Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Money is handy; keeps you from having to do everything yourself.
Frankly Speaking: The vigorous low pressure system that helped spawn devastating tornadoes in the Dallas area on Saturday and triggered massive rains across half the US is set to become a monstrous storm over Iceland by Wednesday - probably one of the strongest on record. “The Icelandic coast and near off-shore regions are expected to see heavy precipitation hurled over the island by 90 to 100 mile per hour or stronger winds raging out of 35-40 foot seas. Meanwhile, the UK will find itself in the grips of an extraordinarily strong southerly gale running over the backs of 30 foot swells." The storm will also draw a surge of warm air over the Arctic, raising temperatures at the North pole to 32 degrees, 50 degrees above normal.
Is this global climate change in action? Probably - it is most likely that conditions now in play will generate rapid changes to global and, in particular, North Atlantic weather patterns. "It is impractical to wait for a scientific consensus to develop before reporting on these emerging issues. Waiting, at this time, would be irresponsible as it would result in a general lack of awareness of the overall threat. ... "we have more than enough indicators at this time to show that something is quite dreadfully wrong."
And This: The media are agog over the exposure of the private voter information of 191 million Americans on-line. Yes, it is troubling that such information was so poorly defended. It should be far more troubling that such databases exist. You do not have any meaningful privacy, so don't get too excited.
Clip & Save: The United States has not won a war since World War II; good thing it doesn't pick on someone its size.
A Bit Of Business: I've fallen victim of a winter cold, thus the light posting. There may be a couple of days of radio silence as my thinking cap seems to have been mislaid...
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:33 AM
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
We pass laws to excuse our violations of the moral principles we pretend to have.
About That Recovery: If everything is so rosy, Janet, why is it that during 2015 nothing worked - not stocks, not bonds, not commodities. Not even a whole bunch of folks who don't get counted as unemployed.
The Harvest: During every day in 2015, American police shot and killed three of us. And every damned one was justified because the cops live in fear of 12-year olds.
Stop, Look & Listen: After extensive reports about a riot by up to 2,000 kids - implied to be black gangs - at a mall in Louisville, KY, not a bit of damage was done to the mall, no YouTube videos have gone viral, and even the mall's security cameras apparently do not have footage of the rampage, no shots fired, no injuries, no fights. What we do have is the reporting from one white cop.
'Nough Said: Chicago police union seeks to destroy evidence of police wrongdoing.
Evolution In Action: Our widespread (and often gratuitous) use of antibiotics is causing the rapid development of "super-bugs" resistant to even the most powerful drugs available. By 2050, absent any sudden and lasting change in the way anti-microbals are used, drug-resistant infections will kill more people than cancer and cost the world over $100 trillion a year in treatment, premature death and economic costs.
This Just In: Government social benefit programs and high tax regimes make us all better off while real-world evidence shows that great inequality slows a country's economic growth.
Mr. Market Is Broken: "Essentially central banks, by unfairly inflating asset prices have compressed risk like a spring to unfairly tight levels. Unfortunately, the market is aware the price of risk is not correct, but they can’t fight it, and everyone is forced to crowd into the same trade. By manipulating markets they have also reduced investors’ inherent conviction by rendering fundamentals less relevant." I think this means that they know it's all a hoax, but they gotta dance while the music plays.
Quoted: "The world is almost certainly a much worse place than any of us want to admit. And that’s before you’ve even left America. " Scott Alexander
Monday, December 28, 2015
Paths are as important as goals.
Wind Sock: The Washington Post seems to have been selected to air a trial balloon story detailing a Homeland Security/ICE plan to scoop up and immediately deport hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Central American refugee families who are in the country illegally. Despite the ponderous certainty the early stories carried, such a plan has not been officially signed off on by the President, although it has been "vigorously" debated inside the White House..
Priorities: Iowa, which jails blacks 14 times as often as whites, spends $34,025 a year on each of its 40,000 prisoners - three times what it spends on each schoolkid.
Asked & Obvious: Americans once again gathered around the Christmas Tree and sang songs of hope and peace and wondered why there is no peace. Why? Because Americans don't have mirrors, don't see that their leaders in Washington are the reason there is no peace on earth. Protecting, projecting and maintaining the American Empire is the main cause (and main benefactor) of our rather distinct lack of peace, along with our God-given right to tell everyone else how to live.
Hypocrisy: Drug dealing Martin Shkreli has been described as a sociopath and worse. Well, yes. But he is just doing exactly what every other CEO in the country is supposed to be doing – making as much money as possible as quickly as possible. The dead are “externals”, like poisoned rivers and unbreathable air. And that's not why he was arrested. He was arrested for conning wealthy investors out of their money. That's the crime. Shkreli may be a rotten apple, but he's not alone in the barrel. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is making a fortune off average Americans, who are paying more for the drugs they need than the citizens of any other advanced country. That’s largely because Big Pharma has wielded its political influence to avoid government cost controls.
Snap Quiz: Why do medicines cost so much in America? Chose one. a) We have the best health care system in the world. b) US drug companies do most of the research and then the other countries steal the drugs. c) Republicans. d) Capitalism. Answer: c, because of d.
Test Drive: Big Pharma, having addicted nearly all of our doctors and most of their patients to taking a daily dose of statins, is now going to get everyone taking blood pressure medication, willy nilly. A big study suggests that if persons with existing high risk factors for a heart attack padded drug companies pockets for a daily pill or two driving their systolic BP below 130, they would lower their risk a heart attack by 20%. Which, if your risk is high, like 50% over the next two weeks, can be a big deal. But if your risk of a heart attack is, say 20% over the next ten years, lowering it to 16% is not a show stopper. It doesn't matter, prepare to be stampeded.
Scare Tactics? There are a lot of stories being passed around about how disturbed the Republican establishment is by Trump's continued strength in the polls. Maybe they are worried, maybe not. Maybe they think their 'fear' will raise more money for the mainstream. But what if there is no mainstream and these guys are just afraid of losing their sinecures?
Shoe/Foot: The National Sheriff's Association - representing local law enforcement agencies that have lived high off the hog from property and money confiscated from the helpless - are outraged that the DOJ is no longer going to let them feed at the "asset forfeiture" trough. They say they are wrongfully being deprived of their share of the crime without due process.
The Meeting Will Come To Order: Every major country, and a good many less than major ones, constantly tries to infiltrate terrorist groups. At this point any six person terrorist cell contains informants for at least 5 major and 3 or 4 minor intelligence agencies. There's probably no room at the inn for actual terrorists, which is why they meet on Facebook.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:23 AM
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas Eve, 2015
A Ted Cruz campaign rally in Nashville was transformed into a religious revival meeting encouraging those present to pray for Cruz to become President.
In Michigan, Republicans delayed adjourning for Christmas long enough to ban straight ticket voting, a moved designed to make it harder for voters to pull one lever and vote. It will mean each voter will have to read and vote for each position separately, which the Republicans hope will slow down the voting enough to discourage those in line while letting their dedicated zealots swamp the 'down-ticket' positions. They also passed a bill that will allow more money from outside the state to flood into local and state elections.
In Pocatello, Idaho, a school lunch lady has been fired for letting a broke child have a $1.75 lunch without paying.
Most Republican voters favor government actions to slow climate change. Most Republican politicians, needing donations from the fossil fuel industry and the Koch brothers, do not.
Without any explanation, a UK Muslim family, with appropriate tourist visas and passports etc, not to mention $13,300 in tickets for a vacation at Disneyland, has been refused permission to board a flight from Great Britain at the direction of US DHS.
Of the poorest 100 counties in the US, 93 of them are in solidly Republican states.
In Blountstown, FL a black woman who had sought treatment at the local hospital for breathing problems was stabilized and told to leave. When she didn't the cops were called, handcuffed and arrested her. She collapsed as they escorted her to a patrol car and died shortlyafter they rushed her back into the hospital.
Video released in the killing of an unarmed and prone homeless man shows the San Diego cop was nearly 20 feet away when he fired. The DA declines to prosecute, claiming the officer was reasonably in fear for his life.
Fox claims that liberals and atheists are "sucking the joy out of Christmas" by expecting tolerance for exercising their constitutional right to be free from government sponsored religion.
The for-profit prison business is booming in the US, and the probation system is being privatized in many places. Then there's the lucrative business of collecting back room and board fees from released prisoners.
Stereotypes: In stereo.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
We speak of 'the truth' as if there were such a thing.
When They're Right, They're Right: Bill Moyers noted that the Omnibus Spending Bill was just another handout to the 1% and big business. Perhaps he had in mind the section of the bill that prohibits the IRS from issuing any new rules on 501(c)(4) organizations - which are increasingly being used as corporate-funded political front groups pretending to be interested in social welfare measures. Bernie Sanders pointed out that if Sandra Bland had had the good sense to be born white instead of black "she would be alive today." Instead, a Texas grand jury declined to indict any of the cops who killed her.
Life, As We Know It: Arizona Republicans have chosen a creationist lawmaker who believes the earth was created 6,000 years ago and that the US government regularly sprays us with mind-controlling potions (that's what those so-called jet trails really are) to head up the legislature's education committee.
In Memoriam: The Texas AG says it would be illegal for colleges to ban guns from their dormitory because it would infringe on the rights of drunk freshmen to shoot up their dorm rooms and to kill a few noisy students now and then. Just like young Whitman did, 50 years ago.
Updater: A few days ago the general suspicion was that either the Chinese or the Russians were responsible for hacking Juniper's internet servers and scooping up US government data. Turns out it was most likely the NSA, spying on the US government. Ask 'em about Hilary's emails...
Data Point: In 2015, Illinois, under its Republican cut-taxes-and trim-the-budget Republican austerity program, remains the only state in the Midwest to have added more people to food-stamp rolls than to employment rolls during the recovery from the Great Recession. The magic of low government spending and low taxes will take a few more years to kick in. Be patient.
Unclear on the Concept: A US District Court has ordered the state-owned Bank of China to hand over customer data (a violation of Chinese law) or face a $50,000 a day fine. Quite how a court bailiff is going to get the money out of Beijing wasn't immediately clear, but sending in the Marines probably won't work. It hasn't for a long time.
Codetalker: Joining Error Code 401 (You ain't authorized access, bub) and 404 (unrecognized, you probably mistyped something) will be Error Code 451 (We decided you shouldn't be allowed to see this stuff) - to indicate that Big Brother has censored the site and your name and ISP number have been reported to the NSA, DHS and the sheriff.
Innocence Is Not A Defense: In California an appellate court has sided with Justice Scalia's view that provable innocence is not grounds to reverse a conviction and refused to permit examination of DNA evidence that might reverse a 42 year-old wrongful murder conviction. Guilty is guilty, facts be damned.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 6:33 AM
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
We look at the finger, not the moon, read the recipe but never bake.
Emperors And Costumes: Janet Yellen and the Fed want the sheep (that's us) to believe that they know what's best for the economy (right now, not before, when it crashed, or the time before that when it crashed...). They also want us to ignore our kids, neighbors and friends - and our own experience - and believe that employment is robust and the economy healthy. They'd also like us to ignore all the negative stuff and pretend we believe these lies.
Landlorded: In the UK, the common man has been so beaten down by austerity measures that potential homebuyers now have to set aside 5% of their disposable income for 26 successive years in order to accumulate a down payment. If a young couple started today, they could look forward to house-shopping in 2035.
Dreaming Of A... : How much of the unusual December warmth over much of the US is attributable to global warming? Perhaps 75%. How much to El Niño? About 25%. And is the unusually strong El Niño the result of global warming? Everything is, but not a direct 1 to 1 sort of thing, more a strengthening of the strengthening.
Grinch, Inc: After right-wing Republicans wrested control of Kansas from the rational adults, they slashed taxes and budgets and promised nirvana in the form of a revitalized and booming economy. Didn't happen - but nobody except the crazies thought it would. Now, with two years of increased income tax cuts lined up and infrastructure falling apart, they have hidden a bit of magic in the highway bill that let the Department of Transportation issue $400 million in bonds. Which it did. Which the conservative Republicans immediately took from the highway fund and will use it to help pay for the tax cuts. That plus prior transfers during Gov. Brownback’s term brings their raids on highway funds to $1.6 billion. Watch 'em do it some more, then brag about low taxes.
The Empire Stikes Out: “Today the purpose of US foreign policy is to support the complex that we have created in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war. ... It’s never been about altruism, it’s about sheer power.” Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, US Army Retired.
More Than Meets The Eye: Support for Donald Trump is probably six to ten points higher than the published polls claim, because a lot of well-educated middle class foks support him but are embarrassed to admit it to pollsters. They've already bought their "Don't Blame Me.... " bumper stickers.
Four Coins In A Fountain: A month ago the Italian government "rescued" four smallish banks with a €4bn rescue infusion conditioned on the bondholders and shareholders losing their investments. Exactly what should have been done in the US, but in the US the bondholders run the government's financial regulators, so that was never on the table. Italy claims they acted then rather than in January because then EU rules would forced the government to confiscate money from over a million savers before touching the bondholders, which tells you who runs Europe, too.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:59 AM
Monday, December 21, 2015
If we really wanted to change, we already would have.
Wayback Machine: Turns out that Juniper Networks, which provides encrypted networking and communications for the US government has been secretly and successfully hacked for three years. The hackers were good enough to defeat security systems and to change the security logs to erase their presence. No one knows what, or how much, was stolen. The usual suspects (China, Russia) are suspected, but it might have been some kid in Bayone, NJ. They don't know. Might as well have been using Hillary's email server.
Decoder Ring: The US military has upwards of 60 secret bases strung across Africa from which it operates drones neutralizing (sounds better than just 'killing') a growing jihadist presence in the "theater of operations". Or killing fields...
Fealty: At the UN, 177 countries voted to support Palestinians' right of self-determination. Israel/United States, several minor US dependencies, and Canada voted against the basic right of people to chose their own governments. To back it up the US is giving Israel $3.1 billion a year to keep the Palestinians in their place, soon to be raised to $5 billion, while Netanyahu threatened to strip 230,000 Palestinians of the right to live in Jerusalem.
What's Shaking? A 4.6 magnitude earthquake in northeastern British Columbia last August has been attributed to fracking, making it the largest fracking-induced earthquake on record. So far.
Follies: Macedonia's Lake Ohrid, the most biodiverse lake of its size in the world and home to 350 novel species, is going to be paved over so tourists can be flown in and fleeced. New Zealand has opened 3000 square kilometers of a marine sanctuary set aside for the critically endangered Maui dolphin for seismic blasting and exploratory drilling by the oil industry in search of even more surplus fossil fuels. The toxic mud from the dam burst by minng giants BHP Billiton and Vale SA's joint venture Samarco has reached the Atlantic off Brazil. A court, ruling that Samarco does not have the financial resources to pay for even a small part of the damage, has frozen the assets of the parent companies. To show its commitment to slowing global warming before we make the entire world uninhabitable, the US has pledged to spend almost as much on saving civilization as it gives to each of five separate for-profit pretend college.
Repeat After Me: There have been no, none, zero terror attacks in the United States by individuals who had been radicalized via social media.
Remember The Deficit: Republicans, in their rush to fund all their owners' pet projects, went on a half-trillion dollar spending spree of unpaid-for-tax cuts for the 1% as part of the goodie-packed spending bill. When it comes to tax cuts for the rich, deficits don't matter. Now about all that frivolous spending on Social Security and education...
Priorities: After a 23 year-old Army private wrote a letter opposing the government's plans for mass deportation of American citizens who had chosen the wrong parents, he was spied on by military intelligence and the FBI for the next 20 years. When he died, the Bureau's file on legendary folk singer Pete Seeger was over 1,800 pages long - 90 of which are still classified.
As Sure As Night Follows Day: In case you haven't been paying attention to US cities, Middle Eastern wars and the global refugee problem, let us point out that social upheaval and gross inequality often, perhaps always, lead to extreme right-wing political dominance. And we're not just talking France.
Porn O'Graph: Separate but equal.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:00 AM
Saturday, December 19, 2015
The world changes very slowly. Usually.
Stop, Thief! The Sanders campaign was not caught hacking into the Clinton campaign's data. Period, but not end of story. Sanders and Clinton use the same firm to store their voter data. It is not segregated or protected by a real firewall, for the supposed firewall often isn't there. A Sanders kid noticed this and wondered how far into Clinton's data he could browse (not hack, no hacking involved, just ask and it was given), for he knew that the Clinton campaign (and other users of the same computer database for all he knew) could dothe same to Sanders' data. Then he told the Sanders senior people, who then told the Clinton people about their joint vulnerability. So naturally the Clinton people attacked Sanders and had Sanders locked out of his own data. And told the press. They didn't tell the press that such a lousy firewall was either incompetent or intentional. They also didn't note that owner of the company started with the Clintons back in 1992.
Yes, But: Two days after pledging in front of the world to work to free the UK energy system from the curse of carbon, the government is cutting subsidies for roof-top solar panels by 65%.
Know Thy Enemy: The big problem our Orwellian masters have in watching over us is that they don't know what they are watching for - they've never caught a terrorist from intercepting email, phone metadata, social media or other communications, monitoring credit card purchases or any of the other things that DHS and the NSA get up to. The would-be terrorists are pretty much like you and me, and only the most stupid would actually wave a black flag and say "Come and get me!" So they'll go on watching us 24/7 and shifting through four or five years of our travel and shopping habits and Facebook friends, all in real time - for all 310 million of us - and pretend they are keeping us safe. But they are not. They do not know what they are doing. That's why they claim we must accept limits on speech.
True Or False: The unprecedented drought in Syria has destroyed crops, killed livestock and arguably has displaced as many people as the various revolts against the Assad government. Is this, in large part, the result of global warming? And if so,is it a preview of the full length feature soon to be coming to the neighborhood?
White Noise: A day after Janet Yellen pronounced the patient cured, Caterpillar reported the 36th consecutive month without an increase in annual retail sales. The Kansas City Fed reports that new orders have fallen the most y/y since 2008. And the Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index has fallen back to December 2014 levels, including the fifth consecutive month of contraction in backlog orders.
Turkish troops have bombarded two Kurdish towns in southeastern
Turkey and President Erdogan said the objective was to "annihilate"
the Kurds. And then deny it ever happened.
Greed 101: The headline asks why a hedge fund would spend nearly $300 million to take over a non-profit hospital, which must remain non-profit. Simple: They will charge the hospital outrageous management fees, force it to use suppliers they get a cut from, farm out collections to a subsidiary, give themselves huge salaries and, in a couple of years, sell it off, piece by piece. And so on. Oh, and lower wages.
Nose/Face: You can't get there from here; there being NY and here being London and you being an Israeli with a ticket on Kuwait Airways, which abandoned the route rather than let dirty filthy Jews board their pretty little airplanes.
Place Your Bets: The people who uncovered the VW deceits say that their data suggests that BMW and Mercedes played similar games with emissions testing. The auto makers denied the allegations
said that if it turned out to be true it was the work of some very
low-level engineers they hired from you know who.
Freedom From The Press: The omnibus pork and porridge bill includes (along with lots of other gifts to various of the 1%) a sweet little provision that prohibits the SEC and the IRS from forcing companies to let their shareholders (you know, the folks who own the company) know how much money they have spent bribing various politicians.
Porn O'Graph: Intemperatures.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:37 AM
Friday, December 18, 2015
The rich, too, are permanent fixtures.
The Doctors Said: The Fed has decided to hike interest rates in order to put a brake on economic growth. Really. And to ward off fuller employment and out of control wage demands (those without a job are doing their part to boost the economy, really. Ask Janet.). It seems the Fed doesn't read the Wall Street Journal's commodity price reports. Or Yellen and company are sure that the current world-wide depressed commodities prices are not signaling a general collapse of demand, precursor to another deep recession. "The rate hikes will continue until morale improves."
Memo: Last month was the warmest November on record, 1.05ºC above the 1951-1980 average, and halfway to the 'magic' 2ºC the politicians are going to ward off with chants and pronouncements. That makes two in a row, for October was also 1ºC above the baseline average.
Exhibit A: Martin Shkreli, who has just been arrested for doing what every investment banker on Wall Street does, has pissed everyone off again, this time by raising the price of benznidazole, a treatment for Chagas disease (which mostly affects Latin Americans) by about 100,000 percent. Hey, he's just being a good capitalist. If he's overpriced his goods he won't make a profit. Let the boy be. Or do something about capitalism's crimes.
Asked & Answered: Is the Great Recession gone for good? Nah.
Sublimation: Back in 2012, Colombia's Ecopetrol was valued at $136.7 billion. Today it is worth (?) perhaps $14.5 billion. That's what'll happen if the price of oil drops dramatically and you don't find any anyway. Question: Where did the $100 billion or so go, or did it ever exist and how much is your retirement fund worth?
Leaning Indicators: The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook for December notes that “price data are beginning to turn deeply negative, at minus 9.8 for inputs and minus 8.7 for final goods — the latter an indication of weakening demand.” “The data for [sea shipping containers] remains soft with the rolling averages remaining in contraction...” It goes on to note that “contracting imports historically is a recession marker.” And the Baltic Dry Index has reached another record low.
Scrooge: Denmark is looking to hire several thousand former Auscwitz guards to search through refugees' belongings and confiscate any jewelry and other valuables they may find - iPhones, pictures of Donald Trump and the like. Women may keep up to 5 pair of underpants and three bras, as long as they didn't come from Victoria's Secret.
Porn O'Graph: We're making history.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:23 AM
Thursday, December 17, 2015
The answer often depends on how the question was asked; 'Would you like to get married?' for example.
What's It All About, Alfie? The Fed announced it would move the federal funds rate up 25 basis points to 0.25% and 0.50%, on its way to 1.35% by the end of 2016, because of the imminent threat of
Oh, right; because the economy is doing so well. Elsewhere, US
industrial production dropped 0.6% in November, the biggest drop
in over three years, manufacturing employment and workweek were "the
worst since 2009." Homebuilders around the nation reported
activity". Globally, the number of container ships laid up
soon break 2009's all-time record. Hope this wasn't "a
mistake that will be difficult to correct" on the part of
Wheedling and Dealing: In an attempt to get Obama to include "side deals" for tobacco and big pharma in the TTP, Republicans are threatening to delay consideration of this piece of Obama's legacy until after the 2016 elections.
Safety First: The Department of Homeland Security (and the NSA, but that's a different complaint) monitors Americans' use of social media, but the State Department is too busy to check those same sites for posting by visa applicants.
Let's Play War! Turkey has detained 27 Russian commercial ships in retaliation for the 8 Turkish ships the Russians had detained in the Black Sea.
The Worst of The Worst: Ever wonder how the Bush administration decided who were the worst of the worst, those who needed to be held indefinitely in Guantanamo, and how they were captured? Turns out that 22 of these villains were religious refugees fleeing China who were turned into the US Military by Afghans who wanted the huge rewards the US was paying for candidates for torture and incarceration. After being held for years with no charges, they were finally let go. Makes one proud of our Justice system that their innocence finally prevailed.
Honor Guard: Republicans in Ohio want to require that any fetal remains from an abortion be buried or cremated, with the cost born by the abortion provider and presumably passed on to the patient.
Automatic Defrost Cycle: The ground temperature at the top of the permafrost on Alaska's North Slope has been rapidly rising, from 17.6ºF in 1988 to 28.5ºF toady. At the current rate of increase the permafrost will soon become the permathaw.
As I Was Saying... "When credit expansion gets ahead of productivity and the production of goods, services and income that support all borrowing, the only possible result is a repricing of debt, risk, collateral and assets–that is, a crash. The global central banks have pushed that repricing forward seven years by lowering interest rates to near-zero (or less than zero), enabling borrowers to add more debt even though their incomes have stagnated or declined. But enabling more debt does not reverse supply-demand imbalances or create income out of thin air. As a result, piling on more debt is not a solution... the eventual repricing will be even more severe because the debt load is now so much larger." Charles Hugh Smith.
Progress: 71% of Americans now accept that mass shootings are "just a normal part" of life in the United States. Stay warm.
Protecting and Self-Serving: Police unions in Chicago are fighting for the right to destroy decades of police records of misconduct and disciplinary investigations before they can be made public. They are afraid such disclosure might sully their good name.
As Is: “A Saudi millionaire was cleared of raping a teenager after telling the court that he might have accidentally penetrated the 18-year-old when he tripped and fell.” Repeatedly.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:13 AM
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Memory is a liar and a thief.
Preview: This week, the US government will take action to slow the economy and prevent wage growth. Imagine Obama announcing a tax that that would raise the price of borrowing money for every new mortgage and car loan, increase the cost of building new schools, and jack up the costs of business expansion and explaining that the need for the increase was to slow the pace of job formation, keep wages down and further undercut those unfortunate enough to have to work for a living. That's what the Fed is going to do.
En Passant: Air temperatures in the Arctic have reached 2.3ºF above average (1.3ºC), a 115 year high. Actually, it may be a several thousand of year high, but records only go back so far. “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
Comment: Japan and South Korea have agreed on a ten-year plan to build 61 new coal plants. It's part of their fight against global warming under terms of the Paris Agreement signed last week.
Even Steven: Investigations have revealed that the US “consistently overlooked killings and torture” by Shi'ite militias sponsored by the Iraqi government. Which is only fair, for the Iraqi's kept mum about the atrocities the Americans were regularly committing around the country.
Quoted: "There is more oversight in seafood to protect dolphins than there is to protect humans." And we don't enslave all that many dolphins, either.
Cruzing Along: “ Everyone who knows Ted Cruz well hates him.” That's part of the attraction to his hard core supporters – they know what it's like to be despised. He is the entrenched darling of the evangelicals and they run the Republican primaries in enough places and with enough fervor to push their way onto the center stage. Trump is hamming it up, playing to the crowds. Cruz is a believer.
Note To Janet: The BLS reports that the CPI-U was unchanged in November M/M and had grown 0.5% Y/Y – and that's the hyperinflation the Fed is going to save us from.
Panic Attack! Los Angeles in what "may have been an overreaction” to an email most likely sent by a high school nerd who wanted the day off, shut down all of its schools on Tuesday. NY's police commissioner said the city's schools had received a similar email threat but found it was not credible. Where's Orson Wells when you need him?
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:21 AM
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Remember 2007? Not soon enough, I'd wager.
The Wheels On The Bus: Six years of free money from the fed fed a mindless search for returns that built up a junk bond market that is now unraveling. Exhibit one are the dozens of con artists and true believers who issued billions in junk bonds to frack for oil that wasn't profitable at $80 a barrel and is suicidal at $37 a barrel – they'll make interesting wallpaper one day soon. But lots of corporations away from the oil patch jumped into the bond business to finance non-productive borrowing, much of which will turn out to be ephemera, too. Profits without products is a form of Ponzi scheme and like all Ponzi's this one is coming undone.
Exhibit one was Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund which suddenly announced that it would no longer let investors get their money back... for a while. That was followed by similar announcements by a couple of hedge funds, Stone Lion Capital Partners and LionEye Capital, and Lucidus Capital Partners, another high-yield bond fund.
How Much How Soon? Moody’s values the high-yield bond market at $1.8 trillion – double the $990 billion in 2008 as the bottom fell out the last time. The question is not “will the collapse of these bonds spread to the entire bond market, to stocks, to real estate?” But how far will the damage spread, how quickly. With commodities crashing (natural gas has joined petroleum and coal in the surplus surpluses ring) a global, er, decline seems most likely. Pray we don't get Yellen on the TV assuring us that there won't be any “systemic contagion this time.”
- - - - - / / / / - - - -
Noted: In a story about explosives found buried in a clearing in a wooded area near Fort Leonard Wood, MO was a line about it being near “where a man was spotted by a trail camera,,,” A trail camera? So much for escaping to nature.
Saving Face: On Wednesday the Fed will raise its interest rate for the first time in nine years. This is not necessary and certainly is not indicated by wages pushing inflation. It is necessary to save Janet Yelen's face. So be it. Let's hope it is not 1937 all over again, but if watching the financial/economic circus teaches us that lessons are never learned. Enjoy.
90 Day Warranty ? The Navy's newest combat ship, the $362 million USS Milwaukee, 20 days into its first sea trials suffered a “complete loss of propulsion” and lay dead in the water. It is being towed back to port. I hope we kept the receipt.
Plunder: The head of the World Coal Association says its members should be the first at the trough, gobbling up clobal warming funds to develop “carbon capture and storage” - a process that has never worked worked except as pretense to let coal mining continue.
Regulatory Humor: Several days late “SEC commission staff” is on site at the ailing Third Avenue Focused Credit offices and is “closely monitoring the situation.” They are there to help “ensure... an orderly process that best protects investors.”
Porn O'Graph: How high is up going to be?
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:51 AM
Monday, December 14, 2015
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow: The Paris Agreement is a marvelous congregation of empty phrases: it is only a"partly legally binding" commitment to publicly plan to cut carbon emissions - and not to actually cut them. It is like saying you are going on a diet and the check back in five years to see how it's going. Or else. Or else what? Face public shame, along with the other 190+ countries that will also fail to live up to their carbon diet plans? Except for those who don't plan on dieting, like India... and the US, faced with Republican fantasies.
The signatories will "strive" to peak global carbon emissions "as soon as possible", and to keep global warming to 2ºC or maybe 1.5ºC by 2100 even though all the empty promises guarantee a 2.8ºC rise by then. Minimum. And reaching 5ºC pretty soon after, as various feedbacks kick in.
Little substantive will happen until 2020, while clear deadlines for specific targets are generally absent. "The text is vague on the overall ambition: it does not specify a date for the peaking of emissions, and specifies only that reductions should lead towards “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality” in the “second half of the century”.
Then there's the $100 billion a year in aid to developing countries to help them adjust to drowning. That's going to start in 2020, but quite who is in for how much remains to be settled.
There is absolutely nothing in this glorious victory that will actually address global warming. On purpose.
To actually address global warming on an effective time scale would require $16.5 trillion - most of which would be stolen by those in power and those behind those in power. But this is not a problem because the debt-saddled world cannot come up with such sums.
But none of this is going to happen. Exxon and the Saudis are not going gently into oblivion. Nor will Russia, Iran and all the Barons on Wall Street who have hundreds of billions tied up in the fossil fuel energy complex. If fossil fuels must be left in the ground, who gets left holding the bag on the billions, maybe trillions in bonds? Bailouts?
If this actual serious steps are to be taken to reduce the rise in global carbon emissions, the US must be an active leader; but the Republicans who control Congress are intentional know-nothings, who will block any attempt to cut emissions by crying "jobs, profits, economy" while kissing the Koch Brothers' rings.
Just this week Jeb! Bush suggested Congress eliminate the Obama administration’s regulation of carbon pollution, as a threat to jobs and profits.
Perhaps most telling is the fact that Canada is banning single-use plastic bags - a petroleum product - starting in 2018. If it takes a relatively environmentally sensitive country three years to do away with plastic bags, how long before we can outlaw air travel, gasoline and petro-profits?
The biggest omission in addressing a curtailing of emissions is any discussion of a global effort to reduce the population as quickly as possible. That there is no discussion of cutting the living standards of Americans, Europeans and other developed countries by 75 to 90% within a few decades is another indication of how hollow the exercise has been..
Global warming is a profit opportunity. Companies will line up to take public monies to do nothing. Other companies will figure out how to profit from protecting rich cities from disaster while letting island nations and third world seacoast cities slowly sink - the photos will make great promotional literature.
Only a global government with an effective and transparent global reach could solve this problem and, like the emissions cuts under the COP21 Paris Agreement, it ain't gonna happen.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:12 AM