Monthly Archives: November 2021

U.S. New Home Market Shrinks in October 2021

The market for new homes in the U.S. shrank in October 2021. The initial estimate of the market cap itself for the month is $28.31 billion, which is 0.9% less than one year ago, and 6.0% below December 2020's peak of $30.12 billion.

Trailing Twelve Month Average New Homes Sales Market Capitalization, January 1976-October 2021

The market for new homes in the U.S. has shrunk in both real and nominal terms.

Meanwhile, the annualized number of new homes being sold in the U.S. has nearly dropped to levels last seen in December 2019.

Trailing Twelve Month Average U.S. New Homes Sales, January 1976-October 2021

The shrinking new home market represents a source of headwinds for the U.S. economy in 2021. We'll follow up with a look at the affordability trends for new homes later this week.


U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 24 November 2021. 

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Median and Average Sale Price of Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 24 November 2021. 

Australian Politics 2021-11-30 06:07:00


Family moves to Canberra to escape ‘atrocious’ temperatures in Western Sydney

She might be disappointed. Canberra is pretty hot in summer

Sydney has always been a hot place. As Watkin Tench recorded, it got so hot in 1790 (Yes. 1790. not 1970) that birds and bats were falling out of the trees dead. And that was in coastal Sydney. Inland has always been even hotter. So the lady's claim that she is escaping anthropogenic climate change is tendentious. There were no SUVs or power stations in 1790

An Australian climate scientist who specialises in heatwaves has told of how she moved her family to a new city to escape “atrocious” temperatures due to climate change.

University of NSW climate scientist Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick shared her story in the documentary series Life at 50 Degrees, available to stream on Flash News.

The mother of two said she was so concerned about the extreme temperatures her family endured where they lived in western Sydney, that she made the decision to relocate.

“I have experienced days of 45 and 47 degrees celsius and that was appalling, it was atrocious. You couldn’t do anything,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “The only way we could stay cool in Western Sydney was to have the aircon running all day and that was a hard thing for me to do.”

She said she made the extreme decision to move her family to Canberra, where the climate is much cooler, for her daughters, aged 2 and 4.

“It really bothers me that the world that they’re experiencing now is a lot different from my childhood,” she said.

“During my first pregnancy, it was so hot that I actually struggled to put the washing on the line. “While I was literally about to bring this child into the world, I was thinking what will the summers be like for her in the future.”

According to Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, temperatures in Western Sydney already experience 10 degrees higher than in the city’s eastern suburbs. The region’s local government areas (LGAs) including Penrith, where Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick was living, are expected to be the worst affected with a forecast of an average of four extra days of extreme heat by around 2050.

The climate scientist said the outlook for the area forced her to take action and make the move. “As a scientist, I know how bad the future looks. I understand all that, I comprehend all that. That’s what I do for a living,” she said.

“But as a mum, as a person, as a human being, I really struggle with just how bad those impacts will be.”


Sydney University academics’ fury over dumped departments

This is just about a new boss wanting to make his mark. The only possible reason for the rejig is to increase cross-disciplinary contact and co-operation. But that is a snark. It already happens when the parties concerned want it. I studied and taught in a "School" that comprised people from psychology, sociology and anthropology -- the School of Behavioral Sciences at Macquarie university. And I saw no instance of research co-operation across those disciplines.

Arts and social sciences academics at Sydney University are furious about a plan to refashion the faculty’s departments as disciplines, with many saying they have never seen such anger in decades at the institution.

Sixty senior faculty members, including more than 20 chairs of departments – including history, philosophy and English – and almost 30 professors within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or FASS, have written to the university’s administration to express their alarm.

It is the first major skirmish between university management and academics under the rule of new vice-chancellor, Mark Scott.

Chair of Archaeology Annie Clarke said it would be more than a name change.

Departments were as old as the university itself, and were an integral part of its intangible heritage. She warned the proposed “disciplines” were nebulous and risked damaging the university’s reputation. She has been at Sydney since 2003 and said “I’ve never seen people so upset”.

“All the major universities in the world have departments, and this slippage into a different kind of culture around disciplines is increasing centralised control of what we do,” Professor Clarke said. “For us, it’s a line in the sand.”

A proposal presented to FASS academics this month said the faculty regularly failed to meet budget targets for domestic students, and only two of its schools – economics, and media and communications – attracted significant numbers of overseas students.

Those schools cross-subsidised the rest of the faculty, but, as COVID-19 border closures showed, the international market was volatile. Costs were growing at 2.8 per cent a year but revenue was only climbing by 2 per cent a year, which was unsustainable. “It makes sense for us to consider changes in the way we work,” the proposal said.

FASS is divided into six schools, which are in turn divided into departments, with a chair of each. In 2019, only two of its schools returned a surplus: Economics ($41 million) and the School of Languages and Cultures ($6m), the proposal said.

The loss-makers were the schools of Literature Art and Media ($91,000), Education and Social Work ($532,000), Social and Political Sciences ($5 million) and the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry ($13 million).

The proposed changes involve re-naming schools and shifting the subjects within them. A new School of Humanities would take in subjects from the old School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, while adding linguistics and religion but losing gender studies to social sciences.

All undergraduate units with fewer than 24 students would be scrapped.

The departments within schools would be renamed disciplines, to “move away from the administrative and financial silos”, increase interaction between similar subjects, and reduce internal competition. The department chair would become a discipline lead.

Other universities, such as Melbourne and Monash, have also adopted the “discipline” approach. The university defines a department as an organisational unit, and discipline as a sub-field of knowledge. Departments don’t have their own budgets.

However, academics are worried this will curtail their ability to manage their own subject.

The letter from angry FASS academics said the discipline concept was nebulous and risky, and their views had been ignored. “There is no clear reason or benefit for the proposed change, as no specific problems with the current structure have been identified,” it said.

Professor Clarke said students, alumni and staff strongly identified with departments. The new structure would lead to an “erosion and loss of identity,” she said.

“There is an increasing centralised control of academic life. In departments we have a fair degree of control over what we teach our students, what we do, and public facing, the engagement work we do. We feel that there’s a slow erosion of the structures of a university that we feel are really important.”

Not everyone agrees. Sociologist Salvatore Babones, who was not a signatory to the letter, said his colleagues were justifiably concerned about the consolidation of smaller departments into bigger ones.

“But relabelling departments as disciplines is the epitome of pro forma reform: departments become disciplines, department chairs become discipline leads, and the rest is business as usual,” he said. “It’s yet another missed opportunity for a genuine reexamination and long-overdue modernization of how we educate the next generation.”

A spokeswoman for the university administration said the FASS proposal involved significant consultation with staff, and the latest version involved smaller changes with no redundancies or reductions in employment.

More consultation was underway. “Like other institutions, we need to look for ways to ensure ongoing sustainability alongside continued high-quality teaching and research,” she said.

“The proposal to change from departments to a disciplinary structure – and to merge a very small number of disciplines – will allow our academic staff to collaborate more easily, reduce administrative double-up, produce a more consistent and flexible student experience and contribute to securing the future of our smaller disciplines.”


How the pandemic changed our population

The article below clearly favours high levels of immigration. But why? The claim is that there is a shortage of workers in some occupations -- such as care of the elderly. But there is only a shortage at current pay rates. Pay more and you will get more workers. The only valid reason for immigration that I can see is to enable family reunions.

It is true that paying more for services to children and the elderly will increase the costs to users of those services but that could usually be prevented by reducing the burden of regulation on such services. Requiring that people tasked with the care of little children have a university degree is one example of the towering stupidity in current regulations.

And traffic congestion and the price of housing can only be worsened by an increased population. And both of those things are already hugely problematical in Australia -- mainly as a result of past high levels of immigration

Disputes over population are a staple of Australian politics. So, it’s no surprise there are plenty of views about what to do about immigration policy now that pandemic restrictions on international borders are being lifted.

Some urge a rapid catch up. A leaked briefing prepared by bureaucrats for new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested he push for “an aggressive resumption of immigration levels”. It proposed Australia welcome 2 million migrants over the next five years. That’s 400,000 annually or nearly double the pre-pandemic rate.

High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challenges
High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challengesCREDIT:NICK MOIR

Others want a much more gradual build-up in migration numbers following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. This would help drive up demand for local labour and revive wages growth which has been sluggish for nearly a decade, they argue.

And as always there are those calling for much lower migration levels, or even none.

On Monday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that from next week eligible visa holders including overseas students, skilled work visa holders and working holidaymakers will be allowed to enter Australia for the first time in almost two years. The government anticipates this will pave the way for around 200,000 new arrivals in coming months.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” Morrison said.

The Federal Government appears to have rejected the idea of an immigration catch-up period. But nor will there be a go slow. The May budget forecast net overseas migration to bounce back to pre-COVID levels (235,000 per year) by mid-decade and remain around that level into the early 2030s.

That strategy will have far-reaching consequences.

Since the 1970s Australia’s population has been expanding at an average rate of 1.4 per cent a year which is relatively fast compared to other developed countries. But growth has come to a virtual standstill thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In the year before the pandemic hit Australia added 357,000 people, but that plunged to 36,000 in the year to March 2021. According to official estimates the national population increased by just 0.1 per cent last financial year and is forecast to grow by 0.2 per cent in 2021-22.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver says the hit to population growth delivered by COVID-19 means that Australia “will be 1 million people smaller than expected pre-coronavirus”. Longer range forecasts show Australia is now expected to have 35.3 million people in 2050, which is 2.5 million less than forecast in 2015. The population will also be older than otherwise would have been the case.

The pandemic has affected another important population driver – the fertility rate. The number of babies born per woman in Australia is expected to fall temporarily because of the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Official forecasts for Australia’s long-term fertility rate have also been subject to major downward revisions, largely unrelated to the pandemic. Back in 2015 the federal government assumed women would have an average of 1.9 babies over the next 40 years but this year it was cut to 1.62 babies per woman.

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen says the pandemic’s simultaneous disruption to both net overseas migration and the fertility rate will be noticeable for many years. Things as basic as family formation have been interrupted by the way COVID-19 put a stop to the way we normally mix socially.

“What’s happened to Australia’s population during the pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary,” says Allen. “We’ll be able to look back in generations to come and actually see the impact on the composition of our population.”

Even the way population is distributed across Australia has been affected. Terry Rawnsley, a demographer and urban economist at KPMG, says population growth in many regional areas, especially those relatively close to capital cities, will be much stronger than expected before the pandemic.

“The surge in people working from home has made a move to a regional area much more attractive,” he says.

Dr Allen says overseas migrants will form an essential part of Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and is fundamental if Australia is to maintain a healthy population profile in the longer term.

“What’s really concerning is that the composition of the population’s age structure has become more problematic during the pandemic,” she says. “Prior to COVID we were struggling with an age structure that meant we had insufficient people for our workforce needs, and that’s even more pronounced now. That’s going to put pressure on the nation in the post-pandemic recovery phase.”

Migrant labour is crucial to many services industries including the care of the young, the elderly and the disabled. A recent study found just over 37 per cent of paid frontline care workers were born overseas in 2016, up from 31 per cent in 2011. Another survey found 60 per cent of migrants in caring occupations were on temporary visas, and around 38 per cent arrived on student visas.

Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 aged-care workers within the next decade according to research published in August by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). The study concluded Australia is unlikely “to get anywhere close” to meeting its aged care workforce needs without migration.

“We require a workforce to sustain the nations needs and at present that means we require immigration to help us,” says Allen.

“Because of our age structure we don’t have a sufficient number of people ageing into the workforce to fill the gaps left by those ageing out, that’s the reality.”

Australia’s permanent migrant intake is capped at 160,000 per year, down recently from 190,000 a year. Skilled workers are favoured for permanent migration, although a growing share of places has been allocated under a program designed to boost business investment. Australia grants a further 13,750 permanent visas under a separate humanitarian program to resettle refugees and others overseas who are in humanitarian need.

A separate temporary migration program is largely uncapped (except for limits on working holiday visa grants for some countries) and demand driven. The stock of temporary migrants - which includes overseas students, working holidaymakers, skilled temporary residents, seasonal workers, and others - has increased by about 50,000 each year over the past decade.

Economic change along with Australia’s increasing integration with global trade and commerce has helped make population flows more complex. Knowledge-based industries which make up a growing share of our economy require skilled foreign workers to be able to come and go much more than in the past. The rise of the international education sector has added to this complexity. During the past 20 years it has emerged as Australia’s biggest services export. But overseas students are also part of the temporary migrant labour workforce (and are sometimes blamed for suppressing wages). They also increase demand for local housing and other services.

“Population can be a complicated issue,” says Allen.

Immigration is routinely blamed for a clutch of problems including traffic congestion, crowded trains, high-rise property developments and rising property prices.

A survey conducted for The Age and the Herald by research firm Resolve Strategic found 58 per cent favour restarting migration at a lower level than before the coronavirus while 20 per cent supported a return to the pre-pandemic rate.


Brisbane developer wins approval to build $300m tree house

image from

A Brisbane developer has received approval to build one of the world’s greenest residential buildings in the heart of the city.

A Brisbane developer has finally been given the go ahead to build what it claims will be one of the world’s greenest residential buildings — an apartment tower with “backyards in the sky” covered in more than 500 trees and 25,000 plants.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Koichi Takada, Aria Property Group’s $300 million “The Urban Forest” project will be a 20-storey building with 194 apartments in the heart of South Brisbane.

Plans for the development were lodged with Brisbane City Council in June last year and have just been approved, with 90 per cent of all submissions in support of the proposal.

The development was originally designed to have 32 storeys, but was scaled back due to the council raising concerns about height and scale during the approval process.

Aria development manager Michael Hurley said the project had attracted “overwhelming” interest, with more than 800 inquiries domestically and internationally since the development application was lodged.

Mr Hurley said the project would be “Queensland’s first stand-alone five-star green star design and as-built residential development” and a sustainable landmark for Brisbane in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic Games.

“Urban Forest will redefine apartment living, with the best residences we have ever delivered, iconic recreation spaces and innovations such as a two-storey fitness centre with basketball and squash courts on the rooftop,” Mr Hurley said.

“Demand for buildings like this moving forward will be huge. We hope this could lead the way for other (developers) to follow.”

The project’s major green initiatives include a 1450 sqm public park at the base of the building and a recycled greywater system that can save up to 50,000 litres of water a week.

‘The Urban Forest’ will offer 3700 sqm of resident amenity including a rooftop ‘canopy club’ with 360 degree views across South Brisbane, Musgrave Park, the CBD and Brisbane River, and Australia’s first rooftop basketball court.

Architect Koichi Takada said he hoped the project would inspire the next generation to work towards a more sustainable future.

“Urban Forest will change the way we live,” Mr Takada said. “We designed away the barrier between the building and nature resulting in the greenest residential building ever with generous backyards in the sky and offering a healthier lifestyle.”

Construction is set to begin mid-next year and is expected to be completed by late 2024.




The S&P 500’s Gaps Down on Coronavirus Pandemic Developments

A lot can happen to the outlook for the S&P 500 (Index: SPX) with the random onset of new information.

Friday, 26 November 2021 provides a good example. After having been closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, what is normally a low volume trading day instead turned into a noteworthy event because of the development of what is now being called the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which prompted new global travel restrictions with the countries in Africa where the new potentially vaccine-resistant variant was detected.

The initial events related to the new variant took place while U.S. markets were closed on Thursday, 25 November 2021, so by the time markets opened on Friday, stock prices gapped down at the open, then proceeded to close some 2.27% lower than they had previously closed on Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

From our perspective, the change in stock prices is consistent with a small Lévy flight event, as U.S. investors shifted their attention from 2022-Q2 inward toward the nearer term quarters of either 2021-Q4 or 2022-Q1. As it happens, that change moves the trajectory of the S&P 500 from the upper edge of the redzone forecast range on the alternative futures chart back into the middle of the range, which is telling.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2021Q4 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 26 Nov 2021

We're able to make that determination because of the assumptions we made when we initially set up the redzone forecast range many weeks ago. We had assumed investors would be focusing on the upcoming quarter of 2022-Q1 in the final weeks of 2021-Q4, where we set the middle of the future end of the range to correspond to the dividend futures-based model's projection for what the level of the S&P 500 index would be if investors were focusing on that point of time in the future. (The trajectory associated with 2022-Q1 is not much different from that for 2021-Q4, which is why we say investors may be focusing on either of these quarters.)

We're also fortunate in that we're near the end of period where the past volatility of stock prices prompted us to generate a redzone forecast range in the first place. Just looking a little further forward to the end of the forecast range to look at the relative positions of the trajectories for 2021-Q4/2022-Q1 and 2022-Q2 confirms a shift in investor focus from 2022-Q2 toward the earlier quarters would lead to a shift in the level of the S&P 500 of the magnitude that has occurred.

Since this is an example of how the random onset of new information affects stock prices, here are the headlines we noted for their market-moving potential during the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving trading week.

Monday, 22 November 2021
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Thursday, 25 November 2021
Friday, 26 November 2021

The CME Group's FedWatch Tool is still projecting a quarter point rate hike in June 2022, the odds of additional hikes later in the year have dropped below 50% with last week's pandemic developments.

Australian Politics 2021-11-29 08:15:00


New words for "Advance Australia Fair"?

The proposed second verse is a rather clumsy reference to Aborigines so is hardly appropriate for general use. The proposed third verse, by contrast, refers to common Australian phenomena so is reasonably appropriate.

The real issue is why one population group is being singled out in what is supposed to be a NATIONAL anthem. Rather confused thinking.

There is also a Christian verse to the anthem that is widely sung in church circles. Christians so far have been content to use the verse only on their own occasions but if we are going to recognize special groups, the Christian version should also be recognized. There are more Christians than Aborigines

The Australian national anthem could be rewritten under proposed changes to make the words better reflect indigenous history.

Non- profit group Recognition in Anthem is pushing for a new second verse to Advance Australia Fair titled 'Our People' and a third verse 'Our Values'.

The group already had one victory when Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a one-word change from January 1 this year that altered the line 'we are young and free' to 'we are one and free'.

Cathy Freeman - who carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her Sydney Olympics gold medal lap of honour in 2000 - is backing the move.

Her support was instrumental in the one word change - with Mr Morrison personally calling her to let her know - but now she wants to 'finish the job'.

The revised anthem has already been sung at high profile events including most recently at the Sydney Opera House during National Reconciliation Week in May 2021, attended by Ms Bulger.

She said the change to the lyrics made on New Year's Eve was a small step and the new verses 'would mean that we could truly celebrate our anthem because it would include us, the First Nations people, and the special places that are around Australia'.

Advance Australia Fair was chosen as the de facto national anthem in a 1977 plebiscite by just over 8.4 million voters who picked the song over God Save the Queen, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.

It was officially adopted as the national anthem on April 19, 1984 on the recommendation of the federal government.

The song was composed by the Scottish-born Peter Dodds McCormick, first performed in 1878 and was sung in Australia as a patriotic song.


Verse 2 - Our People

For sixty thousand years and more

First peoples of this land

Sustained by Country, Dreaming told

By song and artist's hand.

Unite our cultures from afar

In peace with those first here

To walk together on this soil

Respect for all grows there.

From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Verse 3 - Our Values

In times of drought and flood and fire

When all but hope is gone

Australians join with helping hands

And wattle blooms again.

Tomorrow may this timeless land

Live for our young to share

From red-rock heart to sun-filled shore

Our country free and fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Christian verse:

With Christ our head and cornerstone,
We’ll build our nation’s might,
Whose way and truth and light alone,
Can guide our path aright.
Our lives, a sacrifice of love,
Reflect our Master’s care.
With faces turned to heaven above,
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.


Premier vows NSW WON'T go back into lockdown and will remain open to the world despite global fears over new Omicron Covid variant

Premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed NSW will stay open and forge ahead with its Covid roadmap despite fears about the Omicron variant.

NSW Health confirmed on Sunday urgent genomic testing found two travellers who touched down in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday night have the new strain.

The latest virus mutation, first detected in South Africa, sparked concerns around the globe amid fears it is more transmissible than world's most contagious and dominant strain, Delta.

But Mr Perrotet said Omicron could be contained and the state's timeline of lifting restrictions at 95 per cent vaccination or on December 15 was on track.

He said 'for the moment' he intended to stick with the state's plan as NSW could not be a 'hermit kingdom on the other side of the world'.

'Ultimately, we not only need to learn to live alongside the virus, but live alongside the variants as well,' he said.

'This pandemic is not over. These variants will continue, cases will continue to rise and the best thing we can do to keep the community safe, keep your family safe is to go out and get vaccinated and get that booster shot when you can.'

Experts say mask wearing, social distancing and better ventilation will help prevent all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron

Mr Perrotet said it was inevitable that Omicron would seep onto our shores. 'If you look at Delta… how quickly that come into countries around the world, the prime minister cancelled flights into here,' he said.

'The reality is these variants are highly transmissible and that means it is almost certain it will get into countries around the world. That is the reality of the situation.

'We can’t look at the world as we want it to be, we need to look at the situation as it is.'


‘Vandals’: Victoria, Queensland fume over federal climate intervention

The Morrison government has used sweeping new powers to override state and territory government support for an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government has deployed recently passed laws to overturn the participation of five states and territories in the global Under 2 Coalition.

In an email dated 23 November, an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told his counterpart in the Victorian government that its participation in the coalition was “no longer in operation”.

The email warned the Victorian government that under the new Foreign Relations (States and Territories) Act 2020, sign up to the agreement was now illegitimate.

The email said Victoria had 14 days to tell the global organisation it had “failed to properly classify” the state’s involvement in a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding.

Two-hundred-and-sixty sub-national governments worldwide have signed up to the the Under 2 coalition, representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy. Members commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2C, with efforts to reach 1.5C. Thirty-five states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

“[T]he MOU has also been invalidated for a number of other states and territories,” the official said, naming the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. He did not cite NSW, which has lately signed up.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister, said Dfat had used a technicality that was “illogical” to cancel her state’s participation.

“It’s just a really ridiculous technicality,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s egregious. They are vandals.”

The move came less than a fortnight after the Glasgow climate summit ended. The Morrison government had weathered extensive criticism at the event for being among the few rich nations to avoid raising their 2030 emission reduction targets.

“This is going to be a global embarrassment, not for the Victorian government but the federal government that has already covered itself in ridicule on the climate change stage,” D’Ambrosio said. “Rather than addressing the urgency of climate change, they are actually putting forward more barriers.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Under 2 Coalition MOU had not come to the minister for a decision.

“The MOU was not properly notified by the relevant states and territory under the Foreign Relations Act 2020 and was therefore automatically invalidated by operation of the Act,” the spokesperson said.

Dfat was also approached for comment, as was energy minister Angus Taylor.

The Dfat official suggested in the email if Victoria wanted to sign up to the Under 2 coalition’s 2021 MOU, his department would consider approving it. He also said Victoria should join with other jurisdictions to make a single submission.

“Under what conditions would they be prepared to consider an application?” D’Ambrosio said. “Are they saying that if there’s one or two states that maybe hadn’t wanted to pursue it or have delayed it, then everyone else will be held up?”

Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland’s minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, said her state had also received the cancellation advice.

“Clearly, the Morrison government aren’t content with their own failures on climate change, they’re now trying to stop the states from taking action.” she said.

“Surely their time would be better spent funding renewable energy projects or delivering a credible policy on reducing emissions, than on playing silly bureaucratic games,” Scanlon said.


Another 10 million students under education growth plan

Australia should shake up its $40 billion international student sector to shift the focus to teaching online and offshore, the government says, arguing that an extra 10 million students could benefit from an Australian education over the next 20 years.

In its new 10-year international education strategy, the government says Australia should look to Britain which in 2019 taught 407,000 students in offshore arrangements, compared to 117,000 – or 22 per cent – by Australian education providers.

The new strategy says Australia must diversify where students come from and what and where they study. Louie Douvis

Experts, however, say the prospect of living and working in Australia is a strong drawcard for students.

“We know that the vast majority of international students still want to study onshore in Australia for a significant proportion of their studies,” said Jake Foster, chief commercial officer with education consultancy AECC Global.

“The government is actively encouraging and supporting students to start their studies offshore, which could help grow the Australian international education sector in the years ahead.”

The international education strategy for 2021-2030 also says Australia must diversify the number of countries from which students are sourced and diversify the courses in which they study.

While China and India are the highest source countries for all major international education destinations, Australia has the highest concentration of them, with 58 per cent of students arriving from those two countries. That is compared to 50 per cent for the US and Canada and 36 per cent for Britain.

The strategy argues that study for an Australian qualification and the right to live and work in Australia for a time following graduation should be linked as a means of driving skilled workers into the economy.

Alignment with skills priorities

The strategy notes that almost half of all international students who study in Australia are enrolled in business and management courses, but there would be greater benefit for the country if they were to graduate in priority skills areas such as computing.

“Better aligning program choices with priority employment fields will delivery more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are most needed,” the strategy reads.

The strategy argues that the diversification of source countries and study areas will improve the educational experience for international and domestic students.

Brett Blacker, chief executive of English Australia, which represents the country’s English language, or ELICOS, colleges, said teaching students online and offshore required a trade-off with the soft diplomacy and flow-on economic benefits of teaching students onshore.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to be mutually exclusive. We can build some pipelines through students doing some of their program offshore and then coming to Australia,” Mr Blacker said.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, said concentration of Chinese students in the group’s universities was higher still at 68 per cent, with just 5 per cent from India.

Students, skilled migrants are next priority entrants
“Clearly, diversifying into alternative markets is going to take time,” Ms Thomson said.

She also said most international students in Go8 universities were postgraduates in fields such as engineering and science.

“These are precisely the skills that we need to address our current skill shortages and research demands,” she said.

Over the past two years, the number of international students enrolled in Australian institutions has dropped by 150,000. The sector was valued at $40 billion to the economy in 2019 and is expected to be worth half that by the end of the year.




Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 28, 2021


 Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 28, 2021

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Destroying Democracy Is Central to the Privatization of Public Goods 

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 11-22-2021]

How Delaware Became the World’s Biggest Offshore Haven 

[Foreign Policy, via Naked Capitalism 11-21-2021]

The American Ruling Class Has Never Let Us Build Back Better 

[Jacobin, via The Daily Poster, November 21, 2021]

The defeat of Reconstruction was the nation’s first failure to build back better, and it set the stage for the failures that followed. American austerity politics found their first full expression during this period, pivoting on an ideological turn to classical liberalism within the Republican Party. The events of the 1870s created a pattern of missed opportunities and reactionary blowback that has since been repeated time and again.”

Fighting the Inflation Profiteers

David Dayen, November 24, 2021 [The American Prospect]

Companies are raising prices well above increases in their costs. The only antidote is to finally take action against corporate power….

“Executives are seizing a once in a generation opportunity to raise prices,” reads a Wall Street Journal storyexplaining that around two-thirds of the largest publicly traded companies are showing profit margins higher today than they did in 2019, before the pandemic. Over 100 companies show profit margins of 50 percent or more above those 2019 levels…. Corporate executives are not hiding their handiwork; instead, they’re boasting about it in financial disclosures and earnings calls. “We have not seen any material reaction from consumers,” said the chief financial officer of Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer goods company, which has hiked prices three times in the past year. “What we are very good at is pricing,” said Colgate-Palmolive’s CEO. “We find that taking several small price increases is more effective than one large price jump,” added the CFO of Unilever. Dollar Tree, a discount store which has the word “dollar” in its name, has decided to permanently set its price point at $1.25, stating specifically that the move is “not a reaction to short-term or transitory market conditions.”

Class war and economic disequilibrium

Big Business Declares War on Lina Khan 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 11-22-2021] A must-read (and especially insightful on factional conflict in the Republican Party). L 11-22

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets ready to go after the anti-monopoly movement and its leader at the Federal Trade Commission. But the conservative-corporate coalition is now splintering….

Since the Senate confirmed Lina Khan to be one of two key antitrust enforcers in June, the network of corporatist operatives in D.C. and Wall Street have been quietly trying to undermine her. This week, the campaign came into the open. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just announced in the Wall Street Journal that it will be engaged in open conflict with the Federal Trade Commission, and more broadly with anti-monopolists across government.

“It feels to the business community that the FTC has gone to war against us, and we have to go to war back,” said Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark. The plan from the Chamber is endless harassment of the agency. They are filing Freedom of Information Act requests for the correspondence of Khan and her staff, writing warning letters about the commission’s actions, and threatening to sue the FTC at every step (even on things that went through on a bipartisan vote). The Chamber is also sending letters to every agency in government, in organized pushback against the Biden executive order on competition. The goal is to frighten lawyers at these agencies, to make it too painful to try and govern….

the real challenge in the antitrust world is the historic merger wave. According to Bloomberg, “Companies have announced $2.8 trillion of deals so far in 2021, an unprecedented number that puts this year on track to be the most active ever.” (These are a result of cheap credit from the Fed and the CARES Act passed in 2020.) This wave creates a special problem for the FTC. While European competition enforcers can simply block a deal until it’s been investigated, in the U.S. deals automatically go through unless the FTC brings a challenge in court with a deeply researched complaint. With thousands of deals going through, the experience of being at the FTC today is like playing tennis against a machine that shoots tennis balls at you unrelentingly.

In the midst of this merger boom, Khan has been pursuing every possible trick to address the problem. She has demanded merging firms get prior approval before pursuing new mergers, ended the process of quickly clearing mergers, and withdrawn loose merger guidelines. The FTC is now sending letters to firms telling them that the commission may undo mergers in the future, thus creating an incentive for firms to delay deals. These moves are not enough to stop the historic wave, but they have slowed it slightly, and generated concern among dealmakers. “This is significant and could have collateral consequences on the M&A deal space, particularly for private equity firms and their exit plans for a carve-out business or assets,” said Erica Weisgerber, partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

In response to this newfound skepticism of mergers, the antitrust bar, which openly encourages firms to pursue illegal mergers, is now suggesting a collective strategy to overwhelm both the DOJ and FTC. Here’s Paul Weiss partner Scott Barshay offering a plan to his fellow attorneys:….

Two weeks ago, roughly at the same time as Wilson’s speech, conservative Republican Senator Tom Cotton joined Democrat Amy Klobuchar in cosponsoring a bill opposing big tech mergers, a bill that Jordan opposed in the House Antitrust Subcommittee…. to have someone like Cotton come out squarely on the opposite side of Jordan over big tech means that the Republican Party will be fractured.

And Cotton’s not alone. His approach to big tech mirrors that of multiple Senators on the right, including Chuck Grassley, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, John Kennedy, Lindsay Graham and John Thune. 

“Wall Streeters Are Scouting Condos and Yachts Ahead of a Record Bonus Season” [New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]

“On Tuesday, Wall Street compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates put out a report confirming that just about everyone who had a hand in this financial free-for-all is going to get rewarded more handsomely than any time since at least the financial crisis. In its report, the company predicts a double-digit increase in bonuses this year practically across the board, with as much as a 35 percent bump for bankers who helped bring new companies to the public markets. For Wall Street’s biggest earners, though, they’re looking at much more than that — as much as three times their biggest bonus, ever, Intelligencer was told. For established bankers, that could mean millions more in their total compensation, just for this year.”

As Pandemic Evictions Rise, Spaniards Declare ‘War’ on Wall Street Landlords 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 11-24-2021]

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 11-24-2021]



The pandemic

“A Breath of Virus-Free Air”

[MedPage Today, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-24-2021]

“In a hospital setting, however, most infection control protocols focus on contact transmission…. n March 2018, we embarked on a 3-year journey to test a theory: that mitigating the airborne transmission of viruses and bacteria is just as important as, or more important than, measures to reduce contact transmission. St. Mary’s Hospital for Children was the laboratory for this experiment. We had no idea at the time that we would soon find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. Three years later, the results are in: the deployment of advanced air purification measures significantly contributed to a 45% reduction in healthcare-associated infections, according to the study recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. If we extrapolate those results nationally, it could mean 765,000 fewer hospital infections each year. This study is novel. To our knowledge, it is one of the few studies — perhaps the only study — of an engineering solution to airborne disease transmission conducted in a real-world hospital setting with over 100,000 patient days. Many studies of indoor air quality are conducted in labs or rooms fabricated to mimic the real world. More real-world studies can only advance our knowledge of the most effective tools for air purification. As promising as these results are for hospitals, they also provide a blueprint for reducing the airborne transmission of diseases in other indoor settings such as schools, restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, nursing homes, and more.” • Important, because members of the (hidebound) hospital infection control often serve as gatekeepers for policy, and to this point have worked hard to prevent a paradigm shift to aerosol transmission.

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Boeing Built an Unsafe Plane, and Blamed the Pilots When It Crashed 

[Bloomberg BusinessWeek, via The Big Picture 11-21-2021]

Cost-cutting, corporate arrogance, and a new plane that was supposed to be easy to fly. An exclusive excerpt from Flying Blind: The 737 Max Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing….

Boeing’s Safety Review Board, a formal gathering of engineers and pilots, discussed the Lion Air crash in early November. Among themselves, board members had earlier acknowledged some of the software’s flaws. But they’d expected that pilots would safely respond to a misfire of the software. Now they questioned their own assumptions….

There was another reason for the reluctance to admit that the design had fallen short—one involving race and nationality, not cost. The empathy Boeing’s aviators might have had for a pilot who looked like them wasn’t being extended to Suneja and Harvino. Conversations at Boeing kept focusing on how Harvino, once he took over the controls, hadn’t been able to trim the plane with the thumb switch. Boeing’s pilots, predominantly older White men, had long shared private jokes about the incompetent crews they ran into overseas. “Too dumb to spell 737,” went a frequent refrain of one pilot, according to someone who heard it. Another trainer would ask rhetorically if “Chung Fo Ho” could handle a given procedure….

In plain language, the directive was saying that Boeing’s brand-new airplane, supposedly a marvel of modern technology, could crash itself into the ground based on bad data from one tiny sensor. It sounded like the kind of single-point failure commercial aircraft weren’t supposed to have. And as Boeing employees began privately talking more with airlines about MCAS, elaborating on how the software worked, the pilot grapevine started jumping.

What most alarmed pilots was that this new feature overturned decades of Boeing design philosophy, the thing the manufacturer had always claimed set it apart from chief rival Airbus….

Boeing sent a vice president named Mike Sinnett and chief test pilot Craig Bomben to clear the air with pilots from major U.S. customers. On Nov. 27 the two men visited the American Airlines pilots’ union in Fort Worth. Dan Carey, president of the union, had agreed with staffers beforehand that if what they heard sounded insincere, he’d record the conversation. The Boeing executives had been talking for only a few minutes when Carey discreetly turned on his phone’s recorder. 

Structural Issues Still Slowing 787 Production Rate 

[American Machinist, via Naked Capitalism 11-25-2021]

“Premature aging of the airframe.”

I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End 

[Medium, via The Big Picture 11-21-2021]

This slowdown is warehouse management related: very few warehouses are open 24 hours, and even if they are, many are so short staffed it doesn’t make much difference, they are so far behind schedule. It means that as a freight driver, I cannot pick up as much freight in a day as I used to, and since I can’t get as much freight on my truck, the whole supply chain is backed up. Freight simply isn’t moving. 

Poor conditions and low pay for truckers helped fuel supply chain crisis 

[NBC, via Naked Capitalism 11-26-2021]

Cost of shipping a container from Asia jumped over 500% since last year, Traeger Grills CEO says 

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 11-23-2021]

The Supply Chain Mess

Robert Kuttner, November 23, 2021 [The American Prospect]

...The deeper problem is the deregulation and excessive offshoring and the resulting abuse of private corporate power that produced these bottlenecks.

American consumers and workers may be suffering, but the cartel of shipping companies that control the terms of this global trade (none of them U.S.-owned) have never been more profitable. The container ship industry booked net profits in the third quarter of 2021 of a mind-blowing $48.1 billion, a ninefold increase over profits in the third quarter of 2020, which were already a record.

The industry reported that net profits were a staggering 42 percent of gross revenues, also a record. Basically, the congestion that has caused inconvenience and inflation for the rest of us has been a source of increased market power and price-gouging for the ocean shipping cartel—price hikes that are part of the inflation.

The Reshoring Imperative 

[American Affairs, via Naked Capitalism 11-26-2021]


[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]

Charter rates have soared, thanks in part to a global economic rebound that is translating into Covid-19-related labor shortages and port logjams. Cargo ships are in demand, following a yearslong decline in the number of container ships ordered and continued consumer spending on goods rather than services. To capitalize on the boom, hedge funds and lenders are flipping container ships, signing multiyear contracts to charter them out at high rates and taking gains on their equity stakes in container-shipping companies whose stock prices have soared…. The recovery is turning what looked like losing bets for earlier investors in shipping into winning ones.”

[Twitter, via The Daily Poster, November 24, 2021]



Building Back Better Through Taxing Stock Buybacks

Harold Meyerson, November 23, 2021 [The American Prospect

For the past four decades—ever since Ronald Reagan’s appointees to the Securities and Exchange Commission changed a rule and opened a floodgate— stock buybacks have been a major contributor to the misshaping of the American economy.

When the top executives of a publicly traded corporation decree that their company will buy back a set amount of the company’s shares, it increases the values of the remaining shares, since the underlying value of the company remains the same but the number of outstanding shares decreases. As those same top executives tend to be very handsomely rewarded for increases in the price of the company’s shares, buying back stock is a legal and apparently painless way of making themselves m-f–ing rich. Nice work if you can get it.

The practice of buying back shares went all but unnoticed by economists until the middle of the last decade, when University of Massachusetts economics professor William Lazonick documented that the sum total of buybacks by the corporations on the S&P 500 over the preceding decade approximated the sum total of their profits. Rather than investing in new equipment or research and development or (God forbid) wage increases, America’s corporate sector was buying back its own stock, to the advantage of their leading executives and their shareholders (chiefly, of course, large shareholders), and to the detriment of, well, the economy at large. 

Restoring balance to the economy

The Deere strike and new contract:

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]



Bill Mitchell — Governments should not ‘cool’ an economy or cut deficits when there are millions unemployed still

Bill Mitchell [billy blog, via Mike Norman Economics 11-24-2021]

It seems that the mainstream economists are emerging again and making all sorts of claims that fiscal policy has to target lower deficits and monetary policy needs to tighten (interest rates rise) to stop our governments going broke and inflation going wild. It really is like a tired broken record, isn’t it. They have sort of gone underground during the crisis and more are thinking it is time to reassert the nonsense of the past. And so it goes....


Creating new economic potential - science and technology

A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution 

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 11-27-2021]

The quest for Congo’s cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship. With more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt production coming from Congo, the country is once again taking center stage as major automakers commit to battling climate change by transitioning from gasoline-burning vehicles to battery-powered ones. The new automobiles rely on a host of minerals and metals often not abundant in the United States or the oil-rich Middle East, which sustained the last energy era. 

Climate and environmental crises

The Elephant Who Could Be a Person

[The Atlantic, via The Daily Poster, November 21, 2021]]

“A ‘person’ is something of a legal fiction. Under U.S. law, a corporation can be a person. So can a ship… Some forms of artificial intelligence might one day become persons. But can an elephant be a person? No case like this has ever reached so high a court, anywhere in the English-speaking world. The elephant suit might be an edge case, but it is by no means a frivolous case. In an age of mass extinction and climate catastrophe, the questions it raises, about the relationship between humans, animals, and the natural world, concern the future of life on Earth, questions that much existing law is catastrophically ill-equipped to address.” 

Disrupting mainstream economics

The Truth About Inflation

[Economics from the Top Down, via Mike Norman Economics 11-24-2021]

Why economists' talk about "inflation" is largely BS.

The Terror Of Electronic Money

Ian Welsh, November 24, 2021

Electronic money is inherently authoritarian. (Bitcoin is authoritarian and deflationary, and deflation rewards first movers and the rich far more than normal people.)

“Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]  Joe Weisenthal’s section:

“[T]he last 18 months have vindicated many of [MMT’s] core ideas. 1. Fiscal expansion is incredibly powerful. … 2. Inflation happens when we see real resources stretched to capacity…. 3. Bond vigilantes still MIA. As MMTers would anticipate, the spending boom and the major Fed balance sheet expansion have not dented the stability of the dollar or Treasuries. … 4. You can’t win playing by the CBO’s rules. … [O]ne of the arguments made by its proponents is that the deck is stacked against fiscal expansion, by arbitrary “scores” (by the likes of the CBO) that establish whether a spending plan adds to the deficit or not. Given the contortions that the Democrats have made to satisfy its members in the Senate, while also aiming to get a good score by the CBO (not add to the deficit too much), this is another point of vindication…. Obviously, elevated inflation has caused a drop in people’s perceptions of the economy. And it’s possible that this will sour consumer spending plans in the future. So that’s potentially something to be reckoned with. But for one thing, it seems awfully premature to look at random polls in November 2021 and pronounce anything big about how the future will go. And regardless, a number of core MMT concepts have been empirically vindicated over the last year and a half or so.”

Information Age Dystopia

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation 

[MIT Technology Review, via Naked Capitalism 11-21-2021]

“An MIT Technology Review investigation, based on expert interviews, data analyses, and documents that were not included in the Facebook Papers, has found that Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fueling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.” 

“Why Amazon’s Higher Fulfillment Fees Could Generate $3.1B In Revenue” [Benzinga, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]

“, Inc. has announced it will be raising its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) fees starting Jan. 18, 2022, a move that could generate $3.1 billion in incremental revenue. Amazon will be raising FBA fulfillment fees by an average of 5.2%. The fee changes will be based on package size and weight. FBA monthly storage fees will also increase from 75 cents to 83 cents in off-peak months of January through September…. Assuming Amazon’s claims that alternative fulfilment options are still far more expensive, sellers seemingly have no choice but to pay the higher fees. Given Amazon will be providing no additional services for those higher fees, almost all of the incremental revenue should be profit.” Because they can.

As Lambert Strether notes: “Because they can.”

Inside Amazon’s Failures to Protect Your Data: Internal Voyeurs, Bribery Scandals and Backdoor Schemes 

[Reveal, via The Big Picture 11-21-2021]

For years, the retail giant has been keeping something from you: It’s handled your information much less carefully than it handles your packages.

Disrupting mainstream politics

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Why Democrats’ ‘Talking Points Are Not Enough’” (interview)

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]

AOC: “We always try to tell people why they need to settle for less, instead of being able to harness the energy of our grass roots and take political risks in service of them, the same way that we take political risks in service of swing voters. We can do both…. You’ve got to give me something to work with, with my communities. And if you’re not, how can I make the argument that they should turn out again? And this notion that saying ‘We’re not Trump’ is enough — this is such a deeply demoralizing message. Democrats have a trifecta and have been unable to pass voting-rights protections. And so people can wring their hands and say ‘but Manchin’ all they want, or ‘but the filibuster’ all they want, but at the end of the day, what people see are the results of their actions and the results of investing their time.” And: “Before the Virginia elections, it was very clear that our help and our participation was not wanted or asked for, which is fine. I’m not here to tell people how to run their races. But at the same time, to consider the members here that have some of the tightest relationships to our political base as just a uniform liability — and not something that can be selectively deployed, or consulted, or anything — I think it’s just sad. I think it was a mistake. And we saw a big youth turnout collapse. Not a single person asked me to send an email, not even to my own list. And then they turn around and say, ‘It’s their fault.’ When I think it was communicated quite expressly that we were unwelcome to pitch in.”

“In Cities Around the US, Redistricting Is a Major Threat to Progressive Politics” [Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-23-2021]

“Cities are crucial hubs for progressive politics. Places like Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York, are making historic advances by electing a record number of democratic socialists to the city council and winning mayoral primaries. Democratic socialists are on the front lines of efforts to reallocate police funds to mental health and social services, raise the minimum wage, implement rent control, and crack down on public utility monopolies. The advancement of democratic socialists and independent politics in cities, however, faces a looming threat: municipal redistricting. Redistricting is often seen as a competition between Democrats and Republicans, and gerrymandering in city councils (where Democrats dominate) receives less attention. The data, however, paint a different picture. To explore the consequences of municipal redistricting for independent politics, my research team digitized and analyzed ward maps from the cities of Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee from their founding in the 1800s to the present. We tracked the movement of wards within each city over time, paying attention to instances when wards were redistricted from one end of a city to another, as well as instances when wards never moved. Our study’s findings are troubling for progressive elected officials. Municipal redistricting has been used by the Democratic Party to discipline and suppress elected officials advocating for racial and economic equality.” • See India Walton…

“Democrats are in denial about what they’re up against”

Ryan Cooper [The Week, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-24-2021]

“The developing strategy seems to go something like this: First, the Wisconsin legislature districts are gerrymandered so it’s nearly impossible for Democrats to win. Next, Republicans seize control of the state electoral process, as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) has already suggested doing, even over Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ veto. Then, either they rig the voting process such that Democrats can’t win, or just award the state’s electoral votes to the Republican candidate directly. The basic idea here — handing out electoral votes through the legislature rather than after a vote — arguably wouldn’t even be ‘illegal,’ since the Electoral College clauses in the Constitution stipulate that electors are chosen “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Doing it over Evers’ veto, though, would definitely violate state law and Supreme Court precedent. More to the point, the tactic would be a grotesque violation of the very political principles of a democratic republic, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the Constitution.” 

Lambert Strether: “Not that I’m one to hold grudges, but I well remember the union-driven Wisconsin Capitol Occupation against Scott Walker in 2011 (well before Zucotti Park, too). Not a national Democrat lifted a finger to help. Nor did the national Democrats lift a finger to help during the 2012 recall election. And here we are! Cf. Gal 6:7. NOTE Not that a recall election was necessarily good strategy. But isn’t the Democrat Party supposed to be a big tent style-o-thing?”

“The Problem of Political Despair”

Michelle Goldberg [New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-24-2021]

“I look at the future and I see rule without recourse by people who either approve of terrorizing liberals or welcome those who do. Such an outcome isn’t inevitable; unforeseen events can reshape political coalitions. Something could happen to forestall the catastrophe bearing down on us. How much comfort you take from this depends on your disposition. Given the bleak trajectory of American politics, I worry about progressives retreating into private life to preserve their sanity, a retreat that will only hasten democracy’s decay. In order to get people to throw themselves into the fight to save this broken country, we need leaders who can convince them that they haven’t already lost.”

The Bad Guys Are Winning

[The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 11-21-2021]

If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies—communism, fascism, virulent nationalism—the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.


[Twitter, via The Daily Poster, November 24, 2021]

President Joe Biden and his family will celebrate Thanksgiving at the Nantucket, Massachusetts, vacation home of David Rubenstein, the billionaire co-founder of the Washington private equity giant Carlyle Group. Carlyle has been lobbying on Biden’s Build Back Better reconciliation legislation, and belongs to corporate lobbying groups that have campaigned against the bill. The White House said the Bidens will “stay at the home of their friend, David Rubenstein, as they have done previously.”

In Memory of JFK: The First U.S. President to be Declared a Terrorist and Threat to National Security 

[The Saker, via Naked Capitalism 11-23-2021]