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Links 2/17/09

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Dance duet helps male birds mate BBC

Drug Erases Fearful Memories MIT Technology Review

A ‘fraud’ bigger than Madoff Independent (hat tip reader Michael)

Recap: The Stimulus Bill and the Macro Impact Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

RED ALERT: FX Dislocation In Process Market Ticker (hat tip reader dzzle) He is right, the currency moves this evening are major. It does not look good.

The banks’ reverse takeover of Britain Fraser Nelson, Spectator (hat tip reader Tim)

Chinese Banking: The Risk Manager as Revolutionary Christopher Whalen, Global Association of Risk Professionals

Schwartzman and McTeer on Accounting Independent Accountant

UN crime chief says drug money flowed into banks Reuters (hat tip reader Richard). “In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital”

China exporters offer lower exchange rates to offset strong yuan Telegraph (hat tip reader Steve). I’m at a bit of a loss as to why the approach is to use a lower FX rate, rather than discount the price.

goodbye dubai Smashing Telly! (hat tip reader David)

Legitimate Issues: Where is the Note? Quatloos (hat tip reader Warren). Geeky, but interesting. The draft of an article on the issue of missing mortgage notes and endorsements, to be presented at the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bank insolvency: tips & tricks Steve Waldman (hat tip reader Peter). A great post, particularly the discussion of the need to put zombie banks out of their misery.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Carrick). From Huffington Post:

Ana Julia Torres kisses Jupiter, an African lion she rescued malnourished from a circus.

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18 comments

  1. ndk

    The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

    Good Gravy on a Stick.

    In honor of this stupendous suspected act of corruption, and the gradual phasing out of the legislative and judicial branches of our government to make room for Treasury, I’d like to point again at Simon Johnson’s interview.

    Also, in honor of President’s Day, I’ll trumpet Johnson’s mentioned leader, and my personal fave, Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was my quintessential American Bad-Ass, looking always to crush rent-seekers and ensure a square deal for all.

    I’m hopelessly out of place in this era of bailouts, corruption, government stimulus, and myriad other forms of learned helplessness. It helps me to look back at one of the Bull Moose who gave this country and her citizens the level ground and safety nets needed to do what we once did best: go forth, work our asses off, and prosper together.

  2. Anonymous

    @ndk, your surprised at this. It was reported in frontline and SBS (Australia) for over 3 years.

    Can’t remember or find the exact show where it showed some couple, were the clearing house for work in Iraq and the operation was from their house.

    I have friends that were first to hit the ground in the last show, and Haliburton were their before them. I was offered to do security work for heavies and gave a polite no. Now ask your self why the poppy problem grew and never was addressed in Afghanistan, hell it would be cheaper just to pay the farmers to not grow anything but food. Same deal with the 3 congressman in regards to the golden triangle, Pres said no, religious voters. Schools and hospitals were a sham. Everyone smell the coffee.

    skippy….for the record I
    hate Clinton and Bush, Bush was just plain greedy and yes I said the H word.

  3. ndk

    Everyone smell the coffee.

    To be honest, yeah, I am surprised, skippy. The coffee is awfully hard to smell from here. I grew up somewhere rural on the boundary between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. I couldn’t fathom raising kids somewhere without a county fairgrounds or a strong local 4-H chapter. The scent of alfalfa, corn, horses, goats, chickens, and loam is all I have.

    Most of the military comes from rural areas too. I wonder if they’re as clueless as I am. I’ve said before that I feel almost robbed by my wonderful, communal childhood, which did nothing to prepare me for the cutthroat world I live in today.

    Either way, I know you’ll keep agitating to make sure the right thing is done. Power always ultimately resides with the people, and I couldn’t have more faith in the folks I see every day. Even the digital ones like you. :D

  4. Anonymous

    (Early Addition) Late Change in Course Hobbled Rollout of Geithner's Bank Plan
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/16/AR2009021601180.html?hpid=topnews
    (Don't know the writers or the Treasury players well enough to gather if this was snooped out, or hand delivered damage control. Never the less…)

    It does seem insane that war planning doesn't include subsidies and tariffs to keep an embattled nation's economy somewhat stable. Think if we had set aside money to keep people on their farms growing wheat (and building roads, hospitals and schools between harvests.) If the concern was enriching corrupt local sheiks, we could have just employed sheiks to procure a skilled workforce & materials, and to provide security for the on-site American project manager.
    Grow poppies alongside wheat, lose your wheat subsidy (and if possible, ability to be employed in local construction.)
    No security for manager or poor project execution, no project completion bonus will be awarded.
    …Instead we let the heroin industry flourish and sent Americans to build Afghan roads.

  5. fresno dan

    “Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai – it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.”
    Can’t say it better. Even worse than “Pets.com”

  6. Anonymous

    If the Chinese vendors offer discounted prices, their customers could begin to expect the lower prices to be sticky. The Chinese do not want this risk. So they offer the easier way out of discounted FX. This is a tap that they can shut at will without any long-term impact on the relationship with customers.

    – Mac Kher

  7. Anonymous

    RED ALERT: FX Dislocation In Process

    Please don’t link to this loon, Yves. He regularly declares the end of the world is nigh and it never comes true.

  8. Anonymous

    “(Early Addition) Late Change in Course Hobbled Rollout of Geithner’s Bank Plan
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/16/AR2009021601180.html?hpid=topnews

    I wonder if this means Team Obama has resistance to Summers/Geithner. Perhaps when briefed on the final plan, Obama and Biden told Summers/Geithner their initial plan of 3 or 4 trillion in gifts for their wall street buddies was a political no go. And someone will actually use a whip hand on Summers/Geithner. If Biden/Obama give Summers/Geithner enough boot in the ass, maybe Summers/Geithner can be forced to do the right thing, and put the big 8 insolvent banks into receivership, giving shareholders nothing, bondholders equity, and taxpayers protection from Wall Street.

  9. Stephen

    Re the Red Alert:

    Please do follow up. If this is legit or if he is a loon. There is some small expectation that there is some editorial discretion and forethought being exercised here.

    I must say, it sure caught my attention

  10. Anonymous

    Not surprised there are investigations into whether US Generals acquired some 80 billion of money meant for the rebuilding of Iraq. Lets face it many suspected a large part of the money ended up in American pockets through government contracts anyway. It just looks like more evidence of decision makers living by a different set of rules to the rest of us.

    Not really been able to track down the why the red alert was issued, but there does appear to have been some unusual movements. Karl D’s blog today goes on about America being gamed by its own government and is hinting at marker interference in the clearing mechanisms to protect certain high placed people, which does not fill me with confidence in the neutrality of the report.

    Still Jim Sinclair on mineset said

    An unwind is taking form right now, this minute, (9:10PM ET) that may or may not be contained by international Central Bank action.

    Not totally convinced myself but anyone of the following news items could have contributed to the moves.

    China’s central bank conducted a large drain from the money market through bond repurchase agreements on Tuesday, another sign that it may want to prevent market liquidity from easing further, traders said.

    South Korean treasury bond futures plunged on Tuesday as the won’s sharp decline and uncertainty over the planned extra budget sparked massive sell-offs of government debt.

    The South Korean won slumped to a new 10-week low against the dollar amid growing fears that the nation may face another dollar squeeze amid the global financial turmoil.

    The euro also weakened against 14 of the 16 major currencies on speculation its recent declines triggered the execution of automatic sell orders.

    Woori Finance Holdings Co., which yesterday applied for state funding, sank 6.8 percent as the cost for South Korean banks to borrow dollars rose to a record. The bank said yesterday it plans to raise more than 2 trillion won ($1.4 billion) from a state-backed recapitalization fund as the nation’s slowing economy pushes bad loans higher.

    Shinhan Financial Group Co., which controls the third- largest bank in South Korea, lost 4.6 percent to 25,050 won. KB Financial Group Inc., the holding company for Kookmin Bank, sank 4.8 percent to 30,600 yen.

    The one-year cross-currency swap rate on the won slumped to a record minus 1.6 percent today from minus 1.3 percent yesterday, before trading at minus 1.1 percent.

  11. Anonymous

    A Korean Gov bond auction failed last week, did it not?
    Seems to me there’s a whole lot of gov borrowing coming on all over the world, which will result in higher global interest rates, no?

  12. Anonymous

    Somewhere lost in the bailout / deficit story is the question of what are the consequences of collective action by the OECD governments?

    A lot of debt have to be issued regardless.

    Looking at the CDS for sovereign bonds after G-7 broke up, the price to insure UK, Japanese, etc. bonds are rising sharply even as TNX is rising.

    Is the party over? Is the ‘flight to safety’ of T-Bills and dollar linked currencies over?

    Are credit markets signaling that sovereign debt availability is now an issue?

    Is going to be a lot more expensive in the future even if it is available?

  13. Anonymous

    london banker reads denninger, too. he might be a loon, but sometimes he is on the money. (no pun intended!)

    fabulous antidote!

  14. Anonymous

    For those of you that are cricket fans, the English and West Indian cricket boards’ suger daddy Allen Stanford has been charged with $8 billion fraud by the SEC.

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