Thursday assorted links


What does or what might the PG&E-engineered blackout across Northern California portend for the advent of the electric cars of "the future"?

Sounds as if a lot of electric cars will be prone to stationary status: THAT'S progress.

This was engineered by lawyers not PG&E. When they decided to bring a class action lawsuit against PG&E following the fires the result was that PG&E had no choice but to cut power when the winds blow.

If PG&E management went along with what the attorneys negotiated, PG&E management (and the representative Cognitive Elite participants in Sacramento, Frisco, and San Jose) did its part in engineering this fiasco.

SacBee reported back in May the plans for such blackouts after the prior season's fires: apparently, NO ONE was insisting last spring that Sacramento instead devote immediate attention and resources to clearing paths through drought-prone forests for sparking transmission lines.

What a breathtaking triumph for our esteemed Cognitive Elites this fiasco shows itself to be. Can't be much of an advertisement for the reliability of electric cars.

(Alex: can you capture a fresh satellite shot of California by night to show us all what an engineered power blackout might signify?)

Begins to look as dire for drivers of conventional automobiles as for aspiring electric car owners:

I have to guess that lots of traffic lights across Northern California are not functioning, either, ditto ATMs.

How impaired might wireless telephone service have become?

I would assume it will incentivize rooftop solar panel and battery installation.

Well, it depends. The typical (and cheaper) rooftop solar configuration is such that if the grid goes down, the rooftop solar is disconnected, so the house still has no power. There are also potential safety issues with both solar and generator (power flowing back into the otherwise cold grid). All solvable, but at some additional cost.

Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may
I am getting that type of info written in such a perfect manner?
I've a challenge that I'm just now running on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

MORE calamity, hardship, and distress, courtesy of derelict or abdicated Cognitive Elites (hint: you don't need a Ph. D. to operate a chainsaw):

Would any academic economists care to comment on how (well, poorly) the UC-Berkeley economist in this article is managing his way through the crisis?

"As a rate payer, you want to pay workers to clear wide stone dust corridors under power lines?"

Yeah, dear Edward Burke doesn't seem to understand business nor economics. The best move as individuals is to stock up on panels and batteries. I hear Tesla's Powerwall is popular. The best move for the state is to introduce more private competition or have local government run it as a public utility. Whatever the form, power generation needs to be more decentralized than it is now so it doesn't have to run towers and wires everywhere. And yes, rurals will pay more for electricity but knowing that it won't destroy their neighborhood would make it worth the extra cost.

#3 What is the use?! There are not Washingtons, Jeffersons, Lincolns, Trumans or Eisenhowers in charge anymore. Just an orange man-child.

Today, our government has officially reneged its most solemn promise to sponsor Brazil's induction into NATO and the OECD. It is preposterous that we butter Red China up while backstabbing our closest ally. This is the Munich of our time.

The moment has come when I felt that Trump's government must die that the nation might live. Impeach the president! Throw the traitors out.

Please, read the scathing take of Brazilian journalist Mr. Chade on this betrayal.

It is outrageous. How sharper than a serpent's tooth...

I really rgought Trump was the lesser ecil. How mistaken I was!! He is destroying America's credibility.

Based on the Twitter activity, he isn't sleeping. This is not ok.

So you think he is suffering from psychosis?

Can Congress invoke the Amendment?

The 25 th Amendment, I mean?

I remember a time when a man's word was his bond.

Is he a total fool?!

I don't know, but my blood is boiling.

He's really mad right now.

Hey, at least Trump is standing up to evil Red China!

No, he isn't. He is throwing our closest ally, the key to South America, who allowed us to build a rocket base in its territory, into Red China's lap. He is a fool!! This day will live in infamy.

The point is, we should do what is right. Backstabbing our allies is wrong!!!!!!

And we need allies. How can we have allies when al the world has seen us backstabbing our closest ally?! Brazilians are as entitled to protect their rights as we are!!!! They probably will seek a separate peace with Red China!!!! Thanks, Trump!

So you support the Munich of our time?!

It's like platydemus manokwari!

It has nothing to do with it.

You've made it better.

Look what Trump did to the Kurds. 16 were murdered after Trump left them for dead. This is not someone you want as an ally.

"The US president says Kurdish fighters "didn't help us with [the D-Day landings in] Normandy". "

Twist the knife, Trump. Keep twisting.

He should step down.

"Na Síria, sem os curdos, os americanos jamais teriam derrotado o Estado Islâmico. Quando não precisaram mais dessa população, anunciaram que estavam retirando os soldados que os protegiam contra os turcos. Em poucos dias, mais de 60 mil curdos tiveram de abandonar suas casas diante dos ataques turcos.

Foram traídos...."

Remember that Trump has no real friends or allies because he is incapable of his own humanity. He treats the Kurds, who bravely fought against Islamofascists like the Estado Islâmico, like real estate to bargained away at the right price. Trump is the living incarnation of Prisoner's Dilemma, always looking to defect. "Foram traídos" indeed.

An EU agreement: Interesting comments from a lawyer. Interpretation: It will take years of expensive lawyer time to back out of this agreement so don't you dare simply do it without paying our $500 an hour fees for 2 or 3 years.

Worse: Without a deal, markets will cease to function!

4. So China is now censoring its own journalists in response to commercial pressure from US businesses. I don’t mind this, but surely all the people who thought Chinese commercial pressure violated free speech must equally condemn the commercial pressure exerted to force China to censor nationalist speech in China.

Because China never censored Chinese journalism before...

Sure, and lots of US companies have fired employees for their political views before. Last couple of days though, the media was full of outrage about how it’s a threat to global free speech because a company apologized for something an employee said in order not to appease people in China who got offended, and this justifies stunting the entire Chinese economy. Now we have the Chinese government censoring journalists and social media in China in order to appease Americans who were offended at the Chinese being offended. From a free speech perspective, these things should be equivalent (if anything, the Chinese censorship of its own people is worse because it’s the exercise of sovereign authority whereas the NBA’s apology was just a statement by a private company).

No, they are not. Red China attacked first.

Whom are you talking to?

LOL, I did an undergrad paper about Black-Scholes once, testing its performance as a predictor of options prices. Its performance was so good that the only explanation was that the options traders used it too...

This argument is odd. The EU is uniquely dysfunctional at coming to external trade agreements that might benefit the people of the member states. Therefore we must not leave, as they will be as useless at negotiating one with the UK as they have been with the rest of the world.
The EU can easily copy and paste the text of the Canada agreement (that took over a decade) with a few amendments. But they will not as it is politically difficult to see a member leave. Clearly those in charge of the EU are more worried about holding on to their power than they are with the well-being of the people they should be representing. I would suggest it is an argument to get out quickly.

"I would suggest it is an argument to get out quickly."

Who is preventing you from doing it?

Parliament, the speaker, Lady Hale...

The Queen, the whole Supreme Court, the Tory Party, the Labour Party, the Irish, the Scotts. In a word, yourselves.

The Irish causing trouble again, eh?

We've dealt with that before. We can do so again.

You are correct in stating that the problem lies in the UK establishment's unwillingness to accept the decision. Parliament voted to hold a referendum, with the promise the outcome would be respected. The subsequent general election was fought with the commitment of the Tories and Labour to respect the result of the referendum.
The Conservative Party membership is happy to leave on WTO terms. The Labour Party's core vote is happy to leave on WTO terms. Oddly many MPs have taken it upon themselves to renege on the manifesto promises that put them in power.
But none of this means my original point is invalid.
I also don't understand the reference to the Queen.

Tell DUP.

"The Conservative Party membership is happy to leave on WTO terms. The Labour Party's core vote is happy to leave on WTO terms. "

Not true. The Leave Camp is divided regarding how to leave. Hard Brexiters just don't have the votes.

I think the Democratic Unionist Party are happy to enact the result of the largest vote in UK history, hence their name.
There are people who want to leave the EU and want to do so regardless of whether there is a deal in place, and there are people who see a deal as a precondition to leaving. The latter will never be offered anything acceptable while the EU demands a fee for membership.
"Hard Brexiters just don't have the votes" - unless we have an election, it's difficult to verify.
At this point, it is impossible to believe in democracy and want to remain in the EU.

"At this point, it is impossible to believe in democracy and want to remain in the EU."

You just need a small fraction of the Leave voters not wanting a hard Brexit to make it obvioua the votes are not there. And DUP doesn't want Northern Ireland to be thrown under the bus. Who would have thought? Well, anyway the deadline is near. Let's see if the British really want the Brexit they can get instead the one they pretended they could get.

I note you do not disagree that with my point that the EU is a vehicle run for the benefit of its bureaucracy rather than its general population.
The fact that the political class in the UK are happy with that situation is grim but predictable, but certainly does not mean that this holds anywhere outside the M25 or on University campuses.
It was made extremely clear in the referendum that a vote to leave meant leaving the Single Market, leaving the Customs Union, leaving the jurisdiction of the ECJ, stopping free movement. And that leaving without an immediate equivalent trade deal was a distinct possibility.
I, and 16.1m others, voted to remain because of that. But 17.4m voted to leave, and to disenfranchize them permanently for no reason other than the EU's inability, or its unwillingness, to conclude an amicable post-Brexit relationship is a somewhat difficult stance to take while sticking to the belief that Western liberal democracy is the least awful way to run a country.

Again, maybe hard Brexiters should just come up with the votes. They can't convince Scotland, can't convince Ireland and can't convince Wales. Maybe they should stop blaming reality and start working on a deal they can get through Ireland. Conservatives had a chance to make Brexit work, but just couldn't get a majority. It is not the EU's fault.

Again, cannot see your point.
I state the UK establishment does not endorse the majority ruling of a policy they delegated to the British people. This includes May and Hammond, who could not negotiate a deal that could satisfy anyone.
The Conservatives and the Brexit Party wish to have a general election to understand the will of the people. It is the 'remain' MPs, most of whom stood last time on a manifesto promise to respect the referendum result, who frustrate that vote. Presumably because they would lose humiliatingly.
In 1997, there was a referendum in Wales as to whether the people wanted a devolved Welsh Parliament. This ended 50.3% for, and 49.7% against. Imagine if the UK government had said these people are wrong, we will ignore this. The Welsh voted 52.5% to leave the EU; the assembly disregards and insults these voters when it supports the implementation of further referendums until it gets its desired result.
Imagine, if you will, the outcry had the vote been 52% to remain, and a partisan Parliament elected to enforce that decision had then decided the people were too irrational, and we should leave despite said referendum. This would never have been tolerated. The UK would instead have been signed up to every EU whim for the next forty years, with the remainers making sure everyone understood that the referendum was a vote for ever closer union.
The BBC was up in arms when Turkey's president ordered a re-run of the Istanbul mayoral election because, according to Mr. Erdogan, the voters were ill-informed about the opposition's plans. They then ran positive stories about the need for a second Brexit referendum because the Northerners are too thick, lazy, and racist to have come to the correct conclusion in the first one.
The fact that a political class does not wish to respect a democratic vote does not invalidate the largest mandate in UK electoral history. UK political dysfunction does not mean that EU political dysfunction is exonerated.
You can point to MPs who will not endorse this. But this does not mean they speak for anyone but themselves.

Brexiters had their election. It ended up with a deal with the DUP. Apparently, the DUP won't throw Ireland under the bus just because a few Englishmen want it. Let's see how serious the hard Brexit talk really is and how well it works.

29 March 2017: UK officially starts Brexit Process
29 April: EU27 leaders approve mandate
22 May: negotiating directives were approved by the EU states
Then there was an intentional delay until the June 8 elections, so negotiations proper started on 18 June.

So it appears that the process can move much more quickly than that, when the parties have done some talking before about what constitutes acceptable negotiating directives.

Then what on earth is the point of the twitter link?
If they can quickly finalize a free trade deal beneficial to all concerned, why would anyone worry about leaving?

#5 "As the MTA’s head of capital construction, Janno Lieber, told the Times, it’s not just the cost of elevator installation that goes into total estimates for adding elevators. In fact, Lieber said, the elevator itself accounts for only about 20% of the cost. Other work, including land acquisition costs and needing to move water and power lines, factors in.

Still, New York City isn’t unique in having to navigate existing utility infrastructure. “I can certainly say that London and Toronto and Paris also have running water,” noted Jonathan English, a Ph.D. candidate in urban planning at Columbia University"

It's not a matter of navigating existing infrastructure, but replacing it. When you propose to add the elevator, and it requires moving a watermain, they discover it is 75 years old and the whole thing needs to be replaced ten blocks in each direction, and guess which project gets billed for the cost of that This is when politicians step in and decry "costs spiralling out of control again!"

Why don't they just hire people to carry all the disabled folks and moms with strollers down the stairs instead? That should come at a fraction of the cost.

Or give them all free Uber rides, it still might be cheaper. Manhattan apartment residents are understandably unimpressed with an elevatpr that only has to make two stops

That's a good explanation.

To add some nitpicking to the article, why is the standard journalist innumerate?

"Seventy-eight million dollars can buy more than 2,000 wheelchair-accessible buses, a mile of new subway line in Madrid or 240 Andy Byfords for one year. Or, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, $78 million will build new elevators in a single subway station. "

2000 for 78 million? 2 for 78K. $39K for a wheelchair accessible bus? Does that pass the smell test? More likely, the bill for adding a lift to a bus is $39K

The word "corruption" never appears here. Take it from a native, New Yorkers believe that their city isn't corrupt like [fill in name here]. No, it's much worse in New York.

3 and 5 are describing the same thing.

#4. Smart. Beijing's hair-trigger sensitivity to even slight criticism or mocking (Winnie-the-Pooh) had inadvertently handed a powerful weapon to China antagonists in the west. The Chinese government needs a thicker skin for its own sake.

#3: It's almost like international bureaucracies are inefficient.

On the tax issue, again, while the overall US tax system is mildly progressive (the link provided failed to note the mildness of the progressivity), it goes regressive at the top end, which the piece minimizes by implying that it is only for those top 400 families. It goes well beyond them, but it is unclear as of now just exactly what level of income are people paying the highest average tax rates. It does now seem that it is somewhere in the top 1%, but it is not just those top 400 who are paying lower overall rates, which for that group are substantiall lower rates.

On the option price issue, I have published two papers by Nassim Taleb on this issue where he has made such claims, one in JEBO when I edited it, and one more recently in ROBE. These were not cited in this paper linked to on this question.

1 of my pet peeves:
If FICA and matching FICA are taxes on employees (which I think they are) then Social Security is welfare/(gov. charity).
What kind of crazy welfare program gives more to high earners than to low? Many people say FICA is a tax but SS is not welfare.

I should have said I think SS should pay the same amount to all retirees and FICA should be merged into the income tax.

That would invalidate the common and sometimes wrong claim "I paid for that".

But it's not a welfare program. It's a progressive -- not regressive -- retirement program in which low-earners get out much more than they pay in and high-earners much less. On top of that, high-earners tend to have higher incomes during retirement and pay income taxes on their SS benefits.

That's because it's supposed to be a "social insurance" program and thus higher income workers would presumably want to have a higher payout upon the "unforeseeable" event of retirement. Of course, that was done for the political reason to distinguish it from pure welfare, though benefits are progressive (lower income workers receive a higher percentage of their compensation) and retirement is not an unforeseeable event.

2. In his thesis in 1900 Louis Bachelier published a decent and efficient model to price options. Itô published his formula. Option trading really took off in early 1970s with computers.

Someone must have told China about the Streisand effect. Nobody in America gave a damn when the Chinese played this game with Apple or Hollywood, but man if you restrict LeBron's ability to speak, people might start paying attention over here. And NOBODY wants that. Sports really have become our religion.

“Sports really have become our religion.”
+1 It is really baffling.

#6...Isn't this tangled web of incentives/disincentives/loopholes/ exceptions/ meant to be endlessly debated? It must serve both sides to continue this mess. No one really wants a definitive answer, at least when talking about the real world of politics. Have you ever noticed how many issues, health care, wealth, compensation, minimum wage, defy easy analysis? I don't think anything approaching real reform is possible. There will be deficit spending forever, aided by an occasional lowering of debt. Tax Policy is really a battle between groups and interests to shift the burden onto other groups and interests, and has no connection to government spending.

BTW, some economists who argued against Keynes weren't arguing so much against him as arguing that he was being taken to justify continuous deficit spending. And when that was accepted, spending would increase without any real relation to taxes, which is what has happened. In fact, we now have people arguing for this position which they haven't even noticed has come to pass, because tax policy is a debate about who pays and they have their own views about that.

We could have a less complex, more efficient, fairer tax policy, if we tried to tie taxers to what we want government to accomplish. In other words, argue for policies and expenditures first and then determine how to pay for them. I think that would lead to a smaller government, but one that is fairer, more efficient, effective and cheaper, and so it's not going to happen. No one really wants to take a chance on that because it might take serious compromise, something not being done nowadays.

Thoughtful, +5 internet points

Thank you, Cheers, Don Unless you're mocking me, in which case, it's still thank you.

4. Can somebody clue Joe Tsai in on Hong Kong? Jay-Z? Jeremy Lin? It is not a separatist movement. They oppose the extradition bill, want the perpetrators of police brutality to be brought to justice, and better representation in government. Nobody except a few scraggly teenagers is calling for independence here.

Could not see behind the paywall, but I'd be very surprised if it shows or even argues that the "Tax Cuts for the Rich and Deficits Act of 2017" which was purportedly to reduce the distortion of taxing "business" income (and at non-uniform rates) failed to recoup the revenue loss by higher taxation of personal income. In other words it was perfectly designed as an upward distribution of income, the latest battle in the class war that Republicans stated in the 1980's. The US tax system is SUPPOSED to be progressive. If it is still is after repeated assaults on progressiveness is miracle.

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