Smart Money, Scared Money. Plus, Bonus Tikka

First the reward (no sing-for-your-supper spiritual joylessness here!).

Here’s one fat cat that is Warren-curious:

 

Tikka has views on the e-book vs. book-books debate. E-books…nah.

Yup. Books it is!

(I find myself more and more on the opposite side of this divide; I spend more than half of my reading time on my Kindle these days.  But Tikka’s most definitely old school.)

Now to money.  Got my email update from Krugthulu today (Paul and I are like that, I tell you!).  While he notes, in effect, that the bond market and its economist watchers have correctly predicted eleven of the last three recessions, there’s no way to construe what’s happening in with US debt in any comforting fashion:

So the slump in long-term yields since last fall, from a peak of 3.2 percent to just 1.63 percent this morning, says that investors have grown drastically less sanguine about the economy. Long-term rates are now notably lower than short-term rates — and this kind of “yield curve inversion” has in the past consistently been the precursor to recession…

Why the long faces?

Krugman offers a few reasons why bond folks might be running scared.

For one, the ginormous, “self-financing” tax cut has failed; it hasn’t come close to stimulating enough economic activity to avoid blowing a hole in the deficit.

Trade wars, so easy to win, turn out to be a predictable idiocy, not just costly in themselves, but as they foment uncertainty, a deterrent to capital investment.  And last, he notes, economic troubles elsewhere, especially Europe, are beginning to affect us.

What might all this mean? Well, maybe a recession, maybe not:

The truth is that nobody is very good at calling turning points in the economy, and calling a recession before it’s really obvious in the data is much more likely to get you declared a Chicken Little than hailed as a prophet. (Believe me, I know all about it.) But the bond market, which doesn’t worry about such things, is looking remarkably grim.

And if the smart money here is also the correct money then, as Krugman writes…

I leave the possible political implications as an exercise for all of you.

Bonus Krugman — four key paragraphs from today’s column “Useful Idiots and Trumpist Billionaires”:

More to the point, Trumpism is about much more than tax cuts: It’s an attempt to end the rule of law and impose an authoritarian, white nationalist regime. And even billionaires should be terrified about what their lives will be like if that attempt succeeds.








Alright. That’s Enough Respite

Here’s a slightly wonky way into a pragmatic reason why the moral catastrophe that is Republican immigration crimes is bad for America’s bottom line, and not just its moral standing.

Changing U.S. demographics can decrease the productive capacity of the economy through slowing labor force participation and population growth. Holding labor productivity constant, slowing participation and population growth lower potential gross domestic product (GDP) and the natural rate of interest. The natural rate could also be lower because of increased saving; however, Americans are saving less than they did 30 years ago. Most likely, changing U.S. demographics are reducing the U.S. natural rate of interest by decreasing potential output.

That’s from a research note out of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  As glossed in the press release from the bank, the authors have found that,

Potential output is the amount of goods and services that an economy can produce when it fully employs its available resources.

If potential output declines, Hong and Shell said, the natural rate of interest declines with it.

“An aging population and slowing population growth limit the supply of available workers in an economy,” Hong and Shell wrote. “Therefore, holding labor productivity constant, a decrease in workers—a higher old-age dependency ratio—reduces the output generated by an economy.”

They continued: “A smaller working-age population means fewer people with a lot of disposable income to consume. These factors decrease an economy’s productive capacity and thereby lower the natural rate.”

So, the thinking goes, Americans are living longer and having fewer children … which means more retirees and fewer workers … which means lower potential output … which means a lower natural rate of interest.

That is: fewer folks being born into the existing US population means lower growth going forward.  That means that a growing gap between what the American economy could produce and what it actually can generate.  Given that the growing fraction of Americans who are older and all or mostly out of the workforce is supported by the economic activity of those younger working cohorts, that means harder times to come for those least able to make bank on their own behalf, people who in a civilized society would be able to enjoy a respite after their prime working days are done.

So what’s the connection to immigration?

Simple:  if domestic babies aren’t going to conceive and birth themselves, then the only way to push America’s labor force that can drive the US output towards its full potential is to welcome younger, ambitious and hard working folks who might want to live and work here.

You know:  immigrants.  The people on whom the Trump-led Republican adminstration is committing crimes against humanity.*

So, yeah, ICE and CBP and the concentration camps of the American Gulag are a moral catastrophe, a lasting shame for every American.

They’re also dumb, dumb, dumb just on the level of dollars and sense.

Top 0′ the Sunday to y’all.  This thread is open for bidness.

*An aside: for various reasons I’ve had to look up population figures for London in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century.  Through just about all of that period, deaths exceeded births in that hugely unhealthy city, and yet the the metropolis grew substantially.  Without digging deep into my files, here’s a quick example.  In the 1670s, about half a million lived in London. Forty years late, that number was up to 630,000.  Where did that additional 25% come from? Mostly from internal migration, the countryside pouring into the big city.  (And by big, I mean unique.  The next largest English city — Norwich! — had a population of about 25,000, if my memory is serving me) and the numbers went down fast from there.   Not sure why I bring all that up, but heck, fun facts are fun.

Image: Philip Zec, Women of Britain Come into the Factories, 1941








Yes of Course the Fucking President is Racist

Why are we still discussing and debating this three fucking years later? It’s who he is. It’s who a large group of the Republicans are. And those that aren’t are ok with it as long as jesus takes the wheel in the Supreme Court and the tax cuts keep flowing.

Fucking bloody hell, you assholes.








Mike Pence, the GOP’s Emergency Backup Monster

There have been rumors that “Idiot-1” wants to replace Pence on the 2020 ticket with his favorite daughter — so maybe sending him down to Texas was an attempt to make him an expendable sacrifice to public outrage. Or maybe sending Moral Monstrosity Mike was a ‘gift’ to that not inconsiderable portion of the GOP base that wants to hurt people. Quite possibly both!


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Friday Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Laura Ingraham, Queen of the Nightcrawlers

Per the Washington Post:

The controversy stems from a Thursday night episode of “The Ingraham Angle,” in which the host lamented recent comments made by Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), criticizing Facebook’s refusal to take down an altered video of Pelosi.

Speaking with conservative activist Candace Owens, Ingraham likened the altered video to a work of satire. Clinton’s and Pelosi’s complaints, she said, were simply a coordinated effort from the left to “silence conservative voices” ahead of next year’s election, a common accusation by conservatives, including President Trump.

“Facebook now, what do they monitor, hate?” Ingraham asked. “That sounds good until you realize hate — and these are some of the people that they’ve shunned.”

Fox then displayed a graphic featuring Owens and seven other “prominent voices censored on social media.” Among those silenced, Ingraham said, were “people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty.”…

Sen. Warren’s decision not to give them a media-friendly town hall looking pretty good right now…


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