21 October 2017

Tone Deaf Kelly

Others have already dealt with Gen. Kelly's duplicity in his accusations against Rep. Wilson. They're right, and he lied. That's that.

OTOH, none of the pundits I've read/heard have considered the event the got this all started: what (and, likely, how) Donald J. Quisling said to Ms. Johnson. In Kelly's re-telling of the conversation between him and Quisling, he provided to Quisling the context of what he and his senior officer did in the same circumstance: offer the 'he knew what he was getting into' meme. Here's the problem(s):
1 - Donald J. Quisling has 0 empathy and 0 military experience
2 - Kelly and the officers he mentioned had decades of military experience and some years of combat experience
3 - the recipient of Donald J. Quisling's speech is a 24 year old pregnant mother and now widow
4 - La David Johnson enlisted in 2014, so not much past a recruit
He enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (91).
here He was not a macho killer. He fixed trucks.

So Ms. Johnson gets this phone call from Donald J. Quisling which follows, to some extent the meme offered by Kelly. If delivered, as I would expect, in the flippant liarly way of Donald J. Quisling she reacted as anyone would: with horror. Her husband fixed trucks, and now she finds out he got killed in a combat ambush. We don't, and likely may never, know what Sgt. Johnson told his wife about his deployment in Niger, but I'll bet a nickel she thought he was in base camp taking care of trucks.

Why was as a truck mechanic out on patrol??

20 October 2017

Biggest Corruption

If you were a risk-averse member of the Billionaire's Boys Club, what would be your ultimate wet dream? Well??? By my lights, I'd say I would want Treasury instruments to be sold at interest rate value rather than auctioned at coupon value.

Translation: the way it currently works by 31 U.S.C. Subtitle III, Subchapters I & II, Treasury sets a return value, aka coupon, per some unit of instrument, say $100 per unit. Treasury then auctions those units. The resulting interest rate is the $100/X where X is the final auction price of the unit. If X is $1,000, then the interest rate is 10%. If X is $10,000, then it's 1%. For the last few years, X has been nudging much closer to 1% than 10%. That's driving the idle rich batshit.

Near as I can tell, nowhere in the statute is coupon/auction mandated as the method for selling instruments. Donald J. Quisling can/could direct Treasury to henceforth sell instruments with a fixed coupon (current practice) and fixed price (not auctioned to highest bidder), thus yielding the idle rich's 10% government debt. The fall out from this is clear. The secondary market for Treasuries would still be awash in moolah, and so would bid up the price of such instruments, thus giving the original buyers a massive capital gain windfall (which implies a change in tax law to remove holding periods for capital gains protection, naturally). The other, much worse side-effect is that US government debt just got lots more expensive. Yet another transfer of wealth from the many to the few.

Have a nice day.

19 October 2017

For So Long?

While watching the baseball games yesterday, I noted (for the first time, I suppose) that the home plate umpire wore glasses!!! The country has gone to hell in a handbasket. The only reason I could see this abomination was because the ump caught a foul off the mask, which he took off for a bit, on camera.

So, off to the innterTubes to find out how long this degradation of America's Game has been going on. I expected a few years, at most. Well, not so much.
On April 25, 1956, newspapers across trumpeted the news that Frank Umont had on the previous day become the first big league umpire to wear eyeglasses in a regularly scheduled game.

Damn! And to top it off, that's my sister's birthday, although not year. Instant karma.

Why the iPhone X?

The first decade of my life was spent in a 1,000 sq.ft. house-on-slab, built on an abandon wood lot. Thanks to that, the termites swarmed in the spring. Bad as it was, the parents managed to get foreclosed, so it was off to veteran's housing. This was 1960, and then at least one parent had to be a real veteran; during our years there the projects devolved into open welfare apartments.

The parents were a bit above average smarts, but below average ambition. Oh well. The point of the experience was this: by the time I was eleven or twelve I noticed that there were a lot of late model Buicks and Cadillacs in the parking area. Why, thought young Robert? Weren't there more useful and important things to own?

The answer from the point of view of those Caddy Daddies, as I eventually figured out, was: of course not. A fancy, even if old-ish, car was the most conspicuous object poor folk could still buy. Even if it meant lousy living space and lousy food and lousy clothes and lousy everything else. But that Caddy was parked outside the apartment.

The iPhone X is quite the same: a conspicuous object that doesn't do much more than far cheaper alternatives, but worth it as a measure of self esteem. Behavioral economists' fodder, for sure.

18 October 2017

New Gold, Part the Fourth

Yet another installment in the continuing saga of what it means for the US Buck to be New Gold. Today's contestant is Eduardo Porter, a many time returner. His jumping off point is the current account trade deficit. What he doesn't do is connect the dots from domestic bucks to international trade dependent on sufficient US Bucks in the system to support non-deflationary growth. That last bit is an oxymoron, naturally.

Here's where Porter finally gets closer to the point
But slashing the trade deficit for good will be very tough. That would require weakening the American dollar, the reserve currency of the world. That would be no easy task.

The dollar is the main currency used in global trade, as well as international capital market transactions. People and governments the world over store their wealth in American stocks and bonds. What's more, the dollar is the go-to currency in the time of financial crises, even if the crises at hand are centered in the United States. Against these forces it is hard to keep the dollar down.

QED

Another Oh Shit! Moment

From AnandTech we get the louder drumbeat of the Brave New World; run by Corps rather than the Damn Gummint, of course.
From the beginning, the NNP and its Nervana Engine predecessor have aimed at displacing GPUs in the machine learning and AI space, where applications can range from weather prediction and autonomous vehicles to targeted advertising on social media.
[my emphasis]

I wonder. Will they take payment in rubles?

17 October 2017

The Gull Flies True

Once again, the editors of the NYT have shown their sense of humor. Two articles which illustrate an issue, just not on the same page this time.

The easy one is this Kimmel piece. Kimmel, after all, is an obvious totem these days. And he knows it.
Of course, you want as many people to watch your show as possible. But some things are more important than bringing in a big audience. I hope that we, as a nation, get back to a time where I can have a normal, well-rounded show, that's more focused on Beyoncé and Jay-Z than Donald and Ivanka. But for the time being, this is what's at the forefront of people's minds.

Paired with this piece on the Trumpcare situation.
So for residents of the nearly all-white county, who overwhelmingly voted for President Trump, the fight over the Affordable Care Act is about both lives and livelihoods, access to care and to jobs. And the cloud that remains over the law's future is unsettling.

May be, just may be, these shitkickers will figure out that the Billionaire Boys Club founder cares not a whit about them. He gulled them right good.

12 October 2017

Balance the Scale

Here's some of a comment on a Seeking Alpha piece on Apple's new iPhones
Perhaps you aren't familiar with a manufacturing concept called economies of scale. Apple produces hundreds of millions of iPhones a year, while most analysts believe Google built no more than 1 million units of the Pixel and Pixel XL in the past 12 months. Something tells me Apple spends a whole lot less on each iPhone than Google does on each Pixel phone.
-- Bradmeister

A rookie mistake, naturally. Non-quants generally view EoS as, at least, infinitely linear to 0 average cost. That's stupid, naturally. EoS is determined by sector/company specific factors. And there's no evidence that EoS follows a linear trend, rather that it reaches minimum at some asymptotic value. (oooooh!! that notion again!!)

To put it another way, there are four generalist parts of production: capital equipment, input materials/assemblies, power, and labor. EoS is a result of technological advances, not just higher production, it's not some magical side effect of simply making more widgets. Imagine a semi-conductor production cell. It takes in sand at one end and spits out finished chips at the other; that's fanciful, to some extent, but close enough. Now how are there EoS for such a closed world production method? There aren't, naturally. With such a fixed capital stock, there's no average cost advantage to make more chips than 24/7/365 use of such a cell. You have to buy/build another cell. If you can't run it 24/7/365, i.e. sell its full output, your average cost/chip overall goes up, not down. Since this cell demands little to no labor, there's nothing much to be gained through labor saving. Supply of input materials/assemblies may or may not in total decline based upon outside factors.

So, in sum, it's unlikely that Apple or Samsung has much production cost advantage, especially given that the vast majority of iPhone is built by others than Apple. To the extent that EoS exists, Apple benefits just as much as Samsung et al since they all buy from the same underlying vendors who build to satisfy all comers. A falling tide lowers all boats. The notion that Apple will in-house production is foolish; they'll slide down the EoS to higher cost. There's a reason Apple has never made much of what it sells.

11 October 2017

Ashes to Ashes

Ever since, at least, the "totally destroy" North Korea nonsense from Donald J. Quisling, I've had a bothersome homo economicus nag. We know that NK has thousands of artillery along the DMZ (remember, the Korean War is not over, only an armistice) aimed at Seoul and environs. SK manufacturing is scattered over the country, but the administrative centers of these companies are in Seoul. Cut off the head, kill the dragon.

So, kill a million or two South Koreans, and put an end to the American consumer economy. Such a deal. Lose, lose. America first; all those jobs will come back to the USofA. Dontcha think??

10 October 2017

Ace of Trumps

So, we have this report today, wherein Donald J. Quisling throws down the gauntlet. I expect you can find the same on your news source of choice, modulo InfoWars and kin.
Speaking to Forbes magazine, Mr. Trump was reacting to the report that Tillerson had previously called the president a "moron."

I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.

Of course, yesterday I did some innterTubes surfing to attempt to confirm what Donald J. Quisling has said in the past, that he's a smart guy. Oddly, he's never provided verification of his grades anywhere. Can you believe that? One should see that in the graduation book.

09 October 2017

Robin Hood, Well May Be Not

The notion that giving mo moolah to the rich will, instantly, yield more jobs has been rejected by most analysts at least since Laffer/Reagan when the gambit was tried. It was tried again by W. Neither giveaway led to more jobs or growth. Nor would it, considering that The Rich have no interest in growth or jobs. Again, do the arithmetic: Treasuries keep getting bid up (interest down) just because the 1% are chicken hearts when it comes to investment. They've no gonads for that sort of thing.

But, one might assert, the argument is just academic jealously of The Rich. Well, may be. But today's reporting from a Job Creator supports this fundamental truth.
As an entrepreneur myself and a friend to many others, I know that lower tax rates will not motivate more people to start companies. People start companies for many reasons: a compelling idea, ambition for fame and fortune, a desire to be one's own boss, frustration with one's employer. I have never heard someone say, "I would have started a company, but tax rates were too high" or "I wouldn't have started this company, but then George W. Bush cut tax rates, so I did."

Finally, some good sense (you've read the same here a number of times)
I am an entrepreneur and a businessman, but I am also a citizen. I believe tax cuts that deepen our already severe inequality in income and wealth are not in the long-term interests of any citizens, not even the very wealthy. Extreme inequality is corroding our civil society, poisoning our politics, and undermining our effectiveness as a nation. This is an extremely hard problem to solve, but when you're in a deep ditch, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Thought for the day - 9 October 2017

Echoing Comey,
Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
Wouldn't it be a treat if Corker has recordings of his dealings with Donald J. Quisling? Proving, of course, that Donald J. Quisling really did ask him to run in 2018 and offering support.

04 October 2017

Why? I'll Tell You

During one of last night's MSNBC chat shows, one of the pundits (failing memory says Chris Matthews) said something like:
When they wrote the Second Amendment, they were talking about muskets!!

Which is true. Here's the text
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In historical context, of course, a Militia in 1791 was the same as the National Guard today: a state entity, not insurgents in Montana or other shitkicker empty states. That's the main reason opponents of unfettered access to guns say the 2nd has no basis for civilian access to military grade weapons.

But...

Look back at 1791, and you see that (esp. non-urban) American civilians and standing army soldiers used the same weapon: a musket. Yes, the army had cannon and ships and such, but the soldier and the civilian had the same weapon. While I don't follow the NRA at all, I expect that someplace they've made just that argument: the civilian deserves access to the same weapon as the soldier, or the army will subjugate the populace.

Spider's Web

The Supremes are reviewing the anti-gerrymandering case, and the thought crossed my mind that someone, particularly of the Democratic vein, should have done some research. Recall the thesis presented here, and subsequently repeated by some of the mainstream pundits (without crediting your humble servant, of course), that there aren't Red states and Blue states. There are Blue cities and Red shitkicker empty counties.

Given gerrymandering, Rightwing success in minority rule, and the actual distribution of Reds and Blues, one would expect that Red legislatures (which predominate in having re-districting power) would attack cities by pie-wedging their area so that it often/always ends up that districts have some Blue city folks outnumbered by Red shitkickers. Kind of like a spider's web. One might expect this would be easy to demonstrate with the funds, folks and time that major think tanks have. Dontcha think?

I did, and here's what I found.

Here's a Washington Post article, which references the latest Brennan Center report. Neither, that I could find explicitly calls out urban cracking.

And, here's something explicit
For example, a Republican-held district near Philadelphia that had been trending toward Democrats was stretched westward to take in more conservative voters. And Democratic-leaning voters in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were shifted out of a Republican-held seat into a Democratic-led district to help protect the GOP incumbent.

Law Street, at least, makes the case that such a process exists, but doesn't show such a district map. Oh well:
An example of cracking is when poor, urban voters are spread across districts where a large majority of the voters are rural. This prevents the urban voters from carrying much weight during elections. This is the most common type of gerrymandering.

OK, so ThinkProgress has some of the Wisconsin map. Very pretty.
[W]here Democrats lived near large blocs of Republicans, Democratic communities were "cracked" up and placed in multiple districts that were overwhelmingly likely to elect a Republican.

AKA, cities chopped up and bundled into shitkicker empty spaces.

QED

03 October 2017

Whites Only

One segment of the population, and vaguely multi-culti, has figured out that the Donald J. Quisling cabal is purely white racist. Over the last few weeks I've seen Ta-Nehisi Coates on various chat shows, due to the imminent release of his book, "We Were Eight Years in Power". For those who've not seen him, or don't read "The Atlantic" any longer (your humble servant included), the book is a chronological collection of (all of?) his essays over the Obama presidency.

Rather than just collect and reprint the texts, he includes an introductory commentary to each one. Anyway, today's NYT has a review by Jennifer Senior, which you just have to read. You may skip the book because you don't want to be that up close and personal with a black guy, but read the review. And, as you can see, she's very white.

Pardon me for piling on, but here's that word you so often see in these missives, although applied to a different problem:
With Obama's election, Coates briefly allowed himself to entertain the same belief. He was quickly disenchanted. It's clear he now believes this arc, at best, reaches an asymptote — that dastardly dotted line it can never quite touch. And even that's probably too optimistic a reading.

Near the end of the piece is the gut punch, and well deserved,
In the election of Trump, Coates sees an affirmation of his bleak worldview. "To Trump whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power," he writes in the final essay here, recently published to much attention in The Atlantic. "Every Trump voter is most certainly not a white supremacist," Coates writes. "But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one."
[my emphasis]

01 October 2017

Great Job, Brownie - part the second

Donald J. Quisling continues to bray about how wonderful the response has been to Puerto Rico. One of the news shows had a display:
Haiti earthquake - 50,000 troops and equipment one week in
Puerto Rico - 10,000 troops and little equipment one week in

Donald J. Quisling brays that Puerto Ricans haven't done enough to distribute materiel, which would be funny if it were reasonable. He brays that Puerto Rico is surrounded by water thus,
This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.

Spoken like any petulant six year old who's finally looked at a globe. But here's the salient fact
1,380 mi (1,200 nmi; 2,220 km) with ESSS stub wings and external tanks.

That's the ferry range of the Black Hawk helicopter. So, if you can get a squadron or ten to Miami, you can get them to Puerto Rico.
direct: Miami to San Juan - 1,031 miles
hopping: Miami to Nassau - 184 miles, Nassau to Turks - 469 miles, Turks to San Juan - 383 miles

So shut up. You could have had all the choppers in the USofA military distributing stuff all over the island in a few days. If you cared about a bunch of bankrupt dirty Spics who'd never vote for you. White grievance with maximum vengeance.

29 September 2017

Great Job, Brownie

We've been here before, and done a much better job of it. What job? Supplying a cut off population with the wherewithal for existence. Read up on the Berlin Airlift. It began in less time, post loss of access, than Donald J. Quisling has done with Puerto Rico and the USVI. It was, of course, run by the US military. Stodgy establishment.
The day after the 18 June 1948 announcement of the new Deutsche Mark, Soviet guards halted all passenger trains and traffic on the autobahn to Berlin, delayed Western and German freight shipments and required that all water transport secure special Soviet permission.

then
On 25 June 1948 Clay gave the order to launch Operation Vittles. The next day 32 C-47s lifted off for Berlin hauling 80 tons of cargo, including milk, flour, and medicine. The first British aircraft flew on 28 June. At that time, the airlift was expected to last three weeks.

Granted, the Berlin crisis had been on-going for some time, but Donald J. Quisling's dismissal of Puerto Rico is of a piece with W's disdain for New Orleans; now essentially white-ified.

27 September 2017

FIRE Alarm, part the second

Well, the mainstream pundit class finally has something to say about FIRE burning down the house. Were that this was the prevalent view. Sometimes, especially in the realm of human activity, data doesn't trump corruption.
Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, envisioned financial services (and I stress the word "service") as an industry that didn't exist as an end in itself, but rather as a helpmeet to other types of business.

Ya think? All those business school grads looking to Gekko-ize.
The financial industry, dominated by the biggest banks, provides only 4 percent of all jobs in the country, yet takes about a quarter of the corporate profit pie.

Minority rule: the many support the few. Only in Amerika. And Russia.
But it's not data or privacy or algorithms that are the fundamental issue with our financial system. It's the fact that the system itself has lost its core purpose.

Finance has become the tail that wags the dog.

Couldn't say it better me self. Well, may be.

26 September 2017

Thought for the Day - 26 September 2017

Recall the mentions, some recent, about how the Russian oligarchs got rich plundering the public resources? Well, here's more proof that Donald J. Quisling is on the same autocratic path. Drain the swamp? They're just a horde of swamp people. here.

24 September 2017

Don't Mess with Texas?

One of the more annoying bits of propaganda to emanate from the Right Wingnuts over the years was that Texas was special, and that Texans should really invoke their right to secede (there isn't one, as it happens). Texas has been, for the last century or so, just a bunch of Blue Eyed Arabs, sucking at the hind teat of petro. Geology has gotten smarter over the century, but it doesn't create that black goop. Either it's there or it isn't.

So, of course, they haven't seceded and want Uncle Sugar to send them gobs of moolah to fix Houston, which even an increasing number of Texans admit has been a cluster fuck for decades. The place floods like a wave pool without hurricanes just average rain storms, for crying out loud. I wonder if the Texans will also vote to fix Puerto Rico? Ya think?
It finally seems to be dawning on people that low taxes, less regulation and more oil are no substitute for actually governing.

Take a close look at that map. Notice something? Well, I'll tell you: greater Boston, including southern New Hampshire of course, is going great guns. As it has for a long time. Socialism works.
The tale of the Texas Miracle was a big fat lie: Plentiful oil, low regulation and even lower taxes are not a panacea. Sure, they don't hurt. But they don't help, not without consistent, well-considered state policy to attract and build businesses.

Still, there is hope. Harvey is forcing Texans to rethink our political dogma of small government at any cost. Harris County, which surrounds Democratic Houston and includes bedrock Republican suburbs, has placed everything on the table to prevent disasters in the future: from radical rezoning to land conservation and a giant Dutch-style engineering project to protect the region from another direct hit. That will take at least tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
[my emphasis]

As Dr. McElhone (of UT/Austin) used to say, "Boy howdy!"

20 September 2017

Lunch

Serendipity (and some quasi-folk singers from the 1960s) happens when you least expect it. For some time I'd been intrigued by a title on Amazon,"Bayesian and Frequentist Regression Methods" by one Jon Wakefield. Never heard of him, but the table of contents promised a new approach: conpare and contrast real statistics and Bayesian foolishness (OK, that's harsh). So I've been wending my way through it in a desultory manner for a week or so. On the whole, IMHO, Wakefield demonstrates that Bayes offers little usefulness. Good on him.

He discusses a term I'd not run into, sandwich estimator (appears to be from 1960s and 1980s, though), as a palliative to heteroscedasticity. Now, for those who've not been through a baby stat or econometrics course as an undergraduate, one of the teehee moments was when the instructor starts discussing homoscedasticity and it's evil twin heteroscedasticity. Simply put, homo- means that variance is steady with increasing value, while hetero- means that variance increases with value. The problem with hetero- is that its presence mangles the maths' assumptions underlying the normal regression equations. The resulting regression results are "unreliable". Make mine with lettuce and tomato.

So, today Norman Matloff posts some slides from a talk and new book on regression. The slides are linked to in his r-bloggers post. You should go through the slides, tons of fun. And more sandwich estimator. I will destroy you, heteroscedasticity!!!!

There are a slew of sentences that I'd turn into preamble quotes; they'd last nearly a year. My hero.
Contrary to popular opinion, statistics is not a branch of computer science.

And, my favorite
Myth #3: R 2 is only for linear models.
• R 2 (on either sample or population level) is the squared correlation between Y and Y .
• Thus is defined for any regression procedure, even nonparametric ones like k-Nearest Neighbor.
• Example: Currency data.

Minority Report, part the third

Time has come for another installment in the Minority Report series (here and here for the basis). To recap, the whole point of a dictator is to extract value from the many and transfer to the few. One might argue that the 1% have been doing so for some decades, but Donald J. Quisling makes the gambit explicit. The mealy-mouthed Lefties keep bleating that Donald J. Quisling makes no effort to build a larger base. They ignore the facts staring, and hooting, them in the face.

So, now we have the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill. Clearly even more Darwinist than the earlier attempts to take from the poor and give to the rich. The NYT has a write up today. In particular, a very nice graph showing the transfer. Likely done in R, of course. Note that the losers were those states that accepted Medicaid expansion, while the winners didn't. So, who's going to get the windfall moolah? The lower classes? Not likely. The key to block granting, of course, is the Alabama's of the world can use the money any way they wish. Mink coats for the governor and all his friends. Just like Joe Namath, Alabama player.

Guess Who's Buying?

This from today's briefing.com @7:56
U.S. Treasuries have made it through another range-bound night ahead of the release of the FOMC Statement for September. The market is all but certain that today's update will not feature a call for another rate hike, but it is widely expected that additional guidance will be provided regarding the Fed's plan to begin reducing the size of its balance sheet. After recovering off this year's low, the benchmark 10-yr yield hovers near levels that have been revisited on multiple occasions since the middle of April.

Yield Check:
2-yr: UNCH at 1.39%
5-yr: -1 bp to 1.82%
10-yr: -1 bp to 2.23%
30-yr: -1 bp to 2.80%

Where, oh where, is the moolah coming from to drive up those prices? The 1% and corps? Ya think. Guess what happens if Donald J. Quisling and friends gives such 1) a huge tax break and/or 2) a tax holiday to re-patriate overseas moolah? Yet more moolah chasing Treasuries. The Donald J. Quisling solution: push through legislation to change how Treasuries are sold. No longer at auction, with a fixed coupon, but with a fixed interest rate. That way right wingnuts can explicitly transfer wealth from the many to the few without all the hand-waving that goes on these days.

The sell-off from the Fed is a hand-waving method to drive up the interest rate: increase supply of instruments will drive price down and interest rate up to where it should be for the idle money rich. Amerika, such a great country. Just don't get sick.

18 September 2017

Where Have Oli Garchs Gone?

For those with short memories, this is how the Russian Oligarches got rich.
Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated. It was not clear from the memo how much energy development would be allowed on the sites recommended for changes, although the memo cites increased public access as a key goal.

You wanna bet?

13 September 2017

The End of Civilization

The 19th and 20th centuries gave us things like the steamboat, standardized rail networks, the periodic table, vaccines, and the dishwasher. Today Apple gives us
One of the other features for the technology shown by Apple was the ability to generate a face mesh and map new textures to it, such as new SnapChat 'masks', or animated emoji in Message. The hardware will map 50 muscle tracking points, and a user can choose one of twelve animal emoji (fox, cat, dog, pig, unicorn, poop emoji) and record a ten second message where the 'ani-moji' will mimic in real-time how the user is moving and speaking in order to send to the other person. Apples plan here is to open the resources up to developers to use in their own applications.

If any of you dear readers have doubted these endeavors' insistence that we've reached the asymptote of progress, doubt no more.

Thought for the Day - 13 September 2017

In case it hasn't been obvious, Donald J. Quisling has been very, very busy not draining the swamp. In fact, he's been very busy stocking it with alligators and other predatory critters.
Tens of thousands of former students who say they were swindled by for-profit colleges are being left in limbo as the Trump administration delays action on requests for loan forgiveness, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Putting the crooks in charge isn't draining the swamp, of course.
In August, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos picked Julian Schmoke Jr., a former associate dean at DeVry University, as head of the department's enforcement unit. She also has tapped a top aide to Florida's attorney general who was involved in the decision not to pursue legal action against Trump University to serve as the agency's top lawyer. More than 2,000 requests for loan forgiveness are pending from DeVry students.

Isn't just such corruptions what you would expect from a convicted crook?

Other Trump administration agencies also have hired staffers who previously worked on behalf of the industry they now regulate. For example, Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, used to work at the American Chemistry Council, the industry's leading trade group.

And, of course, the creme-de-la-creme of corporate enablers, Scott "To use time and effort to address [climate change] at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida" Pruitt running EPA.

01 September 2017

Thought for the Day, 1 Sep 2017

Contempt for governance at the statehouse generally, and the local level specifically, is why Houston is wiped out. They did it to themselves in the name of "freedom". So, they want to be free to do as they please. The Blue states shouldn't send them a dime, because they'll just do it again.

29 August 2017

We Are The World

Yesterday's cautionary tale of dog ownership began thus:
Perhaps the defining characteristic of humans is the drive to divide. We classify just about everything we know, or just think we know, about the world into, generally, two groups. Us and them. Catholics and Protestants.

I didn't know then that Gina Kolata would take up the theme today. Hers is not the first news report I've seen dealing with the trauma of white folk finding out they're not really. And, no surprise, much more of the white supremacist South isn't lily white than elsewhere.
The chances of having African ancestry were highest in the South, and highest of all in South Carolina, where at least 13 percent of those who said they were white had African ancestors.

Boy, that has to burn some, going down. Like chugging grain alcohol. Good on you.

And, of course, there's the other side
Among those who said they were black, genetic ancestry over all was 73.2 percent African, 0.8 percent Native American and 24 percent European. Experts say the large proportion of European DNA found in African-Americans can be traced to before the Civil War, and the rape of enslaved African women.

I wonder if the Klan will admit them. After all, they're more tainted white than whites are tainted black. Kumbaya.

25 August 2017

Dueling Banjos

Once again, into the data fray. This time it's not just a trivial pissing contest. Now, this is a hard data field, not some social science feud over macro policy based on fudgy sampling data. It's all about super-priced heart drugs.
Not surprisingly, each side takes issue with the other's study design and data. They question each other's assumptions about the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac events - a key figure that gets plugged into their computer simulations - and they use different thresholds for the proper value of a year's worth of "quality of life."

Well, yeah, there is a bit of social science thumb on the scale. Moreover,
There is another point of divergence in the Fonarow and Kazi studies. When they modeled cost savings from evolocumab, the former factored in productivity - the economic cost of a heart attack victim not going to work, for example. Kazi says his group's study sticks to just the medical costs saved - the hospital stay, the follow-on procedures - by avoiding a cardiac event.

One of my pet peeves with the social science use of data, the majorest, is the continued imputation of "loss of productivity" for all manner of factors. Pharma has been executing "outcomes based pricing" for a while. This is just a fancy way of saying, "my drug saves your life, so you owe me the rest of your life's earnings". I read one "estimate" that the eclipse "cost" $700 million in "lost productivity". As if public and private bureau rats not sitting at their desks for a few minutes has any impact at all. Few do anything productive, ever. A few minutes burning their corneas, on balance, prevented more London Whales from breaching than lost useful output. The one and only case of directly measurable productivity is piece work. Tender reader, you may never have heard of that. Here it is.

18 August 2017

Hi Ho Steverino

As, I suspect, most folks have done, I took it as an article of faith that Bannon's fortune (whatever it may be) was made at Goldman. The fact that he pronounced himself a Leninist never made much sense. Nor, as mentioned in earlier missives, how he or Donald J. Quisling or any President could compel corporations to practice economic nationalism. You have to be a dictator to force corporations to behave against their near-term (aka, the CxO class's) best interest. Do I figured Donald J. Quisling wet dreams of himself as Orange Julius Caesar? But of course. Start a war. Declare martial law. Suspend Congress. Declare himself Dear Leader (he got a bit ahead of the game at that first Cabinet meeting. yuk.).

So, I let my fingers do the walking through the innterTubes, and came across this diatribe from last spring. Sounds much like what one might expect the Oracle of Delphi to say.
In 1985, Bannon was a Navy vet in his early 30s fresh out of Harvard Business School who went to work at Goldman Sachs working in M&A. He lasted there until 1990 when he left as a VP to start his own boutique M&A firm. Now, for the kids and Millennials out there, being a VP at Goldman in 1990 was even more junior than it is now and boutique M&A was the late 80s Wall Street version of a craft cocktail bar; they seemed to pop up everywhere and you definitely knew someone who knew someone who started one.

The stake in the heart:
A born-again blue-collar class warrior like Bannon cannot look back fondly on years of running models 20 hours a day in the pre-internet era only to realized that 33-year-old analysts with no prep school connections had limited futures at Goldman Sachs.

I guess Steve has feet of clay.

17 August 2017

About That CEO Council

Bannon has been gulled into talking plainly in interviews that went live last night (here, and here. They're worth reading in total, but one point is germane here: is there really such a thing as economic nationalism?

Of course not. The CEOs quit just because they want all that globalism. They've spent decades destroying the middle classes, particularly the blue collar segment. They could have partnered with unions in the North to support the blue collar middle class, but instead went South and overseas. Nationalists, economic or otherwise?? In a pig's eye. Which brings us to the real data, finally, on their game. Here's the nut. Autos have been the vanguard of killing labor. The white collar Northern Blue states have been less impacted, in the way explained by Baumol. Whether Watson-ish machines will kill off these folks too remains to be seen. What's the end game, or the look of the world in the limit? The principle problem of rising capital in production is that unit fixed cost rises: you can't layoff a machine, you must still pay for it. So long as output remains steady or rises to the capacity of the capital, you can get away with it. But as capital's share of GDP rises, there's by definition fewer bucks to buy output; aggregate demand declines. A death spiral. Oops.

FRED data shows that GDP going to labor continues to decline. Just today, there's more reporting on the puzzlement within the Fed that inflation just won't come back.
"It would not be desirable," the minutes said, "for the current regulatory framework to be changed in ways that allowed a re-emergence of the types of risky practices that contributed to the crisis."

Good luck with that. Social Darwinism in finance is what the Right Wingnuts dream about all day and night.

The public number, U3, is increasingly viewed with suspicion, just because at under 5% we've always seen labor incomes rise in the past, but not now. There has to be a reason. And that reason is total employment as measured by U6 isn't nearly as pleasant. Wages remain stagnant. Demand remains stagnant. Growth doesn't happen. The rich get richer and the poor attack each other.

13 August 2017

Touching Me, Touching You

So, let me get this straight, once again. Clinton lost because 77,900 more shit kickers in shit kicking counties in three states voted for Donald J. Quisling than for her. Explain to me how any Democrat could reach out and touch the votes of such deplorables? Not Dixiecrates, but real Democrats.

10 August 2017

Second Thought for the Day, 10 August 2017

[T]hey've got to draw in their horns and stop their aggression, or we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age. And we would shove them back into the Stone Age with Air power or Naval power -- not with ground forces.
-- Curtis LeMay/1965

Thought for the Day, 10 August 2017

As mentioned before in these endeavors, and bears repeating today: the SOP of would be dictators is to instigate war, institute martial law, and claim all governance in the name of protecting the homeland. The shit kickers who bought Donald J. Quisling's white supremacy spiel will buy this transparent ruse. Will the rest of us?

[update]
in answer to a comment in another version of these endeavors, I offered:
Well, another few factoids to consider:

- Donald J. Quisling claims to be second only to Lincoln as President

- the White Power folks consider the Civil War to have been instigated by Lincoln

- Lincoln did institute martial law

Quisling would be doing the right thing.


31 July 2017

Thought for the Day, 31 July 2017 [update]

So, we have the latest spewing from the "Lord of the Flies" White House:
I'm not Steve Bannon. I'm not trying to suck my own cock.

During the election, we had this from HRC:
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."

Ya think may be she was right?

[update]
Well, he didn't last long.

26 July 2017

I Still Hate Neil Irwin, part the ninth [update]

Poppy Bush called it voodoo economics. Its zealots call it supply side theory. It's all bogus wealth transfer from the many to the few. If any form of supply side were true, producers would rev up the production lines whenever demand goes slack. They don't do that, of course.

The inevitable inference is that growth is demand driven. Yet, it takes a 'radical' paper to make the point.
It's a chicken or egg problem: Does low productivity cause slow growth, or does slow growth cause low productivity?

The second possibility is the provocative argument of a new paper published Tuesday by the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank. The paper argues that the United States economy is not actually closing in on its full economic potential and has plenty of room for continued growth -- so long as the Federal Reserve doesn't put on the brakes of the expansion prematurely.

The data, and logic, lead one to conclude that capitalists respond to increasing demand, not to decreasing cost. The former impels them to produce. The latter to pocket the savings.
"On Mondays and Wednesdays, economists argue that wages are low because robots are taking people's jobs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's that we can't have wages rise because productivity growth is low," said Mr. Mason, an economist at John Jay College. "Both can't be true."

In other words, instead of worrying so much about robots taking away jobs, maybe we should worry more about wages being too low for the robots to even get a chance.

Foxconn, which may or may not be building plant here, has been doing the robot thing in response to labor costs (that's 2011, and there're lots more recent reports of carrying this out).
Yesterday, Foxconn announced (at an employee dance party of all places) that they're planning on buying some robots to replace their human workforce. And by some robots, they mean one million robots over the next three years.

So, in addition to the segue from actual production in the economy to overhead labor (and the loss in global productivity), we find that we can't get growth if wages don't expand to demand more of what the economy actually produces. The lower and middle classes don't consume financial services to the degree that the 1% does.

[update]
Well, that didn't take long. Hot off today's presses is more info on Foxconn.
The technology futurists Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT recently told Yahoo Finance that the technological change of the last 20 years is nothing compared with the imminent revolution to be wrought by artificial intelligence and machine learning. "We are never again going to have a large, prosperous, stable middle class in this country doing routine industrial-era work," McAfee said. "The assembly line jobs of the 1970s, those jobs are gone. To try to go back to the 1950s, I find that un-American."

Un-American?? A bit extreme. Who's gonna have the moolah to buy the stuff? London Whales?

Neo Nazi Youth

Just when you figure Donald J. Quisling couldn't be anymore transparent a dictator, he goes and turns the Boy Scouts into Neo Nazi Youth. All because 77,900 shit kickers had just enough brain stem activity to fill in the circle.

21 July 2017

Divide and Conquer

Well, it does the olde heart a bit of good to realize that the mainstream pundits have finally caught up with Your Humble Servent and figured out that the left/right political war isn't based on Red states and Blue states, but rather on city slickers and shit kickers. The shit kickers are poor and unhappy mostly because they continue to elect right wing fascists to state and local governments. Said legislators, continue, to ill-educate their citizens. God, guns, and abortion being the only subjects. They're competent to be biblical goat herds, but not much else. Once again, go look at the voting results map from last year to see the real truth.
This map tells many particularly interesting stories on which I'll elaborate in future posts, but suffice to say that most of the precinct swing can be explained by one variable: education level, perhaps augmented somewhat by race and ethnicity.

As mentioned here more than once, the flow of money inter-state, is unambiguously Blue to Red (via DC) and has been for decades, perhaps dozens of them. The shit kickers are the moochers. Without medicaid, they'll have nearly no hospitals. And, of course, Medicaid is mostly white. Contrary to the right wing propaganda, Medicaid isn't all about negro ghetto hoes popping out runts. Which brings us to the Constitutional justification of Senate structure to "protect" the small population rural states from the rapacious urban states of the Northeast. Well, that turns out, with just a quick wiki-look to be a totally bogus argument, even at the time.

urban population, USofA/1800: 6.1%
urban population, USofA/2010: 80.7%

So, it isn't surprising that 19th century USofA was run by uneducated shit kickers. And so it will be again, if Donald J. Quisling and Sessions get their way.
.

20 July 2017

Inside Quisling's Brain

The NYT interview went public during the MSNBC (I know, Snowflake News) nightly shows. One of the points of wonderment amongst the groups assembled was Donald J. Quisling's assertion that he wouldn't have appointed Sessions if he told Donald J. Quisling that he'd be recusing himself in the Russian investigation. In sum, "Mueller wasn't appointed yet when Sessions was offered the job." Oddly, there is a way to connect the dots in such a way that such an assertion makes (half) sense.

Here we go.

At the time of considering the appointment, Trump and Sessions knew some facts.

1 - That there was an investigation into Russian meddling, including whether or not the Donald J. Quisling folks had aided and abetted said meddling.

2 - That Sessions was knee deep in the campaign.

3 - That Sessions, at least, knew he had lied about meeting with Russians.

4 - That DoJ protocol required anyone in DoJ and possibly a subject of a DoJ investigation must recuse.

So, Sessions, had he thought things through, could have apprised Donald J. Quisling of the situation, and it's impending implications. But they both have the same voter suppression agenda, above all others, so it just slipped his mind.

And, not mentioned by said pundits (that I heard, at least) was this smoking gun:
Asked if Mr. Mueller's investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family's finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, "I would say yes." He would not say what he would do about it. "I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia."

Why is that a Dirty Harry moment, you might ask? All along, Donald J. Quisling has been braying that he had nothing, nothing at all, to do with Russia. But here he admits that he has financial ties to Russia. And some may be quid pro quo for the meddling. Ya think?

So, yes, Donald J. Quisling is in hock to Russians and wants to be the USofA's Putin. A match made someplace.

The half wrong part, of course, is that Donald J. Quisling isn't (yet) Putin and the DoJ isn't his personal enemies unit.

17 July 2017

Minority Report, part the second

Well, this has turned into a series of episodes. Here's some of today's reporting demonstrating, once again, that Donald J. Quisling is just another Third World Dictator. All he cares about is his cabal of oligarches and billionaires, not bringing the country together. He keeps the shit kickers in the Empty States in thrall by screeching God, Guns, and Abortion. The whole point of dictatorship is to shift resources from the many to the few.
On Thursday, President Trump will mark six months in office with the lowest approval rating of any president going back 70 years.

A new national poll out Sunday shows just 36 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Trump's job performance so far.

Mr. Trump's disapproval rating has jumped to 58 percent.

Again, go check out the ongoing research confirming that money flows from Blue States to Red States through DC. Donald J. Quisling will only accelerate the flow, and blame the Effete Eastern Intellectuals for the failure of his Voodoo Supply Side tax cuts.


10 July 2017

Burn, Baby, Burn [update]

Well, as the first quote says, this is clearly treason. Donald J. Quisling, Jr. meets with a Russian intelligence person, and lies about it.

Time for the NSA to burn some S&M (no, that doesn't mean what your dirty mind thinks) and give us all the audio and signals intel they have on this dirty crew. Subversion of democracy is the most important attack to punish.

[update 11 July]
The flames: the NYT now reports Donald J. Quisling, Jr. was told explicitly that info was coming from Russia. The Intelligence Community is slicing off its pound of flesh. How does one think the emails might have surfaced? Who would have access to them, outside TTO? Hmmm?

09 July 2017

The Next Version

Regular reader will likely recall earlier missives on Yellen's determination to raise Fed managed short-term rates, in particular the inevitable rate inversion and the pernicious effects of same. Well, may be not. Recent reporting states that the Fed is about to unleash the Treasuries it's been holding since the advent of QE. Increase supply, decrease price, and raise the interest rate. Since this also raises the rate on new issues, of course, then (of course) the little people who actually pay taxes gain the additional benefit of giving yet more of their moolah to the idle rich.

Next thing we'll hear is that Donald J. Quisling decrees that data collection and reporting from BLS, Commerce and the rest will be suspended, since such data is the source of so much fake news.

04 July 2017

I Still Hate Neil Irwin, part the eighth

Yes, but he's nearer The Truth today, wherein he compares consumer confidence survey results to just extrapolating recent hard data. People are confident when they're certain that they'll have at least as much free moolah to spend tomorrow as they do today. More tomorrow would be better, of course.
Confidence isn't some magic elixir for the economy: Businesses will hire and invest only when they see concrete evidence of demand for their products, and consumers intensify their spending only when their incomes justify it.

Something of a non-sequitur, but still yet another stake through the heart of the Voodoo Supply Side Economist.

In my dead-trees version, Irwin shares the bottom of the first Business Section page with Neal Boudette, who introduces us to yet another canary.
Luxury-car makers began to grab an increasing slice of the American car market as baby boomers reached their peak income years and splurged on upscale automobiles. In 2007, they had 11.8 percent of the market, up from about 9 percent in 2001.

You'd think that all those Smartest Guys in the Room would recognize a non-repeatable bump in their demand function based on once-in-a-lifetime (props to the 'Heads) demographics. Perhaps not.
They had some initial success, but many models introduced in the last several years are now floundering. In June, sales of Cadillac's ATS were just 1,185, 37 percent fewer than in the same period a year ago. BMW i3 sales this year have totaled fewer than 3,000 cars, less than half the pace of two years ago. At Mercedes-Benz, sales of the CLA declined 8 percent in June -- and are down 37 percent in the first six months of the year.

Automotive Goodwill Industries might actually exist? They're not used cars, after all. They're Previously Owned Certified Batmobiles.
But more difficulties for the luxury brands may be on the way. Their efforts to sell new cars this year are facing increased competition from used cars that were leased two or three years ago and have been turned in to dealers. Many have been driven fewer than 40,000 miles and sell for about half the price of new models.

Could it be that the ranks of the aspirational 1%-ers are thinning?? Ya think?

02 July 2017

Still Can't See the Voodoo

Trust me. If you deep dive through these missives you will see, in various syntaxs, the following:
if the Fed persists with raising short-term rates, you'll get a rate inversion that'll make your head explode

Well, now Jeff Somer gathers up some quotes from "experts" to weigh in on the possibility.
Simply put, while the Federal Reserve has been raising short-term interest rates since December, the bond market hasn't gotten the memo. The longer-term rates that are set through bond market trading have, for the most part, been declining, though there was a brief reversal in the last few days. But the disconnect over the last few months is a sign that bond investors believe economic growth and inflation are still weak and the Fed's actions are premature.

What's truly stupid: Yellen and the rest of the Fed management can see this happening in real time. Moreover, they fully well know that their control of short-term interest is far less than absolute and their control of long-term rates is non-existent. Yet, she persists. Why?
"... The economy keeps growing, the stock market keeps going up, yet inflation remains very low. Where are we heading? There are many possibilities here. This isn't the economy we used to know."

No. It isn't. And, as these missives (and others) have asserted for some years, the hegemony of FIRE over the rest of the economy has to lead to slower growth, as typically measured. Once again, Baumol's book ("Performing Arts, The Economic Dilemma: a study of problems common to theater, opera, music, and dance") on service sectors is a must read. In sum, capital can replace labor only when labor is menial. Such as accountants and para-legals.

Well, those in the know do know: it's Poppy Bush's Voodoo Economics all over again. All that capital infusion went to the 1% and corporations, who've either sat on it, or begorrah!, bought and bid up the price of Treasuries. By simple arithmetic, that drives down the interest rate. So, in the end, the 99% have no more moolah to buy stuff, so the prices of that stuff remains phlegmatic, while fiduciary assets soar. They could use all that moolah to invest in physical investment and added production, but of course they don't. These pundits really need to read their Samuelson.
For now, the rally in risky assets like stocks continues unabated, while the conflict between the Fed and the bond market continues. Fed officials indicate that they are determined to keep raising short-term rates and to begin reducing the Fed's bond holdings -- perhaps preparing the central bank for action whenever the next recession comes.

At a bare minimum, the policy choices ahead are difficult. And for investors, there is ample reason for caution.

Despite what the Rand-ians say, any degree of Government makes for winners and losers. The only issue is whether Government favors the most or the Elites.

28 June 2017

My Signature Accomplishment

When I saw that first EO display by Donald J. Quisling, I thought of a Rorschach blot. Well, others have been weighing in on that scribble since then, too. Here are some of their thoughts.

Candace Sutton
"When a script is completely devoid of curves, the writer lacks empathy and craves power, prestige and admiration.

"Besides the bigheadedness that shows in this script there is something else that is rather oversized -- the 'p' in 'Trump'. This large phallic symbol shouts, 'Me ... big hunk of man'."

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
[Sheila Lowe, a Ventura, Calif., handwriting analyst] first came across Trump's handwriting and signature in the 1990s and has been keeping a professional eye on it since. "Handwriting changes over time in people who grow and change. . . . It's like a road map of who you were," she said. Trump's handwriting, she said, has remained largely consistent for the last 20 years. "He's the same person he was all those years ago -- an empty narcissist."

Lily Pickard
Tracey Trussell of the British Institute of Graphologists has taken a look to see what it can reveal about the man soon to be taking up the Oval Office.

"She explains that the large writing, upright slant and long tall letters indicate a whole host of characteristics about Mr Trump. Ms Trussell says: "His signature transmits wild ambition, dynamism, bravery and fearlessness.

"He's hungry for power and has both determination and stubbornness in spades."

Katy Waldman
After staring at this accursed cursive for hours, I've come to the conclusion that this signature is a cry for help. Donald J. Trump is trying to tell us that he's not really Donald J. Trump. His real name is AuuuUUuuuuuA.

You get the idea: a 6 year old dictator. That's a bit redundant, of course.

25 June 2017

You're Not as Smart as a Fifth Grader

A continuing thread in these endeavors is that the rose-colored glasses assertions of the billionaires and their fellow travelers, that we're going through the same sort of transition as happened during farm-to-factory, is bunk. The main point made in these missives is that the higher incomes from factory work over farming didn't demand higher skills or IQs. If anything, assembly line drones needed smaller brains than any marginally successful farmer.

So, today we get the experience of an AI expert. He agrees.
Unlike the Industrial Revolution and the computer revolution, the A.I. revolution is not taking certain jobs (artisans, personal assistants who use paper and typewriters) and replacing them with other jobs (assembly-line workers, personal assistants conversant with computers). Instead, it is poised to bring about a wide-scale decimation of jobs -- mostly lower-paying jobs, but some higher-paying ones, too.

Anyone who thinks Donald J. Quisling will stop the carnage is an idiot (nearly all of those "saved" jobs in Indiana, fewer than he claimed of course, are headed South). It's no surprise that the article addresses the key question: new jobs will be a small fraction of removed old jobs. And mostly at lower wages, if social darwinism is the sole wage setting mechanism.
Who will pay for these jobs? Here is where the enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands comes in. It strikes me as unavoidable that large chunks of the money created by A.I. will have to be transferred to those whose jobs have been displaced. This seems feasible only through Keynesian policies of increased government spending, presumably raised through taxation on wealthy companies.

Do you really think that Donald J. Quisling will support that? Well, do you punk?

It's also worth remembering, though not mentioned by this author, that the current procession of job creation is in FIRE. Which is to say jobs that cater to the 10% and 1%. Or, to put it another way, back during the farm-to-factory migration, output was geared to the masses, which is to say, aggregate demand kept expanding. Today, FIRE doesn't create demand for anywhere near the displaced workers, much less new ones.

Have a nice day.

22 June 2017

Cruz Missile

Heard the Tedster on cable saying that the best part of the Senate ACA replacement was the allowance for NotInsurance plans that were outlawed by the ACA. Which caused the Right Wingnuts to decry the killing "choice". As if permitting insurance companies to scam the unwitting into paying for NotInsurance is a good thing.

The results of NotInsurance are easily seen:
1) those with it will end up in emergency rooms since nothing of note will be covered, and on the dole of the rest of us
2) siphoning those from even minimal real plans also siphons off real premiums, thus rising the premiums for the rest of us

Right Wingnuts, never saying so of course, want health insurance to be treated as just another consumer spend. Which it isn't. It's insurance, and thus only works if all are in the pool. Some degree of penalty for those who actively undermine the process is reasonable. But making such folks pay full price just turns insurance into another consumer spend. Which it isn't.

21 June 2017

Right, But For the Wrong Reason

Yet another story on the vampire loans, ARM. They've come back from the dead. What's interesting about the story is that it gets the reason for using ARM (from the house buyer's perspective, of course) completely wrong.

The folks who are the best for ARM are the Yuppy. Or, for that matter, anyone with strong expectations of rising income, especially above the expected inflation rate. If you're setting out to flip the house, as was the come-on which led to the Great Recession, then we'll just have another one. Those with rising incomes can chose to either flip or stay when the interest rate ratchets; everyone else has to sell, no matter what. We do all remember that was the proximate cause of the Crash. Don't we???? That CBS News would allow such a knucklehead to write such drivel is disturbing.
According to a study by the Federal Reserve, ARMs are a play on rising interest rates. When rates are low, as they have been for many years, homebuyers prefer a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage. But the Fed is gradually raising interest rates due to an improving U.S. economy.
[my emphasis]

Of course, this is nonsense. What matters in capital purchases, specifically consumer ones, is the monthly nut. Keep the nut (monthly mortgage plus fees) to some mythic percent, say 25% of gross income. Only those with rising incomes can withstand mortgage payment resets. Non-earned equity in that bungalow happens when the market value of the bungalow rises above the remaining mortgage value. Simple arithmetic. Just what the marginal flipper is expecting; a few years in a McMansion, then sell it out. Same as 2005. Some other simple arithmetic: what happens to capital values when interest rates rise? Class???? They fall, to match the implied return, which has gone up. What happens to house values as interest rates rise? Class??? They fall so as to keep the nut stable. So, what happens when ARM mortgages, held by those on stagnant or falling wages, rise? They all have to sell or be foreclosed. We've really have seen this movie before. Gad. So, for the house buyer, ARM in a time of rising rates is the absolutely worst time to sign on the dotted line. Except for the truly upwardly mobile. Given that the middle class is in rapid decline, what's the answer? Class???

18 June 2017

I Still Hate Neil Irwin, part the seventh

Yes, I still do. He "steals" my PINO meme with his piece today. Admittedly, he gets quotes, but hey; he's a highly paid reporter for the NYT, so he should. The lede:
The thing about populism is it usually involves doing things that are popular.

This is something that European nationalists and Latin American strongmen have long known. When they come to power, they aim to deliver concrete benefits to their supporters, even at the cost of their nations' long-term fiscal health.

What he does miss is that old bugaboo, the multiple sources of inflation:
The government would pay for it all with higher deficits. Free candy for everyone! The cost -- in the form of higher interest rates and perhaps inflation -- would come later.

Of course, only if the billionaires aren't required to pull some freight. Recall an earlier missive which showed that income tax started as a rich man's tax: they paid seven times as much as the lowest tier, and that tier was much above median.

Even if Donald J. Quisling did go about doing anything, it'd be based on shovelling money to the Billionaire Boys' Club. Real fiscal policy? Not until Hell freezes over.

He offers up quotes from a tome on Latin American populism, which tome concludes that wealth equalization (the only cogent point of populism, of course) must needs lead to catastrophe through the currency. However, comparing Latin American mini-economies (and their dependent currencies) to the USofA is silly. The US Buck is New Gold, mentioned in these missives many times, and, among other things, the USofA is thus obligated to spread its Bucks around the globe to keep the world's economy running. And, of course, since the US Buck is New Gold, we still get to say how much it's worth. Latin American tin horn dictators never could make such a claim for their paper money.
the populist movements of Latin America had often generated a disastrous boom-bust cycle

Shown here, in graphic detail more than once, is the depression laden 19th century USofA economy: even with a currency in specie (actually, because of it), economic life is mostly bad for most folks. We're supposed to be smarter than lower forms of life. There's something to be said for that scene in "2001" where the hominids break bones by the monolith. Monolith, gold, monolith, gold... Supportive fiscal policy isn't, by design, disastrous. If it were, we would still be in our Post-WWII Depression.

Gifts for the BBC:
Despite the president's talk of a bold $1 trillion infrastructure plan, there is not yet an actual legislative proposal, and the approach the administration has described relies heavily on tax credits to encourage private investment. That tends to limit the scope of any projects to those that can generate revenue to pay off investors.

13 June 2017

About That Duck

So, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. What is it? It's a Kim Jong-Don. Some readers took exception to that extreme epithet. Today's news that he's on the verge of firing Mueller, and that Dear Leader cabinet meeting yesterday was enough proof.

Fair's Fare

Mulvaney justified cutting the social safety net, and the scientific one too, by describing this budget as "taxpayer friendly". Clearly, a swipe at Romney's 47% diatribe.

Well, here's some factoids. The current income tax is the result of the 16th amendment. The first tax levels
Later that year, Congress enacted the Revenue Act of 1913. The tax ranged from 1% on income exceeding $3,000 to 7% on incomes exceeding $500,000.

Now, that's really progressive: 7 times higher for the rich. Moreover, the median income (to the nearest available year) was
According to a U.S. News and World Reports article comparing income in 1915 and 2015, "back in 1915 . . . you were doing about average if you were making $687 a year, according to the Census. That is, if you were a man. If you were a woman, cut that number by about half."

So, income tax didn't kick in until well above the 50th percentile. Way, way above. And that assumes the original used "average" as median rather than mean. Unlikely, so the median wage was almost certainly even less.

Any way you cut it, the 47% have been with us since the beginning of income taxation.

12 June 2017

Push Me, Pull You

One of the most predictable, and (of course) predicted, results of Brexit would be inflation. The UK gets a lot of widgets from the EU, and the Pound has dropped more than a bit (13%, as of the article). As mentioned many times in these missives, inflation has three forebears:
- demand pull
- cost push
- wage push

The Right Wingnuts always attribute any bit of inflation to the last, and always call for punitive measures on wages. Doesn't always work. Well, never. Volcker demonstrated that one could rid an economy of inflation by destroying the whole edifice, by going after wages.
Accelerating inflation may help explain the stunning electoral rebuke of Prime Minister Theresa May and her governing Conservative Party as well as the unexpected strengthening of the Labour Party in Thursday's parliamentary elections. Consumers are grappling with rising prices, and wages have not kept pace. The economy is weakening.

I wonder how the Tories will spin this direct cause-and-effect to greedy, lazy, takers in the wage earning sector? They should hire Ryan, I suppose.

In at least as stunning, recent news is that the Kansas legislature has passed tax increases over Brownback's veto (the article title is a play on Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas", from some time ago). He and Pence were running neck-and-neck for most hated governors. Voodoo economics only works for the high priests. Once again, the Darwinian/Randian set don't care how their slice of the GDP pie gets bigger relative to the remaining. In fact, they seem to prefer that they get an increasing proportion of a shrinking pie. There's a neat sequence in a "Criminal Intent" episode (no claim to be the first such) I saw recently where Goren hounds the perp by comparing shoe size to junk size, and that those with itty bitty junk prefer petite woman. Makes the junk seem bigger. By comparison.
The cuts came. But the growth never did. As the rest of the country was growing at rates of just above 2 percent, Kansas grew at considerably slower rates, finally hitting just 0.2 percent in 2016. Revenues crashed. Spending was slashed, even on education: In March, the State Supreme Court ruled that state-level school spending was unconstitutionally low. The court is ideologically mixed, but its ruling was unanimous.

The 1% just want to feel their junk's bigger.

Could the hard right have met its Waterloo? One can only hope.

09 June 2017

Penny Wise is Pound Foolish

Here's a tweet that some have professed will lower drug prices. The notion, just use less. No.

The problem with drug prices, to some extent actually true, is that most of the price (the part which reflects cost recoupment only) goes to paying amortization of the R&D and approval tasks. The variable/marginal cost of 99.44% of drugs is in the noise. The chargeback from the CxO suits amounts to more.

So, no, using less will only *raise* the unit cost. Accounting is boring, but often correct.

07 June 2017

Minority Report

Much pundit bloviating, especially from the Left, over the last few weeks has centered on three subjects: the incompetence of Donald J. Quisling's governance, the lack of legislative accomplishment, and approval in the 30 percents. The conclusion? Donald J. Quisling isn't getting anything done. If you're any kind of quant or macro policy analyst (other than the au courant tsunami of customer manipulation applications), you would be quite wrong to feel complacent. Donald J. Quisling is doing some very bad things for both groups. The executive power of the president is nearly limitless; the executive order regime is only the most public enforcement. The reports of curtailing civil rights process in the agencies is one sub-rosa implementation. Dictatorship is so much easier than governing.

The whole point is that having a 30-ish percent approval is what Donald J. Quisling actually wants: the whole point of his position is not to govern the population, but to bilk the 99% to his benefit. And his other billionaire buddies.

So far as pure quants go, government data is disappearing, and when (not if) the economy goes in the crapper, BLS and Commerce and Census will be ordered to stop collecting and publishing data; just as already happened at EPA. The point, of course, is that dictators don't want real data out in the open to contradict them. The point of dictatorship is that
Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens

We can add to RINO and DINO, PINO where the 'P' stands for Populist. Donald J. Quisling has never been about supporting the lower classes, only pandering to them with God, Guns, and Abortion propaganda. He convinced 77,000 empty county shit kickers and was installed. He's all about implementing Leona's mantra:
We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes

Moreover, research going back to, at least, FDR has found that net Federal moolah flow is from Urban Blue states to Empty Red states. If you see that the "infrastructure" plan is mostly giving money and tax breaks to developers, and in Red state counties, rather than government led and managed projects affecting the largest populations, will you be convinced? How about bridges to nowhere?. Expect roads and bridges in the middle of North Dakota: from nowhere to nowhere. All the while taking from the 99% and giving to the 1%.

Will the shit kickers in the Empty States ever figure out they're cannon fodder for an autocrat? Don't bet on it.

02 June 2017

Thought For The Day - 2 June 2017

The drop in the unemployment rate comes as the labor force participation rate took a leg lower after having held steady -- and slightly increased -- over the last year or so. The labor force participation rate in May fell to 62.7%, down from 62.9% in April and 63% in March. The employment to population ratio also fell in May to 60% from 60.2% in April.

The number of Americans not in the labor force rose by 608,000.
-- Myles Udland/2 June 2017

That's from Yahoo Finance, and one might wonder how long we'll have to wait for Donald J. Quisling's tweet blaming Obambi for the fall in participation. Throwing more folks off of SSI!! That's the ticket.

01 June 2017

Thought For The Day, part the second - 1 June 2017

A second thought for the day, thanks to Donald J. Quisling.

Here's the "research" he quoted, justifying coitus interruptus climatus. When I heard the sound byte, I knew the numbers were bogus. Ya think?
"NERA" is shorthand for National Economic Research Associates, an economic consulting firm SourceWatch identifies as the entity that published a June 2011 report on behalf of coal industry front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). ACCCE's report concluded, "clean-air rules proposed by the Obama administration would cost utilities $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates 11.5 percent on average in 2016."

More alternative facts.

Thought For The Day - 1 June 2017

Ya think the shit kickers in West Virginia, and elsewhere, might be feeling a tad betrayed? Or, are they really so stupid that Guns, God, and Abortion will keep them loving Donald J. Quisling?
When Budget Director Mick Mulvaney assumed the podium in the White House briefing room last week and previewed the administration's 2018 budget, Heather Block's fears quickly turned to outrage.

Block, a 54-year-old former international aid worker from Lewes, Delaware, listened with growing anger as Mulvaney promised to slice $72 billion from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) over the next ten years. The cuts are among $1.74 trillion in social welfare cuts proposed by the Trump administration, a sweeping plan that could kick people like Block off a program, known as SSDI, that keeps her financially afloat.
[my emphasis]

As mentioned more than once, West Virginia is the SSI capital of America. And these shit kickers voted for their deaths. Good on them.

27 May 2017

About That Little Dutch Boy

If you're old enough you know the the story of the little Dutch boy
A short story within the novel has become well known in its own right in American popular culture. The story, read aloud in a schoolroom in England, is about a Dutch boy who saves his country by putting his finger in a leaking dike. The boy stays there all night, in spite of the cold, until the adults of the village find him and make the necessary repairs.

Donald J. Quisling keeps yapping about leaks, generally alleging that the "deep state", aka the civil service, is sabotaging his regime. The problem with this is that it's false ("Averages by Appointment Type Through September 2014") that the upper level of civil service is Obama insurgents: on average they pre-date Obama by some years.

So, what's going on? It looks rather simple. The Intelligence Community understands that Donald J. Quisling is implementing an oligarch regime just as Putin did: passing USofA resources to favored private entities. From a national security point of view, that's a tad anti-democratic. The best way to slow that move down is to get rid of Donald J. Quisling, and put the fear of God into Pence and Ryan.

Not to mention Jared consorting with known Russian spies.

26 May 2017

I Wish I Had a Photographic Memory

The attentive reader notes that the quote preamble to these endeavors has changed structure some over the years. These days, the top few are (semi-)permanent, while the middle change every now and again as part of the housecleaning, while the last turns over on Sunday (if I remember!).

Among the permanent is the quote from Ernst Haas, which he spoke while leading a workshop I attended in Maine. The they, as noted, was Magnum Photo. According to the Wiki article, no one was asked to leave, which is the legend I've known, but a rather large number are listed as "Withdrawn". I suspect that's resignation in front of firing. For example, Charles Harbutt's Wiki page says:
He left the group in 1981, citing its increasingly commercial ambitions and the desire to pursue more personal work.

In any case, Haas continued a level of association. My recollection, not in the Wiki article, was that Haas was one of the first members who was not a founder. Which brings us to today. The NYT has an article on the new version of the International Center for Photography in NYC. Alas, Haas isn't mentioned in the article, but I'll offer up Part The Second after I see the show. Anyone within a hundred miles of NYC really ought to go.

25 May 2017

The Deplorables

Remember that quote from Hillary?
"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," Clinton said. "Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."

Well, just toss this one in the basket:
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and tired of this!"

Neville Chamberlain Trump's sycophants are Neanderthal. And proud of it. And, if you don't read up on the story, Jacobs was just trying to get an answer to a simple question: what was Gianforte's view of the AHCA with the just released CBO score.

24 May 2017

Can You Hear Me Now?

Regular reader will, likely, recall the missives offered in these endeavors to the effect that Neville Chamberlain Trump has always had a simple grift as goal: to implement the Leona Principle, "Only the little people pay taxes!". In particular, that he and the other members of his Billionaires Club object to progressive taxation, now more than ever. Again, the notion of progressivity in income taxation rests on the notion of shared sacrifice, and that such sacrifice should, to some extent, be based on the further notion that those who can afford to pay a bit more should. When income is more or less not starkly unequal, the degree of progressivity need not be stark. It's not full blown Marxism, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", but as income inequality grows ever more stark, the maintenance of a Federal budget which maintains according to the needs of the neediest (viewed per capita, not per budget year expenditure) of necessity means that the 1%'s contribution must, of course, grow, being the only ones with any moolah. Since the 99% have a diminishing share of GDP. The 1% have won. They've gotten the President who will take the pressure off, just like he did with Comey.

"What have you got to lose?" was Neville Chamberlain Trump's bait. His first budget is the switch. The 99% will lose a lot. And it didn't take long for the truth to out. But with Right Wingnuts controlling the other 3 branches of government, and the next 2 individuals in the line of succession, dumping Neville Chamberlain Trump for one of them won't fix the problem. The justification, of course, is that the USofA has become two countries: the job/wealth creators and the spongers, and that the Life of Riley enjoyed by the spongers is over. There's a new sheriff in town, and he's kicking ass. Not the Populist Reality promised by the Populist Candidate.

As the dictators which Neville Chamberlain Trump is so enamoured of know, such a bifurcated society can only exist with a Police State. That's close on the horizon.

Will the low information, low education, low skilled voters who did this to the rest of us figure it out? Don't bet on it.

Of course, the top 5 states getting SS disability are Trump States.

18 May 2017

Your Order is Shipping

During the campaign Neville Chamberlain Trump made a point of criticising Obambi for his use of Executive Orders. Obambi, by such talk, was the prime abuser of executive power in all the history of the country. Here's a list and you can see that Neville Chamberlain Trump is way, way ahead. On an annual basis or term basis since Truman, Obambi is at the bottom. Another big lie.

And, BTW, the count for the first 100 days is 32 for Neville Chamberlain Trump which puts his annualized total at 116. Another big lie.

Who said we're a data driven society?

12 May 2017

At Your Service

A current argument over on "Seeking Alpha" is what Moore's Law means to the notion of innovation. Moore didn't want "Law" associated with his observation.
Despite a popular misconception, Moore is adamant that he did not predict a doubling "every 18 months." Rather, David House, an Intel colleague, had factored in the increasing performance of transistors to conclude that integrated circuits would double in performance every 18 months.

This is what he actually wrote
The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year (see graph on next page). Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000.

In simple terms, he observed that the cost of a given circuit halved over time. Since the structure of such circuits obey the laws of physics, which don't change (they are further understood at times, but none have been discarded outright in a very long time), their implementation (generally, TTL) doesn't "improve" per se. But with more transistors available per mm2 to produce such a circuit, that was the easy surrogate for the cost curve. So, Moore's became that. It never was. These days, we've seen that ever smaller nodes have been at escalating cost of R&D and the machines to make such nodes.
A Skylake transistor is around 100 atoms across, and the fewer atoms you have, the harder it becomes to store and manipulate electronic 1s and 0s. Smaller transistors now need trickier designs and extra materials. And as chips get harder to make, fabs get ever more expensive. Handel Jones, the CEO of International Business Strategies, reckons that a fab for state-of-the-art microprocessors now costs around $7 billion.

In all, innovation doesn't necessarily follow the accepted wisdom. These endeavors yapped about the notion of growth for some time, but impelled by Gordon's book, have yapped ever more, and what steps governments can take to produce more of it. And see that it gets to the majority, rather than the 1%. Solow has been mentioned as the standard issue economist who ignores distribution issues in growth. There has been an exception, and from Solow's generation, William Baumol. He just passed away. I read him in grad school, but haven't paid any attention to him in decades. Too bad. I just rechecked my Gordon, and he does mention Baumol on page 173. It was Baumol's later writing that leads to that reference (from the NYT obit):
For example, he said, it takes exactly the same number of people and the same amount of time to play a Beethoven string quartet today as it did in, say, 1817. Yet the musicians who spent years studying and practicing -- and still have to eat and live somewhere while doing that -- cannot be paid the same as their 19th-century counterparts. Their wages, too, will rise, even though they are no more productive than their predecessors were. As a result, their work eventually becomes increasingly expensive compared with more efficiently produced goods.

So, what happens when Moore and Baumol meet? Ever slowing productivity, which means that there's ever less increase to worry about distributing:
"What this says is that the quality of life 30 years from now could deteriorate," Professor Baumol said in 1983, "because many of the services that we associate with quality of life will become relatively more expensive while mass-produced things become cheaper and cheaper."

And it gets worser:
"The real danger is that the nation, mistakenly thinking it must rein in runaway costs, will curtail valuable health services and render them inaccessible for the less affluent. Well-meaning reformers may take the same misstep in education, law enforcement and other handicraft services."

What is striking, to me for sure, is that the notion of service sectors not being on a productivity curve was obvious for some years. Yet I hadn't been aware of Baumol's writings from those years. At least, not consciously. I do remember that "priming the pump" isn't my idea.

The Moore's Law side of things devolves from the observation that much of PC software (the three primary ones being wordprocessing, spreadsheets, and wordprocessing) hasn't led to increases in service sectors' productivity since their original release. The primary reason, which I expect Baumol would agree with, is that such computing doesn't actually maker the user smarter (i.e., productive): I offer up Alt-A loans and London Whales as proof.
His insight about the low productivity growth in services also helped explain why overall growth in an economy increasingly dominated by services can stagnate.

One of the prime notions, again which I think is mine but who really knows, is that FIRE has been the private sectors' way to absorb the college educated in non-productive overhead labor. It may be that Baumol had figured that out too 30 years ago, although perhaps not in such inflammatory words. My bad.

Ya think Orange Julius Caesar, Laffer, or Bannon can figure that out? Don't bet on it. Just dig more coal and make our city air just as bad China cities'. Wonderful.