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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Trade “Trade Woes Push IMF Global Growth Outlook to Decade-Low of 3%” [Bloomberg].”The International Monetary Fund made a fifth-straight cut to its 2019 global growth forecast, citing a broad deceleration across the world’s largest economies as trade tensions undermine the expansion…. The forecast for this year would be the weakest since 2009, when the world economy shrank, as the fund chopped projections from the U.S. and Europe to China and India.” “China is giving the U.S. a taste of its own medicine” [The Week]. “[I]f the country we’re entangled with has a lot of leverage, they can force us to behave in ways we otherwise might not, and would really prefer not to. The thing is, if you’re pretty much any country other than the United States — especially a

Lambert Strether considers the following as important: ,

This could be interesting, too:

Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 9/16/2020

Yves Smith writes Demonizing Socialism and “Macroeconomic Populism”: Myths of Soft Budget Constraints

Lambert Strether writes Links 9/16/2020

Yves Smith writes Isolation, Addiction, and Drug Use in the Covid-19 Moment

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trade Woes Push IMF Global Growth Outlook to Decade-Low of 3%” [Bloomberg].”The International Monetary Fund made a fifth-straight cut to its 2019 global growth forecast, citing a broad deceleration across the world’s largest economies as trade tensions undermine the expansion…. The forecast for this year would be the weakest since 2009, when the world economy shrank, as the fund chopped projections from the U.S. and Europe to China and India.”

“China is giving the U.S. a taste of its own medicine” [The Week]. “[I]f the country we’re entangled with has a lot of leverage, they can force us to behave in ways we otherwise might not, and would really prefer not to. The thing is, if you’re pretty much any country other than the United States — especially a poorer or developing country — you already knew this. Because for decades, the U.S. has been doing to the world what China is currently trying to do to us.” • Payback is a b*tch….


“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

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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 Updated: 10/15/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2019

Loveable Joe Biden still cruising along as the brutally effective politician we alll know we is. Sanders’ heart attack doesn’t look like it’s caused him to lose support (though it may set a ceiling on it; tonight’s debate may give the first indication). Warren slips a bit; I see a lot of negative stuff about her among the extremely online, though I don’t think that’s very good proxy for whatever’s out there in the biomass. And here are the poll results:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2019

(I used Sunday’s polls because of Morning Consult’s huge sample.)

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

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Readers, there is another Democrat Presidential debate tonight. I will open the Live Blog at 7:30PM.

Biden (D)(1): “U.S.-China Trade Will Never Be the Same” [Bloomberg]. “From China’s point of view, a victory by former Vice President Joe Biden would almost certainly be the best outcome. Biden comes from the Clinton/Obama faction of the Democratic Party that has usually viewed free trade and cooperation with China as preferable to competition and confrontation. Biden has explicitly dismissed the threat of Chinese competition, laughing at the notion that “China is going to eat our lunch.” And he has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s trade war with China. A Biden victory probably would result in a substantial reversal and repudiation of Trump’s tariffs.”

Buttigeig (D)(1):

Way to insult every small donor out there, McKinsey dude.

Gabbard (D)(1): “CNN panel stunned after Bakari Sellers calls Tulsi Gabbard ‘a puppet for the Russian government'” [Raw Story]. • Another RussiaGate brain casualty…

Gabbard (D)(2): “Tulsi Gabbard Wants A New Job. A Primary Challenger Wants Her Current One.” [HuffPo]. • Wowsers, I thought the DCCC didn’t allow challengers to incumbents.

Warren (D)(1): This should make big donors happy:

I’m with Bernie on Medicare for All” My Sweet Aunt Fanny. (Note that Reid got Warren her first big job in Washington, for the TARP Congressional Oversight Commission.

Warren (D)(2): This should make big donors happy, too:

To be fair, this photo comes from the New York Times here; the caption is “literature on her policy proposals cover a wall,” so I can’t be sure that the lower part of the wall isn’t cropped out, with the Medicare for All folder buried way down at the bottom.

Warren (D)(3): This should make big donors happy, also too:

Who doesn’t love them some trickle down economics? Or “non-binding pledges”?

Warren (D)(4): “Ashlee Marie Preston, Warren campaign trans rep, apologizes for old bigoted tweets” [Blade]. • Poor vetting by staff.

Yang (D)(1): “Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s quixotic U.S. presidential campaign gets serious” [Reuters]. “Now Yang’s campaign, which began in 2017 but has seen its fortunes rise sharply in recent months, is rushing to catch up with rivals. He stands near 3% in the latest public opinion polls, putting him in sixth place in the 19-candidate field ahead of numerous sitting lawmakers. His $10 million fundraising haul in the third quarter was the sixth-most among Democrats and more than triple his total for the second quarter. Most importantly, he continues to inspire a fervent following known as the Yang Gang, supporters who wear blue “MATH” hats – a tribute to Yang’s devotion to data that has since become an acronym for “Make America Think Harder” – and revel in his “nerdy” campaign. When Yang promised to become the first president to use PowerPoint in a State of the Union address, the Las Vegas crowd chanted, “PowerPoint! PowerPoint!'” • PowerPoint?! N-o-o-o-o…. (See Edward Tufte, “The Cognitive Style Of Powerpoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within.”)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How the DCCC’s “Blacklist” Could Blow Up in the Democratic Establishment’s Face” [In These Times].”Now that Newman has replaced her staff, she’s months into a high-stakes fight against an eight-term incumbent whose last name is practically synonymous with the Chicago machine. Whether or not she pulls out a victory will serve as a barometer not only for the momentum behind the Democratic Party’s ascendant left flank, but for just how much the party establishment will stand in its way.” • Maybe. If Emily’s List is backing Lipinski, she’s hardly on the left.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

Marketing: “”Aspirational realness,” the Instagram cool-girl look, disguises advertising as authenticity” [Quartz]. “‘It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured,’ one teen told [The Atlantic’s Taylor] Lorenz.”

Shipping: “The trucking industry’s search for new drivers is starting to change the look of the sector’s workforce. The number of female truckers increased by 68% since 2010 to 234,234 in 2018… an increase that some trucking experts say has been boosted by the promise of equal pay for men and women behind the wheel” [Wall Street Journal]. “Women still account for just 6.6% of truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations, and they still confront big concerns over safety and harassment in the field. But compensation based on a per mile, hourly or other measure is generally seen as equal for men and women, which helps in recruiting in a business that has trouble luring new workers in a tight labor market. That’s critical for trucking companies as they reach out beyond the industry’s traditional demographics to replace an aging workforce.”

The Bezzle: “Why NASA’s Annoyed About Elon Musk’s Giant Rocket” [LiveScience]. “SpaceX has never flown a person into space in its Crew Dragon, its first crew-capable spacecraft. But already the company is showing off its much bigger, much shinier cousin: the Starship, built in Boca Chica, a coastal village at the southeastern tip of Texas, as part of a plan to carry giant crews into deep space. And NASA’s administrator is bristling. That’s because, even though the Crew Dragon — which consists of a capsule for carrying cargo and crew into space on top of a Falcon 9 rocket — is still very much in the works, it’s well behind schedule. Awarded a NASA contract in 2014, SpaceX initially said it would deliver an operational vehicle that astronauts could fly in by 2017. But that still hasn’t happened.”

The Bezzle: “Driverless cars are stuck in a jam” [The Economist]. “Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary widely seen as the industry leader, committed itself to launching a driverless-taxi service in Phoenix, where it has been testing its cars, at the end of 2018. The plan has been a damp squib. Only part of the city is covered; only approved users can take part. Phoenix’s wide, sun-soaked streets are some of the easiest to drive on anywhere in the world; even so, Waymo’s cars have human safety drivers behind the wheel, just in case.” • And that photo. So many EVs and robot cards have these lozenge-like rounded bodies that are meant to look harmless and friendly. It makes me want to take a baseball bat to them and smask them up.


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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 42, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 15 at 11:11am.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Drug Abuse. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t affected the Index.

The Biosphere

“Massive California power outage triggers chaos in science labs” [Nature (Re Silc)]. “Jessica Lyons, a molecular biologist at Berkeley, says that each lab in her building has a single outlet that is connected to an emergency power system. The main freezer in Lyons’ lab, which keeps specimens at –80 °C, is plugged into that outlet. Lyons and her colleagues stocked the lab’s other freezers with dry ice on 8 October after being warned of the impending outage.” • While string theorists move right along…

“Scientists’ Declaration of Support for Non-Violent Direct Action Against Government Inaction Over the Climate and Ecological Emergency” [GoogleDocs]. “As scientists, we have an obligation that extends beyond merely describing and understanding the natural world to taking an active part in helping to protect it. We note that the scientific community has already tried all conventional methods to draw attention to the crisis. We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and nonviolent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law. We therefore support those who are rising up peacefully against governments around the world that are failing to act proportionately to the scale of the crisis. We believe it is our moral duty to act now, and we urge other scientists to join us in helping to protect humanity’s only home.” • Looks like over 900 signatories…

“Land Without Bread” [The Baffler]. “The loosely defined proposal for a Green New Deal hits the panic button, American-style, but it does not exactly lay a cornerstone. Which is to say that it avoids prickly issues of land use—generally reserved for states and localities that regularly do battle with sacrosanct private property rights. Yet the choices we make about our land are foundational to any future we construct, low-carbon or otherwise. It has always been so. Just ask the pre-Columbian indigenous peoples, the slaveholders and their human property, the “settlers,” the railroad barons, and the policy architects of postwar suburbanization and urban disinvestment. And consider the fact that sprawling suburban development devoured nearly 31 million acres of agricultural land—cropland, woodlands, pasture, and range land—between 1992 and 2012 alone, according to a 2018 report by American Farmland Trust (AFT). That is an area almost as large as New York State. More than a third of that conversion, 11 million acres, took place on prime farmland blessed with the world’s richest soil. That is an area roughly the size of California’s Central Valley. Protecting such land, and doing so in an equitable manner, is critical not only to our future food supply but also to mitigating and adapting to climate change.” • Excellent point.

Health Care

“Medicaid’s Dark Secret” [The Atlantic]. “Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are expected to repay the government for many medical expenses—and states will seize houses and other assets after those recipients die in order to satisfy the debt.” • Horror story follows. And who do we have to thank for Medicaid asset seizure? You’ll never guess: “Bill clinton signed the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program into law as part of his deficit-reduction act in 1993. Previously, states had the right to seek repayment for Medicaid debts; the new law made it mandatory.” • And see NC, way back in 2014, here, here, and here. Naturally, nothing has been done.

Quick, let’s call those bright young people who did the ObamaCare “Tech Surge” and have them fix it:

I dunno though, maybe there’s no point fixing software that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

For those who really love their insurance company:

I think this is a brilliant, innovative proposal. Set up Potemkin Care, and if people want somebody to lose their paperwork and put them on hold, they’ll still have that option!


“Fortnite Chapter 2 is live, exploring a whole new world” [Rock Paper Shotgun]. “After being swallowed by a black hole, Fortnite has now returned as Fortnite Chapter 2. Month. That’s a month, Epic. Month takes the battle royale action to a whole new island, one which (so far) doesn’t bear the scars of two years of mystical and cataclysmic events. Month even adds fishing, which now makes Fortnite officially an RPG (sorry, I don’t make the rules). Along with a new island free of seasons of remnants, Month has streamlined the arsenal. Though then added more new weapons, like a Bandage Bazooka to heal pals. And you can upgrade weapons at upgrade benches. And the game now has swimming. And boats. And haystacks to hide in. And explosive barrels. And… a whole lot is new, okay, and we’re all still discovering it. Today’s patch notes simply say: ‘Added: Chapter 2. Take your #FirstDrop and discover everything new.'” • Pretty dry patch note?

The wheels of commerce keep turning:

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Alleged Japanese stalker studied reflection from photos of pop star’s pupils to find out where she lived” [Associated Press]. “A man arrested on suspicion of stalking a female pop idol used the reflections of her pupils in photos she shared on social media and Google Street View to find where she lived…. NHK and other media reported this week that details in the woman’s selfies were used to identify the train station she frequented. They said Sato looked at other images she shared, such as her apartment, to figure out where she lived….. [Tokyo Shimbun] also said people shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand because fingerprints could be stolen.” • No V-signs in Asian selfies? Unlikely. A technical fiix were would be something algos could do, I would think. Catchlights in eyes are already recognizable by software in auto-focus mode for portraits.

Groves of Academe

“Is a way-cool new entertainment district what Iowa State needs most?” [Des Moines Register]. • By Betteridge’s Law…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“What we know about Atatiana Jefferson, the woman killed by Fort Worth police in home” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]. “On Saturday at 2:30 a.m., Jefferson was playing Call of Duty with her 8-year-old nephew. Her neighbor called a non-emergency number to ask someone to check on the home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue because the front door was open, which he said was not normal. About three minutes later, two officers parked around the corner from the house, went into the backyard and, when Jefferson looked out the back window, one of them shot her.” • Not exactly The Most Dangerous Game, because the element of danger seems to be missing.

Guillotine Watch

“PG&E bankruptcy judge questions $11 million payment plan for top executives” [San Francisco Chronicle]. From August, still germane. “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali told a PG&E attorney that he took issue with the company’s argument that the payments were necessary to ‘appropriately incentivize’ 12 executives. He said the leaders should be motivated to perform well by virtue of their positions at the bankrupt company, which is responsible for wildfires that killed dozens of people and incinerated thousands of homes. ‘If they’re not incentivized enough, they ought to find another job, frankly,’ he said at a hearing in San Francisco.” • The prospect of being hanged is said to incentivize…

He didn’t deserve it:


Class Warfare

“The Best Economic News No One Wants to Talk About” [The Atlantic].

Let’s play a game of wish-casting.

Imagine a world where wage growth was truly stagnant only for workers in high-wage industries, such as medicine and consulting.

Imagine a labor market where earnings growth for low-wage workers, such as those who work in retail and restaurants, had doubled in the past five years.

Imagine an economy where wages for the poorest Americans were rising twice as fast as hourly earnings for high-wage earners.

It turns out that all three of those things are happening right now/. According to analysis by Nick Bunker, an economist with the jobs site Indeed, wage growth is currently strongest for workers in low-wage industries, such as clothing stores, supermarkets, amusement parks, and casinos. And earnings are growing most slowly in higher-wage industries, such as medical labs, law firms, and broadcasting and telecom companies.” • Hmm. If true, it’s due to the efforts of low-wage workers alone.

“Inequality is Literally Killing Us” [Counterpunch]. “‘The inequality of life expectancy,’ as economist Gabriel Zucman puts it, ‘is exploding in the U.S.’ The new GAO numbers ought to surprise no one. Over recent decades, a steady stream of studies have shown consistent links between rising inequality and shorter lifespans. The trends we see in the United States reflect similar dynamics worldwide, wherever income and wealth are concentrating. The more unequal a society becomes, the less healthy the society. On the other hand, the nations with the narrowest gaps between rich and poor turn out to have the longest lifespans. And the people living shorter lives don’t just include poorer people. Middle-income people in deeply unequal societies live shorter lives than middle-income people in more equal societies.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

“How GM Pits Younger Workers Against Older Workers” [Payday Report]. “Kevin is a 62-year-old General Motors employee who pushes a 300-pound cart with spare parts to provide support to workers on the assembly line. ‘There is a lot of joint pain from twisting and moving carts around. It’s hard to stop once you get in motion, so your ankles are sore, your feet are sore from twisting,’ says Kevin, who declined to give his last name. ‘I am at the age where you start to have arthritic type concerns just naturally because of aging, so it’s a lot harder for the older guys than the 21-year-old guys just starting out in the job,’ says Kevin. ‘They don’t feel the pain yet, but what they don’t know that once they abuse themselves to that point, there is no going back.‘ As a result, Kevin says that younger employees, particularly temporary employees hoping to make permanent status, are often willing to work faster and cut corners on safety to impress supervisors.” • Two-tier needs to be destroyed where found (including in Social Security).

“The Radical Guidebook Embraced by Google Workers and Uber Drivers” [New York Times]. “[Views of striking workers,] based on century-old ideas, did not emerge in a vacuum. It can be traced in part to a book called “Labor Law for the Rank and Filer,” which many Googlers had read and discussed. Its authors are a longtime labor historian, Staughton Lynd, and an organizer, Daniel Gross. They identify with a strain of unionism popularized in the early 1900s by the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labor group known as the Wobblies that defined itself in opposition to mainstream trade unions…. And Googlers aren’t the only ones who have drawn inspiration from the book. Workers at the crowdfunding company Kickstarter, the site of a recent union campaign, have studied it. Organizers with one of the largest Uber driver groups say the ideas have influenced them as well.”• Solidarity unions v. business unions seems to be Lynd’s key distinction.

“After analyzing 3.5 million books, researchers learn most common adjectives used to describe men and women” [Boing Boing]. “Researchers at the University of Copenhagen analyzed 3.5 million English language books published between 1900 to 2008 to identify the adjectives most frequently applied to men and women. Unsurprisingly, women were described by their bodies and appearance and men were described by their thoughts and behavior. The World Economic Forum points out that computer algorithms that make important decisions about people’s lives were trained using much of the same data.” • “Death to the machines that think like men!”

News of the Wired

“Simone Biles surprised by her greatness: I really don’t know how I do it sometimes” [USA Today]. The headline makes Biles sound arrogant, but I think she’s matter-of-fact.

What a great map:


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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi 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. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Phil H):

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2019

Phil H writes: “Noting your concern over the possible lack of colorful Fall foliage this year, here is a possible substitute for the color-deprived: my Fall Cucumber. Left on the vine to mature seeds for next year’s garden, cucumbers bring a bit of seasonal gold. They are not quite as spectacular as, say, maple trees, but mark the time of year in their own humble & slightly rotund way.”

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2019

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