2:00PM Water Cooler 3/5/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a bit light, but I need to run along and do some stuff. So I will natter on tomorrow at excessive length, to make up for my dereliction today. –lambert



“TRUMP NAMES DIGITAL GURU BRAD PARSCALE CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR 2020 RUN” [Wired]. “A political novice prior to the 2016 race, Parscale oversaw the campaign’s digital operations from the San Antonio offices of his web design and strategy firm Giles-Parscale. What began as a one-man operation in 2015 grew into one of the most successful—and controversial—digital campaigns in presidential history, with Parscale’s team working alongside embedded staffers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google to fine-tune the campaign’s advertising online.” Surely both campaigns had “embedded staffers” from Silicon Valley?




As I keep saying, stopping the menace of #MedicareForAll is a key goal for liberal Democrats.

2016 Post Mortem

“Democrats grapple with Clinton-Sanders fallout ahead of 2018 election” [WTOP]. “The spat’s spillover was evident at the organization’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., on Friday as Democratic National Committee members discussed limiting the power of superdelegates and adding transparency to the budget process — controversies in the party that came to light in the 2016 election…. But a proposal in the rules committee meeting would not allow superdelegates to vote in the first round of ballots at the convention, but would allow them to vote on a second ballot, which happens when there’s no consensus candidate. That proposal will be discussed further at next week’s DNC meeting. ‘There’s a clear consensus that the status quo will change,” Roosevelt said of the superdelegates. “Whether that impacts all automatic delegates or only the automatic delegates who are not members of Congress or governors remains to be seen.’ He noted it’s a ‘continuous; issue “because this is asking a group to limit its own power. That’s always a challenging question.'”


“War Room” [New York Magazine]. Parkland student organizing. Oddly, or not, the Democrats are all over this, while virtually silent on the West Virginia teachers strike.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Collapse of Racial Liberalism” [The American Interest (DK)]. “By racial liberalism, I mean the basic consensus that existed across the mainstream of both political parties since the 1970s, to the effect that, first, bigotry of any overt sort would not be tolerated, but second, that what was intolerable was only overt bigotry—in other words, white people’s definition of racism. Institutional or “structural” racism—that is, race-based exclusions that result from deep social habits such as where people live, who they know socially, what private organizations they belong to, and so on—were not to be addressed.2 The core ethic of the racial liberal consensus was colorblind individualism.”

Conservatives, the left, liberals:

Readers will recognize this image as a riff on the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme. I like it because it’s not binary. Thinking in threes — like, say, thesis, antithesis, synthesis — is a handy mental tool to have.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers Services Index, February 2018: “PMI services had shown softness compared to other small-sample surveys but strength is now accelerating” [Econoday]. “Hiring is solid and business optimism is also strong, at a 13-year high. Unsustainable strength is the signal from many private surveys, still in contrast to actual data from the government where strength is much less severe.” And: “Both services surveys are in expansion – but their intensity of growth were different” [Econoday].

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, February 2018: “The ISM non-manufacturing index, at 59.5 in February, easily beats Econoday’s consensus and follows this morning’s services PMI to hint at accelerating and perhaps unsustainably strong conditions for the bulk of the nation’s economy” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Backdoor drivers: Hackers threatening connected cars” [Bangok Post] (of all places). “Manufacturers are beginning to develop vehicles that require automated security with real-time threat intelligence and strategic segmentation to protect the car’s complex architecture.” Everything is fine.

Tech: “Here Are 911 Transcripts of Some of the Times Apple Employees Walked Directly Into Glass Wall” [Gizmodo (KW)]. “It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse.” C. Northcote Parkison, Parkinson’s Law.

Tech: “Amazon will stop selling Nest smart home devices, escalating its war with Google” [Business Insider (KW)]. Oligopolistic scorpions on a jar.

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on drought. “Drought conditions have declined with winter rains” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184.

Five Horsemen: “Apple leads the tightly-clustered Silicon Valley contingent with Alphabet and Facebook right behind it” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 5 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “At Friday’s close the mania-panic index remained flat at 31 (worry) as two short-term technical measures — new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume — continued deteriorating” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index Mar 2 2018


“California nurses union leader RoseAnn DeMoro retiring, but remains ‘on call'” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “[T]he nurses union [helped] deflate former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. When few others would take him on early in his first term, the nurses dogged him with 107 demonstrations within a year, helping to shrink his once sky-high approval rating. In much the same way, they torpedoed the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of his potential Republican successor, billionaire Meg Whitman, by following her around California with a living prop — a pearl-draped actress dressed as ‘Queen Meg’ riding in a horse-drawn chariot.”

The 420

“A Canadian Marijuana Company Is Now Trading On The NASDAQ” [Forbes]. “There are some key potential regulatory tailwinds that could rapidly enhance the growth prospects for Cronos and other marijuana companies. Canada is expected to legalize the use of recreational marijuana this year. Medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is becoming more accepted in the United States, with eight states allowing recreational use and more states expected to vote for legalization this year. There are some significant headwinds, however, that could impede progress. Marijuana is still prohibited in the United States on a federal level, both for medicinal and recreational purposes.”


“The dangers of pluralism in economics: the case of MMT” [Mainly Macro]. “I like ____, but their supporters on the Twitter….”

Class Warfare

“Frontier Communication workers on strike” [WDTV]. West Virginia. Would be nice to see some synergy here…

“Unions mull legal action after wrong bill passed; schools remain closed Monday” [Gazette Mail]. Oh, yes. Let’s divert the West Virginia teachers strike (and the narrative) into the courts and write the lawyers some checks. Please.

“Organization claims Oklahoma teachers are organizing strike” [KFOR]. Well, that headine seems a little dubious…

“Community protests new Dollar General, says they want more grocery stores” [KTUL]. OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…

“Preempting the states: US Ed to shield debt collectors from consumer protection” [Credit Slips].

“How ‘the Kingfish’ Turned Corporations into People” [New York Review of Books]. Huey Long, in a battle with the press.

News of The Wired

“Roll Models” (PDF) [Tadashi Tokieda]. “These notes attempt a case study of applied mathematics for beginning students via problems of rolling. They do so by pointing out diverse surprising phenomena, many of which the reader can try at home, modeling them, and testing the limits of these models. One message is that rolling, because it tightly coordinates different modes of motion, tends to be more exactly solvable than meets the eye. Another message is that the thrill of applied mathematics is not in how difficult the mathematics is, but rather in what diversity of surprises in one’s own experience one can discover, then understand.” Fun!

Word of the Day:

Rather like telomere shortening, but for civilizations?

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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, please 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 (via):

I love the smell of damp earth in the very early spring, during snow-melt.

Readers, thanks for all the photos! I think I’m all set for now (though do feel free to send more, especially if you’ve never sent in a plant photo before).

* * *

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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. UserFriendly

    I’ll add something about tomorrow’s Texas Primaries.

    Get schooled on education policy in the Texas Republican primaries
    Education is one of the issues dividing pro- and anti-Straus Republicans. Generally, pro-Straus Republicans support increased public education funding while anti-Straus Republicans support school choice.

    This issue came to a head in the 2017 legislative special session when the anti-Straus dominated state Senate cut a school funding bill that passed the Straus-led House from $1.8 billion to $351 million. Straus and his lieutenants reluctantly accepted the Senate version.

    Ballotpedia spoke to two groups on opposite sides of the issue: Carolyn Boyle of the pro-Straus Texas Parent PAC, and Cary Cheshire of the anti-Straus Empower Texans.

    Texas Parent PAC.PNG
    Ballotpedia: How does education divide Republicans in the state legislative primaries?

    Boyle: There are two factions of Republican candidates…Those who are committed to the Texas Constitution Article 7 and work for a strong public education system statewide… And alternatively…those with an anti-government ideological perspective who are not friends of public education. They…seek to privatize public education and divert funds to private, religious, and for-profit elementary and secondary education.

    Ballotpedia: What effect has the education issue had on the primaries?

    Boyle: There have been aggressive efforts by some politicians and Empower Texans to suppress the educator vote. That has seemed to generate even more interest in voting by active and retired educators and public school parents. In 2018, there is synergy among pro-education groups supporting great candidates and working to turn out voters.

    Empower Texans.PNG
    Ballotpedia: How does education divide Republicans in the state legislative primaries?

    Cheshire: The party’s liberal wing is siding with Democrats and labor unions to oppose changes to the status quo, mainstream Republicans led by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are promoting conservative reform including school choice and property tax relief.

    Ballotpedia: What effect has the education issue had on the primaries?

    Cheshire: A huge impact. Threatened by the prospect of school choice Democrats and labor unions are organizing in force to influence the Republican primary—even convincing Democrats and teachers to cross over into the Republican primary and prevent school choice advocates from gaining ground.

    1. UserFriendly


      Other Texas state legislative primaries to watch
      Ballotpedia has identified a number of potentially competitive Democratic primaries in Texas. Here’s a quick rundown:

      State Senate District 10: A Clinton-aligned businesswoman and a Sanders-aligned scientist faceoff to see who takes on state Sen. Konni Burton (R), the chamber’s most vulnerable Republican, in November.
      State House District 47: A crowded contest to run in a Republican-controlled seat Donald Trump won by just 0.2 points.
      State House District 104: A progressive challenger endorsed by members of the Dallas City Council is taking on an incumbent who has been in office since 1992.
      State House District 116: Gender is an issue, with the seat’s prior incumbent, a man with a knack for legislative debate, challenges the new incumbent, a woman focused on constituent service. House Democrats are split between the candidates.
      The Texas Tribune has its eyes on Democratic primaries in state House Districts 27, 31, 37, 109, 115, and 118.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Last Friday in Austin a half dozen voting machines were set up in the Fiesta market for early voters.

        In the parking lot we were approached by a young get-out-the-vote organizer whom I took to be a Democrat owing to his not-from-here yankee accent … and the fact that shoppers at an hispanic-themed supermarket are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.

        Hangin’ out at Fiesta is a lot more fun than the sleek, antiseptic Domain where upscale millennials live and shop in “retail disneyland.”

        1. sleepy

          30 years ago I used to go to the Fiesta Mart in SW Houston. Even then it was like a foreign bazaar, especially out in the parking lot where vendors from Mexico, Africa, Korea, the ME, and so on all hawked their wares. Don’t know if that’s still allowed or not, i.e., the parking lot vendors.

          Inside the store it was pretty cool too. Houston, 50% deep South, 50% Los Angeles..

          1. Jim Haygood

            Didn’t see no parking lot vendors at Fiesta in Austin. Totally agree that Houston is 50% Deep South; 50% LA. Whereas Austin has become a traffic-choked dystopia … Lake Travis is now ringed by the baroque castles of the Dellionaires and newer parvenus.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        we went to Austin saturday(100 miles) and wife drove there(I drove back). The boys and I tallied the campaign signs…prolly in the thousands along 290: zero democrats until one was within bow-shot of the Y at Oakhill.
        the repub signs were for everything from US Senator to county commish to constable. if there’s an office, the gop is running someone.
        …and spending $$$ on signage, apparently.
        I know that dems are running more candidates in Texas than in the last 25 years, and I’ve had issues with the state party regarding signage(I’ve been making my own for decades)…but I wonder about the disparity in roadside representation.
        are dems still scared and in the closet?
        is the state party still sucking badly in getting signage out there?
        or is the disparity representative of fewer fired up dems with fences along the highway?
        out here, there are a surprising number of signs for the woman(Jennie Lou Leeder)running against Mike Conaway(Texas 11th)…and that’s a welcome change.

  2. UserFriendly


    Sanders’ son enters national stage with NH-01 run, Shea-Porter’s chief of staff considers run
    Levi Sanders, son of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), entered the race for the open seat in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Monday.

    Sen. Sanders said he was” very proud of Levi’s commitment to public service,” and that the younger Sanders will be “running his own campaign, in his own way, with his own ideas.”

    “The decision as to who to vote for will be determined by the people of New Hampshire’s first district, and nobody else,” the elder Sanders said.

    Sanders’ candidacy has Naomi Andrews, chief of staff to retiring incumbent U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), is reconsidering a run for the seat.

    God they reallllllly hate Sanders.

  3. Judith

    Something to ponder from Bruce Dixon at BAR:


    “A class analysis tells us that unless and until we make the planet and the fruits of human labor and culture available to all, we haven’t accomplished anything like a revolution. A class analysis suggests that in addition to organizing black and latinx neighborhoods, prisoners and their families, and organizing fast food workers – really organizing them with shop floor actions and home visits which Fight For $15 doesn’t do – the US left ought to look for opportunities to organize the large multiracial workforces in the strategic sectors which can bring significant pieces of society to a halt. Hospitals and health care workers. Public workers. Logistics . Power grids and the communications infrastructure. Teachers and educational workplaces on all levels. That’s a realistic, though incredibly difficult path to leverage and power that intersectionality simply does not provide.”

    1. Paul Cardan

      Thanks. Can’t say I disagree with the content, but it’s difficult to evaluate the claim about class analysis without knowing what classes are supposed to be. Class doesn’t seem to be a matter of income, since by that criterion some rentiers I know (landlords) would end up in the same class as hourly employees. It can’t be a matter of sources of income, since the income of both CEOs and auto mechanics takes the form of salary or wages. And surely people are not in distinct classes because some are paid a salary for their work and others a wage.

      1. willf

        Can you elucidate on what benefit it will bring the argument to focus on such distinctions, and not on, say, level of income, income by capital investment or wealth gained by inheritance?

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I’m not the first to say this: classes are made, not identified statistically.

        I would interpret Dixon as suggesting that the (re)making of the US working class will require the active participation of many categories of humans that were not called on, or allowed to participate, last time around.

        Now if you had said, “…without know what classes are supposed to do,” I would say you have a point. Dixon and most socialists, me included, still think that something like a “working class” can be created that will overtly challenge a capitalist class and prevail, or at least force a new compromise that is a significant upgrade over the current circumstance. But TBH, that is more “optimism of the will” than fact-based analysis. And it still leaves open lots of issues, like if this working class is supposed to be made at the national, supra-national, or sub-national level.

      3. Roland

        Paul, classes aren’t hard.

        Class membership is defined principally by one’s relationship to the control of the means of production.

        Here’s the typical breakdown in a mature capitalist society:

        Bourgeois: controls productive capital, doesn’t need to sell labour in order to live.

        Petty Bourgeois: controls some productive capital, but still needs to sell some labour in order to live.

        Proletarian: does not control productive capital, must sell labour in order to live. Most of the people in North America who have come to habitually consider themselves as “middle class” are in fact proletarians.

        Lumpenproletarian: does not control productive capital. Does not sell labour. Survives by crime or charity.

        Clergy, aristocracy, petty aristocracy, and the three peasant classes (yeoman, middle peasant, small peasant) have all been liquidated or rendered vestigial in the advanced countries.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m not so sure that aristocracy is dead, when we look at the presence of clans in politics and Hollywood.

          It does make sense, when you think about it, that in a capitalist society, the relationship one has to capital would be, as it were, “the magic key.”

      1. Brian L.

        From the video: “Each robot costs $60,000 and costs a further $12,000 a year to run.”

        So over 5 years that’s $120,000. That’s $24,000 a year. Over 10 years that’s $180,000 or $18,000 a year. It’s relatively slow and I assume it needs a human to set up everything for it and can only do one job (cooking the burgers). Meh. Currently, it only seems viable in quite high-wage areas.

  4. Edward E

    Here’s a little more eye candy…
    Opinion | Dethrone ‘King Dollar’

    But new research reveals that what was once a privilege is now a burden, undermining job growth, pumping up budget and trade deficits and inflating financial bubbles. To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar’s reserve-currency status.

    Via@Reuters- Customers working on the Belt and Road initiative are choosing Caterpillar due to our global dealer network and technology expertise
    Caterpillar drives sales on China’s new Silk Road | Article [AMP] | Reuters


    Will Trump make China great again? The belt and road initiative and international order | International Affairs | Oxford Academic


    I don’t know for sure where we’re going from here, but it won’t be boring.

    1. Yves Smith

      The Silk and Road stuff is wrongheaded. We’ve been running news stories for the last month-plus saying it’s a big China headfake. Very very little if anything actually being done. We said early on that the same was true of the much hyped Asia Infrastructure Bank (where in fairness, the gap between the PR and the project was much more obvious).

      1. Oregoncharles

        The critical bit would be the railroad (+?) that connects right across Central Asia to Europe through Sinkiang – the New Silk Road. Most importantly for China, it would solidify their control of Sinkiang, which is a bit shaky.

        I had the impression it was actually going forward. Is that incorrect? The port projects seem like very ordinary development/foreign aid projects; they don’t actually create routes that didn’t exist. In practice, they’d be very much like a lot of US foreign aid.

        A head fake, or just much harder than they expected?

        1. Yves Smith

          Due to the hour plus the crapification of Google, it’s difficult to find the critical stories I’ve seen in the past two months, but their salient characteristic was that they all had hard information, like status of deals or resistance of supposedly critical participants (India is not on board and Pakistan is plenty wary) or just plain economics, which the ones touting OBOR are just basically repeating Chinese PR about the scheme with no new information. In other words, the actual sighings of late have been overwhelmingly negative.

          This was one I could locate readily. Key section:

          You may recall a photo we published a while back of a group of cheerleaders waving China flags as a goods train pulled out of the station in London, destined for Beijing with British export goods, the Belt and Road in action.

          I laughed. I am sure I had company. Any good-sized container ship carries up to 100 times what such a train can carry to China and does it more efficiently and at much lower cost than the easily overcrowded track and different rail gauges will allow any train to do it on the journey.

          That’s Belt and Road for you, a storm of hot air that sycophants emit as evidence of their eagerness to obey commands from Beijing, a reactive measure started only because the national authorities were annoyed that a multinational trade pact proposed by the United States would exclude China.


          1. Edward E

            Thanks, I overlook some things. That’s exactly what dad has has been saying, “you’re wrong headed, you should have went into the military, discipline and how to take orders etc…” After taking care of him for two+ months and getting him set up with a number of VA care options he never explored on his own.
            Now that he’s taken care of, Superstar wants me to help her a few days with her home remodeling project. Point taken, I’ll try not to be too ‘wrong headed’ over there. Lol, I can’t wait to get back out on a truck and become one with the wild weather again soon.

            The Arctic is sending us a powerful message about climate change. It’s time for us to listen | World Economic Forum

  5. Synoia

    Apparently Etruscans believed each civilization was alotted a certain number of saecula from its founding

    Dubious. How many “civilizations” had the Etruscans experienced (before becoming Romans), and how did they define “Civilization?”

    How did they calculate the “alotted a certain number of saecula?” Or was it a fixed number for all Civilizations, and if so what’s the number?

    Aka: Show me the proof.

    1. DJG

      Synoia: I am more familiar with this way of Etruscan reckoning, which the Romans adopted and used in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol Hill:

      “The region around Orvieto hides a great mystery: the location of the Fanum Voltumna. It was a sacred place of greatest importance, where every year the representatives of the Etruscan 12-City League would meet to discuss important political and economic transactions. There must have been numerous religious ceremonies, when we recall that every year a nail what driven into the wall of the sanctuary of the goddess Nortia. According to the belief of the Etruscans, when the wall was covered with nails, the Etruscans would cease to exist. This custom of driving a nail into the wall was carried on by the Romans for long afterwards.”

      This comes from a website describing the possible ruins of the Etruscan city, Velzna, near modern Orvieto in Umbria.

      As to civilizations that the Etruscans experienced, the strongest case is made that they were indigenous, although there is much disagreement about the origins of the Etruscans. Rome took them over piece by piece, city by city, and the Etruscan language went extinct around 50 C.E.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Yes, that was excellent, although obviously pitched at a fairly high level (university students and maybe some advanced high schoolers would enjoy it, others not so much).

      I liked the definition of rigor in applied mathematics as the testing of models, and the throwaway comment about pure mathematicians lacking rigor in this sense. That language would make any pure mathematician bristle, but he has a point.

  6. Rob P

    Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier

    Quite an illuminating article. Some interesting quotes:

    >After Kramer promised to share the document only with McCain, Steele arranged for Kramer to receive a copy in Washington. But a former national-security official who spoke with Kramer at the time told me that one of Kramer’s ideas was to have McCain confront Trump with the evidence, in the hope that Trump would resign. “He would tell Trump, ‘The Russians have got you,’ ” the former official told me.

    >One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney.

    My main takeaway is that Democrats are going all-in on the Steele dossier’s credibility as way to prove #Russiagate and get rid of Trump. But I don’t think it will work out the way they want it to.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I believe that there is a saying in governments that you should never, ever, hold an inquiry unless you know exactly what it is going to find out! Otherwise you may find yourself very unpleasantly surprised.
      Maybe the same is true here in that the Democrats had better make damn sure they know what will come out of pursuing this rubbish dossier or that it might blow up in their faces.

    2. BenX

      It’s the republicans with the dossier fetish. I don’t see democrats talking about it at all. And the FBI started the investigation before they were handed the dossier.

      1. Yves Smith

        Come on. The article is in the New Yorker, which is an orthodox Dem outlet.

        And if you Google “Christopher Steele,” one story is from Fox, one is from Forbes (which is no longer right-wing, you need to look at the author/headline) and the rest are from places like the Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Business Insider.

        If you do a search from the day before yesterday back for a month to screen out the impact of amplification of the New Yorker piece, you get 2 from Fox, one from WaPo, one from The Hill, one from Politico, one from Business Insider, the rest from UK papers. The UK ones are consistent with US MSM coverage.

        Making stuff up is against our written site Policies.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Why would the Democrat party talk about it? They were trying to cover up the the fact that they paid for it.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Does this mean Hilary finally gets an orange jumpsuit? Um, no. So still a banana republic.
          Just checking.

      3. integer

        And the FBI started the investigation before they were handed the dossier.

        This is far from being conclusively proven. I note that Trey Gowdy stated two days ago that a second special counsel is likely unavoidable.

        “I think we’re trending perhaps towards another special counsel,” Gowdy said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo. “I’m reluctant to call for a second special counsel, but I think it might be unavoidable in this fact pattern.”

        Gowdy added: “You need an independent arbiter. And the Justice Department cannot investigate itself. Horowitz can, fair guy, but someone else has to do it.” Gowdy noted there were “witnesses outside the reach of the IG.”

  7. Synoia

    Conor Lamb asked in #PA18 debate for 3 places he’d vote outside his party, has real answers:

    1) “Government-run medicine”; (single-payer) –”I don’t t think that’d be a good idea,” adds “too expensive”

    What’s his position on the Defense Budget?

    1. a different chris

      A real answer to how he would vote, but “outside his party”? I thought he was a Democrat? How is dissing single payer not the most mainstream D position there is? The most reflexive punch left they’ve got.

      And to be fair to Mr. Lamb, I can’t tell the diff between R and D on the Defense budget, it seems to be the only time they partially understand MMT I guess – missing, of course, that the money printed has to be spent on something actually useful. So what answer would you expect (you don’t actually have to answer that, of course ;))?

  8. DJG

    Wrapping up the (first round) Italian election coverage with a salty and eccentrically structured column by Andrea Scanzi. In Italian and well worth the read, if you read Italian:


    You can take this Italian paragraph and translate it into Clintonian, and events will all make sense:

    Un uomo politicamente senza pregi, privo di qualsivoglia qualità, goffo e caricaturale, arrogante e vendicativo, tronfio e circondato da una classe dirigente terrificante al cui confronto la Carfagna è Nilde Iotti. Eppure, se lo criticavi nel 2014, ti lapidavano. Da allora, com’era naturale che fosse, le ha perse tutte. Ma proprio tutte. Se avesse smesso dopo il 4 dicembre 2016, come del resto aveva promesso (come Boschi, Carbone, Fedeli e altri intellettuali), avrebbe fatto bene anzitutto a se stesso. Ma non ha smesso. E la slavina si è fatta gogna, e poi martirio, e poi strazio, e poi Armageddon.

    1. Knot Galt

      A man politically without merits, devoid of any quality, clumsy and caricatural, arrogant and vindictive, pompous and surrounded by a terrifying ruling class to which the Carfagna is Nilde Iotti. Yet, if you criticized him in 2014, they stoned you. Since then, as it was natural, he lost them all. But all of them. If he had quit after December 4, 2016, as he had promised (like Boschi, Carbone, Fedeli and other intellectuals), he would have done well first of all. But it has not stopped. And the avalanche has become pillory, and then martyrdom, and then torment, and then Armageddon.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Re: 1848

      Since it is commonly known as “the turning point that didn’t turn”, I’ll hope your analogy is a bit off :)

  9. allan

    Aggressive Volcker rule changes to come quickly, top Fed official in charge of regulation says [Marketwatch]

    The senior official at the Federal Reserve in charge of bank supervision on Monday announced that regulators plans to swiftly make aggressive and substantial changes to the Volcker rule.

    “We want banks to be able to engage in market making and provide liquidity to financial markets with less fasting and prayer about their compliance with the Volcker rule,” said Fed Governor Randall Quarles in a speech to the Institute of International Bankers conference in Washington. …

    Shouldn’t a faith-based administration be in favor of “fasting and prayer”?

    Another massive win for the back row kids.

  10. Bugs Bunny

    Re ““Democrats grapple with Clinton-Sanders fallout ahead of 2018 election”

    Ya gotta love the weirdo wonky DNC plan to keep the superdelegates as a backup in case the first round doesn’t come up with a candidate.

    Obviously makes the whole delegate counting and primary process much less transparent but somehow if you framed it with the right drafting it would seem like a concession to the Sanders wing.

  11. Annotherone

    “Community protests new Dollar General, says they want more grocery stores” [KTUL]. OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain… ”

    Sigh. Oscar Hammerstein – when all was new and optimistic, around 1907 I guess:

    They couldn’t pick a better time to start in life!
    It ain’t too early and it ain’t too late
    Start up as a farmer with a brand new wife
    Soon be liv-in in a brand new state!

    Brand new state
    Gonna treat you great

    Gonna give you barley, carrots and per taters
    Pasture for the cattle
    Spinach and ter-may-ters
    Flowers on the prairie where the june bugs zoom
    Plen’y of of air and plen’y of room
    Plenty of room to swing a rope
    Plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope……..

    How did all of that morph into a slew of flippin’ Dollar Generals, teachers needing to strike, and beaucoup earthquakes? R – E – P- U -B- L -I -C -A- N -S!

    1. Edward E

      They should do what Oklahoma City did and request a WinCo Foods or two be built there. I’ve been trying to get WinCo to come into Arkiefornia for decades. The Walton’s just might lose their minds if they did.
      Over in Ochelata, OK the Dollar General built a popular store right beside the driveway into the Wal~Mart distribution center and it really infuriated them too. So I’ve been trying to get them to make a big truck stop out of it. Especially since all Wal~Mart wants is bring your stuff and leave ASAP, no parking even if you’re ELD is screaming!
      Actually some bigger Dollar General stores around the country are loaded with groceries, fresh produce, meat, veggies, fruit and bakery.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Boy Oklahoma! shows it’s age. Even as a 70s teenager I thought ‘girl who can’t say no’ was so creapy I went to learn more about what the musical was about. Nice songs, terrible premise, starting with who they got all those wide rolling acres from. I had to recheck wiki, because I misremembered the immigrant dying on the flaming haystack–like Frankenstein. Imagine if Oklahoma were revived with Jud as the only white guy in the cast?

      1. Annotherone

        Lots of nasty stories about most states exist, I guess., if one searches. The rolling acres of the whole country were stolen, and are dowsed in the blood of Native Americans, so i have to defend Oklahoma, at least on that score, if on nothing else. .

    3. Knot Galt

      If I recall correctly, parts of Oklahoma were irrevocably environmentally damaged where the Dust Bowl was created. Again, Republicans.

      When the Democrats went into fix it, it was like Humpty Dumpty.

      I think Dollar Generals will be the least of their problems. My fear is fracking is going to turn that place into a wasteland.

      1. Annotherone

        I’ve been here only since 2004, but yes, I understand much of the state was devastated during Dust Bowl years – many Okies moved west into California. (“Grapes of Wrath” and all that). I’m not sure whether we can blame Republicans fully for that Dust Bowl – but let’s do it anyway! ;)

        Agreed, fracking and Gov. Mary Fallin are our greatest dangers, Dollar Generals do at least help some of the worst off in parts of the state, which is more than can be said for Fallin – or fracking.

  12. NoOneInParticular

    It would be interesting to know if the injured Apple workers were buried in their phones as they walked into the walls.

    And wouldn’t it be helpful if the Five Horsemen and the Mania Panic charts were aligned on the same time scale?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Apple workers took to putting stick pad notes on the glass walls so that they would know that there was a glass wall there but Apple took them down as they ruined the “aesthetic” of the glass walls. Tom Wolf in his book “From Bauhaus to Our House” talked about this same sort of mentality with similar architects who would design, say, a house whose interiors were all white and then after it was built would rigorously police it to make sure that the owners would not throw in a coloured cushion for some sort of relief from this all whiteness and then admonish them their behaviour.
      This situation is not really funny as I had an aunt who walked through a glass door once in the dark and cut herself pretty bad. Apple seems to have made a decision that a moderate casualty rate among its employees is acceptable because – vision! It’s all fun and games until the day Tim Cook slams himself into an invisible glass wall.

      1. Oregoncharles

        There are all sorts of things you can do to make a glass wall noticeable, like a railing, or silvered patterns on the glass. Somebody is showing no imagination at all.

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    The solution to hacking cars is very simple:

    Anything that has to do with actual driving, brakes, throttle, speedometer, etc., cruise control, etc. needs to be air gapped.

    If this makes things difficult for Elon Musk and his ilk, who wants to f%$# with critical systems in your car after you buy it without your permission, f%$# the.

    This ain’t an app, it is a 1-ton+ death machine.

  14. FrenchTeenager

    Thank you for your great work Lambert !
    I think that Parkland students are receiving more attention from democrats than the West Virginia teachers strike because they live in an affluent city (http://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/florida/parkland)
    And the Democratic party is the party of the 10 %. Also, democrats seem to care about something only when it gets a lot of attention in the mainstream medias, they neglect the everyday life conditions of West Virginia teachers.
    Of course, the students who are organizing against gun control are doing very useful actions, they are brave and more effective than most of the dem elites.
    (sorry for the mistakes, English is not my first language)

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The Democrats haven’t supported the Teachers Union in a long time. I ask this of me fellow teachers:

      “When is the last time you remember a Democrat doing something for you?”

      No o one can answer that question.

      1. JP

        Oh yeah, and when was the last time your shop steward worked for you instead of positioning himself with the administration? Teachers are like canon fodder until they realize they need to support each other and not wait for the well paid and corrupt.

        1. makedoanmend

          Like the vast majority of the workforce, I don’t have access to a union. (I, nevertheless, belong to a union on a personal basis.) However, I have come across more than a few shop stewards over the decades who are dedicated to forwarding the concrete material circumstances of their compatriot workers. Yes, they have ambitions to better their own lives and prospects – that’s why they choose to move up in the labour organisations to which they belong. They are not there to don sack clothe and ashes but to do another job of work in addition to working for the boss.

          Having said that, yes, you have a point that the workers themselves must bear the chief responsibilities and burdens of fighting for better conditions. Unions are strongest when their members are all committed to each other and their communities, but organisation still requires administration, coordination and such minutiae. Solidarity is nice but organisation is required for the long term – warts and all.

  15. Plenue

    “The dangers of pluralism in economics: the case of MMT” [Mainly Macro]

    Oh man, some of the comments on that:

    “They are so sensitive to criticism because their theory is weak and they cannot defend it on its merits. Instead, MMT interactions inevitably turn into personal fights often times with the “leaders” of the cult leading the charge.”

    Ah yes, the ‘theory’ that objectively and verifiably describes real-world money creation is ‘weak’.

    Learning neoclassical economics literally makes you stupid.

    1. Paul Cardan

      One of the hazards peculiar to my occupation is theory. I’m familiar with lots of theories about human beings and our place in the world. With most, it only takes a few well placed nudges to send the whole edifice tumbling to the ground. I’m relatively new to economic theory, and not all that familiar with much of the dominant approach, but I’ve been very surprised by what I’ve learned thus far. I’m very surprised by how seriously it’s taken, given what appear to me to be quite dubious assumptions. I’m not just talking about assumptions at work in generating supply and demand curves. I mean the assumptions about rational agency, together with the notion that a mathematical theory of rational agency can somehow result in an explanatory social science, a science that identifies causes and/or law-governed but contingent regularities. If I knew nothing of the institutional and broader cultural context of neoclassical economics, the fact that it’s so widely and uncritically accepted would be completely baffling.

      That said, I think the author is correct in saying that it shouldn’t be dismissed on political grounds. That would be intellectually irresponsible. Besides, if it is in fact as flawed as it appears to me to be, it would probably be instructive to take it apart. The temptation to accept some such theory of human affairs is clearly very strong in present circumstances. If the dominant approach is fundamentally flawed and the flaws haven’t been clearly identified, they’re likely to reappear in new, supposedly improved theories.

      1. a different chris

        >I’m very surprised by how seriously it’s taken, given what appear to me to be quite dubious assumptions.

        That’s because what you call “dubious assumptions” they call “workable assumptions”. See it was all about getting tenure and stuff. They figured they wouldn’t mess up the world too much and they could author lots of papers that held together, again given said assumptions.

        Otherwise they would have to get real jobs.

      2. Yves Smith

        Help me. There are voluminous critiques of orthodox economics written by economists. I wrote a book summarizing what is wrong with financial and “mainstream” economics, with extensive citations. I suggest you read it.

        Even orthodox economists admit the crisis showed their theories were crap, yet no one has been held accountable nor have the theories been changed. Why? Because the point of mainstream economics is political: to support an ideology that markets are best and should be left alone. As I discuss long form, mainstream economics literally assumes the outcome: that economies have a propensity to find an equilibrium (they deliberately omit phenomena that create feedback loops) and that equilibrium is at full employment! I am not making this up.

        I hat to seem harsh, but you seem to harbor the naive belief that truth wins out in the marketplace of ideas. No. What wins in the marketplace of ideas is the idea that people with money will pay for.

        1. Jim Haygood

          mainstream economics literally assumes the outcome: that economies have a propensity to find an equilibrium

          To paraphrase the great Barack Obama, “I believe in American exceptionalism natural equilibrium with every fiber of my being.”

          Believing the antithesis — that central planners can add value — presupposes that an enlightened class of superior human beings are more godlike than the rest. #Resist

        2. Paul Cardan

          Yes, your book is on my list. I have every reason to believe it’s excellent. But I have read other critiques, and my impression has been that certain issues, having to do with what might be called foundations, haven’t been addressed. Perhaps I’m wrong though and all the necessary work has already been done. So much the better, as there’s plenty else that needs doing.

          As for the marketplace of ideas, I think you sell yourself short. Given the Propornot business, your ideas clearly matter to some people, regardless of whether most of the money is against them.

  16. ChrisPacific

    Re: the MMT column, I think he is correct (obviously) in saying that MMT advocates ought to address arguments on their merits and not just engage in ad hominem attacks. This is a problem of the Internet and not unique to MMT, and it’s particularly pronounced when it comes to economics discussion since the track record of the profession in sticking to fact-based and scientifically grounded reasoning is so poor.

    It does however require the other party to be making a good-faith effort to engage, and not wilfully ignoring criticisms that are raised or adopting a faith-based approach by stating axioms that need no proof. I think Wren-Lewis may be in this category (he certainly thinks he is) but I’d have to read more of his columns to be sure.

    Looking at his linked argument about generational transfer, there seem to be some pretty obvious points of attack. For example he is assuming that output remains the same even under changes in government spending or taxation, which is a classic case of assuming what you are trying to prove (and is also at odds with what MMT predicts). So there’s an argument to be made right there. That said I would be cautious about trying to argue that generational transfers are impossible simply because there are so many ways to frame the premise.

    1. Mel

      The commenter over there who explained how real resources would be transfered to the next generation made the argument purely in terms of money, not of real resources.
      In real resource terms the process becomes very surreal.
      With Modern money, we can create more than we need, and we can write a number in a ledger to reflect the amount of money that we didn’t use. Then we hand the world over to the next generation.
      “Children, children, look at this number. We wrote this number for you. You can use this number to buy seeds and plant wheat.” A lovely sentiment, but if they’re normal children, they’ll be a bit careless about hurting our feelings; “Pops, the fields are there, the seeds are over there, we’ve got together here to start planting. How does this number fit in?”
      How, indeed?

    2. TroyMcClure

      I think you’re assuming that Wren_Lewis et al engage with MMT in good faith. In my extensive reading of their mainstream academic writing they typically do not. They then cry foul when MMT people get fed up with their obvious intransigence.

      There are some great Philip Mirowski lectures on youtube where he demonstrates how woefully ignorant the likes of David Harvey and other economists are of their own field and its intellectual history.

      Dismal science indeed.

      1. ChrisPacific

        I am assuming that, and I said in my second paragraph that it was subject to confirmation and could be wrong. It certainly is wrong for many of them. Mankiw, for example, can deliver a line like “I don’t find [theory] convincing” with all the finality of a high priest issuing an excommunication. It is not subject to argument, reason, or discussion. It just is.

        I do however believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt unless I have evidence to the contrary, so I didn’t want to lump Wren-Lewis in that bucket without reading more of his work.

        1. Grebo

          I have read a few of Wren-Lewis’ blog posts. He is what I would call a moderate neoclassical economist. Not totally dogmatic but still very blinkered. He has engaged with MMT to some extent but not understood it yet.

          Bill Mitchell wrote a long (as is his wont) three part demolition of Wren-Lewis’ paper. SWL did not engage with any of the arguments, just moaned that Mitchell had mocked his twittering.

    3. Plenue

      I’m aware I engaged in an ad hominem (which I stand by, by the way: mainstream economists are morons).

      I’ve kind of reached the point where I just don’t care anymore. And one of the reasons I don’t care is because MMT advocates on the internet are the exact opposite of what Wren-Lewis and his commentators are claiming. As a general rule they don’t engage in personal attacks or appeals to authority. instead they have a tendency to launch into in-depth explanations at the drop of a hat. They actually understand the minutiae of this stuff, and are eager to explain it. They do frequently cite MMT economists (there are maybe a dozen big names), but not because “well, Saint X says…” but because they’ve already written the in-depth explanations.

      But in the end none of it matters. It’s all water off a ducks ass to the neoclassical mainstream. They either ignore it all entirely, or engage in dishonest portrayals of MMT so as to scare away any newcomers from giving it a serious look (or they do what Krugman does and steal bits from it without admitting the source).

      MMT is slowly gaining ground among the general public, and it’s because of the validity of its ideas. If orthodox economists either won’t engage with it at all, or strawman it when they do, I don’t see much point in going out of the way to try and have a honest conversation with them in the first place. These dinosaurs have been a dead profession walking since at least 2008. Their world view is crumbling around them, and their students are rebelling. Let them stew and continue to teach from textbooks that lie about things like banks being intermediaries (this is a big one with me, because this is a 100% man made process, not some mystery of nature. No one in mainstream economic has apparently thought to ever actually go to a bank and ask how it works).

      Meanwhile the ‘cult’ that actually can explain such things will continue to grow.

  17. fresno dan


    Merriam-Webster added the word “embiggen” to its pages on Monday, the dictionary giant announced, culminating a 22-year journey to mainstream acceptance for the word that originated on a “Simpsons” episode.

    The dictionary defines embiggen as “to make bigger or more expansive,” and notes that its usage is “informal” and “humorous.”

    The nonsense word was used notably in the 1996 “Simpsons” episode “Lisa the Iconoclast.” In one scene, students from Springfield Elementary School learn that their town’s motto is “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”
    I have always thought that “embiggen” was a perfectly cromulent word…..

    now all we have to do is get the word “rebigulator” in the dictubenaries.

    Nice view today from my office of the snow capped Sierra (my appointment rescheduled so I had plenty of time to gaze out the window) – I’ll have to remember to take my camera to my HICAP office and see if I can get it in the daily picture – plenty of plants in the foreground…..

    1. Bugs Bunny

      The town motto is also carved into the pedestal of the Jebidiah Springfield statue seen in the opening credits since the switch to HD.

      Sometimes I feel like I live in a Simpsons episode. But then I realize I’m just a looney tune.

    2. Skip Intro

      Lisa: “Embiggen is not even a word”

      Mrs Krabapple: “Nonsense Lisa, embiggen is a perfectly cromulent word”

  18. barrisj

    Re Trump’s 2020 Campaign Mgr: now the interesting facts included in one of the articles that I read about Brad Parscale’s efforts in 2016 as Trump Campaign “digital advisor” was that he amassed a crew of over 100 people, who created 50K-60K ads on Facebook daily(!) to reach on-line Trump supporters and for hustling donations. In fact, the campaign spent $70,000,000 in the last four months before the elections, running 175K ads and raised $9mil in a single day. Do contrast this mammoth effort with the meagre $100K worth of ads placed by “groups linked to Russian interests”, much of which landed on FB after the elections ended. Unfortunately, the news piece did NOT mention the ludicrously dwarfed effort by “Russian interests” which the mainstream Demo Party just won’t concede is the reality of it all. The Parscale operation doesn’t even include the contributions of Cambridge Analytical, which also dove deeply into social media platforms for the express purpose of spreading pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages. The numbers published in this article should be required reading for all who still want to blame “the Russians”, and indeed to threaten “cyberwarfare” or worse in order to stir up the masses to convince them of “election subversion” and the lot. Republican voter suppression, Koch Bros billions, scores of SuperPacs, well, there’s your “subversion of democracy”, FFS!

    1. a different chris

      > for all who still want to blame “the Russians”, and

      Ahem. I appreciate your thoughts, but the facts aren’t important to those people. At. All. Hillary was supposed to be coronated and she wasn’t. That is the issue.

      As far as the Kochs, et al, those people als have to be careful not to offend the wrong money spigot. The Kochs have a lot more in common with Soros than you or I.

      Does this in any way remind you of High School Heathers where the Russians are the slightly awkward, odd “out” girl? That you can kick with impunity because she has no friends?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      The Clinton’s have always attacked others for doing things that they themselves are, in fact, doing. There should really just be a Clinton bingo card.

  19. Daryl

    More bold stances from Democrats, this time in the Texas gubernatorial race: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2018-elections/2018/01/31/democratic-contenders-texas-governor-split-college-tuition-toll-roads-legalized-marijuana

    Congrats to Adrian Ocegueda of Dallas for giving the most Third Way Obamaesque answer possible:

    > Certified financial analyst Adrian Ocegueda of Dallas, though, dismissed Payne’s appeals for marijuana legalization and expanded gambling as “simple solutions.” Leaders should study who could be hurt before they leap, he said. Ocegueda called for Democrats to take a broader look at tax reform as the solution to state funding shortages.

    Tom Wakely, who calls himself a populist, supports legalization as well as a state corporate income tax. Very interesting.

  20. allan

    Heitkamp, Backing Deregulation Bill, Owns Stock in Financial Firms that Stand to Profit [Alex Kotch@TYT]

    This week, the U.S. Senate will consider a bipartisan bill to massively roll back regulations put in place to prevent the risky financial practices that led to the 2008 economic crisis. As David Dayen reported at The Intercept, S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, would aid big banks by expanding an exemption from certain Dodd-Frank financial regulations to include many of America’s big banks, among other favorable provisions. 13 Republicans, 12 Democrats and one Independent are sponsoring the legislation. …

    One of the bill’s chief architects, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and her husband have nearly $1 million invested in two of the bill’s biggest winners, J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, according to a 2016 financial disclosure document reviewed by TYT Investigates. …

    For the senator, whose net worth was roughly $4.5 million in 2015, according to an estimate by the Center for Responsive Politics, these J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway investments potentially account for a substantial portion of her assets. …

    Despite what watchdogs might say about the appearance of corruption, Heitkamp is not breaking Senate ethics rules, which are very specific. …

    As they should be. As a link today pointed out, living in D.C. is expensive.
    And pro-business moderates like Heitkamp need a safe space in order to grow their sensible centrism.

  21. dcblogger

    Two questions for Yves, first it seems there are 2 vacant houses for every homeless person, so the rising real estate prices seemed to be propped up by a manufactured shortage.
    any way out of this that does not involve a crash in the wealth of the middle class, which is mostly in their houses?

    second, what do you make of the Italian election? will any good come of it? this is not a rhetorical question, I am almost completely ignorant about Italy.

    1. Ed Miller

      I would offer a different perspective on rising real estate prices. With investors buying up single family homes with stock winnings pumped up by Fed policies an end game seems clear to me. As asset prices continue to rise at much faster rates than worker incomes, the worker class is gradually squeezed out. High levels of liquidity support the ruling class in their never ending war against workers. At some point only the wealthy will be able to own property, including homes. Rentier paradise!

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I would add a third interpretation. When the Fed went on their panic-stricken orgy (gee that’s quite a metaphor) to “save the banking system” the main lever they could pull was interest rates. In their fit of the grandest delusion (so now it’s a grand panic-stricken delusional orgy) they destroyed money. You know, the stuff that has a “time preference” for lending it out, paid as interest. Their “neo-money” paid zero (or even negative) interest.

        So then money owners also panicked, and turned anything with a yield into “proto-money”. Houses are just one form of this proto-money. That they are entirely illiquid shows the level of panic-stricken desperation the money owners feel.

        So in the end it’s just another way to sequester even more money away from society’s non-elite. Kinda like the stock market.

  22. Homina

    Re: “Ha:”

    I don’t get it. The WVa map is all red. That tweet describes that, assuming all those counties are colored correctly via all their reps. Is it a wrong shade of red? Are we supposed to assume that such a map is impossible–that there should be some blue somewhere? I don’t get this or “ha” at all. Way too clever or smart or micro or thumb-on-some-kind-of-pulse for me to understand. And not sure what the WVa Dep’t of Education has to do with this.

    [And I might not be alone in never, ever bothering to click on a tweet reference, as if doing that would ever lead to any facts….]

    Call me confused.


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