Financial news

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/11/2019

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Via Naked Capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, my brunch ran later than usual so this is light. I will add more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE All done!

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 around the corner:

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2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.

We have new YouGov and Emerson (Iowa) polls, as of 12/11/2019, 12:00 PM EST. Biden leads, Sanders strong second, Warren six points back, Buttigeig trailing (Bloomberg above the bottom feeders). This seems to be an established pattern (or, if you prefer, narrative). On to the next debate (December 19), and Iowa:

Here is the latest result, as of 12/11/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

Here is Emerson from Iowa, as of 12/11/2019, 12:00 PM EST: Buttigieg leading, Sanders closing, Biden still in the hunt, Warren fading.

Note the tiny and infrequent sampling, that Iowa voters are famously volatile, and caucuses are hard to poll.

CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest Buttigieg boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.

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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Bloomberg (D)(1): “Bloomberg denies trying to buy White House election” [BBC]. • Not the kind of headline a campaign likes to see.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Here Are the Lobbyists and Corporate Execs Collecting Checks for Pete Buttigieg” [ReadSludge]. I’ll start with the update: “Shortly after this article was published, the Buttigieg campaign announced it would release its bundlers names by the end of the week and allow press in fundraising events, confirmed by Senior Advisor for Communications Lis Smith.” • Which is good, and doesn’t prevent the bundlers listed here from being extremely unsavory.

Sanders (D)(1): “Don’t Think Sanders Can Win? You Don’t Understand His Campaign” [Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, New York Times]. “Mr. Sanders has reached the typically invisible, downwardly mobile working class with his language of “class warfare.” He has tapped into the anger and bitterness coursing through the lives of regular people who have found it increasingly impossible to make ends meet in this grossly unequal society…. Since Mr. Trump’s election, “class,” when it’s discussed at all, has been invoked for its hazy power to chart Mr. Trump’s rise and potential fall. Recall the endless analyses of poor and working-class white voters shortly after his election and the few examinations of poor and working-class people of color. But the Sanders campaign has become a powerful platform to amplify the experiences of this multiracial contingent. Under normal circumstances, . This has meant its support for Mr. Sanders’s candidacy has been hard to register in the mainstream coverage of the Democratic race. But these voters are crucial to understanding the resilience of the Sanders campaign, which has been fueled by small dollar donations from more than one million people, a feat none of his opponents has matched. Remarkably, he also has at least 130,000 recurring donors, some of whom make monthly contributions.” • Unsurprising, when you think about it. Of course the working class is multiracial. Far more so than the Democrat based in the 10%.

Sanders (D)(2): “Defense Industry Gives More To Bernie Than Any 2020 Candidate” [The American Conservative]. “Despite his frequent votes against defense bills, Senator Bernie Sanders has collected more presidential campaign contributions from defense industry sources than any other candidate, including Donald Trump. That’s according to data on 2020 funding at the OpenSecrets.org website, which is sponsored by the Center for Responsive Politics…. As of early December, Sanders had out-collected Trump $172,803 to $148,218 in defense industry contributions, a difference of 17 percent. And his margin had been growing in October and November…. Sanders also out-collected all of his Democratic rivals…. The implications for the relationship of defense industry contributors to Sanders and the others may, or may not, be everything you might assume. Defense industry PACs, and the corrupting influence they have over compliant politicians, are not the source of this money…. Instead, it all comes from what the OpenSecrets.org data show as “Individuals”… From OpenSecrets.org, it appears that Sanders has thousands of individual contributions from people who identified affiliations with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, though no donations appear to amount to the legal maximum, and most seem to be from engineers, technicians, and other non-management types.” • Nevertheless, industry influence is industry influence, and the writer brings up, as they ought, the basing of the F-35 in Vermont.

Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders is breaking barriers with young Latinos. Now he just needs them to vote” [CNN]. “Recent polling suggests that Sanders has a clear advantage with young Latino voters, who could, with even a modest growth in turnout, fundamentally alter the composition — racially and ideologically — of the Democratic electorate.” • This is so hilarious. For years, liberal Democrats have waited for demographics to do their work for them. Now Latinx voters have arrived — and Sanders is hijacking them with a policy-based appeal. And he doesn’t need to carry hot sauce in his purse or call himself mi abuelo!

Sanders (D)(4): “Grandpa Slacks Are The New Dad Jeans” [Elle]. “When you think of style icons, Bernie Sanders is probably low on your list. I’m not referencing campaign trail Bernie, with his hypebeast parka and sleek navy suit. I’m all about Bernie off-duty: the one who visits Ariana Grande concerts or walks around in stained button downs. His style should be dissected with the same fervor we approach female politicians. Feel the Bern, because at a second glance, his style is, looks at notes, cool. Canceling student debt is nice and all, but let’s praise his presidential crusade for the next it-pant: grandpa slacks.” • This here is what they call earned media. Next week: Hair styles.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): “The Trailer: What Nevada could mean for Bernie Sanders” [WaPo]. On the Weigel flight jacket incident (yesterday): “It was a warm moment, it led local news, and it grew organically from the Sanders strategy to win Nevada. The senator from Vermont has poured money into organizing, just like in other early states, with the campaign planning to hire its 100th Nevada staffer by this weekend. And just like in other early states, Sanders focuses his speeches on voters with something to lose…. more than Iowa or New Hampshire, it could prove whether the Sanders strategy is working at scale, ready to be expanded into the next 47 states.” • Nevada is Harry Reid’s patch, and Reid supports Warren. The Nevada press, aided by the local Democrat establishment, faked the chair-throwing incident at the state Democrat convention. And the Culinary Workers have concerns about #MedicareForAll vs. their union plans. So Nevada is no cakewalk for Sanders, despite his strong Latinx support.

Warren (D)(1): “ELIZABETH WARREN” [Indivisible]. “Elizabeth Warren is the top-scoring candidate on the scorecard because she’s got both a bold progressive vision for our country and the day-one democracy agenda we need to make that vision a reality. She also earns the top score for building grassroots power.” • Oh.

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UPDATE “Pete Buttigieg Is Disclosing His Bundlers. What About The Other 2020 Candidates?” [HuffPo]. “What about the many, many other remaining candidates competing for the right to challenge Donald Trump, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker? They’ve been radio silent on the issue, a sharp break from more than a decade of established practice. Every Democratic presidential nominee in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2016 elections disclosed their bundlers, meaning this year’s crop of candidates has taken a direct step backward on campaign finance transparency…. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren don’t engage in high-dollar fundraising, and thus don’t have bundlers. A few wealthy candidates outside the top tier ― former Rep. John Delaney, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman Tom Steyer ― are funding campaigns with millions of dollars of their own money.”

“How the New Primary Calendar Changes the Contest for Democrats” [New York Times]. “A variety of changes make the 2020 Democratic calendar more like a national primary. There are fewer caucuses and fewer election nights, and the primary season ends earlier. Increasingly, the calendar features a handful of big primary nights, each relatively representative of the country, at least compared with previous years…. Over all, 60 percent of delegates will be awarded by March 15. This is mainly because of California’s move to Super Tuesday, which comes just three days after the South Carolina primary.” • And Harris dropped out. What a shame.

Impeachment

I quoted Hamilton from Federalist 65 in comments here, but I quote it again to make an additional point

A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of , and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the , and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases .

This is prescient with regard to passions, but not with regard to institutions. RussiaGate, and now UkraineGate, are driven by the intelligence community, a political party, and the press (all of whom are interconnected through shared information and unshared secrets, through circulation, Flexnet-style, through these institutions, and by money (book deals, television appearances, even fundraising drives). These three institutions are most emphatically not part of the Constitutional order envisioned by the Framers, and yet they seem to have become co-equal branches of government, something Hamilton never envisaged.

“Trump, allies aim to delegitimize impeachment from the start” [Kansas City Star]. “[Trump’s allies] have belittled the impeachment process with mockery, schoolyard taunts and an unyielding insistence that Trump did not a single thing wrong. They have stonewalled, refusing to allow witnesses to testify; protested by declining to send their own lawyers to hearings; and dished out the ultimate Trumpian insult: calling the proceedings boring…. It’s a strategy borne of Trump’s instincts and informed by the results of polling and focus groups. The president and his allies believe the effort has been effective, especially when it comes to keeping independent voters skeptical of the process. It is also a reflection of the country’s increasingly polarized political environment… America First Policies, a nonprofit backing Trump’s policies, for instance, conducted focus groups early in the process that focused specifically on independent voters who might be open to voting for Trump in 2020. Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for the group, said the sessions turned up frustration with Congress over endless investigations and not perusing bread-and-butter issues. Many people, she said, felt the impeachment inquiry was highly partisan — a sentiment reflected in polling data — and felt the whole endeavor was a waste of time and money, especially given the quickly-approaching 2020 election.” • Liberal Democrats: The voters are wrong!

UPDATE “Can We Impeach The FBI Now?” [The American Conservative]. “The Horowitz Report is being played by the media for its conclusion: that the FBI’s intel op run against the Trump campaign was not politically motivated and thus “legal.” That covers one page of the 476-page document, but because it fits with the Democratic/mainstream media narrative that Trump is a liar, the rest has been ignored. “The rest,” of course, is a detailed description of America’s domestic intelligence apparatus, aided by its overseas intelligence apparatus, and assisted by its Five Eyes allies’ intelligence apparatuses. And the conclusion is that they unleashed a full-spectrum spying campaign against a presidential candidate in order to influence an election, and when that failed, they tried to delegitimize a president.” • Worth reading in full.

“Democrats’ January Plans Scrambled by Likely Impeachment Trial” [Wall Street Journal]. “Plans for a Democratic presidential debate in January have been complicated by the expected Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, which could tie up several 2020 hopefuls during the final stretch before the Iowa caucuses.” • I’m sure Pelosi is extremely unhappy that she threw a monkey wrench into the campaigns of Senators Warren and Sanders. Ditto Mitch McConnell. I wonder how he’ll maneuver to keep as many Democrats as possinble tied up during the home stretch in Iowa?

UPDATE From the archives:

And it was all garbage, wasn’t it. Lies. As the Horowitz Report shows. Who could have known?

Obama Legacy

“Michelle Obama Talks Bond with George W. Bush After Controversy Over Him Sitting with Ellen: ‘Our Values Are the Same’” [Elle]. “‘Our values are the same,” [Michelle Obama] said of herself and President Bush. ‘, we don’t disagree about love and compassion. I think that’s true for all of us — it’s just that we get lost in our fear of what’s different.’” • Oh.

Stocking stuffer:

The responses are not kind. That ObamaCare “costs less than a cellphone bill” was a lie when Obama said it in 2014, and it’s a lie now.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why this expert warns that a voting watchdog has ‘lost its way’ — and our elections are at risk” [Alternet]. “Verified Voting, the national advocacy group seeking accountable election results, has been “providing cover” for untrustworthy new voting systems and the public officials buying them, according to an esteemed academic board member who has resigned in protest… To be accused by the inventor of its “gold-standard” audit solution of selling out while states and counties are buy voting technology that will be used into the 2030s is remarkable…. Stark and other critics say that the cards produced by a so-called ballot-marking device (BMD) may not be accurate because potentially insecure software sits between a voter’s fingers and the printout. Thus, Stark contends that his audit tool cannot assess if the reported result is correct. Also, BMD systems are far more costly than hand-marked ballot systems, he and other critics have said. They note that the acquisition costs are followed by per-machine service agreements designed to generate millions in annual revenues for vendors.” • On BMDs, see NC here. From that post, I reprint this chart:

“Harris County to seek vendor proposals for new voting machines” [Houston Chronicle]. “Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously approved County Clerk Diane Trautman’s plan to seek vendor proposals for new voting machines… “We did establish a community advisory community and met with them, and we received written and online feedback,” Trautman said. “We also had an election machine vendor fair where the community came out … the next step is to start the RFP process.”… Her office will consider whether the new machines should produce a paper record. Shortly after her election, Trautman said voting machines must produce a “verifiable paper trail.’” • So, ballot marking devices. Once again, I’m persuaded that the only reason (besides corruption) officials would buy voting machines is to steal elections. The science is clear.

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“Economic anxiety”:

UPDATE “Dangerous Spaces” [Verso]. From the UK, but relevant here: “We have quickly discovered that , fraught with risk and potential. On the doorstep, no one cares what pronoun you prefer or whether you have social anxiety. It is a kind of political primal scene. Just you and a stranger. They can slam the door. They can call you a terrorist. They can complain about Jeremy Corbyn or Brexit or immigrants or their landlord, or assholes like you turning up unannounced, or about all of this at once. They can listen to your patient explanation or your frustrated ramble. They can laugh in your face. They can invite you into their homes, forcing you to make a snap decision about your potential safety in their domestic space. You always say yes. They can offer you a cuppa or ask for a sticker or introduce you to their nan. They can commiserate with you at the state of the world. They can change their minds and you can change yours. Often, in these conversations, a soundbite is rehearsed (‘I just don’t see Corbyn as a leader’), and we can see the way that media rhetoric becomes woven into the demotic. But while there’s no real talking back to Rupert Murdoch, on the doorstep there is sometimes the chance to contest his logic with some of our own.” • Worth reading in full. Do we have — what’s the word? Surely not door-knockers? — canvassers in the readership? What do you think?

Stats Watchd

Tech: “Apple’s pricey new $6,000 screen for the Mac Pro can only be cleaned with a special cloth from Apple” [Business Insider]. “It’s also worth considering that, like the Mac Pro itself, the display Apple is selling to go along with it is likely meant for professionals. Video editors working in the film industry, for example, are probably more likely to benefit from the Pro Display XDR’s high color accuracy, wide-axis viewing angles, and 6K resolution than everyday consumers.” • Fair enough. They should also be able to afford the $400 set of wheels.

Manufacturing: “TUI Warns of $700 Million Hit If Grounded Max Misses Summer Peak” [Bloomberg]. “Travel giant TUI AG said it has racked up 293 million euros ($325 million) in expenses from the grounding of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max and could take a further 400 million-euro hit if the jet stays idle next summer…. In a worst-case scenario, expenses from leasing-in planes to cover for the Max will exceed $700 million over two years, based on the latest estimates.”

Manufacturing: “FAA let Boeing 737 Max continue to fly even as review found serious crash risk” [Guardian]. “US regulators allowed Boeing’s 737 Max to keep flying even after their own analysis found the plane could have averaged one fatal crash about every two or three years without intervention.” • Oh.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 11 at 12:41pm.

The Biosphere

“Call centres of life” [Kew Gardens]. “Beneath the ground, within the soil, an important hidden fungal network exists that connects plants through their roots.” • With video:

“Politicians And CEOs Could Face Criminal Charges For Environmental Destruction” [HuffPost]. “‘Current law is so deeply anthropocentric,” she explains. “It’s the Earth itself that needs a really good lawyer.’ [Jojo Mehta, co-founder and director of Ecological Defence Integrity,] believes ecocide should work as a deterrent. ‘In an ideal world, we would see as few people in the dock as possible because the crime is no longer happening,’ says Mehta. Big companies often have budgets set aside for civil litigation against them to cover any fines, so ‘it doesn’t stop them from engaging in destructive activities,’ says Mehta. But criminal liability brings with it the possibility of prison time. The role of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, in the developing crisis in the Amazon is a good example of why we need criminal accountability for environmental destruction, argues Mehta. He is the “poster boy for the need for the crime of ecocide,” she says.” • And so is Cargill, one of the corporations on whose behalf Bolsonaro is doing what it is doing.

Water

“The Deep Sea” [neal.fun]. • A lovely, lovely graphic on what lives in the ocean depths.

Class Warfare

“The number of workers on strike hits the highest since the 1980s” [CNBC]. “The number of striking workers balloons to nearly 500,000 in 2018, up from about 25,000 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the largest number of people who have walked out on work since the mid-1980s.”

News of the Wired

The shape of things to come:


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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:

Via BLCKDGRD, an old-school blog I enjoy checking in on.

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