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Friday, August 18, 2017

Steve Bannon fired?



Maggie Haberman on Steve Bannon:

The notion some folks are telling themselves is that if Bannon is gone, this all magically changes. It does not.

Problem #1 is, who does he get replaced with?

Problem #2 is, he probably won't get executed by firing squad; he'll just go back to the internet and troll the President from outside.

But feel free to ooh wow buy the S&P up to its 3:00 PM Thursday level on the news of Bannon's purported firing.


And even Michael Moore is funny again


Apparently his "Broadway production" is a self-indulgent waste of time. But at least he's being funny for a few minutes today:

Reuters - filmmaker Michael Moore says Trump "will get us all killed". Quote:

"This guy's going to get us all killed. There's nobody in charge. This man (Trump) has the nuclear codes," Moore, 63, told Reuters Television in an interview on Thursday.

"I'm hoping somebody in the Pentagon is protecting us. Like, whatever's in that nuclear briefcase it's just some girlfriend's phone number or something[...]".


Friday noos


QQQ is threatening to break its SMA(50). That'd be a big plummet if it came. Wonder if the American Republican investor has panicked enough?

Anyway, some reading:


NY Times - Fed officials confront new reality: low inflation and low unemployment. Quote:

Most Fed officials subscribe to a view of inflation in which prices rise more quickly as unemployment declines. The basic idea is that companies must offer higher and higher wages to keep their workers.

Now, the Fed is confronting “the coexistence of low inflation and low unemployment,” a phenomenon that inverts the “stagflation” experience of the 1970s, when both inflation and unemployment climbed.

The meeting account said most officials continued to regard low unemployment as the most important factor. They said inflation was rising slowly because of temporary factors, like a decline in cellphone service prices. And they remain inclined to raise the Fed’s benchmark rate later this year.

Blaming it on cellphones just shows how utterly ignorant they are. What'll be the next transitory effect keeping down inflation in the $18 TRILLION dollar US economy, hm? Declining pork prices? Framing lumber? An aggressive Piggly Wiggly coupon program?

There are people on the FOMC who believe in hard data and empirics. They are what the press calls "the doves", because they believe in empirical verification, and reality trumping fantasy.

Then there are people on the FOMC who still are wedded to the nonsense bullshit taught in academia based on a homogeneous consumer who can buy a continuous spectrum of consumption, and sell a continuous spectrum of labour, dependent on his utility function which he knows and which satisfies Inada conditions, trading with a homogeneous firm who uses homogeneous priceable capital and homogeneous labour to produce a homogeneous consumption good according to a declining-returns function, that is then sold in perfect competition at breakeven prices, and whatever the hell you do don't mention Sonnenschein Mantel Debreu! These people are living in a fantasy world, and anything they say about economics should be recognized as applying only to the stripped-down fantasy world of their model - not to reality.


Ritholtz - the imaginary debt crisis is here to stay. Quote:

Have a look at the chart below. The total amount of revolving credit outstanding, much of it reflecting credit-card borrowing, peaked in 2008 and then collapsed during the financial crisis. After bottoming in 2011, it slowly began to rise, and almost nine years after the peak has finally reached new highs. There also were new records for the size of the U.S. population, gross domestic product, total household income, net worth and, perhaps most important of all, disposable personal income. This is what tends to happen in an economic expansion.

Go look at the chart.

Or, just realize that the anti-debt narrative originates with 19th-century anti-Semitism, and therefore it's always ever just a right-wing canard, and nothing from the right wing has ever made sense, so you can just ignore the whining from now on.

No, the EFF do not support neo-Nazis, Zerohedge


Since Zerohedge is trying to make the Electronic Frontier Foundation sound like supporters of neo-Nazism, here's a link to the EFF's real post:


EFF - fighting neo-Nazis and the future of free expression. Wherein you learn some things that Zerohedge left out:

We at EFF defend the right of anyone to choose what speech they provide online; platforms have a First Amendment right to decide what speech does and does not appear on their platforms. That’s what laws like CDA 230 in the United States enable and protect.

So contrary to Zerohedge's assertion, the EFF do not say a private company should be forced to publish ideas that it considers odious or dangerous.

It’s notable that in GoDaddy and Google’s eagerness to swiftly distance themselves from American neo-Nazis, no process was followed; CloudFlare’s Prince also admitted that the decision was “not CloudFlare’s policy.” Policies give guidance as to what we might expect, and an opportunity to see justice is done. We should think carefully before throwing them away.

Again, the EFF just wants a transparent process for the removal of neo-Nazi websites. Like, "our company will not provide service to anyone advocating race hatred", or "our company will not provide service to anyone who cheers the murder of a nonviolent protestor, calling her a fat childless whore".

Frankly, I think they're being a bit stupid here. Daily Stormer's takedown is not an item of concern for free speech advocates anywhere.

But if there is a single reason why so many individuals and companies are acting together now to unite against neo-Nazis, it is because a future that seemed unlikely a few years ago—that white nationalists and Nazis now have significant power and influence in our society—now seems possible.

And so they recognize that an individual's moral compass should never be subsumed by airy-fairy bullshit about "freedom of speech".

I'd add that if you compel internet companies to allow neo-Nazis to use their services, you're going to drive everyone with a moral compass out of the industry.

A good point about Trump


I'm not telling you who, cos you wouldn't click through - what's changed in the past few days for Trump. And, from one of the most astute no-bullshit political analysts around, here's the money shot:

Anyone with eyes — eyes not glued to Fox News, anyway — has long realized that Trump is utterly incapable, morally and intellectually, of filling the office he holds. But in the past few days things seem to have reached a critical mass.

Journalists have stopped seizing on brief moments of not-craziness to declare Trump “presidential”; business leaders have stopped trying to curry favor by lending Trump an air of respectability; even military leaders have gone as far as they can to dissociate themselves from administration pronouncements.

Put it this way: “Not my president” used to sound like an extreme slogan. Now it has more or less become the operating principle for key parts of the U.S. system.

Even for Republicans, by the way.

I wonder if they'll even be able to dogwhistle anymore, now that the masses have seen the subtext presented explicitly by Trump?

Well there goes Trump's infrastructure plan


Bloomberg - Trump abandons plan for infrastructure council.

I mean, it's hard to set up a council on infrastructure when the only people interested in associating with you don't own construction companies or engineering consultants.

Like, y'know... David Duke.

I'm only sayin'....

Friday videos: Mono


Japanese postrock quartet tears doom metal a new asshole, then stomps it dry:



That's only part 2 of the song, by the way.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

HERE'S THE TRUMP NEWS YOU NEED TO SURVIVE


Vanity Fair - Trump's implosion cannot be controlled. The CEOs figured this out already and jumped ship; are the Trump admin appointees with brain cells going to be next out the door in disgust? The entire White House is running anonymously to the press to complain about how impossible their job is.

The Economist - Donald Trump has no grasp of what it takes to be President. Well, at least you didn't endorse him in 2016 and make yourselves look even stupider than you normally look, guys.

WaPo - magazine covers after Charlottesville are jarring. Well, if you can't persuade Republicans with reasoning, you might as well try using cartoons.

Newsweek - Trump is just six Senate votes away from impeachment. Haha! Dream on! The Republican Senators who have been criticizing Trump would still never in a million years vote him out of office. And that's even after stipulating that Pence would be an ideal rubber-stamping pet puppy for Republicans.

I at least take solace in the fact that a fair number of people, both voters and beltway insiders, are finally starting to realize how stupid it is to put a clown like this in office for 4 years.


(in a Crocodile Dundee voice:) That's not a populist. THIS is a populist!


Thing about populism is, once you start down that road you quickly find yourself jumping more and more sharks:

Pitchfork - Thor Harris says he's running for Governor of Texas. Quote:


Thor Harris—frontman for Thor & Friends, and former member of Swans and Shearwater—said today that he wants to run for governor of Texas.

Wait, what? Former member of Swans? This Swans?



OK, I'm in!


Standing in front of a rainbow flag, he explained his reasoning. “Howdy, my name’s Thor Harris, and I’m running for governor of Texas, ’cause fuck this.”

I find his political viewpoint intriguing and would definitely subscribe to his newsletter.


When asked if he’s really planning to run, Harris responded to Pitchfork, “Why the fuck not?

Again, that's a far better reason to run than most.


In February, Harris was suspended from Twitter after he posted a joking tutorial about how to punch Nazis. His how-to followed the viral video of alt-right activist Richard Spencer getting punched in the head on Inauguration Day.

OK, so he's definitely not a Republican. If he was a Republican, he'd have posted a video about how he loves sucking Nazi cock, instead of a video about punching them FFS I mean that'd mean punching Strom Thurmond or something.

So, I hereby support Thor's run for governorship of Texas. #1, I'd like to see how deep the populist rabbithole can go, and #2, apparently the Democrats are such fucking sissies that they're not even going to contest the governorship, because that would mean talking to American citizens, and they gave that up decades ago. So we may as well have someone contesting the governorship.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

All the CEOs say he's a waste of time. Sad!


Breaking news:

NBC - literally every CEO quits Trumps council. No, not just that one, but the other one also:

"As our members have expressed individually over the past several days, intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values...We believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans," a statement from members of the Strategic and Policy Forum council read.

"As such, the President and we are disbanding the Forum," it added.

They understand Trump will be a lot more mellow about it if they share credit with him.

The Campbells CEO stated it in the most simple way possible, just so all the Nazis in the south fucking well get it:

Within minutes, Campbell Soup Co. president and chief executive Denise Morrison issued her own statement, in which she said, "Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville."

Wah, say the butthurt Trumptards! Racism and murder are not unequivocally reprehensible! They're exactly as bad as taking down a statue or saying that black lives matter!

Think the Republican clowns are actually going to get their corporate tax breaks now?

Criticizing Democrats in 1980


New Deal Demoncrat - 1980's "The Changing of the Guard". Wherein he argues that the Democratic Party's turn away from the working class was evident even back in 1980. It's a good read. Here's his conclusion:

Even now, two generations later, as we have seen that when you take economic equity for granted it goes away, Chuck Schumer in 2016 and Mark Penn this year have continued to laud a strategy grasping for suburban Republicans and eschewing the traditional Democratic urban working class. As it turned out, bill Clinton had the priorities of voters fundamentally wrong: social conservatism was categorically more important to a critical mass of (especially white Southern) voters than economic conservatism.

But the ideology that Bill Black spoke of in June was already flowering 40 years ago -- the turning away from traditional Democratic power centers, and from broad government programs anchored in economic populism, in favor of social issues and a commitment to lower taxation and more efficient fiscal prudence -- espoused by a group that grew up in the post-war middle class suburbs and sought to appeal to those suburbanites first and foremost, taking for granted that the broad prosperity that those programs forstered would continue.

I'd add two things though.

The Republicans have followed a long strategy of changing the narrative for the working class/rural/southern Conservative voter. Firstly, they got involved in swinging Christian fundamentalism hard-right, to the point that now apparently American Jesus believes in hating black people and letting poor people suffer.

Secondly, through the Mont Pelerin Society, the right wing has worked tirelessly to brainwash people into thinking that radical right-wing policy is supported by economic theory and brings wealth to all, and that it's not even remotely a trojan horse used to reassign more and more wealth to the kleptocratic right-wing elite.

The Democrats seem to have not bothered trying to speak to the rural, conservative, working class voter, or to address the predominant narrative in his political stance in any way, for over 30 years now. It's as if they gave up on the south after Carter.

And maybe that's because American progressivism has always known that rural, conservative voters are susceptible to the most odious forms of populism, and they want to stay above populist manipulation.

Well, guess what? You gotta do it if you want to accomplish something.


NYT on low-skilled immigrants


NY Times - the danger from low-skilled immigrants is not having them. It's an argument from empirical reality, which means it's probably not going to convince Republicans.

It's a much better argument to ask a bunch of Republican employers who happily profit from hiring immigrants what they're going to do when they have to hire an American instead, and where they're going to find these people.


Larry Summers reminds us how fucked the US really is


Larry Summers - this is precisely how fucked the US is. Quote right from the start:

With the term of Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair ending next February, the president will have to nominate and the Senate will have to confirm a new head of the central bank in coming months.

Yup. The US is going to have to rely on Trump (or Pence, ahem) to nominate the next Fed Chair.

As an economics student, let me tell you that the next Fed Chair could royally fuck up the entire planet for a hundred years if he's so much as a fan of Prescott & Sargent.

Boring details:

If history is any guide, it is more likely than not that the economy will go into recession during the next Fed chair’s four-year term. Recovery is now in its ninth year with relatively slow underlying growth for demographic and technological reasons, very low unemployment and high asset prices. Even without these factors, experience teaches that recessions are almost never forecast or even rapidly recognised by the Fed or the professional consensus forecast, but there is at least a 20 per cent or so chance that if the economy is not in recession, it will be so within a year. So the likelihood that the next Fed chair will have to address a recession is probably about two-thirds.

Historically, the Fed has responded to recession by cutting rates substantially, with the benchmark funds rate falling by 400 basis points or more in the context of downturns over the past two generations. However, it is very unlikely that there will be room for this kind of rate cutting when the next recession comes given market forecasts. So the central bank will have to improvise with a combination of rhetoric and direct market intervention to influence longer-term rates. That will be tricky given that 10-year Treasuries currently yield below 2.20 per cent and this would decline precipitously with a recession and any move to cut Fed funds.

As a result, the economy is probably quite brittle within the current inflation targeting framework. This is under-appreciated. Responsible new leadership at the Fed will have to give serious thought to shifting the monetary policy framework, perhaps by putting more emphasis on nominal gross domestic product growth, focusing on the price level rather than inflation (so periods of low inflation are followed by periods of high inflation) or raising the inflation target. None of these steps would be easy in current circumstances, but once recession has come effectiveness will diminish.

But now that you've been put to sleep by blah blah technical stuff, let's scare you back to full wakefulness:

There must be more risk now of presidential interference with the Fed than at any time since Richard Nixon. In dealing with international matters, the Fed is partnered with an understaffed and amateurish Treasury and a president who is dissipating US credibility. Most fundamentally, the temper of the times has turned against technical expertise in favour of populist passion and the Fed is the quintessential enduring apolitical institution.

Yeah.