Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Does One Chair Lifted Over One’s Head Make a Riot???

This certainly isn’t the 1968 Dem Convention in Chicago; but, there were a lot of angry people in Nevada.

“What I see is that the only thing holding those assh-les back, were the security people and the fence in front of them. That one man did indeed pick up a chair and raise it in the air and unless he was doing so so that his imaginary elf friend could sit down then I expect he was doing it to menace the people on the stage.” So Bagerite says in the comments section of May 22nd The Daily Banter New Video of Nevada Dem Convention Shows Someone May Have Been Hit By Chair. So where does this place Bernie Sander’s comment that “no one was touched?”

In the clips, you can see a chair over someone’s head and it is moving forward towards the stage. The levitating chair was stopped by two people before it could get past the fence. During the appearance of a little bit of upper butt-check, you can see Mr. Upper-Butt-Cheek bending over and helping someone up. Apparently a woman was knocked down during the take down of the person with the chair over his head (not to be confused with The Hora) in preparation for what? Since there was no one in the chair, one can assume it was ready to be flung somewhere.

I could not find it; but somewhere, someone is holding a piece of wood in the air also.

Anyhoo, judge for yourself.

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Attractor State of Productive Capacity is Shifting

What is an attractor state?

It is a state around which a dynamic system organizes itself.

Self-organization is the spontaneous often seemingly purposeful formation of spatial, temporal, spatiotemporal structures or functions in systems composed of few or many components. In physics, chemistry and biology self-organization occurs in open systems driven away from thermal equilibrium. The process of self-organization can be found in many other fields also, such as economy, sociology, medicine, technology.

“Stable internal representations of the external world indicate the presence of attractors. Here, an attractor means one of the states of the system where the system settles after starting from a given initial condition. Self-organization needs these attractors to have a sufficient instability to be able to alter in order to adapt to the environment.”  (Self-organization at

The plot below will show how the economy settles into an attractor state for Productive Capacity. Then it breaks away from the attractor state to adapt to a new environment of economic growth for the next business cycle. The economy shows both stability and instability in the graph. That is the key to an attractor state of self-organization, adaptation and growth.

Here is the graph which plots Real GDP against the TFUR… (capacity utilization * (1 – unemployment rate). (TFUR is what I call Total Factor Utilization Rate.)

update attractor productive cap

Productive capacity is found where the attractor lines cross a TFUR of 100%.

The pattern is normally for the plot to follow a line originating at the crossing of the x and y axes during the growth phase of a business cycle. This line represents an attractor state for the growth in a business cycle. Then the plot rises above the line and falls to the left into recession setting up the next business cycle at a higher attractor level of Productive Capacity and Real GDP.

The 1990s were an exception because the plot kept rising without the TFUR falling into a recession.

This updated graph shows that the economy has lifted off from the current attractor state and is heading toward the future projected attractor state.

How will we get there?

There are two possibilities…

  1. A recession
  2. The TFUR stays stable while Real GDP keeps rising. But the key is to have increasing productivity. This happened in the 1990s.

We do not see increasing productivity growth, so the most likely path will be through a recession.

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You DID hear it here first. I picked Becerra for VP 15 months ago.

Clinton-Becerra 2016

Back then and even now it was and is ‘Xavier Who?’ But equally nobody thought Trump would even be running, still less making his campaign largely center on the Yuuuge Wall. And a lot of progressives are little leery of Julian Castro based on his mixed record as HUD Secretary. I think Congressman Becerra could have big effects on Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.

And sooth feelings in California over what is looking to be a bruising Senate battle between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. Because the Dem establishment will be lining up behind Harris in what will seem like an embarrassing pile on way. Picking Becerra can smooth that right out.

We will see of course. Just wanted to double down when and if.

Quick update: this from the NY Times on May 5 of this year: As Xavier Becerra Stirs Crowds, Hispanic Democrats See a Running Mate

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Asshole Drivers are Assholes, which Dr. Black Used to Know

I got hit while parking today. Driver in front of me, parked with no lights or flashers, backed her van up into my car because she wasn’t actually parking, just dropping one of her kids off at school.

For a moment, I’m all, like, WTF?

She immediately gets out of the van, comes back, apologizes, checks me and my car. No damage. (Her car was moving maybe 3-5 MPH; pulling out speed. I was parked.) I get out, make certain her car and her remaining kids are also unharmed, she goes on her way, I park.

If she had spent the next hour sitting behind the wheel of her car, acting as if she had done nothing, I might have been pissed too.

Sorry, Duncan, but you’re flat wrong on this. A five to ten-ton bus cuts off 15 stone of cyclist and he bloody well better do more than sit there acting like the asshole he is. THAT was the mistake, no matter what the idiots interviewed for your local pooper-scooper paper may claim.

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Another day, another indication that the Clinton campaign remains dangerously clueless about what will matter most in the general election. Ho-hum.

Clinton’s aides say they have settled on the big story they want to tell about Trump: He is a business fraud who has cheated working people for his own gain, and his ideas, temperament and moves to marginalize people by race, gender and creed make him simply unacceptable as commander in chief.

Clinton thinks she knows how to take on Trump. Will it work?, Philip Rucker, Washington Post, today

I’m assuming that Clinton’s aides have considered also pointing out that, on policy proposal after policy proposal after policy proposal, Trump has now adopted an extreme version of the Paul Ryan supply-side fiscal-policy as stated in the Ryan budget plans, including the current one that passed the House.  I’m assuming they’ve considered illustrating that Trump, rather than having coopted the Republican Party and its elite-dictated establishment policies, has been cooped by the elite, the establishment as their puppet.

Romney promised to reduce upper-income taxes only by 20% initially, with a promise to cut further later and then cut some more after that.  (See, e.g., Romney’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club shortly before the 2012 Michigan primary.)  Trump ups Romney’s ante.

But, I assume, since the above quote implies it, that Clinton’s aides have rejected mentioning any of this.  And—just an educated guess here—that that is because they will be saying instead that Trump’s ideas, temperament and moves to marginalize people by race, gender and creed make him simply unacceptable as commander in chief.

This should suffice, because, I mean, don’t identity politics always suffice?  And because these messages are mutually exclusive.  You can’t argue identity politics and fiscal policy; you have to choose one or the other—and the power of identity politics trumps elite-establishment-dictated fiscal policy whose very purpose is to dramatically increase wealth and income inequality and of course consequently political power that will be used to further increase wealth and income inequality.

Always.  Even when the driving themes of the election cycle are anti-elitism, anti-establishment, anti-wealth inequality and anti-donor-and lobbyist-dictated government policy.

Which I guess explains why the very first thing Clinton did after winning all those northeastern primaries earlier this month and virtually ensuring her the nomination—literally, the very first thing she did, beginning the very next day—was to phone some of Jeb Bush’s donors and ask them for donations.

Just sayin’.

Clinton continues to run a really awful campaign.  And I’m betting that that’s not entirely her top campaign staff’s fault.  They do play a role in this, obviously; not the sole role, though.

Not the sole role, though.

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I Confess, Graunt Didn’t Invent Economics…

Aristotle did. As Philip Kreager reminded me:

Historians of economics have for some time treated his [Aristotle's] writings as formative, even though relevant passages in the Politics and Ethics amount to only a few pages.

Wait. There’s more:

In the Politics, however, population is a recurring topic, extensively discussed and integral to the overall argument. “The first part of a state’s equipment,” Aristotle says, “is a body of men, and we must consider both how many they ought to be and with what natural qualities,”

The almost obsessive focus on proportionality I noted in Graunt and Locke is no proof of Graunt’s influence on Locke. The proportional view was central to Aristotle’s Politics and everybody in early modern humanism “up to and including Adam Smith” was doing Aristotle. You didn’t have to read Aristotle. The commentaries on Aristotle were ubiquitous. For Aristotle,

The logic of proportional versus numerical relationships also describes the economy of the household in relation to its size, and this in turn shapes the wider demography of constituent groups. Oikos, the household, is the root of oikonomia, the art of household management, from which we derive the modern term “economics.”

What Graunt did contribute was a brilliant synthesis of humanist Aristotelianism with the techniques of merchant bookkeeping.

Graunt’s work brilliantly synthesized humanist methods of natural history and rhetorical communication that were basic to Aristotelianism with techniques of merchant bookkeeping in which population totals are treated as open or relative accounting balances, rather than closed aggregates; his method arose as a direct response to the need to calculate balances in the body politic.

So no, Graunt didn’t invent economics. He did invent the science of population statistics, though, and thus laid the foundation for modern social sciences. As for Graunt’s contribution relative to Petty’s, Walter Wilcox aptly summed up my own impression, “To the trained reader Graunt writes statistical music; Petty is like a child playing with a new musical toy which occasionally yields a bit of harmony.”

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Liberal GMO phobia

It is sometimes argued that Conservatives and Republicans are anti science. There is often a quest for Ballance (or a so’s your mother reply from conservatives). I recall reading about liberal anti vaxxers (sorry I don’t recall actual URLs). Chris Mooney noted that there is no detectable association of vaccine phobia with partizanship or ideology.

I thought there might be an association with GMO phobia. This is my second google search. The second hit is this Razib Khan post at

which includes this figure based on data from the General Social Survey which I fairuse


That’s 2 minutes of googling (plus some more minutes to post here).

I conclude that both defensive conservatives and knee jerk ballanced centrists don’t care enough about evidence to spend 5 minutes checking a claim before writing it. But I would conclude that wouldn’t I ?

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Irritating text messages I get on my cell phone

No wait don’t go bear with me. The irritating messages have headers such as

@EricTrump: Really p




So how do Eric and Donald Trump (who appear to be so poor that they are sharing a cell phone) know that an Italian resident TIM customer is a US citizen who could vote for @realDonalTrump (in a run off against Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or when hell freezes over whichever comes first)?

I don’t recall telling either mr Trump my phone number. I did have to show ID to get it (Italy doesn’t want untraceable burner phones). All my IDs indicate my place of birth. TIM isn’t supposed to share this information (for example by selling it to Trump2016).

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SEC capture…

Yves Smith at NC:

The SEC showed its true colors yet again at a panel at Stanford Law School at the end of March, although not as dramatically as last year. In last spring’s SEC panel at Stanford, the then head of examinations, Andrew Bowden, made such fawning remarks about private equity, including repeatedly saying he’d really like his son to work in the industry, that he resigned three weeks after we publicized the segment. Nevertheless, this conference was another demonstration of depth of regulatory capture at the agency.

As before, the real action came in when the audience members asked questions. They were all fielded by Andrew Ceresney, a former Debevoise & Plympton partner, now head of enforcement. We’re going to look at two questions in succession.


ADDENDUM: Beverly Mann here: This New Yorker article from last month is an absolute must-read.  After I read this post and Yves’ full post yesterday, I tried to find this article and link to it but couldn’t remember where it was published or any of the specific names in it.  But, by chance, I just came across it.

It’s just breathtaking.

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