Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The operation was a success: the patient didn't die yet.

Illinois is on the cusp of passing its first budget since 2015. (Last budget voted on and passed was in 2014, under Gov Quinn.)

From Crain's Chicago Business:
The House and Senate adopted a $36bn fiscal 2018 budget.

Gov Rauner vetoed the bills: the main appropriations bill, separate measure on revenue, and budget implementation bill.

which the Senate then voted immediately and passed 36-19 to meet the veto override. 1 Republican joined the 35 Democrats in passing that bill.
The House had already adjourned for the 4th of July holiday - they're expected to vote today, 5 July 2017.

If the House passes the bills to meet the veto threshold, then these are some of the things that will happen:
Mayor Emmanuel gets the OK to refinance pension funds; raise the city's 911 tax by $1.10 to $5.00 per phone line per month; receive $300mn next year for Chicago Public Schools.

The state will cut back on the share of income tax receipts that go to the CTA and Metra.

The individual tax rate goes from 3.75% to 4.95% permanently (at least, there is no sunset provision as the last income tax hike had).
The corporate rate goes from 5.25% to 7%.
Both take effect July 1 - but the Dems had wanted it to be retroactive to Jan 1.
The General Assembly expects the hikes to bring in add'l $5bn/year.

Dropped the idea of extending sales tax to services such as dry cleaning.

Budget includes a projected sale of the Thompson Bldg for $300mn.

Operations of most depts will be reduced 5%.
Colleges and universities payouts will be cut 10%.


Meanwhile, Wolf Richter at Wolf Street reports on just how well consumers are positioned to absorb the new and bigger cash grabs:

  • The average monthly car payment jumped to a record $517/mo in June '17, from $510 in May.
  • The length of average car loan is now 69.3 months.
  • Average amount financed jumped by $631 from May to June 2017, to now be $30,945.
  • Car and light truck sales fell 3% YOY, to 1.47mn vehicles
  • 6th consecutive month of YOY declines
  • Truck and SUV sales rose 4.1% to 933,378 units. But car sales fell 13.2% to 541,982.
  • Sales to fleet customers fell 7.8% in June
  • Manufacturers' incentives ranged from 12% of transaction price (GM, Ford, FCA) to 15% (Nissan, Kia)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Dog baths and bras.
Specifically, bras that push them together, not divide and conquer.
Gallia divisa in partes tres, or, the Julius Caesar approach to women's lingerie.

Things I know:
I like Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples. And only those 2.
I like Twinings Irish Breakfast tea and English Breakfast tea. And rooibos tea. And only those 3.

I didn't think I liked almond milk, particularly as a substitute for whole milk in lattes, but I came around.

It's tricky trying to find the right bra. And then find it in the right size. And being sure that you know what size you wear. And hoping the color selection for that bra, in that size, is not crazy.

Oh, and have significant eye strain in the left eye. It's only a matter of time before the right eye joins in.

And that does it for today's collection of 1st world problems.
Confused? You won't be after this week's episode of "Soap."



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Where in the world did Macron come from?

I don't know how he and his party were created, supported, and elected but there's a story there.
Note: how to pronounce Macron: ma-KRON.

A brief history of Macron's climb to the top of the greasy pole, courtesy of Reuters:

2010: Macron joins Socialist Hollande's entourage.

2012-05-15: Macron named deputy secretary general of Elysee by Hollande. In charge of economic affairs he is Hollande's envoy to G8, G20, and European summits.

2014-06-10: Macron resigns as Hollande's top economic policy advisor.

2014-08-26: Hollande sacks Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, replaced by Macron.

2015-08-28: Macron goes on the record criticizing France's 35-hour week.

2016-02-11: Premier Valls reshuffles gov't, Macron demoted 2 spaces in cabinet.

2016-04-06: Macron launches "En Marche!" in Amiens (his hometown).

2016-05-28: Macron begins his national campaign.

2016-08-30: Macron resigns from Hollande's government.

2016 Sept: Sources tell Reuters that Macron wants to field candidates in all 577 constituencies for 2017 election.

2016-11-16: Macron officially declares bid for presidency.

2016-11-27: Former PM Fillon wins conservative presidential ticket.

2016-12-01: Hollande announces he will not seek reelection.

2017-01-24: Fillon accused of fake jobs allegations in Le Canard Enchaine.

2017-01-29: Benoit Hamon wins Socialist primaries, Valls eliminated.

2017-04-23: Macron and Le Pen win 1st round of voting for president.

2017-05-05: Friday night thousands of documents were released online targeting Macron, at the beginning of France's blackout period. (See Business Insider for details on leak.)

2017-05-07: Macron wins election, per Reuters "to sighs of relief in Europe."

2017-06-18: En March! wins absolute majority in French parliamentary elections.
Parties supporting Macron will hold 350 of 577 seats in parliament.
Les Republicans and allies will have 137 seats.
Socialist Party reduced to 44.
Communist Party and Unbowed (the far left parties) will have 27.
National Front will have 8 (including Marine Le Pen, elected to French Parliament for 1st time).

2017-06-20: Two ministers quit French government as reshuffle looms. (Reuters)
Armed Forces Minister Sylvie Goulard quit because of an investigation into her center-right Modem party's affairs in European Parliament.
Minister for Territorial Planning, Richard Ferrand, left on Monday, 19 June 2017, who is facing a different judicial probe.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's how we weed out the troublemakers

Financial Times on Barclays' CEO Jes Staley:

From Lex



Every other company CEO and board that does not call for Staley to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law should expect their own whistleblowers to go straight to regulators and bypass their own company's procedures. Why should they expect any shielding when Barclays, and Wells Fargo last autumn, are the most recent high profile examples to punish whistleblowing?

Mr Boffo on companies' attitude to whistleblowers

Far Side on company "protections"

Friday, February 24, 2017

Exposed. To short sellers.

Tiptoeing through today's Financial Times

Look who got a shout-out - as a broker!


Words to live by

Martin Wolf on [UK] government intervention in tertiary education

Anjana Ahuja on life outside the solar system, or lack of it
Or, a failure of imagination on homo sapiens end. Make that homo sapiens rhododendron. See also homo sapiens rhodesiensis.

Sometimes the Church of England gets it right, or at least the Bishop of Peterborough

So, three paychecks then?

Continuing along the Pacific Rim: Abe drawn into Japan school land scandal
Way to set the bar high, Japan.
But there's more. 
Or, Prof Honda, Abe was bluffing.

And there's an obituary, for the dearly departed Kenneth Arrow.

Not just Hollywood. Family connections pay off in economics too. Sure, why not.
But Arrow also contributed pithy aphorisms.

I agree. Society's preferences are incoherent.

More from the International section
Stand-off delays state rescue of Italian bank
Surprisingly no mention that the delay is due to Rome being broke. And also not sure how broke it is. Or finding anyone willing to cash a 3rd party out-of-state check.

Catalonia doubts number is up for secession vote
Madrid considers invoking Article 155. Meanwhile, in another part of the house Great Britain is about to invoke Article 50.
All Brussels wants to hear from London: No quiero vivir sin ti. But Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are yelling from the top of stairs: callate la boca! Lagate! Y vete al diablo.
Brussels is not amused.





Saturday, January 14, 2017

No, that won't work at all

Catching up on this week's Financial Times and the tangents it puts me on.

What is the etymology of but?












The Financial Times has run several articles this past week on former MI-6 Christopher Steele's dossier on Donald Trump.

In most of them they mention, towards the end, that the dossier's contents were shared with journos at a number of publications including the Financial Times.

And the FT couldn't corroborate any of the claims.
Gaius Publius writes how there are at least 5 state actors involved in influencing the 2016 US election:
So who again tried to tilt the field for or against Clinton or Trump? Including Russia, the administration, Comey, agents of the FBI and NY police, the CIA and national security forces, I count five groups.
And points out the Democrats are assisting the Deep State in attempting to overthrow Trump.
But when FBI Director Comey was forced to "investigate" Clinton's secret emails the Dems decried his interference. They did not decry the Obama Administration's interference when he campaigned on behalf of Clinton. They also did not decry Bill Clinton waylaying AG Lynch on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Green means go

Or, The Big Green Go.
Or, Monday-Friday.
Or...

Sometimes the podcast title is the last thing you figure out.

The hardware.
Microphones
Headphones
Mixer

The software.
Audacity
Skype
Pamela (program to record Skype)

Learning to use the hardware. And the audio editing software.
Eliminate the distracting sounds - like breathing into the mic. Or saying ummm.
Level the audio using Levelator.

Creative commons license.
Fair use license.

Putting the show online.
Tagging, compressing, posting.

Hosting files at Archive.org.

Submitting to iTunes.

Going to need a feedburner, like RSS.