30 January 2017

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The fact is, I'm torn between concluding that Kim Jong-Don is pathologically evil or ditto stupid. Today we have his pronouncement that Federal regulation process is now, by his fiat, blown up. He, or Bannon (who knows better, or ought to), asserts that agencies make up regulations over their weekly poker games at high end DC men's clubs. Well, no. Federal regulations, published daily in the Federal Register, are the agencies' responsibilty to implement legislation passed by Congress into statute. You want to halt regulations? Shut down Congress. You're really, really close after just a week.

C'mon guys, if you're going to lie, at least be creative.

29 January 2017

Betting Line

OK, so Kim Jong-Don has gone into blatant dictator mode, ignoring all agency heads in issuing the Muslim ban. So we're left with the over/under times to suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law (starting with Chicago, of course).
1 week
1 month
1 year

Cast your vote. Vote early and often.

26 January 2017

R.U.R. for Our Times

R.U.R. meets RoboCop?

The thinking folks have been banging the drum that Kim Jong-Don is a con man, who managed to convince 77,000 idiot white folks in the Alabama areas of three otherwise rational Northern states that their problems are caused by dark folk, rather than the billionaire class of Kim Jong-Don. The biggest of the Big Lies from Kim Jong-Don and his cabal is that China, et al are the cause of manufacturing employment's decline. Not close to true. Which has been mentioned here once or twice. All that "carnage" trumpeted by Kim Jong-Don in the Rust Belt North started with the capitalists fleeing to the union busting American South. Those 77,000 angry white folks most definitely voted against their own self interest. Reagan played that card, and so have Republicans ever since.

The editors at the NYT give their headline writers rather a long leash, it appears. Today's story describing what's really been going on carries the title "How to Make America's Robots Great Again". Cheeky, that. But true, of course. Of note: robots really were invented and developed in the USofA; still are, too.
In 2016, the United States hit a manufacturing record, producing more goods than ever. But you don't hear much gloating about this because manufacturers made all this stuff without a lot of people. Thanks to automation, we now make 85 percent more goods than we did in 1987, but with only two-thirds the number of workers.

Stated more explicitly, we make 85% more stuff with 33% fewer humans; not as one might immediately think, 85% more stuff with 33% more folks. In the words of economists, productivity has soared. In the words of capitalists, they've kept nearly all of the added value of that productivity. Wages for those still working in manufacturing should also have soared. But thanks to the likes of the lunatic right, all those good paying jobs don't exist. Demonizing Chinese and Mexicans won't change that.
In 2013, China became the world's largest market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics, an industry trade group. Now China is working on another big goal: to become the largest producer of robots used for factories, agriculture and a range of other applications.

I'll remind Gentle Reader of the outcome of the Trump/Pence Carrier shadow dance:
GREG HAYES: Right. Well, and again, if you think about what we talked about last week, we're going to make a $16 million investment in that factory in Indianapolis to automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive. Now is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost of labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we'll make the capital investments there.


GREG HAYES: But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.

The standard whipping boy of the lunatic right, who are clearly conflicted, is the unionized auto worker. On the one hand, they've spent decades demonizing such folks, just the Rust Belt angry white folks who're now out of work. But, now of course, Kim Jong-Don claims that he's their savior. Baloney, of course. Here's a detailed analysis of the way the world really was, at the time of the auto rescue.
A final note on all this: Labor costs only account for about 10 percent of the cost of producing a vehicle.

With further robotics, I'd wager even less in 2017. As one component of cost diminishes in absolute share, cutting said cost by X% means less and less to total cost reduction; you don't get X% total cost reduction. It's that pesky arithmetic, again.

IOW, unskilled uneducated white folks will never again live the life of 90210. And dark folks have nothing to do with it. Despite the Big Lies from Kim Jong-Don.

25 January 2017

Thought for The Day - 25 January 2017

Now that we know Kim Jong-Don has been using a civilian quality phone, likely forever, enquiring minds want to know: how much dirt does NSA already have?

Damn You Kellyanne!

As I was rousing from an unsatisfying sleep this morning, a jingle was forming. Said jingle might be used by itself as a very short "Thought for The Day" or perhaps extended into a more lengthy essay. Said jingle went like this:
now that "alternative facts" have been deemed a normal convention of debate, can Newspeak be far behind?

In due time I got to this machine and fired up Firefox, and there on my home page, with circles and arrows and a paragraph describing each one (bow to Arlo) was this: "1984" sales soar following Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" statement
Orwell's classic -- a dystopian tale of a society in which facts are distorted and suppressed in a cloud of "newspeak" -- was in the top 5 on Amazon.com as of midday Tuesday. The sales bump comes after the administration's assertions that Trump's inaugural had record attendance and Trump's unfounded allegation that millions of illegal votes were cast against him last fall.

Needless to say, I'm annoyed. It would have been such a yuuuuuuge crowd pleaser.

24 January 2017

If It Walks Like a Duck

One might suppose that there remain a few knuckleheads out there who still think that The Donald is on the side of the 99%. Well, the last couple of days he's generated enough Kim Jong-Don ink to show those with functioning brains, may be not.

Those evil (now 5 million) illegals all voted for Hill:
Richman [co-author of one debunked report on illegals voting] also said that in order for that to be the case, it would "require a truly massive increase in non-citizen voting and Trump lost by far too much for it to be accounted for by non-citizen participation."

Even Paul Ryan has called bullshit on this
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he has seen "no evidence" to back up President Trump's claim that 3 to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.

Of course, he's well aware of delegitimizing a President, since he pushed that on Obama for six years. The problem is that his attack was fictitious (and he knew it), while his legitimacy exists only if one holds one's nose. Tightly. Paranoid schizo personality, in spades.

So, now he's going after the facts.

Interior gets attacked for telling the truth about the inauguration crowd.
The Interior Department was ordered Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts -- indefinitely -- after a National Park Service employee shared two tweets that noted President Donald Trump's relatively small inaugural crowds compared to the numbers former president Barack Obama drew in 2009.

EPA gets muzzled for telling the truth
The executive director for the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jeff Ruch, said the orders go beyond what has occurred in prior presidential transitions.

"We're watching the dark cloud of Mordor extend over federal service," Ruch said Tuesday, referring to the evil kingdom in the epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings.

While Thoma is considered a lunatic lefty by the Redneck crowd, he's called it with this piece
He might even try to underfund or actually eliminate agencies that report things that suggest his administration isn't the best economic machine to ever come to Washington.

Once a dictator, always a dictator.

23 January 2017

Addicted to Big Data

Well, just got back from my dead trees NYT and coffee, and opened up my home page (CBS News), and see this item titled:

A way to predict who'll become a drug addict

So, I says to me self: "just another Trumpista; white uneducated unskilled guy". Well, yeah when I got about half way through came this -
A typical person with a chronic injury who might become dependent could be a middle-aged white male factory worker with a bad back.

Of course, he's just the guy who'll be tossed off Obamacare by King Donald, either explicitly or through the simple expedient of very much higher prices.

Travelers isn't in it to be nice, but to cut costs. Is this a good use of Big Data? May be. Would be good to know what the false positive rate is: how many are "encouraged" to not use opiates but really should be?

Is there some correlation between opioid addiction and Trump addiction? Well....

Of course, the Brits have the gonads to call a spade, a spade
There are strong correlations in most of the key states between a swing in favour of Trump and counties with lower income earners, white population, older voters, people with less education and a greater rural population.

IOW, stupid shit kicking white trash are the government. swell.

20 January 2017

Pig Latin

What King Donald said:
We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

What he really said:
The Red states will take every last nickel left in the Blue states, so they can handle snakes and fuck their sisters.

19 January 2017

Thought for The Day - 19 January 2017

OK, Donald, here's the last week you can blame Obambi for the USofA's troubles.
In the week ending January 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 234,000, a decrease of 15,000 from
the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 247,000 to 249,000.

This week is your week, and the next few until you're impeached. Put your money where your mouth is. Create 90210 jobs for all those shit kicking, snake handling, poorly educated, old white folks (you know, the ones with ancestors that frolicked with dinosaurs) in the empty states. I dare you.

18 January 2017

The Death of The Financial Quant

In a couple of days, co-incident with some other ceremony of note, we will have the internment (or pyre, whichever you prefer) of the financial quant. RIP. For, with the ascendence of The Donald to the throne, the adage, "what matters is who you know, not what you know" will be all that does matter.

The country, from municipalities to DC, is now under the thumb of the lunatic right. Check history, and you'll see the results: depression, deflation, and deprivation for the majority. Here's a review; the Wiki, too. You'll see that macro-economic carnage follows the lunatic right around like a sick puppy. What both reviews miss is that when the Senate has been in Republican hands with a Democrat in the White House, they've used the cloture rule to impose de facto control, so control of Washington is even more stark than the numbers show. Will the Democrats grow a set of gonads, and do the same to protect their constituents (many of whom were stupid enough to vote against their own best interest)? One can hope. The root problem: the lunatic right has always been in thrall to Rand (even before she put mania to page), which means a determination to destroy governance, they seek anarchy which allows the rich to pummel the rest; while the left has always believed that governance was not only necessary but beneficial, at least for the majority. See, for example
Pruitt doesn't see it that way. In a March 2015 column he co-wrote with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for The Hill, Pruitt called the Clean Water Rule "the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen." Pruitt and Rand maintain that states should be responsible for protecting the environment within their respective borders, not the federal government. Never mind that air and water pollution do not honor political boundaries and state legislatures are all too often dominated by corporate interests.
Externalities matter, if governance is a true priority.

So, what to expect? Well, tax cuts for the rich, which will trickle down, of course. Don't they always? Killing the ACA will have, as the Brits say, knock-on effects. Over the last few decades, FIRE and healthcare have been the dominant growth sectors.
Health care and real estate dominate a list of the country's 15 most profitable privately-held businesses, according to a report released Wednesday by Sageworks, a financial information company.

So, kill the ACA (and give back the tax moneys to the rich which help support it), and you reward the money changers. What can we expect if more moolah is gifted on the 1% and .1%? Let's look at recent history. The DotBomb happened because there was excess idle moolah lying around, looking for some place to inhabit. Well, the InnterTubes was obviously an easy way to make money, so a lot of that idle money flooded in. Then it became clear that any old web site wouldn't be a money printing machine, and so Kaboom!!! But, all that idle money pile kept growing. It looked for good return, but less risk than that damned InnterTubes thing. What might that be? Well, of course!! Why didn't they think of it sooner?? Residential mortgages had always been safe, and paid more than Treasuries ever did. But, on their own, they're hard to trade, so the mortgage companies and banks figured out how to bundle them up into tradeable securities. Tada!!! But, another but, the ever growing pile of moolah meant a level of aggregate demand for these securities far in excess of what traditional banking practice could produce as input into the sausage factory of securitization. So, the mortgage companies invented liar loans, and thus a better supply of raw meat for the sausage machines.

We don't, so long as the Fed doesn't fall into the hands of the more rabid Goldman Sachs alums, have that avenue anymore. The outcome will be more of the same; ever more moolah from the 1% and .1% chasing Treasuries (and thus, long term interest rates down), low to non- inflation since the 99% have ever less money, and thus low growth because macro-economic growth only happens when the middle class has most of the current and growing money. It's all about aggregate demand. If you want growth you have to have growth in aggregate demand (Laffer be damned). And if you want that, most of the money has to be in the hands of folks who both want and need to spend it. The 1% and .1% sit on their idle money, and demand that the damn gummint raise interest rates to at least 10% so they can grow their idle pile ever higher. They don't spend it and they don't invest in productive capital. Well, if such capital kills off a bunch of jobs, then may be.

But what will move the economy, for better or worse, won't be in the data, but in the policy events which dub the winners and execute the losers. Now, one might argue that this has always been true, and financial quants still managed to find employment. To some extent that's true. It's also true that a good deal of their effort was devoted to circumventing the rules of engagement: liar loans, LIBOR fiddling, London Whale, security ratings, and the like. It's just that the next few years, until The Donald is tossed out along with enough Republicans, will be utterly corrupt. One might be able to game that, of course, but that's not traditional quant.

So, as has been asserted here more than once, events drive the data. Data doesn't drive events, mostly. Detecting money flow changes, before the herd, can make you a lot of moolah. But the retail plunger doesn't have access to the data and compute cycles needed to benefit.

And, for the cherry on top, here's the maps of fat people in the USofA. You'll not be surprised that stupid and fat and Red all go together.
Here are the 10 states with the highest obesity rates.

1. Louisiana: 36.2%
2. Alabama: 35.6%
2. Mississippi: 35.6%
2. West Virginia: 35.6%
5. Kentucky: 34.6%
6. Arkansas: 34.5%
7. Kansas: 34.2%
8. Oklahoma: 33.9%
9. Tennessee: 33.8%
10. Missouri: 32.4%
10. Texas: 32.4%

11 January 2017

Thought For The Day - 11 January 2017

Given the "Access Hollywood" material, doesn't the notion of Russian honey traps make perfect sense? Two gigantic dots with a really short line betwixt them. So far, I've not heard or seen any of the dishonest media point out this obvious fact.

10 January 2017

The Real Villian

On and off, the thread of how the Great Recession came to be appears in these endeavors. The lunatic Right has, from the beginning, sought to blame Bill Clinton, long out of office when the boom started, much more so when it collapsed, and the Community Reinvestment Act (1977!). This attempt has always been propaganda, seeking to shift blame from the laissez faire W. banksters to inner city dark folks trying to buy a house. Various studies have been done over the years, and many have been mentioned here. All have put the lie to such narrative. The evil was in the white suburbs, non-bank mortgagers (CountryWide), and private mortgage insurers (MGIC). Doesn't fit the lunatic right's propaganda, of course.

Today, Mark Thoma reviews yet another study, from the Sloan School (that's MIT, by the way; another elite Eastern establishment). The Great Recession wasn't caused by poor folk trying to have a home, but by middle income white folks in white suburbs in sunny climes (Florida, Nevada, California, mostly) looking to flip McMansions that were experiencing rocketing prices. Caused by the demand for securitization instruments demanded by the Giant Pool of Money seeking high return on low risk. "Money for nuthin and the chicks are free."

The comments are replete with lunatic rightwingers bleating loudly. As it ever was.

09 January 2017

It's Always The Arithmetic

A few times, these endeavors have made mention of the fact that average cost is what really matters to the MBA Masters of The World, not the marginal cost of economists. Folks like the putative Labor Secretary Puzder, who prefers robots to people in his production, just assume that machines are better than people. Leaving aside, for the moment, that machines don't take their value add based wages and buy output, capitalization based production does have, at least, one downside: fixed cost.

Here's a note from today's briefing.com:
The two operating units at the Indian Point Energy Center will close in 2020-2021 after powering New York for more than four decades with clean, safe, and reliable electricity. The early and orderly shutdown is part of a settlement under which New York State has agreed to drop legal challenges and support renewal of the operating licenses for Indian Point, located in the Village of Buchanan in northern Westchester County. The shutdown will complete Entergy's exit from its merchant power business because of sustained low wholesale energy prices.

In other words: with energy conservation, and alternative sources, the amortization of nukes might not make sense. There's more evidence of the problem. Don't put those panels on your roof!!
Industry officials say they support their customers' right to generate electricity on their own property, but they say rooftop solar's new popularity is creating a serious cost imbalance. While homeowners with solar panels usually see dramatic reductions in their electric bills, they still rely on the grid for electricity at night and on cloudy days. The utility collects less revenue, even though the infrastructure costs -- from expensive power plants to transmission lines and maintenance crews -- remain the same.

Now, apply the same complaint to healthcare... Reduce demand (by fiat of King Donald of Orange) for capacity already installed, and you'll find the 1% squealing that their healthcare costs have actually gone up.

It's always that damned arithmetic. That a six year old understands. Read the whole Post story, and you'll see that much of the rhetoric is just propaganda, and the tentacles of Koch is documented. And, whatever happened to The Cube?

05 January 2017

Thought For The Day - 5 January 2017

One might not expect to find a missive dripping with rural entitlement and arrogance on the op-ed page of the NYT, but here it is. Comments are closed, but they're quite amusing. Given that NYT readers are, I expect, dominantly urban, but their anger is justified. I sent off a comment on the author's home site, much like many of the comments on the piece. The rural uneducated aren't just stupid, but arrogant in their stupidity. Lord help us.