“Here Are The Superheroes To Come And Save Us All”: Media Waste No Time Fawning Over Biden

“Here Are The Superheroes To Come And Save Us All”: Media Waste No Time Fawning Over Biden

Authored by Alan Macleod via MintPressNews.com,

We rely on the media to hold the powerful to account. But in its first hours in office, the corporate press has celebrated, rather than challenged, the new Biden administration.

It began immediately during the 78-year-old Delawarean’s inauguration, with senior figures in the media barely able to contain their emotions watching what they saw.

“As Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, the sky opened up and sunlight reflected off of the Capitol, illuminating the flag,” wrote Olivia Nuzzi, the New Yorker’s Washington correspondent.

The New York Times was in a similarly poetic mood. “Whether or not related to the former president’s absence, a bipartisan lightness seemed to prevail across the stage at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Snow flurries gave way to sun,” ran its subheadline.

If it were not clear enough that corporate media intends to spend the next four years propping up, rather than scrutinizing President Biden, then senior CNN figures spelled it out.

“Trump—>Biden. Lies—>truth. Ignorance—>knowledge. Amorality—>decency. Cruelty—> empathy. Corruption—>public service” wrote CNN’s White House correspondent John J. Harwood on Twitter, attributing several extremely positive (and questionable) qualities to the incoming president. Meanwhile, the company’s head of strategic communications, Matt Dornic, was in an even more bombastic mood. Sharing a picture of fireworks exploding over the Washington Monument, he remarked that, “This team truly understands optics. These images will inspire our friends and shake our foes.”

Leaving aside why some colorful pyrotechnics would terrify Russia, China or any nation, Dornic’s rhetoric worried many who felt the nation’s top journalists should see themselves as the government’s adversaries, rather than their allies. “Note how this CNN imperial stenographer fearmongers about foreign bogeymen with his “foe” rhetoric. The real foe of average working-class Americans isn’t any foreign nation; it’s the parasitic capitalist oligarchs who control everything and their lackeys in politics and the media,” replied Ben Norton of The Grayzone.

Channeling similar energy to a born again Christian preacher praising Trump, former Fox News and NBC News host Megyn Kelly announced that, “Today, I feel deep love for our country, and am praying for President Biden, Vice President Harris and for all of us as we navigate what comes next.”

Perhaps the most adulatory coverage of the inauguration came from MSNBC, however, with analyst John Heilemann depicting the senior politicians present as almost mythical ubermensch. “What was to me so striking about today was that comforting sense,” he said. “The sight of the Clintons and the Bushes and the Obamas — The Avengers, the Marvel superheroes back up there together all in one place with their friend Joe Biden.” He later went on to compare Biden’s speech to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address of 1865 after the union victory in the American Civil War and claimed there was a deep sense of relief washing over the nation’s capital..

This sentiment was apparently not shared by ordinary people on the street. Even as it was praising Biden, the New York Times reported that “The few who ventured near the Capitol were mostly somber, as if they were attending a vigil.” “It feels a little postapocalyptic, to be honest,” one told them.

Comparing politicians they are, in theory, supposed to be challenging to superheroes has unfortunately become a common occurrence on corporate media. In November, PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said Biden and co. were like The Avengers. “It felt like we are being rescued from the craziness and now here are the superheroes to come and save us all.”

Today on MSNBC, Alcindor insisted that she and her White House press colleagues would “ask tough questions” of Biden even as she was heaping praise on his administration. Yet this has already proven not to be the case. On her first day as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki was thrown a number of softball questions by reporters, including whether Biden was planning to stick with Trump’s color scheme change on Air Force One.

The president’s stenographers

Trust in media has been falling since the 1970s, and particularly in the last few years. Part of that is due to ultra partisan reporting, a practice pioneered by Fox News in the 1990s. What Rupert Murdoch realized was that capturing a loyal following from a small segment of the population could actually be more profitable than trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Since then, Fox’s model has been copied by other outlets, notably MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, who have positioned themselves as anti-Trump and pro-Democrat news sources. The result has been to create an extremely polarized media ecosystem, with each side championing their leaders and not willing to listen to the other. Unsurprisingly, Fox has been highly critical of the new president, with top host Sean Hannity attacking Biden, claiming he is physically and mentally unfit for office. “The country should be asking tonight, Mr. Unity, Mr. Frail, Weak, Cognitively Struggling Joe, I know this is past your bedtime,” he opined.

This has seriously deleterious effects on the political system. An adversarial media is the cornerstone of any functioning democracy. Thomas Jefferson once remarked that “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government … I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Unfortunately, if Biden’s first few days are any indicator, the press will choose to prop up rather than scrutinize the new president. Media that behaved as attack dogs against Trump for four years (unless he was carrying out aggressive actions abroad) are likely to turn into lap dogs now that there is a Democrat in the White House — something that is unlikely to be a positive thing for the country.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 01/23/2021 – 21:30

US Economy Set To Overheat As Households Are Flooded With $2 Trillion In Excess Savings

US Economy Set To Overheat As Households Are Flooded With $2 Trillion In Excess Savings

Something unprecedented happened in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES act: as a result of the unprecedented transfer of wealth from the government to consumers in the form of countless stimulus measures, personal incomes soared and personal spending plunged (as the economy was largely shut down especially for spending on services), resulting in what we showed in May was an explosion in the annualized amount of Personal Savings, which soared by a mindblowing $4 trillion in May, rising from $2.1 trillion to $6.1 trillion…

… and accounting for a record 33% of disposable personal income!

As an aside, and as we pointed out back in May, contrary to economist expectations that “rational” consumers would promptly use this “one-time” universal basic income wealth transfer to pay down debt and get their financial affairs in orders, it appears that many splurged these government “stimmy checks” to buy stonks.

We bring all this up because the US savings rate, which has since dropped of substantially as a result of the gradual reopening of the economy as Americans spent much of their covid stimulus checks…

… is about to soar again when the latest personal spending and income data is released next month to account for the passage of the December $900 billion stimulus package, and then even more once Biden’s various covid stimulus programs kick in.

In a note explaining why the US economy is likely to grow well above the bank’s baseline assumption of 5.0% GDP (the strongest since 1984), the bank’s head global economist  Ethan Harris writes that “we have all become a bit numb to big numbers in the past year. Thus when the Biden administration announced its $1.9tn stimulus proposal, on top of $0.9tn already enacted, it triggered a relatively low-key response in the press and the markets. “Been there, done that” seemed to be the reaction.”

According to BofA, the Biden stimulus proposal is in fact, “a very big deal” because if enacted, it would mean the recent stimulus packages match the stimulus last spring, despite the dramatic improvement in the economy. That’s not all; restrictions on activity last year meant much of that stimulus went into savings, savings that can be deployed when the service sector reopens. As explained below, this creates major upside risks to our above-consensus forecast.

But first, a quick walk down memory lane.

  • Last April, the consensus for 2020 GDP was for a -3.3% decline and by May that had worsened to -5.7%. Today, the consensus looks for 2021 growth of about 4.1% and BofA sees 5.0% growth. That would be the strongest year for US GDP growth since 1984. Again, this is without factoring in a second stimulus package.
  • Last April, the consensus expected unemployment to hit 7.3% in the year ahead and by May that had risen to 9%. In reality, the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7%, and the consensus expects the unemployment rate to fall to 5.3% by year-end.

The differences are equally stark in capital markets. On 23 March 2020, the S&P500 hit bottom, 34% off of its peak and most forecasters expected a slow, painful recovery at best. Nine months later the equity market is hitting all-time highs with no sign yet of leveling off. Similar stories apply to credit markets and risk appetite in general. These strong markets pre-date the “blue wave” and the $1.9tn proposal.

The outlook for the COVID crisis has also changed dramatically. Last spring and summer the end of the crisis was nowhere in sight. Most experts argued that a vaccine would likely be years away and many warned of a major resurgence of cases in the fall. Today, we are nearing the exit of the COVID cave, as increasingly more vocal Wall Street banks now believe. The vaccine is rolling out at an accelerating pace – and is expected to reach 1 million people per day – so that by the spring, hospitalizations – which just saw their fastest weekly drop on record – will have likely fallen by more than half. Herd immunity is likely sometime in the second half of this year.

Going back to the question of the wave of stimulus that is about to wash over the US economy, both the consensus and apparently Administration economists seem to be ignoring how COVID containment measures can delay the benefits of fiscal stimulus according to BofA. Last year, fiscal authorities were operating with one hand tied behind their back. No amount of fiscal stimulus was going to revive the service sector. The stimulus boosted goods spending and some of what would have been spent on services went to goods, but a major portion went into excess savings (see charts above). This is why the multiplier effects of the stimulus were unusually low.

How much excess saving was accumulated? Consider two simple calculations:

  • First, comparing actual household savings to savings assuming a flat 8.25% saving rate, a cumulative $1.4tn in “excess savings” piled up on household balance sheets through November of last year.
  • Second, comparing the monetary aggregate M2 to a baseline of steady 7% growth, there was $2.9tn of excess M2 balances-checking accounts, savings accounts, and so on-at the end of last year.

As BofA’s Ethan Harris then writes, by the time the economy starts to reopen in the spring, those numbers could get considerably bigger. Specifically, BofA estimates that the $0.9tn package alone will add another $200bn or so to excess saving. If the $1.9tn is deployed quickly, total excess savings could approach $2tn by the spring!

The surge in savings will happen because, as Credit Suisse writes in a note on Friday, disposable “personal income will rise sharply in Q1 to just shy of its April peak after the $900bn relief bill (Figure 3). More stimulus under the Biden administration will push income even higher.”

What happens then, and will all these government transfer payment and excess savings send the economy into overdrive? To Credit Suisse Biden’s relief package – the third substantial stimulus in 12 months, following the $2.2tn CARES act and the $900bn bipartisan relief bill that passed in December – will lead to an even stronger economic tailwind, “perhaps blowing hardest just as normal social interactions are resuming while the pandemic ends.” It’s also why the bank just revised up its GDP growth forecasts this year higher from 5.5% (Q4/Q4) to 6.6%.

Perhaps it’s not all that simple: as BofA’s Harris explains, it is unfortunately hard to know how much of this spending power will be deployed when the economy reopens as we simply do not have any historical experience to draw on. However, “it does suggest that net stimulus today could be a good deal higher than the effective stimulus last summer” as much of it will be focused on serves as BofA explains next:

We expect there to be a rotation of the consumer basket towards experience-based spending from goods spending once the virus is sufficiently contained and people feel comfortable reengaging in COVID-sensitive activities (See Table 2 & Table 3 for a breakout of goods and services spending performance).

The timing will depend on a number of factors, including the potential spread of more contagious strains of the virus, the speed of vaccine distribution and the efficacy of vaccines.

If the US is able to sustain the current pace of vaccination (nearly 1mn per day), we think the turning point where consumers begin to shift money toward experiences will be mid-year. But there are two other important assumptions: what is the normalized level and how long does it take to return?

Focusing on services spending, we define normal as a return to pre-COVID level for “lost” spending, 50% overshoot for partial and complete offset for the full make-up spending categories (see Table 3). For argument’s sake, if we assume that the normalized level of services spending is reached by the end of 2022, it could require $2.9tn of spending (Chart 2,-Chart 4). This implies an average monthly growth rate of 1.1% mom SA for service spending as compared to the pre-COVID average monthly rate of 0.3% mom SA.

The above analysis only looks at the data on the aggregate. However, it is important to understand the distributional dynamics. We believe that much of the pent-up demand for services is among the higher-income population which, conveniently, is also where much of the excess savings is concentrated. Our view is supported by the fact that 1) the labor market has healed faster for the higher income population and 2) our BAC credit and debit card data suggest there is more room for recovery among high-income  households, and 3) higherincome individuals tend to have a larger share of dollars allocated toward leisure activity in “normal” times, suggesting more pent-up demand from this group for services spend.

Of course, it will take some time to see how this plays out, but as we pointed out last week, we have already seen a significant boost to spending in the first half of January (see “Real-Time Card Spending Data Shows The Next Stimulus-Funded Buying Spree Has Arrived“). It will also take some time to figure out how much of the $1.9tn package is going to pass (consensus appears to believe that the final number will be around $1.1 trillion). And we will not know the lagged impact of fiscal stimulus on the service sector until it starts to reopen in the spring. Finally, the new variants of COVID could force new shutdowns, delaying the recovery.

The bottom line however is this: as BofA economist Michelle Meyer writes, “the need for massive “rescue package” could be fading” as her work “suggests there is already significant excess savings to be spent once the economy reopens. We estimate that spending on services was cut by about $900bn as a result of the pandemic but yet durable goods spending was only boosted by about $20bn. Contrary to popular belief, the money that otherwise would have been used for services spending was not just pumped into goods but instead much went to “unintentional” savings.” Meanwhile savings were also boosted by extraordinary fiscal stimulus. The bottom line, as noted above, is that there could be $1.4tn in excess savings currently which is heading to $1.6tn in January following the $900bn stimulus package. And, if  If Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus is deployed quickly, total excess savings could approach $2tn by the spring! All that money could send the economy, and inflation, into overdrive.

The good news: as Harris summarizes, “what we feel confident about already is that there are considerable upside risks to our above-consensus forecast.” That’s also the bad news, because while the Fed is confident that there is absolutely no basis for expecting a surge in inflation, should US household savings soar to $2 trillion and then proceed to be aggressively spent in the coming months, it is a guarantee that prices will rise sharply in the second half of the year… which incidentally is when increasingly more Wall Street strategists expect a market crash (see “”6 Months For A Regime Change”: Why One Strategist Believes The Market Will Crash In The Second Half Of 2021“.)

Why? Because once even the Fed concedes that fiscal and monetary policies have unleashed inflation, the Fed will once again be boxed in, and will soon be forced to aggressively start tightening financial conditions, especially if inflation surges above the 2.5% tentative threshold that the Fed is indifferent toward as a result of last year’s change to the Fed’s average inflation targeting policy.

It’s also why Wells Fargo strategist Chris Harvey said that the biggest “pain trade” for 2021 is an economic recovery:

“Funny enough, I think the big pain trade for a lot of people on the buy side is a recovery or a strong recovery, because many people haven’t traded in a post-recessionary environment. Many people have been trading in a low-growth or recessionary environment. And when growth is abundant, different things happen. The market rewards value and small caps and cyclicals and that could cause a lot of pain for much of the buy side, because they’re so steeped in that growth trade.”

In short, good news for the economy will be the worst possible news for risk assets.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 01/23/2021 – 21:00

Greenwald: The Moronic Firing Of Will Wilkinson

Greenwald: The Moronic Firing Of Will Wilkinson

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com,

Will Wilkinson is about as mainstream and conventional a thinker as one can find, and is unfailingly civil and restrained in his rhetoric. But yesterday, he was fired by the technocratic centrist think tank for which he worked, the Niskanen Center, and appears on the verge of being fired as well by The New York Times, where he is a contributing writer. This multi-pronged retribution is due to a single tweet that was obviously satirical and sarcastic and for which he abjectly apologized. But no matter: the tweet has been purposely distorted into something malevolent and the prevailing repressive climate weaponized it against him.

Will Wilkinson, who worked until Monday at the Niskanen Center think tank and as a Contributing Writer at The New York Times (Twitter)

Neither Wilkinson nor his tweet are particularly interesting. What merits attention here is the now-pervasive climate that fostered this tawdry episode, and which has unjustly destroyed countless reputations and careers with no sign of slowing down.

During the Bush and Obama years, Wilkinson worked at the libertarian CATO Institute but, even then, he was not much of a libertarian. As he himself explained, he is far more of a standard-issue neoliberal that one finds everywhere throughout DC think tanks, the op-ed pages of large newspapers, and the green rooms of CNN, just with a bit wonkier style of expression and a few vague libertarian gestures on some isolated issues. That self-description was in 2012, and he since then has become even more of a standard liberal during the Trump era, which is why the Paper of Record made him a contributor opinion writer where he published articles under such bold and groundbreaking headlines as “Trump Has Disqualified Himself From Running in 2020.”

On Wednesday, the night of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Wilkinson posted this now-deleted tweet in which he was obviously not calling for violence. He was instead sardonically noting that anti-Pence animus became a prevailing sentiment among some MAGA followers over the last month, including reports that at least a few of those who breached the Capitol were calling for Pence’s hanging on treason grounds, thus ironically enabling liberals and MAGA followers to “unite” over that desire:

The next morning, a right-wing hedge fund manager and large-money GOP donor, Gabe Hoffman, flagged this tweet and claimed to believe that Wilkinson “call[ed] for former Vice President Mike Pence to be lynched.” Hoffman also tweeted at Wilkinson’s New York Times bosses to ask if they have “any comment on your ‘contributing opinion writer’ calling for violence against a public official?,” and then tweeted at Wilkinson’s other bosses at the think tank to demand the same.

It is unclear whether Hoffman really believed what he was saying or was just trying to make a point that liberals should be forced to live under these bad faith, repressive “cancel culture” standards he likely blames them for creating and imposing on others. This is how he responded when I posed that question:

I was not attempting anything. Numerous major news outlets reported on Wilkinson’s tweet, including Fox News. I simply documented the events on my Twitter feed yesterday. Clearly, many liberal journalists were outraged at his firing, noticed my documentation, and decided to inexplicably blame me for his firing. It’s ridiculous that many liberal journalists apparently had nothing better to do on Twitter, than blame a guy with less than 10,000 followers documenting events, for getting Wilkinson fired, considering many major news outlets reported on Wilkinson’s tweet.

When I pressed further on whether he really believed that Wilkinson’s tweet was an earnest call for assassination or whether he was just demanding that perceived “cancel culture” standards be applied equally, he responded: “I did not take a position either way on the matter. Wilkinson is perfectly capable of explaining the tweet and his intended meaning, since he wrote it. Clearly, given the content, the least one can expect is that he should give that explanation.”

Either way, intentional or not, Hoffman’s distorted interpretation of Wilkinson’s tweet produced instant results. That afternoon, Wilkinson posted a long and profuse apology to Twitter in which he made clear that he did not intend to advocate violence, but still said: “Last night I made an error of judgment and tweeted this. It was sharp sarcasm, but looked like a call for violence. That’s always wrong, even as a joke. It was especially wrong at a moment when unity and peace are so critical. I’m deeply sorry and vow not to repeat the mistake. . . . [T]here was no excuse for putting the point the way I did. It was wrong, period.”

At least for now, that apology fell on deaf ears. The president and co-founder of the Niskanen Center, Jerry Taylor, quickly posted a statement (now deleted without comment) announcing Wilkinson’s immediate firing, a statement promptly noted by Hoffman:

Statement of Niskanen Center, posted to Twitter the evening of Jan. 21 and now deleted without comment, by President Jerry Taylor

 

Wilkinson’s job with The New York Times is also clearly endangered. A spokesperson for the paper told Fox News: “Advocating violence of any form, even in jest, is unacceptable and against the standards of The New York Times. We’re reassessing our relationship with Will Wilkinson.”

So a completely ordinary and unassuming liberal commentator is in jeopardy of having his career destroyed because of a tweet that no person in good faith could possibly believe was actually advocating violence and which, at worst, could be said to be irresponsibly worded. And this is happening even though everyone knows it is all based on a totally fictitious understanding of what he said. Why?


It is important to emphasize that Wilkinson’s specific plight is the least interesting and important aspect of this story. Unlike most people subjected to these sorts of bad faith reputation-wrecking attacks, he has many influential media friends and allies who are already defending him — including New York Times columnists Ezra Klein and Ross Douthat — and I would be unsurprised if this causes the paper to keep him and the Niskanen Center to reverse its termination of him.

All of this is especially ironic given that the president of this colorless, sleepy think tank — last seen hiring the colorless, sleepy Matt Yglesias — himself has a history of earnestly and non-ironically advocating actual violence against people. As Aaron Sibarium documented, Taylor took to Twitter over the summer to say that he wishes BLM and Antifa marchers had “rushed” the St. Louis couple which famously displayed guns outside their homes and “beat their brains in,” adding: “excuse me if I root for antifa to punch these idiots out.” So that’s the profound, pious believer in non-violence so deeply offended by Wilkinson’s tweet that he quickly fired him from his think tank.

Whatever else might be true of them, the Niskanen Center’s president and The New York Times editors are not dumb enough to believe that Wilkinson was actually advocating that Mike Pence be lynched. It takes only a few functional brain cells to recognize what his actual intent with that tweet was, as poorly expressed or ill-advised as it might have been given the context-free world of Twitter and the tensions of the moment. So why would they indulge all this by firing a perfectly inoffensive career technocrat, all to appease the blatant bad faith and probably-not-even-serious demands of the mob?

Because this is the framework that we all now live with. It does not matter whether the anger directed at the think tank executives or New York Times editors is in good faith or not. It is utterly irrelevant whether there is any validity to the complaints against Wilkinson and the demands that he be fired. The merit of these kinds of grievance campaigns is not a factor.

All that matters to these decision-makers is societal scorn and ostracization. That is why the only thing that can save Wilkinson is that he has enough powerful friends to defend him, enabling them to reverse the cost-benefit calculus: make it so that there is more social scorn from firing Wilkinson than keeping him. Without the powerful media friends he has assembled over the years, he would have no chance to salvage his reputation and career no matter how obvious it was that the complaints against him are baseless.

Humans are social and political animals. We do fundamentally _matters?language=en”>crave and need . But we also crave and need social integration and approval. That it is why prolonged solitary confinement in prison is a form of torture that is almost certain to drive humans insane. It is why John McCain said far worse than the physical abuse he endured in a North Vietnamese prison was the long-term isolation to which he was subjected. It is why modern society’s penchant for removing what had been our sense of community — churches, mosques, and synagogues; union halls and bowling leagues; small-town life — has coincided with a significant increase in mental health pathologies, and it is why the lockdowns and isolation of the COVID pandemic have made all of those, predictably, so much worse.

Those who have crafted a society in which mob anger, no matter how invalid, results in ostracization and reputation-destruction have exploited these impulses. If you are a think tank executive in Washington or a New York Times editor, why would you want to endure the attacks on you for “sanctioning violence” or “inciting assassinations” just to save Will Wilkinson? The prevailing culture vests so much weight in these sorts of outrage mobs that it is almost always easier to appease them than resist them.

The recent extraordinary removal of the social media platform Parler from the internet was clearly driven by these dynamics. It is inconceivable that Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Google executives believe that Parler is some neo-Nazi site that played anywhere near the role in planning and advocating for the Capitol riot as Facebook and YouTube did. But they know that significant chunks of liberal elite culture believe this (or at least claim to), and they thus calculate — not irrationally, even if cowardly — that they will have to endure a large social and reputational hit for refusing mob demands to destroy Parler. Like the Niskanen and Times bosses with Wilkinson, they had to decide how much pain they were willing to accept to defend Parler, and — as is usually the case — it turned out the answer was not much. Thus was Parler destroyed, with nowhere near the number of important liberal friends that Wilkinson has.

The perception that this is some sort of exclusively left-wing tactic is untrue. Recall in 2003, in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, uttered this utterly benign political comment at a concert in London: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” In response, millions joined a boycott of their music, radio stations refused to play their songs, Bush supporters burned their albums, and country star Toby Keith performed in front of a gigantic image of Maines standing next to Saddam Hussein, as though her opposition to the war meant she admired the Iraqi dictator.

But two recent trends have greatly intensified this mania. Social media is one of the most powerful generators of group-think ever invented in human history, enabling a small number of people to make decision-makers feel besieged with scorn and threatened with ostracization if they do not obey mob demands. The other is that the liberal-left has gained cultural hegemony in the most significant institutions — from academia and journalism to entertainment, sports, music and art — and this weapon, which they most certainly did not invent, is now vested squarely in their hands.

But all weapons, once unleashed onto the world, will be copied and wielded by opposing tribes. Gabe Hoffman has likely seen powerless workers fired in the wake of the George Floyd killing for acts as trivial as a Latino truck driver innocently flashing an “OK” sign at a traffic light or a researcher fired for posting data about the political effects of violent v. non-violent protests and realized that he could use, or at least trifle with, this power against liberals instead of watching it be used by them. So he did it.

It’s exactly the same dynamic that led liberals to swoon over Donald Trump’s banning from social media and the mass-banning of his followers only to watch yesterday as numerous Antifa accounts were banned for the crime of organizing an anti-Biden march and how, before that, Palestinian journalists and activists have been banned en masse whenever Israel claims their rhetoric constitutes “incitement.”

Unleash this monster and one day it will come for you. And you’ll have no principle to credibly invoke in protest when it does. You’ll be left with nothing more than lame and craven pleading that your friends do not deserve the same treatment as your enemies. Force, not principle, will be the sole factor deciding the outcome.

If you’re lucky enough to have important and famous media friends like Will Wilkinson, you have a chance to survive it. Absent that, you have none.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 01/23/2021 – 20:30

Morgan Stanley CEO Gorman Hauls In $33 Million In 2020

Morgan Stanley CEO Gorman Hauls In $33 Million In 2020

Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman passed J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon in total compensation for 2020, racking up $33 million in salary.

The 2020 take marked a 22% rise in Gorman’s pay from the year prior. In 2020, Morgan Stanley posted its “third consecutive year of record earnings”, according to Bloomberg

Gorman’s salary was $1.5 million and included a $7.8 million bonus. He also received $23.6 million in long-term stock awards, which vest over time. “Consistent with previous years, 75% of Gorman’s incentive compensation is deferred over three years and is subject to clawback, and 100% of Mr. Gorman’s deferred incentive compensation is delivered in the form of equity awards,” Bloomberg noted.

Gorman had taken a surprise pay cut in 2019, tied to cost-cutting efforts and a round of layoffs at the firm. In 2020, the firm didn’t undertake any new cuts while some of its banking rivals reneged on promises to due the same, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as a scapegoat.

Also in 2020, Morgan Stanley carried out two of the largest deals done on Wall Street. Its market cap is now nearly 30% higher than Goldman Sachs. 

A company filing said the compensation committee based his salary on  “outstanding individual performance, including both significant progress in implementing a long-term strategy previously articulated by Mr. Gorman that has led to transformational change and a resilient business model, and the Firm’s record financial performance for 2020.”

Recall, we noted late last week that competitor Jamie Dimon’s salary had held steady for 2020 at $31.5 million. 

J.P. Morgan noted that “amid the unprecedented health and economic consequences of Covid-19” it was also still able to post record revenue and hold a strong balance sheet, even while provisioning $12 billion for credit losses. Its shares wound up down 8% for the year, despite a weeks-long rally to end the year. 

Dimon’s pay package similarly included $1.5 million base pay, a $5 million bonus and $25 million in “performance share units” that vest over time.

 

Tyler Durden
Sat, 01/23/2021 – 20:00

New Law Allows China’s Coast Guard To Fire On Foreign Vessels

New Law Allows China’s Coast Guard To Fire On Foreign Vessels

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

China’s legislature passed a law on Friday that gives its coast guard more freedom to fire on foreign vessels. According to the text of the law released by China’s Xinhua, it aims to safeguard “national sovereignty, security and maritime rights.”

The law allows China’s Coast Guard to take “all necessary means”, including the use of weapons, to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels. The law will allow the coast guard to stop and board vessels in China’s “jurisdictional waters”.

Via Bloomberg

China’s Coast Guard is relatively young, having formed in 2013 after previously being part of Beijing’s People’s Armed Police. The new law gives China’s Coast Guard an authority most country’s coast guards have. Still, the law is significant because of China’s maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas, disputes that the US has involved itself in.

In the South China Sea, Beijing and several Southeast Asian countries have overlapping claims. Since 2015, the US began sailing warships near Chinese-claimed waters in the region, maneuvers that were stepped up during the Trump administration and will likely continue under President Biden.

In the East China Sea, China and Japan both claim the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyus in China. Japan currently administers the uninhabited islands. Chinese coast guard vessels were recently spotted in waters near the Senkakus, which drew condemnation from Tokyo.

After winning the November presidential election, Joe Biden assured Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide that the Senkakus are covered under the US-Japan mutual defense treaty.

Back in October, then-National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien announced that the US Coast Guard was deploying ships to the Western Pacific. It’s not clear how far west the cutters have sailed, but O’Brien cited Beijing as the reason for the deployment, so there’s a chance the US Coast Guard can cross paths with China’s coast guard.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 01/23/2021 – 19:30

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