2:00PM Water Cooler 8/12/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Key Moments of the Week Trump’s Trade War Turned Currency Feud” [Bloomberg]. “As China matched President Donald Trump’s higher tariffs and name-calling with painful moves of its own, the arguments from [Peter] Navarro were heard over those of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow. The result was another blast of Trump tariffs and an official U.S. declaration of China as a currency manipulator. China’s response was a boycott of American farm products and a clear signal that its currency, the yuan, can help cushion the tariff blow. Trump’s response to that response was a not-so-subtle softening of dollar policy, delivered by tweet. So a deal that just a few months ago seemed to U.S. officials to be 90% complete has become tough to imagine any time soon.”

“Forget Tariffs. Here’s a Better Way to Close the Trade Gap” [Barron’s]. “But bipartisan legislation introduced last week by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) could help. For nearly four decades, Americans have been consistently spending more than they earn. This is not because Americans have been living large—average spending on consumption and investment grew at the same stable rate from 1947 through 2006—but because people in the rest of the world have been living below their means. Foreigners have been consuming less than they produce and dumping the excess into the U.S. market, displacing American output… The resulting trade deficits have destroyed U.S. jobs and forced U.S. consumers to replace the lost income with debt. The Baldwin-Hawley bill aims to address these defects. The proposal would require the Federal Reserve to keep America’s current account—the difference between national income and national spending—balanced around zero over five-year periods. More specifically, the central bank would have to determine the level of the U.S. dollar needed to balance income and spending, after which it would have to adjust the exchange rate accordingly. That level would be far lower than it is today. “• Hmm. Readers? (And there’s that Josh Hawley again.)


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of August 7: Biden down to 30.8% (31.4), Sanders flat to 16.5% (16.6%), Warren leaps to 18.3% ( 15.5%), Buttigieg 60 at 6.5% (6.0%), Harris flat at 8.3% (8.4%), Beto back among the bottom feeders. Others Brownian motion. This, in fact, not five, but four polls. C’mon. Let’s have some consistency.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Mistakenly Says he Met With Parkland Victims While he Was Vice President” [WHO TV]. President Reagan: gaffes. Presidents Bush: gaffes. President Trump: gaffes. Liberal Democrats love them their gaffe gotchas, and it hasn’t done them a bit of good, has it? They’ve calling the Republicans stupid at least since Reagan, too, and that hasn’t worked either. Nevertheless, they persisted…. (Adding, I’d like to see Biden out on the trail a lot more. I do get the impression the campaign thinks he’s fragile, and has him wrapped up in tissue paper.)

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Some labor unions split with Biden on ‘Medicare for All'” [Politico]. “Those supporting Medicare for All — or at least not yet ruling it out — say health care increasingly dominates contract battles, consuming bargaining power that could instead be directed toward raising wages and improving working conditions. ‘When we’re able to hang on to the health plan we have, that’s considered a massive win,’ Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told POLITICO. ‘But it’s a huge drag on our bargaining. So our message is: Get it off the table.'” • Nelson would make a fine Secretary of Labor in a Sanders administration.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg makes key 2020 hire” [Politico]. “South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has brought on a new senior adviser to connect with Democratic Party leadership and help lead the campaign’s African American support. The new senior adviser, Brandon Neal, has served as the Democratic National Committee’s national political director and has previously done stints working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Democratic Governors Association, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Neal’s portfolio will cover strategy across the campaign.” • Well, when I see “DNC” on a resumé…

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris on reparations for slavery: ‘It can’t just be, ‘Hey … write some checks'” [Des Moines Register]. Harris: “If we’re talking about writing a check, I don’t think it is that simple. And frankly, I don’t support an idea or a notion that after all this, we’re going to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to write you a check, and then be quiet.’ Because that won’t solve the problem, which is the systemic issues that are present and will continue to exist, whether or not you write a check. So I’m just saying it’s just not that simple. And I don’t buy into an argument that it is.” • But reparations, by definition, aren’t about “solving problems.” They’re about making amends. Now, I think that reparations advocates want to “solve problems.” But if that’s all that reparations are, they’re just a budget line item.

UPDATE Harris (D)(2):

Amazing to watch the liberal Democrat nomenklatura actively seeking to inflict brain damage on its loyalists, but that’s where we are.

Sanders (D)(1): Crowd size at the Iowa State Fair:

Since Steve Scully is C-SPAN’s Political Editor, I’m inclined to believe him.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): Brilliant advance work:

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): Sanders views the butter cow:

And every single one of those photographers knows their boss will reward them for a picture of Sanders looking foolish, or committing a gaffe, or having a poor interaction with a voter. No pressure on Sanders! Retail politics is really, really hard. Even as we ridicule it, we should remember that.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Bernie Sanders Just Suggested a Unique Way to Legalize Marijuana” [Yahoo News]. “In 2016, when Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, ultimately losing out to Hillary Clinton, one of his many campaign promises was to reform America’s justice system by legalizing marijuana. This made Sanders the first major presidential candidate to support legalizing cannabis, with many of his fellow Democrats also taking that view ahead of the 2020 election. But whereas many of Sanders’ fellow Democrats have offered their support for legalization or decriminalization without laying out a specific plan on how to get that done, Sanders has proposed a unique means of bringing the green rush to the United States. As reported by Newsweek, Sanders would use a presidential executive order to make it so.”

Warren (D)(1): Look forward and not back:

Failure? Really?

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Surging in Polls, Elizabeth Warren Now Has a Path to the Nomination” [Ed Kilgore, Common Dreams]. “Recent polls have clearly indicated that Warren is going places. The RealClearPolitics national polling averages* show her as basically tied with Bernie Sanders for second place with Joe Biden’s lead narrowing. The two most recent national polls (from Quinnipiac and Economist–You Gov) place her seven and five points, respectively, ahead of Sanders. Just as important, she’s gaining strength in the early states. A new Monmouth poll** from Iowa places her ten points ahead of Bernie, and just nine points behind Biden, in a state where everyone concedes she has the best organization. In New Hampshire polls, where Biden’s early lead was less formidable, she’s nipping at Sanders’s heels. Warren is in a similar position in Nevada (which holds its caucuses 11 days after the New Hampshire primary), where Politico reported yesterday that she has already built a ‘monster’ of an organization.” • NOTE *,**: Mentioned under polling.

Weld (R)(1): “Insiders 8/11/19: Why Republican Bill Weld is Running Against Trump, Kim Reynolds on the Trade War” (videos) [WHOTV]. “Bill Weld was Libertarian Gary Johnson’s running mate for the 2016 presidential election. Now, the former Massachusetts governor is a Republican again and is trying to beat President Donald Trump.” • Weld is even lazier than Biden.

Williamson (D)(1): “Marianne Williamson Goes for the Gut” [The Atlantic]. “‘We have an amoral economic mind-set that has corrupted our government and hijacked our value systems,’ she told the audience [at the Iowa State Fair… The ‘conventional political establishment’ is the problem, she said, to loud applause, and it’s time for the American people to wake up. ‘While it is true that sometimes Americans are slow to wake up,’ she added, ‘once we do wake up, we slam it like nobody’s business!’ Williamson’s eccentric performances in the first two presidential-primary debates are what put her on the map for many Americans: Hers was the most Googled name in the hours after the first debate, when, speaking in a quasi-Mid-Atlantic accent not unlike Katharine Hepburn’s, Williamson threatened to ‘harness love’ to conquer President Donald Trump. In the second debate, she promised to combat the ‘dark, psychic force’ of hatred in America, and offered a forceful argument for the payment of reparations to descendants of enslaved people in America.” • Like Warren, Williamson’s solutions are out of proportion to her problem statements.

Our Famously Free Press

“Bernie Sanders says that if he’s elected, he’ll reveal whether aliens are real” [CNN]. • Yes, that’s the coverage that CNN gave to Sanders’ interview on Rogan’s show. 100% of it.

This is not a Biden campaign operative, but CNN’s national political reporter, “covering” his campaign:


“Director, Monmouth University Polling Institute”:

Well, so much for Monmouth.

Sanders on pollsters, at the Iowa State Fair:

UPDATE This Twitter account follows and dissects the RCP average. Not a pretty sight:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Court ruled that ICWA is constitutional” [Indian Country Today]. “The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act; overturning a lower district court’s decision in a late decision Friday afternoon…. The case, Brackeen v. Bernhardt, took the initial blow in October 2018 when a federal judge in Texas ruled the legislation unconstitutional. Judge Reed O’Conner ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act is a “race based statute” that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Passed in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act has been praised as the “gold standard” for by national child welfare organizations. The law states when a Native child is up for adoption, homes of family or tribal members are prioritized for placement.”

UPDATE “A Gathering of Comrades” [Current Affairs]. “I had put a lot of hope in DSA, and was worried the convention would reveal them to be held together with band-aids and duct tape. Instead, it felt like a movement in the ascendant.” • Maybe. We’ll see how the “Open Borders” thing plays. Nevertheless, this is a long and good report.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

Banking: “Leveraged Loans And Collateralized Loan Obligations Have Significant Capital Implications For Banks” [Forbes]. “In the U.S., the largest holders of leveraged loans and CLOs are Citibank, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo. According to Fitch Ratings analysts, ‘in the US, banks with exposure across underwriting, nonbanking lending, securities holdings and on-balance-sheet exposure are likely to be relatively more affected by a material downturn in leveraged lending.’ It is also important to remember that in a downturn, ‘spillover effects are likely to be greater for banks relative to insurers given their links with non-bank participants and broader activities in the leveraged loan, CLO and credit markets.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber and Lyft Suggest the Days of Cheap Rides Could Be Over” [WIRED]. “Uber and Lyft reported quarterly financial results this week and indicated that their cutthroat competition to woo riders with coupons and other gambits is easing. Lyft officials told investors they had raised prices on routes in some cities in June and touted the company’s upcoming pricing algorithms, which they hinted might be able to more precisely predict what riders might be willing to pay for a ride. Lyft said those pricing changes would boost revenue per rider by next quarter. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that his company’s rivalry with the other big San Francisco–based ride-hailing company had cooled—for now. “We and Lyft are big-time competitors here and have been for some period of time, but for now we’re seeing, generally, category positions that are stable,” he told investors Thursday. ‘We are focused on improving profitability in this market.'” • Even a cartel can’t make these turkeys profitable. Next step, a bailout?

Tech: “Researchers find security flaws in 40 kernel drivers from 20 vendors” [ZD Net]. “At the DEF CON 27 security conference today in Las Vegas, security researchers from Eclypsium gave a talk about common design flaws they found in more than 40 kernel drivers from 20 different hardware vendors. The common design flaws is that low-privileged applications can use legitimate driver functions to execute malicious actions in the most sensitive areas of the Windows operating system, such as the Windows kernel…. [Mickey Shkatov, Principal Researcher at Eclypsium] blames the issues he discovered on bad coding practices, which don’t take security into account. ‘This is a common software design anti-pattern where, rather than making the driver only perform specific tasks, it’s written in a flexible way to just perform arbitrary actions on behalf of userspace,’ he told ZDNet. ‘It’s easier to develop software by structuring drivers and applications this way, but it opens the system up for exploitation.’

Honey for the Bears: “Economy at Riskiest Point in a Decade, Lawrence Summers Says” [Bloomberg]. • Hard to imagine Larry Summers involved in a beauty contest, but…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 25, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 22 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 12 at 12:48pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Drought. “The corn belt has gone from wet to dry” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

The soil at work:

Bioturbation with and without soil fauna from Wim van Egmond on Vimeo.

Remember, if we truly understood soil, we’d understand why pipelines corrode. But we don’t.

“Socialize Lab Meat” [Jacobin]. “As land use and climate changes both intensify, the capacity of the land to act as a carbon sink and provide ecological services diminishes, dramatically increasing the odds of a global food crisis. What’s telling about the report is that it explicitly recommends a dietary shift to primarily ‘plant-based foods . . .  and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable, and low-GHG emission systems.’ What the report doesn’t say is that there’s an alternative to reducing meat consumption that doesn’t require any animal agriculture at all. We could grow all our meat in labs, freeing up much of the 80 percent of the world’s arable land currently devoted to raising and feeding livestock. And no one is talking about the fact that this lab meat doesn’t have to be owned and operated by Silicon Valley or giant agro-industrial corporations. If it can be wrested from corporate control, lab meat production could be publicly financed, with intellectual property held in the public trust, and tied to the social and ecological goals of a just economic transition.” •

“Unsavoury science behind lab-grown meat” [NZ Farm Life Media]. “When an animal is butchered, there are a lot of ways that we can test if it is safe to eat. We can observe its behaviour before slaughter and we can inspect the non-meat parts of the carcase such as the lungs and liver for anything out of the ordinary. It is much harder to tell if a bunch of cells in a flask are infected (or malformed in the case of mad cow disease). How are the lab-based meat-mush growers going to ensure that their product is safe to consume on any given day? Also, since the cells are not exposed to natural hormones in the blood, they will have to be treated with hormones and growth promoters so that they will replicate and grow. The protocols used by the proposed lab-meat companies are proprietary and secretive. However, I was able to dig up some humble science papers on how to culture skeletal myocytes (muscle cells) for research. These were being treated with Epidermal Growth Factor, Basic fibroblast growth factor, Dexamethasone, Insulin, Penicillin, Streptomycin, and Fetuin. Your lab-grown meat is doping up like a performance-enhancing body-builder.” • If Apple made meat, they’d glue it together.

“Canadian food supplies at risk if climate change not slowed, new UN report shows” [Canada’s National Observer]. “It is projected that for every degree of global warming, the world’s yield of wheat will fall six per cent, corn by 7.4 per cent, and rice and soybeans both by a little more than three per cent each. Together those four crops account for two-thirds of the calories consumed by people, and with the population growing by 80 million people each year on average, the world needs to produce more food, not less.” • Another story on the latest IPCC report.

“Insect ‘apocalypse’ in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides” [National Geographic]. “America’s agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to honeybees, and likely other insects, than it was 25 years ago, almost entirely due to widespread use of so-called neonicotinoid pesticides… Using a new tool that measures toxicity to honey bees, the length of time a pesticide remains toxic, and the amount used in a year, [Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth US] and researchers from three other institutions determined that the new generation of pesticides has made agriculture far more toxic to insects. Honey bees are used as a proxy for all insects… The study found that neonics accounted for 92 percent of this increased toxicity…. Regulatory agencies such as the EPA have concluded that seed treatment with neonics poses a low risk, [David Fischer, Chief Scientist and Director, Pollinator Safety, at Bayer Crop Science] wrote in an email.”

“‘Shocking,’ ‘blockbuster’ Rosemont Mine ruling has national implications, experts say” [Arizona Daily Star (ER)]. “For decades, the U.S. Forest Service has said it can’t say ‘no’ to a mine on its land. Now, the recent federal court ruling overturning approval of the Rosemont Mine on service land near Tucson will make it harder for the Forest Service to say ‘yes.’ Legal experts say U.S. District Judge James Soto’s July 31 ruling, if upheld in higher courts, will have national repercussions. They’re using words like ‘chaos,’ ‘shocking’ and ‘blockbuster’ to discuss the ruling’s ramifications. The ruling could chill the hard-rock mining industry that has lived under a generally favorable legal climate since Congress passed the 1872 Mining Law to encourage mineral exploration of public lands.” • Two suits were filed by “four environmental groups and… three tribes.” And a lot of quotes from the mining industry, and not many happy dance quotes from the winners!

Health Care

“Kaiser’s net income continues to soar on investment gains” [Modern Healthcare]. “Not-for-profit Kaiser Permanente’s net income jumped 214% in the second quarter of 2019 year-over-year, hitting $2 billion in the quarter that ended June 30, and continuing what has so far been a strong year for the Oakland, Calif.-based health system. Kaiser’s 10% profit margin in the quarter was generated by strong equity returns and an accounting change that since Jan. 1 has boosted the health system’s net income.”

“Covered: A Week-by-Week Look at the 1965 Politics that Created Medicare and Medicaid” [National Academy of Social Insurance (MN)]. “[Bob]. Rosenblatt takes us back to the decisive winter of 1965: A newly reelected President Johnson has large congressional majorities and is committed to the idea of Medicare. Writing as if he were witnessing for the first time the political and legislative events that transpired 50 years ago, Rosenblatt provides us with an informative (perhaps even entertaining) look at leaders in the 89th Congress and other major players. Covered is written with the recognition that the effort to get universal coverage, let alone health care for the elderly and low-income individuals, was – and continues to be – a decades-long fight.” • Ends with: “July 30, 1965 – Post 30 – Johnson Signs Historic Medicare Bill Assuring Health Coverage for Millions.” Quite a resource!

Class Warfare

Supply chain innovation as a terrain of class warfare. Thread:

“The Future of Social Protection: What Works for Non-standard Workers?” [OECD (MN)]. “While new technologies and the new forms of work they create bring the incomplete social protection of non-standard workers to the forefront of the international policy debate, non-standard work and policies to address such workers’ situation are not new: across the OECD on average, one in six workers is self-employed, and a further one in eight employees is on a temporary contract. Thus, there are lessons to be learned from country experiences of providing social protection to non-standard workers. This report presents seven policy examples from OECD countries, including the ‘artists’ insurance system’ in Germany or voluntary unemployment insurance for self-employed workers in Sweden. It draws on these studies to suggest policy options for providing social protection for non-standard workers, and for increasing the income security of on-call workers and those on flexible hours contracts.” • Sounds like tinkering by the side of a Jobs Guarantee, but still useful.

News of the Wired


Truly spectacular:

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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 (MF):

MF writes: “This is a cactus patch near Victory Trailhead at the western end of the San Fernando Valley. I’d never seen cacti growing in this part of the preserve before (my brother says he has though). This patch has been spreading fairly rapidly and I can also now spot some new patches further in from the trails (don’t really want to walk into the brush there are some rattlers around).” They look like alien beings…

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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. nippersdad

          Maybe we could replace the lawn with this stuff to keep the cats out.

          Worth trying? Looks like a bird bath would be pretty safe in the middle of that.

            1. nippersdad

              Re: …possible threat to all of humanity. That looks like it would be pretty good.

              I wonder which would be worse. The cactus that ate Clem or Rhonda’s stampeding herds of feral cats…..Moi: “OMG!! They are in the house!

              Literally. One just barfed in the hall.

              1. nippersmom

                Well, in fairness to Rhonda, the only one who could have barfed in the hall predates her feral colony.

                I don’t think the cacti could possibly propagate as rapidly as the cats do.

                1. ambrit

                  Hmmm…. A ‘feral colony’ would be a ‘colony’ that has returned to the wild, so, one is led to believe that there was once a Golden Age of Feline Felicity.
                  Time to call in the Spay and Neuter volunteers?

                2. nippersdad

                  Tribbles don’t propagate as rapidly as Rhonda’s cats do.

                  Pretty soon we are going to need another planet.

                1. nippersdad

                  I’m on it! The car is already warming up.

                  We have at least ten (probably thirty by now*) wonderful specimens living in the bathroom just waiting for you!

                  *Actually there are only five of them in the bathroom, spayed, neutered, healthy, and with sweet dispositions. The other forty eight** are arrayed elsewhere across the house.

                  **Actually……….Yeah, we have lots of cats. And…


                  You could too! Just say the word!

                  1. Inode_buddha

                    I would be more than happy to oblige, having been without companionship for over a year now… which doesn’t do any good for my attitude. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait a bit more, having another surgery in a couple weeks, and effectively medically bankrupt as I type this.

              1. ambrit

                Yes, as the Herr Doktor Professor says; “There are some things not meant for man to know.”
                That was the thirties. In the fifties, man tried to know everything, with monstrous results.
                Today, the “exceptional ones” skate off of the thin edge and into empty space, like Wile E Coyote.
                I’ve wondered if the idea for “The Andromeda Strain” didn’t begin life with a teenager watching “The Monolith Monsters.”

        2. polecat

          Just don’t trip-out too much, or you might stumble. Och!

          There’s a recipe for prickly pear mead I’d really like to try .. the difficulty, however, is finding enough ripe fruit to complete the wort !

  1. Samuel Conner

    Re: the Hawley/Baldwin plan, what policy lever do they expect the Treasury to use to effect the needed devaluation?

    Short term interest rates are low already.

    Negative rates?

    Fed purchases of foreign currencies?

    Do they really want US Central bank to become a massive investor in other currencies?

    1. JohnnyGL

      Tariff recommendations and import restrictions?

      Capital Controls? Keep in mind, capital flows today are something like 10x trade flows. So, the idea, propagated by Stiglitz, that the federal deficit opens up the CA gap is absurd. That’s like suggesting the cart pulls the horse.

      Capital flows drive currencies, the CA moves as a side effect to those capital flows.

    2. ocop

      None of the above actually. The primary mechanism would be a tax on capital inflows to the US. Quoting Michael Pettis (worth a read on its own with additional quality discussion in the comments) quoting a memo on the bill. Emphasis mine.


      The Competitive Dollar for Jobs and Prosperity Act would task the Federal Reserve with achieving and maintaining a current account balancing price for the dollar within five years. It would create an exchange rate management tool in the form of a Market Access Charge (MAC)—a variable fee on incoming foreign capital flows used to purchase dollar assets. The Fed would set and adjust the MAC rate. The Treasury Department would collect the MAC revenue. The result would be a gradual move for the dollar toward a trade-balancing exchange rate. The legislation would also authorize the Federal Reserve to engage in countervailing currency intervention when other nations manipulate their currencies to gain an unfair trade advantage.

      Pettis’s ultimate conclusion:

      The trade shortfalls that plague the U.S. economy are chiefly a product of imbalanced capital flows, which are driven by distortions in global savings. Selectively restricting capital inflows is the best way to address these imbalances. Tariffs are a far less effective tool: they mostly just rearrange bilateral imbalances and distort the underlying economy without addressing structural issues. Whether it passes or not, the recent Senate bill is the right approach and an encouraging sign because it is the first time lawmakers have sought to address the persistent U.S. trade deficit by way of capital imbalances.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you for bringing Michael Pettis into this. Conceptualizing the issue as “imbalanced capital flows” seems a lot more on point than “consistently spending more than they earn.”

    1. Wyoming

      The women’s world record in the high jump is 6’10” and has been such since 1987.

      I have watched that video several times and am pretty sure she is well above that height at her peak. Now to figure out how she can run up to the bar and do a couple of back flips before she leaps into the air at the right time to clear the bar…..

    2. urblintz

      Who would deny the spectacular physical feats with which Simon Biles stunned the world.

      Whether or not the use of ritalin has anything to do with her athletic superiority is not the point of this comment (nor have I any expertise to assume that it may or may not).

      But during an era when numerous athletic careers have been ruined by dubious doping scandals, including famously reversed decisions by anti-doping agencies in many sports against athletes of many nations (I won’t point out that Russia has figured prominently), it should be noted that Simon Biles has a special medical exemption (ADHD) allowing her to take ritalin which other athletes are prohibited from using.

      1. Ckimball

        l cried when I saw her go through the combination.
        I wanted to say to her ‘You did it perfectly. Now don’t
        do it again.’ I’m still choked up about it.

  2. John Zelnicker

    Is Josh Hawley related to the Hawley of the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, that aggravated the Great Depression?

    The Baldwin-Hawley proposals might be just as bad. Balancing foreign trade on the value of the dollar sounds like it would have extensive unanticipated and negative consequences.

    1. Samuel Conner

      It’s not even clear to me that it’s possible to do this via monetary authority tools without capital controls. The rest of the world can react with mirror policies that counteract ours.

      What they (Hawley/Baldwin) should do is mandate the Fed to directly purchase infrastructure bonds for useful projects, and mandate that this be done at a scale sufficient to reach full employment. Adding an additional set of policy tools to the Fed’s “arsenal” would be far more useful than giving it yet another target that is unattainable via its present limited toolkit.

      Naga happen, of course. Precarity of the middle and working classes is too valuable to the powerful.

  3. David Carl Grimes

    What’s Bernie’s stance on the trade war? Is he for or against tariffs? If elected, will he continue it? Tone it down? Or stop it? Maybe all China has to do is sit this one out until Trump loses.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I’ve seen him asked a couple of times….he usually pivots and says we need a pro-worker trade policy, points out how he’s opposed TPP, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. I think he’s said he didn’t like the tariffs much, but wasn’t really emphatic.

  4. flora

    re: Forget Tariffs – Barrons

    For nearly four decades, Americans have been consistently spending more than they earn. This is not because Americans have been living large—average spending on consumption and investment grew at the same stable rate from 1947 through 2006— but because people in the rest of the world have been living below their means US wages have stayed flat for the bottom 2/3rds of earners while prices for everything, and especially medicine, housing, and education have gone up up up.

    Fixed it.


    1. flora

      adding: A lot of those ‘foreign companies’ are US companies in foreign countries paying even smaller wages. When factories are off shored by US companies, it’s hard to see how depressing the dollar will bring jobs back (unless they’re trying to depress the wage scale of US labor even more.)

    2. Synoia

      I read this as the foundation, or a first move, to make Americans consume less by getting pay cuts, to bring them into line with the rest of the world.

      1. ambrit

        Keeping in mind that large parts of the “rest of the world” live without running water, plumbing, electricity, and Starbucks Lattes.
        The globalization of poverty.

        1. polecat

          I think we should adapt a few lifestyle changes .. from the Fremen. How else are we gonna beat the Harkonnens ??

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I love the fact that we went from competing against Americans to competing against the World. F dat!

  5. Deschain

    Nothing on Epstein? Perhaps you missed it since he was kind enough to commit suicide at the absolute low point of the news cycle.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        … Acosta provided an important clue when he said he was told to back off because Epstein “belonged to intelligence.”….
        Will anyone in Congress go up the chain, beyond Acosta, and investigate the role of U.S. intelligence officials? William Hayden was CIA director in 2007 and is currently an analyst for CNN. Robert Mueller was the FBI director in 2007. Will either of these men be questioned about the Epstein scandal?

        Good article. I’m afraid I already know the answer to this question though.

        1. flora

          /Tin foil alert : Sometimes I wonder if Congress’s refusal to seriously question and control the intel agencies is because key Congressmen and women are being blackmailed by the intel agencies. ‘Give us what we want or else this information we have about you might accidentally become public. ‘
          / Foil hat off.

          It would be irresponsible no to speculate . ;-)



          1. Hopelb

            Bill Binney, ex-NSA whistleblower, actually stated this outright, claiming they have “the dirt on everybody”. Other foreign Intel agencies do as well.
            I wonder if the fbi will protect those Epstein affiliates who are valuable to control?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            There is a theory, I’m not sure where first stated, that you can’t enter the elite unless the intel agencies can blackmail you. Sort of a Mutual Assured Destruction pact, I suppose.

            1. Redlife2017

              Makes sense on why the intel agencies hate Corbyn so much (don’t know the take on Bernie, but I’d be surprised if they like him). He doesn’t even drink. Although he does like to tango.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You may not be aware of this, but NC has, and has had for years, a link aggregation published by 7:00AM every day. There are four links under the subject heading “L’affaire Epstein” today.

      I don’t have anything to add. There seems to be much more speculation* than fact, though, to be fair, I haven’t seen the press so united since the days of the Iraq War. “Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here” seems to be the order of the day. Meanwhile, the dull normals think it’s obvious he was whacked. I myself, on this topic, am I dull normal.

      NOTE * For example, there’s a story running around that Epstein hanged himself — never mind from what — with a rope made from toilet paper. And never mind that the rich don’t make their own ropes; they have people for that. And there was a story in the Daily Beast*, sourced to MCC guards, about Epstein “living like a pig” in his cell, and constantly asking for toilet paper. Nothing about whether they gave him any; prison guards are not notably generous. NOTE * Owned by IAC. Chelsea Clinton on the Board. Not that I’m foily.

      1. decshain

        Oh I saw that, the water cooler generally has a bit of a different flavor than the morning links (more entertaining editorializing). Was hoping you’d come up with something juicy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I have not been been able to come up with another suicide at MCC. That means that, however bad MCC is, and it is bad, its suicide prevention systems were effective.

          Except in this one case, who just happens to be at the center of a global — and, in the United States — network of wealthy and powerful men, all of whom would be happy to see him dead. Odd!

            1. Code Name D

              He tripped. Causing him to fall down an elivator shaft, landing on some bullets. Tragic really.

              Even if we were to take the media at its word, it still begs the question how he was taken off suicide watch so quickly?

          1. Deschain

            Extremely odd. /s

            The one subtle thing I noticed was that in the NYT original write-up, they listed some of Epstein’s relationships as being Trump, Stephen Hawking, and Prince Andrew. USA Today subbed out Hawking and put in Billy Clinton, which seems like a better take. But what do I know?

            1. dearieme

              I bumped into Jeffrey today and he told me that the anaesthetic is wearing off and he’s feeling better.

            2. Procopius

              One of the repeated comments I’ve seen is that Epstein “collected” scientists. I’m pretty sure Stephen Hawking, as a celebrity scientist, would have been one of them. That does not mean he was ever invited to participate in the mixed doubles parties. As you say, what do I know?

          2. nippersmom

            A commenter on another post I was following stated that she (the commenter) is an artist, and therefore trained to notice details about people’s facial structures. She is convinced there are noticeable differences in the facial composition of the person depicted in the “post suicide” photos of Epstein and prior photos. It is her theory there was a switch, and the corpse is not that of Epstein at all.

            As far-fetched as that idea may be, I personally find it more plausible than the “suicide” story.

            1. polecat

              I think someone .. say an emotionless prison guard, slipped one of those Green Giant pod thingies into Jeffery’s cell, whilst unconscious, as the cameras were ‘un’whirling. He/ it is unresponsive, they wheel him/it out, and flush the former Epstein down the crapper.

              That’s My conspiracy .. and I’m sticking to it, tendril-like !

      2. prodigalson

        Ahh the old hanged himself with toilet paper trick. Blast! That was dash cunning of him, it’s a good thing that prisons came into existence yesterday and prisons have never had to deal with the threat of toilet paper rope for escapes or suicides. Especially for people put on suicide watch and then removed because the guards were feeling mopey that night and there was a midnight prison screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show they needed to attend. /s

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          True story-

          Was in Orleans Parish Prison for a night and this dude snuck in a bag of weed in a bologna sandwich. Not only did they roll a blunt, but they also rigged up what can only be described as a Toilet paper roll fishing poll using the cardboard cylinders and proceeded to PASS THE BLUNT TO THE CELL ONE STORY BENEATH US.

          Right then and there I knew which side i was on. And it wasnt the Rich.

          1. ambrit

            Oh yeah. There were usually one or two stories a year in the local paper about guards being caught bringing contraband into the Washington Parish lock up.
            My favourite was about a Born Again couple who ran a “Prison Ministry” that smuggled ‘stuff’ into prisons hidden inside Bibles. They lived in Tampa I believe, in a big McMansion.
            They obviously did not take their own New Testament seriously.

      3. Another Scott

        I don’t know about the Iraq War being the last time the MSM was this unified. I remember their support for Clinton in 2016, and think they were uniformly in support of bank bailouts ten years ago.

      4. NotReallyHere

        Interesting for me is the twitter reaction when the FBI announced that they would investigate. Widespread mockery.

        This affair has all the ingredients of the Dreyfus affair in 1890’s France or the Profumo affair in 1960’s UK. Both ended up discrediting large parts of the political infrastructure of the time.

        On an even more serious note, and assuming the suicide was – if not assisted- at least encouraged – how terrified now are those poor women who came forward in good faith to answer the FBI’s call for evidence just a few weeks ago? The whole affair is genuinely shocking.

      5. sleepy

        In the MSM, Epstein’s death has certainly taken a back seat to the burning question of whether Trump is a white supremacist or merely a bigot.

        I mean, literally, that’s 90% of the coverage.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So what happened to the “Trump is a Russian agent who committed treason and must urgently be impeached” meme?


          The opening of the memory hole has become a gaping maw, Vidal’s United States of Amnesia indeed.

  6. John k

    Wrapped in tissue…
    So he’s Hillary 2.0… in so many ways… rightward, er forward, together…

    1. Samuel Conner

      I was thinking the very same.

      If they really do think he is fragile and want him to win in the general, then they ought to be “toughening him up” during the pre-primary campaign.

      That they are not doing this suggests that the “prize” is simply the nomination, and to hell with the general.

      Maybe the Clinton faction, or their friends, are “elevating” him so that he too can lose a general election to DJT. That might take some of the sting out of the 2016 loss:

      “see, this could happen to anyone!”

      1. ambrit

        I continue to predict that Creepy Joe will bow out in favour of Hillary during a brokered convention. His core purpose is to deny Sanders a first ballot win at the convention. Both legacy parties’ Nomenklatura early on figured out that you can make good money in politics, win, lose, or draw when you are “in the pocket” of big money interests. Sanders is a threat to that methodology.
        The Democrat Party would rather lose to Trump than win with Sanders.

        1. Samuel Conner

          If one could purchase options on scenarios like that, it might be possible to devise a strategy for funding progressive movements after the coming 2020 calamity.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          I share this prognostication, but Hillary 3.0 also requires the US economy to be in deep crisis, requiring the ‘consensus’ acclamation of a Widely Respected, Experienced, Problem Solving, No Nonsense Unifying Savior Figure.*

          And no, Bernie need not apply. I’d fully expect him to win a bunch of primaries against a backdrop of Great Recession 2.0, but then to be kicked to the curb yet again by the DNC and superdels in a 1968-style Convention. If he runs 3rd party in protest, they will off him.

          * © The Clinton Foundation, All rights reserved.

  7. Tvc15

    Re: Biden gaffes:
    Would cognitive decline be a more appropriate definition of his poor verbal skills? I know he’s cultivated this ah shucks it’s just Joe persona, but given his age and frequency of these events; are we letting him off easy by referring to them as gaffes? Trump seems to malfunction frequently as well. I’m not talking about his policies or crazy deflective word salads, just the occasional short circuiting when speaking. Fortunately, Sanders appears to me to still be able to clearly articulate coherent thoughts as well as the younger candidates.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When has Joe Biden ever been on the ball? Was it when he was palling around with segregationists? Doing what credit card companies told him to do? The truth is he’s a despicable, greedy man who has never put any effort into anything. He made a few appearances as VP and that covered the last decade.

      The one time he wasn’t inelegant was during the 1988 primary. He had speeches that really had a familiar ring.

      If Joe Biden said something horrible in the 70’s, it was a different time. If he says a horrid thing today, he’s just old. Like McCain, he flirts with the press and makes them feel like part of the club but like McCain, he is a villain and fairly stupid.

      1. Tvc15

        Agree NTG, and thanks for the video. So Biden is a despicable, lazy, morally bankrupt corrupt neoliberal that plagiarizes speeches with at a minimum creepy personal space issues and recently told a woman (Harris) in what came off as patronizing, to “go easy on him, kid”.

        I don’t think his gaffes or cognitive decline matter either Lambert.
        Foghorn Longhorn, I’ll go with he’s a family blogging moron.

      2. John

        Biden never impressed me as Mensa material but that aside, what do you get in policy terms with Biden that we did not have with Obama and Bill Clinton? Is that what we want? If not, why not Sanders? He is not the perfect candidate from where I sit, but he lights up a number of the buttons I want to see pushed. At this point I think Sanders and Gabbard would make a good ticket. Gabbard would be a refreshing contrast to Pence, Trump’s little shadow (who goes in and out with him). Gabbard brings something positive to add to Sanders positions. Pence is there as a warning to those who want Trump gone; see what you get if you do that: me, the Grim Reaper and other uncomfortable images that spring to mind.

        But it is awfully early in the cycle… much too early to be focusing on what may look meaningless six months from now while the machinations of the White House and the slumber of the Congress continue. It amazes me the extent to which Congress has abdicated its powers under the Constitution with barely a whimper.

    2. Jeff W

      Would cognitive decline be a more appropriate definition of his poor verbal skills?

      That was my thought as well. That might become clearer, if that’s the case, as this nomination process drags on.

      Of course, in the bizarre anti-intellectual universe of US politics, being on top of one’s game cognitively seems not to be a necessary condition.


      “When has Joe Biden ever been on the ball?”

      Well, the despicable, greedy pal of the segregationists and minion of the credit card companies could be experiencing cognitive decline as well. Either one, and certainly both together, would disqualify Biden from the nomination in a sane political environment. (Love all your Biden comments, BTW.)

    3. sleepy

      Not sure I agree with you about Trump’s gaffes being related to any cognitive problems. If anything he seems more cunning and ruthless than when he was first elected.

      1. Procopius

        I dunno. I find some of his speeches sliding into incomprehensible word salad, yet other times he seems to be very in-sync with his audience and it’s just that he’s saying things that don’t make sense because they don’t agree with reality. I recall that Hitler’s speeches sometimes made no sense if you thought they were connected to the real world. No, I don’t want to compare Trump to Hitler except as orators. Hitler’s speeches somehow resonated emotionally with his listeners, far beyond the words. Trump seems to have some of that ability, at least in person. When he’s recorded that charisma somehow does not come through, at least for me, so he sounds like an idiot. Even the word salad inspires his listeners, who seem to understand what he’s trying to say, or project their own beliefs onto the blank slate of his incoherence.

  8. WheresOurTeddy

    Re: Patrick Murray Anti-Bernie Tweet:

    from comments: “Group of @BernieSanders volunteers gathers outside of #wingding. Rather than partaking in sign wars this afternoon, this group knocked on every democratic door in Clear Lake.”

    Patrick Murray: “Ok. I give.”

    30 retweets. 68 likes. 439 comments!

  9. petal

    Jen, not sure if you saw it in the paper this weekend or not but the Love Me I’m a Liberal house is apparently in violation of a town code on yard signs! If someone complains, they will have to take them down. Sounds like everyone has noticed it.

      1. Jen

        Indeed. Said house, which is located right on the main commuter route, has a Kamala for the People sign (in black, red and yellow), a black lives matter sign (same color scheme), and, incongruously to me at least, a Warren sign (light blue with dark blue print). I hum the chorus every time I drive by.

        @ Petal – missed the article. Will have to go look for it! Much as I mock, I’ll side with the homeowners on this. Our little college town is rather prissy when it comes to signs.

  10. Summer

    “Forget Tariffs. Here’s a Better Way to Close the Trade Gap” [Barron’s]

    Big picture: The US consumer was the goose that laid the golden egg for the post WWII economy. That goose is cooked so they need to fatten up fresh geese for the kill that have been “living below their means” (whatever that means).
    I still do not see how it addresses the debt peonage of the US population.
    It just addresses getting access to other geese to cook.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Me thinks that Sanders’ choice of VP will be exceedingly consequential.

      “I’m not a conspiracy theorist”, but given the (officially acknowledged) neglect that facilitated whatever it was that led to JE’s untimely passing, I worry that a newly elected but not “young, hale and hearty” anti-establishment and anti-Wall Street President might encounter trouble of some kind.

      1. nippersdad

        I agree. I say this only half in jest, but….

        Perhaps apropos of absolutely nothing, I was watching a show last night wherein a fictional billionaire had a posse of ex Mossad agents working for his security detail, which reminded me of Weinstein and the MintPress article about the Argentinian billionaire bolthole.that were similarly staffed.

        There seem to be an exceptionally large number of ex Mossad agents out there to feel entirely comfortable about the idea that those three examples would be in any way unusual. As if Eric Prince’s (clearly substandard) mercenaries weren’t enough of a worry, the hiring of thugs by those for whom Sanders welcomes their hate definitely would imply a need for someone younger, tougher and in dire need of Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location for the duration of a Sanders Presidency.

        And, not that I am a conspiracy theorist, either, but an idea that I would have filed under the word “suicidal” for Obama during his Administration wrt Clinton, having Tulsi stand guard outside the Oval Office whilst “awaiting her turn” might not be such a bad idea this time.

      2. Inode_buddha

        That is why he should have Gabbard as veep. She would be his insurance policy, and I’m sure she’s better at foreign relations than most anyone else.

        1. polecat

          I agree. Warren’s ‘stigma’ tism* makes her a better candidate for more obscure cabinet position.

          *too focused on minutiae : as in a ‘boffin’ ….

          Gabbard, on the other hand, can grok the bigger picture.

    1. Hopelb

      Npr had a segment on the fair, managing to not mention Bernie once, and stating” Biden, Harris, and Warren will definitely be in the upcoming debate”. Back to their strategy of disappearing Bernie out of existence, and frontrunner status. What a basked of irredeemable descpicables!
      Here is more fuel for your paper “ballots publicly counted” fire.

      1. William Beyer

        PBS evening news had a similar IA State Fair spot, with their three young women political reporters using most of the segment to exclaim about Warren’s massive crowds. Bernie was unmentioned.

  11. Librarian Guy

    Viz the NatGeo link on dying honeybees, for those who have time to listen to podcasts, Harry Shearer’s (of the Simpsons, Spinal Tap) weekly Le Show, easily found online, has been doing good regular segments on this topic, as well as microplastic pollution, for quite some time. Sunday’s episode had a bit on how this is “The 2nd Silent Spring”, RoundUp and other neonicotinoids are waaaay stronger than the DDT was in Rachel Carson’s day. And back then, the government would actually eliminate dangerous poisons, not an option under the current NeoLib order . . .

    That link paired with the one on chem/factory made meat makes one wonder . . . could we really replace the Web of Nature with entirely synthetic products while the planet’s other species massively die off? Doesn’t seem a very wise path even in the short term

    1. sleepy

      I have lived in Iowa for 20 yrs–the epicenter of honeybee genocide–and I have never seen one. When I was a kid down south, they were everywhere–every kid knew that if you ran barefoot through a bunch of white clover in your yard, you’d get stung by a honeybee.

      Years ago, I planted my front yard in nothing but native wildflowers–plenty of butterflies and other pollinators but no honeybees.

      1. ChuckT

        Last year I planted many species of bee friendly plants in my yard, there were literally hundreds of honey at any given time throughout August (they especially loved the dwarf calamint). This year, Ihaven’t seen a single one. Maybe they will show up eventually, but each day that passes I lose hope…

  12. Harold

    For years he has been famous for making gaffes, but if you contrast his current speech with the amazingly articulate way he spoke as a young man (which you can find on youtube), there is a very significant and obvious decline, whether it is from age, alcohol, sleeping medications, recurrent brain aneurysms, stress, or what.

    1. Jeff W

      …if you contrast his current speech with the amazingly articulate way he spoke as a young man (which you can find on youtube), there is a very significant and obvious decline…

      It wouldn’t be a bad idea if someone put a video compilation together, maybe even without explicit editorial comment, and posted it, to let people make an assessment for themselves.

  13. Synoia

    Bill Gates’ “solution” to global warming, to whit: “Blow stuff into the atmosphere to reflect some sunlight into space, with trials starting soon, appears questionable.

    Bill’s solution is to reduce sunlight, incident radiation, which is used by plants as energy for photosynthesis, to grow.

    To be effective a significant percentage f the sunlight must be reflected. Bur, by what percentage does this reduce the amount of food grown by crops?

    A combination of not reducing greenhouses gases, continuing to acidify and destroy ocean life, while simultaneously reducing the quantity of land grown food appears to me to be somewhat counter productive.

    “Somewhat Counter Productive” is not the phrase I’d use in conversation. F…….. stupid would be my preferred phrase.

    Beware of Geeks bearing gifts?

    1. pjay

      Are you implying Bill Gates is “F…… stupid”? Why, that’s blasphemous. Everyone knows he is a genius. Who are we to question billionaire geniuses?

    2. Inode_buddha

      One easy way to put lots of stuff into the sky, would be global thermonuclear war. Or maybe just drop one down the geysers at Yosemite.

      Bonus, it reduces demand for crops after the first year since there aren’t so many humans around anymore.

    3. Samuel Conner

      There’s no doubt that cloud-brightening or other ways of increasing Earth’s reflectivity would reduce plant productivity. I have the impression that the amount of reflection that one needs is not dramatic — basically one is adding a small “anti-heating” effect to counter the heating effect due to the lower IR transparency of the atmosphere due to higher CO2 concentration. The CO2 forcing effect is a small effect that adds up over time; the countervailing effect would not need to be all that larger, I think.

      OTOH, the longer one waits to do anything at all, the more one has to do and the more severe the “side effects.”

      I like the idea of “marine cloud brightening” over the world’s reefs; it would cool the reef environments a little, which would help them, and would provide a test of the concept for possible wider scale implementation.

      1. Synoia

        Maybe, if the material has a rapid rate of degradation, and is totally harmless to the biosphere.

        We should not treat our biosphere like Boeing treated the 737 Max. A new plane that tried to simulate the characteristics of the previous model, which worked until it didn’t.

    4. Jen

      Since this constitutes an experiment on all of humanity, it seems to me that this project should be subject to, at minimum, the review process that is required for any study involving human subjects at any university.

      Yeah, but move fast and break things.

      1. skippy

        Yeah but …. that would necessitate private funding with expectations of a IP to recoup investor funds and a profit in perpetuity, you know like the biospheres some are forwarding to offset AGW … chortle … ticket please ….

    5. skippy

      You mean the same bloke that wanted to IP knowledge associated with education through CORE and then extract rents off it via digital platforms, after stuffing schools with electronic “learning tools” at below cost …..

      You could call it Uber [tm] education … chortle …

  14. Pelham

    Re the items on lab-grown meat: Twelve percent of the world’s population lives exclusively on products from grazing animals. And I wonder whether the calculations include as “arable” land the two-thirds of the planet’s land surface that’s suitable only as grassland. In all, I doubt very much that a switch to plant-based diets would do much to solve either climate change or food shortages.

    But I’m open to persuasion from any unbiased source fully informed on all the relevant factors.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Did anyone see the editorial Harry Reid penned today, titled “The Filibuster Is Suffocating the Will of the American People”? Where was this guy in 2010 when we could have passed universal health care…?

    Oh, right.

    Disingenuous isn’t a strong enough word; there’s got to be another word for the Democrat Establishment.

    1. John

      Perhaps true, but without the filibuster and other rules differences, the Senate becomes a slightly more powerful version of the House of Lords. Were there a means of filtering out the corrupt buying of Senate seats, and I do not know how to do that, appointment by the state legislature thus tying the Senators to a different body of electors makes some sense.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > when we could have passed universal health care

      Liberal Democrats told us at the time that ObamaCare was universal, and kept telling us that long after it was obvious it wasn’t.

      “Universal” “health care” is a fuzzy concept. “Single payer” and “universal health care” are not at all the same!

  16. a different chris

    “Healer in Chief”

    Well, that’s the line. And that’s what they believe — everything was fine and then you were in a car accident but we’ll mend those bones, “treat you and street you” as the doctors like to say.

    Not that you have been deteriorating for decades, age and lifestyle, and things gotta change. And those changes mean you will never be the way you were, just that you will still be.

    They don’t have a clue. Trump does. Unfortunately like an opportunistic parasite he’s latched on to the weakened host.

  17. Grant

    I think the most interesting thing on Warren is that there does seem to be a lot of crossover with her and Harris, which makes no senses if you think that voters are glued in to policy. But, many Democrats are not, and I find their reasons for voting for this or that candidate to be maddening. It seems that identity explains a decent portion of those that have switched from Harris to her, as policy wise, you would think any gains by her would come at the expense of Bernie more than others, and vise versa. But, again, doesn’t seem to be the case, which points to many Democratic voters not voting with policy front and center. No wonder they pick such rotten candidates (not saying Warren is rotten, but a large portion of candidates in that party that win primaries are). And part of their maddening logic for voting for people doesn’t seem to have the general election in mind. Whatever one thinks of her versus Sanders, I think it should be pretty clear that at the present time he is the better matchup with Trump. To think that she would be better at going to key swing states and winning over voters and getting those that normally wouldn’t vote to vote than Bernie would be is nuts. But Democrats are only about a third of the country, and they don’t seem to collectively do well in figuring out those outside their bubble, and don’t factor in much at all those that don’t tend to vote, and why they tend to not vote. If they did, they would have never picked Clinton, would not be supporting train wrecks like Biden and Bernie would be running away with it. It seems that with older voters, that their minds have been damaged by networks like CNN and MSNBC in ways that are not radically different than the number Fox has done on their viewers. If you look at Status Coup and the interviews they have done with Biden supporters, you will get a headache from slapping your head too much. Those people just repeat the nonsense they see on CNN and MSNBC, almost word for word.

    Having said all of that, as readers here know, the polls are problematic and I think the polls regarding Bernie should be thought of as floors, while they are likely ceilings for candidates like Biden and Harris, and to a lesser extent Warren. The key to Bernie winning is getting those that don’t normally vote to actually vote. Since he is almost certainly the person most likely to do well at that, I think the polls are drastically minimizing Bernie’s support, and I would guess to an extent Warren’s support. The opposite is likely the case with Biden. Biden is one early loss away from collapsing. That is my prediction. He will lose in Iowa or NH, it will be obvious that not only is her a horrible candidate but he doesn’t have broad support, and by then he will have done hundreds of stupid and tone deaf things, which means that there will be nothing to stop his collapse. Bernie has been killing it lately though. Did well at the debates, on Rogan, and in other mediums, and Warren hasn’t done tons outside of the debate to explain any large increase. It isn’t as if the pollsters have done anything at all to give us confidence in them. Us trusting them is fundamentally important, and many have said things and used methodologies that have done the opposite of building trust. But, maybe the propaganda by the media is so effective that no matter what Bernie does, he isn’t likely to see a surge. He has enough support that his floor is higher than most others, but maybe according to these problematic polls, his ceiling is also not as high as some others?

    My personal opinion is that Warren not going after Sanders and Sanders not going after her isn’t just that they respect one another. I also think there is a chance that they will team up if the other loses. Who knows though. I could see Harris and Biden teaming up to rescue them both and I can see it working, cause I have no faith in Democratic primary voters at all.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I saw one with data released of “registered voters” vs “likely voters”. The former had Bernie 4-5 points higher, taking a point out of each of the other major candidates.

      If Bernie wins Iowa, he’ll breeze through NH. If he gets those two, he’ll probably do well in NV, maybe keep it close in SC.

      Remember, he’s the #2 choice of Biden voters and has very high favorability ratings. Strange as it sounds, it’s an easy swing from Biden to Bernie.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Per Grant above, identity is the focus for not a few D voters, with the linking between Harris and Warren.

        From Biden from Bernie – with that, will they see and scream ‘old boys club?’

    2. notabanker

      The ballot boxes have to be rigged. Between Biden, Harris and Buttigieg it’s a complete joke to think any of them have a snowballs chance against Sanders. And the media parade gets more outrageous by the day.

      We will know in the first couple of primary races. If the election results match the ridiculous polling numbers, the fix is in and it’s all over.

      1. Carey

        Maeve Reston says, referring to Biden, “he’ll do as he damn well
        pleases.. it’s not his first rodeo.”

        Indeed- and how did those previous pres campaigns work out?

        *Of course* the fix is in. “Like it, proles!”

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      that might be our best case scenario, Sanders and Warren teaming up.

      if she now wants to frame her failure to back Sanders in 2016 a “mistake”, I’m all for it.

      1. Carey

        I’d be fine with Sanders-Warren. We’re in a late-USSR moment, though;


      2. skippy

        Sanders for the left behind needing basics and Warren for the sorta haves that are close enough to the left behind – that it concerns them … to get over the line.

        Gabbard for Defense Sec …

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > key to Bernie winning is getting those that don’t normally vote to actually vote.

      As I’ve been saying :-) And as Sanders has been saying.

      > Since he is almost certainly the person most likely to do well at that, I think the polls are drastically minimizing Bernie’s support, and I would guess to an extent Warren’s support.

      I think both Sanders and Warren are taking big risks, but they’re different risks:

      1) The risk Sanders is taking is in engaging discouraged or uninvolved voters; those voters are, by definition harder to bring to the polls (which is why the consultants don’t focus on them, ideological reasons aside; it’s bad for business). We have no evidence that Sanders’ volunteers will be able to succeed in getting them (though granted, the staff were selected for their skills in this regard). Now, in the nature of the case, we would have no evidence; the press, even if it were neutral, would find this a hard story to cover, and the information would be closely held by the campaign, even more closely than internal polling data, because it’s voter file stuff. However, the Sander’s “run silent, run deep” strategy is going to have a lot of people biting their nails and chewing their hands until the actual votes begin, though.*

      2) The risk Warren is taking is having a big spend on campaign staff early. (She keeps saying “movement,” but I don’t see any signs of anything similar to what Sanders is doing.) What happens if she runs out of gas on the runway?

      NOTE * There is also the gauntlet of Democrat loyalist balloting trickeration to run, as well.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. “Socialize Lab Meat” [Jacobin] — Thanks for posting the skeptical-article link below it, a useful antidote to the lab-meat-will-save-us hype. I love how the lab-meat shills completely ignore the issue of energy and material inputs needed to do their indoor growing, the safety of the various cell lines – I’m already picturing an unscrupulous-lab-meat-corp “cancerburger” scandal – and the ridiculous “assume this industry will be run ethically and for the public good, unlike every other industry in existence” nonsense.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, lab meat won’t be food; it will be a food-like product, as Michael Pollan says. It will have just as many ingredients with very long names as meat today, and all the formulas will be proprietary. What could go wrong?

      Adding, it will also be engineered for taste, and not for the digestive tract. It will also not be tested. This is a case where the precautionary principle is well-advised.

    2. VK

      re: Lab Meat & science behind lab-grown meat
      Is there anything in the world, those kind of people would not throw a “technical solution” at?
      Never let the thought of altering the societal order cross anyone’s mind…

    1. JohnnyGL

      Pretty good piece. The other side of a trade deficit….is a capital inflow!

      If you make everyone else take USD treasury bonds, they’ll be stuck holding reserves in USD and caught up in the US dominated financial system.

      1. ewmayer

        My post on this got sent to the moderation queue, but it linked to a 2018 Forbes article titled “Why The Petro-Dollar Is A Myth, And The Petro-Yuan Mere Fantasy”. Hopefully will appear here in the next few hours.

    2. polecat

      That works until petroleum becomes too expensive to pump out of the ground, regardless of who’s on the top of the fiat heap .. no ??
      Rest assured, that day will eventually come !

    3. ewmayer


      …it was a long time ago when the link between oil and the dollar mattered much at all beyond the financial returns of non-dollar based oil companies. Since the 1980s, the dollar has been consolidated as the global reserve currency because of the strength and dynamism of the U.S. economy, and oil exporters have demanded to be paid in U.S. dollars because that’s the currency they prefer to hold on to. To do otherwise is to take on exchange risk. Exporters can, and routinely do, accept payment in whatever exchange medium they wish — tanks, planes and construction services — but their central banks demand dollars for reasons entirely unconnected to oil. Because the U.S. dollar is a hard currency, easily exchangeable, underwritten by the U.S. taxpayer, and founded upon decades of broadly consistent macro-economic policy management.

      Those who believe that oil being traded in U.S. dollars gives the U.S. economy a unique advantage in the global economy have it exactly the wrong way around. The U.S. economy is the central economy in the global system because it is the most open, innovative, and productive economy in the world, and because of this, the U.S. dollar is the most convenient, liquid and reliable medium of exchange. One can imagine another currency challenging it at some point in the future, but only on the basis of the openness of its underlying economy, and the depth of the capital markets denominated in it.

      1. skippy

        The problem will always be those that have a ideological millstone around their necks – about barter and its second cousin commodity money. The concept of Fiat as a means of exchange to facilitate trade and not an immutable store of value [price – ????] is just too threatening to everything they believe [tm] in E.g. would give the state too much power in their minds eye and takeaway the perspective that wealth is an act of individual effort and the rights that affords.

        Especially the contractual aspect which proceeds everything ….

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Williamson threatened to ‘harness love’ to conquer President Donald Trump.


    I believe the word ‘threated’ implies that she meant business.

    In contrast, she said, in one debate, ‘just spent time in silence showering the president of Syria with love so great that his insanity oould not stand…’

    Should we in silence shower Trump with love (avoiding the word, threaten) as great?

    Can we use it on Hillary?

    1. polecat

      If Assad Was truly insane … he Would have been gasing his own people, unlike those “imported” White Helmeted dudes.

      A stike-out for ol Marieann …

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Aside from the very debatable ‘insanity,’ can the technique be used on many undesirable character flaws?

        Can showing love, in silence, instead of money, do anything about greed?

        1. polecat

          Not when it’s a comforting, aura-enfolding love OF money … silencing any who object.

          I’m no cynic .. really ! /s

    2. ewmayer

      “shower Trump with love” — Is that a reference to the mythical Moscow-hotel pee-pee tapes? And don’t even get me started on the dominatrix-connoting sound of “harness love”. :P

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t know if Williamson had that in mind when she said it, or when she said that about ‘harnessing love.’

      2. The Rev Kev

        Showering someone with love in silence? Is silence still golden?
        Anyway, if she is talking about stopping Assad in her way, then that means that she has drunk the CIA kool-aid. If she was President somehow, would she also be in on Venezuela? Iran? North Korea?

  20. fdr-fan

    Re It’s Russia:

    In the grocery store today I was behind a middle-aged man with a definite Slavic accent. He was buying a small load of groceries, using some coupons. He had to spell out his long Slavic name. After he paid, the register refused to complete the transaction. Finally the clerk figured out that he had misentered the coupons and apologized.

    The man, in a rueful semi-joking way, said “It doesn’t like Russia.”

    He’s probably right. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if web-connected registers are coded to treat Slavic names as “terrorists”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is the origin of the word, slav?

      From Wikidictionary, on Slav:

      From Middle English sclave, borrowed from Medieval Latin Sclavus, from Byzantine Greek From Middle English sclave, borrowed from Medieval Latin Sclavus, from Byzantine Greek Σκλάβος (Sklábos); see that entry for more.; see that entry for more.

      Click on Byzantine Greek Σκλάβος (Sklábos), we get:

      From earlier Σκλαβηνός (Sklabēnós), Σθλαβηνός (Sthlabēnós), from Proto-Slavic *slověninъ.

      Click on the Proto-Slavic hyperlink, we get:


      Roman Jakobson insists the word is from from *slovo (“word”), with a link to Old East Slavic кличане (kličane, “hunters, who raise game by shout”) : кличь (kličʹ), and also insists on the opposition of *slověne vs. *němьci.

      Trubachev (Трубачёв) says Jakobson’s etymology is promising, with the verb *slovǫ, *sluti (“to speak (understandably)”).
      Vasmer says it has nothing to do with *slava (“glory, fame”) which influenced it in terms of folk etymology later. *slověne can’t be formed from *slovo because *-ěninъ, *-aninъ only occurs in derivations from place names, however local name *Slovy is not attested. Most likely it’s derived from a hydronym.
      Compare Old East Slavic Словутичь (Slovutičĭ) ― Dnepr epithet, Russian Слуя (Sluja) ― affluent of Вазуза (Vazuza), Polish river names Sława, Sławica, Serbo-Croatian Славница and others, which brings together with Ancient Greek κλύζω (klúzō, “I lave”), κλύζωει (klúzōei) · πλημμυρεῖ (plēmmureî), ῥέει (rhéei), βρύει (brúei), κλύδων (klúdōn, “surf”), Latin cluō (“I clean”), cloāca (“sewer pipe”). Other etymologies are less likely.
      Otrębski brings up an interesting parallel, the Lithuanian village name Šlavė́nai on the river Šlavė̃ which is identical to Proto-Slavic slověne.
      Bernstein repeats this etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *slawos (“people, nation, folk”).
      Maher agrees with Trubachev’s connection of it to *sluti (“to be known”),[1] on the grounds that *slovo (“word”) is an s-stem, *sloves-, which would have led to an expected form *slovesěni (compare Russian слове́сность (slovésnostʹ)
      *slověninъ m


  21. Heliopause

    “‘It’s the Russians,’ she jokes Crowd roars with laughter”

    You know how a four year old will tell the same joke over and over and over and over and laugh uproariously every time? And it ceases to be cute or funny on about the third telling? And you wish they’d just shut the hell up?

  22. Wukchumni

    Why is there still any farmer in the USA who still supports the tariffist, aside from voting for him in 2016, that is.

    1. richard

      Well, there’s ever so much more non-congruent news to explain! 90% of what happens these days doesn’t match the model the nomenclatura have for reality, cast in iron since 1990 or so. Which requires a sh*& ton of “friendly ‘spaining.”
      It reminds me a little of the S. Lem novel The Futurological Congress, a great satire about an “advanced” society that can no longer see itself. Or like They Live, of course …

      1. Voltaire Jr.

        Thanks for reminding me of Lem. Growing up, I read every book of his possible at a huge public library and purchased what I couldn’t find there.

  23. JohnnyGL

    Lambert, thanks a ton for the bioturbation video. It’s awesome! Definitely showing it to the kids!

  24. Summer

    RE: “And every single one of those photographers knows their boss will reward them for a picture of Sanders looking foolish, or committing a gaffe, or having a poor interaction with a voter….”

    That would explain it. I thought that many photographers was way out of proportion to the coverage Sanders gets….

  25. Jessica

    Planetary engineering by the same sociopathic system that created the problem in the first place is not likely to turn out well, but if you were going to try reflecting incoming sunlight, the trick would be to only reflect it away from the Arctic because not much is grown there. Obviously, you could block sunlight to the Antarctic, but you would get less bang for your buck because it remains ice/snow covered.

    1. skippy

      Whom knew exporting externalities [waves at Summers memo – sharing the burden of uplift] to underdeveloped countries had such a short self life …. one might think there is some referred cognitive dissociation brought on about by socio-psychological – environmental demand pull at the upper social strata [I’ll take Biopolotics for a 100 Alex] …

      Then on the other hand these same sorts will bang on about atomistic individualism in its various forms too the unwashed from high on mountain peak …

      Still remember the humorous ‘Awful Truth episode where well heeled were asked to change an upright vacuum bag in down town Manhattan. One Grand Dame could not even comprehend where the bag might reside, after thorough examination, clutch save though, listed the price of a top shelf french champagne and even included FX conversion rate on the day for a crate …. seems information has a distributional vector according to social strata and price wrt its importance in the great scheme of things [tm] … like rose coloured glasses for everyone …

  26. B Topp

    A surprise primary election result in Argentina. The Conservative Argentine President Mauricio Macri suffered a resounding defeat in primary elections on Sunday. The next election round is in October. Conservative Macri’s austerity measures plus high inflation are not popular. Note how the BBC article below spins this result as bad. Wouldn’t want to lose any neoliberals in power.


      1. skippy

        Per Hudson and the facilitation of national economies towards the rights [expectations] of bond holders aka the Natural [tm] administration of Humanity.

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