2:00PM Water Cooler 6/2/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“The $834 billion cut in federal Medicaid spending in the American Health Care Act would kick off budget battles in the states that go way beyond Medicaid. We could see cuts to higher education, school funding, corrections, environmental protection or other state priorities — or new taxes, depending on the state” [Axios].

UPDATE “Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord” [WhiteHouse.gov].

“Why Trump Actually Pulled Out Of Paris” [Michael Grunwald, Politico]. “Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from this carefully crafted multilateral compromise was a diplomatic and political slap: It was about extending a middle finger to the world, while reminding his base that he shares its resentments of fancy-pants elites and smarty-pants scientists and tree-hugging squishes who look down on real Americans who drill for oil and dig for coal. He was thrusting the United States into the role of global renegade, rejecting not only the scientific consensus about climate but the international consensus for action, joining only Syria and Nicaragua (which wanted an even greener deal) in refusing to help the community of nations address a planetary problem. Congress doesn’t seem willing to pay for Trump’s border wall—and Mexico certainly isn’t—so rejecting the Paris deal was an easier way to express his Fortress America themes without having to pass legislation.”

Lambert here: In short form, yes: Regulation, executive orders, and diplomacy/war powers are the big story of the Trump administration; areas where the executive can act unchecked by the legislative branch. That said, I would very much like an answer to the following question, because I haven’t seen it addressed in my travels: Is there an “elephant chart” for climate regulation? That is, under globalization, average global well-being improved, but the average improvement concealed the effects of, say shipping Rust Belt jobs off to Asia to create a middle class there, which turned out to be an actual drop in life expectancy in the impacted areas (see Case-Deaton). The intuitive shape of justifications for the Paris Agreement seem very much the same to me as the justifications for globalization: A global average increase in well-being, but no discussion of who will bear the costs, or be compensated for them (if at all). As Warren Buffet says: “If you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.” So who’s the patsy? Now, to caveat — and my OED says that caveat is a verb — I’m by no means an expert on climate policy. And I’d love to hear that I’m just wrong to have this concern; that is, that green jobs (see below) will come through, and so forth. Readers? (NOTE: If my concern is well-founded, “But the planet!” is not an answer. As Frank Herbert writes in Dune: “The people who can destroy a thing, they control it.” So…) Oh, and this has nothing to do with “the science,” which I think is right; I live next to the very dynamic Gulf of Maine; I know the lobsters are moving North. But politics is “the art of the possible,” not “the art of ‘But science!'”

“Negotiating the Paris accord was complicated and required determined American diplomacy and the leadership of President Barack Obama, but the reason that 195 nations signed the agreement and made ambitious national commitments is rather simple: The science clearly shows that the world is warming at a rapid pace. If we collectively fail to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, our children and grandchildren will face higher sea levels, more violent storms, disrupted food supplies, catastrophic loss of infrastructure, climate-induced human migration and global insecurity” [John Podesta, WaPo]. “In addition to damaging U.S. strategic interests, the future of the American economy is at stake. While other countries will lead the global transition to clean energy, particularly China and the European Union, Trump and his allies in Congress are undermining America’s innovative businesses and workers. Renewable energy supports between 4 million and 4.5 million jobs in the United States, and renewable-energy capacity has more than tripled since 2008. That’s why the majority of Americans in every state support the Paris agreement and why thousands of businesses and investors worth trillions of dollars are calling for climate action. Trump’s ‘America first’ strategy is putting America last in the race to create the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future.” Unfortunately, this is John Podesta — I’ve helpfully underlined the buzzwords appealing to the 10%ers that form Clinton’s base — and notice that all the domestic benefits are couched in terms of those averages (hidden under the word “collectively”).

UPDATE “Fact check: Trump’s Paris climate speech claims analyzed” [Guardian]. “The Paris agreement itself places no ‘energy restrictions’ on the US – it’s a voluntary agreement that leaves it up to countries to decide how to cut their emissions. But several economists have warned that leaving the Paris agreement will stymie clean energy investment and ensure the production of solar panels and wind turbines – the very blue-collar jobs Trump claims to value – will take place in China rather than the US.” That Paris places no “energy restrictions” on the US undercuts Trump, but surely it rather undercuts the effectiveness of the deal, as well?

UPDATE “Trump misunderstood MIT climate research, university officials say” [Reuters]. “‘If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic,’ said John Reilly, the co-director of the program, adding that MIT’s scientists had had no contact with the White House and were not offered a chance to explain their work…. A senior administration official defended Trump’s use of the findings. “It’s not just MIT. I think there is a consensus, not only in the environmental community, but elsewhere that the Paris agreement in and of itself will have a negligible impact on climate,” the official told reporters at a briefing.”

UPDATE “Trump Pulls Out of the Paris Climate Agreement” [Foreign Policy]. “Oil giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, as well as Apple, Dow Chemical, Adobe, Intel, Hewlett Packard are among 25 big U.S. firms who ran a full-page ad in Washington, D.C. newspapers urging Trump to honor his predecessor’s climate commitments.” So…

UPDATE “Here Are the 10 Governors and 82 Mayors Who Denounce Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement [Weather.com]. Remarkable source!


Interview with Bernie Sanders: “The Man Who Knows Trump’s Voters” [Der Spiegel (MsExpat)]. “In his opinion, would the Democrats be making a mistake by focusing solely on Russia? If everything is about Russia, says Sanders, many people will say: ‘Hey, all of that is interesting, but you know what? I can’t afford health care. I don’t have a job. My kid can’t afford to go to college. Why don’t you pay attention to our needs?’ “I think we have got to do both, and I am doing my best not to simply get involved in the Trump controversies, but to stay focused on his disastrous budget, their disastrous health-care plan, and more importantly, bring forth a progressive agenda, which can excite working people and young people all over this country,’ Sanders says.”

“Because of the terms of the agreement, it will take until 2020 for the United States to fully exit. That means that the battle lines are formed for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Every politician between now and then must answer the question of whether she or he stands with Trump and fossil-fuel special interests or stands with the health and well-being of our children and our planet” [John Podesta, WaPo]. From the same article as above, but important. I would love a shift in attention from the Russkis, and if the Paris Agreement is that shift, then have at it, say I.

UPDATE “At a time when Demo­crats could pro­ject them­selves as the adults in the room, the clam­or for “res­ist­ance” and mil­it­ant rhet­or­ic is grow­ing louder and louder. There is a press­ing need for prag­mat­ic, mod­er­ate voices on health care, cli­mate change, and a panoply of oth­er is­sues, but Demo­crats seem to be un­hinged by their an­im­us to­ward the lead­er of the op­pos­i­tion party.

“The vis­cer­al loath­ing of both Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton among so many con­ser­vat­ives and Re­pub­lic­ans un­der­mined at­tempts by mod­er­ates to be fair-minded, bal­anced, and meas­ured. Today, the con­tempt that lib­er­als and Demo­crats have for Trump has reached a com­par­able level…. Judging by news re­ports, the re­cent Cali­for­nia Demo­crat­ic state con­ven­tion ap­peared to be al­most com­pletely out of con­trol, a case of the in­mates tak­ing over the asylum” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “To cap­ture House and Sen­ate ma­jor­it­ies, Demo­crats will need to win dis­tricts and states that Trump car­ried with room to spare, as well as those that he just barely won or split al­most evenly. Rather than push­ing the mes­sage that the voters in those dis­tricts and states were stu­pid, fool­ish, or mor­ally de­fi­cient, Demo­crats should be present­ing them­selves as a bet­ter al­tern­at­ive, a party pre­pared to con­front the prob­lems fa­cing the coun­try no mat­ter who is in the White House.” What a schizoid article by Cook! In California, for example, it’s precisely the “inmates” who are “prepared to confront the problems facing the country” with, for example, #MedicareForAll. And it’s people like Perez, Clinton, and Pelosi who want to yammer about evil Russkis.


UPDATE “Poll: Dem Ossoff leads by 1 in Georgia House race” [The Hill]. “Early voting for the contest started Tuesday and runs through June 16. The special election over Georgia’s 6th District is scheduled to conclude June 20…. WBS-TV/Landmark Communications conducted its latest survey of 500 Georgia voters via phone and online interviews from May 30-31. It has a 4.4 percent margin of error.”

2016 Post Mortem

“In (partial) defense of Hillary Clinton” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. “But the harder question — the one this blame game is designed to obscure — is why was the election close enough for Clinton to lose?” To be answered next week…

UPDATE “Democratic Senator Al Franken told Yahoo News: ‘I think she has a right to analyse what happened, but we do have to move on'” [Yahoo News]. “Minnesota Senator Franken said on Thursday: ‘We have to move on by proving we are the party that cares about a lot of the people who voted for Donald Trump.'” Which is, of course, precisely what many factions in the Democrat Party resist doing, vehemently.

UPDATE “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire” [Politico]. “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.” Yeah, sheesh, it’s almost like the Clinton campaign was trying to get a foreign power to hack interfere with meddle in our elections. I mean, I always did feel that having a Ukrainian doing oppo for the DNC smelled a bit funny.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor opens up about her sons’ opioid addictions” [Dayton Daily News]. It is amazing to me to watch Democrats not give two sh*ts about the opioid crisis, and its larger context, “deaths from despair” a la Case Deaton. Of course, if a humanitarian crisis is far away liberal Democrat goodthinkers are all over it like a cheap suit. Close to home, not so much. Odd. Then again, considering that the last time we had a drug epidemic, we got the horrid “War on Drugs” and the carceral state, maybe this is a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Oh, and Mary Taylor is a Republican.

UPDATE “In the Trump era, the conviction has spread among elites—especially, but not only, among progressive elites—that the people have failed them. This very conviction, though, is an indication of how American elites have failed the people” [RealClearPolitics]. Very Brechtian: “Wouldn’t it be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?” More: “One can quarrel with the elements of the “new social compact” that [Financial Times columnist Edward] Luce proposes [in The Retreat of Western Liberalism] to assist Western elites in regaining the people’s trust. In America, the compact would comprise an array of policies that are, he notes, not easy to pigeonhole. But with its call for universal health care, humane immigration laws, free speech on campuses and in the media, a greatly simplified tax code, a Marshall plan to retrain the middle class, emancipation of politics from money, and a reimagining of representative democracy, it resembles nothing so much as an updated version of the moderate center-left politics championed by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.” Hmm. We saw Neera Tanden, et al., propose a “Marshall Plan” recently; but it was sloppy and unserious.

UPDATE “The empirical evidence of the danger from administrative power is mounting. Not being directly accountable to the people – or even to judges who act without bias – administrative power crushes the life and livelihood out of entire classes of Americans, depriving them of work and even of lifesaving medicines. It therefore is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, overall, the administrative assault on basic freedoms is unnecessary and even dangerous” [RealClearPolitics]. “Americans therefore need to recognize that administrative power revives absolute power and profoundly threatens civil liberties. Once Americans understand this, they can begin to push back, and the fate of administrative power will then be only a matter of time.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, May 2017: “An unexpectedly weak employment report has put a rate hike at this month’s FOMC in doubt” [Econoday]. “Average hourly earnings are also not favorable. Wages are going nowhere with the year-on-year rate sitting at 2.5 percent. A fall in the participation is yet another negative… Unemployment is very low and contrasts with the lack of wage pressure.” Trump may be delivering for his base, but he’s not delivering for the volatility voters who went for MAGA (as they did for hope and change). And: “The household and establishment surveys were well out of sync this month. The unemployment rate drop was caused by a decline in the size of the workforce. One has mixed feeling while diving into the data – is the glass half full or empty?” [Econintersect]. And: “The headline jobs number was below expectations, and there were combined downward revisions to the previous two months. Is this is slowdown in hiring a short term issue, part of the normal business cycle, or due to a Trump Slump? My view is this slowdown in hiring is mostly part of the normal business cycle” [Calculated Risk]. And: “The chart says it all- deceleration that started when oil capex collapsed not abetting, and the decelerating credit charts indicate much more of same coming” [Mosler Economics]. Oil capex has been Mosler’s story consistently. If ditching Paris gives oil capex a boost, that might help Trump with his volatility voters, and some factions in the oligarchy, though not with his suburban base.

International Trade, April 2017: [Econoday]. “The bad news is accelerating for the second quarter. The trade deficit widened in April to $47.6 billion from a revised $45.3 billion in March. This opens the quarter on yet another defensive front.” And: “Higher than expected trade deficit means GDP was that much lower than expected. And all highly $US unfriendly” [Mosler Economics]. And: “Our monthly analysis using unadjusted data showed less strength in both exports and imports relative to last month. But the data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are decelerating. This data will have a negative impact to 2Q2017 GDP” [Econintersect]. And: “The trade deficit with China increased to $27.6 billion in April, from $24.3 billion in April 2016” [Calculated Risk].

Housing: ” Loan origination volume hit a three year low this year. What? How is that possible when all the cheerleaders are out in the streets preaching the good gospel of buying real estate? Well the reality is that a good portion of the market is still driven by investors” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “Nationally inventory is down 7.7 percent year-over-year. For Los Angeles, it is down 11.3 percent. And this is down from already record low levels. There is simply too few crap shacks available to buy. So that bodes well for prices right? Well that assumes the economy keeps chugging along and optimism runs supreme.”

Retail: “Report: 1 in 4 Malls to Shutter by 2022” [Sourcing Journal]. “Though the commercial real estate industry has been putting a sunny face on its collective preparedness—anchors are becoming gyms! Storefronts are transforming into restaurants—its hard to imagine how all of this space will be repurposed in just 5 years. That said, some have been using the rash of closures and bankruptcies to oust low paying tenants in favor of businesses from which they can demand more…. And some property owners have more of a challenge than others. The credit agency highlights Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties as two of the once that have long since exited vulnerable B and C properties. Today each enjoy at least 96 percent occupancy. With 11 and 12 percent respective occupancy rates in weak malls, Macy’s and JC Penney have the most exposure, Credit Suisse noted.”

Retail: “Major Wall Street Firm Expects 25% of U.S. Malls to Close by 2022” [Fortune]. “That translates to some 275 shopping centers in the next five years… the expected rash of closings is much more likely to hit low end malls than high end ones, or at least those that are well maintained. There is no doubt there is too much retail space in the U.S. and that a contraction has long been coming: there are 2,353 square feet of space of shopping centers in the U.S. for every 100 Americans, compared with 1,636 in Canada and 458 in Britain, according to recent data from CoStar Realty Information.” Seems like our mall space is just as out of line as our health care system. WTF?

Retail: “[Radio Shack] shuttered more than 1,000 stores over the Memorial Day weekend, leaving the Fort Worth, Texas-based chain with just 70 company-owned stores” [247 Wall Street]. “Following the announcement over Memorial Day weekend, there will be 425 stores owned by franchisees and 500 dealer-owned stores. Most of the remaining company-owned locations of the 96-year-old electronics retailer are located in a handful of states, and three states have the lion’s share of them. New York has the most company-owned stores of any state, 22, followed by Pennsylvania with 18 and Texas with 13.” Radic Shack, bust. Shake Shack, boom. Why?

Shipping; “China-Europe rail services are set to triple within three years as demand grows and shippers “catch on” to the advantages”” [The LoadStar]. “[Antonio Pacciolla, regional head of overland Europe at Panalpina] added: ‘The rail service is one-third the cost of air freight and twice as fast as ocean freight. It’s an interesting proposition that is catching on.'” Fascinating to watch China stretch as a land power.

Shipping: “Kenya Just Opened a $4 Billion Chinese-Built Railway, its Largest Infrastructure Project in 50 Years” [Newsweek]. As above. But come on. Can the Chinese develop a $400 WiFi-enabled cold press juicer? Huh? Huh?

Shipping: “The German shipowner Rickmers Group, established in 1834, is to file for insolvency after its bankers “surprisingly denied” approval of its financial restructuring” [The LoadStar]. I don’t like surprises.

Shipping: “Rickmers Holding AG said it would file for insolvency after a proposal to refinance was “surprisingly denied” by creditor HSH Nordbank, the WSJ’s William Wilkes writes. Both the carrier and its creditor are victims of the deep slump in global ocean freight, where stagnant volumes and a glut of ships drove down rates. The biggest shipping lines consolidated into a handful of alliances to weather the downturn, while many smaller carriers went bust, saddling banks like HSH Nordbank with bad loans. The financial firm is under pressure from regulators to clean up its balance sheet, likely reducing its flexibility to extend more loans to keep Rickmers afloat. As a charterer leasing ships to third parties, a Rickmers bankruptcy likely wouldn’t cause the sort of disruption seen after Hanjin Shipping’s filing, which left billions of dollars in cargo stranded at sea” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Silicon Valley’s Unicorns Are Overvalued” [Stanford Business] (original study). “But are these magical beasts really dressed-up ponies? New research from Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Ilya Strebulaev shows that these companies report values on average about 51% above what they are really worth. And some, including management software company Compass and financial technology company Kabbage, are more than 100% above fair market value.” But with all that stupid money sloshing about, who cares?

The Bezzle: “Blue Apron Gears Up for IPO” [247 Wall Street]. “Since its inception, Blue Apron has scaled rapidly, developing its expertise and an ever-more ambitious vision. From inception through March 31, 2017, the company has delivered over 159 million meals to households across the United States, which represents about 25 million paid orders.” I’m filing this under The Bezzle because of a common factor they share with Silicon Valley startups: Ugly labor practices which, one day, may come back to bite them (and their valuation depends, does it not, on that never happening?)

The Bezzle: “What if the bitcoin bubble bursts?” [The Economist]. “If there is such a thing as a healthy bubble, this is it. To be sure, regulators should watch out that cryptocurrencies do not become even more of a conduit for criminal activity, such as drug dealing. But they should think twice before coming down hard, particularly on ICOs. Being too spiky would not just prick a bubble, but also prevent a lot of the useful innovation that is likely to come about at the same time.” Ah. “Innovation.”

Political Risk: “Bitcoin mining companies face shutdown in southwest China” [People’s Daily]. “Bitcoin mining companies have been shut down or relocated in Mabian Yi Autonomous County, home to a prosperous mining industry in southwest China’s Sichuan province, and the reason for the phenomenon is unclear…. Another industry insider reluctant to reveal his name said China is home to the largest amount of Bitcoin factories in the world, but the industry is under loose supervision.”

Political Risk: “Google could face a $9bn EU fine for rigging search results in its favour” [Independent]. “The EU competition authority accused Google in April 2015 of distorting internet search results to favour its shopping service, harming both rivals and consumers.” Shocking, I know, that when the same company runs a search business and a shopping busienss the two come into conflict. Why don’t we break Google up?

Climate: “The immediate industries that have the most to win and lose around climate change are solar, alternative energy, renewable energy, coal, oil and gas, and other fossil fuels. However, these industries did not translate into an obvious outcome in the financial markets. Does it seem odd that solar hardly budged or that coal and oil fell?” [247 Wall Street]. “What many industry watchers may have overlooked is that the global investment in clean energy already had posted a big decline in 2016. This was the first annual decline in years, and it was long before Trump became president.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 58, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 19 at 11:57am. Back in form!

Class Warfare

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing a program that sends store employees to deliver online orders at the end of their shifts” [Bloomberg]. “Workers can opt in to earn extra money by making deliveries using their own cars. They’re assigned packages based on where they live so the route aligns with their commute home, the company said Thursday in a blog post. Wal-Mart didn’t specify how the employees will be compensated. The test began at three locations in Arkansas and New Jersey… About 90 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Wal-Mart, and the company is using those locations as shipping hubs to compete with Amazon on the last mile of delivery — the most expensive part of getting goods to customers. By using existing workers in their own cars, Wal-Mart could create a vast network with little upfront cost, similar to how Uber Technologies Inc. created a ride-hailing service without owning any cars.” So there’s an accident when a Wal-Mart employee is doing this. How does the insurance work?

“In much of the country, public housing is disappearing as governments fail to maintain the buildings or actively demolish them. That’s a disaster for many low-income people, who have nowhere else to go. But it’s hard to find much public support for maintaining the housing—let alone building more” [JSTOR].

News of the Wired

I guess I’m just not feeling wired today. You?

UPDATE “New U.S. visa applications ask for social media handles, email addresses for past 5 years” [Daily Dot]. This is madness, since other countries will do the same.

* * *

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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Notice in the first pic of the Grand Dame of the South there is a bee – yay!”

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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. justanotherprogressive

    “So there’s an accident when a Wal-Mart employee is doing this. How does the insurance work?”

    Well, if you are a “good” Walmart employee, you tell your insurance company that you were just going home. If you are a “bad” Walmart employee, you tell your insurance company you were delivering for Walmart and 1) you lose your job and 2) your insurance refuses to pay for any of the damages because you don’t have a “commercial” policy……

    But, hey, either way Walmart is off the hook. After all, it’s up the employee to get commercial insurance for his own car…..

    1. JamesG

      Having been responsible for insurance at a large corporation I can assure you that WalMart (run by competent people) has already thought through the insurance/risk angle and is getting insurer(s) on board before the program is introduced..

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Those “competent people” at Walmart have foisted the cost of their employees working onto the taxpayer by paying their employees so low that many have to be on governmental assistance. God only knows what those “competent people” will do with this……

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > After all, it’s up the employee to get commercial insurance for his own car…..

      Now I feel re-assured. Hey, maybe WalMart will offer employees a “special deal” on in-house car insurance!

    3. No Way Out

      Why not bring the customers to and from the store also? A sort of Uber-Mart type of thing, where employee-drivers would then be told, “Well you were going to have to pay for the gas and insurance anyways.”

  2. Jim Haygood

    On this historic Amazon Breakout Day (AMZN’s at 1,007), what better way to celebrate than with some chart porn?

    This morning the unemployment rate fell to a fresh cyclical low of 4.3 percent. Jeffrey Gundlach’s indicator — the U rate vs its 12-month MA [moving average], which signals recession when it rises above 1.0 — is sinking like a stone, along with probability of a recession anytime soon. It’s the black line in this chart:


    Likewise, Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator shot up 3% during May to a fresh cyclical high for much the same reason: plunging unemployment claims, a proxy for economic strength. Behold the runaway chart:


    Well, we laid a strip for the stock exchange
    And prepared to cross the MA line
    I could see the floor was lined with bears
    But I didn’t have a dog-goned dime

    I says, Pig Pen, this here’s the Rubber Duck
    We just ain’t a-gonna pay no toll
    So we busted out the S&P
    I says Let them truckers roll, 10-4

    — CW McCall, Convoy

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > plunging unemployment claims, a proxy for economic strength

      But do we believe that claims work the same way after the Great Recession as they worked before?

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Lambert – Absolutely not. You’ve written extensively on the crapification of jobs and the gig economy. These are the exact reasons why the unemployment claims are no longer a “sign of strength in the economy”. A claim for unemployment benefits requires several consecutive quarters of employment with the same employer in the same state (different lengths of time by state). It is also a general requirement that you have lost your job through no fault of your own. In my own tax accounting practice I have seen employers challenging every single claim and even fudging the reasons why the person lost their job, e.g., saying the employee was chronically late and there are no time clocks to document it. If the employer denies the claim, the former employee has to go through all kinds of bureaucracy to get a hearing and convince a referee that he/she deserves the UE benefits. That’s hard to do when you are looking for a new job or end up doing gigs just to get by which means many don’t have time to do that follow through if denied. This makes it worthwhile for the employer to deny every claim, even if they lose a couple.

        I just remembered you once asking if these sorts of things were factors in the falling UE claims. The answer is emphatically “Yes!”

        1. Grebo

          Wait- Why do employers care if ex-employees get benefits? Does the US make them pay for it??

      2. fritter

        Well, we don’t claim they are calculated anywhere near the same so that should be a no. See http://www.shadowstats.com/
        Check out the U rate there if we were to measure it the same way as we did during the Great Depression. There is a pdf that explains thier methodology with handy charts here. If follows the “real economy” far better than the U3 number.

    2. fritter

      So it passes 1.0 twice with no recession and twice with recession.. That’s not chart porn that’s chart kitty litter.

      1. Jim Haygood

        In the spreadsheet I use a 1.5% tolerance. That is, the MA12 has to move above 1.015 to confirm recession.

        This 1.5% tolerance suppresses all of the spurious fractional crossings above 1.0.

        For now, the MA12 is at 0.926, so the song is the same, with or without the tolerance kludge. :-)

    3. Jim Haygood

      Today’s close produced another trifecta featuring fresh records in the major indexes (S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Industrials).

      Among the Five Horsemen — which by themselves constitute 12% of the S&P index and 42% of the Nasdaq 100 — Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft all powered to new highs. Chart:


      Bubble III is going parabolic on us, as the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) stage of crowd psychology kicks in with a vengeance.

    4. djrichard

      13week treasury almost at 1%. A little more than 100 basis points to go and the yield curve is inverted.

  3. David s

    From what I understand, the Paris agreement was utterly inadequate. And, no country was adhering to it anyway.

    It appears to have been mostly something politicians could campaign on and use to beat each other up with.

    So why the outrage over pulling out of the agreement?

    1. Bill Smith

      “Because of the terms of the agreement, it will take until 2020 for the United States to fully exit.”

      How is that possible since the the US joined the agreement by executive order? Is it possible that one US president can bind the next ones by executive order? What if the agreement had said it could not be withdrawn from? The US could never withdraw if a later president decided to? Executive orders have this power?

      1. lyle

        This is precisely the problem with the agreement it was not made a treaty just like the Kyoto agreement never got ratified in both cases because you could not get 2/3 of the senate to vote for either. Since it was only signed by the president and not ratified it could be withdrawn by the next president if he so desired.
        Anyway I think Mr. Market indicates by pricing that eastern coal at least will never come back. Wyoming and Montana coal might, because they are lower sulfur surface mines which have far greater output per man hour, and the resource is less depleted.

    2. LT

      And they’re whining about the country that apparently was key to lessening its impact and making it non-binding.
      It’s one of those pieces of policy like TPP, ACA or AHCA that’s not as advertised once the fine print is read.

      1. lyle

        Because Obama could not get the senate to ratify it it was not in the form of a Treaty, which GW Bush withdrew from the senate. Not being in the form of a treaty meant it could not bind the US nor would the US be liable for any fines if it failed to live up to the agreement. All the agreement could do is reveal the results and see what happened.

    3. John Zelnicker

      @David s – The Paris agreement may be inadequate. However, I’d like to see your evidence that “no country is adhering to it anyway”. Thanks.

        1. Anon

          Maybe you just read the headline without comprehending the article?

          The US, EU, China and others do take Climate Change seriously (but also understand that the 2 degree Celsius benchmark may not be enough—1.5 degree Celsius would be better).

          The “goal” of the Paris Accord was to get some agreement and try and gain momentum, not provide a silver bullet. Trump is now finding himself the “village idiot” as country after country and US city after city pledge to continue with the goals of the Paris Accord. There are 10 times the number of renewable energy jobs in California than there are coal jobs across the whole US. Hell, even Pittsburg is offended by Trump’s idiocy on climate change!

          1. witters

            “The “goal” of the Paris Accord was to get some agreement and try and gain momentum, not provide a silver bullet.”

            The agreement was to avoid any of the real implications of the Kyoto Protocol (which the US refused anyway). It didn’t build momenum, it took it away, as BO intended. And we do need a silver bullet. It has come to that.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Silver bullet: using silver as a catalyst to convert hydrogen from water into dark matter plus unbelievable amounts of light energy that is then captured by photovoltaics. Story starts around the 17:00 minute mark:


              Took 25 years of development, works by challenging the core assumptions about physics for the last 100 years.

              Put in the “But What If He’s Right?” file.

        2. John Zelnicker

          @David s – Thanks for the link. The article says “the world as a whole”. That is quite different from “no country”. Plenty of countries may be meeting the goals but when combined with the rest of the world the sum total is not meeting the goals.

    4. bondsofsteel

      It was inadequate… and it was the best deal that could be made. OTOH, It did give us a chance latter to make bigger changes to maybe avoid the worst.

      IMHO, the world leaders let out a collective sigh when the US dropped out. When disasters start happening, and they will, people will need someone to blame. The world will need a scapegoat, and the leaders who agreed to the Paris agreement will now get off scot free. The US will be the villain.

    5. Bugs Bunny

      Doc, at least they agreed to something. Now it’s pretty much nothing. I’m heading back to my hole.

      1. nowhere

        Yeah, it’s as if being out of an agreement that most scientists thought didn’t go far enough, and having no plan for coordinating world policy in the future (since Trump is supposed to be a great deal maker, why didn’t he get the world a better deal, rather than withdrawing).

        This was nothing more than Trump being an egomaniacal assh*le again, living in a fact free world in which he won’t suffer the consequences of his ridiculousness.

        As to the 24/7 Wallstreet article – if you read into the missing link about why investment was less in 2016, you’d find this:

        Another issue outside of falling costs was that clean energy spending was lower in China and Japan. These two nations have reportedly cut back on building large-scale projects. It even suggests that the nations have shifted their investment to digest the capacity they already have invested in during prior years. Justin Wu, head of Asia for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in the details of the report:

        After years of record-breaking investment driven by some of the world’s most generous feed-in tariffs, China and Japan are cutting back on building new large-scale projects and shifting towards digesting the capacity they have already put in place.

        China is facing slowing power demand and growing wind and solar curtailment. The government is now focused on investing in grids and reforming the power market so that the renewables in place can generate to their full potential. In Japan, future growth will come not from utility-scale projects but from rooftop solar systems installed by consumers attracted by the increasingly favorable economics of self-consumption.

  4. dcblogger

    The 2016 election was stolen, by voter suppression and crosscheck. That no Democrat is talking about this, no Democrat is calling for hearings, tells us everything we need to know. And why can’t Hillary say something about this? It really did cost her the election.

    1. Big River Bandido

      As the Clinton campaign and the Democrats stole the primary nomination, they are in no position to raise complaints about the general election.

    2. Vatch

      If she said something about this, more people would realize that the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary was also stolen.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Don’t worry. The Democrats will regain power by appealing to wealthy suburban Republicans. And they’re already registered.

      Problem solved!

    4. Marco

      This came up at FiveThirtyEight and one commenter politely reminded everyone that sizable drop-offs in voting (especially for black voters) also occurred in deep Blue States. So it’s complicated.

    5. I Have Strange Dreams

      You’re embarrassing yourself. The ins and outs of this have already been discussed ad nauseum on this site. Have some dignity.

      1. lambert strether

        1. Don’t be a jerk

        2. The ins and outs of 2016 are by no mrans settled

    6. crittermom

      “And why can’t Hillary say something about this?”
      Maybe because it was voter suppression that Hellary used in the primaries to cost Bernie the nomination?
      Remember how many voting places were closed down or had very limited hours during the primaries?
      Or how debates between her & Bernie were minimal, took place during the worst time slots–or just canceled? (think CA)
      If she brought that up, it would be reminding us the Dems were guilty of doing exactly that.
      And as we know, the Dems are never wrong. /sarc

      Sorry, but I disagree that’s what cost her the election. Her flip-flopping, trashing Trump, trashing voters (‘deplorables’) and lack of supporting policies the American people wanted is what cost her the election, IMHO.

      Trump was smarter. He didn’t flip-flop until after being elected (breaking every promise he ran on).

      1. John Wright

        I believe HRC’s track record was difficult to cast in a good light.

        When I visited the local Northern California Democratic headquarters on the Saturday before the election I talked with an apparent middle aged female Democratic Hillary supporter/office staffer.

        When I asked what Hillary Clinton had done, she responded with “healthcare and financial reform”.


        HRC failed in her healthcare effort and financial industry friendly HRC limited her regulation of the financial industry to the appeal to “now cut that out”.

        And now HRC is talking “resistance”. Where was that resistance from Sen HRC when it came to GWB and the Iraq War?

        But if HRC is hastening the destruction of the Democratic party, perhaps leading to rebirth and renewal, maybe she should be encouraged in her efforts.

        If that is the case, Go Hillary go…

    7. Skip Intro

      Hillary was always essentially unelectable. The fact that they felt they needed Trump as an opponent shows that her campaign understood that. But it was ‘her turn’, and the party apparatchiks cleared the field for her well in advance. The overconfidence and bogus polling were a noxious mix of groupthink, cluelessness, and the reliance of polling on turnout models which cannot anticipate record-breaking dislike/distrust of the candidate by the party base.

  5. Scott

    I’ve had similar thoughts about the elephant chart, namely that many environmentalists in the US want to have poor and working class pay more for electricity and to heat their homes. They oppose the extension of natural gas pipelines, which would displace oil for heating, lowering the fuel costs for middle and lower income people, but are unwilling to move to smaller homes or stop flying to Europe or Florida for vacation. For them, the costs of preventing global warming cannot fall on the developing world or themselves, leaving it to the lower income people in the developed world to shoulder the costs.

    I was primarily thinking about this in light of the Cannes Film Festival, which had movie stars and the wealthy from around the world fly to southern France in private jets to spend time on yachts. They see no irony when many of the same individual denounce Trump’s actions this week.

    1. jrs

      This is just a bunch of stereotypes, somehow stereotypes became arguments in modern American political thought. But they really aren’t an argument.

      All environmentalists live in big homes and/or fly a lot? As for flying I guess some very prominent environmentalists have a decent argument justifying it as spreading the message. They may not be wrong, that the good of that outweighs any harm from flying. I don’t know how one would ever objectively evaluate that though.

      Many multiples of this much flying probably take place just “conducting business” and having nothing to do with the environment (or with vacations for that matter – which seem to get all the focus and none on business travel for some odd reason).

      Environmentalists don’t address the concerns of the poor enough? Oh how would anyone even know? Does anyone imagine it’s environmentalists driving public policy? (even under a Dem administration). I really doubt this. There are carbon tax proposals that address income redistribution. If they are dead on arrival this has very little to do with environmentalists. I suppose environmentalists could be more vocal about this at best.

      1. Carolinian

        Didn’t Hillary’s speaking contract demand that she be provided a private jet for every appearance? Does John Podesta know? Does John Podesta use private jets?

        Unfortunately AGW is a great issue for grandstanding but the great unwashed might be more inclined to listen to the elites on this issue if the latter led by example.

        And some on the web have made the point that Trump has withdrawn from an agreement that Obama, unlike almost all the other signatories, didn’t bother to submit to the American public via the legislature. If the Dems are really serious about the issue they are going to have to expend some political capital. Talk is cheap.

    2. a different chris

      You seem to be falling for the old “look at those people on TV” crap. I mean, the Cannes Film Festival?
      Jesus the number of attendees, including the press, isn’t even near that of a failing Midwest small town.

      This crap about “environmental costs” vs. The Poors just gets old. Us middle-class people appreciate finding ourselves on the list now, btw.

      >For them, the costs of preventing global warming cannot fall on the developing world or themselves

      Quotes? Specific examples?

      1. Loblolly

        isn’t even near that of a failing Midwest small town.

        Are you being deliberately obtuse for rhetorical reasons or are you failing to understand the statement being made?

        Thesis: The energy consumed./ carbon generated to transport and entertain the attendees to Cannes is probably significant and undermines the message.

        A different chris: “…crap….failing Midwest …The Poors…” Case closed!

        1. a different chris

          Deep breath…..but WTF?

          Ok so DiCaprio flys in a private jet to France. Yeah it’s like 100000 people driving to work for a day or something..

          …whatever the number is, DiCaprio doesn’t have to do it every day. He doesn’t have to do it at all. He. Can. Stop.

          But those whatever-the-number of equivalent Ed Bundys cannot stop, otherwise they cannot pay their bills, cannot put food on their families unless we change the system. The celebs@Cannes have a big f’ing microphone. You think they should just stay at home? Think all that press is going to pay any attention to them if they do? I think they should get attention any way possible.

          Again WTF. So let’s cancel Cannes, let the celebs stay home, and, I dunno, Madison Wisconsin can have one free pass on one morning commute.

          Who is being obtuse, here?

          1. Pat

            Pardon me, but you do realize that Cannes is a film festival, and that any use of that big f’ing microphone beyond selling the picture they are there to promote is pretty a side show? It all has to come after doing their job – selling the film they are there to promote. IOW it is about their job and their bottom line – not your pet cause.

            And no one has to cancel Cannes, how about all those celebrities and executives and their assistants go in a one big plane all crowded together and only do one flight, maybe two max. Oh, but they can’t do that.

      2. Darius

        Come on. Some celebrities flew in private jets? Sounds to me like reasonable justification for sacrificing the world’s coastal regions.

      3. Skip Intro

        Indeed, this is another case of using The Poors, or whoever, as human shields, like claiming anyone who didn’t support Hillary wwas misogynist…

    3. LT

      Which also gives credence to claims about who is really going to bear the costs of “saving the planet.”
      They are not giving up those jets and events.
      Not ever.
      Not giving up the bombs, either.

        1. LT

          My next car will be whatever is affordable with cash I save – no loan needed. Like other cars I’ve bought before.

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          That’s a good Democrat. It’s not like we have an auto industry worth preserving

    4. djrichard

      Not the elephant chart that you’re looking for, but I thought this chart was interesting Comparison of Growth Areas and Emissions, 1980-2015. From https://www.epa.gov/air-trends/air-quality-national-summary.

      Interesting that CO2 emissions growth has essentially tracked population growth. Except for the interlude following the economy getting kicked in the teeth. But since 2012 that trend seems to be back in place. I’m guessing maybe because vehicle mile trend has recovered and then some.

      On a side note, like I said the CAGR in vehicle miles seems to now be increasing compared to pre economy-getting-kicked-in-the-teeth. I wonder why that is.

    5. Vatch

      I think we can be quite certain that most of the people who fly in private jets are right wingers who oppose much of the environmentalist agenda. The corporate CEOs, hedge fund magnates, private equity pirates, and most of the billionaire heirs in those jet are definitely not environmentalists.

      As Pat pointed out at 9:23 PM, any environmental posturing that occurs at the Cannes Film Festival is a side show — people are there to publicize movies and to make millions of dollars.

      Most environmentalists do practice what they preach, by driving less, or with lower emissions vehicles. Many have been recycling for several decades, and have made other adjustments to their lifestyles for the sake of the biosphere. Sure, many could do more — especially the ones who are in denial about the severe harm of overpopulation. But let’s not buy into the right wing fantasy that environmentalists are trying to shift the blame and the pain of environmental protection onto the poor.

      1. Propertius

        I would expect that the hedge fund magnates and private equity pirates have a vested interest in the Hamptons not being submerged. They just don’t want to experience any personal inconvenience to achieve that.

  6. George Phillies

    Perhaps a miniphant chart, showing how our withdrawal from an agreement that the Senate did not ratify actual has effects on the American renewable energy industry?

  7. petrel

    Reading the article about Ohio Lt. Governor Taylor and her sons reminded me of an article about a completely different subject, “Only White Men Get to Do Apology Tours”.


    The article from Dame Magazine is about Jimmy Fallon and Billy Bush and their attempts to rehabilitate their images post-Donald Trump, and about how rich white guys get to fail several times whereas for non-rich-white-guys, one failure might be one too many.

    The excerpt that reminded me was about how Billy Bush saw the light when his kids complained about it.

    “However, the lessons Bush “learned” appear to be all the wrong ones. He states THREE separate times during his interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he wishes he had just changed the topic on that fateful day, as if glossing over rape culture helps to eradicate it any more than laughing along with casual “jokes” does. Bush also describes how his middle child, Mary (then aged 15), called him crying and asked, “Why were you laughing at the things that [Trump] was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.” Through his teenage daughter’s eyes, Bush claims that he has “come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field” and then further asserts, “I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters—Mary, Lillie, Josie—and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.” Tying the abuse of patriarchal power to one’s female kin precisely mirrors the way disingenuous Republicans—who had all amplified Trump’s deeply misogynistic campaign to victory—reacted when the Access Hollywood clip came out last October. Much like these GOP enablers, Bush can only see sexism as a force that might affect the women related to him, not as a larger societal problem for which he could be a part of the solution.” (emphasis mine)

    I’m not saying that Lt. Governor Taylor didn’t care about Ohio’s opioid problems, but I wish her concern had been just as loud as it is before it happened to someone related to her.

    And incidentally, Taylor is opposed to Medicaid expansion which Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, associate dean of public health at Johns Hopkins University (and quoted in the article) stated is the largest provider of addiction treatment in many states. But Taylor, true to her party’s colors, is against Medicaid expansion. It appears that the pain she feels for those in Ohio suffering from addiction stops at her own pocketbook.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I wish her concern had been just as loud as it is before it happened to someone related to her.

      That’s very true. So it’s good to see the Democrats really focusing on this, because they’re the inclusive party that takes a systemic view. Oh, wait….

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Yes, I’m on several democrat forums and not a single peep about this. It’s all Trump, Comey, and Russia all the time.

        1. neo-realist

          Badminton is an addictive sport for neo-liberal democratic athletes.

          Bareknuckle fighting your real opponents outside of the cocoon is verboten.

    2. TK421

      Really? It sure seems to me that Hillary failed plenty of times, yet was still handed the nomination in 2016. Is she a white man and I never noticed?

      1. I Have Strange Dreams

        She’s a liberal: asexual, bland, homogeneous, without morals, values, beliefs or any distinguishing feature apart from self-interest. A liberal can be any gender or race because they are merged into the neoliberal thought collective (Mirowski), the Borg, the Blob, the Man.

        liberalism is a concentrated knot of evil. Any other political ideology can be considered as a possible alternative, and there are no restrictions. The only exception is liberalism, which must be destroyed, crushed, overthrown, obsolete.

        – Dugin

        1. clarky90

          Kathy Griffin Press Conference 6/2/2017


          Kathy Griffin Responds to the repercussions to her photo, (holding a representation of the severed head of the POTUS).

          The press conference is 31 minutes long. Kathy Griffin and her two lawyers speak. They take questions from the media at the end.

          This is unedited information. I found it very interesting and informative. I would urge people to watch and draw their own conclusions. IMO, it speaks directly to “class warfare”, and the divide between Red Sensibilities and Blue Sensibilities.

        2. Vatch

          liberalism is a concentrated knot of evil.

          Oh, come on! Conservatism or any sort of fanatical extremism are responsible for a lot more evil in the world than liberalism is.

          1. Optimader

            K Griffith presents as a very intolerant person, so i think referring to her as a liberal is incorrect in the classic sense.

            Maybe just toss her in the Progressive bucket as a garbage diagnosis?
            I would say Progressive, desperate, lacking judgement and maybe a bit nuts? IIRC she is one of these people with low self esteem that has self medicated with elective cosmetic surgeries due to a distorted self image.

            When I think liberal I think the likes of FDR and LBJ? Butmaybe I am just out of the contrmporary loop re:labels?

        3. Massinissa

          Ugh, whats wrong with being asexual? You say that like its the same as not having moral values or distinguishing features… Feels like a strange inclusion.

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes, even if true, it should not be on the list of why to disapprove of her. Old women are unsexy, with very rare exceptions. So you are really saying you deem it to be reasonable to hate old women in positions of authority when I doubt you’d say the same of old men (as in over 60).

            Separately, Churchill apparently had a very low sex drive. His biographies refer to contemporaries describing him as being “undersexed”.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Medicaid expansion.

      Go all the way, cover everyone, rich and poor, no questions asked.

  8. Altandmain

    Apparently there are Sanders backers looking to challenge Paul Ryan’s seat for 2018:

    ON a personal note, I have yet to hear back from that interview last week.

    Another question: Has anyone ever seen a temp job, where the employer demands that you not search for work while working at the temp job? They can terminate you at any time literally, but they are demanding that you work the full length of the contract?

    1. Alex Morfesis

      About enforcement of temp employment terms…just search your local courthouse to see if they have actually ever taken anyone to court…doesn’t sound as though you have received anything beyond normal compensation for “additional consideration”…each state is different…and within states appeals courts may have split decisions that have never been taken upstairs to reconcile differences…

      you might poke around to see if there are any pro bono resources available to you from the local bar association…

      you don’t get if you don’t ask…worst they can say is no…

      minor sidebar…try to avoid pro bono help from tall building law firms…

      1. Altandmain

        Yeah thanks.

        I don’t think that they could really take someone to court and win.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the employer demands that you not search for work while working at the temp job?

      That’s demented!

      (And a partial answer to those plunging unemployment claims, too?)

  9. alex morfesis

    was there a there there in the lima-paris global foaming agreement ? seems the fine print suggests otherwise…an agreement to agree on future agreements and to take 4+ years to analyze ideas to future possible agreements…


    mayhaps there is more to this discussion than just discussions about discussions, but seems as though there really is no there there…

    just a wonderful wedding ceremony and the vows, but all the money that should have been spent to help the marriage go forth and prosper was handed off to the catering hall…

    Thank you for calling mountain top realty, how many homesites are you looking to invest in…??

    yes there still are choice sites available, although some hedge fund folks were seen taking pictures last week…

  10. Pat

    Regarding Radio Shack, I think some of the issue there might be that right to repair thing. Being able to repair your radio, television, etc has gotten fairly impossible.

    For myself, I didn’t buy large things at Radio Shack, I bought parts for repair and items to make cabling easier. As more and more the most I could repair or replace on things was the electrical cord, I went there less and less. I’m betting if you could a get a new screen and instructions on how to replace the broken one on your tablet or phone from them, and other things like that they might not be so troubled.

    1. Altandmain

      I have found a huge decline in the selection of parts of what I get at Radio Shack and have long since stopped going there.

      I usually go on the internet for parts these days. Tools too.

      iFixIt often has pretty lengthy documentation on how to repair electronics. It even rates their repairability. If you intend to repair, you should buy something with a good score.

    2. FreeMarketApologist


      40 years ago I was a regular at RS because it was the only local place to buy electronic components if you wanted to build or repair things. There was mail order, but it was time consuming, not significantly cheaper, and you often had to order large lots — but they did have a wider selection. As I built less, and as things became more “no user serviceable parts inside”, RS cut back on their single component line, and simultaneously became uncompetetive in the consumer electronics space (phones, sound gear, home electronics, etc.) as these became more commonplace and available through more brick & mortar retailers. Enter the internet where major suppliers now provide single units with overnight shipping for reasonable prices (components: Mouser; electronics: NewEgg, etc.), and you have essentially the same story that has been told by other small chains and local businesses.

      People would rather go to Shake Shack for the hedonic experience, and spend the $$ to buy a new clock radio, than go to RS to buy the replacement parts and spend the time fixing the old clock radio.

    3. Octopii

      If anyone has the opportunity to visit a Micro Center, it is a wonderful example of what Radio Shack could have done to survive and prosper. They stock all kinds of parts and supplies for fixing things that are supposed to be unfixable (such as iDevices etc), and they have a massive selection of electronics and computer parts at reasonable prices (for retail). Don’t mean to sound like an ad, but it’s one of my favorite stores and I like to support them when possible rather than buying online. I think Fry’s is similar but I’ve never been in one. Anyway, it’s a private company that’s been around for a while and they seem to be doing things right.

      Radio Shack became rudderless after the founder’s death. Before that, as a very young customer I remember begging Mom to stop in so I could test tubes on their huge free tester and get parts for projects. They did a lot toward teaching American kids about electronics back then — anyone remember the 150 in 1 project kits? As they moved into the computer business it went downhill as PCs became commodified, and they stopped making their own products. To prop up the company they pioneered the sale-and-leaseback practice on properties. The loss is a shame and a loss for the country, just like Sears.

  11. roxy

    Blueapron IPO

    “its founders wanted to cook at home with their families, but they found grocery shopping and menu planning burdensome, time-consuming and expensive.”

    Please. It ain’t that tough. The labor abuse and the excessive packaging are each reason enough to delete this silly company from a list of “things I would spend money on.”

    1. nippersmom

      My local Publix has featured menus, including recipes and a list of grocery items you will need, every week. Several of my cookbooks also have sample menus, and I’m sure they are readily available online as well. Depending on what one cooks, it can be time-consuming, but menu-planning doesn’t have to be “burdensome”. I find it difficult to believe that paying a third-party to package and deliver your grocery items for you is more cost-effective than shopping for oneself, and it doesn’t allow for the serendipitous discovery of a sale, or of beautiful local produce.

    2. David Carl Grimes

      How much time does it really save with these meal delivery kits? If you regularly buy some staples, have a ready stock of condiments and spices, you are good to go. A lot of Blue Apron’s recipes are simple to cook but I still have to prep and cook the food. Plus the packages are so big, I would need a very large fridge to accomodate a week’s supply of meals.

      1. PKMKII

        And that assumes everything arrives fresh and not rotten, which has been an issue with Blue Apron and like companies.

      2. clarky90

        In Varanasi, in 1972, a young French traveler taught me how to cook. Being able to cook without a recipe and without particular ingredients is a life changer.

        I began with an aluminium round bottomed pot, supported by three stones, over dried cow dung fire!

        I recommend skipping that part, and just use a regular pot, on a regular stove. Add cooking oil or fat to the pot. Add herbs or spices to the oil. (the flavors go into the oil). Perhaps, add meat or fish? (I was a vegetarian back then). Then add the aromatic vegetables, like onions, peppers, celery (the flavors go into the oil). Then add a liquid (usually water, but could be wine, milk, broth, beer..) plus the non-aromatic veges (potatoes, broccoli, cauli, carrots… Also, add pulse/beans/grains etc if you wish. Simmer until done.

        Now, how to implement?. Start with oil, fat, butter. Add herbs or spices (weeds work well) that you have….. and so on. Follow the order. Just cook with what ingredients you have in the kitchen or yard. It save lots of time because you do not have to make special shopping trips. You do not have to agonize over recipes. Bon Appétit!

        This is in one pot. If you use extra pots, you could have rice or green vegetables or a dessert … as separate dishes.

        Both of my sons could cook a meal before they were 5 years old. You can make an infinite number of meals by just varying the ingredients.

        Even desserts can be made- just use sweetish spices, oils and other ingredients.

  12. Goyo Maquez

    Re: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.”
    That’s the Clinton MO, accuse your opponents of what you’re doing, before they accuse you.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other MO is the presumption that her team is always pure and virtuous, while questioning the other side”s motive (vast right wing conspiracy, never matter the facts/his conflict of interest, as if she has none).

      1. freedeomny

        OK – but could NC NOT become a site that “curates”! Sorry L Shannon – just hate that word..:)

    1. a different chris

      I clicked and read, thought not bad, so clicked on another article and he made me sit straight up in my seat with this:

      “For example, unlike the LGBTQIA community, there isn’t a random smattering of black people cropping up in families of powerful non-black people.”

      Nice! I will read more.

      Of course in fact there actually was quite a bit of that, and documented too! — in the 19th century, but “cropping up in the families” still meant you had to live in the shacks in the back that great humanitarians like Jefferson provided.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        That’s not quite true. Racially mixed families through marriage or equivalent long term relationship are increasingly common today as the taboos are breaking down. I think it’s great.

  13. allan

    The owner of the Washington Post Amazon thinks that your time is worth $12/hour.
    Spendable only at the company store. In my inbox today:

    Dear … As part of our ongoing effort to provide better services and support, we would like to request your feedback via this online survey. It should only take about 25 minutes to complete.

    As a sign of our appreciation, customers who qualify for and complete the survey will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card. Please allow us until July 30, 2017 for sending gift card to your registered email ID. …

    To be fair, that’s ten times as much as many people earn on Mechanical Turk,
    so Amazon must like me.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m on the receiving end of many survey requests like this one.

      And I’m calling ’em what they are, a tax on time. Which is why I don’t respond.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Send a mail setting your rate at what you think you’re worth. They stopped bothering me for nonsense. But I do get an occasional request at the rate I set.

  14. Jessica

    “Shocking, I know, that when the same company runs a search business and a shopping business the two come into conflict. Why don’t we break Google up?”

    To be more precise, there is no such thing as a “search business”. No one ever figured out a way to make money from search engines. Google became Google because they used a free search engine as the base for an advertising business. We don’t need to break up Google into a shopping business and a search business. We need to fund search some way other than as a business.
    And by “fund search”, I mean “fund search” not “fund search and pay a stable of billionaires”.

  15. Tom Stone

    There’s plenty of inventory here in Sonoma County, as long as you are in the market for a home priced at $1MM or more.

  16. Carolinian

    A useful evisceration of Obama with some NC overtones.


    Dozens of former Obama associates interviewed by Garrow report having been impressed, even blown away by the future president as a young man. But many others were put off by Obama’s sense of superiority and arrogance (“full of himself” by the recollection of one Harvard Law classmate) and by his often lecturing, professorial “know it all” presentation – and by his transparent hyper-ambition.

    During his time at Harvard Law, fellow students invented “the Obamanometer” – a numerical measure of how long Obama would spend taking up class time with long-winded dialogue with the professor, often while claiming to speak on behalf of his fellow students.

    Obama struck many on his way up as far too impressed with his own awesomeness. As one of his fellow black Illinois state senators commented to another veteran legislator as Obama began his eight-year career in the Illinois Senate in 1996, “Can you believe this guy’s some thirty years old [and] he’s already written a book about himself?”

    The narcissism is matched by the cowardice.

    As a young woman, she was frustrated by young Obama’s lack of “courage.” Writing to Garrow in August of 2013, Jager [ex-girlfriend] saw that cowardice in his excessively “pragmatic,” disengaged, and “compromising” presidency:

    “the seeds of his future failings were always present in Chicago. He made a series of calculated decisions when he began to map out his political life at the time and they involved some deep compromises. There is a familiar echo in the language he uses now to talk about the compromises he’s always forced to make and the way he explained his future to me back then, saying in effect I ‘wish’ I could do this, but ‘pragmatism and the reality of the world has forced me to do that.’ From the bailout out to NSA to Egypt, it is always the same. The problem is that ‘pragmatism’ can very much look like what works best for the moment. Hence, the constant criticism that there is no strategic vision behind his decisions. Perhaps this pragmatism and need to just ‘get along in the world’ (by accepting the world as it is instead of trying to change it) stems from his deep-seated need to be loved and admired which has ultimately led him on the path to conformism and not down the path of greatness which I had hoped for him.”

    And key point: Obama was into golf long before he became president. Oreo cookie may be a crude epithet but if the shoe fits……

    At any rate long but worth a read.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Despite differences between authors which I don’t want to go into, I don’t see much Obama hagiography in the future. Much like Bill, its a story of working for Wall Street and arms manufacturers and not much else.

      I have wondered about how many elected Dems backed Hillary largely over regret from backing Obama for so long or saw Hillary as a means of turning the page on the Obama years.

      1. Carolinian

        Hey I thought Hillary would be better than Obama in 2008. Her nutty hawkishness wasn’t so obvious then.

        I guess one could defend Obama by saying the job doesn’t seem to attract the best candidates. We have traded one narcissist for another.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” -Douglas Adams

          1. witters

            Reinventing Plato.

            And my favourite quote from The Reppublic:

            None of them [the Rulers] is to have any private property, except what is absolutely indispensible …unlike any of their citizens, they are not permitted to have any contact or involvement with gold or silver: they are not to come under the same roof as gold or silver, or wear them on their bodies, or drink from gold and silver cups. These precepts will guarantee not only their own integrity, but the integrity of the community which is in their safe keeping. If they do come to own land and homes and money, they will be estate-managers and farmers instead of guardians; they will become despots, and enemies rather than allies of the inhabitants of the community; they will spend their lives being hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against; they will have internal enemies to fear more, and more intensely, than their external enemies. With private property, they will be racing ever closer to the ruin of themselves and the whole community (416d-417b).

      1. David Carl Grimes

        This is a great post on what Obama was like before he became President. Now we can see that he was never was what he pretended to be. Hope and Change, Yes we can was all cynical empty sloganeering. Obama is pretty much like Trump: all form, no substance. The K Street lobbyists and their Wall Street backers could already see that Obama craved to be in the elite circles they were already in and that Obama would not really do anything to disrupt the status quo and his ascension into the elite.

    2. Octopii

      Oreo cookie, really?!? Did not realize I was reading Zero Hedge or Unz. You’re right, it is a crude epithet, and it adds less than nothing to your piece.

  17. Code Name D

    Political Science Theater 2000

    An editorial was posted yesterday that was absolutely horrendous. It was soooooo bad, I just had to respond to it.

    Today’s episode: Sanders Supporters Were “Unwitting Agents” of Russians
    Or: How I unwittingly read this witless rant about willful Russians, I think.


    Let me know what you think.

    1. Sputnik Sweetheart

      Trolling Donald Trump, pretending to care about the environment (despite supporting CETA/TTIP and appointing a former nuclear lobbyist as his prime minister) and perhaps having an inflow of American immigrants willing to work under the crappified working conditions of his forced labour law reforms, making French jobs more precarious. A win-win-win situation for him!

  18. JTMcPhee

    The world as the upright consumer/libertarian thinks it should be, versus how it is:

    XXXXX of Singapore, Other on March 25, 2017
    Satisfaction Rating

    Last week, XXXXXXX, my computer downed by power surges. Upon sending to XXXX repair service centre, only to be told that motherboard and graphic card were damaged beyond repair. That particular model was no more producing spare parts. The computer had worked for 5 years. And had reached product life span maturity. So it is due for scrapyard. The advice is to purchase a new model.

    I felt that power surge protection should be built into computer to assure any disruption/damage due to power surges. Cost wise, it is consider less than fifty dollars. I believe customer satisfaction should be a priority in service delivery company policy. Customer is the paymaster who pay for the service. If customer is not satisfied, then an alternative supplier should take over the delivery of service. It just do not make sense. A company exist to deliver goods/services to earn a revenue.

    If it fail to deliver to the satisfaction of customer, then the company should be eliminated. Or debar from any further contract in the business. This administrative control measure ensure that the market is not spoilt by just a black sheep. Consumers should bade them goodbye and best of luck. There is no room for complacency. If it fail to meet the mark, then it should not be in the market selling poor product/service. The Safety Mark stamped on product which passed the quality check should be the trademark informing consumers of its expected standard.

    A whole lot of unintentionally ironic and humorous lines in there, no? And maybe save the condescending lectures on how the mope is so very misguided and had the benefit of his bargain?…

  19. dk

    I’m all for getting off of the Russophobia train, but back-burnering it may not be a good idea either, it just sits and ripens.

    Climate, as a global issue demanding global participation, makes an interesting contrast with the Russian “problems,” in that current US positions regarding Russia are based on the One World Leader frame for geopolitics: One Nation To Rule Them All, and All The Other Problems Magically Vanish, Because They Arose From Defiance Of The De Facto World Leader (USA, USA, USA, etc). Aka Leader Of The Free World (whatever that means).

    In this frame, Russia/Putin are bad, because they want to be The World Ruler. They should not, because USA is the designated World Ruler.

    Applying this strategy to managing human emissions globally, we could come to The USA Must Take Over The World, It’s The Only Way To Enforce Compliance On Climate. The big (league or otherwise) thinkers may yet come to that, but the current approach, embodied in the Paris accord, is that self-interest is not only a sufficiently strong and clear motivator, but an available and reasonable basis for agreement, and for coordination going forward. A Global Community (or Community of Nations), rather than a Global Empire. Which is smart, independently of ideological considerations; compliance is always a problem for empires.

    Should one care to apply the Community of Nations model seriously, which is to say, more broadly across issues beyond the climate, one might come to think that Russia is a nation much like any other. Yes, exceptionally large in land mass; but also exceptionally low in population density (just 25% of US p.d.). Rich in natural resources, but poor in infrastructure and commercial wealth (now under punitive trade sanction, previously devastated by corruption and Cold War costs). And strategically in a war scenario, while Russia is effectively close to the EU, and hence an existential threat, it is also as proximate to many other nations, including China (and arguably the US). That’s a lot of border to protect in different directions. Really bad positioning for a war of domination.

    And from the inside looking out, Russians have good reason to be nervous about their sovereignty. EU and US have repeatedly stated they would like to break Russia up and absorb the spoils into their own economies (see Greece for how that can turn out).

    Are Russians bad guys? There is a good case for it. But then so is there for China, Saudi Arabia, the EU, Israel, etc., etc. If the greatest good is absolute US hegemony, then anything is is baaaad. Do other nations meddle in each other’s affairs, including the affairs and elections of the US? Oh yes, but the other big players can afford the deluxe route of buying/peddling influence through the usual lobbying and media (and commercial back-) channels. Russia is pretty broke, and gets shafted regularly on formal deals with the West [sic], so they went the cheap route, social media and media disinformation (which, again, are widely used by sovereign and commercial actors).

    I hope I don’t seem to be presenting Russia as having some special virtue. I am trying to question the idea of special virtue (of nations, of people, whatever flavor of virtue is in question) as a rational basis for global strategy. When regarding climate change, and its global scale, there is little virtue anywhere to be seen. Indeed, the nations deemed successful and powerful by commercial standards are the most burdened by any need to replace energy sources and consumption patterns since their wealth generally derives directly from that energy use.

    Weak and inadequate as it may be, the Paris agreement, and more importantly, the basis on which is was achieved, offers a blueprint for more rational and potentially effective global, political, and economic policies. And as a byproduct, a more clear-eyed and less mutually threatening relationship with Russia.

    1. PhilM

      I agree with your thoughtful perspective. From another perspective, Russia is utterly unimportant. It is much less important than Canada, which makes much less noise.

      The tribes will fight it out. The civilized nations should watch, and contain the resulting empire until it collapses. This bickering over a minor nation is just unseemly; giving them credit for influencing our elections is like saying the homeless man you saw on the way home ruined your Michelin-three-star dinner.

      If people are talking about Russia, it is simply “look-over-there,” as practiced throughout the millennia. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

  20. darthbobber

    If that number, 49% for Ossoff, actually is the outcome, he will have improved on Clinton’s performance in the district by a princely 1and a half percentage points. Which might indicate the upper limits of the “appeal to affluent suburban Republicans” strategy, no matter how many millions are poured in. And this is almost the ideal district for that strategy, so it doesn’t augur well for it as a national strategy. Not that that will give Ahab pause, he’ll still man the boat again for the third day of the chase, even though the whale just really isn’t into him

  21. PhilM

    Just have to say that his Water Cooler is the thinking man’s Wall Street Journal. Superb work, Lambert.

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