Showing posts from November 19, 2015

In Defense of Refugees

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[Blaming the victim. There are so many articles on the conflation of refugees with terrorists now that it's hard to pick and choose. This is one of the best from the burgeoning crop. But, see: Who is the enemy?Despite Atrocities, US Approves $1.29 Billion Deal to Re-Arm Saudi ArabiaAll Paris Attackers Identified So Far Are European Nationals, According To Top EU Official, plus an entire subset of articles comparing the current situation with attitudes toward Jewish refugees during World War II, e.g., What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II*RON*]
By Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare Blog, 17 November 2015

The unseemly spectacle of governors and presidential candidates—leaders and would-be leaders of states and the nation at large—tripping over one another to confuse the victims of ISIS with ISIS itself and to confuse ISIS as well with the victims of Bashar Assad induces moral anguish in my war-on-terror heart.

As reader…

Wall Street Is Running the World's Central Banks

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[And this from Bloomberg, yet! Of course, they understate - Goldman Sachs just about runs the fricking planet at this point. The full corporatocratic take-over comes with the implementation of TPP. Look deep into his eyes and drink the cool-aid. *RON*]

Simon Kennedy, Bloomberg, 17 November 2015

Wall Street is again leading to the corridors of central banks.

From Minneapolis to Paris, investors and financiers are increasingly being hired to help set monetary policy less than a decade since the banking crisis roiled the world economy and chilled their public-sector employment prospects.

Academic studies of historical voting records at central banks suggest the new trend may mean an increased bias towards tighter monetary policy.

Last week’s appointment of Neel Kashkari to run the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as of January means a third of the Fed’s 12 district banks will soon be run by officials with past ties to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Clinton, Finally Forced to Confront a Single Payer Advocate in Debate, Can’t Win on Policy, Falls Back on Demagoguery and Distortion

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[Progressive politics, health and the corporatocracy. Lambert Strether is thoroughly excellent at this kind of minute dissection of policy debates. *RON*]

By Lambert Strether, Corrente / Naked Capitalism, 18 November 2015

Most of the post-Democratic debate analysis has focused Clinton’s response to Sanders’ challenge on her Wall Street ties; a response that was, to put it charitably, confused. There has been little focus on her exchange with Sanders on health care which, from a pure public policy standpoint — that is, leaving aside corruption — is arguably more important. So, despite DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s successful suppression of viewership, the debates really are doing what they are supposed to be doing: Allowing voters to compare and contrast the candidates. Now, we remember from 2014 that Clinton, despite her lofty claims to an evidence-based approach to policy, refused to even mention single payer in two back-to-back major spee…

The Cannibalized Company: How the cult of shareholder value has reshaped corporate America

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[An excellent piece. As stock buybacks reach historic levels, signs that corporate America is undermining itself. Also, vide infra, Where Have All The Workers Gone? for just a hint that these two things might be connected. Also, the cash "showered on investors" is purely secondary to that showered on CEOs. *RON*]

By Karen Brettell, David Gaffen and David Rohde, Reuters, 16 November 2015

Combined stock repurchases by U.S. public companies have reached record levels, a Reuters analysis finds, but as the recent history of such iconic businesses as Hewlett-Packard and IBM suggests, showering cash on shareholders may exact a long-term toll.

NEW YORK – When Carly Fiorina started at Hewlett-Packard Co in July 1999, one of her first acts as chief executive officer was to start buying back the company’s shares. By the time she was ousted in 2005, HP had snapped up $14 billion of its stock, more than its $12 billion in profits during that time.

Where have all the workers gone?

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[It's been more than eight years now and they're still puttering around with this question, like, Oh, we're looking into it. For more of the same sort of unseemly obfuscation, see: U.S. Targets RBS, J.P. Morgan Executives in Criminal Probes. Oh, we're still right on it. Any time now, just you wait and see. *RON*]

By: Isabel V. Sawhill, Brookings Institute, 17 November 2015.

Employment rates among prime-age workers, especially men, have declined sharply over the last few decades. The Great Recession made matters worse. Recent declines in the unemployment rate have enticed some back into the active labor force but the long-term picture is still discouraging. When we compare the U.S. to other advanced countries, working-age adults are simply not working as much as adults in most European nations.

What's going on here? As my colleague Gary Burtless notes, three developments have probably played a role. First, real wages have fallen …

Up to 240,000 Women Have Tried to Give Themselves Abortions in Texas ​

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[2015 or 1915? The ayatollahs in Congress make it awfully hard to complain about the treatment of women in Islamic states. *RON*]
By Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones, 17 November 2015

Ever since Texas passed HB2 in 2013, the omnibus abortion law at the heart of a pivotal case the Supreme Court will review early next year, more than half of the state's 41 abortion clinics have been forced to close. As these closures have mounted, advocates in the state have worried that the decline in abortion access could lead to a rise in the number of women trying to terminate pregnancies by themselves.

A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising i…

Crude oil just collapsed below $40 per barrel again

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[The Anti-Bubble. Yet the US is still producing like crazy, given the stats on the size of existing stockpiles. *RON*]

Akin Oyedele, Business Insider, 18 November 2015

Crude oil just crashed below $40 a barrel again.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York fell to as low as $39.92 a barrel just before noon on Wednesday.

When WTI dropped below $40 on August 21, it was the first time it had done so since 2009.

After reaching about $48 a barrel last week, oil stumbled after the International Energy Agency warned, reminding markets that the supply glut was worsening across the world. It also forecast that the allure of cheap oil would fade in 2016, weakening demand.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration released its weekly data on inventories. US crude stockpiles rose by 300,000 barrels last week, according to the EIA, below an expected build by 1.9 million barrels.

The data also showed a swell in inventories at Cushing, Ok…

Obama speaks for Canada, says both countries will soon sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

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[So the only remaining question is, will there be any opposition from the NDP? Obama says: "We are both soon to be signatories of the TPP agreement." Trudeau partially demurs, repeating "that Canada has not yet decided whether to sign the pact and it must first be reviewed in parliament." But then he says "Canada is resolutely pro trade... That is the lens through which we will examine the TPP." *RON*]

Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg News / National Post, 19 November 2015
Canada will soon sign onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama said, going further than the country’s new prime minister has committed.

Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Thursday in Manila after their first bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. In his remarks, Obama seemed to cast the Pacific trade agreement as a done deal, while Trudeau has declined to take a p…