Thursday , November 21 2019
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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/20/2019

6 hours ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, more in a bit. I got a late start, and then got wrapped around the axle on the latest impeachment stuff. –lambert UPDATE All done!
Hat tip to alert reader Wukchumni for the capsule summary of pilot episode for the new FOX TV Series OK, Boomer, and to other readers for subsequent ingenious down-thread elaborations. That was fun! I think we only got as far as Episode 2, however. Those inspired, see thread… –lambert
Trade
“Asian Trade Bellwethers Just Reminded Us the Worst Isn’t Over” [Bloomberg]. “If the world economy is stabilizing as some analysts suggest and many investors are betting, a couple of Asia’s biggest exporters didn’t get the memo. Shipments of goods from Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, suffered their largest drop in

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/19/2019

1 day ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
“Global Shipment Giant Reckons Worst Is Over for Trade, Brexit” [Bloomberg]. “The worst may now be over for global trade as tensions over Brexit and the U.S.-China relationship show signs of easing, according to a key freight industry executive. ‘Brexit naturally slows everyone down in making decisions, but it will get resolved in the space of three to four months,’ John Pearson, who runs the worldwide DHL Express operations of Deutsche Post AG, said in an interview. ‘There is a positive mood within the China-U.S. trade relationship, that’s a fact. I’m not anticipating it to get any worse.’” • We’ll see!
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon

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Links 11/19/19

2 days ago

Traffic nightmare: Bizarre fire, crash close I-5 lanes near Lakewood for nearly 13 hours Seattle Times. The best lead I’m seen in a long time:
The morning commute on Interstate 5 near Lakewood was thwarted Monday morning by an unlikely series of events involving shrimp, cheesecake, a burning semitruck, and an SUV that crashed into multiple emergency-response vehicles while fleeing law enforcement.
What dullard wrote that headline, though? Needs to be “CITY’S BIGGEST CAKE MIX-UP!!“-class, and isn’t.
Facebook’s fake numbers problem FT. Addressed by NC back in July. See “Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s Fake Accounts Ponzi Scheme.”
Google requested a trove of documents from the Texas attorney general’s antitrust probe CNN
Sydney Air Quality at Hazardous Levels as Wildfires Rage AP
Climate Change

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2:00PM Water Cooler Special: Warren’s #MedicareForAll Transition Plan Is Set Up to Fail

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers will remember[1] that when Warren released her “pay for” plan, I wrote:

There are two big problems with Warren’s “plan” (A) the “head tax,” and (B) dependencies….
(B) Dependencies. Warren, to “pay for” #MedicareForAll, is going to have to ramp up IRS enforcement (remember how popular the mandate was?), pass immigration reform, and take away a slush fund from the Pentagon. In politics, as in programming, “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren’t there.” If you really want #MedicareForAll to pass, why create a combinatorial explosion, a veritable hairball of political problems that will get in the way of its passing?

Third, the transition period. From Warren’s white paper:

Of course, moving to this kind of system

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/18/2019

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, normally I’d fill in the Politics section a little bit more, but I need to go in to complete a second Water Cooler mini-post, “Warren’s #MedicareForAll Transition Plan Is Set Up to Fail” in what I hope will be an hour or so. –lambert UPDATE All done.
Trade
“The Case Is Only Growing for an Economic Forever War” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has become a bigger, broader economic forever war. It’s hard to look ahead and see any outcome that undermines that emerging reality. A “phase one” deal may be in what U.S. officials say is its messy end stages. But that deal, if it comes, will be partial and more ceasefire than game changer. It also doesn’t mean a larger peace is nigh. Moreover, there are three live truths

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/15/2019

5 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I’ll have more in a bit. I overslept! –lambert UPDATE All done!
Trade
“China Lifts Ban on U.S. Poultry Even as Farm Buys Bog Down Talks” [AgWeb]. “China lifted its four-year-old ban on U.S. poultry shipments, a small sign of trade-deal progress at a time when agriculture purchases have become a sticking point in negotiations…. At its peak, the annual value of poultry exports from the U.S. to China was $71 million for turkey and $722 million for chicken, the groups said.”
Politics
“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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just

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Links 11/15/19

6 days ago

Cows swept off island during Hurricane Dorian found after swimming for miles Guardian
A Million Geysers of Plasma Spout from the Sun, and Scientists May Finally Know Why Space.com
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales launches Twitter and Facebook rival FT
How Amazon’s quest for more, cheaper products has resulted in a flea market of fakes WaPo. “Despite Amazon’s algorithms designed to detect fakes, shoppers can type the phrase ‘YSL dupe’ into the site’s search bar and find knockoff handbags with Yves Saint Laurent’s logo.” Of course, the WSJ broke this story back in September.
Amazon suing Pentagon over $10B cloud contract, alleging ‘bias’ Politico
Uber Hit With $650 Million Employment Tax Bill in New Jersey (3) Bloomberg Law
NTSB Investigation Into Deadly Uber Self-Driving Car Crash Reveals

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/14/2019

6 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
“Trade talks between the U.S. and China are hitting a snag over farm purchases. The dispute over agricultural products hits at a sector that has been central to the trans-Pacific trade war. …[I]t’s now created another obstacle as Beijing and Washington try to lock down the limited trade deal President Trump has outlined” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mr. Trump has said China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion in U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products annually. But China is leery of a precise numerical commitment in a potential agreement, and Beijing also wants to have a way out should trade tensions escalate again.”
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

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Links 11/14/19

7 days ago

Shelter cat put in solitary confinement for ‘repeatedly’ letting other cats out The Mirror. Good kitty!
His 22-pound cat was too fat to fly. So he called in an understudy. Seattle Times
Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal The Hill
Next in Google’s Quest for Consumer Dominance: Banking WSJ. Clive comments:
As usual, you have to read half way through to find out what’s really being proposed by Google, in terms of a product or service offer. The answer to which is “nothing”.
“Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system,” Caesar Sengupta, Google’s general manager of payments [said]”
Apart from a splitting an infinitive, what does “partner deeply” mean from a product or service proposition? So Google offers, potentially, a native-level

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2019

7 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient reader, impeachment has eaten the world, so I’ll be adding a bit more on the candidates in a bit. Thanks to readers who are describing what’s happening on the ground in their own states.–lambert UPDATE All done!
Trade
“Retailers say they are moving furniture sourcing from China to non-tariffed countries and using new financing plans with customers… even as many companies say they are struggling to cope with the higher costs” [Wall Street Journal]. “…China was the top furniture exporter to the U.S. last year but shipments from there declined 30% from September 2018 to September 2019… while furniture imports from Vietnam increased 51%. A separate solution hasn’t taken hold, however: Industrial-production data shows no spike in U.S. furniture

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/12/2019

8 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, thank you very much for your comments yesterday, many very funny, when, on Veterans Day, I mistakenly posted a Water Cooler template instead of an actual Water Cooler. I had thought I pushed not only the title, but the scheduled posting date, up one day. Oopsie! –lambert
Trade
“A 14.1% decline in loaded container imports into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in October is the starkest sign yet of the roller-coaster ride underway at shipping docks, as a rush to import goods ahead of new tariffs gives way to a pre-holiday slowdown while retailers burn off stockpiled inventories. The figures from Southern California were among the first on shipping volumes following a new round of U.S. tariffs on China-made goods in September that brought

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Billionaire Entryism: Prospects and Problems for Mayor “Mike” Bloomberg’s Presidential Run

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
There certainly are rather a lot of political engaged Democrat billionaire wannabe Presidents: Starbucks’ Howard Schultz (memorably, a “person of means“) who flirted with running, Tom Steyer (of the oddly poor personnel choices), who actually is, and now Mike “Mayor for Life” Bloomberg. From Town and Country:
Back in March of this year, billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he did not plan to run for president in 2020…. “I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.” He appears to be having second thoughts about that last statement. Friday afternoon, Bloomberg submitted paperwork and qualified for the Alabama Democratic primary, which has an early filing deadline.
So,

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/2019

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, since I have published this post — as you can see from the URL, I didn’t intend to — here is something I do when I post on Veteran’s Day:
An etching from Goya’s Los desastres de la guerra.

Modo de volar (Way to fly), 1816–1823
* * *
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 and coral 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.

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Links 11/11/19

10 days ago

Invasive grasses increase fire occurrence and frequency across US ecoregions PNAS
How Tech From Australia Could Prevent California Wildfires and PG&E Blackouts IEEE Spectrum
This is not normal: what’s different about the NSW mega fires Sydney Morning Herald
How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong NYT. “Few thought it would arrive so quickly.”
Exploring East Antarctica and Its Role in Climate: A First-Hand Report Weather Underground
Global Warming Is Already Destroying New England’s Fisheries The New Republic (UserFriendly).
Coca-Cola is world’s largest plastic polluter for second year straight NY Post
McKinsey Faces Criminal Inquiry Over Bankruptcy Case Conduct NYT
Bolivia

Bolivia President Evo Morales announces resignation Deutsche Welle
MSM Adamantly Avoids The Word “Coup” In Bolivia

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How The iPhone Widens the US Trade Deficit With China: The Case Of The iPhone X

10 days ago

Lambert: I like the approach of calculating value-add from tear-downs. Nothing on software, though.
By Yuqing Xing, Professor of Economics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo. Originally published at VoxEU.
In order to pursue ‘fair trade’, the Trump administration has imposed a punitive 25% tariff on $250 billion’s worth of Chinese goods. However, conventional trade statistics greatly exaggerate the US trade deficit with China. This column uses the iPhone as an example to demonstrate how the trade deficit is inflated and why value-added should be used to assess the bilateral trade balance. If multinational enterprises, including Apple, shift part of their value chains out of China, China may no longer play a central role in global value chains targeting the US

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Electronic Voting Machine Debacle Continues in 2019, Setting Dangerous Precedent for 2020

10 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
As readers know, I’m a strong advocate of hand-marked paper ballots (HMPB), hand-counted in public (HMPB-CP), and we’ve periodically written on this topic at NC; see HMPB-CP in Quebec (2012), paper ballots in India (2016), a review of the literaure (2018), Virginia’s return to paper ballots (2017), “ballot marking devices” and corruption when electronic voting machines are chosen (2019), and problems with the “cyber” approach to elections (2020).
Now a Bloomberg article, “Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks,” gives me the chance to review the condition of our election macninery in 2019. Bloomberg is suitably appalled by the choice of voting machines, but a little wide-eyed and naive about the local officials making those choices,

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Links 11/10/19

11 days ago

Drunk Birds Displaying Strange Behaviour In Reykjavik The Reykjavik Grapevine
Bad dog? Think twice before yelling, experts say Science
Fed can no longer ignore the economic ‘shocks’ of climate change, Brainard says MarketWatch (Re Silc).
The Rise of Nationalism After the Fall of the Berlin Wall George Soros, Project Syndicate
Brexit

Brexit: The long hard road to a future relationship RTE
Brexit: horns of a dilemma EU Referendum
John Bercow: ‘I do not believe Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic’ GQ-UK
Spain votes in repeat general election amid Catalonia tensions Agence France Presse
Mexican government says it is concerned about situation in Bolivia Reuters. See also here, here, and here.
No Evidence That Bolivian Election Results Were Affected by Irregularities or Fraud, Statistical Analysis

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As New York Takes Exxon to Court, Big Oil’s Strategy Against Climate Lawsuits Is Slowly Unveiled

11 days ago

By Dan Zegart, a freelance investigative journalist who writes frequently on legal subjects for Climate Investigations Center. Originally published at DeSmogBlog.
Last week, in a historic first, the former CEO of a major oil company took the witness stand in a New York City courtroom and spent four hours defending his company against charges that it misled investors about the potential impact of global warming on its viability as a business.
Rex Tillerson, who led ExxonMobil from 2006 until the end of 2016 when he became U.S. secretary of state, was grilled by an attorney for the New York State attorney general for allegedly participating in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” by Exxon to fool investors. More specifically, the company is charged with exaggerating the stringency of its

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/8/2019

12 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, with both Bloomberg and impeachment, I’m a little overloaded, so I’ll have a bit more quite shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!
Trade
“Shutterstock Employees Fight Company’s New Chinese Search Blacklist” [The Intercept]. “The publicly traded company built a $639 million-per-year business on the strength of its vast — sometimes comically vast — catalog of images depicting virtually anything a blogger or advertiser could imagine. The company now does business in more than 150 countries. But in China, there is now a very small, very significant gap in Shutterstock’s offerings. In early September, Shutterstock engineers were given a new goal: The creation of a search blacklist that would wipe from query results images associated with keywords

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/7/2019

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
“China says it has agreed with U.S. to cancel tariffs in phases” [CBC]. “China and the United States have agreed to cancel in phases the tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said Thursday without specifying a timetable. An interim U.S.-China trade deal is widely expected to include a U.S. pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion US worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys. Tariff cancellation was an important condition for any agreement, ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said, adding that both must simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods to reach a ‘phase one’ trade deal. ‘The trade war started with tariffs, and should end with the

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/6/2019

14 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, so much happened in Politics over the weekend and then Tuesday that I have to do a bit of a pantry clearout (and since I think by writing, I have to do this. More coming. –lambert
Trade
“Farmers are really milking China’s growing appetite for dairy. A surprising surge in Chinese demand is helping shore up global prices and giving producers some relief after years of low returns and regional milk gluts…. Cream and cheese are creeping into Chinese diets, accelerating demand for products such as milk powder for use in infant formula and other foods” [Wall Street Journal]. “[China’s w]hole-milk powder imports rose 23% in the first eight months of 2019, when China imported roughly a third more skim-milk powder and cream. That’s benefiting big

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Links 11/6/19

15 days ago

Measles Wipes Your Immune System’s ‘Memory,’ So It Can’t Fight Other Infections LiveScience
The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken Ray Dalio, LinkedIn
Dregs of financial crisis today’s jewels: Pimco Reuters
There is one way forward on climate change Martin Wolf, FT
Who Will Save the Paris Agreement? Foreign Policy
Wall Street increasingly weighs risk from climate change Reuters
Mayors of Sacramento, Elk Grove join coalition of CA officials seeking ‘customer-owned’ PG&E Sacramento Bee
Brexit

The 2019 general election battleground constituencies FT
Jo Swinson ‘absolutely categorically’ rules out working with Corbyn even to deliver new Brexit referendum Independent
Singapore-on-Thames? London’s City mulls post-Brexit future Agence France Presse
Uninhabited mansions of London’s

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/5/2019

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
“China’s design for the electric-vehicle battery supply chain is anything but complicated. Beijing has been pressuring foreign auto makers to use locally-made batteries in the country, and that business is increasingly funneled through a single manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., or CATL. …[T]he aggressive effort is aimed at dominating global supply chains for the burgeoning market to supply the power to the world’s growing fleet of electric cars, buses and commercial vehicles” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a concern for U.S. and European policy makers, who are increasingly wary of the Communist Party’s influence over new technologies and products. China has also been seeking to lock up much of the world’s supply chain for cobalt, a

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Links 11/5/19

16 days ago

The 1-ton ‘Wizard Rock’ has magically returned to an Arizona national forest CNN
The Universe Might Be a Giant Loop Live Science (Nature). Which explains our news cycle.
State Pirates in the Dock The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal. This story was broken by The Blog That Must Not Be Named™ in 2017.
U.S. moves closer to withdrawing from Paris climate pact Science
Arctic islands 8 degrees warmer than normal Barents Observer
What the climate’s ‘new normal’ is doing to Lake Superior MinnPost (CL).
People who make at least $100K benefit most from this tax break. That’s one reason it’s in trouble McClatchy. For EVs.
Democrats’ Baffling Blind Spot On Cars HuffPo
Lead levels in Canadian water ‘exceed safe limit’ in a third of cases BBC. From an enormous collaborative project by Concordia’s

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/4/2019

16 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, forgive me for being slightly late; the mini-essay straightening out TAP on Warren’s plan took a little more time than I expected, and then I had a technical glitch. I always accumulate too many bright shiny objects of the weekend, and I’ll include more of them soon. –lambert UPDATE All done. In fact, I have a ton more, but it will have to wait ’til tomorrow.
Politics
“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

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 11/4/2019,

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Elizabeth Warren Releases #MedicareForAll “Pay For” Plan, with “No New Taxes” on the “Middle Class”

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of CorrenteThis morning, Elizabeth Warren, after pressure from the press and some candidates in the last Presidential debate, released her “plan” to pay for #MedicareForAll. KHN’s Morning Briefing (“Warren’s $52T Plan To Pay For ‘Medicare For All’ Leans Heavily On Employer Taxes, Avoids Increase For Middle Class“) covers the explosion of coverage, and summarizes Warren’s “plan”:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released her plan for “Medicare for All” Friday, after facing criticism for not detailing how she would pay for the overhaul to the health system. It would require the federal government to absorb $20.5 trillion in new spending, but Warren says that the middle class will not see “one penny” in tax hikes. She plans to carry over almost all existing health funding

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/1/2019

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Warren has released her #MedicareForAll plan. I’ll have a post up shortly. –lambert
Politics
“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

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 11/1/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

I’m using the results from the last national poll, YouGov, as of 11/1/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

A new Iowa state poll is out, also as of 11/1/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg climbing into contention, then Biden. The results:

Here is an explainer on the Iowa poll from

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Neoliberalism Tells Us We’re Selfish Souls – How Can We Promote Other Identities?

19 days ago

Lambert here: Not sure the soul is an identity, but authors don’t write the headlines. Read on!
By Christine Berry, a freelance researcher and writer and was previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation. She has also worked at ShareAction and in the House of Commons. Originally published at Open Democracy.
“Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul.” Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it. Carys Hughes and Jim Cranshaw’s opening article poses a crucial challenge to the left in this respect. It is too easy to tell ourselves a story about the long reign of neoliberalism that is peopled solely with all-powerful elites imposing their will on the oppressed masses.

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Links 11/1/19

20 days ago

Unraveling the Secret Origins of an AmazonBasics Battery OneZero
The powerful forces reshaping America’s capital markets FT
Dan Rasmussen: The Private Equity Boom is Risk for Main Street The Reformed Broker
‘Not on my list’: private California firms fight fires, raise concerns Agence France Presse
German court dismisses climate change challenge to Merkel Deutsche Welle
Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn sets campaign tone by targeting rich individuals FT
There’s been a surge of young people registering to vote in the past 24 hours CNN (dk).
Brutal attack sends shockwaves through Irish borders FT
Toxic regulations, not the fire brigade, are to blame for the Grenfell deaths The Spectator. C’mon, man.
Syraqistan

Russia, the Indispensable Nation in the Middle East Foreign Affairs. The Blob lost. Let the

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/31/2019

20 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
While U.S.-China trade tensions weighed on results at Hasbro Inc., rival Mattel Inc. saw a sharp jump in quarterly profit and says looming levies on Chinese goods including toys had minimal impact on its bottom line” [Wall Street Journal]. “Many retailers agreed to buy Mattel’s products in China rather than ask the toy maker to import them to the U.S. and store them in warehouses stateside. The company says it also has less exposure to trade tensions than some because less than two-thirds of its products sold in the U.S. are imported from China, compared with the industry average of 85%. Over at Hasbro, retailers canceled direct import orders and required the toy maker to import the products themselves, adding to shipping and inventory costs.

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