Saturday, April 25, 2015

The TPP: Toward Absolutist Capitalism

There are many excellent arguments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), two of which — local zoning over-rides, and loss of national sovereignty — I’ll briefly review as stepping stones to the main topic of the post: Absolutist Capitalism, for which I make two claims:
1) The TPP implies a form of absolute rule, a tyranny as James Madison would have understood the term, and
2) The TPP enshrines capitalization as a principle of jurisprudence.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic

On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.


  • U.S. stocks ended higher on Friday, with both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite Index refreshing their record closing highs, as major earnings reports came out generally positive. 

  •  (MarketWatch)Sales of new single-family homes fell 11.4% to an annual rate of 481,000 in March, pulling back from a seven-year high reached in the prior month and hitting the slowest pace since November. 

  • In Japan, manufacturing fell to 49.7 (est. 50.8), dropping below 50 for the first time since July 2014. 

  •  PRNewswire/ -- Even though buyers in most markets can break even on a home purchase in less than two years, nearly half of renters in a newly released survey said their credit or finances keep them from buying a home. 
  • Of renters surveyed by Zillow, 16 percent said they can't qualify for a home loan, 18 percent said they can't afford taxes, maintenance and other costs associated with home-ownership, and 13 percent said they don't have enough savings for a down payment. About a quarter said they struggle to pay their rent. 
  •  According to the survey, 82 percent of renters are long-term renters, and 57 percent are long-term renters who have lived for a long time in the same home. Just 14 percent of renters said they aren't staying long enough in the same place to buy. 

  • The Competitive Edge: renters searching for their next home on Zillow can easily see how long rentals have been on the market... 

  •  U.S. gains 126,000 jobs in March, unemployment at 5.5% 

  •  Russia's consumer price inflation hit 16.9 % in March as the country heads for recession. 

  •  ISM services index dips to 56.5% in March from 56.9% 

  •  China's services purchasing managers' index (PMI) was posted at 52.3 in March, up from 52 in February 

  •  Corn inventories of 7.745B bushels as of March 1 are up 10.5% YoY and stand against trade estimates for 7.609B. Acres planted drop 1.398M YoY. 
  •  Wheat stocks of 1.124B bushels are up from 1.057B YoY and stand against estimates for 1.141B. Acres planted drop 1.648M YoY. 
  •  Soybean inventories of 1.334B bushels are up from 994M YoY and stand against estimates for 1.348B. Acres planted gain 934K YoY. 

  •  The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected, while activity in the services sector hit a six-month high in March, underscoring the economy's solid fundamentals despite a recent softening in growth. The good news is that claims and the services sector data suggest the economy has gained some momentum heading into the second quarter. 

  •  US durable goods orders fell 1.4 in February 

  • U.S. Wages climbed by 1.3% from Q2 of 2012 to Q2 of 2014, compared to a 17% increase in home prices during that time, according to RealtyTrac. 

  •  The German economy, the biggest in Europe, is expected to keep its growth momentum in the first half of 2015 and continue to expand as strongly as at the end of 2014, Germany's central bank said on Monday in its monthly bulletin. 

  •  To boost economy, Sweden lowered its repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends to commercial banks, from minus 0.1 percent to minus 0.25 percent and announced that it would buy 30 billion krona (3.42 billion U.S) 

  •  Across the US about 5.4 million homes(more than 10% of home-owners) are still upside-down on their mortgages, according to an estimate from CoreLogic. 

  •  An ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer - glyphosate - is “probably carcinogenic,” according to a new decision by the World Health Organization. 

  •  The Abbott (he thinks the science of human-caused climate change is “crap”) government has pledged an extra $100 million as part of a long-term plan for the Great Barrier Reef that it hopes will prevent the international embarrassment of having the precious site declared officially "in danger" by the World Heritage Committee. 

  •  As bacon sales sizzle and China -- where pork is the favored meat -- becomes wealthier, pig farmers around the world are meeting demand by using about four times as much antibiotics per pound of meat as cattle ranchers. Poultry is a close second.

  • (March 16, 2015) - Researchers at UC San Diego and Creighton University have challenged the intake of vitamin D recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Institute of Medicine (IOM), stating that their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D underestimates the need by a factor of ten. 

  •  Scrunchies saving wildlife from being killed by cats. (cats are killing birds by the billions each year)