Robots Don’t Kill People (at Least Not Yet); People Use Robots to Kill People

San Francisco is considering authorizing its police department to sometimes use remote-controlled robots to kill: The robot might deliver a bombs or a grenade, or perhaps might even include a remote-controlled firearm (though I’m not sure which options would be available at the outset). This has been reported with headlines such as, “Robots would have license to kill” and “San Francisco police propose allowing robots to kill in ‘rare and exceptional’ circumstances.”

But to my knowledge none of these would involve any autonomy on the robot’s part; a human being will push the button, just as today a human being can pull a trigger. My view is much the same as it was when this was done in Dallas in 2016 to stop a mass shooter: If the police reasonably believe that someone poses an imminent danger of death to others, and that killing him is necessary to prevent that danger, they can try to kill him, whether with a rifle or a bomb-carrying robot. A robot is a weapon, albeit one that isn’t stymied by corners or walls the way a rifle would be.

Nor am I particularly worried that the presence of the robot would somehow deaden its user’s normal reluctance to kill people, at least compared to other devices that kill at a distance, such as rifles. The police officers pushing the button will know that they’re using deadly force. Indeed, they’ll often have more time than in a normal police shooting situation to calculate whether the use of deadly force is necessary (though errors will undoubtedly be possible, as they are with all deadly force). It of course makes sense to have policies that diminish the risk of unnecessary or unjustified uses of deadly force; but that too applies equally, I think, to use of robots as it does to ordinary use of firearms.

More broadly, I think we should be careful with colorful figurative usage, however appealing it might be for headline writers. Some day armed AI robots may indeed make independent decisions (prompted indirectly by their programming, but with no human being to make the final call in each situation); that may well be a novel situation that would call for additional thinking. But in this situation, robots wouldn’t be being licensed or allowed to do anything; people would be allowed to do things using robots, and it’s a mistake to fuzz that over.

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‘We Want Freedom’: Chinese Protests Reflect Frustration With Country’s Continuing COVID Restrictions


Beijing protest against "zero COVID" policies

Chinese revolt against “zero COVID” policies. While the rest of the world moves on from COVID-19 containment measures, many Chinese citizens have still been subjected to lockdowns and other restrictions on movement. They’ve finally had enough.

Protests broke out Friday in Urumqi, after an apartment fire killed at least 10 people and injured others. COVID restrictions may have impeded people’s efforts to escape.

“Protests spread to cities and college campuses around China on Saturday night, reflecting rising public anger at the country’s draconian Covid controls, with some in a crowd in Shanghai directing their fury at the Communist Party and its top leader, Xi Jinping,” reports The New York Times:

The tragedy has fanned broader calls to ease China’s harsh regimen of Covid tests, urban lockdowns and limits on movement nearly three years into the pandemic. For much of that time, many accepted such controls as a price for avoiding the widespread illness and deaths that the United States, India and other countries endured. But public patience has eroded this year as other nations, bolstered by vaccines, moved back to something like normal, even as infections continued. And after years of enforcing the strict “zero Covid” rules, many local officials appear worn down.

Efforts to ease these rules keep failing in the face of new outbreaks.

“Barely a week after no longer requiring residents to show a negative Covid test to use mass transit, the authorities in the northern Chinese city of Shijiazhuang have locked down much of the city for five days as infections surge,” the Times reported last week. “In Shanghai, many neighborhoods have begun requiring frequent Covid tests again only days after telling residents that the tests were seldom needed.”

Protesters this past weekend chanted, “We want freedom.”

“There is only one disease in the world, that is, being unfree and poor, and now we have both,” said a man in Chongqing in a video that began spreading widely last week. “Give me liberty or give me death!”

William Hurst, a Cambridge University professor who studies Chinese politics and protest, wrote this weekend that the protests are “novel in that protesters have appeared on the streets in multiple cities with apparent knowledge of what is happening in other parts of the country,” in contrast to past protests, which have generally been localized or confined to a specific group (such as students or workers).

In this case, distinct groups have been airing different complaints, but all with COVID policies as a central theme. Some of these complaints have morphed into more generalized anger at the Communist regime. Workers in Zhengzhou and elsewhere are engaged in labour protests, but with #ZeroCovid as a kind of frame for their grievances. Students across dozens of campuses, similarly are mounting familiar kinds of protest, but also framed around Covid,” noted Hurst.

So far, the Chinese authorities’ response to the protests has not been “nearly as harsh, repressive, or even coordinated as we might have predicted,” Hurst added.

Taisu Zhang, a historian at Yale University, points out the role played by that China’s centralized COVID policies. These boosted the state’s popularity in the early days of the pandemic, when the efforts appeared to be working to suppress COVID. But after those policies started to malfunction, they gave protesters a centralized, national target.

Centralization and systemic political coherency is a high-risk, high-reward thing, but the upsides of the rewards are probably not as high as the downsides of the risks are low,” commented Zhang. But in China, “decentralization doesn’t seem to politically viable anymore, at least not as a matter of central level political discourse. That, more than the protests, and even more than whatever damage zero-Covid will do/has already done, is the main reason to worry about the country’s long term socioeconomic prospects.”


FREE MINDS

Reason‘s 2022 holiday gift guide is here. Each year, Reason staffers offer their best holiday shopping recommendations, from board games and comic books to coffee accessories and “Come Back With A Warrant” doormats. Check it out if you’re looking for some fun and libertarian-adjacent gift ideas…or just to see how well you know us. Can you guess which Reasoner recommended musical theater tickets? Montessori-inspired toys? A really fancy bong?


FREE MARKETS

Another anti-tech antitrust lawsuit? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to challenge Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company behind Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and several other hit video games. From Politico:

A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote out a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies, two of the people said. However, the FTC staff reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments, those people said….

Central to the FTC’s concerns is whether acquiring Activision would give Microsoft an unfair boost in the video game market. Microsoft’s Xbox is number three to the industry-leading Sony Interactive Entertainment and its PlayStation console. Sony, however, has emerged as the deal’s primary opponent, telling the FTC and regulators in other countries that if Microsoft made hit games like Call of Duty exclusive to its platforms Sony would be significantly disadvantaged.

The Sony thing might seem silly, but the Biden FTC has been less concerned with consumer welfare than with the effect of business moves and mergers on competitors. So it wouldn’t be out of character for the FTC to intervene here, even if no one is alleging that Microsoft taking over Activision will be bad for video game consumers.


QUICK HITS

• The idea that human brains are done developing at age 25 is a myth.

• Mystified by Mastodon? We’re here to help.

Genetically engineered chestnut trees may be coming to American forests soon.

• France’s highest court says an employee can’t be fired for not being “fun.”

• Democrats’ good fortune in the midterm elections “is partially a result of independent voters picking the Democratic candidate in competitive contests in swing states and districts,” reports Vox. “Independent men supported Republicans slightly more than Democrats, but independent women backed Democrats by a much bigger margin.”

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It’s Time For Congress To File A Lawsuit Against President Biden Over Student Debt

It’s Time For Congress To File A Lawsuit Against President Biden Over Student Debt

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

Does Congress have standing to file suit over student debt discharges? I think there is an easy way to prove the case one way or the other.

First, let’s recap how we got here and why this is a big issue. 

On August 24, President Biden’s Fact Sheet announced a student debt forgiveness plan that will cost in the neighborhood of $420 billion.

That is fiscal authority the President just does not have. 

Biden’s plan went unchallenged for weeks, presumably because no one had the standing to sue. 

The plan must adversely impact someone who claims to have been injured. Taxpayers do not count.

Three Standing Requirements

  • First, there must be a concrete injury in fact that is not conjectural or hypothetical.

  • Second, there must be causation, a fairly traceable connection between a plaintiff’s injury and the conduct of the defendant.

  • Third, there must be redressability, a likelihood that the requested relief will redress the alleged injury.

The struggle to find standing hinged on finding someone who was monetarily damaged by Biden’s free money handout other than taxpayers.  

Enter Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor who both have student loans. They claim to have been harmed because they were ineligible to obtain the full benefit of debt forgiveness under the Program flows due to the program’s eligibility requirements.

That argument seems more than a bit of a stretch, but on November 11, District Judge Mark T. Pittman made  a Student Debt Cancellation Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.

In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government. As President James Madison warned, “[t]he accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

THE FEDERALIST NO. 47. The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved. And having interpreted the HEROES Act, the Court holds that it does not provide “clear congressional authorization” for the Program proposed by the Secretary.

Correct Conclusion

Pittman’s bottom line conclusion is undoubtedly correct. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Biden did not have the power to do cancel hundreds of billions of dollars of debt.

Biden’s rationale was more than a bit flimsy. Despite having stated the pandemic was over, the alleged decision was under the Heroes Act dealing with the Covid pandemic.

Biden did not care. Of course, once he made the move Pelosi backed Biden.

But What About Standing?

Correct conclusion aside, it is questionable if the Supreme Court would agree with Pittman’s ruling regarding standing, no matter how logical his conclusion.

Moreover, Pittman’s ruling did not end President Biden’s shenanigans. 

With his $420 billion cancellation in the legal dock, The Wall Street Journal noted Biden’s Eternal Emergency.

“It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers who are eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit,” President Biden said. 

So, with the stroke of another unconstitutional announcement, the Education Department extended its pandemic payment pause through next August.

A Better Challenge

There is a far better way forward than running though a torturous maze seeking monetary standing. 

I suggest Congress has standing, individually and collectively.

How so? 

Although no member of Congress was monetarily harmed by Biden’s action, they were harmed by a President usurping their constitutional rights.

The constitution, as Pittman chastised, is “not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone.”

Logically, this line of thought applies to every state. Voters elected representatives to make fiscal decisions for their states and Biden took that power away. 

This is a real, provable loss, with an easy remedy. 

On those grounds, I suggest a lawsuit in every district court in the country.

Even if there is precedent against Congressional filings of this nature, Roe v Wade and Dobbs shows the Supreme Court is not adverse to acting against precedent.

Eventually, and perhaps quickly, the case will get to the Supreme Court where the logical ruling would be against Biden, hopefully with a strong admonishment. 

Let’s return fiscal matters to Congress where they constitutionally belong. 

Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 10:10

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Key Events This Extremely Busy Week: Payrolls, JOLTs, PCE, ISM, GDP And Powell

Key Events This Extremely Busy Week: Payrolls, JOLTs, PCE, ISM, GDP And Powell

There are a number of key data points coming out of the US this week, including GDP, ISM, and NFP, following a relatively quiet holiday period last week. According to Goldman’s Isabella Rosenberg notes, the market will be focused on the upside risks to Fed policy from any stronger-than-expected economic data this week, while on the labor market, the focus is slightly different. The key question will be whether the gradual deceleration in US job growth can continue or whether this week’s payrolls data will show a sharper decline than anticipated. One of the key arguments for a “soft landing” that economists have been making is that a gradual rebalancing in the labor market is possible and that, coupled with an extended period of below potential growth can cool inflation; in other words, a fast and sharp increase in unemployment is not necessary or inevitable for slower underlying inflation (needless to say this is not a consensus view).

Chair Powell is also likely to address this debate in a speech on the “Economic Outlook and the Labor Market” on Wednesday, 11/30. Any additional color on how the FOMC is thinking about its task to deliver a soft-landing will be critical for the outlook. Separately, the speech also gives Chair Powell an opportunity to comment, either in favor of or against, on the latest easing in financial conditions after the latest CPI print.

Taking a more detailed look at the coming week, DB’s Jim Reid notes that it’s a big few days for US employment data, building to a crescendo with payrolls on Friday. We’ll also get the latest PCE inflation reading and the ISM manufacturing print.

Elsewhere, European CPI releases will also be front and center as inflation and recession risks in the currency bloc weigh on the ECB. In Asia, all eyes will be on China’s PMIs and several key economic activity indicators from Japan. We will also hear from a number of key central bank officials, including Fed Chair Powell and ECB President Lagarde.

Going through the highlights in more detail and there’s only one place to start, and that is with payrolls. This will be the last one before the FOMC on December 13-14th. DB economists expect a +200k print in November, down from +261k in October, and the unemployment rate to tick back down to 3.6%. Earnings are forecast to grow +0.3%, decelerating from October’s +0.4%.

Prior to Friday we have the latest JOLTS report and ADP reports on Wednesday. In terms of the former, it’s long been the Fed’s favoured measure of labour market tightness but it’s always a month behind other measures so as we approach a turning point in the labour market it might be tough to use it as a lead indicator. Economists are focused on the micro of the report and recent evidence of less labour market tightness has been a little less evident under the surface given various sector mismatches.

Rounding off the important labor market clues, tomorrow’s Conference Board’s confidence measure on Tuesday will include the jobs-plentiful / jobs hard-to-get differential, which has historically been highly correlated with the unemployment rate. DB economists highlight that after peaking at 47.1 in March, consumer views on the labour market have cooled a bit with the differential falling to 32.5 in October. While the October level is still very healthy and in line with the near-recordlow unemployment rate, we need to see how quickly this now deteriorates for clues on the turn in the labor market.

Within Thursday’s personal income (consensus at +0.4% vs. +0.4% last month) and consumption (consensus at +0.8% vs. +0.6%) report the latest reading on the core PCE deflator will be a big release for Fed expectations. Given what we know from the CPI and PPI data earlier this month, our economists expect core PCE inflation to come in at 0.2% (vs. 0.5% previously). If their forecast is correct, the year-over-year rate will begin to fall, dropping a tenth to 5.0%. While only a small decrease in the year-over-year rate’s September peak, this would be the fourth lowest monthly core PCE print since the beginning of 2021, so it may help cement 50bps over 75bps in two weeks’ time.

Business activity-related indicators due out include the manufacturing ISM index on Thursday. Economists expect the indicator to slip into contractionary territory (49.8 vs 50.2 in October) for the first time since the Covid depths in May 2020. The day before, we get the Chicago PMI (consensus forecast 47.0 vs 45.2 in October) and the advance goods trade balance (forecast -$90.4bn vs -$92.2bn in September).

In Europe, the November CPI reports from across the Eurozone will be among the key data this week. As a reminder, the bloc-wide measure is now at 10.6%, the highest ever, in a sharp contrast to the US where the latest CPI (7.7%) is more than a percentage point below its recent peak (9.1%). With few indicators pointing to a significant slowdown in price increases for Europe, this week’s print may keep up the pressure on the ECB to fight inflation despite growth concerns. In fact, as DB’s European economists point out in their review of central bank’s monetary policy accounts released this week, contrary to markets’ initial perception, there was little dovishness in last meeting’s message. The team is calling for a +50bps hike in December but acknowledging upside risks, especially if this week’s prints come in above expectations.

We will also get the PPI and consumer spending for France, the PPI and the manufacturing PMI from Italy, as well as confidence indicators for the Eurozone throughout the week.

Over in Asia, all eyes will be on November PMIs from China on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Bloomberg consensus pointing to an unchanged manufacturing PMI on Wednesday (49.2) and a slight drop in the Caixin PMI on Thursday (48.9 vs 49.2). See the day-by-day week ahead for the full diary of events this week.

Finally, turning to the US alone, Goldman writes that the key economic data releases this week are the JOLTS job openings on Wednesday, ISM manufacturing on Thursday, and the employment situation report on Friday. There are several speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including remarks from Chair Powell; governors Bowman, Cook, and Barr; and presidents Williams, Bullard, Logan, and Evans.

 Monday, November 28

  • 10:30 AM Dallas Fed manufacturing index, November (consensus -22.0, last -19.4)
  • 12:00 PM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) speaks: New York Fed President John Williams will speak at a virtual event hosted by The Economic Club of New York. Speech text and Q&A with the moderator and audience are expected. Discussing financial stability on November 16, Williams said, “Using monetary policy to mitigate financial stability vulnerabilities can lead to unfavorable outcomes for the economy. Monetary policy should not try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none…The time is now to find solutions that strengthen our financial system without compromising our monetary policy goals. These issues are complex, but the need for meaningful progress on strengthening the resilience of core financial markets is clear.” He added, “Restoring price stability is of paramount importance because it is the foundation of sustained economic and financial stability. Price stability is not an either/or, it’s a must-have.”
  • 12:00 PM St. Louis Fed President Bullard (FOMC voter) speaks: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will participate in an interview with MarketWatch. On November 17, Bullard said, “In the past I have said 4.75% to 5%. Based on this analysis today, I would say 5% to 5.25%. That’s a minimum level…that would at least get us in the zone.” Bullard’s presentation earlier that day said, “…the policy rate is not yet in a zone that may be considered sufficiently restrictive. To attain a sufficiently restrictive level, the policy rate will need to be increased further…caution is warranted…as both markets and the FOMC’s SEP forecasts have been predicting declining inflation just around the corner for the past 18 months.”

Tuesday, November 29

  • 09:00 AM FHFA house price index, September (consensus -1.3%, last -0.7%)
  • 09:00 AM S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, September (GS -1.2%, consensus -1.15%, last -1.32%): We estimate that the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index declined 1.2% in September, following a 1.32% decline in August.
  • 10:00 AM Conference Board consumer confidence, November (GS 101.0, consensus 99.9, last 102.5): We estimate that the Conference Board consumer confidence index decreased to 101.0 in November.

Wednesday, November 30

  • 08:15 AM ADP employment report, November (GS +175k, consensus +200k, last +239k): We estimate a 175k rise in ADP payroll employment in November.
  • 08:30 AM GDP, Q3 second release (GS +3.0%, consensus +2.8%, last +2.6%); Personal consumption, Q3 second release (GS +1.6%, consensus +1.5%, last +1.4%): We estimate a four-tenths upward revision to Q3 GDP growth to +3.0% (qoq ar), reflecting upward revisions to business fixed investment and consumption partially offset by downward revisions to inventories.
  • 08:30 AM Advance goods trade balance, October (GS -$92.0bn, consensus -$90.4bn, last -$92.2bn): We estimate that the goods trade deficit narrowed slightly to $92.0bn in October compared to the final September report.
  • 08:30 AM Wholesale inventories, October preliminary (consensus +0.5%, last +0.6%)
  • 08:50 AM Fed Governor Bowman speaks: Fed Governor Michelle Bowman will discuss the future of small banks. Q&A with audience is expected. On October 12th, Governor Bowman said, “if we do not see signs that inflation is moving down, my view continues to be that sizable increases in the target range for the federal funds rate should remain on the table,” but that “if inflation starts to decline…a slower pace of rate increases would be appropriate.”
  • 09:45 AM Chicago PMI, November (GS 46.7, consensus 47.0, last 45.2): We estimate that the Chicago PMI rebounded 1.5pt to 46.7 in November, as the Chicago PMI has overshot to the downside relative to other business surveys (GS manufacturing survey tracker -0.2pt to 48.3 in November).
  • 10:00 AM Pending home sales, October (GS -6.5%, consensus -5.0%, last -10.2%): We estimate pending home sales declined 6.5% in October, following a 10.2% decline in September.
  • 10:00 AM JOLTS job openings, October (GS 10,200k, consensus 10,350k, last 10,717k): We estimate that JOLTS job openings declined to 10,200k in October.
  • 12:35 PM Fed Governor Cook speaks: Fed Governor Lisa Cook will discuss the economic outlook and monetary policy at an event hosted by the Detroit Economic Club. Speech text and Q&A with audience are expected. On November 15, Cook said inflation is “much too high” but that “monetary policy is, as we all know, a blunt instrument.” She added, “The focus…is on addressing inflation, and we want a sustainable, strong labor market.”
  • 01:30 PM Fed Chair Powell speaks: Fed Chair Jerome Powell will discuss the economy and labor market at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution. Speech text and Q&A with audience are expected. The November FOMC minutes released last week noted that “a substantial majority” of FOMC participants agreed that a slower pace of hiking would “likely soon be appropriate.” Echoing the language in the post-meeting statement, FOMC participants argued that the level of the policy rate, the uncertain lags with which monetary policy affects activity, and the incoming data would all be important factors for the future path of monetary policy. In his last remarks on November 2, Powell hinted the FOMC will likely raise the funds rate to a higher peak than it previously projected and said that slowing the pace is not contingent on seeing softer inflation data, but rather is likely to be appropriate because the level of the funds rate is now much higher, the cumulative tightening to date is substantial, and the magnitude and timing of its impact on the economy are uncertain. Our baseline forecast calls for the Fed to deliver a 50bp rate hike in December, and a 25bp hike in February, March, and May for a peak rate of 5-5.25%.
  • 02:00 PM Beige book: The Fed’s Beige Book is a summary of regional economic anecdotes from the 12 Federal Reserve districts. The October Beige Book noted that economic activity expanded modestly on net since the September report, but four districts noted flat activity and two cited declines, with slowing or weak demand attributed to higher interest rates, inflation, and supply disruptions. While we do not expect a recession, we expect low growth and inflation to remain elevated over the next few months. We therefore look for anecdotes of slowing growth and continued price pressures in this month’s Beige Book.

Thursday, December 1

  • 08:30 AM Personal income, October (GS +0.6%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.4%); Personal spending, October (GS +1.0%, consensus +0.8%, last +0.6%); PCE price index, October (GS +0.37%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.3%); PCE price index (yoy), October (GS +6.03%, consensus +6.0%, last +6.2%); Core PCE price index, October (GS +0.25%, consensus +0.3%, last +0.5%); Core PCE price index (yoy), October (GS +4.98%, consensus +5.0%, last +5.1%): Based on details in the PPI, CPI, and import price reports, we forecast that the core PCE price index rose by 0.25% month-over-month in October, corresponding to a 4.98% increase from a year earlier. Additionally, we expect that the headline PCE price index increased by 0.37% in October, corresponding to a 6.03% increase from a year earlier. We expect that personal income increased by 0.6% and personal spending increased by 1.0% in October.
  • 08:30 AM Initial jobless claims, week ended November 26 (GS 245k, consensus 231k, last 240k); Continuing jobless claims, week ended November 19 (consensus 1,570k, last 1,551k); We estimate initial jobless claims increased to 245k in the week ended November 26.
  • 09:20 AM Dallas Fed President Logan (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan will speak at an event hosted by the Dallas Breakfast Group. The Dallas Fed advises Logan will not discuss monetary policy or the economy.
  • 09:30 AM Fed Governor Bowman speaks: Fed Governor Michelle Bowman will speak at a virtual event hosted by the KBW CEO Strategy Forum. Q&A with a moderator is expected.
  • 09:45 AM S&P Global US manufacturing PMI, November final (consensus 47.6, last 47.6)
  • 10:00 AM Construction spending, October (GS -0.3%, consensus -0.3%, last +0.2%): We estimate construction spending decreased 0.3% in October.
  • 10:00 AM ISM manufacturing index, November (GS 49.6, consensus 49.8, last 50.2): We estimate that the ISM manufacturing index declined by 0.6pt to 49.6 in November, reflecting weak industrial trends abroad and convergence towards other manufacturing surveys (GS manufacturing survey tracker -0.2pt to 48.3 in November).
  • 03:00 PM Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Barr speaks: Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr will deliver remarks on bank capital at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. Speech text and Q&A with a moderator are expected. Discussing financial stability on November 15, Barr said, “We’re concerned about the risks that we don’t know about in the non-bank sector…That includes obviously crypto activity, but more broadly risks in parts of the financial system where we don’t have good visibility, we don’t have good transparency, we don’t have good data. That can create risks that blow back to the financial system that we do regulate.” He added, “I think…we are going to see significant softening in the economy…Inflation is far too high…I think we are going to see unemployment go up.”
  • 05:00 PM Lightweight motor vehicle sales, November (GS 13.8mn, consensus 14.6mn, last 14.9mn)

Friday, December 2

  • 08:30 AM Nonfarm payroll employment, November (GS +175k, consensus +200k, last +261k); Private payroll employment, November (GS +150k, consensus +190k, last +233k); Average hourly earnings (mom), November (GS +0.30%, consensus +0.3%, last +0.4%); Average hourly earnings (yoy), November (GS +4.6%, consensus +4.6%, last +4.7%); Unemployment rate, November (GS 3.7%, consensus 3.7%, last 3.7%); Labor force participation rate, November (GS 62.3%, consensus 62.3%, last 62.2%): We estimate nonfarm payrolls rose by 175k in November (mom sa), a slowdown from the +261k pace in October. Our forecast reflects continued declines in online job postings as well as weakness in Big Data employment indicators in November. Nonetheless, we believe layoff activity remains muted and that the recent increase in jobless claims mostly reflects seasonal distortions. We also expect another large rise in healthcare payrolls (we assume +75k mom sa), reflecting rising hospital utilization and record-high job openings in the sector. We estimate the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, reflecting a rise in household employment offset by slightly higher labor force participation (we assume +0.05pp to 62.3%). We estimate a 0.30% increase in average hourly earnings (mom sa), reflecting negative calendar effects (we assume a drag of 5bps).
  • 10:15 AM Chicago Fed President Evans (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will speak at a conference on the role and effectiveness of financial regulation. The Chicago Fed advises Evans will not discuss the economic outlook or monetary policy.
  • 02:00 PM Chicago Fed President Evans (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will speak at an event hosted by the Chicago Fed. He is not expected to discuss the economic outlook or monetary policy.

Source: DB, Goldman, BofA

Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 10:01

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/1UvLhe4 Tyler Durden

US Bank Deposit Flight Not A Sign Of Higher Rates To Come

US Bank Deposit Flight Not A Sign Of Higher Rates To Come

Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,

Bank deposits at US commercial banks are starting to decline. This is an early warning sign of a weakening US economy – not of higher spending and rising inflation – and so does not necessitate tighter Fed policy than is currently priced.

Total deposits at US banks swelled almost $5 trillion through the pandemic to peak at over $18 trillion, taking the bank loan-to-deposit level to the lowest in at least 50-years at under 60%. Deposits — driven by the checkable deposits of households — rose, primarily as stimulus checks were paid into people’s accounts while consumer spending plummeted.

But now, deposits are beginning to fall from their high level.

To see why, we have to drill down into the data. The chart below shows that main driver of the fall is a decline in household savings deposits. Some of this drop may be reflected in the rise in household’s checkable deposits, as people shift money out of their savings account into their current account, but overall the fall in savings deposits is larger than the rise in checkable ones.

This represents a drawing-down of pre-pandemic savings, as savings deposits did not rise through the pandemic (all the government stimulus went into checkable accounts).

If we drill down further, we can see it is those in the 50th to 99th percentile income groups who have driven this fall in household savings deposits, which is approximately those households who earn $70k to $570k.

A reasonable inference to make is it is those at the lower end of this range who are experiencing the most hardship from the rising cost-of-living — the so-called squeezed middle, who face rising costs but miss out on government help — and are eating into savings to maintain their standard of living.

This a sign of a weakening economy, not one that is about to face an imminent and renewed inflationary impulse. In fact, falling deposit growth is empirically a sign of declining inflation. This is counter-intuitive on first glance, but banks create deposits when they create loans, so at the margin deposit growth is driven by loan growth.

Loan growth is starting to ease back, which along with a weakening economy points to inflation continuing to weaken. This is not an environment where the Fed is likely to up its rate-tightening ante.

Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 09:42

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/gDk1LhU Tyler Durden

Iran Demands US Team Be Kicked Out Of World Cup Over Altered Flag

Iran Demands US Team Be Kicked Out Of World Cup Over Altered Flag

Iran is demanding that the US Soccer team be disqualified from the World Cup going into Tuesday’s much anticipated US-Iran match, after more off-field controversy has sent tensions to boiling point. 

A Saturday social media post across the official social media accounts of the US Soccer Federation (USSF), including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – featured an altered version of the Iranian national flag without the Islamic emblem in the center. US Soccer said it was to show solidarity with the ongoing ‘anti-hijab’ protest movement which has been raging for over two months inside Iran.

Getty Images: Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the US Soccer federation said. The USSF said this was in “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”

In response, Iran’s soccer federation said the move “disrespected the national flag of Islamic Republic of Iran,” and additionally that it was “unethical and against international law.” 

It is driving outrage inside Iran, given that state media is describing that the US is “removing the symbol of Allah” from the Iranian flag. According to a description in the Associated Press

The Islamic Republic emblem, designed in 1980, is four curves with a sword between them. It represents the Islamic saying: “There is no god but God.” It also resembles a tulip or lotus.

In response, on Sunday Iran state media called for the US team to be immediately booted from the World Cup for the intentionally “distorted image” of the flag.

Tasnim news agency said in a statement, “By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran on its official account, the US football team breached the FIFA charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty.” It emphasized: “Team USA should be kicked out of the World Cup 2022.”

The flag sans Islamic emblem appeared for 24 hours and then the actual flag was restored…

FIFA has thus far not indicated whether it will take any punitive action.

Already there has been much off-the-field controversy and drama in Qatar, including a strict FIFA ban on players wearing ‘pro-LGBT’ armbands – which a number of European teams had initially planned to do, but have since backed off of.

Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 09:20

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The Uncertainty In China Is Kryptonite To Global Markets

The Uncertainty In China Is Kryptonite To Global Markets

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Few seem alive to the potentially consequential financial risks arising from uncertainties evolving in China.

One thing we know rather definitively is that markets don’t like uncertainty: uncertainty is Kryptonite to markets.

Another thing we know is that the events unfolding in China are generating uncertainty on multiple levels. Whatever policy decisions are made, the potential consequences generate waves of profound uncertainty.

Should authorities respond to exploding Covid caseloads with heavy-handed lockdowns, that will trigger production and shipping consequences for global trade. If restrictions are relaxed, the healthcare consequences are also uncertain, as China lacks the facilities such as ICU beds in sufficient quantities to deal with a contagious virus spreading in a populace with very little immunity.

The reactions of both authorities and the people generate an entirely different level of uncertainty. Authoritarian regimes are trapped: if their response is increasingly brutal repression, punishment and lockdowns, this risks changing the populace’s understanding of the social contract in a destabilizing dynamic.

But offering concessions opens the door to demands for further concessions, and this path is an equally destabilizing dynamic.

There are no positives for global markets in any of these developments, as each potential outcome has difficult-to-predict and control second order effects. Covid lockdowns have the potential to topple various supply-chain dominoes, and by weakening economic activity, they also have the potential to topple dominoes in the populace’s understanding of the social contract between citizens and the state.

A great many commentators evince confidence that the protests will all blow over in a few days or weeks and everything will quickly go back to normal, but markets cannot afford to place much faith in such complacent forecasts, because risk rises asymmetrically in self-reinforcing uncertainty.

It’s nice to dismiss low-probability long-tail risks as “nothing,” but that’s not prudent when it comes to risks with potentially severe financial consequences.

Indeed, from the point of view of asymmetric risks, the entire point of a market is to provide opportunities to limit risk by selling and/or hedging. The cost of waiting around is also asymmetric: only first-movers get high prices for at-risk assets and low prices for hedges.

Everyone who waits around because they dismissed uncertainties as “nothing” gets their head handed to them on a platter.

Few seem alive to the potentially consequential financial risks arising from uncertainties evolving in China. Those who complacently discount risk may regret it, as one of the few things we know is markets don’t like uncertainty for a very good reason: uncertainty generates asymmetric risks that have the potential to deliver life-changing losses to the unwary and over-confident.

*  *  *

My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st CenturyRead the first chapter for free (PDF)

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Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 09:00

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Surviving Home Invaders May Be Charged with Murder After Resident Shot and Killed One of Them in Self-Defense

Atlanta TV station 11alive (Addie Haney) reports:

Police now believe four people were involved in a shooting in east Atlanta’s Gresham Park neighborhood and that it started as an attempted home invasion. One person has since died in connection to the shooting, according to police….

At this time, police said the shooting “appears justified” and no charges are expected to be filed against the the person who fired the shot.

The three surviving subjects are expected to be charged with felony murder because of the death of their alleged accomplice. The two adults will also be charged with home invasion.

What’s with the murder charges?, you might ask. Here’s the answer, from a very similar story from a 2015 Georgia Supreme Court case, Hill v. State:

[Jarmal Hill] and [Calvin] Lavant, … entered [an] apartment [in which a party was taking place] through an open sliding glass door. [Hill] was armed with a black handgun and Lavant had a silver revolver; both men were dressed in black clothes and wore caps along with bandanas covering their noses and mouths.

[Hill] and Lavant ordered everyone in the apartment to lie on the floor and took their wallets, cell phones, and other valuables. Two former United States Marines, Sean Barner and James Adams, were attending the party but had gone outside briefly a few minutes before the home invasion; when they returned, they too were ordered at gunpoint to lie on the floor, and [Hill] and Lavant took their cell phones, a wallet, and an iPod. [Note that Barner was, in fact, a Marine, not a former Marine, at the time of the events. -EV]

[Hill] and Lavant ransacked the apartment for other items of value, and then decided to separate their male and female prisoners. The men were forced at gunpoint to go into the back bedroom and lie on the floor there, and two of the female guests were forced into the other bedroom, while the other two female guests remained in the living room.

Lavant said to [Hill], “we are about to have sex with these girls, then we are going to kill them all.” Barner heard [Hill] and Lavant discussing condoms and the number of bullets in their guns, and he decided that he needed to act. He had brought his book bag to the party, with his pistol in it, and, fortuitously, the bag was behind the bed in the bedroom where he was lying.

Barner took out his gun, stood up, and walked down the hallway into the living room with Adams following closely behind him. Barner saw [Hill] standing by the front door of the apartment looking out and opened fire on [Hill], who ran out the sliding glass door.

Barner then rushed back to the bedroom where Lavant was holding two of the women, shouted for everyone to get down, and broke down the door with his shoulder. Lavant had ordered the two women to bend over the bed, pulled one of the women’s underwear aside, and placed a condom over his penis.

When Barner crashed into the room, Lavant started shooting at him. Barner fired back at Lavant, who fled through a window. Lavant was shot in the face and thigh, and one of the women in the room was hit in the arm and both legs, but she survived.

Ensign Sean Barner being awarded a medal for heroism (source: U.S. Marine Corps).

 

Lavant later died of his injuries—and Hill (the surviving home invader) was convicted not just of armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, burglary and attempted rape, but also of Lavant’s murder.

[1.] That’s because in Georgia and in some other states, a felon can be guilty of murder if a victim (or a police officer or a bystander) kills the felon’s accomplice. The basic legal principle is this: Many state murder statutes (including Georgia’s) provide that someone is guilty of so-called “felony murder” “when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being.”

And “causes” is a capacious term. Obviously, shooting someone so that he immediately dies counts as causing death. But so could, for instance (to quote a Georgia Supreme Court decision’s summary of an earlier case), “smash[ing] the victim’s skull with a hatchet” even though “the victim die[s] nine months later from infection and gangrenous lung abscess.” So could “throwing the drunken victim off a bridge into a river” if this causes the victim to drown. The criminal is guilty of felony murder so long as the “proximate cause” requirement is satisfied, which is to say that (1) the death wouldn’t have happened but for the defendant’s actions, and (2) the death was foreseeable.

So say that robber Rob and his accomplice Alec are robbing victim Vic, and Vic pulls out a gun and shoots and kills Alec. A jury might be able to find that the death wouldn’t have happened but for Rob’s actions (since Alec might have been unwilling to commit the crime by himself). And the jury could find that there was a reasonably foreseeable possibility (not certainty or even probability, but just a foreseeable possibility) that Vic would use deadly force to defend himself against Alec. In states that follow the “proximate cause” approach, Rob would then be guilty of murder, because “in the commission of a felony [robbery], he cause[d] the death” of Alec. The same would happen if it is police officer Polly who kills Alec.

[2.] But that’s the minority view. The majority of states that have opined on this question follow the “agency” approach, under which felons are guilty of felony murder only if the immediate human cause of the death is one of the felons. If Alec kills Vic (even accidentally), then both Rob and Alec are guilty of felony murder. But if Vic kills Alec, Rob isn’t guilty of the felony murder of Alec, since the immediate human cause of the death was Vic. One common argument for the agency view is that, when Vic kills Alec, that’s not murder at all—that’s Vic’s justifiable defensive killing of Alec. Therefore, Alec’s killing is not felony murder on the part of Rob (who is guilty of robbery and conspiracy to rob, but nothing more).

[3.] Okay, so we know what happens if Vic kills Alec—felony murder on Rob’s part in the proximate cause states, not any crime on Rob’s part in the agency states.

But what if Vic (or police officer Polly) shoots at Alec, but accidentally kills bystander Betty? In the proximate cause states, Rob is guilty, since that sort of unfortunate event is foreseeable (it’s foreseeable that Vic would try to defend himself and that this self-defense in the heat of the moment will accidentally kill someone else). In the agency states, Rob isn’t guilty, since Vic is the immediate human cause of the death.

Yet wait: There’s a third, small category of states (which at least includes New York)—in those states, Rob would be guilty of felony murder for the death of bystander Betty, but wouldn’t be guilty of felony murder for the death of accomplice Alec.

The focus in those third-way states is on who dies (felony murder if anyone dies other than one of the criminals). The focus in the agency states is on who kills (felony murder only if the immediate human cause of the death is one of the criminals). And in the proximate cause states, it’s felony murder if anyone dies, so long as the death is foreseeable and wouldn’t have happened if the defendant hadn’t participated in the crime. (Actually, these requirements of foreseeability and but-for causation for a felony murder conviction would also apply in the non-proximate-cause states; it’s just that in those other states there are also the extra requirements I discuss above.)

[* * *]

Back then to the Hill case. From 1981 to 2010, Georgia had precedents on the books making it an agency state; but in State v. Jackson (2010), the Georgia Supreme Court overruled those precedents—by a 4-3 vote—and adopted the proximate cause view. And because this sort of overruling of precedent can generally be applied retroactively (except when it can’t, itself a complicated question), that decision was applied to Hill.

The jury found that Hill’s participation was an actual cause of Lavant’s death and that trying to rob the party could foreseeably lead to one of the victims killing Lavant. So though Barner justifiably killed Lavant, Hill murdered Lavant. And the same logic would apply to the case with which I started this post.

The post Surviving Home Invaders May Be Charged with Murder After Resident Shot and Killed One of Them in Self-Defense appeared first on Reason.com.

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Free Speech Rules, Free Speech Culture, and Legal Education: Some Opening Thoughts

I was invited to participate in a Hofstra Law Review symposium on free speech in law schools, which will be happening in February, and I thought I’d serialize my current draft article; there’s still plenty of time to improve it, so I’d love to hear people’s comments. Here are some opening thoughts, though you can read the whole PDF, if you prefer:

[* * *]

Introduction

The lawyer’s job is to persuade people, including people who may disagree with the lawyer. To do this, lawyers must be able to connect with people whose views may be very different from their own.

And this is so even if the lawyer’s views are held by the majority: Sometimes, for instance, the lawyer must persuade all members of a jury. Even in a solid blue state, the lawyer may need to persuade some red jurors, and vice versa.[1] Even in a jurisdiction where most judges are liberals, the lawyer may draw a conservative judge, or a majority-conservative panel. A lawyer will also often need to persuade opposing counsel; to build trust with a reluctant witness; and of course to interact productively with the lawyer’s own client. All of them may sharply disagree with the lawyer on important matters.

One critical function of law schools is to help students learn the skills that they can use to persuade people with whom they disagree. As importantly, law schools must help students learn the habits and attitudes required for that—and to unlearn the habits and attitudes, which are so much a part of human nature, that tend to undermine such connections.

It is of course human nature to categorize the world into us and them, the good and the bad, the “enlightened” and the “deplorable.” It is human nature to let these categorizations leak into our assumptions about people, into our decisions about whether to listen to people, and into our manners when we speak with people. It is human nature to resist being exposed to arguments that challenge our deepest beliefs, or to facts that we may disapprove of or find offensive. That human nature, though, interferes with our effectiveness as lawyers.

My claim in this Essay will be that creating a culture of free speech and openness to contrary ideas at law schools—including on the most controversial of topics—is vital not just for democratic self-government, the search for truth, self-expression, and the like, but also for effectively training future lawyers. Law schools should do all they can to communicate this point to students, in thought and action.[2]

I. Teaching for Effective Lawyering

To be an effective lawyer requires more than just knowing the legal rules, or even “thinking like a lawyer” in the sense of understanding the structure of legal categories. It requires a particular set of skills, habits, and attitudes that don’t come naturally—indeed, that may be contrary to certain facets of human nature.

A. Understanding the Other Side’s Best Arguments

To begin with, lawyers have to understand the best versions of the other side’s best arguments, so they can better rebut them.[3] Even when the other side doesn’t make the best arguments, good lawyers must anticipate the arguments that decisionmakers might come up with on their own.

The need for this seems obvious to trained lawyers. But actually being able to do this is often quite difficult. It’s human nature to want to avoid arguments that challenge one’s positions, and especially one’s deeply held values. Considering such arguments—which, by hypothesis, one considers to be deeply wrong, morally or factually—can make one angry. Thinking about them, and taking them seriously, is an unpleasant experience (indeed, can make one feel dirty or disloyal). The temptation is not to consider those arguments, to gloss over them, and at least to subconsciously underestimate them. And this attitude is reinforced by social norms in certain groups, whether liberal, conservative, religiously defined, or otherwise.

But a lawyer must resist that temptation, just as a doctor must resist the common human revulsion towards disease and towards those who are suffering from certain diseases, or a psychiatrist must resist the natural human revulsion towards certain kinds of violent or otherwise abusive fantasies or experiences that a patient might disclose. That doesn’t mean that professionals must change their moral views—and it’s not law schools’ job, I think, to improve our students’ morals. But professionals must make sure that their moral judgments don’t interfere with their effectively serving their clients. And law schools must train students to constantly consider and confront the best arguments on both sides of the question, whatever the moral merits or demerits of the two sides.

B. Understanding How People with Very Different Views See the World

More broadly, lawyers need to be able to step in the shoes of decisionmakers (judges, jurors, legislators, administrative agency officials, voters, clients, or negotiation counterparties) and see the world from their perspective. Given their views of the world—moral, empirical, religious—how can you bring them around to your conclusion on the particular question they’re facing?

Human nature makes this hard. Part of this stems from the normal difficulty of setting aside one’s own preconceptions, and asking not “is this argument persuasive?”—which too often comes down to “is this argument persuasive to me?”—but “is this argument persuasive to someone very different from me?”

And it’s especially hard to see the world from the perspective of people who, by your lights, are wrong or downright stupid or evil: bigoted, fascist, unpatriotic, Marx­ist, supporters of slavery, supporters of genocide. Yet that’s what one has to do. We might think that half our jury are racists or sexists or religious bigots who are prejudiced against our clients. Who knows, we may even be right. Yet we still have to empathize with their perspective enough to figure out what facts or arguments might reach even them. Law schools must train students in the habits and attitudes needed to do this.

[* * *]

Still to come, in future posts (or you can see it now in the PDF):

I. Teaching for Effective Lawyering
C. Being Willing to Make Arguments That One Disagree With
D. Tolerating People Who Hold Views One Condemns
E. Learning from People We Disagree With
F. Building Coalitions
G. Unflappably Confronting Unpleasant Facts and Arguments
II. Specific Practices
A. Protecting Student Speech (and Speech of Invited Speakers)
B. Responding to Unpopular Views in Ways That Promote Discussion
C. Evenhandedly Encouraging Debates or Conversations Among People Who Disagree
D. Organizing Law-School-Sponsored Events That Model Thoughtful Disagreement on Controversial Topics
1. The value of law-school-organized events
2. The insufficiency of leaving such debates to the classroom
3. Focusing on real current debates
E. Inviting Leading Successful Advocates from All Points on the Ideological Spectrum
F. Encouraging Faculty to Express Dissenting Views
III. Responses to Some Possible Objections
A. Student Upset (Especially as to Views That Are Seen as Derogatory of Their Identities)
B. Vulnerability of Powerless Minority Groups
C. Risk of Persuasiveness
D. Risk of “Legitimizing” Certain Perspectives
E. Losing the Opportunity to Chill Political and Ideological Participation and Organization by the Other Side

[* * *]

[1] This is true even for civil jury verdicts; as of 2006, the federal system and over a third of the states required civil jury unanimity for a jury, and the rest required a supermajority (2/‌3 to 5/‌6). Shari Seidman Diamond, Mary R. Rose & Beth Murphy, Revisiting the Unanimity Requirement: The Behavior of the Non-Unanimous Civil Jury, 100 Nw. U. L. Rev. 201, 203 (2006).

[2] I also support free speech and open-mindedness in other educational institutions; but the arguments in this article are specifically focused on law schools.

[3] This point dates back to at least the ninth century. See Charles Pellat, The Life and Works of Jahiz 71 (D.M. Hawke trans. 1969) (“a man who understands his opponent’s arguments better than he does is in a better position to select his own arguments, can go deeper into the various aspects of his case, and is better equipped to reach his goal”).

The post Free Speech Rules, Free Speech Culture, and Legal Education: Some Opening Thoughts appeared first on Reason.com.

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Million Passengers Stranded As Austrian Rail Strike Begins

Million Passengers Stranded As Austrian Rail Strike Begins

Austrian rail traffic froze Monday, impacting critical transit routes between Europe’s east and west, as workers held a 24-hour strike over pay disputes. 

According to Reuters, the labor action has disrupted 8,000 connections and left more than a million passengers stranded. 

“The railway union vida is on strike today from 00:00 to 24:00. For this reason, no trains can run all day throughout Austria and across borders,” the country’s federal railway system, OeBB, wrote on its website. 

The labor action was last-minute after pay negotiations broke down between the rail workers’ union and OeBB. The union demanded a 400 Euro increase due to the cost-of-living-crisis in the EU for the 50,000 rail workers. They were offered 208 euros plus a one-time payment of 1000 euros. 

“Wedged between eight countries including Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, Austria is an important hub for European rail travel,” Reuters noted. 

“I don’t want to rule out the possibility of irregularities on one train or the other, but in general I expect that we will be back to serving our customers with the usual quality as of Tuesday,” OeBB chief Andreas Matthae told local radio broadcaster ORF. 

The strike is malicious as it disrupts critical EU rail networks. Though not surprising due to the EU’s worst inflation crisis in a generation thanks to backfiring sanctions against Russia. 

Tyler Durden
Mon, 11/28/2022 – 08:40

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