28 June 2017

My Signature Accomplishment

When I saw that first EO display by Donald J. Quisling, I thought of a Rorschach blot. Well, others have been weighing in on that scribble since then, too. Here are some of their thoughts.

Candace Sutton
"When a script is completely devoid of curves, the writer lacks empathy and craves power, prestige and admiration.

"Besides the bigheadedness that shows in this script there is something else that is rather oversized -- the 'p' in 'Trump'. This large phallic symbol shouts, 'Me ... big hunk of man'."

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
[Sheila Lowe, a Ventura, Calif., handwriting analyst] first came across Trump's handwriting and signature in the 1990s and has been keeping a professional eye on it since. "Handwriting changes over time in people who grow and change. . . . It's like a road map of who you were," she said. Trump's handwriting, she said, has remained largely consistent for the last 20 years. "He's the same person he was all those years ago -- an empty narcissist."

Lily Pickard
Tracey Trussell of the British Institute of Graphologists has taken a look to see what it can reveal about the man soon to be taking up the Oval Office.

"She explains that the large writing, upright slant and long tall letters indicate a whole host of characteristics about Mr Trump. Ms Trussell says: "His signature transmits wild ambition, dynamism, bravery and fearlessness.

"He's hungry for power and has both determination and stubbornness in spades."

Katy Waldman
After staring at this accursed cursive for hours, I've come to the conclusion that this signature is a cry for help. Donald J. Trump is trying to tell us that he's not really Donald J. Trump. His real name is AuuuUUuuuuuA.

You get the idea: a 6 year old dictator. That's a bit redundant, of course.

25 June 2017

You're Not as Smart as a Fifth Grader

A continuing thread in these endeavors is that the rose-colored glasses assertions of the billionaires and their fellow travelers, that we're going through the same sort of transition as happened during farm-to-factory, is bunk. The main point made in these missives is that the higher incomes from factory work over farming didn't demand higher skills or IQs. If anything, assembly line drones needed smaller brains than any marginally successful farmer.

So, today we get the experience of an AI expert. He agrees.
Unlike the Industrial Revolution and the computer revolution, the A.I. revolution is not taking certain jobs (artisans, personal assistants who use paper and typewriters) and replacing them with other jobs (assembly-line workers, personal assistants conversant with computers). Instead, it is poised to bring about a wide-scale decimation of jobs -- mostly lower-paying jobs, but some higher-paying ones, too.

Anyone who thinks Donald J. Quisling will stop the carnage is an idiot (nearly all of those "saved" jobs in Indiana, fewer than he claimed of course, are headed South). It's no surprise that the article addresses the key question: new jobs will be a small fraction of removed old jobs. And mostly at lower wages, if social darwinism is the sole wage setting mechanism.
Who will pay for these jobs? Here is where the enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands comes in. It strikes me as unavoidable that large chunks of the money created by A.I. will have to be transferred to those whose jobs have been displaced. This seems feasible only through Keynesian policies of increased government spending, presumably raised through taxation on wealthy companies.

Do you really think that Donald J. Quisling will support that? Well, do you punk?

It's also worth remembering, though not mentioned by this author, that the current procession of job creation is in FIRE. Which is to say jobs that cater to the 10% and 1%. Or, to put it another way, back during the farm-to-factory migration, output was geared to the masses, which is to say, aggregate demand kept expanding. Today, FIRE doesn't create demand for anywhere near the displaced workers, much less new ones.

Have a nice day.

22 June 2017

Cruz Missile

Heard the Tedster on cable saying that the best part of the Senate ACA replacement was the allowance for NotInsurance plans that were outlawed by the ACA. Which caused the Right Wingnuts to decry the killing "choice". As if permitting insurance companies to scam the unwitting into paying for NotInsurance is a good thing.

The results of NotInsurance are easily seen:
1) those with it will end up in emergency rooms since nothing of note will be covered, and on the dole of the rest of us
2) siphoning those from even minimal real plans also siphons off real premiums, thus rising the premiums for the rest of us

Right Wingnuts, never saying so of course, want health insurance to be treated as just another consumer spend. Which it isn't. It's insurance, and thus only works if all are in the pool. Some degree of penalty for those who actively undermine the process is reasonable. But making such folks pay full price just turns insurance into another consumer spend. Which it isn't.

21 June 2017

Right, But For the Wrong Reason

Yet another story on the vampire loans, ARM. They've come back from the dead. What's interesting about the story is that it gets the reason for using ARM (from the house buyer's perspective, of course) completely wrong.

The folks who are the best for ARM are the Yuppy. Or, for that matter, anyone with strong expectations of rising income, especially above the expected inflation rate. If you're setting out to flip the house, as was the come-on which led to the Great Recession, then we'll just have another one. Those with rising incomes can chose to either flip or stay when the interest rate ratchets; everyone else has to sell, no matter what. We do all remember that was the proximate cause of the Crash. Don't we???? That CBS News would allow such a knucklehead to write such drivel is disturbing.
According to a study by the Federal Reserve, ARMs are a play on rising interest rates. When rates are low, as they have been for many years, homebuyers prefer a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage. But the Fed is gradually raising interest rates due to an improving U.S. economy.
[my emphasis]

Of course, this is nonsense. What matters in capital purchases, specifically consumer ones, is the monthly nut. Keep the nut (monthly mortgage plus fees) to some mythic percent, say 25% of gross income. Only those with rising incomes can withstand mortgage payment resets. Non-earned equity in that bungalow happens when the market value of the bungalow rises above the remaining mortgage value. Simple arithmetic. Just what the marginal flipper is expecting; a few years in a McMansion, then sell it out. Same as 2005. Some other simple arithmetic: what happens to capital values when interest rates rise? Class???? They fall, to match the implied return, which has gone up. What happens to house values as interest rates rise? Class??? They fall so as to keep the nut stable. So, what happens when ARM mortgages, held by those on stagnant or falling wages, rise? They all have to sell or be foreclosed. We've really have seen this movie before. Gad. So, for the house buyer, ARM in a time of rising rates is the absolutely worst time to sign on the dotted line. Except for the truly upwardly mobile. Given that the middle class is in rapid decline, what's the answer? Class???

18 June 2017

I Still Hate Neil Irwin, part the seventh

Yes, I still do. He "steals" my PINO meme with his piece today. Admittedly, he gets quotes, but hey; he's a highly paid reporter for the NYT, so he should. The lede:
The thing about populism is it usually involves doing things that are popular.

This is something that European nationalists and Latin American strongmen have long known. When they come to power, they aim to deliver concrete benefits to their supporters, even at the cost of their nations' long-term fiscal health.

What he does miss is that old bugaboo, the multiple sources of inflation:
The government would pay for it all with higher deficits. Free candy for everyone! The cost -- in the form of higher interest rates and perhaps inflation -- would come later.

Of course, only if the billionaires aren't required to pull some freight. Recall an earlier missive which showed that income tax started as a rich man's tax: they paid seven times as much as the lowest tier, and that tier was much above median.

Even if Donald J. Quisling did go about doing anything, it'd be based on shovelling money to the Billionaire Boys' Club. Real fiscal policy? Not until Hell freezes over.

He offers up quotes from a tome on Latin American populism, which tome concludes that wealth equalization (the only cogent point of populism, of course) must needs lead to catastrophe through the currency. However, comparing Latin American mini-economies (and their dependent currencies) to the USofA is silly. The US Buck is New Gold, mentioned in these missives many times, and, among other things, the USofA is thus obligated to spread its Bucks around the globe to keep the world's economy running. And, of course, since the US Buck is New Gold, we still get to say how much it's worth. Latin American tin horn dictators never could make such a claim for their paper money.
the populist movements of Latin America had often generated a disastrous boom-bust cycle

Shown here, in graphic detail more than once, is the depression laden 19th century USofA economy: even with a currency in specie (actually, because of it), economic life is mostly bad for most folks. We're supposed to be smarter than lower forms of life. There's something to be said for that scene in "2001" where the hominids break bones by the monolith. Monolith, gold, monolith, gold... Supportive fiscal policy isn't, by design, disastrous. If it were, we would still be in our Post-WWII Depression.

Gifts for the BBC:
Despite the president's talk of a bold $1 trillion infrastructure plan, there is not yet an actual legislative proposal, and the approach the administration has described relies heavily on tax credits to encourage private investment. That tends to limit the scope of any projects to those that can generate revenue to pay off investors.

13 June 2017

About That Duck

So, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. What is it? It's a Kim Jong-Don. Some readers took exception to that extreme epithet. Today's news that he's on the verge of firing Mueller, and that Dear Leader cabinet meeting yesterday was enough proof.

Fair's Fare

Mulvaney justified cutting the social safety net, and the scientific one too, by describing this budget as "taxpayer friendly". Clearly, a swipe at Romney's 47% diatribe.

Well, here's some factoids. The current income tax is the result of the 16th amendment. The first tax levels
Later that year, Congress enacted the Revenue Act of 1913. The tax ranged from 1% on income exceeding $3,000 to 7% on incomes exceeding $500,000.

Now, that's really progressive: 7 times higher for the rich. Moreover, the median income (to the nearest available year) was
According to a U.S. News and World Reports article comparing income in 1915 and 2015, "back in 1915 . . . you were doing about average if you were making $687 a year, according to the Census. That is, if you were a man. If you were a woman, cut that number by about half."

So, income tax didn't kick in until well above the 50th percentile. Way, way above. And that assumes the original used "average" as median rather than mean. Unlikely, so the median wage was almost certainly even less.

Any way you cut it, the 47% have been with us since the beginning of income taxation.