Linking ≠ endorsement.
29) A Euro Tragedy
⇧ Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 people — more than 70 times the official toll of 64, study says
Personally, I don't understand why Puerto Rico is part of the US while not being a state. Either make it a state or let it be completely sovereign. As long as it's part of the US, then we must pay to protect it and repair it just as if it were a full-fledged state.
⇧ Hawaii lava flow destroys 12 more homes as Kilauea volcano continues exploding
I haven't been posting blow-by-blow reports on this because it's been getting such extensive coverage in the main.
Ash fall is the greatest threat to the largest number of Big Island residents, along with the volcanic gas known as "vog," and "laze," which is hydrochloric acid steam that pours into the air along with fine particles of glass when hot lava hits seawater.
When will we see stats on just how much impact this all will have on global warming? How much global dimming will this cause? Will it block more light than the greenhouse will trap as heat? Of course, it would depend upon how long it continues and the degree to which it increases.
⇧ Banks Stop Funding New Coal, Oil Sands, Arctic Oil Projects
More good news ...
⇧ Positive Solar Market Development in the US — Even in Times of Import Tariffs
This is more good news.
To clarify, I was never opposed to tariffs, per se. If done correctly, they can directly address unfairness. I do object to China's one-party dictatorship, as I oppose all such arrangements everywhere. For me, it was a huge US foreign-policy error to "open up" China with no strings attached. None of that is to say that I fully agree with President Trump's particular negotiating style(s). I prefer the cooler, more cerebral approach that focuses upon what's best for the whole People of our nation and the world.
⇧ Researchers predict materials to stabilize record-high capacity lithium-ion battery
We'll be interested to see how fire-safe the results are. If they are far safer, that will be a big benefit for household and commercial uses.
⇧ Full Employment and Freedom
For Humphrey, Scott King, and other advocates of full employment, the law was a first step, not the last. After all, the law's proponents had granted numerous concessions during the legislative process, weakening the full employment mandate from a "commitment" to a "goal," and scrapping the pledge that government would be the "employer of last resort."
... As these debates heat up in advance of the 2020 election, it is imperative that social movements are prepared when there is a chance at legislation. When a window of opportunity closes, it may not appear again for decades. It is social movements that will drive this policy change. And it is social movements that will ensure that any guaranteed jobs plan match Coretta Scott King's vision: environmental justice, housing and health care for all, reduced working hours, and lower retirement ages.
The article does not mention the very weak linkage between employment and inflation. The Phillips Curve was expected by the so-called experts to have kicked in many years ago now. I kept saying the whole time that it was nowhere near the threshold, and I was obviously right. It wasn't just luck. The Fed wasn't factoring in enough variables and wasn't paying enough attention to the international scene. Plus, as the article makes clear, the Fed is first and foremost for the banking industry, not the People.
The article also doesn't mention the tie-in of productivity and lower inflation. If we produce enough, prices won't have to go up. Automation can do that while we simply pay people rather than make them work.
Lastly, it doesn't mention the fiscal aspect enough. We don't need the Fed to handle the money supply. We can do it without them and with adding to the national debt. In fact, we can completely pay it off.
⇧ German economists oppose 'high risk' Macron euro zone reform plan
If the Germans persist in their backward thinking, I can guaranty the complete disintegration of the European Union. The German leadership represents such small thinking.
⇧ Shedding Some Light on Solar Panels
Nice overview ...
⇧ Baby girl, 9 months old, killed by pit bull while she sat in a bouncy chair
Nationally, an average of 33 people are killed each year in canine attacks in the United States, according to dogsbite.org, a victims' advocacy site that culls media reports and public records to track dog attacks. The site, which advocates for a pit bull ban, says two-thirds of the attacks are committed by the breed.
That's part of the reason insurance companies exclude such breeds from coverage.
You'll see articles by or referring to so-called dog experts claiming that the only issue is training or treatment. However, if you factor in both, pit bulls are still statistically the most dangerous. It is nonsense to conclude that there is no inherent difference between dog breeds. Dogs all share some traits in common, but dog breeds are not all tempermentally the same by nature.
⇧ Fed proposes easing Volcker rule that limits risky bank trading
This is what they always do. They deregulate, cause a crash, re-regulate to take the heat off, deregulate after memories fade, and cause another crash.
"Weakening the Volcker Rule means allowing banks to play with other people's money again. That was the casino economy before the crisis," says Ed Mierzwinski, a senior director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization.
⇧ Mayor Jenny Durkan proposes spending $6.3 million to add 500 homeless shelter beds in Seattle
Section 8 should be expanded to include tiny houses so that investors can create tiny-house villages as they do with mobile homes. Expanding it to include encampments would be wise too.
⇧ The links between stagnating wages and buyer power in U.S. supply chains
Outsourcing to drive down wholesale prices slows wage increases. Who'll be left to buy consumer products?
... the increased power of corporate buyers can account for around 10 percent of wage stagnation among publicly traded companies since the 1970s. These findings imply that understanding wage stagnation requires attention to changing contracting relationships between companies. Wage stagnation is not only a result of inadequate education or skills among individual workers. The organizational context of workers' jobs—what kind of company and workplace they are employed by—also affects workers' power to bargain about wages. This organizational context goes beyond immediate, within-organization characteristics—such as a company's collective bargaining agreements or its ownership structure. Relationships between organizations are also factors in the organizational context that affect workers' jobs and pay.
⇧ Wall Street Gains Ground Under the New Volcker Rule
Banks would also no longer have to show that a hedge "demonstrably reduces or otherwise significantly mitigates" a specific risk. This is a big concession from the regulators. The large trading losses that JPMorgan racked up during the London Whale scandal occurred in part because huge hedging trades got out of hand.
"Democracy, national sovereignty and global economic-integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full."
The first paragraph quoted above is true. The second is not.
Dani Rodrik is mistaken. Democracy, national sovereignty, and global economic integration are compatible if the nation is a one-world democracy, which is where we are headed and will end up.
⇧ Only in San Francisco: Activists block Google buses with scooters to protest 'techsploitation'
Which side do you come down on?
I understand both sides, but I really sympathize much more with the people whose lives are seen by many in high places in tech as if they are worth less than other lives (techie lives) and are, therefore, okay to overly disrupt.
Frankly, wasn't just putting a bunch of loose scooters just anywhere a pretty bad idea? Honestly, bike racks were very sensible. What happened to the scooters was highly predictable.
⇧ Italy — shows why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be saved
History ought to act as a deterrent. During the 1930s our economies didn't come out of the depression until the folly of that time — the gold standard — was thrown on the dustbin of history. The euro will hopefully soon join it.
Economists have a tendency to get enthralled by their theories and model?? and forget that behind the figures and abstractions there is a real world with real people. Real people that have to pay dearly for fundamentally flawed doctrines and recommendations.
That Germany will usher in the total collapse of the European Union, because Germany refuses to integrate, is becoming a certainty.
Everyone seems to think its the euro that's the problem when it's really the lack of full integration as a federal democracy.
Poor Germany is always shooting itself in the foot, never rising to the right occasion.
⇧ Dramatic surge in China carbon emissions signals climate danger
This is really bad news if it's accurate and if China's switch to clean energy isn't happening enough.
Is it beginning to look more and more like we aren't going to avoid climate disaster before we wake up and radically change things to reverse it.
⇧ NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index ticks up another notch
The five primary gases tracked by the AGGI are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and two chlorofluorocarbons that are strictly controlled by the Montreal Protocol because they damage Earth's protective ozone layer. These five primary greenhouse gases account for about 96 percent of the increased climate-warming influence since 1750, which is the accepted date for the onset of the industrial revolution. ...
... Since 1750, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen 46 percent.
⇧ Downtown Portland's record $1B development includes little affordable housing
Tech companies are driving many of the building booms in and around Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and other tech-centric cities. With that momentum comes plenty of high-paying jobs, which are driving up rents and home prices. While these cities are benefiting from job creation and increased tax revenues, the building booms are pushing many working-class and low-income individuals out of their long-term neighborhoods and into the suburbs; some have even been made homeless.
However, efforts to boost the number of affordable housing units often get pushback from developers in the form of lawsuits or withdrawal from the market, as is the case in Portland.
⇧ Ross to Push China on Trade as U.S. Risks Isolation Over Tariffs
High-stakes foreign policy and he who controls the money can change the rules:
Trump is putting "Classical Economics" on trial. Whether he knows it or not, what he's done is dump Austrian School of Economics on international trade in favor of American School of Economics. By the way, given a mixed-economy system, which we have right now, he's right to do it. Whether he'll do it well is a question. He's playing 20-hand poker with no limit on the number of games he can add and with each game having no limit on the amount he can bet.
This is the most volatile patch in overall US foreign policy in my life.
⇧ President Trump orders Energy Department to stop coal retirements
The memo allegedly wrote that "Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement." According to Bloomberg, the memo added that these coal and nuclear plants are being replaced by natural gas and renewable power generation that is not secure or resilient.
Such a statement has been contradicted by several power grid operators, including PJM, one of the largest independent system operators in the country. The recent "bomb cyclone" system of extremely cold weather in the Northeast this winter showed off that the grid could operate well despite coal retirements.
Boosting the flagging coal industry was one of the key campaign promises of President Trump, despite the fact that it's one of the most polluting forms of energy that the US has, and it employs significantly fewer people than either the natural gas, oil, or solar power industries.
⇧ Trump Prepares Lifeline for Money-Losing Coal Plants
How do you spell crony capitalism? Read the article.
There's no science behind the Trump concept. In fact, national security would be enhanced greatly by increasing solar, wind, and other clean alternatives that can be decentralized and, therefore, much harder to bring down.
Even the Pentagon could have decentralized solar and wind, etc.
Plus, ending global-warming increases due to burning coal, etc., would greatly improve climate security, which impacts all sorts of other security aspects.
It's actually so obvious that most relatively aware grade schoolers know the right choice is solar and wind and other clean alternatives which are all vastly more sustainable in big-picture terms than coal, oil, and nuclear fission.
⇧ In a Single Day, the Electric Car Boom Gains Speed in 3 States
Trump is fighting a totally losing battle against clean energy. People aren't going to buy electric cars and trucks and buses only to have to plug into a coal-fired source to charge up those vehicles. The People want to slow, stop, and reverse global warming and rightly so.
⇧ This May Be The Biggest Economic And Social Shift Of The Last 100 Years. Are You Ready?
Autonomous electric vehicles require 90 percent less maintenance, can achieve 80 percent + sustained utilization rates (i.e. 23 hours a day), do not need parking garages and parking spaces, can become platforms for entertainment, shopping, and socialization, and will reduce traffic accidents by 90 percent + (94 percent of all accidents today are attributed to human error).
Imagine fully autonomous vehicles, which will be available on-demand where and when needed. These vehicles will operate with down time only for maintenance and recharging. And, the sacred cow, individual ownership of vehicles, will become a novelty for collectors and for sport.
⇧ If the economy is so great, why are 78 million hustling for dimes?
The Fed ought to get out of the clouds and see that the economy is still failing for many Americans.
The Fed might think that 3.8% unemployment is the "Mission Accomplished" signal. Millions of people scrambling for dimes disagree.
⇧ If the job market is so great, why aren't many people getting pay raises?
... wage rigidity ....
Exactly, but there's more to it than just that. People aren't used to asking for or demanding raises. Also, there's still more labor slack in the system than the numbers are suggesting.
⇧ China to slash import tariffs on many consumer products by 60 percent from July 1
Please notice that China became the second largest national economy in the world while all the high tariffs were in place even though the "trade liberals" in the US would have you believe that tariffs can't work. Of course they can.
Do you think China would have made this move if Trump hadn't slapped tariffs on China?
⇧ Attention: Key Changes Are Coming for Single Family Buy-And-Hold Investors
I understand the enthusiasm; however, keep in mind that we are in incredibly volatile times and recession is highly likely to be in the cards unless some of Trump's domestic tax-cuts are radically altered.
If a recession hits and housing is hit enough, then deep-pocketed, all-cash investors will have another field day. I'm not suggesting that we're in a housing bubble like we were before the 2008 crash, but we aren't in great shape overall either. What I'm suggesting is to not over leverage.
The described program doesn't sound extremely dangerous, as it requires a high enough down payment to have a somewhat decent equity position to not go underwater in a modest downturn.
Again, keep your eye on the volatility levels and how things start turning out once Trump is actually truly tested, which he has yet to be.
⇧ Kilauea Volcano Lava Hotter and Faster as New Evacuations Ordered
There are over 800 images on that post to click through if you're interested.
Kilauea's lava is moving faster than ever on the Big Island as eruptions continue.
More than 70 homes and 110 structures have been destroyed by the lava so far.
⇧ A Euro Tragedy
This is quite good, and I commend Simon Wren-Lewis for finally placing emphasis where it ought to have been and where I had it all along (tooting my own horn): integration.
What he now needs to do is start emphasizing democracy. Let the People choose much more directly whom they will label "expert" and assign the position of technocrat always subject to instant recall (removal and replacement) by those same People. That way, we'll finally put an end to crony-capitalist so-called experts and so-called technocrats cyclically running the show into the ground.
Come on Simon. It's time to evolve. Join the ranks of the real economic democrats and progressives of the world.
Hopefully, Ashoka Mody (the subject of Simon's book review) is already on board or will quickly arrive.
... democratic deficit implicit in that German design ....
... Syriza's call for debt relief should have been granted.
"... excessive debt - 'debt overhang' - reduces the ability and incentive to invest, slows economic growth, causes low inflation or even deflation to set in, and makes debts harder to pay."
Varoufakis may have been unconventional, but many of his proposals, including linking repayments to GDP growth, were "economically sound".
I still remember how astonished I was reading the Stability and Growth pact when it was announced, which effectively ignored this critical role for fiscal policy.
... German wage undercutting in the early 2000s. ... to devalue the German real exchange rate within the Eurozone. ... indicated an unwillingness on the part of the strongest country in the union to play by the rules of the game.
... the eurozone ... retains a belief in 'falling forward' from each crisis to further integration. If the governing elite is the head and the people are the legs, the great danger is that the legs will not move and the eurozone will fall flat on its face.
⇧ Record 95.9 Million Americans Are No Longer In The Labor Force
I never bought into the libertarian goldbugism of ZeroHedge, but they do often shed real light, as in this case.
It's been obvious to me during the entire "recovery" period, which we are still in, in a very dragged out sense, that a huge number of people simply lack enthusiasm about working because opportunities in general for raises above price inflation are just not there. Those people may not know why, but the reason is that those at the top simply don't have the common sense to understand that they, those at the top, shouldn't hoard all the profits for themselves because such hoarding damages the economy overall and in the longer run, lessens the wealth and income of those at the top. In other words, the instant gratification mentality of the rich is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. They're quite literally pulling the rug out from under themselves.
⇧ How Greece's Busiest Port Reveals the Perils of Privatization
... a "success story" for whom? The dockworkers of Piraeus say they and their families have seen little of the alleged gains brought by COSCO. As Piraeus Port Authority boasts of widening profit margins and increasing maritime traffic, wages for dockworkers haven't budged since they were slashed from 1500 euros ($1,750) per month to 600 euros after the financial crisis. Beyond that, COSCO now hires few dockworkers as full-time employees, and tends to enlist unskilled laborers for complex container unloading. COSCO also primarily remunerates people on an ad hoc basis as subcontractors, leaving dockworkers and their families entirely dependent on the ebb and flow of traffic into Piraeus. It also means their traditional retirement benefits have disappeared.
"Piraeus was always a profitable port. However, it is clear there were strong interests to see Greece's public wealth turned over into other peoples' hands," said Giorgos Gogos, head of the Piraeus dockworkers' union.
Last year, the Greek economy grew by 1.4 percent after a nearly decade-long recession, but the country's recovery hardly marks "a new chapter of growth ahead," as some of the European Union's chief economists would like to suggest. An estimated 15,000—20,000 young Greeks are still leaving the country every month to search for work elsewhere in Europe. More than one in five Greeks could not afford to cover their basic needs in 2017. Unemployment has been well above 20 percent for seven consecutive years. Despite the fire sale of public assets, the Greek government's outstanding debt still totals almost twice the size of the country's gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, the proliferation of low-paid, flexible employment in Greece, like at Piraeus, has likely hampered the pace of economic growth by throttling private consumption.
But several dockworkers shied away from such optimism, and said what's happening at Piraeus is just the beginning of a regime of pre carious employment that is spreading across Europe. Kleonakos told me, "We know that we in Greece are part of a particularly harsh neoliberal experiment, but it is just the beginning. Today in Greece, tomorrow in Europe. The whole labor system is tending to more flexible systems of work. It is an illusion for the rest of Europe to think they can escape from this fate."
⇧ Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoes bill banning "inclusionary zoning"
Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed legislation that would have asserted state authority over local zoning efforts aimed at creating affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods.
Backed by housing developers and sponsored by Metairie Republican Sen. Danny Martiny, Senate Bill 462 forbade municipal and parish governments from requiring developers to set aside a certain number of low income units to receive building permits for apartment, condo, single family and other housing projects.
If we are going to have a mixed economy rather than a dog-eat-dog system, then I agree with the veto.
How much are the developers worth? What's their average net worth? What's their average income? How can they not build affordable housing as a percentage of their market-rate and luxury units and still not make enough money to live extremely comfortably?
I think developers must be required to live up to certain civic responsibilities to make sure nobody is left behind.
Where developers can't produce affordable housing because they simply cannot pencil it out while making a decent living, then government should subsidize the developers' efforts. It's that simple.
⇧ Trump Administration Gets Trumpian In Boasting About Its Tax Cuts
... if we were going to see anything like the investment boom promised in the selling of the tax cut we should be seeing growth two or three times this rate. Second, the pace of investment growth in the first quarter is not especially strong. The figure below shows the year over year change in non-residential fixed investment since 2000.
There has been an uptick in durable goods manufacturing employment in the last year or so, but nothing especially out of the ordinary. ...
... we can see a respectable uptick in hours worked, although no better than what we saw between the middle of 2013 and the end of 2014 when a plunge in world oil prices led to a falloff of employment in energy-related industries. And of course, growth is much weaker than in 2011 and most of 2012.