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21
Knarfs Knewz / AOC: A Society With Billionaires Cannot Be Moral (Ocasio Cortez)
« Last post by knarf on January 23, 2019, 05:26:47 AM »


On Monday, author Ta-Nehisi Coates interviewed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on stage at MLK Now, at an event hosted by the organization Blackout for Human Rights. Coates and Ocasio-Cortez addressed far-ranging topics, from Ocasio-Cortez’s childhood and political awakening, to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy as a fighter for economic justice and against American imperialism.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/q3-QvoIfpxc&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/q3-QvoIfpxc&fs=1</a>

 The entire conversation is fascinating and extremely worth watching. But one of the highlights came when Coates asked Ocasio-Cortez to talk about her proposal for a 70% marginal tax rate on people who earn over $10 million a year. Her response spoke volumes about what separates her from almost every other politician today.

“The question of marginal tax rates is a policy question but it’s also a moral question,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What kind of society do we want to live in? Are we comfortable with a society where someone can have a personal helipad while this city is experiencing the highest levels of poverty and homelessness since the Great Depression?”

Cutting right to the point, Coates asked if it’s possible to live in a moral society that includes billionaires.

“No, it’s not,” she responded. “I’m not saying that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet are immoral, but a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong.”

She went on to list other moral travesties that can be traced to economic inequality.

“I think it’s wrong that the majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, experiencing a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.”

“It not only doesn’t make economic sense, it doesn’t make moral sense,” she added.

This kind of rhetoric that plainly lays out the struggle of regular Americans in an age of massive wealth inequality is so foreign to most political discourse today that hearing it feels like a revelation. We are so used to politicians dodging and weaving, carefully avoiding offending their donors, while spitting out platitudes like “freedom” and “hope.” Ocasio-Cortez, instead, is pointing to exactly where the problem lies: with the wealthy, and the politicians who cater to them.

Instead of talking about inequality as an abstract issue to be solved by tax cuts or stimulus packages, AOC frames it in terms that everyone can understand. The status quo is wrong, and it can not stand

Later, she took a sensible, middle of the road approach when it comes to the split on the left between identity politics and socialist economic policies, positing that we can make massive changes to structures that will help everyone while not erasing individual stories and struggles.

When Coates asked her whether she worries that she is getting in too deep on social media, she was defiant and clear.

“Right now, I feel a need for all of us to breathe fire,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

https://splinternews.com/aoc-a-society-with-billionaires-cannot-be-moral-1831944065
22
Surly Newz / Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Last post by AJ on January 23, 2019, 05:25:59 AM »
What AJ said.

The tax structure could use some changes, no doubt. But with our current system of government by political donor, the burden is not about to fall on the really big money, so it falls on the higher income working professionals instead. That's my story and its a true story, and I'm sticking with it. No amount of cut and paste can change reality, and I'll take my chances in a non-communist country.
Yeah, but could we get back to a 1950's tax structure. Probably never. AOC is floating an idea that has immense appeal. Tax those who can afford it rather than have regressive flat taxes. That would be my hope, BUT it probably is never going to happen. In a BAU world the entrenched powers will subvert it just like Eddie says. The truly obscene wealth will carve out its exceptions while the moderately well off will get screwed. The only way an AOC like situation could arise is if there was a 1930's like collapse. That provided FDR with the opportunity to try to change the system. Might happen again but personally I think the odds are low and we'll have a slow motion Collapse like Surly posted today, UNTIL we don't as we fall off the Seneca cliff.
AJ
23
Golden Oxen Newz / Re: Golden Oxen's News Channel
« Last post by Golden Oxen on January 23, 2019, 05:12:34 AM »

Video capturing the heartbreaking moment when a two-year-old toddler got out of her father’s car and walked towards gun-wielding police when her hands raised spread like wildfire on social media. Immediate reactions to the footage berated the police for “holding the gun at the baby.” #Tallahassee Police were forced to release bodycam footage of the incident in a bid to calm public fears that police brutality had reached a new low.

                                            <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YVY6fVDRKlY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YVY6fVDRKlY</a>
24
Knarfs Knewz / Trump to call Pelosi's hand on the State of the Union
« Last post by knarf on January 23, 2019, 05:05:45 AM »
President Trump is plunging ahead with plans for a State of the Union address on Tuesday — despite the letter by Speaker Pelosi urging that his speech be postponed, for security reasons, until after the government reopens.

The big picture: Her letter didn't formally disinvite Trump, and the White House wants to make Pelosi go ahead with the speech or formally rescind the invitation. "Secret Service says: 'We have no problem doing our job,'" a senior administration official told me.

If the traditional setting of the House chamber doesn't work out, the White House has a Plan B outside Washington, perhaps in the Southwest as a way of sending a message about immigration.

    The White House isn't keen on moving the address to the Senate chamber. That option is unlikely.

As to what the SOTU standoff says about the Trump-Pelosi relationship, the administration official said: "It's probably not the best start ... But I don't think it has to be indicative of what the next two years look like, either."

Go deeper: A "go big" idea to end the shutdown ( hyperlink to new web page)

https://www.axios.com/state-of-the-union-nancy-pelosi-donald-trump-649ddf0d-f753-4cea-a708-014f92142421.html
25
Spirituality & Mysticism / Re: Why Trees Are The Ultimate Meditation Teachers
« Last post by knarf on January 23, 2019, 04:54:01 AM »
I have often speculated about the wisdom of trees....and their sapience.

Are any of your ancestors Nordic? 
26
Spirituality & Mysticism / Re: Why Trees Are The Ultimate Meditation Teachers
« Last post by Eddie on January 23, 2019, 04:32:04 AM »
I have often speculated about the wisdom of trees....and their sapience.
27
Surly Newz / Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Last post by Eddie on January 23, 2019, 04:29:21 AM »
What AJ said.

The tax structure could use some changes, no doubt. But with out current system of government by political donor, the burden is not about to fall on the really big money, so it falls on the higher income working professionals instead. That's my story and its a true story, and I'm sticking with it. No amount of cut and paste can change reality, and I'll take my chances in a non-communist country.
28
Economics / Re: 🤑 Wealth Maldistribution
« Last post by Eddie on January 23, 2019, 04:24:18 AM »
Oxfam's methodologies are highly questionable. Their little yearly media bombs are fairly misleading, if you read for comprehension. Let it suffice to say that Oxfam is an organization devoted to globalism and all that means.

Here's a fair critique.


Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet? The debate, explained.
It’s complicated!

By Dylan Matthews@dylanmattdylan@vox.com  Jan 22, 2019, 3:00pm EST



Here’s a wild statistic: The 26 richest people on earth in 2018 had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people.

That statistic, which comes from the charity group Oxfam, is a bit of an annual tradition. Every year, to mark the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — that yearly convocation of the world’s richest and most self-important plutocrats — Oxfam puts out a statement that “the top [X] people have the same amount of wealth as the bottom” half, as the Center for Global Development’s Maya Forstater and Vijaya Ramachandran once generalized it. In 2018, X was equal to 26, and as it does every year, the stat went viral.

This year, Oxfam’s report added another shocking stat. The report also claims that 2,200 billionaires worldwide saw their wealth grow by 12 percent (which is eminently believable), even as the poorest half saw its wealth fall by 11 percent (which is a bit harder to believe at a time when global poverty is consistently falling).

Oxfam’s “the top X people have the same wealth as the bottom half” claim has received plenty of scrutiny in the past from folks like Forstater and Ramachandran, Felix Salmon, Chris Giles, and Vox’s Ezra Klein. Critics note that the Oxfam data includes heavily indebted people in the rich world (like a medical resident with med school debt) as among the poorest people on Earth, which distorts the results. Oxfam for its part has responded forcefully to the criticism. But the claim that the poorest people in the world have seen their wealth fall has gotten less scrutiny.

In both cases, it’s worth understanding a little better what the Oxfam data does and does not say, as well as reviewing other data on the state of global inequality. Oxfam is absolutely right that the rich are getting much richer — but the world’s poorest people are getting richer too.

The “rich ultra-poor” problem
Wealth inequality is harder to measure than income inequality for a simple reason: A lot of people have negative wealth. In rich countries, it’s fairly common for people to have negative net worth when their student loans, credit card debt, underwater mortgages, and the like are taken into account. (Income can be negative too, of course — businesses that post losses have negative income, for instance — but it’s not as common.)

So in the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report — which Oxfam uses as its primary data source on the bottom half’s wealth — one observes a strange phenomenon: The bottom 10 percent of the global wealth distribution contains a bunch of North Americans and Europeans, whereas the next 10 percent contains barely any:

 Global wealth report 2018
Compare the share of the 10th decile (on the left-most end of the chart) in North America and Europe to the 20th decile directly to the right. Credit Suisse
That’s because Americans with massive medical school debt, or tens of thousands in credit card debt, or (to use the president as an example) tons of debt from failed hotel, casino, and airline businesses wind up in the bottom decile. Some of those people — like the person in credit card debt — might be legitimately struggling. But Donald Trump was not, in any sense relevant to living standards, one of the poorest people on earth when his net worth went negative in the 1990s. You have to be very rich to get that poor.

And sure enough, in 2015, Oxfam’s Nick Galasso conceded that the database they use included 158 million Americans and Europeans in the bottom decile that year.

Galasso offered two defenses for using the data in this way:

While there are high-debt but objectively pretty well-off Americans and Europeans in the bottom decile, they’re only 23 percent of that group; most of it is comprises people in poor countries who are struggling.
If you remove the bottom decile entirely from the bottom half of the distribution, you get a similar picture. As he wrote in January 2015, in 2014 “[t]he 2.8 billion people making up deciles 2-5 … collectively own a mere one percent of global wealth, about $2.6 trillion. That’s about the same amount of wealth owned by the richest 147 billionaires in the world.” 147 is a bigger number than Oxfam’s usual X amount, because all that negative net worth in the bottom decile has been excised, but it’s still a startlingly small number.
Those are both fair defenses, I think. It’s not true that the bottom decile is just fake-poor people in the rich world, and it’s true that global wealth inequality is massive.

But as the Center for Global Development’s Forstater and Ramachandran noted, Oxfam’s defense smuggles in something interesting: The richest 147 billionaires in the world control about 1 percent of global wealth. That’s way, way more than the 0.000002 percent of the world’s population they represent, but it’s not the case that a small handful of billionaires control most of the world’s wealth.

What does appear to be true is that a small (in global perspective) number of millionaires control a shocking share of the world’s wealth, as this graphic from the Credit Suisse report illustrates:

 Global wealth pyramid according to Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse
42 million people, or 0.8 percent of the world’s population, have net worths in excess of $1 million. That group — roughly the global 1 percent — controls 44.8 percent of the world’s wealth. So it really is true that a pretty small number of people control nearly half the world’s wealth. It’s just a bigger small number of people than Oxfam’s reports tend to emphasize.

The falling wealth of the bottom half
The more shocking part of the latest Oxfam report, to me, was the contention that the bottom half’s wealth fell by 11 percent, whereas a few thousand billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12 percent.

The latter isn’t too surprising — billionaire net worths tend to be bound up in individual companies’ stocks and are thus incredibly volatile; Jeff Bezos alone gained $24 billion in 2018 — but the idea that the bottom half’s wealth fell by 11 percent seemed odd to me. It seemed curious to some development economists on Twitter, too:


Noah Smith

@Noahpinion
 · Jan 21, 2019
 This tweet may have 1000s of retweets, but it's not really the case that "the few are monopolizing progress".

No, we don't really know how to measure the wealth of the global poor. And the benefits of economic growth are definitely still flowing to poor people in poor countries.


Jonah Rexer
@xtrexer
Half the world’s population getting 11% poorer in a single year (2018, as claimed) would imply a global economic catastrophe the likes of which we’ve basically never seen. People need to think about reasonable magnitudes before repeating made up stats

40
11:28 AM - Jan 21, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy
See Jonah Rexer's other Tweets
Laura Rusu, Oxfam’s policy and campaign media manager in DC, told me that the group isn’t sure why they observed such a large fall in the bottom half’s net worth. “We don’t have an explanation,” she says. “We’ve been grappling with that. We have hypotheses.”

I’m not entirely sure either, but I have an alternative hypothesis. The Credit Suisse report, upon which Oxfam relies, relies not on purchasing power parity (PPP) — a statistical tool that economists use in comparing currencies when what matters is how much stuff the currency can actually buy — but on exchange rates, which fluctuate often on a global market. The latest Credit Suisse report also does some calculations using smoothed exchange rates, which reduces volatility, but nonetheless prefers exchange rates to PPP throughout.

When the Financial Times’s Chris Giles looked into a similar claim Oxfam made in 2016, he concluded that this exchange rate methodology accounted for the claimed fall in wealth of the bottom half of the distribution. When the US dollar becomes more valuable relative to domestic currencies, this shows up as a wealth decline even when there hasn’t been a decline in living standards.

And sure enough, in 2018 the US dollar appreciated against the Nigerian naira, against the South African rand, and against the Indian rupee; given how populous those countries alone are, and how poor their populations are, it seems very possible that currency appreciation accounts for much or all of the decline. That’s especially true given that the Credit Suisse report came out in October, before the dollar hit a bunch of setbacks.

I’ve reached out to Credit Suisse’s research team to see how much the bottom half’s wealth would have changed absent any currency fluctuations; I’ll update when I hear back.

Oxfam’s Rusu defended the use of exchange rate data rather than PPP, noting, “In the vast majority of countries, but especially in developing and emerging countries, a large proportion of personal wealth is in the hands of the wealthiest among the wealthy; that is, in households located in the first percentiles of the distribution. These individuals tend to have great international mobility and tend to move their assets across borders frequently.” In that context, what matters is their international purchasing power, and measuring that in actual dollar values makes sense.

But this defense doesn’t really hold when analyzing the bottom half of the wealth distribution, or considering why the bottom half’s wealth might have fallen according to the Credit Suisse data.

The bigger picture
It’s worth stepping back from the specifics of the Oxfam numbers to try to answer the bigger claim that the Oxfam statistics gesture toward: Are the rich getting richer as the poor get poorer?

The short answer is that the rich are definitely getting way richer — and it’s a problem — but it’s nonetheless also true that the world’s poorest people are getting less poor. You can see the latter phenomenon in a variety of statistics, not least the World Bank’s estimates of how many people live on less than $1.90 a day. This data is based on household surveys, which take years to collect, so it’s out of date at any given time, but economic growth in India, China, and even sub-Saharan African suggests that the progress continued through to the present day:

 Share of population living in extreme poverty, by world region, 1987 to present
Our World in Data
You also see this happening in the so-called “Loch Ness” graph produced early last year by a team of economists — led by Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, and the famous inequality research trio Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman:

 The new elephant graph, using latest 2018 data
World Inequality Report 2018
The chart shows how each percentile of the global income distribution saw its incomes increase from 1980 to 2016. There’s a bulge at the left, with people in poor emerging market economies seeing their incomes rise by 100 to 125 percent over those 36 years, modest income growth in the middle (including the poor and middle class in the US and Western Europe), and then skyrocketing growth for the global 1 percent, and especially the global 0.001 percent and global 0.0001 percent.

In other words, what you think is happening is happening: The rich really are getting preposterously rich. And there’s a real argument to be made — the political argument that Oxfam’s statistic is meant to make — that making taxes more progressive and directing the funds to, say, cash payments to poor households would lead to faster poverty reduction than has occurred under the current system. One analysis suggests that up to 50 percent of global extreme poverty could be ended if developing countries adopted higher top tax rates.

But the rich getting richer doesn’t preclude the poor getting richer too, and while the middle classes in the US and Europe have seen less income growth than either the poorest people in developing countries or the richest people on earth, the world’s progress against extreme poverty is real and notable. It’s also, I’d argued, unhelpfully obscured by stats like Oxfam’s.

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/1/22/18192774/oxfam-inequality-report-2019-davos-wealth

Here's a critique by a less nuanced critic.

Oxfam's Misleading Inequality Numbers
They pull this PR stunt every year
Monday, January 18, 2016

 Ryan Bourne 


The media is running with Oxfam’s annual "shocking" statistic on wealth. This year "the richest 62 people have the same wealth as poorest 3.6 bn."

But all is not what it seems:

1) The methodology Oxfam used implies there are more poor people in North America than in China.

Sounds counterintuitive, right? The Oxfam claim is made using Credit Suisse’s net wealth figures — which add up people’s assets and then subtract debts. So, some of the poorest people in the world would be those unfortunate souls who graduate from Harvard with law degrees and big loans to repay.

This may be true in a strict statistical sense where poverty is measured materially by net wealth — but is certainly not the understanding of poverty most sane people have. Oxfam’s own chart, for example, shows that over 10 per of those in the bottom global wealth decile live in North America.

2) This methodology almost by construction creates big scary statistics.

The above point speaks to a broader truth. It doesn’t take an advanced mathematician to work out that adding up lots of negatives and zeros (after all there are lots of us, especially my generation, with little in the way of assets) in the lower parts of the distribution exaggerates any comparison with those with big net positive wealth at the top — hence the scary statistic.

Oxfam counters this by calculating the proportions excluding debts, and say that it does not change their results much. But we are still left with the issue that people like me, with few assets but in rich countries, would be considered among the poorest in the world. This shows that what really matters to our understanding of material poverty is incomes — and global income inequality (which Oxfam barely mentions) has fallen over the past three decades.

3) The median age of the global population is between 35 and 39.

Oxfam likes to cite another statistic, which is that the top 1 per cent has a higher net wealth than the bottom half of the distribution. But we know from the lifecycle of asset and debt accumulation owing to demographics that people tend to have little in the way of asset accumulation until well into their working lives. We also know that many of the oldest will live in the very rich countries and be very rich. It is not surprising then that the global net wealth distribution is so skewed — demographics alone is vastly important.

4) Oxfam is inconsistent in how it uses these statistics.

At a global level, Oxfam highlights the level of net wealth inequality. Whenever they use the very same Credit Suisse data to look at the UK, they discuss the trends — i.e. the changes in the levels.

Why are they not consistent and talk about the level of net wealth inequality in the UK? Might it be because the same data shows that most countries have higher net wealth inequality than the UK (on Gini coefficient, top 10% share and top 1% share), which would not fit with Oxfam’s domestic narrative? Might it expose that some of the countries which have bigger welfare states and more redistribution have higher wealth inequality because there is little incentive for the poor to save and accumulate assets?

5) Oxfam — a development charity — is now obsessed with the rich rather than the poor.

One would think that Oxfam as an anti-poverty charity would focus its energies on the vast literature showing the conditions necessary for poverty eradication and the role markets and capitalistic institutions can play in doing so.

Instead Oxfam is obsessed with the global rich — almost implying that the wealth of the rich causes the poverty of the poor. It can do, in some cases — where cronyism is rife. But there is scant evidence this is the important driver of current distributions. And Oxfam implying that it is, whilst perpetuating the fixed pie fallacy, is appalling for a supposed development organization.

6) At home and abroad, Oxfam is now like a one-club golfer: more government is always the answer.

This new report advocates for living wages, curbs on executive pay and many other "progressive" policies. Previously Oxfam has advocated for financial transactions taxes and wealth taxes. These are repeated, with no nuance to show the economic challenges facing different developing countries around the world. Perhaps Oxfam would like to highlight all the successful countries where this sort of agenda has alleviated the absolute living conditions of the poor consistently?

https://fee.org/articles/6-points-about-oxfams-misleading-inequality-numbers/

29
Surly Newz / WORLD’S BILLIONAIRES: TAXING US OUR FAIR SHARE WOULD BE “DISASTROUS”
« Last post by Surly1 on January 23, 2019, 04:06:44 AM »
Ain't it interesting how, when money talks, it always says the same thing: "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that guy behind the tree."

WORLD’S BILLIONAIRES: TAXING US OUR FAIR SHARE WOULD BE “DISASTROUS”
Attendees at the World Economic Forum are panicking about Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plans.


Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks with supporters during her general campaign kick-off rally on September 22, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York.
By DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum kicked off its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland. There, over the course of three days, the upper echelons of the business, political, and academic worlds will grapple with the most urgent problems facing the globe as they consume $55 Caesar salads and shark canapés, rub shoulders with Matt Damon, and attend parties that involve “endless streams of the finest champagne, vodka, and Russian caviar, dancing Cossacks, and beautiful Russian models,” thanks to organizers’ decision to reverse a ban on Kremlin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s attendance. This year, attendees at the “Money Oscars” are particularly concerned about slowing economic growth, spiking sovereign debt, central banks’ limited ability to fight recessions “or worse,” and uncertainty over geopolitical events such as Brexit, and the U.S.’s trade war with China. Also scaring the bejesus out of them? The prospect of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forcing people in what’s known as the “fuck-ton of money tax bracket” to “contribute more.”

“It’s scary,” said adult man and Guggenheim Partners global chief investment officer Scott Minerd, of the new lawmaker’s comment on 60 Minutes that it wouldn’t be unreasonable for earnings above $10 million to be taxed at 60 or 70 percent. “By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum,” Minerd added, noting he would likely be personally affected by the change, meaning he barely scrapes by on only $10 million a year. “And I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.” (As a reminder, at this point, the new representative has merely expressed a point of view, not unveiled an actual proposal or anything approaching legislation.) In an interview with Bloomberg TV, investment banker Ken Moelis, whose net worth hit $1 billion last April, claimed A.O.C.’s idea “would be disastrous for the economy,” suggesting that people in the U.S. would no longer have a reason to work. “You have to incentivize people,” Moelis said. “Even in the U.S., what’s going to happen to the two-workforce family? You forget where 70 percent starts to kick in,” he warned, despite the fact that in a marginal tax system, the more money you make, the more you will take home, regardless of your tax rate. (Even a Bloomberg editorial against a 70 percent rate acknowledged Tuesday that “evidence suggests a top rate of 70 percent on the highest incomes would be fiscally productive—meaning not so high that the disincentive to effort and enterprise would cause the government to raise less money than with a lower rate.”)

Unsurprisingly, perennial Davos attendee Stephen Schwarzman (net worth: $13.1 billion) was also unenthused by the freshman Congresswoman’s idea:

Schwarzman, the billionaire C.E.O. of private equity giant Blackstone and Republican megadonor, said sarcastically that he is “wildly enthusiastic” about the lawmaker’s proposed tax hike.

To be fair, this comment actually demonstrates immense restraint on Schwarzman’s part: in 2010, he likened the possibility of President Barack Obama closing a tax loophole that allows private equity firms to pay 15 percent on carried interest to actions taken by one Adolf Hitler during World War II. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman told a room full of nonprofit board members. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” (In the end, Obama never actually closed the loophole, a turn of events that would have hurt Schwarzman’s ability to throw himself elaborate birthdaybashes featuring performances by Pattie LaBelle and Gwen Stefani, trapeze artists, live camels, and acrobats. We’re kidding, of course: Schwarzman has amassed the sort of dynastic wealth that will ensure his grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren will be able to throw over-the-top parties on the eve of their generations’ defining financial crisis, regardless of any future tax rates.)

Anyway, in related news out this week:

UBS and PwC Billionaires Insights reports show that global billionaire wealth has grown from $3.4 trillion in 2009 to $8.9 trillion in 2017 . . . The fortunes of a dozen 2009 Davos attendees have soared by a combined $175 billion, even as median U.S. household wealth has stagnated, a Bloomberg analysis found.

And you’d best keep your mitts off of it!

IFM Investors executive director Frederic Michel-Verdier is shocked and offended his co-worker would read a text with his room number and the word “come,” plus a series of smiley faces, as an invitation to join him in private. Per Bloomberg:

The executive director said “it was irresponsible and naïve to have allowed myself as a senior employee at IFM to be put in the position where my actions could be easily twisted and misrepresented.” He said it is “inconceivable that Nathalie [Abildgaard] genuinely misinterpreted my message either then or now” as an invitation to visit his room. . . . He testified that she had asked for his room number to inform the reception desk at the hotel who would be paying for her room at checkout.

Michel-Verdier also denied making sexual advances toward Abildgaard, who told an employment tribunal in London that he told her “I am so much older than you. You are young. I can teach you a lot about sex” during an evening out at the Bling Bling club in Madrid to celebrate a deal. After IFM performed an internal investigation, Michel-Verdier’s bonus was cut and he was banned from drinking at work events for 12 months, which he agreed is probably for the best. “While I am not a person who attaches much importance to hierarchy, I now believe that it is perhaps better as a senior employee that I always maintain a professional distance with more junior employees and do not drink and socialize with them,” he said.

Climate change isn’t all downside for the largest U.S. companies. Many of those that filed reports with CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, said they believe climate change can bolster demand for their products.

“As people begin to experience severe weather events with greater frequency, we expect an increasing need for confidence and preparedness in the arena of personal safety and the well-being of loved ones,’’ the company wrote. Its mobile devices “can serve as a flashlight or a siren; they can provide first aid instructions; they can act as a radio; and they can be charged for many days via car batteries or even hand cranks.’’

Other companies champing at the bit to profit off the destruction of the planet include Wells Fargo, which wrote that “preparation for and response to climate-change induced natural disasters result in greater construction, conservation, and other business activities,” adding that it “has the opportunity to provide financing to support these efforts,” and Merck, which is pumped at the idea of more people getting sick. “As the climate changes, there will be expanded markets for products for tropical and weather-related diseases including waterborne illness,” the pharmaceutical giant wrote.

Meanwhile:

Stocks fell on Tuesday, the first trading day of the week, as weak data out of China and lower global growth estimates from the International Monetary Fund renewed fears of the global economy slowing down. . . . Stocks fell to their lows of the day after the Financial Times reported the U.S. canceled a trade meeting with Chinese officials. CNBC later confirmed the report through a source.

“The global situation is uncertain on several areas,” Komal Sri-Kumar, president of Sri-Kumar Global Strategies, told CNBC. “On top of that, you have policy uncertainty coming from Washington. We don’t know what the U.S. government policy is going to be on various issues. That uncertainty is going to cause more fluctuations in the market.”

When the Trump administration announced last month that it was lifting sanctions against a trio of companies controlled by an influential Russian oligarch, it cast the move as tough on Russia and on the oligarch, arguing that he had to make painful concessions to get the sanctions lifted.

But a binding confidential document signed by both sides suggests that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies controlled by the oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, may have been less punitive than advertised.

The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows.

Ah, well. As Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers earlier this month, we’ve just got to trust Team Trump on this one.

Elsewhere!

UBS Warns of Headwinds After Clients Pull $13 Billion in Quarter (Bloomberg)

The financial shock for 800,000 federal workers is about to get much worse as the shutdown drags on (CNBC)

Wall Street Backlash Sinks Plan to Transform Swaps Market (W.S.J.)

Anxious Brits have bought hundreds of food-prepper “Brexit Boxes” (CNN)

New Jersey expected to attract $100M in bets on Super Bowl (N.Y.P.)

U.S. banker with ties to Putin’s inner circle sought access to Trump transition (ABC News)

Ronaldo Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud at Madrid Court (Associated Press)

KFC debuts gravy-scented candle (N.Y.P.)

More Great Stories from Vanity Fair

— The family drama surrounding Joe Biden’s presidential bid

— What to make of the BuzzFeed-Mueller mystery

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Surly Newz / Doomstead Diner Daily January 23
« Last post by Surly1 on January 23, 2019, 03:35:55 AM »

Doomstead Diner Daily January 23


The Diner Daily is available HERE with even MORE sections and stories:
http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/news/


News digest brought to you by the Doomstead Diner.


Food Aid In Jeopardy Nationwide Due to Government Shutdown

[url=http://www.occupy.com]www.occupy.com[/url] - Food stamp recipients will receive funding early for February – by Jan. 20 – but states warn that the food aid will not be supplemented next month, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's…


‘This is pretty humiliating’: Food banks fill in for paychecks as government shutdown drags on

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com]www.washingtonpost.com[/url] - By Fenit Nirappil Fenit Nirappil Reporter covering D.C. government and politics Email Bio Follow January 19 at 2:28 PM Thirty people lined up in the parking lot of a Giant grocery store in Alexandria…


Chilling Davos: A Bleak Warning on Global Division and Debt

[url=http://www.nytimes.com]www.nytimes.com[/url] - “Individuals, professional investors and financiers are prone to project their own recent experiences into the future,” he wrote. “So when adversity is absent, investors become complacent. They assum…


‘Knock them in the teeth.’ How Trump turns crises into leverage.

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com]www.washingtonpost.com[/url] - By Damian Paletta and Damian Paletta Reporter covering economic policy Email Bio Follow Josh Dawsey Josh Dawsey Reporter covering the White House Email Bio Follow January 22 at 6:38 PM The 800,000 fe…


26 Billionaires Own The Same Wealth As The Poorest 3.8 Billion People

[url=http://www.occupy.com]www.occupy.com[/url] - The gap between rich and poor is fracturing society, poisoning politics and fueling public anger, according to a new report from anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam, which found that last year just 26 peopl…


Majority of Americans Support a 70% Tax Rate for Mega-Rich

[url=http://www.occupy.com]www.occupy.com[/url] - So much for a “radical” idea: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to raise America’s highest tax rate to 70 percent seems to be popular with the majority of Americans. In a recent poll conducted by T…


An Unholy Alliance: The Use of Terrorism According to John Bolton

[url=http://www.mintpressnews.com]www.mintpressnews.com[/url] - In 1978, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbignew Brzezinski, decided to use the Muslim Brotherhood against the Soviets, and sent Arab combatants to support the Afghan opposition against…


Collapse? It’s already here.

[url=http://www.doomsteaddiner.net]www.doomsteaddiner.net[/url] - From the keyboard of Surly1 Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Like us on Facebook Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 22, 2019 “The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed.”


Lindsey Graham Prophesies ‘Iraq on Steroids’ Syria Scenario. Israel Obliges with Attack on Damascus

[url=http://www.mintpressnews.com]www.mintpressnews.com[/url] - The Republican Senator from South Carolina uttered his remarks following a series of curiously timed developments in Syria, including a terror attack in the northern city of Manbij that reportedly le…


"Corporate bullies" are using RICO laws to go after Greenpeace

[url=http://www.motherjones.com]www.motherjones.com[/url] - On Monday, a federal judge in California dismissed a case from Resolute, the giant logging and newsprint company, against Greenpeace and other environmental activists. This is good news for the inter…


Hundreds of IRS employees are skipping work. That could delay tax refunds.

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com]www.washingtonpost.com[/url] - The IRS building in Kansas City, Mo., on Jan. 17. Hundreds of employees are skipping work due to financial hardship, and union officials expect a surge of absences as the government shutdown continue…


America’s Teachers Are Furious

[url=http://www.theatlantic.com]www.theatlantic.com[/url] - Taken together, these strikes amount to an unprecedented wave of teacher activism. For several decades, teachers’ unions generally shied away from striking. While strikes occasionally cropped up due …


Halfway Through the Trump Presidency, the Resistance Is Winning

[url=http://www.newyorker.com]www.newyorker.com[/url] - The third year of Donald Trump’s Presidency has dawned in characteristic fashion. Large parts of the federal government are still shut down. Trump is attacking the media. On Monday, he skipped out of…


More Americans Than Ever Believe in Climate Change, No Matter What Trump Says

[url=http://www.rollingstone.com]www.rollingstone.com[/url] - WASHINGTON — This country may be run by a rabid climate denier, but when it comes to the existential issue of our time, most Americans aren’t taking their cues from President Trump. Quite the opposit…


World’s Billionaires: Taxing Us Our Fair Share Would Be “Disastrous”

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks with supporters during her general campaign kick-off rally on September 22, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York.
[url=http://www.vanityfair.com]www.vanityfair.com[/url] - On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum kicked off its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland. There, over the course of three days, the upper echelons of the business, political, and academic worlds w…


Greenland's ice melting four times faster than in 2003

GLACIAL ICE SHEET, GREENLAND - JULY 17: Water is seen on part of the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of the country is seen on July 17, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered th

news.sky.com - Researchers concerned about rising sea levels have studied melting glaciers in Greenland for many years, specifically from the southeast and northwest regions of the country. Glaciers here are respon…


Why we need to be wary of narratives of economic catastrophe – 

<p><em>pingnews/Flickr</em></p>

aeon.co - The 2008 financial crisis continues to plague the world economy and our politics. It’s also messing with how we understand our narratives of global integration. Until recently, going global implied e…


Records show 100 percent of Texas coal power plants contaminating groundwater – “We found contamination everywhere we looked, poisoning groundwater aquifers and recreational fishing spots across the state”

South Texas Rancher Alonzo Peeler Jr. stands near land where all the vegetation has died, he believes because of contaminants leaking out of a coal ash waste pond behind this fence. “The toxic pollution leaking from these coal ash dumps is threatening our family’s ranch and our heritage,” said Jason Peeler, who helps run the Peeler Ranch. “We’ve asked the power company to stop polluting our land and clean up the mess. But their response has been to threaten to seize our land through eminent domain instead of cleaning it up. It’s outrageous — and an example of how coal ash pollution can cause real damage.” Photo: Ari Phillips / Environmental Integrity Project

[url=http://www.desdemonadespair.net]www.desdemonadespair.net[/url] - AUSTIN, Texas, 17 January 2019 (Earthjustice) – Toxic coal ash pollutants are leaking into groundwater surrounding 100 percent of Texas’s power plants for which data are available, with unsafe levels…


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Editor's note

The Doomstead Diner is a hub for discussion and information pertaining to the ongoing Economic Collapse of the Industrial Economy. The Diner is the result of many years of discussion and debate on many other forums. At Doomstead Diner, our goal is to collate much of the information we can to assist in planning for the world to come.
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