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

You are either for more people voting or you want to suppress the vote.

It appears, big business is “beginning” to take exception to what Republicans are doing at the local level to suppress the right to vote by the poor, the minorities, etc. It is about time for those who can exert such pressure on state legislatures to do so in support of the right to vote.

It would be cool if the Coca Cola defied the Georgia government and handed out Dasani (water) to voters before they entered a voting line and if Pepsi did the same with their brand Aquafina.

Usually, the law restricting actives near a polling place is a a defined distance of approximately a hundred feet or so.


Heather Cox- Richardson from “Letters from an American:”

Yesterday, more than 70 Black executives wrote a letter urging companies to fight the voter suppression measures under consideration in 43 states.

Ken Chenault, the former head of American Express:

“There is no middle ground here. You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

After complaints that companies had been quiet about the Georgia voter suppression bill, the chief executive officer of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, issued a statement calling the new law “unacceptable” and noting that”

“[t]he entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Bastian condemned the:

“sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.” He pledged “to protect and facilitate your precious right to vote.”

Shortly afterward, the leader of Coca-Cola, James Quincey, followed suit with an interview on CNBC that called the law “unacceptable.”

The Need for a Global Corporate Tax Regime

by Joseph Joyce

The Need for a Global Corporate Tax Regime

When the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began its call for a reform of the rules of global taxes in order to clamp down on the avoidance of taxes by multinational corporations, its efforts looked quixotic. But the OECD persisted, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is now participating in negotiations with the other OECD members to reform the (non-)system. While there is much left to negotiate, the broad framework of an agreement to establish a new regime, which governs where taxes are assessed and the determination of a global minimum tax, now exists.

A new volume edited by IMF economists Ruud A. de Mooij, Alexander D. Klemm and Victoria J. Perry, Corporate Income Taxes under Pressure : Why Reform Is Needed and How It Could Be Designed, presents the case for implementing a global approach. The first part of the volume describes the reasons for taxing corporate profits, explains the emergence of the rules governing how multinationals could be treated, and shows the complications that the growth in services and digital trade placed on an already fragile system. The second section examines the workings of the current system, including the difference between source-based and residence-based taxes, the use of bilateral tax treaties to allocate taxing rights, and the ability of corporations to use the differences amongst tax regimes to lower their liabilities by shifting the source of their profits to low-tax jurisdictions. The third section analyzes the relative merits of various reform proposals.

Housing and the economy, now and in 2022 – recession caution?

by New Deal democrat

Housing and the economy, now and in 2022 – recession caution?

My long-form review and forecast of the housing market and its potential effect on the 2022 economy is up at Seeking Alpha.

If the market stays like 2014 when interest rates went up, no biggie. But if it’s more like the 1950s, we have a problem.

As usual, clicking over and reading should be informative for you, and it rewards me a little bit for my efforts.

New jobless claims rise slightly, expect a big payrolls gain tomorrow

New jobless claims rise slightly, expect a big payrolls gain tomorrow

New jobless claims are likely to the most important weekly economic data for the next 3 to 6 months. They are going to tell us whether, as the number of those vaccinated continues to increase, there will be a veritable surge in renewed commercial and social activities and attendant consumer spending, leading in turn to a strong rebound in monthly employment gains.Three weeks ago I set a few objective targets: I am looking for new claims to be under 500,000 by Memorial Day, and below 400,000 by Labor Day. 
This week initial jobless claims increased from last week’s pandemic lows. On a unadjusted basis, new jobless claims rose by 63,282 to 714,433. Seasonally adjusted claims rose by 61,000 from last week’s downwardly revised 658,000 to 719,000. The 4 week average of claims declined by 10,500 to 719,000, a new pandemic low. 

Flood insurance

Via Truthout , (https://truthout.org/articles/flood-risks-are-rising-amid-climate-change-but-congress-is-delaying-action) comes a reminder of a perennial problem:

Floods are the most common disaster in the United States. And the 2020 hurricane season was the busiest to date in the Atlantic — 73 percent more “active” than normal, The Washington Post reported, with a record number of storms breaking ground on U.S. soil, totaling $37 billion in damage. The frequency of what is known as “sunny day” or “high tide” flooding (flooding linked to sea level rise and visible as water bubbling up from storm drains into city streets) is also on the rise. In 2019, the median flood frequency doubled from 2000 levels, up to four days per year. That median is expected to rise to six days this year. By 2050, high tide flooding could reach 75 days annually.

Given the heightened risk that the federal government’s own data reveals, delaying the implementation of a system that takes those numbers into account is like “putting your head in the sand and trying to ignore it,” Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania, told USA Today.

This may be the most important housing chart of springtime 2021

This may be the most important housing chart of springtime 2021

My longform housing market analysis is almost complete, and will probably get posted later today or tomorrow at Seeking Alpha. I’ll post a link here once that is done.

In the meantime, consider the following. The Case Shiller national house price index had another sharp increase in February, and is now up 11.2% YoY, the highest rate since the days of the housing bubble in 2002 (green in the graph below):

Meanwhile, look at inventory (gold). In absolute terms, the seasonally adjusted inventory of new homes for sale bottomed last August and October. Last August inventory was down -12.3% YoY. As of last month, it was only down -4.6% YoY. At this rate of change, it will be *up* YoY by about May.

The Iran-China Deal

The Iran-China Deal

 Yes, this 25-year deal is a big deal, just recently signed and not getting much attention in the US media.  Juan Cole has called it the most important deal involving China and the Middle East since the days of the Mongol Empire in the 1200s, when both what was then Persia and China were actually under the same ruler.  This $400 billion deal was signed on the 50th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between Iran (then under the rule of the Shah) and the Peoples’ Republic of China (then under the rule of Mao Zedong). Cole identifies this deal as a “slap in the face” to the United States, or at least a clear sign of the limits of US power in the Middle East, with China stepping forward as a strong long haul rival.

I note only two points here.  One is that on the one hand this is certainly a repudiation of US policy regarding Iran in recent years.  It may be that its signing at this moment is a response to the failure so far by the new Biden administration to follow through on his campaign promise to rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. That really should not have been all that hard, but it increasingly seems that this simple matter has gotten bogged down in extraneous demands by neocons in the Biden administration, with both the US and Iran now having gotten themselves into a “face” conflict regarding “who will move first.”  I continue to hope that cooler heads are engaging in some unpublicized diplomacy, but all the noises so far have been that they are not.  Both sides are posturing, but the US should have just moved. If this continues, it will be the most serious mistake of the Biden administration, and this move by Iran towards China seems to be part of this signaling.

A Wee Bit of History

Off and on, in 1967, 68, 69 & 70, I worked the San Francisco waterfront as a marine electrician troubleshooter while going to University. Then, there were still the freighters owned by big shipping lines, the cruise lines, and a lot of the old Victory ships coming and going from SF. I worked on all of them before they were no more. This was during the Vietnam war. In the early years, I saw stevedores and longshoremen working the docks, down in the holds, troubleshot the boom winches, the radars, the steering, emergency generators, …, engine room stuff. Worked on the first Sealand and Sea Train ships (They were the first container shipping lines; really just converted/extended old freighters). Both were in and out of Oakland. In those days, most ships were steam turbine propulsion, had boilers and steam turbines. Sea Train used turbine electric propulsion, so I got to work on the voltage regulators, etc. Worked for Sealand for a couple of months one summer.

Sealand and Sea Train were the beginning of the end for the old lines such as Pacific Far East, State, Grace, American President, … . Now, of course, both Sealand and Sea Train have long been swallowed up. The Port of San Francisco has long been gone over to Oakland. Oakland’s a railhead and that’s important. Better trucking access, too. In the early days, they did load the containers with cranes. Then an outfit (PACECO) in nearby Alameda invented the Portainer and the rest, is as they say history; or at least a beginning. Portainers, used a lot of new technology, were very fast. Even in those days, turn around time was less that 24 hrs. Still was with the first generation behemoths. Why bother going ashore? Six months at sea, he said; they would pay me ton to sign on and a hell of a salary. Alcoholism and divorce thrown in.

The old freighters weren’t really all that big. The Ever Given pushes the boundaries for behemoths. Perhaps a bit too much? Turns out there’s an insurance limit, and, it seems, maybe a 47 ft draft problem. Loaded, the athwart-ship wind load for her is huge, and desert wind storms blow hard. Still, the turnaround time is probably less than 24 hrs. The car haulers coming in here to Richmond carrying 2-3,000 cars; moor and begin unloading in less than an hour. Likewise with the casting off. Total in and out the Bay turnaround time is less than 16 hrs. Appears no one bothers going ashore.

Infrastructure

An Investment in the Future

It is said that Eisenhower brought home the Autobahn; that he foresaw the need for airports. Let us say that President Eisenhower, seeing these needs for infrastructure, brought America into the 20th Century, and say, “Thanks, Ike.” Through the years, the interstate gave everyone access to work, to recreation, to their Doctor, to the shopping mall, … ; Today, for these same reasons and more, every household should have good access to the internet, and, have a few other good things.

Before Eisenhower, President Roosevelt’s New Deal and its kin employed the unemployed of the Great Depression to build a lot of infrastructure, much of which is still in use today, nearly one-hundred years later. New Deal infrastructure included: safe clean water supplies, electricity, telephones, roads, schools, libraries, universities, parks, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, … . All of these things improved our quality of life. Imagine the 20th Century without them. Imagine today without them. Imagine life without recreation, recreation without those hiking trails. Our National Parks without conservation. Quality of life is important. Infrastructure improves our quality of life.