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Links 7/16/10

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High heels ‘shrink calf muscle fibres’ BBC. People do research on this stuff. You could ask ten women instead and save a lot of time.

Raids are increasing on farms and private food-supply clubs—here are 5 tips for surviving one Grist (hat tip lambert strether)

First Malaria-Proof Mosquito: Genetic Manipulation Renders Them Completely Immune to the Parasite Science Daily (hat tip reader John M)

It is time to face down the threat of deflation John Makin, Financial Times. Mirabile dictu, a guy from the American Enterprise Institute argues against austerity (but he prefers printing to more accommodating fiscal policy)

Gulf Residents Fear Fund Will Fall Short Wall Street Journal

Bloomberg Reporter Totally Misinterprets Bloomberg Polling on Offshore Drilling FireDogLake. I didn’t read the story till now, I could tell from the mere headline that the poll question was inept and/or unduly suggestive.

Congress approves Basel III before it even exists Felix Salmon. Bloggers are now on the media call list; I was pinged about speaking to Barr and didn’t have the bandwidth Thursday. I’m less than keen about the practice (government officials should say things to the public in public forums); plus the officialdom expects one to make them a priority when they want to talk, which if you are a paid member of the MSM, makes sense, but is not valid for bloggers.

The Last Bubble: The Problem of Unresolved Debt in the US Financial System Jesse

‘Bail-in’ will save the taxpayer from the bail-out Gillian Tett, Financial Times

The Uses and Abuses of Economic Ideology Adair Turner, Project Syndicate (hat tip Mark Thoma)

OK, I have a really embarrassing bleg. I will be in Copenhagen for a day (Sunday) flying in overnight (ergo a bit bleary). I will probably be able to do a quick search as to what might be worth seeing, but I tend to be a bit allergic to the normal tourist routine (I much prefer hanging out and getting a sense of how a city operates, but that simply can’t happen on a short visit). So I suppose I am really asking “Of the obligatory tourist things to do, are any really standouts?” and “Is there anything of the not on the standard tourist list you’d suggest?”

Antidote du jour:

Picture 16

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48 comments

  1. AllanW

    Here is Adair Turner, the Head of the UK Financial Services Authority (the regulator responsible for all banking, mortgages, loans and credit). As his Wiki (below) describes, he is a banker, lecturer, member of the House of Lords and ex-McKinsey consultant appointed to the regulator in 2008 for a five-year term.

    His latest ruminations (linked by Yves above and at ‘Economist’s View’) are a rehash of the presentation he gave at the INET Conference;

    http://ineteconomics.org/people/participants/adair-turner

    What is he saying here? Quite extraordinarily, he is laying-out in plain prose in the first nine paragraphs that ‘the practical men and women employed in the policymaking functions of central banks, regulatory agencies, governments, and financial institutions’ risk-management departments’ were deluded. He explicitly says that, captured by a simplified and misunderstood ideology and their own petty personal interests, they produced a situation in which ‘some forms of trading activity, however transparent, might be socially useless.’

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a senior financial figure say this much so plainly.

    He then states quite baldly that these interests and ideology exerted pressure through lobbying activity that ‘serves the industry’s interests’. Regulatory and governmental capture plain and simple. Again, I couldn’t agree more.

    Unfortunately he ends his piece with a rather wet and limp hope that we have learned the lessons (‘we’ haven’t) but does at least make quite a startling comment that I think fits right in with some of the things I’ve been saying here about avoiding easy narratives, refusing to submit to comfortable confirmation biases and instead adopting a more falsifiable, pragmatic approach to what we can confidently know.

    ‘Here, I suspect, is where the greatest challenge for the future lies. For, while the simplified pre-crisis conventional wisdom appeared to provide a complete set of answers resting on a unified intellectual system and methodology, really good economic thinking must provide
    multiple partial insights, based on varied analytical approaches. Let us hope that practical men and women will learn that lesson.’

    I’m not holding my breath but it’s encouraging that someone in his position is at least willing to look the reasons for global financial catastrophe in the face and recognise that it’s our human prejudices, venalities and corrupt knowledge accumulation strategies that might need to change.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adair_Turner,_Baron_Turner_of_Ecchinswell

    1. craazyman

      Is that the best he can do?

      If so, I’d say: “Go back to your horses and your hounds, Baron, and clean your stables, where you can really shovel the shit.”

      booow aha ahahah ahahaha ahahahaha ! ! ! ROTLMAO

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        In a society that profits primarily from lies, the sociopaths will always win. He can’t say more because all humans have trouble admitting the “king” (which in this case means the entire intellectual class) has no clothes.

        Humans need their leaders to be heroic, and their brains create bullshit stories about the leaders (or the society) to make this fantasy into “reality” (in their brains – which is all that matters):

        http://www.minyanville.com/dailyfeed/how-did-george-steinbrenner-suddenly/

  2. bob

    Red squirrels, nasty little things. Cute until they eat their way inside your house and leave 100 pounds of pine cone shavings in the attic. They can eat through anything. Their teeth grow at some enormous rate, they have to eat things to keep them short.

    They are one of the only animals in NYS that have no hunting regulations. Shoot em if you got em’.

    1. reskeptical

      Jesus Bob?! I don’t think Yves is going to look to kindly on that kind of sentiment.

      Unbelievable story about the FDA etc. and raids on home-produce. Part of me is saying, “(almost) only in California,” which isn’t fair, I know… Of course, the intimation that buying McDs is better than eating home grown chicken’s eggs should make people rightly upset.

      But it’s quite the difference, intimidating hobby farmers and alternative types, when others, who have done much worse are still pulling the levers and pushing the buttons in their ivory towers. Well, I guess they threw Bernie Madoff into jail. He must be kind of disappointed about being singled out like that.

    2. Keenan

      Quite so, Bob.
      One wag’s definition of a squirrel: “A rat with good hair and charisma. The Bill Clinton of the rodent world.”

  3. attempter

    Re food raids:

    Relocalizing the food economy (going as self-reliant and local as possible from production to consumption) is the core element of the entire relocalization concept, and as such is:

    1. A counterattack on Big Ag in the same way the Move Your Money campaign is against the banksters, and in that sense is subversive of corporatism in the normal sense;

    2. It’s profoundly subversive of the system in general, as self-reliance in food renders one far more free to undertake civil disobedience and to generally flout or detach from the kleptocracy and become more self-reliant and community-resilient in other ways.

    So the corporations and the government view it as a form of sedition. Therefore the food fascism campaign is only going to get worse, unless people rise up to resist it.

    (It should be unnecessary to say that the government’s “food safety” rationale is a lie. ALL significant threats to the integrity of the food system come from industrial agriculture. Factory farms are veritable unregulated bioweapons laboratories. All one needs to do is compare the resources put into “regulating” Big Ag with the resources put into this kind of assault on small producers to see the real corporate agenda here. or consider the one-size-fits-all “regulations” in legislation like HR 2749, which is carefully crafted to be a minor nuisance at most to big producers while presenting often insurmountable obstacles to small producers.

    For that matter all you need to do is contemplate the fact that CAFOs are allowed to exist at all, to know that this government cares nothing for food safety or epidemic prevention.

    So anyone who tries to take the corporate side by parroting the government’s lies is simply repeating corporate talking points, just like we often see on every other issue.

    The only rational response to anyone who claims to be sincerely concerned about safety is: Then start by banning CAFOs.)

  4. Hr. Naturli'

    Hanging out in Copenhagen: Try a Danish lunch in Nyhavns Færgekro by the Nyhavn canal, then jump on one of the canal boat round trip from the same street for a relaxing tour of the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit the Freetown Christiania alternative community or join the natives at the Halvandet Beach Club (yes, you can swim in the harbour).

  5. Ignim Brites

    Good article by Gillian Tett. It is amazing that the American power elite actually believes that the country will actually stand for another massive financial bailout. Maybe they are banking on the idea that 2008 was a once in a century event. Maybe they are just so traumatized that they have lost the power of thought.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      In a society that profits primarily from lies, the sociopaths will always win. The “power elite” are the sociopaths or the owners of the sociopaths (the politicians). The can’t “admit” anything, because when they do the society collapses – which is what happened in the Soviet Union. It took the Soviet Union 70 years, there’s still lots of time for us as we have modern advertising and “media” – it’s like “taking candy from a baby”.

      Humans need their leaders to be heroic, and their brains create bullshit stories about the leaders (or the society) to make this fantasy into “reality” (in their brains – which is all that matters):

      http://www.minyanville.com/dailyfeed/how-did-george-steinbrenner-suddenly/

  6. Art

    “Of the 986 bank holding companies in the US, 980 of them lost money last year.” Jesse
    Is this true?
    I don´t want to say fascism, but whatever this system is where the six lucky mammoths (GS,Citi,BoA,Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo) thrive with the assistance of the Government while the rest barely survive, whatever you want to call it, is not good.

    1. Bates

      I have been a regular reader of Jesse’s Cafe Americain for a long time. He calls em like he sees em…and if he didn’t I would not be a daily visitor. Scroll down to view Madame Le Moderateur in left column near page bottom…and don’t miss all the wonderful food photos.

      And yes, this is an admission that I believe the best and fastest way out of the current financial crash would have been a painfull but short liquidation. No more moral hazard, enough already, NO MAS!

      Here is a description of what happened in 1920 and how the government got out of the way and…as Mellon would say…liquidated them all…or, the weak ones that could not cut it and did not get propped up…Real capitalism is brutal.

      Despite a greater economic meltdown in 1920 than the one seen in the wake of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the Great American Depression of 1921 Never Happened because the US government of the time did absolutely nothing to ‘solve’ the problem, except cut its own spending. President Harding was very ill and paid no attention to economists and others calling for stimulus. The recession of 1920–21 was characterized by extreme deflation…the largest one year percentage decline in around 140 of data…(not a fat finger error… one hundred and forty years of data!). The Department of Commerce estimates 18% deflation but other estimates vary. The drop in wholesale prices was even more severe, falling by 36.8%, the most severe drop since the American Revolutionary War.

      The American economy was up and running, with barely a blip, in less than 2 years. Within two years unemployment had dropped from 11.2% to 2.4% (2.4% is well below what is considered ‘full employment’ now). Of course lots of individuals, banks, and businesses went bankrupt. And that is the way capitalism is supposed to work.

      Yes, I realize that 1920 was prior to Social Security, Medicare, Huge Government, Supposedly TBTF Banks, et al. To be candid, 1920 was prior to the era of hybrid capitalism/socialism…and in 1920 a capitalist would have laughed at the notion of TBTF.

      So what changed between 1920 and 1929? This 10 year period is very interesting reading if you like history. There is more to it than raccoon skin coats, ‘Gatsby’, the West Bank, flappers and silver liquor flasks…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t know. After looking at those wonderful food photos, I feel like doing cruel things to vegetables, agaist my good consciense.

        Viva, vegetable rights!

        Viva, mineral rights! Mineral rights belong to minerals, not humans/corporations.

  7. joebhed

    Back in 1939, six of the pre-eminent economists of the day, including Fisher, Douglas and Graham, wrote a treatise on solving the problem of the private contraction of money by eliminating its cause.
    In the Introduction, the purpose is thus stated:
    “It is intended to eliminate one recognized cause of great depressions, the lawless variability in our supply of circulating medium.”
    It is precisely that lawless variability that Mr. Makin proposes to remedy in the FT article by joining the QE movement.
    Pity.
    A Program for Monetary Reform is available at economicstability dott org for your review.

    http://www.economicstability.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/revisedAProgramforMoA7DF1B1.pdf
    thanks.

  8. East Coast Cynic

    As far as Copenhagen, they’ve got a good jazz scene. You should check some out if it is your bag.

  9. Debra

    Sitting here comfortably in my easy chair blog, my eyes were irresistably drawn to that high heels subject, and so EVEN THOUGH I have sworn off this blog, which I LIKE, but which has too many people on it for me to feel really comfortable, I just HAD to chip in my two cents worth…
    Dontcha LOVE those junk science “experiments” ?
    Don’t they get you wriggling and squirming a little bit, just pondering the money that is going into them (maybe on a parr with the money that is going to bail out the banks, who knows…) and WHY our eyes light up like kids on Christmas morning when the new scientific experiment PRESENT gets deposited underneath the Christmas tree ?
    Now that I think about it… let’s hope that “science” doesn’t get bottomed out too in the rush to compete for decadence…
    Money sure isn’t doing too well these days…

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can humans ever be antidotes du jour?

    Just asking. No need to shoot the inquisitor.

    1. Bates

      ‘antidotes du jour’ are a soothing relief from the azzhat humans that most of us, unfortunately, come into contact with daily. If a human photo was inserted into the ‘antidotes du jour’ space, it would no longer be an ‘antidotes du jour’. Unless it was a photo of a young Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Jane Greer, or, insert your favorite here ________ . LOL

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks, I will check out.

        Didn’t Attenborough/BBC have a documentary series by the same name – The Secret Life of Plants?

        1. NOTaREALmerican

          Yup, In plowing through Google (to find the movie) the BBC series is what I found first. The movie might be just an enhanced version of the documentary. Can’t tell from the review.

    1. gn

      Highly recommend the Lousiana museum. You can take a train from downtown CPH and get off with only a pleasant 10-minute walk to get there.

  11. Seatty

    How realistic is the ‘bail in’ solution to the TBTF problem? Seems elegantly simple, so I must be missing something.

  12. eric anderson

    “High heels ’shrink calf muscle fibres’ BBC. People do research on this stuff. You could ask ten women instead and save a lot of time.”

    Yes, but think of the jobs “created or saved” by this kind of research. Sort of the equivalent of the Keynsian notion of paying people to dig holes and others to fill the holes back up.

    It’s a jobs program.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Another example of waste when there’s unlimited amounts of other-people’s-money.

      But, as life (an maturity) teach us: to make real loot you’ve got to be either running scam – or participating in one.

      Can’t think of a better scam than using OPM to “study” females in high-heals. That beats my IT “job” at a Zombie bank which is pimping loans to unemployed young people.

  13. andyjacobson

    Copenhagen quickies:
    - Little Mermaid statue in the harbor mesmerizes
    - Churchill Park and its exhibit of the Churchill Gang youths of WWII

  14. Jessica

    Copenhagen:
    I would definitely rent a bike – many hotels have them available – and cycle all around the center of town. Wear a nice summer dress when you ride – Danish women do.
    Cycling is a big part of how Copenhagen operates and they make it very safe, easy, and comfortable. And for the center of town, it is far and away the quickest way to get around.
    I also love the outdoor swimming in the harbor. 5 minutes by bike from Tivoli/main train station/Stroget=Latin Quarter. Bike over Langebro Bridge and you will see the swimming area on the right. If the day is sunny, lots of people will be hanging out on the grass doing what they do.
    That would give you a taste of what Copenhagen is like for the Danes.
    At night, the Latin Quarter for sure.

  15. KFritz

    Re: Food/Farm Raids

    Before outright condemning the disproportionate cost and size of these raids, it would be good to hear the USDA side of this story.

    That being said, this seems yet another manifestation of the corporatist, establishmentarian reality of the Obama Admin. Our Sec’y of Ag is Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, famously described by Michael Pollen as the most intensively resource-exploited state in the US, because so much of its land is devoted to large-scale corporate, hydrocarbon based ‘farming.’

    This piece makes it look like Vilsack and USDA are carrying water for corporate/establishment agriculture. To the best of my knowledge, most outbreaks of food-born pathogens and subsequent illness come straight out of profit-driven slovenly food creation and handling practices. Given this, we’d be expecting to read about more vigilant oversight of horrific slaughterhouses and runoff of effluent onto vegetable fields. Perhaps this IS occurring, but given the fact there haven’t been any reports of massive hires of inspectors and stepped-up regulation of Big Ag, this report sure makes USDA look like an enforcer for Big Ag.

    1. KFritz

      MY BAD. Wrong Federal Agency.

      Still suspect that disproportionate attention is being given to small-scale operators, but the following link documents that raw dairy outbreaks ARE a problem that almost certainly costs Public Health real money. So there is some rationale for these raids. If anyone is earning money selling raw dairy and it makes someone who paid them sick, these raids seem rational.

      http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5822a1.htm

      1. KFritz

        Addendum: Until 7 years old, I drank raw goats milk daily, produced by Dad and his goats. Rarely sick, grew up (sort of) to be sturdy. Ergo, no inherent bias against raw dairy prods.

          1. KFritz

            My dad, not an educated man, managed. We also had chickens and a garden. Neighbors had honey and a swimming pool. Everything was exchanged except slaughtered chickens and goats milk. Point is, COMMERCIAL raw milk or exchanges that cause illness are dangerous. So FDA is within bounds, BUT I hope they’re giving proportional attention to large, ‘legit’ operators who’ve done harm. The current head of FDA has a commendable track record.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Hamburg

          2. KFritz

            PPS:

            Very aware of food safety here. 4-5 yrs ago, yours truly dealt w/ salmonella for 2 weeks after eating an egg ‘sunny-side up.’ No more uncooked eggs until and unless I care for the chickens. Adios Hollandaise and Eggs Benedict!

  16. bob goodwin

    High heels ’shrink calf muscle fibres’ BBC. People do research on this stuff. You could ask ten women instead and save a lot of time.

    Women are currently voting with their feet in favor of heels. Maybe with research on global-manmade-calf-muscle-destruction we can reverse the trend.

    1. Ina Deaver

      If you are very consequent about your calves/achilles tendons, you can side-step this problem (bad pun intended). I was a dancer, and I danced on a pair of 2 inch heels several hours a day for 25 years. I can sprint flat-out in heels. Because I was careful about stretching, and wore flat shoes for any other exercise, I got plenty of stretching and never had issues.

      So women can wear them, if they want to and are careful about it. That doesn’t change the fact that it can be deforming.

  17. David

    Hi Yves,

    To get the “feel” of a city, you can do what Richard Feynman
    did when he was in a city that he had never previously visited. Get a cab and ask to be driven around the poorest
    neighborhood, then ask to be driven around the wealthiest neighborhood. Seeing the difference between the two can say
    a lot about how a society functions. I hope you enjoy your trip.

    1. reskeptical

      This sure is getting some airplay of late, AJ, but I don’t know if you can put something down to a ‘generation’.

      The baby-boomers haven’t had it all easy, either. One of the big things which effected this generation was the Cold War, and in particular the Vietnam war.

      They also saw first hand, how the counter-culture movement played out. In some ways it’s no surprise that we as a country have become so amoral. The venality and the depth of hate that was often associated with the conservative side of politics asserting themselves over alternative movements has left many with the feeling that saying what they think is right simply isn’t worth it.

      The baby-boomers had a completely different relationship with their kids. They were able to be much more affectionate and tried to understand, what their kids were going through. I’m not going to try and completely defend them, but in some ways they have been victims– never really able to break away from their “father’s” generation.

      There’s a lot more you could surmise about this– but blaming your parents (or their generation) is a bit too easy. We need action, some kind of plan, which is going to take the society forward and not some kind of nostalgic view of the past, which really can’t help us.

      Just my 2 cents.

  18. eric anderson

    re: raids on farmers

    “I can see a day coming when your home garden is going to be against the law.” — Bob Dylan, [i]Union Sundown[/i] 1983

  19. Michael

    “High heels ’shrink calf muscle fibres’ BBC. People do research on this stuff. You could ask ten women instead and save a lot of time.”

    Well you could – but then it wouldn’t be science. And basing public policy, education, or design decisions on anecdotal evidence rather than science would simply waste more time. You could simpley tell women never to wear heels, but perhaps they like showing off their sexy legs, and knowing objectively how much they can wear them without causing damage is useful.

    Science adds to the collective knowledge of humanity – no matter how trivial it may seem, anecdotal evidence or conjecture adds nothing. Trivialising research for the sake of it only maintains the ‘mad silly scientists’ stereotype and emphasis a dumb society – one which has no future.

    Like Palin mocking fruit fly research, although it is used widely to product real outcomes for society.

  20. Jack Parsons

    Haven’t been to Copenhagen, but I’ve discovered that riding above-ground streetcars is a great way to see a city. They tend to go through neighborhoods that have seen a lot of change, so you’ll see varied architecture and eras.

    In Moscow it was fun having the train stop so that the conductor could get out and change the track direction with a steel bar with a U at the end. She poked it into the asphalt and twisted!

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