Thursday , November 15 2018
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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/12/2018

3 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I am finishing up a post on the California wildfires, so talk amongst yourselves. –lambert
But here’s a conversation starter, since the 2020 campaign season has already begun:
“Ex-Clinton aide: Hillary will run again in 2020” [The Hill].
Penn, a frequent contributor to The Hill, co-wrote a Sunday op-ed for The Wall Street Journal with Andrew Stein, a former Democratic Manhattan borough president and president of the New York City Council. (Stein is the brother of James Finkelstein, chairman and CEO of The Hill.)
“You can expect her to run for president once again,” [Penn and Stein] predicted. “Maybe not at first, when the legions of Senate Democrats make their announcements, but definitely by the time the primaries are in full swing.”
“She

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Jackpot? A Round-Up of This Season’s California Wildfires (So Far)

3 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Last week, there were three (major) California wildfires in the news: The Hill Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California, and the Camp and Woolsey fires in Southern California, which are still burning, not entirely contained. Here is a map:

And here is a shot of the Woolsey Fire from space:

Impressive. (To add to the stress for Southern Californians, the fires are a only a few miles from the bar where the Thousand Oaks shooting took place.) Wildfires — not all of which are forest fires — are “compound events,” “a combination of interacting physical processes that occur across multiple spatial and temporal scales.” The mother of all compound events is, of course, science fiction author William Gibson’s notional Jackpot, with which

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Links 11/12/18

3 days ago

Led by Tribal Scientists, Montana’s Trumpeter Swan Revival Is a Triumph Audobon Society
Florida’s monarch butterfly population takes a tumble Science News
Amazon’s Endangered Species: World Culture Popula
How the Farm Bureau’s Climate Agenda Is Failing Its Farmers Inside Climate News
Permian Drillers Prepare To Go Into Overdrive In 2019 Oilprice.com
In race to fill LNG supply gap, project goalposts have changed Reuters
Wells Fargo says its promises to restore consumer trust were just ‘puffery.’ But they look more like lies Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
After Protest, Booksellers Are Victorious Against Amazon Subsidiary NYT
Jury delivers $25.5 million ‘statement’ to Aetna to change its ways CNN
Brexit

May races to revive Brexit plan as pressure mounts FT
The UK’s financial services

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Stationary Bandits, State capacity, and the Malthusian Transition: The Lasting Impact of the Taiping Rebellion

3 days ago

Lambert here: Makes our own Civil War look like a blip. However, at least some of the conclusions seem to be borne out for our Civil War, too: Increase in state capacity, for example.
By Lixin Colin Xu, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank, and Li Yang, Postdoc, Paris School of Economics. Originally published at VoxEU.
The Taiping Rebellion, from 1851 to 1864, was the deadliest civil war in history. This column provides evidence that this cataclysmic event significantly shaped China’s Malthusian transition and long-term development that followed, especially in areas where the experiences that stemmed from the rebellion led to better property rights, stronger local fiscal capacity, and rule by leaders with longer-term governance horizons.
How do civil wars shape a

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Links 11/11/18

4 days ago

Entire cities evacuate as hellish wildfires whip through California Grist
Save the Climate, Eat Less Red Meat Bloomberg
What is the financialisation of food and why should we care? Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute
Using No-Till this Fall USDA (!).
Cobalt’s supply shock a painful warning to carmakers FT
Inside the Crazy Corruption Scandal That Ensnared Leonardo DiCaprio and the Hollywood Elite Daily Beast
7-Eleven accused of weaponizing ICE raids to shed troublesome franchisees Boing Boing
Social media growth is over in the U.S. — which is its most valuable market Recode
New study claims Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are linked to depression MarketWatch
The inside story of Quanttus, a failed health tech start-up whose alumns are now health leaders at Apple, Amazon, Alphabet

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Did Fossil Fuel Firms Completely Dominate Climate Change Issues on the 2018 Ballot?

4 days ago

Lambert here: No! Although they tried.
By Eve Andrews, who writes Ask Umbra, Grist’s civic advice vertical. Originally published at Grist.
Midterm elections are overwhelming and filled with wild questions: Who made these districts? Are people really going to vote for candidates who have been indicted for federal crimes? What is Delaware???
At Grist, we ask questions like this every election cycle while keeping tabs on the performance of environmental and climate issues — and those likely to advocate for them. With the midterms now more or less over, it’s clear that it wasn’t a banner evening for climate action.
Unprecedented spending by the fossil-fuel industry proved effective in defeating climate-friendly ballot initiatives in several western states. But there were a couple pro-climate

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/9/2018

6 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
2020

“Bernie Sanders Opens Up About New Democrats in Congress, Taking on Trumpism” [Rolling Stone]. Sanders: “I absolutely believe that from day one, the Democrats in the House have got to come out with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working people. And that leads to — as you know, the Medicare-for-all bill I introduced, which is to be implemented over four years, lowers the eligibility age from 65 to 55, covers all of the children, and lowers the cost of prescription drugs. My guess is that about 80-percent of the American people would support a proposal like that. It’s wildly popular. And that’s what the Democrats

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Links 11/9/18

6 days ago

Neonicotinoid exposure impairs social behavior of bees, affecting colony health Amerian Association for the Advancement of Science. Only bees, I’m sure.
Drone caused bears distress in viral video, researchers say CBC
Lloyd Blankfein Was the Unidentified Goldman Executive Present at 2009 1MDB Meeting Bloomberg
UBS accused of causing billions in investor losses FT
Crypto Finance for the Masses: Not Without My Bank Finews
Manchester City Exposed: Chapter 4: A Global Empire Der Spiegel
In news that will shock absolutely no one, America’s cellphone networks throttle vids, strangle rival Skype The Register
Syraqistan

EXCLUSIVE: UK spy agencies knew source of false Iraq war intelligence was tortured Middle East Eye
Failed dream of political Islam Le Monde Diplomatique
Brexit

Brexiteers fear

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/8/2018

7 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
2020

UPDATE “Beto’s consolation prize: Running for president” [Politico]. “Another tall and lanky politician, Abraham Lincoln, ran for president and won after losing two campaigns for Senate.” • Squeeee!
UPDATE “Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer become kingmakers for Democrats as both billionaires mull a 2020 run” [CNBC]. It would be very nice if Trump were not only “the first billionaire President,” but also the last.
“Exit Polls Show Suburbs as Likely 2020 Battlefield” [RealClearPolitics]. “One of the biggest shifts in suburban voting patterns involves married women. In 2016, for the first time since exit polling began in 1980,

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/7/2018

8 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, I’ll devote today’s Water Cooler to some hot takes on yesterday’s fascinating results, sufficient at least to serve as conversation starters. We can’t do detailed analysis without doing serious work at the district level, and we also have to understand the exit polls, and especially the money flows, which are so complex and convoluted it takes experts like Thomas Ferguson and his team months and years to figure them out. So herewith, the following seven quick and verysketchy points:
(1) The hype that failed
Russia, Russia, Russia. For two solid years, that’s what we heard, every day, every medium, every orifice. Come the midterms, the Democrats fall silent. “Exit Polls: Majority Say Russia Probe ‘Politically Motivated’.” You don’t say!
Blue Wave.

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2018 Election Night Live Blog/Open Thread

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Let me get the pain out of the way right away and make my call: Republicans keep the Senate; Democrats win the House, with a margin closer to 23 than 30. There. I’ll explain my reasoning on the House, such as it is, in a bit. On the Senate, I’m just going with conventional wisdom. But first, via USA Today, polls that have not yet closed, as of 9:00PM EST:
Alaska: 8 p.m. (midnight and 1 a.m. Wednesday EST))California: 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EST)Montana: 8 p.m. (10 p.m. EST)Nevada: 7 p.m. (10 p.m. EST)Oregon: All voting is done by mail and must be received by 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EST)Utah: 8 p.m. (10 p.m. EST)Washington state: All voting is done by mail, and ballots must be received by 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EST)

So those of you in the above states who wish to vote and have

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/6/2018

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient Readers,
We’ll be running a live blog on the 2018 election starting at 9:00PM EST. Be there or be square!
* * *
Trade
“The Trade War Inside the Democratic Party” [Foreign Policy]. “Plenty of lawmakers have asked the administration for more clarity on what its strategy entails, including plans to ensure that the tariffs on China don’t hamstring U.S. exporters. But that doesn’t mean a Democratic House will be in any hurry to force the administration’s hand on the China trade war. Both Democrats and Republicans have grown increasingly alarmed at what they see as Beijing’s state-driven economy that threatens U.S. jobs and continues to steal U.S. technology and ideas. ‘The anti-China sentiment has grown so strong. The only direction it could move would

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Links 11/6/18

9 days ago

Scientists say mysterious ‘Oumuamua’ object could be an alien spacecraft NBC (original). NASA on Oumuamua. So they took one look, and fled?
Ozone layer finally healing after damage caused by aerosols, UN says Guardian
Climate Change Likely to Increase Frequency of Extreme Summer Weather From “Stuck” Jet Stream Patterns Jeff Masters, Weather Underground
Scientists Develop Liquid Fuel That Can Store The Sun’s Energy For Up to 18 Years Science Alert (DL). Ten years to commercial release, however.
US Supreme Court allows historic kids’ climate lawsuit to go forward Nature
Autopilot makes driver reactions up to three times slower – study CarAdvice
Goldman Sachs has serious questions to answer FT. 1MDB.
Brexit

Big Short’s Eisman Is Shorting Two U.K. Banks on Brexit Bloomberg (UserFriendly).

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/5/2018

10 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, sorry for the excitement, but we are back up. –lambert 3:44PM
Trade
“Will the new trade deal prevent Mexican trucks from entering the U.S.?” [Freight Waves]. “While most of the deal is an update to NAFTA, there is a paragraph inserted into the agreement that could disrupt cross-border trade via truck…. While the section doesn’t implicitly state that the U.S. would halt the current cross-border trucking program, which allows approved Mexican-based carriers to operate outside the current commercialized zone along the border, it does seem to suggest that the U.S. could end the controversial program if it chooses. That would be a departure from where the two nation’s stand and a win for the Teamsters and other anti-Mexican trucking groups. There is

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/2/2018

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I’m sorry I hit the submit button a minute or two late — two days in a row! I think I’ll add a few more items because I got started late. –lambert.
Trade
“Third-Quarter Data Shows Record U.S. Trade Deficits During Trump Presidency” [Eyes on Trade]. “Government data released today reveals the highest U.S. goods trade deficit in a decade for the first three-quarters of 2018, contradicting President Donald Trump’s midterm campaign trail triumphalism on trade. During Trump’s presidency, the U.S. trade deficit with China has risen to the highest ever recorded, while the deficits with the world and with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) nations have steadily grown, reaching nine-month levels in 2018 higher than any year since before the

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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/1/2018

14 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Politics
2020

The unsayable:

Bernie Sanders drenched in sweat after giving his third speech of the day. "Brothers and sisters, you are not living in a democracy; you are living in an oligarchy." pic.twitter.com/oXMq5lbd8T
— RevoltPolitic (@RevoltPolitic) October 30, 2018

2018

4 days until Election Day, next Tuesday. Too late, I think, for any game-changing events. Even this year.
“For Handicapping Midterm Races, Old Rules May No Longer Apply” [Inside Elections]. “Because undecideds break disproportionately to the challenger, any incumbent who is winning by a point or is in a dead heat in the final 10 days of a campaign ought to be an underdog in the election. That’s why handicappers view incumbents who are ahead 44 percent to 43

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/31/2018

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.Trade
“China Manufacturing PMI Worsens in October as Trade War Bites” [Industry Week]. “An official gauge of activity in China’s manufacturing sector worsened in October as the effects of an ongoing trade war with the U.S. hit home. The manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 50.2 this month from 50.8 in September, missing the median prediction of 50.6 in a Bloomberg survey of forecasters. The non-manufacturing PMI, which reflects activity in the construction and services sectors, also worsened to 53.9 from September’s 54.9 reading. A level of 50 marks the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The government this month introduced a raft of measures to stabilize sentiment, adding to steps to boost liquidity in the financial system, tax

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Links 10/31/18

15 days ago

Neanderthals were upright individuals, skeleton proves Telegraph (KW).
Mountain birds on ‘escalator to extinction’ as planet warms AP (allan).
As Prairies Get Plowed for Biofuels, Greens Demand EPA Act Bloomberg
Best Way to Fight Climate Change? Put an Honest Price on Carbon Editorial Board, NYT. A Pigovian tax.
What if We’re All Coming Back? Michelle Alexander, NYT. “Rather than imagining a scenario in which we’re entirely ignorant of what the future holds, perhaps we ought to imagine that we, personally, will be born again into the world that we are creating today through our collective and individual choices.”
The Global Economy’s Three Games Jean Pisani-Ferry, Project Syndicate
Private equity: Apollo’s lucrative but controversial bet on insurance FT
Commentary Human element is still

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/30/2018

16 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Politics
2020

“Team Clinton says there’s no way Hillary’s running again” [The Hill] • But would she accept a nomination by acclamation?

2018

6 days until Election Day, next Tuesday. Too late, I think, for any game-changing events.
“One Week Out, Six Rating Changes” [Dave Wasserman, Cook Political Report]. Changes: AR-02: Hill – Lean R to Likely R →CA-01: LaMalfa – Solid R to Likely R ←; CA-22: Nunes – Solid R to Likely R ←; FL-18: Mast – Likely R to Lean R ←; IA-04: King – Likely R to Lean R ←; OH-01: Chabot – Toss Up to Lean R →. 4 to blue, 2 to red. Note, however, that none of the shifts to blue actually move the district into the D column; says Mr. Counter-suggestible: “[T]he Democrats need to do more than shift districts; they need to win them.”

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Links 10/30/18

16 days ago

“Schrödinger’s Bacterium” Could Be a Quantum Biology Milestone Scientific American. Science is popping!
Gut microbes alter the walking activity of fruit flies Nature
Humanity has wiped out 60% of animals since 1970, major report finds Guardian
Pension Funds Point Finger at Lobbyists of Polluting Companies Bloomberg
Unions helped write Washington’s carbon fee initiative. Some also want to sink it. McClatchy
Red-hot leveraged loan market draws regulatory heat FT
4 questions ahead of Fed proposal to overhaul regional bank rules American Banker
Wisconsin’s $4.1 billion Foxconn factory boondoggle The Verge
Brexit

UK chancellor eyes Brexit boost — as long as there’s a deal Politico
How the Irish border became Brexit’s defining issue FT
Australia is the latest country whose banks are planning to

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/29/2018

17 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, today’s Water Cooler will be randomly thin, because I was finishing up another worksheet on the midterms. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert
Politics
2020

“Hillary Clinton’s curious comments about 2020” [Washington Post]. “If you’ve completely shut the door and you don’t want people to keep thinking it’s even a slight possibility, though, it was a curious response.” • The very reverse of a Sherman statement.

2018

“Republicans Rushing to Save House Seats From Onslaught of Democratic Money” [New York Times]. “As the 2018 midterm campaign enters its final full week, House Republicans are rushing to fortify their defenses in conservative-leaning districts they thought were secure, pouring millions of dollars into a last-minute bid to build a

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Worksheet for the 2018 Midterms (Composition of Democratic Party Electeds, the DCCC, and the DCCC vs. Our Revolution)

17 days ago

“Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Today I want to look at some topics that came to my mind when I was working through the last midterms worksheet, “Worksheet for the 2018 Midterms (If There Is a Blue Wave, What Next for Democrats?).” All these topics concern the Democrat Party as an institution, and pertain whether 2018’s Blue Wave breaks far up on the beach (~50 seats, a possibility Democrat strategists are now discounting), breaks on the beach (23+ seats, giving control of the House to the Democrats), or breaks short of the beach (all House candidates, but those 80 that handicappers felt would be “in play” at the start of the primary season. Those 80, it seemed to me, is where the liberal Democratic

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Links 10/29/18

17 days ago

Record Low Water Levels Are Causing Chaos in Germany Weather.com
The great Himalayan thaw Nepali Times
Changing climate forces desperate Guatemalans to migrate National Geographic
Science can succeed on climate change where politics fails FT. I think we should put this dude in charge of the Irish Border problem. He seems qualified.
IBM Buying Open Source Specialist Red Hat for $34 Billion Wired
From today, it’s OK in the US to thwart DRM to repair your stuff – if you keep the tools a secret Register. Caveats to the recent DRM ruling.
Paul Volcker sets a challenge for the next generation FT
Syraqistan
Khashoggi BOMBSHELL: Britain ‘KNEW of kidnap plot and BEGGED Saudi Arabia to abort plans’ Express (Furzy Mouse).
Despite PR duress, Saudi $6bn to Pakistan comes with strings Asia Times (KW).

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Contagion in the European CoCos Market

17 days ago

Lambert here: Our own Richard Smith, in “A suspicious sniff at CoCos” from 2011 (!) defines CoCos:
CoCos are interest bearing instruments that convert, mandatorily, into common equity, when some capital-related trigger is breached; the idea is that banks are automatically and mechanically recapitalised as their capital is eroded by the latest daft lending fad, runs are averted, and all is well with the world.

Takes a stroll through what the financial markets will actually do:
Groovy: CoCo hedging sets off a shorting binge, which sets off a run. File that under ‘unintended consequences’.
And after looking at the kludges to avoid such consequences, concludes:
All that nice automatic recapitalisation we thought we were getting is now qualified by making the instrument more complex, or by

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Links 10/27/18

18 days ago

If I stop eating meat, will it really help climate change? Asian Correspondent. Perhaps it is best to begin by thinking of meat as a condiment.
Defensible Space Boston Review. Megafires in the Pacific Northwest
Battles begin to turn in long war on TB Medical Express (CL).
We May Now Have the Tools to End AIDS. All That’s Needed Is the Will. Bloomberg
Strong GDP growth, weak fundamentals Econbrowser
The U.S. Secretly Halted JPMorgan’s Growth for Years Bloomberg. Secret law is not law.
The Fed needs better rules. This Democratic bill is a start. The Week (DK).
On Maximizing Employment, a Case for Caution Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal Nature. Oh, great. Localization for moral choices in robot car software. What will the

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Mark Ames: ShamiWitness: When Bellingcat and Neocons Collaborated With The Most Influential ISIS Propagandist On Twitter

18 days ago

By Mark Ames, author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast. Subscribe to Radio War Nerd on Patreon.

Who remembers @ShamiWitness? At the peak of ISIS’s power, @ShamiWitness stood out as the genocidal militia group’s “most influential Twitter account” according to a Channel 4 exposé and a Kings College report. The @ShamiWitness account was followed by some two-thirds of foreign jihadis. But it went further than propogandizing Islamic State’s massacres and rapes: @Shamiwitness also actively recruited foreign jihadis and helped lead them through the ratlines in Turkey, into the ISIS killing fields in Syria and Iraq, as a George Washington University report revealed this year.
But I want to talk

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Video: An intro to MMT, as presented at September’s International MMT Conference in NYC

18 days ago

By Naked Capitalism reader and contributor Jeff Epstein, aka aliteralmind. Jeff is a progressive writer and podcaster with Citizens’ Media TV (on Facebook and Twitter). He ran on the ballot with Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary and was a pledged delegate for him at the DNC. Jeff just "Dem-entered," winning a write-in campaign for Democratic County Committee, and currently spends much of his time introducing MMT to anyone who will listen.
I presented this MMT-101 (Modern Monetary Theory) lesson at the Second Annual International MMT Conference (#MMTConf18), held on September 28-30 of this year and hosted by the Modern Money Network at The New School in New York City. I gave this presentation informally over lunch on all three days of the conference, as a representative of

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Links 10/27/18

19 days ago

Change in singing behavior of humpback whales caused by shipping noise PLOS One
U.S. Stocks Slump on Tech Worries WSJ
US economic growth tops forecasts FT
FBI investigating whether Tesla misstated Model 3 production numbers Autoblog (EM).
Why Private Equity Is Furious Over a Paper in a Dermatology Journal NYT
The regime change for global markets is just beginning FT
Janet Yellen on Trump, Fed politics and nurturing recovery FT. “Nurturing.”
China?

The Chinese century is well under way Economist
Abe’s foreign-worker plan spurs protests in Japan’s ruling party Nikkei Asian Review
Trudeau’s Human Stimulus Helps Canada Match Trump’s Tax Cuts Bloomberg
Syraqistan

Khashoggi killing: as Saudi turns to China, for MbS it’s business as usual South China Morning Post
New Cold War

What To Expect

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/26/2018

20 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
“A group of influential WTO members say the global trading body needs urgent attention and will meet again in January to continue efforts. Plus, top officials at a U.S. business group are urging China to lay out a plan to spur a deal with Trump, while retailers urge Trump to find a long-term solution with China that’s not tariffs” [Politico]. “A group of 13 trade ministers left a daylong meeting in Ottawa on Thursday with one united message: The situation at the World Trade Organization is ‘no longer sustainable.’ Influential WTO members — including Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan — agreed to meet again in January as part of a continued effort to reform the global trading body. The leaders identified three areas ‘requiring urgent

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/25/2018

21 days ago

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1608 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, more original reporting.
Lambert here: We’re coming down the home stretch for this year’s fundraiser, and original reporting is one of the biggest things that makes NC, well, original. So don’t miss out! And remember that you can always pay it forward for those who, because of their circumstances, are unable to give! As my priest used to say, back in the day when I was an Episcopalian,

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