2:00PM Water Cooler 1/3/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I’m behind the eight-ball, because I underestimated the time it would take to write my posts, as I do tend to do. So I’ll be back later in the day with something a touch more complete –lambert. UPDATE 4:35PM. It’s time for my nap, so I’m going to leave you with business news only. I’ll be back at full strength tomorrow!

For now, I’ll ask one question: “Cold enough for ya?

* * *

Stats Watch

Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index, December 2017: “Headlined by a 14-year high for new orders, ISM’s manufacturing index rose” [Econoday]. “This report, like most private and regional surveys, has been far outstripping the strength in definitive factory data which however have also been coming alive in recent months. The factory sector looks to have ended 2017 on the upswing which will be a positive for fourth-quarter GDP.” But: “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to improve. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” [Econintersect].

Construction Spending, November 2017: “showed broad strength in November” [Econoday]. “The residential side of this report joins a tide of rising tide of favorable data on the housing sector which, like manufacturing, appears to have accelerated into year end which will be a positive for fourth-quarter GDP and points to momentum for first-quarter GDP.” But: “Prior month revised down, keeping the chart looking very weak for this ‘hard data’ release” [Mosler Economics]. And but: “There continues to be significant backward revision to the date – this month was slightly upward and did not change the trends. The rolling averages were statistically unchanged.. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold – and the inflation adjusted numbers are showing contraction in this sector” [Econintersect]. “The employment gains year-over-year are near the same than the year-over-year growth in construction spending.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 29, 2017: “While most housing market data has shown acceleration going into the year end, today’s MBA report for the final two weeks of the year may be showing growth slowed by interest rates” [Econoday].

Industrial Spending: “Strong Finish for Combined U.S. & Canadian Industrial Spending” [Industrial Reports, Inc.]. “Research by Industrial Reports, Inc. shows combined U.S. and Canadian planned capital spending grew by 45 percent in December compared to November. December spending for the two nations totaled $53.58 billion compared to November’s $36.83 billion. The research organization reported 237 planned U.S. and Canadian projects in December.” Capital spending seems a little sporty?

Shipping: “Container shipping’s delicate supply/demand equilibrium is set to come under renewed pressure this year as a raft of new orders are set to rain in principally from Asian owners” [Splash 247]. “Alphaliner is predicting orders to increase year-on-year in 2018 with a number of carriers, including Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) and Yang Ming, readying contracts with Asian yards while several non-operating owners remain keen to take on newbuilding projects at the current attractive price levels.

The Bezzle: “Opinion: Intel suffers an epic security fail, offering a big opportunity for AMD” [MarketWatch] but “Intel says ‘design flaw’ report is inaccurate, stock rebounds as AMD pares gains” [MarketWatch]. From Intel’s denial:

“Recent reports that these exploits are caused by a ‘bug’ or a ‘flaw’ and are unique to Intel products are incorrect,” Intel said in a statement. “Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices—with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems—are susceptible to these exploits.”

Well, that’s great news!

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Scant Disclosures on the Model 3 Leave Wall Street Guessing” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc. may have delivered about four times more Model 3 sedans last quarter than in the prior three months, or boosted sales by a factor of 27, depending on which analyst you ask.”

The Bezzle: “Can BlackBerry and Baidu’s Autonomous Vehicles Collaboration Win?” [247 Wall Street]. No.

Tech, or The Bezzle, I’m not sure which:

All those Captchas that have you click on images of storefronts, signage, and cars? Damn. I’m training some robot car AI. For free!

Tech: “The Alibaba browser no one’s heard of is dethroning Google in Asia” [MarketWatch]. Not “no one,” surely? More: “Hundreds of millions of people in India, Indonesia and other emerging markets getting online for the first time are picking UC Browser, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, over ones made by U.S. rivals. Users say UC Browser works better in countries dominated by low-end smartphones and spotty mobile service. India and Indonesia are among the last, great untapped markets for internet users. Just 30% of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, and only 25% of Indonesia’s 260 million use the web, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations body. UC Browser, which has more than 430 million users world-wide, accounted for 51% of India’s mobile browser market over the past year, compared with 30% for Chrome. according to web analytics firm StatCounter. In Indonesia, UC Browser led Chrome by 41% to 32% during the period.”

Tech: “Amazon’s YouTube app on Fire TV stops working ahead of schedule” [Fast Company]. “Amazon has already deactivated its YouTube app on Fire TV devices, four days before a planned blockade by Google. Instead of opening YouTube directly, the app now encourages users to install Silk or Firefox, and will open a link to the site once either browser is installed…. Google has said it will cut off YouTube access on Fire TV starting January 1, citing Amazon’s unwillingness to support Prime Video on Chromecast, or to sell Google hardware (including Chromecast) on its website.”

Tech: “The world’s biggest YouTube stars are seeing a massive slowdown” [Business Insiders]. For example, “There’s a finite number of YouTube watchers in the world who will be interested in PewDiePie — and after seven years in operation, Kjellberg’s channel may have hit peak subscriber growth. In other words, anyone who wants to watch his videos regularly has most likely already subscribed…. But his monthly views are slowing, too… The picture is similar for other big-name YouTubers.”

The Fed: “Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee” [Board of Governors of the Federal Reseve System]. “Many participants judged that the proposed changes in business taxes, if enacted, would likely provide a modest boost to capital spending…. However, some business contacts and respondents to business surveys suggested that firms were cautious about expanding capital spending in response to the proposed tax changes or noted that the increase in cash flow that would result from corporate tax cuts was more likely to be used for mergers and acquisitions or for debt reduction and stock buybacks.”

The Fed: “Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis and the Fed’s reaction function” [Credit Writedowns]. “But what happens during a double-barrelled tightening? Financial conditions are no longer tightening. So I believe the Fed will now pull both levers at the same time. During the initial part of 2018, I think we can still eke out a 3%ish growth level and so perhaps the curve steepens a tad. But in the middle of 2018, I believe growth will slow as the Fed’s rate hike train takes effect with a lag. And so we will see the curve flatten again. By the time we get to June and July, I expect three rate hikes to have occurred and for the curve to be nearly flat, meaning at least another 36 basis points down from present levels.” I’m sure this will be interesting to Fed watchers. Readers?

Honey for the Bears: “Head of largest hedge fund says economic downturn could leave U.S. ‘at each other’s throats” [MarketWatch]. “Ray Dalio is worried that an economic recession could foment unrest in a polarized America, resulting in segments of the population feeling marginalized in the face of stagnant wages and tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Five Horseman: “All five horsemen are at or near record highs today” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jan 3

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 63, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jan 3 at 3:52pm.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, pleas s e place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (LR):

LR writes: “At my friend’s Lakeside home in the retirement trailer community, Valhalla, in West Sacramento, December 12, 2017.” Winter reflections….

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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. Jim Haygood

    To no one’s surprise, the good Dr Hussman is out with dire tidings for the new year. His now-familiar 12-year forecast projects a negative return through the end of 2029.

    What happened the last time Dr H’s model forecasted a negative return, at the end of 1999? Here’s the annual tally from 2000 through 2011:

    3 double-digit losses
    1 single-digit loss
    3 single-digit gains
    5 double-digit gains

    Or, at a higher level of abstraction, one-third losing years and two-thirds gaining years, for an annualized return of 0.55% over the whole dozen years — not far off from the forecast.

    While a similar distribution and overall weak return are reasonable expectations for 2018 to 2029, a 12-year forecast tells us nothing about the order in which the gaining and losing years will unfold. To extract any advantage over the poor prospects of buy and hold (or “short and hold,” in the case of the hapless Dr H) requires staying in gear with the trend and remaining alert to extremes of collective optimism and pessimism.

    For what it’s worth, I have the next recession and bear market penciled in for 2020. But this WAG forecast may change as the evidence comes in. Stay flexible, my friends.

    1. John k

      Buy longest treasuries.
      At some point market most likely crashes. Pick a low spot, sell treasuries, buy equities.
      What if crash never comes? Enjoy 2.8%. And sound sleep.

        1. John k

          Ten years ago was a good time to sell equities. Was all out 4q07.
          Nine years ago was a pretty good time to buy them. I didn’t, had same worries as the good Dr… didn’t consider auto stabilizers and saving banks meant no GD repeat.
          Finally put the cash in long corporates, now mostly 30yr treasuries. Happy enough. Sleeping well.
          If he’s right about 60% decline, will put half back into equities.

  2. Wukchumni

    So you’re on the floor near parallel fifty-four
    Think you can last if there’s a nuclear blast?
    Does your body go to the to and fro?
    But tonight’s the night or didn’t you know
    That Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe

    He tried his tricks that Ruskie bear
    The United Nations said sanctions are fair
    He did the illicit oil sales he did the petro chemical delivery binge
    He was trying to win with a cossack spin

    The NK Bomb the sudden strike
    He tried every move he tried to spike
    He bared his chest like a Russian star
    He made every move in his repertoire

    When Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe

    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe

    Now it was G.I. Joe’s turn to blow
    He turned it on and tried to cause a row
    He tried a smartphone call to the Pentagon
    A radar scan to find a sea going leviathan

    He threatened to leave the Earth clean as a plate
    What does it take to make a Ruskie break?
    But the crowd are bored and off they go
    Over the road to watch China blow

    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe
    Ivan meets G.I. Joe


  3. Robert Hahl

    Some tunes while you wait.

    Tony Joe White – Tunica Motel

    Ola Belle Reed – My Epitaph

    Clarence Ashley performs “The Cuckoo” (starts at 3:30)

    U. Utah Phillips – Talking NPR Blues

    Mark Knopfler teaches how to play acoustic guitar

    Little Axe – The Way I See It

  4. sleepy

    Cold enough? It got above zero today for the first time in awhile. Not being snarky but the cold at 12 degrees is a different creature altogether than the cold at -20.

    /s/ Mr. Obvious

    1. Lee

      It’s 56 here in the sf east bay. Cool enough for us bay area weather wimps.

      More importantly, it’s raining at long last. Just a little storm though. Our Sierra snow pack is only about a third of normal. On the upside, reservoirs are full. But aquifer levels, although improved by last year’s wet winter, are still below pre-drought levels.

        1. Wukchumni

          We’re supposed to get a smidgen in the Southern Sierra, enough to create a platoon of abominable snowmen, perhaps.

    2. The Rev Kev

      What cold? Where I am it is full bore summer and I already have the fan going first thing in the morning.

        1. Chris

          Come back Yves, we miss you.

          36 today where I am. Unpleasant, esp. if working outside, but not as bad as cold…

    3. Carl

      We’ve had 4 days of below freezing weather. Has to be some kind of a record in San Antonio, where we might get one freeze per year. This is on top of the highly unusual 2-3 inches of snow we got a couple of weeks ago.
      I usually bitch about not having any winter…

  5. Hana M

    Some human parents are said to put a premium on sons but in dairyland farmers want cows, not heifers. ‘Naturally’ tech has an answer:


    Lots of fun details like this:

    The technique has some obstacles. More mature cows don’t always get pregnant, so farmers tend to use it only on virgin heifers, which conceive more easily, said Matt Gould, Philadelphia-based analyst for the Dairy & Food Market Analyst newsletter.

    Fertility rates matter because a cow only has one opportunity to get pregnant each month, and the animals will produce less milk if too many months go by. Farmers are so concerned about getting cows pregnant at the right time that some have started attaching pedometers to them, according to Gould. When cows are fertile, they wander around looking for a mate, and the number of steps they take increases.

    I’ll just leave that last quote here….

  6. Fred

    Cold enough? Actually no! I moved to the California foothills from Texas expecting snow. It’s actually colder in Texas. Maybe later this week they say.

    1. jrs

      it’s the warmest winter I ever remember in southern California, there is no snow on the mountains (usually is at some point) and we have had pretty much zero rain. Meanwhile the Thomas fire, the biggest fire in California history, is still burning though 90% contained. It’s global weirding beyond anything I’ve seen but the one thing it definitely isn’t is cold.

    2. Katy

      Cold enough for ya?

      This winter I decided that I would become a cross country skier. Of course, with my luck, it hasn’t snowed enough in Southern Minnesota for anyone to ski. I went hiking on Christmas eve. Glad I didn’t get the cross country skis I asked for!

      1. Wukchumni

        I caused the lack of snow in California currently, by buying a Mammoth season pass last March for this year, my bad.

          1. jo6pac

            Well I know who to blame. I didn’t cover my firewood until the last minute. I didn’t wash the windows on my small truck. In my part of the valley near Tracy Calif. rain was just .09 hopefully more snow and rain in the foothills. Figures crossed but I’m warm:-)

      2. Wukchumni

        Alpina X-Terrain skis are the bomb if you’re looking for a nice pair of cross country skis. They have a scalloped pattern bottom and can go up & down hills easy-peasy. We use em’ to ski up in Giant Forest in Sequoia NP amongst the tall timber.

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      yup. it was below 25 here(west central texas=hill country) for 4 days(i think…it’s getting a little foggy). only lost one faucett, because i drained all the water lines and we lived out of buckets and stock pots and whatnot.now i have a great mountain of dishes…almost every one…and an enormous pile of laundry(double socks. yes, we’re wimps when it comes to cold)
      luckily, we usually don’t get that cold for so long(i remember 3 episodes in 23 years). even had snow, and freezing fog in the trees.
      real pretty and all…but you folks up north can keep it.
      my boys could hear cars and trucks on the mile away highway…and begged to be taken to town.
      I put my foot down, and right then the scanner went off with a rollover…folks here forget how to drive when it rains…let alone when there’s ice all over.
      sun’s out, now. and it’s 60 degrees, as it should be.
      ice is for iced tea and margaritas.

      1. stefan

        Here in northern New Hampshire it was negative 31 degrees yesterday morning when I came downstairs. [Generally, when it gets below negative 25, things get crazy.]

        Today it was positive 20. That’s a 51 degree change, and amazingly enough it felt positively balmy!

        I swapped a new battery into my 1985 Chevy 3/4 ton Crew Cab with my bare hands, and got both cars inspected.

        Tomorrow, it’s bomb cyclone, though I hope the Presidential Range to my south and east will fend off the worst of it. So let’s just see.

        1. Jen

          Fellow granite stater here. It was 22 below at my house yesterday. Took the dogs for a walk later in the afternoon when the temps were in the low single digits and it felt amazingly tolerable. 20 above had me almost ready to bust out my summer clothes.

        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          i can’t even imagine.
          Give me a 100 degrees any day.
          I thought about adaptability this morning, circa 4 am. It was 16 and i went on the porch for more firewood and was shocked that it didn’t seem as bad as it had 4 days ago…(for about a minute. i grabbed the wood and retreated with a quickness)
          ever been down thisaway in..say…July?
          do y’all who are acclimated to the freezer adapt well to intense heat? or is it debilitating like cold is for me?
          I love the heat… for many years, our “A/C” was a 300 gallon water trough in the yard.

          1. Wukchumni

            My wife is from Buffalo and one night we were drinking snappy cocktails in the backcountry and she asked what’s the coldest i’ve ever been in California, and I said around 10-15 degrees, and she just laughed at me.

          2. Swamp Yankee

            Oh yes, we Northerners drop like flies in the heat. I’ll take the cold over heat any day — you can bundle up against it. Heat, there is nothing you can do but bear it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is there a cheaper way?

      SAFE Quick Cover

      A Nylon Sheath For Your House, to Quench Fires | Popular Science
      Jun 7, 2009 – So DHS teamed with Foster-Miller to adapt a tent typically used to protect military vehicles from chemical attacks into a system that deflects flames from houses. A year and a few hundred yards of fireproof, rugged nylon cordura later, they produced the SAFE Quick Cover, a rooftop system that rolls out the …

      I would love to hear from people who have used it

      Flame-retardant, slimy gel can save homes – NBC News
      Oct 9, 2007 – HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — It was the most intense fire ever recorded in the Black Hills National Forest, but nearly all homes coated with a slimy gel were saved while dozens of houses nearby burned to the ground. The gel was a super-absorbent polymer that can hold many times its weight in water and clings …

      The same request with this.

      And lastly, speaking of air travel safety, is a personal parachute a good idea? Is it even legal? I think only bad guys would carry them on-board.

      1. Anne in Dallas

        My sister’s home was covered with gel during the Bastrop Complex fire several years ago, and it did not burn.

        1. RMO

          I’ve never tried taking my parachute with me as carry-on but I think it would raise some trouble at check in. There hasn’t been an airliner in use you could bail out of since they retrofitted the rear airstair door latch on the 727’s to make it impossible to open in flight after the D.B. Cooper affair. There are some 727’s and DC-9’s used specifically for large formation skydiving which are altered to allow the skydivers to go out the rear airstair (a guy I fly with has done jumps like that) but you’re not going to find on of those on AA, United or Southwest’s flight line:-)

          It’s been a warm winter here in the Vancouver area.

    2. Daryl

      An enterprising young captain of industry could form his own firefighting brigade, and buy the houses on the spot before the fire spreads to them.

      Of course, you’d need a source of cheap labor…

    1. Wukchumni

      Motel 6 was doing the same thing in Arizona earlier in the year…

      “ALBUQUERQUE — Employees at Motel 6 locations in Arizona regularly handed over to the government information that led to its hotel guests being detained and deported, the company has acknowledged.

      The revelation of this practice in a report on Wednesday by The Phoenix New Times drew sharp rebukes from human rights groups and an array of calls to boycott Motel 6, one of the largest hotel chains in the country.”


    2. JBird

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      The Bill of Rights is only for Good People I guess? As I said before I am really against illegal immigration, but everyone has rights that need to be respected. It’s frightening, and disgusting, to see people being treated as dangerous animals; Their mere existence and the possibility that a crime might be happening as justification for having this done. Too many Americans don’t think that, if it is allowed,’it will happen to them, but it will. They will find a way.

      1. Wukchumni

        Proposed new Motel 6 slogan:

        “We’ll leave the lights on, and call ICE if we suspect anyone”

      2. a different chris

        I am not a Constitutional scholar, far from it. But I have noted that it says “the people”, not “citizens”. Like everything else, the “the” makes it seem pretty much like they are talking about said Good Americuns, to be unhappily fair. And if that’s true then you and I have no case, as illegal immigrants are by definition not citizens.

        But if you can stretch the 2nd Amendment to include howitzers, I don’t think I’m too far off by insisting that “the people” means everybody, everybody that isn’t an actual holder of US government power. No “treating people as dangerous animals”. No firing off a cruise missile and wiping out an Afghan wedding party and saying it’s OK just because they aren’t within the borders (note that many of the slaughtered have been, in fact, US citizens).

        Like everything (cough, sex, cough), it seems that our political voices that demand the most, live as if constrained by the least.

        1. Synoia

          The first section o the 2nd amendment is the rational for the second section.

          It’s all about having a trained militia ready to protect the country from invasion.

          And the supremes believe that was not the original intent!

          Can I suggest some light reading for them, about Cromwell perhaps?

        2. Wukchumni

          I ordered a 88mm gun from an army-navy store in Düsseldorf, but the local Wal*Mart doesn’t carry ammo for it.

          1. ambrit

            Was that a short barrel howitzer, or a long barrel PAK? I hear that the local marketplace in any “backwater” burg in Central Asia could set you up with the appropriate ammo. Alibaba might ship it for you, marked something silly, like ‘Water Tanks’ or ‘Personal Protective Equipment.’
            Anyway, 88’s are so old fashioned. You really want a Milan, or a RPG set up. Then just dare the local Thugs to break into your place.
            What’s so funny about all of this “personal freedom” wailing from the Second Amendment crowd as that most angry mobs that do any damage are unarmed, or at best, pitchforks and torches. You can do a lot of destruction with fire. That’s why arson is considered such a serious crime.

        3. Fraibert

          There is some authority for the notion that “the people” in the Fourth Amendment means citizens and other residents who have developed a meaningful connection to the US. In _United States v. Verdugo-Uriqudez_, the Supreme Court found that the Fourth Amendment did not control the DEA’s search and seizure of a Mexican citizen that occurred entirely in Mexico. In analyzing the scope of the term “the people,’ Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote:

          “While this textual exegesis is by no means conclusive, it suggests that ‘the people’ protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community.”

          _Verdugo-Urquidez_ did not directly address the situation of illegal immigrants, but as far as I can tell and am otherwise aware, there’s still some ambiguity in the law specifically regarding the Fourth Amendment. (Other amendments, like the 5th/14th Amendment of due process, do apply to all those present in the US–see _Zadvdydas v. Davis_.)

      3. Procopius

        When I was a kid, one of the reasons we were supposed to hate Communism was because kids were taught to report disloyalty, even by their parents.

    3. dan

      I do some regular road trips where the priority is a relatively clean bed and shower. Not a
      tall order. I don’t think I will be frequenting Motel 6 in the near future.

  7. Teodrose Fikre

    I pretty much grew up in the DC area once I came to America from Ethiopia. I thought anything below 20 degrees was an arctic blast from hell. Then last year, I was in Wellington Colorado. I woke up one day and it was 20 BELOW zero. I had the pleasure of experiencing icicles form on my beard. Back in the DC area now, I’ll never see cold the same way again. Hope all are doing well today, cheers and stay warm.

    1. JBird

      A large number of Californians do seem to be snow refugees. I hear their stories and “it’s I’ll never move back!” For me winter was always the chance to go to the mountains and even camp in the snow. Of course, I would always go home after a few weeks.

      1. Wukchumni

        Love to snow camp, and the secret weapon to keeping warm is good old fashioned hot water bottles and a bottle of something 80 proof.

        1. Steeeve

          I was cured of my enthusiasm for snow camping after staying in backcountry huts. After one time coming back to a wood stove and sauna after a day of earning turns and waking up to warm, dry gear I was permanently spoiled. But now the ones we enjoyed staying at in the Wallowas are $50 per night per person, so might as well get a condo and go lift-served for that price. Nothing’s as peaceful and quiet as waking up in the backcountry after a fresh snowfall though.

    2. Jen

      You know you’ve gone native after moving to a colder region when you use the words “only” and “5 below” in the same sentence.

  8. Laruse

    Cold enough for you?

    Several years ago, my husband and I made our first ever visit to Charleston, SC, for a short weekend getaway in December. This was back around the first time I ever heard the term “polar vortex” get used in the media to describe this particular cold snap.

    When we hit the road in the pre-dawn hours in Richmond, VA, it was a wicked 19 degrees (hey, Richmond is still “the South” and 19 degrees is No Joke cold for us). 6 hours later when we pulled into our hotel in Charleston, it was a much more reasonable 57 degrees. Husband and I had a meal on a patio outside the hotel wearing no coats or anything heavier than a good wool sweater.

    The hotel staff thought we had literally lost our minds. What were we doing outside in those temps without so much as a scarf!?! I was amused by their incredulity at first until one staff member went by in open toed shoes. When I asked her if she was so cold, why didn’t she put on a real pair of shoes and a coat? She replied that she didn’t own a coat and had never needed anything more substantial than sandals even in December in Charleston. Ooooh . . .

    Your cold is not my cold is not their cold. I am nervous about my pipes freezing when the temps hit single digits this weekend, but I know a farmer in Upstate New York who is trying to prep her sheep and pigs for MINUS 20 degree temps this weekend. I cannot imagine that . . .

    1. Lee

      Many summers ago (1993) we camped at a municipal campground in Creston, Canada. We, well bundled, watched the locals playing softball in the sleety rain, while wearing T shirts and shorts. Just the recollection alone makes me shiver. We spent six weeks tent camping mostly in the rain in the Canadian Rockies. A lot of depressed but always gracious Canadians complained that they had been robbed of their summer that year. One family we met invited us to their home in Edmonton for a week so we could dry out. Cold land, warm hearts.

  9. clarky90

    “How to never get sick again” The Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof is “the Iceman”.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mxCGDFlH1_k I try to expose myself to more cold. I only use heating in the house when I have to. (It’s summer here now). I leave doors and windows open year around. I put on more clothes, hats and socks. I am at 45 degrees South, so we get cold, but not deathly cold. Our obsession with comfort and convenience is an insideous and debilitating mind disease, a dementia. Enjoy your cold snap NC commentariate!

    1. Oregoncharles

      Also at 45 degrees, but North. It’s been clear and freezing at night, but now it’s going to rain; 47 deg./37 deg. Typical winter weather here. The Supermoon was above a thin mackerel sky, with a colored halo. Just gorgeous.

      We aren’t so heroic: we heat the house, though usually on the low side. Frozen pipes are the big concern if you don’t.

      The cyclone about to hit the east coast sounds like a real concern. Stay safe, coast dwellers!

  10. allan

    Trickle-Down Norms [National Affairs]

    Richard Reeves, author of Dream Hoarders, continues his apparently one and only job
    of distracting attention away from the .1%:

    … It is well known that, by nearly every measure, people in the upper-middle class and above have pulled ahead of the rest of America in the past three decades. Their incomes have risen far faster than those of everyone else, and they have reaped the majority of the benefits of decades of economic growth. They also tend to have more stable family lives, so the children of the upper-middle class start life with a leg up on their less-fortunate peers, perpetuating their advantage.

    Both sides of the ideological spectrum recognize the problem, though they have different theories about the source. Conservatives typically blame cultural differences, while liberals point to inequality. But one of our most troubling inequalities is in culture itself. …

    Many of the norms of family life being cultivated and sustained by affluent, educated Americans would, if shared more broadly, promote greater opportunity. But inequality has damaged the mechanisms of norm diffusion, and therefore the prospects of more upward mobility. …

    1 part David Brooks, 1 part Charles Murray, a twist of J.D. Vance and a dash of Robert Putnam and Gary Becker
    to lend it gravitas for the Brookings/NPR crowd.

    All in the service of the Steve Mnuchins of the world.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Upper middle class cultural norms like house cleaning services, nannies, catering, reliable and comfortable transportation and, um, impromptu Hawaiian vacations would be very welcome among the proles I’m sure, doc.

      Gotta get to work spreading those.

      (not talking about anyone I know, natch)

    2. a different chris

      Well the good news is, in our attention-deficit society, a Marc Antony approach is quite likely going to fail. I suspect 75% of the readers who don’t know him will just get to paragraph 3 and say “hell yeah” and surf off to somewhere else.

    3. jrs

      “In a healthy society, as conservative critics point out, emulation and example play an important role. We learn from each other. In particular, we learn from observing and interacting with those who are succeeding.”

      yes but so blinkered and narrow minded and stupid. Yes this happens of course, but we can also learn from the poor because they are often successful at things the more conventionally “successful” aren’t. Poorer people are more altruistic, perhaps better off people could learn something from that.

      1. JBird

        In fairness to that writer, his book does show another part of the collapse as well as the partially unconscious doing of this by the top 20%. They need to become aware that they are part of the problem. At the same time, the 0.1% often conscious efforts to hollow out our society makes the 20% hold onto their position ever harder because there’s hardly rungs to grab anymore. Once you slip, you fall there are no steps just air. Fear does make people do unwise things. Like believing that we actually live in a meritocracy.

  11. EGrise

    From John Robb of Global Guerillas comes this interesting thinking on weaponized networks:

    The Long Night

    (Sorry for the LinkedIn link, the full thing is locked up on his Patreon)

    The third possibility should be familiar to NC Readers.

    1. The Rev Kev

      With Trump winding back all of Obama’s so-called successes, all that will leave Obama with only his greatest legacy left – the Presidency of Donald Trump.

  12. djrichard

    However, some business contacts … noted that the increase in cash flow that would result from corporate tax cuts was more likely to be used for mergers and acquisitions or for debt reduction and stock buybacks

    I’m shocked, shocked that the corporations would use the profits to drive up their stock price.

    But ignoring that, I wonder why corporations would even want to reduce debt levels. But then there’s a recession coming eventually isn’t there. When that happens nobody is going to bail out their consumers (because moral hazard), so cash flows will suffer. Would they have enough cash flow to still meet interest on debt? If not, better retire that debt in advance.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if the recession became self fulfilling because of the debt reduction by the corporations? Because after all debt reduction would be deflationary. Dammit man, where’s the Federal Reserve when we need them? Would the Fed Reserve be able to engineer a different bubble to supplant corporate debt? I doubt it. [Unless they’re hanging their hats on crypto currencies. Wouldn’t the crypto currency crowd love knowing that the Fed Reserve is 100% behind their “wealth effect” creation, lol.]

  13. djrichard

    But in the middle of 2018, I believe growth will slow as the Fed’s rate hike train takes effect with a lag. And so we will see the curve flatten again. By the time we get to June and July, I expect three rate hikes to have occurred and for the curve to be nearly flat, meaning at least another 36 basis points down from present levels.

    Look at the trend line of the 13 week treasury yield over the last month. It’s gone up 12.5 basis points over 30 days. Two of those in a row and that’s another 25 basis point hike by the Fed Reserve. Really just need one month or so for the 13 week to catch up to where the Fed Funds rate is now: 1.5%. After that, just another 100 basis points (8 months) to go before it eclipses the 10Y yield (which is currently at 2.5%). Based on that, we only need 9 months before we eclipse the yield curve, assuming the 10Y yield doesn’t change much.

    1. Jim Haygood

      During our long detour into ZIRP [Zero Interest Rate Policy] some analysts started using the 2-yr vs 10-yr yield curve. Since it incorporates expectations of average short-term rates over the next two years, the 2-yr note yield can move up in anticipation of rate hikes, even as T-bill rates remain tightly locked to the Fed’s policy rate.

      Since September, 2-yr yields have chugged uphill like a four-locomotive freight train, running from 1.34% to 1.94% in just four months. Chart:


      This leaves the 2-yr yield only 50 basis points below today’s 10-yr yield of 2.44%. No one knows what the 10-yr yield will do. But if it holds steady or sinks, we could be just two rate hikes away from yield curve inversion, which accurately signaled the 2001 and 2008 recessions with a lead time of a year or so.

      From today’s Federal Reserve meeting minutes:

      Some expressed concern that a possible future inversion of the yield curve could portend an economic slowdown, noting that inversions have preceded recessions over the past several decades.

      A couple of other participants judged that a yield curve inversion would not necessarily foreshadow or cause an economic downturn.

      These “other participants” sound like Gomer Pyle on acid, pulling the pin on a live grenade.

  14. a different chris

    My uninformed take is the Fed Funds rate has (family blog) all to do with the real economy. Corporations self-finance, and regular people are now getting, if not hopefully to the point that they realize low rates just comes out in the wash of high home prices, to the point where they are scared if not unable to take on debt.

    ZIRP or 4%, if I could set up parallel planets I would bet you wouldn’t see a difference.

      1. Duck1

        Which raises the question what a recession would even mean in the ever inflated asset house that comprises all borgeoise desires these days

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      But what does have any connection with “the real economy” anymore? Amazon, with no earnings to speak of? Bitcoin? Or how about the fact that the CEO of cryptocurrency Ripple just exceeded the net worth of Mark Zuckerberg, despite the fact his “currency” system has nobody using it?
      I think old farts like me will continue to rail and demand some “there” there…while the rest of the world marches to faker and faker everything. Fake news, fake politicians, fake companies, fake food, fake countries, fake GDP, fake currencies. Maybe “real” never makes a comeback.

  15. Duck1

    Live by executive order, die by executive order
    (and let that 50 state strategy die in the gutter)

    1. ambrit

      We might end up referring to a certain Asian Autocrat as “Kim Jong-ohm.”
      Time to build a cage to keep those pesky Farradays in.
      And, I’m not believing how clueless I am, it’s all part of Current Events, ain’t it?
      I’d expect #theresistance to hijack this meme.
      [Peters out into decrepitude and desuetude.]

  16. ebbflows

    For all the cold people.

    Its not really cold until you put your toothpaste in the fridge to keep it from freezing overnight.

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