Links 11/23/11

Grr. Have several topics I want to post on, but two dental appointments today have put me behind the eight ball. Hopefully will meter them out over the coming days.

‘Turkey war’ engages US grocers Financial Times. Another proof of the real state of the economy.

Man Wearing a U.S. Flag Drives Jeep Up War Memorial, Sets It On Fire Gawker

Federal agents say 88-year-old Saratoga man’s invention is being used by meth labs Mercury News

Why Americans still breathe known hazards decades after ‘clean air’ law iWatch (hat tip reader May S)

AT&T Faces New Roadblock on T-Mobile Bloomberg

EU Banks Struggle to Lure Deposits Wall Street Journal

Europe’s Banks Relying on Money From E.C.B. New York Times

Disaster Planning: Banks Ponder Euro-Zone Split Wall Street Journal

International Monetary Fund Offers Short-Term Credit as Insurance for Nations New York Times

Risks emerging from shadows look worryingly like 2008 John Plender, Financial Times

How much capital do European banks need? Viral Acharya, Dirk Schoenmaker, and Sascha Steffen, VoxEU. Among other things, makes the remarkably straightforward suggestion that Eurobanks should be told (now) to raise a specific amount of money, rather than hit a percentage target (which they threaten to meet by selling assets).

IMF is Lender of Last Resort to Sovereigns Credit Writedowns

Why doesn’t Britain make things any more? Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Deal to Hasten Transition in Egypt Is Jeered at Protests New York Times

Obama Threatens Veto on Undoing Trigger Cuts Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

How Keynesian Policy Led Economic Growth In the New Deal Era: Three Simple Graphs Mike Kimel, Angry Bear

What’s underneath the $470 billion TARP? Finance Addict

States moving on smaller U.S. mortgage probe deal Reuters. Yet more of the “Yes, really, we’re going to have a deal someday.”

States win right to block $8.5bn BofA settlement Financial Times. Schadenfreude alert!

Financial Finger-Pointing Turns to Regulators New York Times. The regulator accused of telling Indymac to tart up its financial statements (meaning engage in accounting fraud) is the Office of Thrift Supervision. Given that the OTS was chosen by AIG as the easiest to snooker regulator (the unit that blew up AIG, its financial products group, was in the holding company and overseen by the OTS), these charges may well pan out.

Who takes risks? mathbabe. I like Cathy’s work, but I disagree with her underlying assumption, that risk taking is a good thing. Americans bizarrely romanticize risk taking. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that one had to be a bit daft or naive to go emigrate to America in the 18th or 19th century (and you had to be seriously nuts to go over on the Mayflower, particularly for the non-Pilgrims, or “sinners” who filled out the ship’s complement). Andrew Haldane’s observation, “Bearing risk is not, by itself, a productive activity” applies in the field of entrepreneurship. Studies of successful ventures have found that many of the successful ones target specific opportunities that the principals identified while working on a payroll. Similarly, successful entrepreneurs seek to minimize risk. Finally (at least as of 20 years ago, I have not seen updated figures) the most common characteristic of people who founded new businesses was that they had been fired twice. Being on the corporate meal ticket is a great deal if you can do the work without having to get a lobotomy. But if you are a poor fit with organizational dynamics, the risk/return tradeoff of starting up a business is very different than if you can navigate in a medium or large corporate setting.

Antidote du jour. This is reader Ann M’s Emmett:.

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83 comments

    1. Kevin Smith

      Actually, dentists are great [mine is, anyway].
      Dentists have led the way for the rest of the medical profession with techniques to minimize pain and anxiety.

      Good dental health can make a big difference to the way your face ages, in particular by preserving the bone structure of your face. Flossing twice every day is very important in that regard.

      Good dental health seems to be associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, and also reduced risk of Alzheimers.

        1. tom allen

          Dental assistants are pretty cool people though. They do most of the work anyway, and they make you feel comfortable. But yeah, dentists are nice folk too, and knowledgeable. (Ugh, now you remind me I need to go see a dentist again.) :-(

        2. F. Beard

          I love mine. She is very cute. I get to look up at her whisps of blond hair while she chatters away and runs the drill. She does great work too.

          1. scraping_by

            By random chance, my last three dentists had played varsity offensive line at large Midwestern state universities. Luckily, none of them had that ‘play with pain’ attitude.

          2. Fred

            I had a pretty hot dentist about 20 years ago who used nitrous oxide. It seemed liked good looks were a qualification for her assistants as well. I had some great fantasies sitting in her chair.
            Sadly, I moved to another city.

    2. mk

      exciting future of dentistry:

      The challenge for the dental professional in the anticipated era of stem cells and tissue engineering is imminent. What would be a dentist’s response when patients ask whether they can get their own stem cells if they have their wisdom teeth banked? What are the odds that tooth stem cells will grow a new tooth or be used to treat diabetes? Should I use a growth factor called PDGF or BMP2 to treat my periodontal bone defects or have a bone graft? Should my son’s baby teeth be banked for stem cells, and, if so,what are the odds that these baby teeth stem cells will cure a bone fracture he may get during a soccer game?

      see fourth link down for the pdf this text came from:
      http://search.cumc.columbia.edu/search?site=cumc&output=xml_no_dtd&lr=&oe=&qt=&q=stem+cells+tooth+regeneration&client=cumc&proxystylesheet=cumc&filter.searchTerm=&type=test&x=0&y=0&searchtype=CUMC

      1. mk

        wow, just read this, found via Jonathan Turley’s blog:

        Dentists are smiling over a new report that UCLA researchers have developed a new mouthwash that might make dental cavities go the way of the dodo bird, CBS Los Angeles reported.

        For the study – published in the Nov. issue of the journal Carries Research – researchers tested the new mouthwash on 12 patients. After only one rinse, the mouthwash completely eliminated the S. mutans bacteria – the main cause of tooth decay. The patients were S. mutans-free for the entire four-day duration of the study.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57329010-10391704/smart-bomb-mouthwash-aims-to-end-tooth-decay-will-it-work/

        1. EH

          This is probably the part of the movie where they do more research and find out that S. mutans is also a cancer preventative.

      2. Pelle Schultz

        Anyone who thinks that stem cell-based therapies will be of use anytime soon–if ever–needs to read up on some of the latest work.

        The process of creating stem cells (i.e. IPS cells or “induced pluripotent stem” cells) is inherently mutagenic. Recipients of stem cells may have beneficial consequences in the short term, but in the long term they’re virtually certain to get cancer as a consequence of all the somatic mutation introduced by the process of creating the stem cells in the first place.

        Treatment with growth factors (e.g. bone morphogenic proteins) is also likely to result in some severe but not unexpected side effects. It won’t be happening anytime soon.

    3. mo

      I hate the $5,000 – $10,000 implant racket. Dentures are mocked and a fancy video describes how a bridge will mess up…….something.

      These days, even trips to the dentist require the “ok what are you trying to sell today?” game face.

    4. brian

      the key to enjoying the dentist is rewards afterwards
      after retirement i kept my dentist in san francisco
      i package the visit around a ferry boat commute
      a visit to the asian art museum or a Giants game afterwards
      my next appointment is in February
      I am looking forward to seeing what is up with OWS/SF by then

  1. Carlito Quesare

    I have hiked extensively on the Appalachian Trail and throughout the US East Coast. Polar Pure is a well known product, I mean I’ve seen it on shelves at REI, Campmor, Eastern Mountain Sports, etc for years and years next to Aqua Mira, Potable Aqua and other competitors products.

    All that is not expressly permitted is forbidden.

      1. aet

        Without the consent of the governed, there is no governance – there can be only forced obedience to command – only tyranny.

    1. Can't Make an Omelette

      Polar Pure? Ummmmm … is that the name of the carie-fighting mouthwash? It is not….. it’s about water purification….. what’s the Trail got to do with anything? Is it a sly Sanford reference (remember that guy)…… It is not…… so therefore……… I think your post has non-seq’s appeal?

  2. vlade

    As Haldane put it – if risk taking was a wealth creating enterpriese, we should encourage people to play Russian rulette.

    On enterpreneurship – I’ve been told by more than one enterpreneur that they don’t like risk – which is why not many of them risk their own money to start with, but other people’s money (as much as they can, anyways).

    1. aet

      To grow a crop, one must needs bear the risks of bad weather, or of a fall in the price of what is grown prior to its harvest.

      But those are not risks that people go looking for, or go out of their way to face. Who needs risk?

      Risk is just part of the environment, and ought in every circumstance to be minimized as far as foresight and experience makes possible.

      Consider this old saying: “There are bold sailors, and then there are old sailors”.

      Risk is risky. Always and ever has been, too.

      1. vlade

        I disagree on the “risk should be minimised”. To me, risk is a waterbaloon. You squash it in one place, it pops us in another (often unexpected). Most of the time you cannot remove risk, you just shift it somewhere else (and when that is less visible, you say you “removed it”).

        Risk should be acknowledged and managed (and good risk management is indeed wealth creating process). Part of the management is to make the risk very visible (which is not the same as quantifiable though!).

        It should not be sought for its own sake though – at least not by those with responsibilities to others.

        1. tom allen

          Right. To use another (business) metaphor, it’s like looking for lost keys at night in a parking lot. Everybody’s looking under the lampposts because that’s where the light is. But by now, all the low-hanging fruit has been swooped up and only the dregs are left.

          Oh, good lord, that metaphor just collapsed. Anyway, I’d bet that any innovations to be made from now on are not likely to be made using the usual sources. Something new is needed. Boy, if only we had a whole lot of unemployed people connected up by some inter-tubes to ponder this problem. :-)

  3. vlade

    On the Britain making things – the sad reality is that most of the UK products are cr*p (there are execeptions, some of them excellent – ARM processors, RR jet engines come to mind, but they tend to be exceptions).

    Say Dyson, the “saviour” of british engineering seems to be more concerned with how fast his “digital” electric motor spins than that a set of ear protectors should be sold with each of his products.

    I suspect that to an extent it could be the british markets – I find it impossible to say buy good appliances commonly available on the continent, and much better than most of what one can buy here. Accepting overpriced underperforming goods seems so british.

    It reminds me of the story of how the UK premier was to be notified of a Soviet nuclear attack in case he was traveling (chauffer was to phone collect his office, because they couldn’t guarantee they would have the right change).

    1. Lilguy

      Re bad British products, I have loved Jaguars for a half century–back to the early XKE days–but the Jaguar brand has a profound reputation for really poor reliability and related poor manufacturing quality control. Ford seemed to have improved the quality of the cars during its ownership period (I understand they laid down the law at the plant–the work could be moved abroad–and stopped using Lucas electrical systems among other moves), but that seems to have disappeared with Tata ownership the last three years.

      Note: I owned a Ford-built Jaguar sedan for a decade and loved it–beautiful, comfortable, sporty, etc, although it wasn’t super-reliable, especially in its later years. I’d love to own another with the same good qualities of Jaguar, and Honda reliability.

      1. barrisj

        Oh, don’t get me started on Jag reliability – Borg-Warner transmission, shite Lucas electricals, feh! But the XJ-6 SeriesI/II was a dream to drive…when it was out of the shop.
        10 years we nursed this motor along, concomitantly paying for our mechanic’s ritual two-month hols in St Barts…finally donated it to charity as a “classic”…never again, regardless what Tata Motors does to improve the marque.

  4. dearieme

    “one had to be a bit daft or naive to go emigrate to America in the 18th or 19th century”: 18th century – perhaps. But 19th? Take a timetabled train to Liverpool or Hamburg, a scheduled steamboat across to NYC, a timetabled train to Chicago, another on to Iowa…. Piece of cake.

    The people going to Australia or NZ (or Chile or Argentina, I dare say) – now they were still being rather daring for much longer.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Read the Gangs of New York, and you’ll have a much more accurate picture of how German and Irish immigrants fared. Revisionist history is always prettier than the real thing.

      1. Gene O'Grady

        Wasn’t gangs of New York, but my great grandfather emigrating to the US in 1872 was on a wooden ship sailing through ice bergs. Sounds risky to me. And their German accents weren’t exactly welcomed.

    2. ginnie nyc

      Yikes, dearieme, you clearly have/had no family members who made the passage in steerage class to Ellis Island. Believe me, it was definitely no pleasure cruise. Many died enroute; my Hungarian grandmother distinctly recalled the bodies being thrown overboard even 70 years later. The dankness, the darkness, the terrible ‘food’.

      A rather good film account of immigrant steerage is in the realist/surrealist Italian film Nuovomondo (shown in the US as The Golden Door – 2006). Really incredible on-location account of the ‘beginning of the beginning’ of the transatlantic immigrant experience.

  5. Max424

    Look at Emmett, lying on the bed and pondering the fate of Europe. Like most Americans, he’s thinking, “Why the fuck are we so intertwined with the 20 something nations across the pond, that if they fail, we fail? Who thought up this stupid system?”

    “Certainly it wasn’t my beloved Master Ann; who takes care of me, and watches over me, and protects me from relationships without firewalls — the kind that always end in disaster.”

    “Is there anybody in charge of our country? Do we have a country?”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Or is it *His High Catness Odalisque*? He’s handsome, calm, no cat fights on the brain, well cared for. But attentive.

      Never cross the cat.

  6. John

    The pepper spraying cop will retire at 90% of his last years pay after just 30 years of service. And if he is a typical safety employee likely at over 100k per year…..equivalent to an annuity that would cost you are I 2 million dollars. The protesting kids should be asking him to help defray their tuition hikes, along with wall street.

      1. EmilianoZ

        He might be right, and that’s one of the causes of the budget problems in California. This is the topic of Michael Lewis’ “California and bust”:

        http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2011/11/michael-lewis-201111

        I LMAOed at some point in the piece when a police officer suggests that public libraries should be closed permanently so that the salaries and pensions of policemen can be paid. And there’s a portrait of a Vallejo firefighter who has a 6 figure salary.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Is the Vallejo firefighter a servant of the 1% gated community for a *private* ladder? This started 10 years ago or more, esp. in CA.

  7. Sock Puppet

    On risk: I started my own business some 20 years ago to avoid risk. Risk of all my income coming from one place. Risk of being asked to treat subordinates, customers, vendors, in a manner not in alignment with my values. Risk of not being able to take time off to care for children/parents. Risk of having to commute to work (I work from home). Risk of not being able to relocate.
    In business I avoid risk by managing the business and its finances competently, and having no debt, personal or business. I have health insurance.
    Most of my friends could never do it. They live paycheck to paycheck, have no savings, can’t move or even refi because with heloc they are underwater, and they are afraid of losing company 401K and health insurance.

    1. aet

      I agree: it is the avoiding of risk which often drives us in our endeavors.

      Risk-seekers are usually amongst most interesting and amusing people: but they “likely” make lousy fiduciaries.

    2. Sock Puppet

      The “freeest people on earth” live lives of servitude because they’re afraid of losing their health insurance, their 401K, their underwater house, or their credit score.

      “The only prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear” Aung San Suu Kyi.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For me, outer freedom is being free to do the things you like.

        Inner freedom is being free to do the things you don’t like.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Congratulations on living your life with integrity, a rarely reached goal.

      For 30 years people have been scared to move out of jobs they hate because they need the health insurance. To give employers the lock on health insurance (and even pensions) of the captives begets the ball and chain on the ankles of the 99%. Notice how impossible it seems to be to establish *Medicare for All*. Who holds the keys holds the power.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the ball and chain thing is made heavier with a link here a while back that many people, with their paltry savings, are merely 1 month away from homelessness.

      2. Sock Puppet

        Thank you. A suggested read is “Your money or your life”, or the New Roadmap Foundation’s Financial Integrity web site.

    1. EH

      WTF is up with tacking on that unrelated bit at the end?!

      A dog owner facing criminal charges of a rather more serious nature is the Worthing man who allegedly dragged a beagle-collie cross behind his car for several miles at speeds of up to 70mph.

  8. steak

    Since Econned was in the OWS Library :D thought this might be of interest

    Occupy Wall Street Librarians Address Bloomberg for Destroying Books

    Over 4,000 Books, Documents, Were Trashed by NYPD & Dept. of Sanitation in Raid. OWS Library Staff Recovers Books and Supplies, Less Than One-Fifth is Usable.

    What: Press conference to address the destruction of the OWS People’s Library by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the 11/15 raid.

    *Photo Opportunity* All of the recovered, destroyed books will be at the press conference.

    Where: 260 Madison Ave, 20th Floor, between 38th and 39th St

    When: Wednesday, November 23, at 12:00 noon

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Bloomberg has yet to learn: “Then they came for me.” He needs to take his stand with the 99%, in order to be mayor of ALL of New York City. He could be “magnanimous” for a change, living up to his self-image.

      But hey, he’s in Bermuda most of the time, no, even if the “DRAKE” Interior Design firm has created Versailles in his Manhattan apartment. (Isn’t the name “DRAKE” associated with early oil in Pennsylvania, with John D. Rockefeller, with Chicago?) DNA “just keeps rollin’ along.”

  9. porge

    Re. the picture of the cat Emmett.

    I have a male cat with the exact same coat color and markings and also large ears and the same face shape as Emmett.
    I am wondering if there might be a relation.
    I am in Austin Texas and my cat Castor is about 2 years old at the most(don’t know for sure since i found him as a stray).
    He could have been moved here from another area of the country.
    Ann M. if you happen to read this it would be interesting to know if Emmett has ever been in Austin Texas.

        1. EmilianoZ

          I also think this is incredibly rude. This comment should have been moderated. It’s a specieist remark.

  10. SqueakyRat

    Until I enlarged the picture I thought that red-and-white cloth was something horrible emerging from you cat’s belly. Whew!

  11. ambrit

    Maam;
    Has NC added a moderation function to the blog? A comment of mine on another thread posted with the superscription, “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
    This an artifact of the upgrades? Just wondering.

    1. ambrit

      Maam;
      The moderation announcement isn’t here. I know I’m somewhat of a Luddite, but I’m confused. (I heard that!)

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      This means they are fact checking, to keep up the site’s integrity, even though some mighty bold “anti-Establishment” comments are posted here. Better safe than sorry. This is wise practice.

      1. ambrit

        Dear LBR;
        Good point, though I’m beginning to suspect humour is at play here. The posting is;
        ambrit says:
        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        Nov. 23, 2011 at…
        This is entirely consistant with ‘my kind’ of humour; sly and dry. I think I’ve been had. Serves me right.
        By the way, why don’t we hear more of the famous quote to the extent “…but I’ll defend their right to say it …?”
        Keep the faith.

  12. scraping_by

    Re: Threatens Veto

    Once again, we have Barry playing the role of a sincere everyman being too stupid to realize he’s been had. Since his “whoops” and the Clown Party’s stated policy both serve the rich and damage the middle class (two separate objectives) the kubuki plays out to further alienate we the people. Putting that destruction as automatics caused by political deadlock with “staying the course” (is that this right-winger?) is just filling media space with twaddle.

    If “that’s the best we can get” then it’s obvious someone else should be given a try. However, the publicity is being set up, even now, the make him the less despised alternative.

    1. JTFaraday

      Clown Party!! That’s their new name from now on!

      …wait a minute–which one are we talking about?

  13. beowulf

    This NY Times story (“Behind Deficit Panel’s Failure, a Surprising Outcome”) is the CRAZIEST thing I’ve ever read.

    The latest Congressional failure to agree on a plan for balancing the government’s books could yield a surprising result: a sharp reduction in annual federal deficits, larger than anything contemplated by the special panel that reached its fruitless finale on Monday. But the absence of an agreement also threatens to significantly slow growth in an already ailing economy by raising taxes on almost everyone while reducing government spending on almost everything…

    Good Lord, the President has wasted a Manhattan Project’s worth of political capital on deficit reduction while simply doing nothing will lead to what Moody’s calls a “historically extreme” reduction in the deficit.

  14. hellomyfans

    its official: im not going to bother clicking on ft links anymore. theyve jacked up the “register now” complication one level too high. dont want
    me to read your article without jumping though hoops? fine.

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