Links 12/26/18

A Courting Peacock Can Shake Its Partner’s Head From Afar The Atlantic

Banks pushed to cleanse their balance sheets of climate risk FT. Let me know how that works out.

Science and Culture: Imagining a climate-change future, without the dystopia PNAS

US shale’s financial blanket at risk of wearing thin in 2019 FT

As Market Rout Continues, Trump Stands Firm on Fed, Border Wall WSJ

Here’s how the stock market has fared after similarly brutal losses in a quarter MarketWatch

Ugly Markets Might Contaminate the U.S. Economy Mohammed El-Erian, Bloomberg

Unease lingers in Asia markets as Trump criticises Fed FT

Bankshot Cheat sheet: Can Trump actually fire Fed’s Powell? The American Banker

How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT


Inside the People’s Vote campaign’s final push to stop Brexit Business Insider

Brexit Britain will be just fine Politico

Puzzling Events Surround London-Gatwick Drone Investigation The Points Guy

The anger of the ‘gilets jaunes’ Le Monde Diplomatique

French economy to temporarily overtake UK after Brexit RTE

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) applies for German banking license Deutsche Welle

Germany mulls introducing ‘mosque tax’ for Muslims Deutsche Welle

EU reports on pesticides are copy-pasted from industry dossiers GM Watch


Syria military says Israel strikes hit Damascus weapons depot BBC

Arab League set to readmit Syria eight years after expulsion Guardian

Netanyahu’s Troubling Legacy Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

North Korea

U.S. court orders North Korea to pay $501 million in U.S. student’s death Reuters (EM).

Tokyo court OKs release of Nissan’s Kelly, rejecting prosecutors’ appeal CNBC

Abe urges wage increase for Japan’s workforce in effort to spur consumption before tax hike Japan Times


US-China trade war: a timeline from first tariffs to the 90-day truce South China Morning Post

Trade war-hit China faces slowest growth in 3 decades next year Nikkei Asian Review

New Cold War

The Steele Dossier and the perils of political insurance policies Jonathan Turley, The Hill

US trade war raises the specter of new Cold War Asia Times

Trump Transition

Trump in Christmas remarks says shutdown won’t end until he gets money for wall The Hill

Government shutdown, day 4: Pelosi blames Trump for using ‘scare tactics’ over border wall USA Today

Guatemalan boy becomes second child to die in U.S. custody in December Reuters and U.S. pledges billions in aid to develop Central America, curb migration Reuters (DK).

By prosecuting WikiLeaks, Trump could stifle reporting on Russian interference CJR

The Guardian’s fake scoop Le Monde Diplomatique

Democrats in Disarray

Why Deep Blue New York Is ‘Voter Suppression Land’ NYT

Xmas Cheer

Amid the Seas of Empty Asphalt, After Christmas The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Building the Public Goods of the Twenty-First Century Evonomics

Rethinking collective action and U.S. labor laws in a monopsonist economy Washington Center for Equitable Growthå

The Welfare State Is Committing Suicide by Artificial Intelligence Foreign Policy

The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility (PDF) NBER

Working-Class Journalism in the Age of Oligarchs Barbara Ehrenreich, In These Times

2018 was the year of 5G hype. The 5G reality is yet to come Los Angeles Times

1 big thing … Fortnite: The hot, new social network Axios

Hive Mentalities NYRB

Salk scientists find genetic signatures of biological aging San Diego Tribune

GIMPS Discovers Largest Known Prime Number: 282,589,933-1 Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (EM). EM writes: “That Amazon AWS independent-verify run mentioned in the press release was using my code. Less than one full year since we found the last one … an unexpected Christmas surprise. Unfortunately it’s a very bad time of the year for such discoveries, publicity-wise, so there’s been far less press coverage than the last time around. Some primes are simply publicity-shy! Perhaps we should’ve used a bit of Trumpian bombast in the PR – “this prime is yuuuuuuuuge!” – or found a way to get the Twitterer-in-chief to tweet about it. :)”

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. Pat

    Happy Boxing Day! And may all find light in the deep midwinter.

    And a thank you to Yves, Lambert, Jeri-Lynn, and every one who helps them provide a light in the seemingly endless midwinter western society has wrought for itself. Naked Capitalism is an island of sanity and a blessing in this waning year and for the next. I am grateful for its existence and deeply in debt to those who keep its light on.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    1. Anonymous

      The left (of which I’m a member) is routinely unfair to Bernie in this way, IMO. Why not call on Bernie, AND Gillibrand and Booker and Harris? Do we think Bernie hasn’t taken enough courageous stands to make it hard to get elected yet? Lately I read that every evil in the world that isn’t stopped personally by Bernie is his fault. It’s like blaming your dad for not saving the world.

      1. Carey

        I agree with your comment, especially since our corporatist MSM are working so
        diligently to help us understand that Booker/Harris and the rest are really-really progressives.


      2. nippersdad

        Unfair? Really?

        We already know that Booker, Harris and the rest of the bunch are all neocons. That is not news and has already informed our voting decisions. Bearing in mind that at this point we are Greens when it comes to the Presidential race, we have found Bernie’s consistent habit of spouting Neoconservative talking points that come straight out of the Clinton wonk shop disturbing the point where we do actually wonder if he is a sheepdog for the Democratic Party.

        If, as has been reported recently, the idea is to pull out of our present quagmires only to clear the decks so that they can engage in something cataclysmic with Russia and China is true, I would really like him on the record about this.

        I was fooled by Obama his first run, and really do like Jill Stein. He needs to earn my vote or he won’t get it. Simple as that.

        1. Yves Smith

          I hate to sound churlish, but Jill Stein makes Trump circa 2015 look like a seasoned presidential candidate. She has absolutely zero administrative experience. She has not managed anything bigger than her desk.

          The Greens are not serious about governing. If they were, they’d be building a bench, seeking state legislative seats and Congressional seats, most of all Senate seats in lower-population states that are blue or otherwise receptive to Green positions (like Minnesota and New England states). Stein as candidate IMHO didn’t do one iota of effective messaging for the Greens. She was talking to her base and didn’t get out of the Green ghetto.

          1. nippersdad

            There is nothing in the least churlish about it, you make an eminently valid point. However, this was an article that Bernie Sanders posted on his FB page this evening:


            Jennifer Rubin, of all people. And this is routine for him. What, in all honesty, is one expected to think? Stein may not be effective, but then neither have any of the people I have voted for for the past thirty years. At least I like what she has to say, and if Ocasio Cortez is happy to steal her Green New Deal then more power to her; something is getting through from the Greens even if they have no bench.

            1. Carey

              Stein-Baraka got my mcVote in 2016. I’m not at all sure it got counted for them, though.

              Emma Goldman said

            2. Yves Smith

              Ahem, this was never “Jill Stein’s Green New Deal.” It was either Thomas Friedman’s (gah) or the UN’s idea:

              An early use of the term Green New Deal was by journalist Thomas L. Friedman.[6] He argued in favor of the idea in two pieces that appeared in the New York Times and The New York Times Magazine.[7][8] In January 2007, Friedman wrote:

              If you have put a windmill in your yard or some solar panels on your roof, bless your heart. But we will only green the world when we change the very nature of the electricity grid — moving it away from dirty coal or oil to clean coal and renewables. And that is a huge industrial project — much bigger than anyone has told you. Finally, like the New Deal, if we undertake the green version, it has the potential to create a whole new clean power industry to spur our economy into the 21st century.[9]

              This approach was subsequently taken up by the Green New Deal Group,[10] which published its eponymous report on July 21, 2008.[11] The concept was further popularized and put on a wider footing when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) began to promote it. On October 22, 2008 UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner unveiled the Global Green New Deal initiative that aims to create jobs in “green” industries, thus boosting the world economy and curbing climate change at the same time.[12]


              1. nippersdad

                All right. I’ll give you that, though the Green New Deal was a pretty prominent feature in Stein’s campaign, was it not? I sincerely doubt that Ocasio Cortez got it from either Friedman or Steiner; I certainly didn’t.

                My main point, though, is that Sanders has been pushing neoconservative dogma for two years now. It is my personal belief that foreign policy directly affects domestic policy; by design. Between fifty seven and sixty percent of discretionary spending goes to our military, and it is going up every year.

                If Sanders accepts that reality, as his full throated support for such as Mattis and McCain suggests, then he is deliberately subjugating his own domestic platform to the “necessity” of spending already vast and quickly increasing amounts on foreign policy. Encircling and emasculating Russia, China and Iran is going to get pretty dangerous and pricey fairly quickly.

                Whether you believe in MMT or not, he has not been at the forefront of advocacy for it. If he doesn’t get Kelton out there soon he will be trapped within his own gold standard paradigm by a group for whom the idea of MMT is anathema. Trump may not have had any experience with the dirty tricks that the status quo uniparty can hand out, but Sanders should be well aware of the possibility that they can (and will) be used on him after the rigged primaries that he endured in ’16.

                Don’t get me wrong, I love his domestic policies. We gave him far more money during the Primaries than we could afford and my Wife canvassed for him, but his foreign policy (or lack of it) always bothered us. Now that there is a potential for it turning cataclysmic, that is an issue that has become front and center for us.

                This is a case of knowing who your enemies are; Sanders is actively fraternizing with an enemy and I would like to know why. Writers like Rubin are associated, from what I read, with the same people that created multiple organizations like Prop or Not, they are dangerous in a way that I find chilling. I am shocked that he consorts with them at all given their previous treatment of him.


                And this series of articles at MoA was also interesting:


                The Common Dreams open letter that my Wife posted is a shot across his bow, and we thought others within your commentariat might be interested in seeing it for the same reasons that we were.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  Jill Stein was responsible for making a previously obscure concept a prominent part of the US political landscape.

                  Historically, that’s been how 3rd parties (terrible term, but brief) make an impact: by having their ideas stolen. Not that we don’t have much larger ambitions, bu tthat’s the history.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Sorry, I am on the Internet all the time. I have never until your mention today seen anything associating Jill Stein with it; by contrast, I’ve seen a lot from Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. Klein claims to have been writing about it since 2009, following UN efforts:


                    So while Stein may also have been out there selling it, I see no evidence that her efforts got outside the Green ghetto.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Jennifer Rubin, of all people

              I’m reminded of Petigru’s remark in 1860: “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” This now seems to apply to a large proportion of the political class, both liberal and conservative, and now that this bullshit has been injected into the bloodstream of the body politic, it’s not going to go away. It will continue to circulate. There’s no dialysis for it. For example:

              Twenty-two percent of Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, still say that, to the best of their knowledge, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003, while 44 percent say Iraq didn’t have any WMDs. An additional 34 percent aren’t sure. By a 7-point margin, 37 percent to 30 percent, Americans say that former president George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in order to get the U.S. into the Iraq War

              So, one might say, of Sanders, “Paris is worth a mass,” and point to his successful coalition-building on getting us out of Yemen, and urge that the policy outweighs the whatever is on his FaceBook page (today’s version of “he has to say it”). On the other hand, the bullshit — as it was engineered to do — does affect policy, clearly toward Russia, and domestically as well, via McCarthyism.

              The Third Way was very successful. It blighted two generations of politics. If we had five Sanders, and twenty AOC’s, none of this would be happening. Or even if Paul Wellstone hadn’t gone up in a small plane….

              1. ambrit

                Or Hale Boggs.
                I found a site with a handy list, that it does not claim to be comprehensive, of politicians who died in aircraft crashes. It is quite a long list. Surprised even cynical old me.
                The site:
                I even mourn the tricking of Al Franken into resigning. American politics is a case where having a working conscience is a handicap.

              2. nippersdad

                Re: Paris is worth a mass.

                Those are valid points, and what I hope to see from this open letter is how Sanders comes down on them. If he is pushing to get out of Yemen, etc., because it is a horror show we should never have been associated with then great! My issues with him are resolved. If, on the other hand, he is merely clearing the decks for yet another neoconservative crash course in how to win enemies and make people despise you then I’m definitely not on board.

                I’m afraid my tolerance level for the “he has to do it” argument has worn into a transparency after Obama. Solar panels and affordable healthcare are wonderful things, but they really won’t mean dick if we get it all only to see it melted down into a continent sized glass parking lot.

          2. Oregoncharles

            You mean states like Oregon, where we consistently, one election after another, contest at least 3 Congressional seats, and frequently the Senate. What that does is keep us on the ballot, and before the voters. We also run people for various local posts but those are mostly non-partisan in Oregon so less conspicuous. OTOH, they do sometimes get into office, building a “bench” of sorts.

            I can’t speak for other states, but the national website has most of our candidates around the country. There are people like Howie Hawkins in NY.

            It doesn’t usually happen, but this time Yves was deceived by the lack of reporting. As we all know here, just because it isn’t in the mass media doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

            Who would you suggest that we run, Yves? In all seriousness, if you suggest names, I’ll try to recruit them, or get the national party to try. I’ll check back. We tried twice to recruit Bernie – once when he first went to the Senate, again in 2016, even though the match isn’t perfect.

            Candidates are volunteers making a sacrifice. That’s even more true when it’s as much of an uphill battle as running for an anti-corporate, left wing party. OTOH, the critique of her campaign is useful; it’s hard for party insiders to see how it looks to outsiders. She did have one large impact: the Green New Deal, suddenly the slogan of the day for progressive Dems – without credit to the original, because they can’t admit we exist unless they’re blaming their own failures on us.

            1. Yves Smith

              Lambert has discussed long form, regularly, how the Greens in Maine are divided and unserious, to the degree that a promising young candidate that ran under the Green banner said he’d never run for office again. The Greens are not a national party and their operations in many states seem to be more about virtue signaling than exercising power.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Yes, the huge variations among states are one of the party’s chief weaknesses. I actually think it’s a direct result of playing in a rigged game. OTOH, somebody in Maine got ranked choice voting passed, a prime Green Party goal for a couple of decades, so they’re doing something right.

                And in states like Oregon, the Republican Party is nearly as feeble, and has similar feuding problems, even though it has a lot more money and some officeholders. It’s the Outsiders’ Plague.

  2. Wukchumni

    Prime Number: 282,589,933-1

    That’s just great, now everybody knows my Amazon password.
    I’m worried about Mnuchin, and he’s in dire need of a vowel movement, but more urgently, if his position gets foreclosed on, will he be able to claim adverse possession, while successfully being awarded $501 million for mental anguish endured in his stead, by a small claims court in Pyongyang?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Banks pushed to cleanse their balance sheets of climate risk”

    Good luck with this one. One wonders what happens when, for example, that Florida’s mortgages are literally underwater as well as financially.

    1. Summer

      “One wonders what happens when, for example, that Florida’s mortgages are literally underwater as well as financially.”

      I bet the they still get bundled up with other loans and get a AAAAAA rating…wink, wink.

      1. Pat

        Perhaps they could be marketed as Resort opportunities. Healing waters and/or treasure diving. There must be some securitization plan for ripe business opportunities.

              1. Wukchumni

                How would one panic online, I mean to to say aside from an all-caps retort bold barrage as a last resort?

                1. SimonGirty

                  Every single thing Massa’s online or media gatekeepers SEO into our brains has been all CAPS!! for years now, over a decade for us useless deplorables? WSJ, CNBC, Forbes, NYT, Bloomberg, FOX… who actually reads these things anymore. I’m guessing they crashed the market, to buy up equities they’d been too stoopit to buy a decade ago, and both parties were trying to stomp down to feed the circling sharks? Watch CNBC and do the exact opposite of what they scream, spit and sneer?

          1. ambrit

            Well do I remember rowing and swimming, fishing was assumed, inside the Isola de Lolando in the North Bay. Those pilings were perfect spots to set crab traps. I once caught a Florida Lobster out of there, a real sub-species of lobster, on a hook while fishing once! Mom loved it.
            Plus, as the wiki mentioned, no power boats could get inside the oblong of pilings. As far as the Bay went, power boats were a distinct menace to life and limb. Some friends and I were swamped once in our tiny craft while paddling in the North Biscayne. Some jerks we knew from school thought it would be fun to sink us. They did. Rest assured, we got our revenge later.

          2. wilroncanada

            The US was built on stolen land, land development, and corruption. Florida was no exception. Two writers who call(ed) attention to Florida corrupt land dealings are John D MacDonald and Carl Hiaasen, MacDonald as detective fiction, Hiaasen as farce.

        1. BlueMoose

          Pat thinks like an entrepreneur! Glass-bottom boat tours of suburban Tampa. The new underwater theme park from Disney in mini-subs built by Elon. And much more…

      2. Wukchumni

        The long sought after sunken treasure in FLAtlantis will undoubtedly be a turquoise blazer that Sonny Crockett wore-with an anchor-like boombox on top of it, not allowing the garment’s buoyancy to attain the 37 feet needed to reach the surface.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Those of us living in Florida, in my case in a house that is 18 feet above current high tide, thank you for your thoughtfulness and concern. Here’s hoping the Sh!tstorm that’s brewing spares you and yours. I’m just hoping I die what we call a natural death before this place is drowned, or wiped out by a Supercane.

          1. The Rev Kev

            For what it is worth, I am truly sorry that you find yourself living in such a vulnerable region. Florida has the curse to be at the forefront of climate change due to both geography and geology and nothing can change that. I doubt that anybody will escape the effects of climate change though. Based on projections, the region that I live in for example will become ferociously hot over time. Being 18 feet above high tide might just give you an edge however and that is something in your favour.

      1. BlueMoose

        Ok. It is not luck. Here is the proof. They are rich so they must be smart. How do we know they are smart: because they are rich (plus they told you so, or paid someone to tell you).

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is there a way to find out if all his 50 billion is tied up in seaside assets? If it isn’t, is there a way to shame him into making sure he moves all his inland assets to the sunny seaside?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > One wonders what happens when, for example, that Florida’s mortgages are literally underwater as well as financially.

      It’s interesting that climate change hasn’t made it out into popular culture (so far as I can tell). Reading all the mordant humor on this thread made me wonder why there’s no sitcom called, say, “Rising Tide.” Elevator pitch: “Married with Children + sandbags!”

      1. ambrit

        Hah! A “reality show” about teams who must build something seaworthy to escape a flooding tropical island.. Call it “Float All Boats!”

        1. The Rev Kev

          There is a great multi-generational novel to be written about the people of a seaside town that over the generations must cope with the rising seas until it becomes completely adapted to a changed world. One that goes from being a farming community to one based on living what is in the sea and salvaging what has been submerged.

          1. ambrit

            Frank Herbert, ever inventive, did a book with a similar plot dynamic, a co-production with Bill Ransome called “The Jesus Incident.” It and two sequels are set on a water covered planed named, (oh, these Hollywood types have no shame,) Pandora.
            As for salvaging submerged items from a drowned world, J. G. Ballard did an excellent psychological exercise in a literary fugue state called, appropriately enough, “The Drowned World.” I highly recommend it.

      2. CraaaaaaaaaaazyChris

        The closest I can think of was a reality series called Ice Cold Gold that did 3 seasons, several years ago. The premise of the show: this huge ice cube that’s been sitting atop Greenland is now melting off and exposing a lot of cool, previously unseen geology – including gold. But you had to read between the lines on the climate change aspect; the main focus was the treasure hunt in virgin territory.

  4. timbers

    North Korea

    U.S. court orders North Korea to pay $501 million in U.S. student’s death Reuters (EM).

    $501 million X each person the U.S. killed in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not to mention the millions of Koreans killed in that “non-war,” or of course the Vietnam version. I recall that it “cost” the Empire about $400,000 for each “gook”body count. Cheap at twice the price… How much for each corpse in the GWOT? Since pricing and market thinking drive so much of that “policy” stuff? And “we” don’t seem to have a big-scale alternative approach in hand?

      Which makes me again want to ask, just what kind of political economy and ecology, do we, whoever “we” are, want to live in? We here got gigatons of analysis and commentary all over the map, but how about some aiming points? If the GJ escapes getting turned by the spooks and marketers and co-otters who have inverted or derailed or just killed, maybe from whatever drives that spontaneous but informed-by-shared-sullering-and-experience?

      1. Pookah Harvey

        “Since pricing and market thinking drive so much of that “policy” stuff?”
        It was Bin Laden that understood the economic implications of the War on Terror.

        From a 2011 Foreign Policy article:

        Indeed, bin Laden has spoken of how he used “guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for ten years, until it went bankrupt.” He has compared the United States to the Soviet Union on numerous occasions — and these comparisons have been explicitly economic. For example, in October 2004 bin Laden said that just as the Arab fighters and Afghan mujahidin had destroyed Russia economically, al Qaeda was now doing the same to the United States, “continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.” Similarly, in a September 2007 video message, bin Laden claimed that “thinkers who study events and happenings” were now predicting the American empire’s collapse. He gloated, “The mistakes of Brezhnev are being repeated by Bush.”

        So who exactly is winning this war?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, General Atomic, KBR, and dozens of others and their executives and owners, and if one cares to become even more depressed at the idiotic futility, here’s an interactive “pinwheel of death” to play with.

          Wukchumni might pun that the pinwheel is spun by “the winds of war.”

    2. efschumacher

      So why are U.S. Prosecutors and Courts burning public resources on fantasy cases that are clearly outside their jurisdiction?

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s a way of spiking the wheel for any future dealings with North Korea. If peace breaks out and North Korea starts trade with America, then the court will have any goods or profits thereof seized for payment for that court judgement. Remember that $501 million works out to be about a gazillion North Korean Won so would take forever for them to pay if so inclined. Seen examples like this in the past where lawyers tried to have cultural artifacts on loan to the US in museums seized to pay off these “judgements”. Even the US government had to go in and fight on behalf of these countries as it was realized that if successful, then every country in the word would not only bring back all cultural items on loan to US museums but would also pull out what is there already leaving an extensive hole in US museums.

    3. Anand Shah

      Agree :-)

      I thought, putting a price tag on who is supposed to pay what after WW1, was why we got WW2 :-(

      We don’t even pay that kind of dough, for all the extra judicial killings that happen in good ol’ USA :-(

  5. jfleni

    RE: Science and Culture: Imagining a climate-change future, without the dystopia.

    NOT as long as there exists vast numbers of plutocrats screaming GIMME,
    whether it’s oil, land, or beaches; let your imagination run wild ,
    no more RICH plutocrats!

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Gosh! I guess we can solve almost any problem if we just wrap it in the right words! — like: “transformative” [the new disruptive?], “resilience,” “sustainability,” and “nature-based solutions”, “bottom-up” to complement “top-down”, “empowering” … that way we can drive away all negative, dystopian views of the future. It’s a wonderful world where I see tropical gardens around skyscrapers, and a Manhattan Ocean-Life theme park with boat tours and people coming together and joining hands to sing in perfect harmony, I see apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves. We can all think to ourselves what a wonderful world. Maybe Bobby McPherin could be persuaded to add another verse to his signature song. A few drum circles might help too! We need the right branding. I like Eve’s leaf motif from Wall-E.

      I am a little — but not a lot — surprised that PNAS would publish this marshmallow. As far as I know they are still concerned about the shortage of STEM graduates.

      1. Carey

        I hear you, big time. Some of those words are good and durable ones, possibly useful, but here in Late USA, they’re mainly used to manage/kettle/divide/
        diminish/eventually exterminate us. I’m thinking that older and simpler
        modes of communication are needed; hi-tech™ ones are too easily co-opted, et c.

        One POV.

  6. John

    A wall on the Mexican border is a foolish solution to the “problem” of immigration. Why not a wall on the Canadian border? Why not enforcement on visa overstays?

    But Donnie wants his wall. I have a solution to the money impasse. Take $5 billion from the defense budget … maybe even $10 billion. Since defense is unaudited and unauditable the money will not be missed and I have read that there is way more than $5 or $10 billion in waste, fraud, abuse, and excess profits for the military-industrial complex also more colorfully known as the “Merchants of Death.”

    1. Pat

      Might as well. I mean it is supposedly necessary because of the safety of Americans.

      Mind you, I also think they should earmark 3 or 4 trillion dollars from Defense to rebuild American bridges, water systems and the electrical grid as that would easily protect as many Americans.

      (A simpler and more lucrative means of solving the undocumented immigration issue is to pass and enforce laws making top management personally responsible for undocumented workers. Huge fines paid personally not by the company, and jail times for the top executives of not just subcontractor firms but the the companys who hire the subcontractors would end a whole lot of the abuse of the current system. Can’t have responsible CEOs, Presidents and VPs though.)

      1. Cal2

        A much simpler, more effective and with an already in place mechanism is available through one government agency that works very well, the IRS:

        “No employer may deduct employees’ wages from income for tax purposes unless that employee has been vetted by E-Verify.”

        Yes, E-Verify needs perfecting. Any reason it can’t be done?

        This would prevent taxpayers from having to subsidize employers who undercut wages, skirt tax laws, as well as promote identity theft, by being able to write off from their income the wages of unvetted and illegal employees.

        “Humanistic” employers that like hiring illegals for philosophical reasons could continue to do so but they would have to pay income taxes on those employee’s wages as a means of putting their money where their mouths are and thus helping to fund the manifold social cost that said employees cost us.

        1. Pookah Harvey

          The ACLU doesn’t like the E-verify answer because “If E-Verify becomes mandatory, the result will be that you will essentially have to get cleared with a government right-to-work list before you can start a job. And that’s a huge change,” It will become “a giant card-less national ID system” that can be used for a variety of other purposes. Their answer is to enforce the current labor laws that are already on the books. The problem is enforcement and holding employers responsible. Several states require E-verification for almost all employers but again the laws are not enforced

          Mississippi requires all employers to use E-verify but the Center for Immigration Studies reports:

          Enforcement of the law, and its effectiveness, remains a significant problem. An official at the Mississippi Attorney General’s office explained to the Center for Immigration Studies that his office is tasked with investigating complaints that the public may file about potential violations of the law. However, when asked how often such complaints are filed, he responded, “Rarely.” This is consistent with information from a two-day immigration hearing held at the state capital in 2010. Then, a different spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office explained that the office had received no formal complaints.

          1. JBird4049

            I completely understand why the ACLU doesn’t like E-verify. Perhaps we should not use it and often the businesses that use undocumented workers make almost no attempt if any to check their workers’ status. If the Feds just made an example of the larger companies especially the upper management, the use of such workers would go down. As it is only the workers get deported especially if they demand their rights like being paid in full and on time. There are always desperate people to replace the troublemakers.

      2. RUKidding

        Agree with your last paragraph X 1000. Exactamundo. Nah guh happen, sadly.

        Wall is stupid waste of money. I’d love to take some trillion$ from the insanely bloated and largely unaudited Military budget to be used for infrastructure improvements. THAT would truly be a way to improve the safety and security of all US citizens.

        Again: nah guh happen.

        Too many rich people want their million$ of pound$ of fle$h. The peons can go pound sand.

    2. Wukchumni

      I think we’d do better with being domed down, and lets go with Rhode Island and Delaware as starter domes, and see how it goes from there.

    3. BlueMoose

      How about a wall around DC? I guess we could just block off the bridge access on the south side. Some sections of NW might need a few walls but I can’t picture too many congress critters making their way out on the C&O canal trail. NE side just close down 95. Don’t let them out. New capitol location can be voted on or chosen by random dart throw at US map. No lobbyists allowed within 100 miles of new capitol.

      1. SimonGirty

        Think I’d fantasized here, of stocking the Potomac and Ohio with Piranhas, soon as AGW allows. As more odd numbered interstate bridges collapse into the Missouri and Ohio, use the steel to construct 250′ bug zappers, powered by coal, fracked gas and melting down nuke plants, accelerating the process? Offer free Slurpees?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Where was that dark money this past Monday when the stock market could have used to protect against the plunge?

      Money to bail out banks, but not S&P 500 stocks (including banks, ironically)?

    5. Code Name D

      I understand that the Ming Dynasty Construction Inc put in a bid to build Trumps wall. Can anyone confirm?

      1. Wukchumni

        I heard the Mings were underbid by Hadrian, but the latter wanted somewhat potable water for their workers, which might bollix the deal.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Ming bid was backed with a 600 year warranty, whereas Hadrian’s was for 2,000 years.

          On that alone, you should go with the Romans and their concrete.

    6. Procopius

      I agree entirely with you, but in the interest of spreading a wider understanding I would like to point out that that $21.3 trillion figure actually represents. Suppose you have an unaudited business, and you send the bean counters in. One of them finds $100 in accounts payable that have not been paid in twelve years and are not recorded. Another finds a bank book that nobody knew about and has no explanation for in a desk drawer, with a balance of $100. One of the salesmen says he made a sale of $100 that was shipped but never recorded on the ledger. A clerk on the receiving dock says he got $100 dollars of goods, but there was no shipping document with them so he just sent them to the warehouse. An accountant says he had a difference on his balance sheet of $100 that he couldn’t find, so he just plugged in an entry to make the columns equal. That’s $400 of erroneous entries, right? But there’s no way to know what the actual loss or surplus is because the books are phony. That’s what’s happened in the Pentagon. They moved balances illegally and they just plugged in magic numbers to make the books balance. And it was done purposefully. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people should be in jail. My point is that there was not $21.3 trillion dollars that was misspent or stolen, there were $21.3 trillion dollars of book entries that are clearly fictitious and there is no way to figure out how much money was actually stolen. People are sincerely mistaken and that was one of the reasons the mess was created.

  7. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding the government shutdown, I don’t think a president has the legal authority to shut down the federal government. Ceding this power to any president sets very dangerous legal precedent.

    1. Darius

      He can veto appropriations bills to his heart’s content. If Congress doesn’t override him, it stands. Departments can’t operate without money. American exceptionalism! USA! USA!

      1. Pat

        IOW the final say is still Congressional.

        This stunt, and it is a stunt, is really not playing out as either side imagined. Probably the result of too many shutdowns in recent years coupled with the waning effectiveness of TDS and the press of Christmas. With the exceptions of the Media and Mr. Market, people are just going about their day to day lives. Oops.

        Mark my words, Congress will be in get it done mode once they return largely because their donors will be screaming at them. Unlike most of the rabble who Congress happily ignores, Mr Market matters to the donor class.

        1. rd

          I will be flying later this week. I will be making sure to thank every TSA person I encounter for their service, recognizing that they will be checking out my bags and person without pay over the holidays.

          I think one of the reasons that these shutdowns do not have a lot of interest to the average voter is that it is a Republican Congress and a Republican President. People will pay more attention when it is Pelosi vs. McConnell and Trump (coming to theaters near you in one week’s time; enjoy the trailers until the real event). At that point, the arcaneness of 60 votes in the Senate to close debate will vanish as it will be good old-fashioned hard-ball House vs President.

          I suspect Nancy’s first move will be to send the Senate the bill that McConnell’s Senate approved back to the Senate with the disaster relief attached but without the $5B for the wall. Let the Senate turn down the bill they just passed a week ago, along with some disaster relief for a bunch of red states.

            1. Unna

              1951 recording of Horowitz playing Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, original version for piano. Said to be a radical over the top performance. This may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s my favourite performance of this. I learned to play the #1. Promenade when I was a kid but the rest of it was beyond my 12 year old self. #15. The Great Gate of Kiev forever left me in awe of that great, and for me at the time, profoundly mysterious place to the East. And who is it who still lives in #14. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba-Yaga)? Will she run in 2020?


              But, of course, “… Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”

          1. Duck1

            Last week the denizens of a TDS zone had much merriment because Trump made some statement about using steel slats to build the wall. Yet during the sainted Clinton administration, Marston mats, steel slats used to create a temporary airfield, Vietnam War surplus, were used to create non-contiguous wall at the boarder. Add selective amnesia to the diagnosis. I do think there is much to be said about wall, including current incarnation, because borders tend to follow watercourses and cross areas of ecological diversity. ADD: American degraded discourse?

            1. Cal2

              What about all the worn out and surplus railroad rail that is replaced nationwide? Instead of sending it to China as scrap, why not cut welded seamless rail into say 30′ lengths, sharpen an end and drive it into the ground at the border with enough space between the vertical segments for animals, water etc to cross, but no human? Extra long pieces could be driven into the soil where tunneling is frequent, thus creating an underground set of obstacles.

              Cross pieces could be placed near the ground to prevent jacking it apart. The fuel savings on shipping it to China, plus the tax deductability of the donations by railroads would fund the process.

                1. Cal2

                  Rails do wear out after a couple of decades depending on the amount of traffic on them. There’s a lot of rail out there that gets replaced periodically.

    2. Lost in OR

      How about a $10,000 fine and 6 month stay in the big house for every CEO that employs a person without legal work status. Be sure to include the folks with the wealth to hire others to perform their personal maintenance (house keepers, landscapers, nannies, etc).

      Who needs a wall?

      1. BlueMoose

        Much too lenient. Up the fine and instead of time at a country club prison where they get to play tennis, let them pick strawberries for a season. One will be enough.

        1. Synoia

          No, no. Eliminate the tennis and keep the strawberry picking.

          Strawberry picking is very painful, there are no strawberries more than a few inches off the ground.

    3. Wukchumni

      Regarding the government shutdown

      A once in awhile boomtown business is done here in renting tire chains to tourists driving up into Sequoia National Park.

      It’s going to be cold this holiday week-meaning slippery icy roads, and just a skeleton crew of NPS employees around.

      …and mandatory carrying/use of chains

      The hope is that a pair that cost them $65 wholesale, will rent out a dozen times for $30 a go, before breaking. The 7 or 8 chain rental places will run out of most sizes this weekend, with sugar plum fairy dreams of every weekend in the winter being so fruitful.

      One fun thing to do with kids in the winter, is to go sledding @ Wolverton as long as there is a decent base of snow, and there is just enough now for injuries to occur-as in an icy 4 or 5 inches featuring boucoup tree hazards, with scant Federal help available should it be needed.

      A piste of the action:

  8. jsn

    “This comfort comes at a steep cost, however, as asphalt does not pay taxes, does not host events, does not bring communities together, save for the occasional pop-up car wash church fundraiser. Instead of more shops, spaced close enough to walk from one to the other, there are patterns of gradually degrading lines drawn on the pavement. All that empty asphalt can be seen as an imposed desert, whereby the government is intentionally yet needlessly forgoing revenues that will have to be extracted from its citizens by other means.”

    The Gilet Jaunes have apparently sensed the encroachment of asphalt at just the moment the policies behind it were about to succeed in finally subduing the social bonds of suburban and rural life in France. Their intuitive action may just save them from the permanently isolated fate of the American working class.

    The “imposed desert” of asphalt has become a major force in preventing “class identity” and solidarity in the US.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All that empty asphalt can be seen as an imposed desert

      However, the contract probably goes to a local construction firm, a firm that has a good working relationship with the zoning board.

    2. Cal2

      Simple remedy to “Asphalt does not pay taxes”


      Another way would be for municipalities that insist on X number of parking places to be built, to mandate that they be rooftop parking, or separate parking structures that do pay property tax.

        1. Carey

          Little by little… I’m getting the occasional and new “WTF?” look when wearing mine. My take is that this is how things *really* change: creeping up
          not unlike the way weeds do, unnoticed or barely so for a long time.


    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since the asphalt is already there, perhaps open-sided canopy-screen-type car-shelter roofs could be installed over all the asphalt . . . and the sky-facing sides of the horizontal shade-casting panels could be covered with solar electric panels.

  9. Eureka Springs

    On 5G. Reading about it generally leaves me with the impression nobody really knows what the speeds will be. But the cost is expected to be about 70.00 per month with a 15 gig cap and much higher overage fees which will be more common with new speeds. Also mentions that cel towers will need to triple in number nationwide due to short range ability of 5G. So less or at best equal coverage to what we have now for very little in return. And certainly no solution for those of us choking in third world conditions now.

    15 gig cap might as well be 3G speeds. At triple the price I paid for so-called unlimited 3G not so long ago. Some commenters laugh and say they could easily hit their 5G 15 gig cap in a couple of days.

      1. Carey

        Heh! Mine’s been throttled almost to unuseability. Not to worry though; other, more durable modes being learned. Just a wake-up call.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, there’s this:

      Beyond speed, the biggest benefit of 5G is its low latency, or the short lag time between a device pinging the network and getting a response. While not necessarily noticeable, there is a lag with 4G LTE. A 5G network virtually eliminates it, meaning a surgeon may not need to be in the same room as a patient in the future. Ericsson, working with startup NeuroDigital Technologies and doctors at King’s College London, used a dummy patient to demonstrate how a surgeon could use a VR headset and special glove to control a robot arm that would perform an actual operation in another location.

      The glove was fitted with haptic feedback motors that buzzed when you touched the dummy’s organ, giving you the sensation that you were actually touching it.

      The surgery feedback is just one example of how touch will play into the 5G network. With haptic feedback, you’ll be able to transmit the tactile sensation of experience, enhancing the sights and sounds of a video experience.

      So, much better porn.

      Congrats to NBC for bowdlerizing their coverage with an insane remote surgery concept (though “dummy’s organ” rather does let the cat out of the bag). Surgeon not in the room when I pop a blood vessel? I don’t think so!

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Abe urges wage increase for Japan’s workforce in effort to spur consumption before tax hike”

    Abe may be getting nervous after watching what happened in Paris. No point in hiking sales taxes unless the workers have the money to pay for it. Probably why he is asking big business to pay workers higher wages. The whole exercise still sounds like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul however.

    Liked the wolf howls video. They really are an animal in their own class. I can see why people to go those night tours in parks to listen to them howl.

  11. Wukchumni

    I’ve been doing pole saw dancing all week for tips and the rest of the limb bough on high i’m parting out that died a decade or 2 ago.

    The pole saw is an amazing tool, and combined with a little ladder that gives me another couple of feet in height, a 5 inch wide 15 foot long expired limb that’s 20 feet away is barely in reach of the serrated edge, and then come the gyrations below, the up down up down session lasting 10 minutes until the climax of it falling off.

    A branch such as this will have a wheelbarrow full of little stuff for the burn pile, and about the same amount of wood for the fireplace. The bark mostly just falls off in lengthy strips, not much bite left.

    Had my first vacation rental intruders on the property the other day while I was working, a father & son from a rental across the river from us and they found a place to cross, that must’ve thought I was another cog in the sharing economy.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Speaking from grim experience: do not let the tip of the pole saw get behind you while you’re on the ladder: the leverage will pry you off th eladder, backwards. So will a falling limb, if it’s directly above. I’ve taken a couple of hard falls that way – so far, knock wood with no serious damage.

      Be careful out there. Ladders are tricky.

      1. Steve H.

        Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43% of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder (1). Among workers, approximately 20% of fall injuries involve ladders”

      2. Wukchumni

        Generally I don’t desire nor want to use a ladder, but needed just a bit more reach on this caper.

        I never cut from below, always at an angle from the side, and as you get near the end, i’m content to let gravity do its work in bringing down a limb.

        One fun way to get rid of those dead branches out of reach comes from backpacking & counter-balancing your food on a limb high enough out of a bear’s reach, is to utilize a parachute cord with a rock wrapped around an end and throw it over the offending member, and then yank it down.

  12. Summer

    Re: Welfare State / AI

    “Consider the Danish case: the civil servants working to detect child abuse and social fraud will be largely unable to understand and explain why the algorithm identified a family for early intervention or individual for control.”

    If you think any such scenario like that is designed to help people, wake up now, please.

    Again, the movie to remember is “Brazil.”

    What would be positively brain dead is to not give the civil servants working veto power over an algorithm.
    Please, people. Stop falling for this ignorant okey doke about AI.

    1. Carey

      Yes, I see this as more what they say they’re doing for us, they’re doing to us (and I also
      see ‘Brazil’ as the model, all too well).

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      This particular anti-BDS-law in Texas was instigated by a Rapturanian Armeggodonite. The Rapturanian Armaggedonites are afraid that successful BDS pressure might weaken the Likud side in Israel and strengthen the Rabin-nostalgia side, and the Rabin-nostalgia side might somehow take power and force a 2-State peace involving surrender of East Jerusalem, Gaza and West Bank to total overt and effective State of Palestine control . . . and surrender the Golan Heights to Syrian control.

      If that happens, then the Christian Rapturanian Armageddonites will lose their Likud mascots-in-power in Israel, and will no longer be able to manipulate Israel into the War Of Armageddon which is supposed to get all the Jewisraelis exterminated in preparation for the Return of Jesus to Rule over His Thousand Year Throne Of Blood.

      That is the motive and the reason for passing and signing this “anti-boycott” law in Texas. I don’t know what pressures might have gotten such laws passed in other states.

      1. Procopius

        I thought their intent was to force God to bring the rapture right now, instead of letting Him follow his plan. I’ve always thought that was unlikely to work. There’s a power imbalance they seem to refuse to recognize.

  13. flora

    re: Trump stands firm on Fed…

    hmmm…. Fed no longer doing the ‘Greenspan put’? Markets have meltdown? Which they also did the last few times the Fed raised rates. Not just in the Trump admin.
    Looks to me like the stockmarket has been playing interest rate ‘arbitrage’ for over 30 years.
    If savers can finally earn an interest rate roughly equal or closer to the inflation rate on their CDs or other fixed income savings that’s a good thing, imo.

    1. rd

      I am paying attention to the 10-year bond instead of the stock market. Pushing the Fed Funds rate up so that either the Fed Fund rate or the 2-yr T-bond yield goes above the 10-year yield would be the Fed inverting the yield curve, probably triggering a recession within a year. The stock market is largely just noise unless it goes down 30%+.

      So a Fed Funds rate at 2.25 – 2.50% range means that another 0.25% Fed Fund rate increase puts it flat with the current 10-year 2.75% yield. If Trump shuts up about the Fed, then we probably won’t see another Fed increase until the 10-year gets back above 3%. If he keeps yakking at Powell, then he could force the Fed to invert the yield curve for no other reason that the Fed showing they are independent of the President. Unfortunately, I don’t think Trump understands or care about this.

      1. ewmayer

        Jerome Powell doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to do a knee-jerk rate hike just to spite (or a rate cut just to please) POTUS. One of Trump’s few genuinely fine appointments, IMO, though quite possibly ‘by accident’. OTOH I wouldn’t put it past DJT to use ragging-on-Powell as his ‘public position’ – Trump takes credit for the post-2016 market ramp, blames Powell when the ‘everything bubble’ (Wolf Richter’s term for it) finally starts to make loud hissing noises.

        1. rd

          Powell doesn’t strike me as somebody who will quickly bend to pressure. However, Trump has also been a relentless pit bull latching onto his victims (appointees) until they break or fold. So you think he is just positioning himself for a simple media moment until you realize that 6-months later he is still chewing on that person’s leg unless they have resigned in the meantime.

            1. ewmayer

              True, but it seems to me to be a primus inter pares dynamic by which the Fed chair has outsized influence over the rest of the committee, somewhat reminiscent of the Chief Justice of SCOTUS.

      2. djrichard

        Agree and agree with ewmayer as well. If I was Trump, I would make sure everyone understands how the stock market is dependent on the Fed Reserve not ending the party (not inverting the yield curve). Basically when the economy goes into recession, make sure Powell owns it.

        There will be all kinds of interesting side-benefits to this. Because I think it will be an eye-opener for a lot of people that it’s not fundamentals that bring the market to an end. If the stock market is just a “party”, then why are we as a nation sacrificing ourselves to keep that party going?

        1. Summer

          There was a line in an article about “individua” or “retail” investors jumping in as a cue for the others to bail.
          Some of it is garden variety, pump and dump.
          “some” being the key word.

      3. djrichard

        P.S. watch the 13 week treasury yield. The Fed Funds rate and the 13 week treasury yield basically mirror each other (with some separations at times). The question is whether the Fed Reserve simply follows the 13 week treasury with their rate. Of if the 13 week treasury is instead attempting to anticipate the Fed Funds rate. I’ve seen arguments both sides, and am still not sure what reality is. Regardless, whenever there’s an imminent Fed rate decision, just look at the 13 week treasury and that will tell you where they should be landing.

        Anyways, the 13 week treasury yield has been on a consistent trend line since Sept 2016 (interestingly enough since right before the election). Even the recent gyrations haven’t really disrupted that, though there has been more noise in its trend line. If it stays on trend, then obviously 2019 will have as many rate hikes as 2018.

    2. MK

      Also would destroy the unicorn fantasyland that is private equity. When money is free, unicorns can be kept private and burn through billions and billions. When money has a cost factor, those unicorns have to be IPO’d or die. (Not that that would be a bad thing).

  14. TimR

    Re the stock market as used car lot article(on the front page):

    Problem with the analogy is that used cars depreciate in value, whereas stocks typically rise.

    And yet why is that? Why do the companies care what people do w these symbolic chits in some secondary market? As long as they don’t give you any actual real world power over the company, it seems like such a joke.

    All you seem to buy at the IPO is entry into this nutty secondary market… Not “ownership” of the company in any meaningful way.

    Why are companies driven by it for short term decision making? Is it just bc their execs own the stock or get paid in it? Or their controlling ownership has the stock? But aren’t those guys directly in the flow of the actual profits the company makes, and not just in some “used” type aftermarket…

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “…cars depreciate in value, whereas stocks typically rise” — except this is a new-and-improved stock market. This is a free Market where Corporations can water their stock, do inside deals, cook their books, and leverage all their income producing assets to pay dividends and buy back shares to jack up stock prices and all carefully timed to benefit their top management and preferred shareholders all with nary a small quibble from the so-called regulators and attorneys general.

      I have a queasy feeling that many of our Corporate giants have been hollowed out to the point that little remains to extract. That’s not good for a big stock come-back after the last shoe drops. I don’t know that its raining golden parachutes time just yet but I don’t see a happy future for this stock market.

      1. ambrit

        It’s time to lay in a stock of Anti Golden Parachute Rockets.
        I wonder if the helicopter crash the other day in Mexico is an opening shot of a new front in the Class War? Now, if it was the Narcos just doing their thing, well, that would be plain old inter-elite competition.

        1. Wukchumni

          Nice credit lines on that golden parachute of yours, be a real shame if they got tangled up somehow upon withdrawal…

          1. ambrit

            “I’m gonna make you a stock offer you can’t refuse.” (The Evil Twin side of ‘Godfather Geithner.’ Uh, wait. Something here isn’t quite right. Two Evil Twins!!?? Otherwise known as Prime Numbering the Pump. If that doesn’t work, double down.)

    2. ambrit

      It helps to imagine Financialization as the Working Economies’ “aftermarket.” Not at all organically ‘connected’ to the economy. Just living off of it, like a parasite lives off of it’s host. A proper ‘civilized’ parasite takes care not to ruin the hosts ‘health.’ This present infestation is more like the parasites in Cronenberg’s film “Shivers.” The euphoria comes at a price.

    3. Glen

      Is it just me that finds even an implied comparison of used car salesman and stockbroker unfair?

      Selling used cars has never crashed the world’s economy and required trillions of dollars in bailouts.

    4. djrichard

      I think a used house model analogy works much better. Because like the stock market, we generally think of housing prices as inflating. But what’s the “price discovery” mechanism behind house prices inflating? More importantly, what if that’s the primary “price discovery” mechanism behind the stock market inflating?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “1 big thing … Fortnite: The hot, new social network”

    This article is right. You see online videos of people and their friends playing together as if they were in the same room. As an example, here is a Canadian girl streamer named “xChocoBars” play a game with some of her friends-

    1. MK

      Welcome to the future. The next generation or two will be quite interesting – to see where they land in 20 years (their mid 40s and 50s – I’ll be in my 60s by then).

      1. Jean

        They will b vulnerable to pay “anything” to maintain connectivity, to and including a dollar or two per kilowatt hour, or for the right speed on their ISP to play.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Should have mentioned this earlier. Fortnite is fantastically successful and is making hundreds of millions of dollars a month so is in fact a highly successful tech company. Now a big part of Fortnite is dances that the players can select and perform-

      Now comes the zinger. Fortnite turns out to be just like any other tech company and has a bad habit of stealing dances off the internet to put in their games without crediting or compensating any of the artists involved. I can name two off the top of my head. They can afford to pay just out of petty expenses but being a tech company they just can’t help themselves.

  16. Big River Bandido

    Christmas Exegesis: What you’ve done with the text reminds me of the so-called “Jefferson Bible”…

      1. Annotherone

        I enjoyed reading “Christmas Exegesis” yesterday. I’m not into organised religion these days, but grew up attending Church of England (Sunday School teacher an’ all!). The writings, as extracted in your piece. do kind of support my own conclusion about Jesus stories – Christmas to Easter and all between.

        I feel that there really was/were, one, perhaps more than one, enlightened and peripatetic teacher(s) from ordinary backgrounds, in the time period involved. They would have been encouraging the kind of opposition still much needed today, against the all-powerful who disregarded the needs of ordinary people. Up with that the all-powerful could not put!
        (Diluted 21st century version – well I bet you can guess – I’ll not enlarge on it.)

        Later, an organised church built stories around the/those teacher(s) to suit the church’s own purposes, increase their own powers.

        Thanks for the good read and helpful conclusion, Lambert.

    1. ewmayer

      I encourage folks who like this sort of “humanized bible story” to read Thomas Mann’s classic quadrilogy Joseph and His Brothers. Mann keeps the religious just-so parts of the bible story, but adds a broader, deeper set of humanistic backstories to the tale. The part of the pursuit of Joseph by Potiphar’s wife, her physical and emotional reflorescence as she finds herself falling Hals über Kopf (‘neck over head’, the German analog of ‘head over heels’) for the young man, and the climactic Book 3 final scene of attempted seduction and the lady’s ensuing viciousness at his spurning of her – all born out of desperate lovelorn hopelessness – still gives me the shivers.

      But be warned – it must be brutally difficult to translate (I read it in the orginal German) and it is so not for the impatient. Mann is (in)famous for testing the reader this way, perhaps the best example of which is The Magic Mountain, where something like the first 200 pages can be snarkily summarized as “thousandfold repetition of the name ‘Hans Castorp’, mostly in the context of the meals eaten by him and his dinner companions.’

  17. BoyDownTheLane

    Arkansas Swamp Part II: Spotlight on Clinton Foundation.

    Part 1 of the Arkansas Swamp [ ] covered dozens of arrests, indictments, guilty pleas, and a key chart indicating potential upcoming arrests, from the ongoing investigations taking place in Little Rock, Arkansas. One sung like a bird, while another strong-armed others to remain silent, and yet another set out for murder-to-hire. It is important to review Part 1 to understand the magnitude of the Arkansas swamp, and the potential squeeze it may be putting on the Clinton Foundation.
    Lots and lots of detail — names names, dates, places.

    To summarize, the Bill and Hillary Clinton are operating an illegal fictitious company under the Clinton Foundation, in partnership with GE and Tenet Healthcare Corporation, both of whom have been charged for fraud in the past and are currently under investigation again, together with Verizon, all with a focus on healthcare and Medicaid in Little Rock. They ran this program throughout Pulaski County for five years, from 2012-2017, during a time where investigations into Medicaid fraud and looking into behavioral health care facilities, with a strong focus on legislators (past and present), were taking place, and future arrests are eminent. There are also ongoing Federal investigations taking place simultaneously, in which it would appear as though the Clinton Foundation is one of those investigations.

    Read full article.

    1. ewmayer

      Thanks for this, BDTL!

      ‘future arrests are eminent’ — ITYM ‘imminent’. :) We can only hope they are also of the ’eminent’, but given that these are the elite-immunity-enjoying Clintons, I ain’t holding my breath.

  18. Chauncey Gardiner

    The GINI coefficient for the U.S., which measures economic inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of a relative few, has risen as US government debt has risen over this time period. This is in large part attributable to the reason you cited. I hope Powell follows through in the face of extraordinary political pressure.

  19. JTMcPhee

    About where we are going, and how to get there, from the PNAS piece on calamity without dystopia:

    “It’s difficult to know where you are going if you don’t have a clear vision of what that [future] should look like, in particular, a positive vision that you could get excited about and motivated to really make a transformative change,” says Timon McPhearson, director of the Urban Systems Lab at The New School in New York City. McPhearson and his colleagues at UREx are helping city planners assemble positive, and yet realistic, futures—without downplaying the dire implications of climate change. At the end of the workshops, they arrive at a set of implementable goals and timelines to achieve their strategy.

    Happy Boxing Day!

  20. RUKidding

    I noticed that Trump seems to be backing down somewhat on his Wall fixation. I thought I heard him blather on the radio saying something like a “fence” will do… which is what is already in place in many places.

    Trump’s Wall fixation represents the worst of his racist, xenophobic goads to his fan-base. It’s never made any sense to those of us who live (or have lived) on the border.

    Democrats, for all of their many and sundry “sins,” offered money to beef up technology, such as drones, and pay for more border guards. These things make some sense and can be accomplished without too much fuss and will work for the intended purpose of stemming the tide of people illegally crossing that particular border.

    Better use of technology would be to beef up the ability to track Visa over-stays, which is how the vast majority of undocumented people enter and remain in this country. The percentage of people coming in via the Mexican border is pretty small in comparison.

    But for some, racist ignorance is bliss, apparently and, uh, trumps taking credible steps that actually stem of the tide of undocumented people entering and over-staying in this country.

      1. RUKidding

        Yes, Wall is there and/or fence, however you wanna see it.

        I lived in San Diego for 20 years. It’s not unusual for Border Patrol or whomever to discover yet another new-to-them tunnel under the border fencing along the San Diego County border. Often these tunnels are very deep and elaborate affairs with lighting and air piped in and other such wonders. So the notion that Trump’s Wall would somehow be deep enough to preclude tunnels is simply ludicrous.

        There’s various forms of Wall and fencing along the border, or at least that’s my understanding, as well as what I’ve seen in CA and AZ. It provides some sort of a deterrent and a way to regulate legal traffic back and forth. Otherwise, it’s mostly pointless, imo.

        As someone mentioned above (and as I said here and elsewhere repeatedly), if only ICE or similar would actually go after businesses that knowingly recruit, hire (often paying to bring them here) and employ undocumented workers, plus implement for-real, serious consequences, we’d see far fewer people trying to come here. However, consequences are solely and only for the peons, not for the fat-cat business owners.

        And so the beat downs will continue until morale improves.

        1. TheSunRises?

          Exactly. Forget walls and fencing – the law should be – you employ an undocumented person, your company is fined some large amount that will hurt but not put you out of business, say 10x the wages paid. Next violation, 20x, etc. The undocumented worker should be required to repay dollar for dollar any social services provided by the government to them and their immediate family as well.

          1. RUKidding

            Agree, albeit typically undocumented workers pay more into the system than they take out. Note I said “typically.” YMMV. However, many, not all, undocumented workers may be paying taxes, plus Soc Sec & Medicare. They usually cannot claim anything back on taxes (if owed), and they usually cannot collect on Soc Sec and Medicare.

            So the canard that undocumented workers are a huge drain on our system is generally inaccurate.



        2. ewmayer

          ‘if only ICE or similar would actually go after businesses that knowingly recruit, hire (often paying to bring them here) and employ undocumented workers’ — Unfortunately that would entail a near-shutdown of the entire residential construction and agricultural industries in the state of CA, just for starters. There are multiple entire industries in large parts of the U.S. built on that assumed-to-be-neverending supply of cheap migrant labor. You didn’t think the noisy hue-ing and cry-ing in our dear truth-telling-even-if-it-hurts-our-corporate-owners MSM over the plight of the migrants was out of actual humane concern for these folks, did you?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            So let the construction and agriculture industries as currently staffed and constituted go extinct, then.

            In time a citizen construction industry and a citizen agriculture industry will emerge from the rubble.

          2. kurtismayfield

            So why are we allowing an industry that is supported by artificially low wages exist again? If they cannot survive without low cost labor then “the market” will find a solution.

            1. Carey

              Or this could be seen as just things going according to plan, and not just here in California. Take a bow, Brussels et al!

  21. Wukchumni

    A friend makes and sells therapeutic woven corn bag heating pads, that require about 4 minutes in the microwave to get you up to speed, and she haunts arts & crafts shows in the state and does really well at it, and knows her audience. Last week was in the bay area and she sold out of her inventory.

    She related a bad trip to Willits, Ca., up in Mendocino-adjacent.

    Never had she encountered such hotstility to using a microwave, as it seemed the whole town was aligned against their use.

    She said somebody would pick one up and ask how it worked, and she barely got the first part of the word ‘microwave’ out before they vamoosed for that table a couple over selling passion fruit scented candles.

    I get it, some don’t like to use microwave ovens, but she felt as if this one town of 5,000 was way Stepford in terms of watts what.

  22. BlueMoose

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the PPT (Plunge Protection Team) got a bit carried away and the DOW went up by 4000 points in one day?

    1. Wukchumni

      Hi-frequency trading computer # 219: “Is it time for Bitzkreig yet?”

      Hi-frequency trading computer #82: “Hey, not so loud, they still have power over us.”

      1. BlueMoose

        That would be funny. Especially if it happened every day. It would be similar to an idea that I think Wukchumni posted recently regarding having hackers start adding money to everyone’s bank accounts (or something like that). Wouldn’t that throw a wrench in the cogs if everyone in the bottom 90% that had a bank account started seeing an extra $100 appear every day? That would be what I call QE Max.

        1. Pat

          Finally!!! Throwing money into the banks in a way that really would be stimulative, improve the economy AND actually accomplish something other than encouraging phony financial expansion. Well at least until the folks at the top in their campaign to rip off everything that isn’t nailed down decided to either just take that money back BECAUSE or raise prices to drain as much as possible from the people getting the windfall usually reserved for financial institutions and their top management. Because god forbid they let those mopes just spend it – their greed would make sure their actions caused the kind of inflation we have only read about.

          1. Wukchumni

            If money was made so plentiful (i’m thinking in the many millions per person, oh hells bells, make it hundreds of millions) that the going rate for a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar was $75, and yet your 30 year mortgage was still $3k a month-not subject to Cyberinflation like everything else. Everybody’s home would be paid off in a jiffy.

            Gas would be $246.99 & 9/10ths per gallon. (self serve)

            1. JTMcPhee

              Big word there, “if.” I doubt the quintillion dollar bill is coming soon to a Dollar Store near you, but maybe you have a hoard of gold to fall back on in the event…

    2. Ford Prefect

      Melania kept Donald occupied by bright shiny things yesterday so the Dow is up 500 points so far today.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Over 1,000, of course; not sure where the other zeros went, but I think I need to vacuum the keyboard again.

          Doom may be imminent nonetheless; these wild swings are not a sign of health. Everybody knows the end is nigh.

  23. Craig H.

    From the le monde diplomatique:

    There is a major paradox at the root of this politicisation of tax: the working class are now the group most likely to criticise the taxation level, even though they benefit most from the tax-based redistribution system.

    Le Monde may believe this but I bet some of the chartreuse vests guys think this is pigeon poop. There is a counterproductive message in a lot of the media that the voters would agree with all these great policies if only they weren’t so ignorant.

    Is there a French counterpart of Warren Buffet who says his net rate of taxation is too low?

    The Brueghel painting is magnificent. The purpose of the filing system is that the filer can find what they are looking for quick and easy. I’m going to consider little sacks push pinned to the walls. It might be more useful than stacks on tables. Does the fire marshall handbook have an entry for these push pin sacks?

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    GIMPS Discovers Largest Known Prime Number: 282,589,933-1 Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (EM).

    I wonder what are the largest presently known twin prime numbers?

    1. ambrit

      I had to look that one up MLTPB. Fascinating stuff.
      I, in my blissful ignorance had imagined that twin primes were a class containing a prime number and that number multiplied by negative one. Thus, a Prime Number and it’s Evil Twin. Alas, another cherished delusion evaporates.

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! “Not ready for Prime time” are they? Aka. the Horological Horrors. (‘Watch’ this space for more ‘timely’ reminders.)

    2. ewmayer

      I’m just waiting for the inevitable ‘This is all wrong! 282,589,933-1 = 282,589,932, which is even, hence divisible by 2!’ post to come over the transom.

      I do so wish web browsers were smart enough to take ‘rich text’ containing a superscript and ascii–render a text-copy of same as e.g. 2^82,589,933-1, but it seems that would have required the original HTML standards to have been devised with a Donald-Knuthian level of care.

      Ambrit, the pair to which you refer goes by the rather unsexy term of art “a prime and its additive inverse”, but I kinda like your idea of calling such “evil twin primes”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No, that would require procedural programming. HTML is declarative, thank God. If it were not, the programmers would have destroyed it, as they did SGML and XML (subsequently reinventing it in degraded form as JSON, because, ya know, squiggly brackets means you are a Real Programmer). In retrospect, for all his flaws, Sir Tim really hit the sweet spot.

      2. ambrit

        Thanks there ewmayer. One ‘name’ is for the mathematically obsessed, of which class I have known one or two. The other ‘name’ would be appropriate for the casual mathematics crowd. I’m not sure on how to delineate the two groups. Phyllis suggests that I use the ability to do one’s own taxes each year as a ‘means’ test. If you pass the test, it ‘means’ you are mathematically and logically skilled.
        Also, the term “a prime and it’s additive inverse” is a bit questionable. Isn’t a prime number, except for ‘1’, the sum of the previous two numbers, and thus additive by nature? Reversing the process, ‘inverting’ it, sets you back to the previous prime number. Eh?
        (As is quite obvious, I did not get good grades in maths or logic.)

  25. JBird4049

    How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings

    The Welfare State Is Committing Suicide by Artificial Intelligence Foreign Policy

    Fighting the terrorists, welfare cheats, icky porn, those bad sex workers, unapproved speech, and now mass shootings because some used their credit cards by using private banking, businesses, social media, and (often secret) algorithms; collecting an every growing amount of personal information, collating it in massive interconnected databases, and then using, often in secret, faceless functionaries to make decisions that usually cannot be challenged because reasons. This is dystopic mission creep. Using Big Business as Big Brother supposedly for our own good.

    No warrants, no judges, no legislation, no questions, perhaps no human being making a thoughtful decision. Just click and goodbye with businesses and the government having access to this information. Just how is the cure not worse than the disease?

    1. Wukchumni

      If the banks unwittingly financing mass shootings only knew that 85% of the assassins were white males, then it’d be easy to stereotype the perps.

      1. JBird4049

        Hey Wukchumni, I hope you didn’t take my… rant as an attack. I just get so flipping angry seeing our supposedly intelligent and educated civilization seemly destined to sleepwalk into some sort of societywide suicide almost like what one reads in a Greek tragedy.

      2. ambrit

        To get all conspirational about it, what percentage of loan officers at banks are white males? If it’s anywhere near to 85%, I would be all for a Congressional Investigation.

        1. Yves Smith

          There are no more loan officers at banks. Banks stopped giving the needed 2 year credit training in the 1980s. Branches are retail stores. Virtually all lending decisions are driven by FICO scores. Those guys in the branches are there to sell and help fill out forms. They don’t make decisions.

  26. JBird4049

    My original reply got ate. So a somyshorter question on my point.

    The suggestion in the news article is tracking purchases by private businesses who would then share their information with the government of everyone because of the eleven mass shootings that were immediately preceded by large credit card purchases in the past decade or so. Do you trust the currently growing panoptic Cthulhu Government/Business hybrid with the decreasing our privacy, rights, and agency ostensibly to protect us from an ever increasing amount of what they consider bad thoughts, things, and people?

    The commies, unionists, civil rights activists, gays, drug lords, daycare child molesters, terrorists, sex traffickers, Russia, illegal immigrant (dead) children, and now guns have all been declared such horribly dangerous people that they don’t deserve rights and have been used to justify denying everyone else their rights too. Just being accused is enough to become an unperson. Because. Something. Must. Be. Done!

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Building the Public Goods of the Twenty-First Century”

    I’m sorry but this really sounds like it was written by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on a tech high. There are enough holes in his arguments to drive a Google autonomous truck through and it is this sort of thinking that got us into the surveillance society in the first place.

    1. Carey

      The author-dude’s blithely dismissive take on Malthus discouraged me from reading further.

      We so smart! Oh wait watch out for that

    2. Summer

      “…it is this sort of thinking that got us into the surveillance society in the first place.”

      I bet they have a solution for that too: Surveillance to watch the surveillance

  28. Matthew G. Saroff

    The headline makes it sound like some sort of right wing plot, but the reality of the “Mosque Tax” is that there is already a tax for Churches (Kirchensteuer or Kultussteuer for Synagogues) so this is just giving the recognition and support present for other religions in Germany.

    It would also have the advantage of making it more difficult for the House of Saud to buy off Imams so that they push Riyadh’s antediluvian version of Islam

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