You can say this for Der Trumpf: he always leaves you with something to think about. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/international-economic-consequences-mr-trump.html

There’s something quite sad about this. Another once-shiny tile from the mosaic of the past falls off the wall and shatters. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/dreweatts-1759-buys-struggling-mallett-from-stanley-gibbons

High “ponder quotient”: https://news.artnet.com/opinion/state-of-the-culture-iii-1210424?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=US%20newsletter%20for%202/1/18&utm_term=New%20US%20Newsletter%20List


Amen. https://www.wsj.com/articles/mayors-say-no-to-amazon-1517175734?mod=cx_picks&cx_navSource=cx_picks&cx_tag=undefined&cx_artPos=4#cxrecs_s

And again: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/trump-win-follow-dark-money.html


Nomi Prins: always worthwhile: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/nomi-prins-trumps-financial-arsonists.html

I think this is just great! https://news.artnet.com/art-world/mfa-boston-philadelphia-museum-super-bowl-1214306?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Saturday%20newsletter%20for%202/3/18&utm_term=artnet%20News%20Daily%20Newsletter%20USE

Lot of “Amens” this week: https://hbr.org/2018/02/if-we-all-hate-business-jargon-why-do-we-keep-using-it?mbid=nl_hps_5a75154ad5eed56505b822f3&CNDID=42793573

2/4 – “Super” (sic) Sunday

I’ve always liked Kwak’s reasoning. https://baselinescenario.com/2018/02/02/hey-democrats-the-problem-isnt-jobs-and-growth/

Oh brave new world! https://boingboing.net/2018/02/01/dole-bludgers-under-beds.html

So, Joe – what do you really think of Der Trumpf? A lot of the opinions are boilerplate, but the voicing is elegant and heartfelt: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/davos-ceos-tax-cuts-trump-by-joseph-e–stiglitz-2018-02?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4bf9c5d8e0-sunday_newsletter_4_2_2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-4bf9c5d8e0-93490385      And for good measure: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/davos-trump-liberal-world-order-by-ana-palacio-2018-01

It would appear that in Der Trumpf’s sexual encounter with “Stormy” he didn’t wear a prophylactic. Probably couldn’t find one small enough. Remind me to check with Hannity on this point. 


Good Super Bowl – but don’t understand Collinsworth’s pro-Patriotism and Belichick’s decision to hold out Malcolm Butler.

Kunstler: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/8912/      Here’s what I said to a friend in an email: “Thoroughly agree – and I hate Der Trumpf and think he’s doing immeasurable harm to this Great Republic through his conduct of the presidency. BUT…until a substantive case can be brought against him, a case without any “prosecutorial” conflicts of interest such as those Kunstler enumerates, I’m not buying. Putin etc must have thought they’d died and gone to heaven when Trumpf moved to political center-stage: (a) he loves dictators and (b) has a lack of knowledge and self-control that renders him a “useful idiot.” For Russia, it’s a win-win. No need to tamper with ballot boxes or voter rolls, either: not when you have Google, Twitter and Facebook to do your electoral subversion. “

Here are a bunch of great reads from Wall Street on Parade, a site I admire for its irreverence and clear-sightedness:






Sensible market commentary from Naked Capitalism: But another way to read it is that this particular downdraft is a symptom of how much owners of securities think that what is good for workers is bad for them. This is a reversal of the old post-war economic model, in which policy-makers focused above all on rising wage rates as the driver of prosperity. That went out the window with the 1970s inflation. The Fed, starting with Volcker, has made curbing inflation a bigger target than fostering growth, and has become more and more eager to create more unemployment in order to curb wage growth, which they see as the driver of inflation. That is a pretty dated view of the economy, since in the 1970s, not only did labor have more bargaining power, but many companies had formal or informal policies to increase wages in response to inflation, which had the potential to create accelerating inflation. Not only does that practice no longer exist outside the executive suite, where pay consultants seem expert at creating excuses to increase CEO pay vastly faster than inflation or performance would warrant, but much of what looks like inflation occurs in selected sectors (health care, broadband prices, higher education) as a result of aggressive use of pricing power.

Into each life some rain must fall: http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/across-the-nationacross-the-world/2018/divorce-palm-beach-style

I’ve been around finance since May, 1961, when I went to work for Lehman Brothers, and in that time I’ve watched some very dramatic short-term market breaks (“flash crashes”) – starting on May 28, 1962 when Roger Blough, CEO of US Steel, and JFK went head to head over steel prices. The Dow was off 35 points that day, almost 6% (the index was then trading in the 700s), and the effect was traumatic. But the financial PTSD lasted only until the next day, when the Dow went back up 29 points and glasses clinked all around. 1987 was the worst. It caught even the toughest, most experienced investors off guard; at least one important money manager I knew displayed symptoms  of shell-shock.  The present disturbance strikes me as utterly predictable: big investors have been looking for a signal to lighten up on equities; no one wanted to go down with the Titanic, and all eyed each other edging toward the lifeboat. The employment/strong economy numbers gave the signal, one seller begat a bunch, both psychologically and algorithmically (and algorithms include a lot of psychological “fact” in their math), and away we went! 


This column by David Brooks in yesterday’s NYT is a good example of the proper use of history: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/opinion/how-nations-recover.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion-columnists

Here’s a useful guide to why things are playing out the way they are. As usual, Greed and its stepchildren – thievery, usury and recklessness – are in charge: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-06/volatility-inc-inside-wall-street-s-8-billion-vix-time-bomb

No comment: https://www.thedailybeast.com/cash-for-coalition-against-trump-going-into-consultants-pockets-instead?via=newsletter&source=AMDigestOrig_ABTest


Yesterday I attended a memorial service that has left me with a good deal to think about. More on that anon. In the meanwhile, this is brilliant! http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/06/can-thank-new-york-city-trump/ideas/essay/

And on that subject, here’s a quote that appears early in The Republic For Which It Stands, a history of Gilded Age America reviewed on Bloomberg today by Justin Fox and immediately Kindled by yours truly. You might say that this is, alla breve, the story of my own life: “…in Howells’s lifetime, and during the twentieth century, businessmen who amassed wealth on a scale never seen before in American history became the face of the period. Contemporary caricaturists and later historians named them the Robber Barons, but this, as well as their later incarnation as farsighted entrepreneurs, gave them too much credit. They never really mastered the age. When Howells wrote of “the insufficiency of the uncommon,” he probably had them in mind, seeing them as insufficient to the demands of the period for the same reasons as Charles Francis Adams, who had aspired to be one of them and then dismissed them in his Autobiography. “I have known tolerably well, a good many “successful” men—“big” financially—men famous during the last half-century, and a less interesting crowd I do not care to encounter. Not one that I have ever known would I care to meet again, either in this world or the next; nor is one of them associated in my mind with the idea of humor, thought or refinement. A set of mere money-getters and traders, they were essentially unattractive and uninteresting.”    White, Richard. The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford History of the United States) (p. 7). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.


If you’re as confused as I am. The only thing I think I absolutely grasp here is that these are transactions that can only be done by computers, leaving human instinct and judgment (the only advantage we have over the machines) in the dust: http://kiddynamitesworld.com/xiv-volpocalypse-sea-disinformation-ignorance/

Down Memory Lane: I remember going to see this film. There’s one scene, in an orange grove, when Smell-O-Vision pumped out an effusion of citrus scent that practically knocked the audience out! http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/64/turner.php

A tough and dirty business. I’ve always said that writing is wonderful, but being published is hell! http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/024_05/19155

So what have I been howling about all this time? http://prospect.org/article/time-to-ban-stock-buybacks


My ex-wife: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2018/02/the-untold-story-of-brooke-hayward-and-dennis-hoppers-hollywood-home

Really interesting: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/wizards-prophets-face-off-save-planet.html

An object lesson in how arrogance breeds incompetence: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/us/politics/us-cyberweapons-russia-trump.html?emc=edit_na_20180209&nl=breaking-news&nlid=2476992&ref=cta

Go ahead – make my day! Donald Trump’s hair blown apart by the wind

I agree: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/09/why-russian-meddling-is-a-trojan-horse/

Two days ago, Michael Goodwin in NY Post had a column critical of our Mayor. I sent Goodwin the following email. Were I still doing the col I wrote for the Observer for 20-odd years, I would surely have addressed the same issue as your col of yesterday (2/7) but with less elegance and verve. I think you should continue to pursue our great Mayor, perhaps along the following lines: 1) how far along does De Blasio think he is in carrying out what is obviously a two-term project to render the city completely unlivable? I think we are owed a progress report. 2)as he has shown himself to be completely in the pockets of the special-interest lobbies and fixers who represent real estate development and construction, livery (including for-hire black cars – Uber etc), parking and trucking and so on, are there other categories of corruption and incompetence he intends to explore and exploit, and what might these be? 3) certainly his role so far on an important front in the 30-year war on the poor and disadvantaged that this great republic has shamefully carried out has been worthy of a medal, but doubtless work remains to be done to insure that they are brought finally to a state of complete misery (freezing in public housing is a useful start) and penury. Are his campaign preparations complete and in order?


Puke material: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-02-08/this-mall-is-only-for-the-rich-and-it-s-doing-fine

Not long after perusing the above, I was reading a review in Spectator and happened upon this quote from Veblen: “Luxury is a form of waste designed to confer status on an essentially useless class of people.” 

Completely agree. And heading my personal  list of Golf Trumpfers who’ve destroyed the character of the game by drowning it in pomposity and money are the United States Golf Association, Augusta National Golf Club and former PGA president Tim Finchem. I’ve been watching the AT&T National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach. Back when this tournament was “the Crosby,” it involved a lot of cool Hollywood and Show Biz types, many of whom were real stars, when that word meant something. Today it’s all hedge-fund types. http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/02/09/trump-making-golf-horrible-again/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYR%20Segregation%20Iraq%20Suburra&utm_content=NYR%20Segregation%20Iraq%20Suburra+CID_b5354909d5c14d13f6093d62662b9ef8&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=Trump%20Making%20Golf%20Horrible%20Again

One of the best new mystery writers is Mick Herron. In his latest, This Is What Happened (Soho Press), I found the following, which I think makes great sense: All those gadgets which once seemed gifts to the adulterous—mobile phones, email systems—were now links in the chains of evidence used to drag guilty parties through the divorce courts. So pens and paper were reached for instead, which she thought an improvement. An erotic email was pornographic, one more speck of dirt in the landfill of the Internet. An erotic letter you could put under your pillow, out of the reach of Googling fingers.”


Might this be – can we pray that it is – an augury of big business coming around to a longer view? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/how-apple-plans-to-root-out-bugs-revamp-iphone-software


Why I am – and everyone should be – careful about the Internet. I got off FB and Twitter a year ago, and feel my life, sanity and intellectual integrity are better off for it (I do continue with Instagram, but limit my exposure to family and a couple of art-history posters). https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/the-terrifying-future-of-fake-news?utm_term=.vp0XnJPNw#.jiaEg0dQ7    In a nutshell: there has never been a more effective force for thuggery – political, economic, “populist” – than social media, which have made ignorance and resentment “scalable,” as the digital crowd might say. 

Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-13/it-s-becoming-harder-to-use-cash-in-china


Happy Valentine’s Day. This is long but worth a skim. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/financial-markets-taken-economy-prevent-another-crisis-must-brought-heel.html Here’s the substance: The economic ideology that created the crash remains intact and unchallenged. There has been no reckoning and no lessons were learned, as the banks and their shareholders were rescued, at the cost of about everyone else in society, by massive public bail-outs, zero interest rates and unprecedented liquidity creation by central banks. Finance staged a major come-back—profits, dividends, salaries and bonuses in the financial industry have rebounded to where they were before, while the re-regulation of finance became stuck in endless political negotiations. Stock markets, meanwhile, notched record highs (before the downward ‘correction’ of February 2018), derivative markets have been doing rather well and under-priced risk-taking in financial markets has gathered steam (again), this time especially so in the largest emerging economies of China, India and Brazil (BIS 2017; Gabor 2018). In the process, global finance has become more concentrated and even more integral to capitalist production and accumulation. The reason why even the Great Financial Crisis left the supremacy of financial interests and logic unchallenged, is simple: there is no acceptable alternative mode of social regulation to replace our financialized mode of co-ordination and decision-making.

A useful supplement: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/mini-crash-class-warfare-180213092139661.html

And now this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/12/trump-wants-to-slash-food-stamps-and-replace-them-with-a-blue-apron-type-program/?utm_term=.ce55093f0844 

I poached the foregoing from Naked Capitalism. Here’s Yves’ commentary: Help me. First, the box looks guaranteed to produce more Type II diabetes, not that it’s easy to eat on a low income and steer clear of cheap, high glycemic index foods. Second, what about people who have allergies? Third, clearly no one proposing this has ever been poor. How do they propose to deliver the box safely? I don’t know a lot of poor people who live in doorman buildings or have servants waiting to receive deliveries at their house or trailer….or parked car. What Yves points up is that in addition to his obvious moral, behavioral and intellectual deficiencies, Der Trumpf seems to be utterly without empathy. He must really have had a desperate childhood – I also suspect there’s a pretty formidable quotient of sexual frustration in there –  and somehow he’s arrived at a position that that enables him to take it out on the rest of the world. Yeats didn’t live long enough (1865-1939) to see Trumpf – but he did see Hitler – and if you substitute “Washington” for “Bethlehem” in Yeats’s famous poem Second Coming’s most famous line,  you have what strikes me as a pretty uncanny representation of what we’ve been landed with, a “rough beast” in the White House: 

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? \

Coming across something like this is why we consider thebrowser.com to be indispensable: https://www.bigissue.com/opinion/public-deceived-gdp/

Two people I greatly respect in conversation: https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/matt-levine-tyler-cowen-finance-bitcoin-19e380b7430