On WikiLeaks, Journalism, and Privacy: Reporting on the Podesta Archive Is an Easy Call” [The Intercept]. “Last week, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Barstow was interviewed about his decision to publish Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return… As Barstow points out, some of the most important sources in the history of American journalism had horrible motives. For that reason, “What really matters to me is: Is this information real, and if so, is it newsworthy?” That is the only consideration for real journalists.”
“Why Pay Attention to the L.A. Times Poll?” [RealClearPolitics]. “The Times poll is a single survey, generating a two-way result in a year where the four-way average is probably the most relevant. It doesn’t help that the traditional trackers have basically pulled out of the tracking business. This means that the Times poll always has fresh data, and always has the first data available after every event – sometimes the only data available. It also doesn’t help that it is the only poll showing Trump ahead, which inflames liberals and #NeverTrump conservatives…. In the end, though, the RAND poll [predecessor of the L.A. Times Poll] basically got it right [in 2012]. The national polls (though not so much the state polls) were off in 2012. During the closing month of the campaign, they showed, on average, a 0.3 point Romney lead. The RAND poll, by contrast, showed a 3.8 point Obama lead – which was almost exactly correct.”
“All The Reasons You Doubt Polls: Motivated Reasoning Strikes Again” [Princeton Election Consortium]. “Every Presidential election, it happens. People on the side that is heading for a loss find ways to disbelieve what polls are telling them. This year is no different”
“A majority of Americans — 62 percent — think the economy is rigged for certain groups. And a majority of respondents who think the economy is rigged agree that it’s rigged for the rich, politicians, banks and bank executives, and corporations” [Business Insider]. “However, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump differ dramatically on how the rigged economic system is benefiting other subgroups. Sixty-six percent of Trump supporters say the economy is rigged for people who receive government assistance, compared to 32 percent of Clinton supporters. Sixty-two percent of Clinton supporters say the economy is rigged for whites, while 21 percent of Trump supporters say so.” Clearly, Jay Gould’s strategy of hiring one half the working class to kill the other half is still working splendidly.
“In Trump’s wake roughly a quarter of electorate, including some GOP leaders, will have zero respect for and immense anger towards society. This is dangerous stuff. When citizens no longer feel an obligation to be “good” to larger society. That is how countries break apart” [Chris Arnade, Medium]. “Regardless of why, here we are. At a point of no return. At a point where 40% of voters are so angry, they are willing to overthrow they system by voting for a crazy man. At a point where 20% of voters believe the system is not only broken, but invalid. At a point where many citizens don’t want to be citizens.”
“By the time Mr. Trump and his traveling press corps arrived, the audience was primed to direct its anger at the media. As Mr. Trump’s reporters filed into the arena, the crowd surrounding the press pen broke out in boos. A man in the first row shouted ‘you suck’ at reporters unpacking their laptops. Eventually the entire crowd began chanting ‘tell the truth’ and then “CNN sucks'” [Wall Street Journal, “Trump Rally-Goers Dismiss His Vulgarities, Offer Their Own for Clinton, News Media”]. Probably the reporters are the first people from the Acela Corridor the crowd members have been close to in the field. So no wonder.
“Why would [Putin] find [the current American political leadership class] decadent—morally hollowed out, unserious? That is the terrible part: because he knows them” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, “America’s Decadent Leadership Class”]. The Uranium One story would be one reason. Nooners jumps around a lot on this one; lots of “***”s. First, she throws Trump and the press under the bus:
On the latest groping charges: We cannot know for certain what is true, but my experience in such matters is that when a woman makes such a charge she is telling the truth. In a lifetime of fairly wide acquaintance, I’ve not known a woman to lie about sexual misbehavior or assault. I believe Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, and I believe the women making the charges against Mr. Trump in the New York Times. The mainstream media of the United States is in the tank for the Democratic nominee, to its great and destructive shame: They add further ruin to the half-ruined reputation of a great American institution. That will make the country’s future harder and more torn up. But this story, at least as to the testimony of its central figures, does not appear to be an example of that.
“Yet while the Democrats are more united behind their 2016 nominee, they’re arguably more divided over their party’s vision and future. And if Trump self-destructs and delivers the White House to them, Democrats should contain their glee, because their victory will have only delayed their day of reckoning” [Boston Globe]. “The Democratic Party’s core identity, far predating its embrace of various civil rights movements, is as the defender of rank-and-file workers. Yet today’s Democrats are caught in a political scissors: the emergence of a new professional class that is progressive on social issues but, according to Michael Haselswerdt, a political scientist at Canisius College in Buffalo, ‘Their progressivism is moving them away from working-class voters, and the weakness of the labor movement is only accelerating that.’… [A]s upscale professionals and working-class voters vie for influence within each of two evenly matched parties, there’s plenty of identity crisis to go around.” Thomas Frank’s analysis is much more crisp. Note the sloshy weakness of “progressive.” Progress toward what? For whom?
Clinton Email Hairballs
The latest batch of Podesta emails is especially rich. Again, I don’t see any smoking guns (so far) but the mail gives great insight into how the Clinton dynasty would govern.
I could have filed this one under “Our Famously Free Press”:
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) October 14, 2016
If Neera Tanden indeed becomes Clinton’s chief of staff, things should get interesting quickly:
millennials, we value your voice pic.twitter.com/9YOgCPYMyC
— Carl Beijer (@CarlBeijer) October 14, 2016
— James Bronson (@jamezbronson) October 14, 2016
UPDATE “Judicial Watch Releases New Hillary Clinton Email Answers Given under Oath” [Judicial Watch]. Clinton’s lawyers are certainly good, though to be fair, they’ve had many opportunities to hone their skills. The “answers” begin with “General Objections.” This is #3:
Secretary Clinton objects to the Interrogatories insofar as they request information about Secretary Clinton’s use of her clintonemail.com account to send and receive e-mails that were personal in nature, as such use is not within the scope of the permitted topics set forth in General Objection No. 2. Secretary Clinton will construe the Interrogatories to ask only about her use of her clintonemail.com account to send and receive e-mails related to State Department business.
In other words, Clinton is defending a system where public officials can (1) privatize all their data storage and (2) determine by themselves which data is personal, and which isn’t, and only hand over that which they deem not to be personal. That makes a mockery of FOIA, to begin with.
Producer Price Index (Final Demand), September 2016: “The headlines are promising and year-on-year rates are mostly going in the right direction, but some of the details of the September producer price report are on the soft side” [Econoday]. “Goods rose 0.7 percent reflecting a monthly swing higher in energy and also a noticeable 0.6 percent rise in consumer foods that reflect an 11 percent jump in vegetables.” Vegetables? Huh? And: “I don’t have anything crazy going on in my core CPI forecast, but steady rises in many of the services categories mean that 0.2%’s, not 0.1%’s, will be the norm going forward.” [Amherst Pierpont, Across the Curve].
Business Inventories, August 2016: “Inventories continue to edge incrementally higher” [Econoday]. “Inventories at retailers, boosted by swelling at auto dealers, rose a sharp 0.6 percent in a build, however, that looks manageable given this morning’s solid retail sales report for September, one that is headed by strength in vehicle sales.” And: “This was an up month for business sales – but inventories remain at recession levels (but moderating). This is a very strange business cycle which does not seem to know whether it wants to go up or down” [Econintersect].
Consumer Sentiment, October 2016 (preliminary): “[D]own sharply” [Econoday]. “Weakness is centered in expectations where the component is down more than 6 points to 76.6 to match the lowest reading since this year’s preliminary April report…. [T]he weakness in expectations does point to doubts over future income prospects which, if confirmed in subsequent reports, would not point to strength for the holiday shopping season.” But: “The latest sentiment number puts us 18.6 points above the average recession mindset and 0.3 points above the non-recession average” [Econintersect]. And: “It was also noted in the report that uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election is weighing on the consumer, and a post-election rebound could be in store” [Economic Calendar].
Retail Sales, September 2016: Solid, hits consensus [Econoday]. “This whole report in fact will give a lift to GDP, providing a quarter-end pop to consumer spending which was soft in the quarter’s first two months. Strength in retail sales ultimately reflects strength in the labor market and today’s report will further build expectations for an FOMC rate hike at the December meeting.” And: “There was a further increase in motor vehicle and parts inventories of 1.2% in the month with a 10.2% annual increase, which will maintain concerns over the risk of excess inventories in the sector if sales start to slip. The inventory/sales ratio in the auto sector increased to 2.27 from 2.23 the previous month and 2.11 last year. In contrast, there was a monthly downturn in inventories at retail stores” [Economic Calendar]. But: “Clothing and accessory store sales were unchanged from August at $21.4 million—only a 0.7% increase from September 2015. General merchandise sales—which include department stores—were down 0.4% on a monthly basis and 2.5% compared with last year to $55.1 million. Department store sales alone declined 0.7% from August to $12.8 million and that was down 6.4% from a year ago” [Sourcing Journal]. And but: “[T]he relationship between year-over-year growth in inflation adjusted retail sales and retail employment has inverted – and this is normally a recessionary sign” [Econintersect]. Musical interlude!
Retail: “Sales at clothing and accessories stores were flat in September, as warmer than usual weather meant people weren’t ready to buy fall apparel” [Sourcing Journal].
Retail: “ChromebookGoogle parent Alphabet Inc has decisively won the back-to-school laptop shopping wars, beating out Apple Inc. with its low-priced Chromebook lineup” [ETF Daily News]. “Apple’s PCs, which are in dire need of a upgrade, saw a 13% sales decline in the third quarter.”
Retail: “Amazon Wants to Scan Your License Plate” [The Atlantic]. I wonder if that data alone would me those brick and mortar stores worthwhile?
Supply Chain: “Edwin Keh, chief executive officer at the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles (HKRITA),] pointed to three particular instances in recent history: the end of the quota system for apparel products in 2005; 2008’s global financial crisis; and the uptick in e-commerce sales in Christmas 2010.. As a result of this, the role of what the supply chain does in companies changed,” Keh said, explaining that it shifted from a cost center to something that could be a competitive advantage. “In addition, our supply chains changed from a hierarchical supply chain—designers at the top, manufacturers at the bottom—to a peer-to-peer relationship in which because we need things fast and we need things real time and because there are so many variables, we have to talk differently” [Sourcing Journal]. In other words, these supply chains are fragile and vulnerable to disruption. What labor needs is an international creole that would work on the Twitter. Or SMS.
Supply Chain: “World’s first national drone delivery service takes off” [Air Cargo News]. “The Rwandan government has today launched the world’s first national drone delivery service to transport medical supplies to hard-to-reach places. The drones, designed and operated by Californian firm Zipline, will make up to 150 on-demand deliveries of blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.”
Shipping: “Truckers are finding it harder and costlier to line up coverage for their fleets, as a wave of blockbuster payouts over accidents pushes insurers out of the market.” [Wall Street Journal, “‘Nuclear’ Verdicts Have Insurers Running From Trucks”]. “The number of people killed in accidents involving large trucks fell 20% in the last decade, according to the Transportation Department, though it ticked higher last year. But a string of so-called “nuclear” verdicts, where juries award tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to families of accident victims, have made the financial consequences of those crashes harder to predict.”
Shipping: “Early reports from California gateways show import volumes sank last month as Hanjin’s ships were stranded offshore and turbulence spread across regional supply chains. Hanjin controlled only about 3.2% of global container shipping capacity, WSJ Logistics Report’s Erica E. Phillips writes, but the disruptions had an outsize impact at terminals where the carriers calls. The Port of Long Beach had its weakest September for imports since 2012, with volume down 15% from the same month last year, and Oakland’s inbound shipments slipped back 4.2%. The figures suggest the peak shipping season is turning into something of a roller-coast at U.S. ports” [Wall Street Journal].
Shipping: “[A]lthough the logistics business is expanding rapidly, warehouse workers often are hired through staffing agencies, and organizing them station by station presents a big logistics challenge” [Wall Street Journal].
The Bezzle: “On Friday, Wells Fargo reported, along with its earnings, that applications for new checking accounts plunged 25% in September versus a year ago. Credit card application were down as well, by 20% from a year ago” [Fortune].
The Bezzle: “People made sick by Soylent bars report ‘gelatinous substance’ on wrapper” [The Guardian]. “Many of the Soylent fans insisted they would not be deterred by the reports. ‘There was a bright green liquid/gelatinous substance on the inner wrapper of today’s bar,’ one reported to the company. ‘I ate it anyways, confident in my ability to digest anything natural. It otherwise smelled and tasted fine.'”
The Bezzle: “Blue Apron’s busy New Jersey facility a real fight club” [New York Post]. “Just three weeks ago, on Sept. 20, bedlam erupted inside the facility as three fights broke out during a single evening shift — prompting a frightened team of corporate supervisors to flee the premises, according to eyewitnesses. … To date, Blue Apron has raised nearly $200 million from Silicon Valley investors, valuing the company at $2 billion.” Read the whole story for the details of this new economy hell-hole. I’ll pick out two details:
One of the flashpoints for employee fights is the commute. Workers at the out-of-the-way building have to catch a shuttle bus to the light-rail train. Miss the last shuttle bus and you have to take an expensive Uber ride.
Ah. I knew Uber would appear somewhere. And then there’s this:
The chaos in Jersey City is an embarrassment for Blue Apron’s 33-year-old founder and chief executive, Matt Salzberg, who leads the well-funded startup and directs his growing army of workers from a lavish loft in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.
A “lavish loft.” Of course, of course.Wait ’til some lucky gourmet finds a severed thumb in one of their “gourmet meal-kits”…
The Bezzle: “Yahoo won’t hold a call after it reports earnings Tuesday as the company continues to work on selling itself to Verizon, according to a statement” [Business Insider]. “The news comes a day after Verizon’s legal team said Yahoo’s unprecedented hack of at least 500 million accounts is a “material” event that could affect the acquisition. Verizon said the burden is on Yahoo to prove that the hack wasn’t a material event.”
The Bezzle: “Snapchat plans ‘mega-unicorn’ flotation worth an estimated $25bn” [The Age]. “The company hopes to attract $350m in advertising revenue this year, a six-fold jump from 2015, after a huge expansion of its brand partnership schemes. Banking heavyweights Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are said to have been appointed to oversee the IPO, which some analysts claim could open the floodgates for other mega-unicorn companies such as Uber or Airbnb to follow suit.” So far as I know, the SnapChat people aren’t crooks, unlike Uber and AirBnB. That would lower their valuation, no doubt.
The Bezzle: “‘The car is going to become another node in the internet of things,’ said Kamyar Moinzadeh, chief executive of Airbiquity, a Seattle software and engineering company
talking his book specializing in vehicle tracking and telematics” [New York Times]. That’s what scares me. Remember this?
— Clemens Vasters (@clemensv) October 12, 2016
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42, Fear (previous close: 36, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 14 at 11:22am.
“More than a trillion galaxies are lurking in the depths of space, a new census of galaxies in the observable universe has found — 10 times more galaxies than were previously thought to exist” [Space].
“How to Cut Cake Fairly and Finally Eat It Too” [Quanta]. “[I]n April, two computer scientists defied expectations by posting a paper online describing whose running time depends only on the number of players, not on their individual preferences. Even a simpler such algorithm would be unlikely to have practical implications, [author] Brams cautioned, since the cake portions that players receive would typically include many tiny crumbs from different parts of the cake — not a feasible approach if you’re dividing something like a tract of land. But for mathematicians and computer scientists who study cake cutting, the new result ‘resets the subject,’ [author] Stromquist said.” Reader comments?
“How much bigger can the U.S. labor force get?” [Washington Center for Equitable Economics]. “The U.S. labor market continues to recover from the still lingering effects of the Great Recession, but the question on the minds of many economists and analysts is how long can the healing continue? Or, in other words, has the U.S. economy hit “full employment,” where all the workers who can be drawn into the labor market by a stronger economy are now finding jobs? [Markets are not organic. They do not “heal.” –lambert] “When it comes to prime-age men, health problems seem to be a huge barrier to labor market participation. According to the paper, almost 50 percent of men in this age group are taking medicine to control pain, and about 40 percent of this group say health issues are preventing them from taking a job. This is structural force that is not directly related to the Great Recession, but it certainly is amenable to a policy response.” I like “prime age men,” so reminiscent of “prime, healthy”, “likely”, “stoutly made,” and so forth.
“Genomics is failing on diversity” [Nature]. “A 2009 analysis revealed that 96% of participants in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were of European descent1. Such studies scan the genomes of thousands of people to find variants associated with disease traits. The finding prompted warnings that a much broader range of populations should be investigated2 to avoid genomic medicine being of benefit merely to “a privileged few”.Seven years on, we’ve updated that analysis. Our findings indicate that the proportion of individuals included in GWAS who are not of European descent has increased to nearly 20%. Much of this rise, however, is a result of more studies being done in Asia on populations of Asian ancestry. The degree to which people of African and Latin American ancestry, Hispanic people and indigenous peoples are represented in GWAS has barely shifted.”
News of the Wired
“Twitter account tracks dictators’ planes to and from Geneva” [The FCPA Blog]. “A Twitter account called GVA Dictator Alert tracks planes registered to or used by despots when they fly into and out of Geneva, Switzerland. Planes being tracked — about 80 of them so far — are registered to governments or known to be used by royal families or leaders. The tracked planes come from Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan.” Surely that’s a rather limited list?
“Google’s AI reasons its way around the London Underground” [Nature].