Tuesday Morning: The Fat One You’ve Awaited

Mardi Gras. The day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday. In Brazil, it’s Carnival — plenty of parades with costumed dancers and samba. In New Orleans, it means king cake, beads, and more parades, but here in Michigan, it means pączki. No parades in the snow, just an icy trek to the Polish bakery for some decadent sweets we get but once a year.

I’m still drafting this, too much stuff to weed through this morning. I’ll update as I write. Snag a cup of joe and a pączki while you wait. Make mine raspberry filled, please!

Economic indicators say “Maybe, Try Again”
Asian and European stock markets were a mess this morning. There’s no sign of an agreement between OPEC nations on production and pricing, which may lead to yet more floundering in the stock market. Yet one indicator — truck tonnage on the roads — doesn’t show signs of a recession in the U.S.

UK court cases topsy-turvy: LIBOR Six and a secret trial

  • UK can’t hold the LIBOR Six bankers accountable for their part in the 2008 economic crisis because the prosecution was sloppy. It’s pretty bad when a defense attorney asks if the prosecution was “making this up as they go along.”
  • The article’s first graf is a warning:

    Warning: this article omits information that the Guardian and other news organisations are currently prohibited from publishing.

    The case, R v Incedal and Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, continues to look like a star chamber, with very little information available to the public about the case. The accused have been charged and served time, but the media has been unable to freely access information about the case, and their appeal has now been denied. A very ugly precedent for a so-called free country.

Facebook: French trouble, and no free internet in India

  • Shocked, SHOCKED, I am: French regulators told Facebook its handling of users data didn’t sufficiently protect their privacy. The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) told the social media platform it has three months to stop sharing users’ data with U.S. facilities for processing. CNIL also told Facebook to stop tracking non-Facebook users without warning them.
  • The Indian government told Facebook thanks, but no thanks to its Free Basics offering, a so-called free internet service. The service ran afoul of net neutrality in that country as it implicitly discouraged users from setting up sites outside Facebook’s platform. Many users did not understand there was a difference between Facebook and the internet as a whole. Mr. Zuckerberg really needs to study the meaning of colonialism, and how it might pertain to the internet in emerging markets.

Boy kicked out of school because of his DNA
This is a really sad story not resolved by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The boy has cystic fibrosis; his parents informed the school on his paperwork, as they should in such cases. But because of the risks to the boy or his siblings with similar genes, the boy was asked to leave. GINA, unfortunately, does not protect against discrimination in education, only in healthcare and employment. This is a problem Congress should take up with an amendment to GINA. No child should be discriminated against in education because of their genes over which they have no control, any more than a child should be discriminated against because of their race, gender identity, or sexuality.

All right, get your party on, scarf down the last of your excess sweets, for tomorrow is sackcloth and ashes. I can hardly wait for the sugar hangover to come.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
10 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    I’d love to see the Guardian and other British news organizations pass this prohibited information to publishers outside Great Britain.
    .
    Like Emptywheel.

  2. Rayne says:

    Peterr — Wondering whether UK media is prohibited from “sharing” what information they do have. Australia implemented laws to that effect last year; I think Japan likewise has limits on media reporting and sharing information about the Japanese government. Not good.

  3. lefty665 says:

    US employment numbers are a figment. January U-3 is 4.9%, what a nice shiny number, but don’t look at it too hard or it will crumble before your eyes. U-6 that counts some discouraged workers is 10%. If you count ’em all it’s over 20%. 10 years ago, the labor participation rate was 66%, today it is 62.7%, still knocking around all time lows.
    .
    There were 11k actual new jobs in December, but with seasonal adjustments we got the widely touted 292k (adjusted down in January by around 50k – which shell is the pea under?) If you remove seasonal adjustments from December and January instead of the reported January 151k increase you get a decline of 2,989k, almost 3 million actual jobs lost.
    .
    How do we get the stream of monthly happy numbers? One way is the birth-death model BLS uses to uses to estimate the net effect of unreported jobs created-lost due to business startups-closures. It has an upside bias of more than 200k jobs a month.
    .
    Independently the Fed reports half of US 25 year-olds live at home. Do you think that’s because anyone likes that arrangement? Real wages for most of the country have not increased since the late ’70’s, close to 40 years.
    .
    Rotten employment numbers explain the Trump and Sanders successes. People know they’ve been screwed, and it’s going on a 3rd generation. The ’20s and ’30s may be an instructive model. What do we get, Germany, Herbert Hoover or the New Deal?

  4. Rayne says:

    lefty665 — Yup, the numbers are jacked. My daughter and I are bookends. She’s only earning what I made in 1978 doing nearly identical work, and women my age, 50-and-older, suffer much greater levels of unemployment. Age and gender discrimination is tolerated because we’re less likely to sue because of the time and expense involved.

    Can’t understand at all why younger women would vote for Sanders. Not at all…

    • Peterr says:

      I wouldn’t call the numbers jacked. Each measurement of unemployment is designed to answer a different question, and responsible numbers junkies understand that. Some questions take on more importance at any given moment in time, and others are more critical at another time. The key is to ask the right question at the right time, and look at the data related to that question to see what it tells you.
      .
      OTOH, politicians and others looking to score points, either positive or negative, are quick to play fast and loose with things, asking one question but using the answer provided by a different measurement to get them to the political place they want to be. It’s not that the data is getting fudged, but the folks who are talking about the data who can be very manipulative in what they do with it.
      .
      No serious policy maker looks only at one number. In addition to these BLS figures, there are also the very concrete unemployment claim figures — not estimates, but the actual count of people filing for unemployment in any given week, or people going off of unemployment compensation once they have found a job.

  5. Rayne says:

    Peterr (10:57) — “No serious policy maker looks only at one number.” LOL We don’t have serious policy makers. We have what’s left after the oligarchs have winnowed out anybody who will not simply regurgitate their desired tagline. And the media is complicit when they also regurgitate one number ad nauseum.

  6. lefty665 says:

    Rayne @4 It’s not just women who have been screwed. It’s 90% of the country that has not had a real wage increase in about 40 years. That includes a lot of men.
    .
    Long ago when I was in B school, the BLS folks were straight shooters, not anymore. Bill Clinton screwed up the unemployment reporting and it hasn’t gotten better since.
    .
    Peterr may be right, each number has a purpose, and the purpose of U-3 is to deceive and to lie about the state of the economy. It’s also why I talk about the participation rate. That number is bouncing around at the lowest percentage since they started tracking it. Decreasing the denominator is the only way U-3 can look good. But, funny, nobody wants to talk about having the lowest percentage ever as part of the work force.
    .
    The birth/death model is a goofball too. It was created to correct for a one time under estimation of new jobs coming out of the 1983 recession and it has over counted jobs ever since.
    .
    Seasonal adjustments are real until they get used to cook the numbers. 11,000 real jobs in December and 281,000 seasonal adjustments. Really? Then in January about 50,000 of those December adjustments get peeled off, and imagine our surprise, that makes the seasonally adjusted numbers for January look a lot better. Talk about a floating crap game.
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    There’s lots more, so I won’t get wound up today. Here’s a link, John Williams is damn good. http://www.shadowstats.com/

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