Search The Web

Monday, September 18, 2017


Image result for world debt

In a recent SEEKING ALPHA post, Bruce Wilds echoes concerns about the World Economy and Debt that a former BIS (Bank Of International Settlements) chief raised on Bloomberg:

Former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, William White, told Bloomberg TV recently that "the system is dangerously unanchored." This is not the first time White has issued a warning that global financial markets were not on sound footing. Underlining his grave concern, the former chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee at OECD stated the current situation "looks very similar to 2008." He then added that OECD sees "more dangers" today than in 2007. Even as stock markets across the world continue to set new records and make all-time new highs, we should see this as an acknowledgment all is not well. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Will Today's Referendum in Turkey Empower or Chasten Erdogan?

In their DER SPEIGEL piece, How Erdogan's Referendum Gamble Might Backfire, Eren Caylan and Maximilian Popp report on signs of restiveness within Erdogan's own party, the AKP.

Some excerpts:

Lawyer Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat is one of those founders to have left the party out of irritation with Erdogan. He turned his back on the AKP in 2014. "The AKP was more than a party. It was the promise of more democracy," he says. "But we were so enthralled with our success that we didn't see the authoritarian tendencies."
Firat believes that three events led to the radicalization and division of the AKP: the power struggle with the military, the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and the quarrel with the Islamist Gülen movement.
Erdogan and Gülen were once allies. Together, they clipped the military's wings but then quarreled in 2013 over the distribution of their newly gained power.
The coup attempt, which Erdogan blames on Gülen, has definitively split the party in two. Around 130,000 public servants have been suspended from their jobs while 45,000 more have been arrested as suspected conspirators. The purge mostly affected people from the conservative Islamist milieu that had previously been broadly supportive of the AKP.
Now, with just a few days to go before the referendum, nervousness is growing in the party. Previously, Erdogan had always managed to unite the party behind him before elections. But the discord within the AKP can no longer be denied.
What If He Loses?

Wolf Richter Points Out Two Warning Signs for the U.S. Economy separate SEEKING ALPHA posts.

Consumers' appetite for eating out seems to have been curbed of late, claims Richter in Restaurants In Worst Tailspin Since 2009/2010.

Some excerpts:
Foot traffic at chain restaurants in March dropped 3.4% from a year ago. Menu prices couldn't be increased enough to make up for it, and same-store sales fell 1.1%. The least bad region was the Western US, where sales inched up 1.2% year over year and traffic fell only 1.7%, according to TDn2K's Restaurant Industry Snapshot. The worst was the NY-NJ Region, where sales plunged 4.6% and foot traffic 6.3%.
This comes after a dismal February, when foot traffic had dropped 5% year over year and same-store sales 3.7%. The February debacle was blamed on $65 billion in delayed tax refunds from the IRS, as mandated by Congress, to allow the IRS to get its arms around a large-scale identity-theft problem. But by mid-February, the floodgates opened and record amounts of tax refunds started pouring out. By the end of February, the IRS was pretty much caught up. So March, with all this money sloshing around in bank accounts, was expected to be better. But no.
In his post Great Debt Unwind: Consumer Bankruptcies Jump, First since 2010. Commercial Bankruptcies Spike Wolf observes that business backruptcies are on the rise.

Some excerpts:

Commercial bankruptcy filings, from corporations to sole proprietorships, spiked 28% in March from February, the largest month-to-month move in the data series of the American Bankruptcy Institute going back to 2012. They’re up 8% year-over-year. Over the past 24 months, they soared 37%! At 3,658, they’re at the highest level for any March since 2013.
Commercial bankruptcy filings skyrocketed during the Financial Crisis and peaked in March 2010 at 9,004. Then they fell sharply until they reached their low point in October 2015. November 2015 was the turning point, when for the first time since March 2010, commercial bankruptcy filings rose year-over-year.
Are consumers immune from debt problems?

Apparently not, according to Richter:

Now come the consumers – not all consumers, but those with mounting piles of debt and stagnating or declining real incomes, of which there are many. They’d been hanging on by their teeth, with bankruptcy filings consistently declining since 2010. But that ended in November 2016.
In December, bankruptcy filings rose 4.5% from a year earlier. In January they rose 5.4%. It was the first time consumer bankruptcies rose back-to-back since 2010. I called it “a red flag that’ll be highlighted only afterwards as a turning point.”
In March, consumer bankruptcy filings rose 4% year-over-year, to 77,900, the highest since March 2015, when 79,000 filings occurred, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute data.  The turning point has now been confirmed.
To sum up...
Total US bankruptcy filings by consumers and businesses in March spiked 40% from February and rose 4% year-over-year to 81,590, the highest since March 2015...

Friday, April 14, 2017

How could a 'March for Science' go wrong ?

Heather Wilhelm answers that question in her NATIONAL REVIEW piece, The Left's New Cure-All : 'Science'.

An excerpt:
The troubles brewing within the March for Science surfaced in January, marked by a now-deleted official tweet: “Colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues.” Since then, the addled march has torn through four different diversity statements, shellacked by critics on both sides. (Harvard’s Steven Pinker bashed the march’s “anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric,” while others complained the statement didn’t go far enough.) The march’s latest set of “Diversity and Inclusion Principles,” when paired with its more shame-faced and apologetic sibling, the “Statement on Diversity and Inclusion,” tops out at over 1,000 words."

Monday, April 10, 2017

What are 'sensitivity readers' and is freedom of thought now under fire in the publishing industry ?

This article in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY addresses those questions.

Some excerpts... That I will soon render readable...

“Politics is a dangerous thing to be candid about,” said one agent, who has worked with conservative authors. “It’s now acceptable to ban speech on college campuses; this is the world we live in.” Although this agent did not equate what happened at schools such as the University of California, Berkeley and Middlebury College in Vermont—where protestors, some of them students, violently opposed appearances by Yiannopoulos and Bell Curve author Charles Murray, respectively—with what is happening in publishing, he feels the industry needs to pay attention to these events. He cited, as a trend to watch, the appearance of “sensitivity readers,” who are being hired by some publishers and authors (largely in YA and middle grade) to ensure accuracy and sensitivity in portrayals of characters who have marginalized identities or experiences. (In most cases sensitivity readers are hired when authors are depicting characters with backgrounds or identities different from their own.) “It’s a short trip between [sensitivity readers] and trigger warnings.”

"While the major New York houses have consistently and successfully published conservative authors for decades, many sources saw some truth in Ross’s [Marji Ross, president at Regnery Publishing] comments. Some cited the existence of conservative imprints (at all Big Five publishers) as proof that right-wing authors are treated differently than liberal ones. One source described the existence of these imprints as something that “balkanizes” conservative authors. He said, “I’ve had editors tell me they wouldn’t possibly consider a book by a conservative, and I never would hear that if the politics were flipped.”

Another agent, who handles a number of conservative authors, said the industry’s longstanding “double standard” for right-wing authors is evidenced by the fact that “there are no quote-unquote liberal imprints in publishing.” In other words, books espousing liberal ideas often land at general-interest imprints. This, more than anything else, means there are fewer places to shop conservative books and authors. “A liberal senator has dozens of options [when it comes to imprints and editors that will publish his book],” he said. “Conservatives have a much smaller pool.”

Another agent, who also has conservative clients, said he believes the author reaction to S&S’s deal with Yiannopoulos—more than 100 of the house’s authors wrote a letter to CEO Carolyn Reidy requesting the publisher drop the title—will be the thing people in the business remember. “I think part of the internal calculus [on future deals for controversial conservatives] will be trying to take the temperature of the author community,” he noted. “Publishers will have to be really smart in deciding who’s an alternative voice who has a right to be at the table, and who’s just a vile person.”
Ross predicts that what happened with Yiannopoulos “may, indeed, be the start of a new trend: liberal authors demanding not only their own right to offend others but the silencing of those they find offensive.”

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) in 2007: Okay to block a Supreme Court nominee for 19 months until next election

So much for consistency, as the WASHINGTON EXAMINER points out.

The GOP's blocking of Garland was of far shorter duration.

And of course, in blocking Garland, the GOP--as well as Schumer--followed the doctrine set forth by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DEL) in 1992. See this 2016 WP piece on this topic.

GOP Senate Follows NUCLEAR OPTION Precedent set Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev) re: Supreme Court

Incredible what a difference four years and one presidency can make. Back in 2013, the Washington Post supported Reid's move to remove the filibuster. Today, of course, the WP has a totally different take. Excerpts from Paul Kane's 2013 report--actually not so much reportage as propaganda--follow.

Senate Democrats took the dramatic step Thursday of eliminating filibusters for most nominations by presidents, a power play they said was necessary to fix a broken system but one that Republicans said will only rupture it further.
Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades.
The immediate rationale for the move was to allow the confirmation of three picks by President Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the most recent examples of what Democrats have long considered unreasonably partisan obstruction by Republicans.
In the long term, the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.
The main combatants Thursday were the chamber’s two chiefs, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have clashed for several years over Republican filibusters of Obama’s agenda and nominees.
Reid said the chamber “must evolve” beyond parliamentary roadblocks. “The American people believe the Senate is broken, and I believe the American people are right,” he said, adding: “It’s time to get the Senate working again.”

How can a CNN Reporter closely connected with Susan Rice report objectively on the Rice Intelligence Scandal?

That's what Matthew Balan reasonably asks here.

Similarly on THE HILL, Joe Concha asks, 'Why is the Mainstream Media Trying to cover up the Susan Rice Story?'.

What's 'Progressive' About Reflexive Hate and Intolerance ?

This, from Nicholas Kristof in the NYT:

When I write about people struggling with addictions or homelessness, liberals exude sympathy while conservatives respond with snarling hostility to losers who make “bad choices.”

When I write about voters who supported President Trump, it’s the reverse: Now it’s liberals who respond with venom, hoping that Trump voters suffer for their bad choice.

“I absolutely despise these people,” one woman tweeted at me after I interviewed Trump voters. “Truly the worst of humanity. To hell with every one of them.”

More on Susan Rice and Abuse of Intelligence


On Tuesday, Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice admitted that she used the intelligence community to spy on members of the Trump team, but this type of behavior isn’t anything new.

In fact, it appears the Obama White House had been spying on its political opponents and leaking classified information about them long before Donald Trump won the presidential election last November, Lee Smith of Tablet Magazine writes.