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Links 3/10/12

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Saving 30 Dolphins Wimp

Missing hiker found with cat in New Mexico forest Yahoo (hat tip Lambert)

Commentary: Liberals’ sexist slurs are as bad as Rush Limbaugh’s Houston Chronicle (hat tip Lambert)

Google Begins to Scale Back Its Scanning of Books From University Libraries Chronicle (hat tip Lambert)

Waste-water injection well caused 12 earthquakes in Ohio, investigation show Cleveland Plain Dealer (hat tip Lambert)

Why Egypt doesn’t trust us LA Times (hat tip reader May S)

Bahrain’s Shias demand reform at mass rally Aljazeera (hat tip reader May S)

Greece’s CDS: more lucky than smart Felix Salmon

Greek debt swap triggers massive payouts Financial Times. Did ISDA pay for this headline? The payouts are “massive” in percentage terms. $3 billion is not large in relationship to Greek debt outstanding.

Cold weather delays blooming of early cherry blossoms Asahi Shimbun (hat tip reader Lambert). The tracking of the sakura line is an annual ritual.

Japan’s nuclear crisis: Fukushima’s legacy of fear Nature (hat tip Lambert)

Fukushima: a strange kind of homecoming Financial Times

Japan Earthquake: One Year Later Atlantic (hat tip Lambert)

China Has Largest Trade Deficit Since 1989 as Imports Rebound From Holiday Bloomberg. Have you notice how China manages to produce crap announcements about its trade balances in March, which just happens to be on the eve of when Treasury has the opportunity to certify China as a currency manipulator (April and October)?

Tom Ferguson: AlterNet’s Key Expert in Fighting the Battle Against Citizens United and Obscene Money Influence in Campaigns Alternet

Jobs Data Improve, but Growth Picture Darkens WSJ Real Time Econonmics

Fed Said to Balk at Bank Payouts Over Loan-Loss Estimates Bloomberg. Mirabile dictu. Of course, they aren’t pushing back on the other drain on what would otherwise become retained earnings, namely pay. Former Goldman co chairman John Whitehead declared 2006 bonus levels to be way out of line, and I bet we still aren’t back to a level he’d deem to be reasonable.

Another Plunge in 3-Month Rolling Average of Petroleum and Gasoline Usage Michael Shedlock. Does anyone have electricity use or production data? This looks awfully bearish but we have had a super warm winter.

Matt Taibbi on Bank of America. More about MBS, but engaging nevertheless.

Anecdotes of Mortgage Fraud Randy Wray

Goldman Sachs Raises Conflicts to a High Art Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. We’ve had a run of cats, so we don’t want dog lovers to feel neglected:

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77 comments

  1. gronk

    Re: Liberals’ sexist slurs are as bad as Rush Limbaugh’s

    Isn’t this a typical case of the ‘both sides should be equally wrong’-syndrome?

    1. Boston Scrod

      I have absolutely no use for the abusive language used by the likes of Bill Maher. It degrades what should be an important discussion into immature name calling. That said, I have the sense that the left is a timid latecomer to the hate-fest that seems to surround and envelope so much of the right wing invective these days. Maybe I’m wrong (my perspective is, after all, left leaning) but I have always had the sense that folks like Limbaugh have a much larger audience than folks like Maher. One other observation: I may be splitting hairs in making this distinction, but I find something far more chilling and ugly about a vile attack on someone who is effectively a private citizen (absent her testimony before Congress) than I do an attack on a highly public person such as Sarah Palin or Nancy Pelosi.

      1. aet

        A new meme has appeared on the nets: the right-wing bigots ( you know – not the “addicts” or “leftards” or “moonbats” or “liberal losers”, but the other ones, the ones who use those names) are characterizing the normal reactions of decent compassionate people called forth in response to their hateful rantings, “hate”.

        They are trying to remove or to change or alter the natural meaning of the word “hate” – in order to get on with their favorite tactic of spreading hatred in peace!

        Brow-beating for the 21st century, I guess.

        1. scraping_by

          True enough. For those of us who read Orwell in decades past, it’s almost comical to watch Newspeak come to life.

          If you’re not afraid of Catholic doctrine, you can own to “righteous anger.” Doesn’t fit with pacifism, but most people don’t get what the Amish are about, anyway.

    2. tom allen

      Maher is often a sexist jerk. But equating Maher to Limbaugh is like equating a head cold to the bubonic plague. There’s a slight difference in magnitude.

      1. wunsacon

        Agree.

        The problem with Rush isn’t so much that he used a derogatory word. It’s that his use of it tells us he thinks any woman who uses birth control (suggesting she likes to have sex) is a “slut” — someone he/his listeners should look down their noses at.

        It’s the “studs” versus “sluts” double standard.

    3. Dave of Maryland

      I haven’t seen Maher, but I’ve seen plenty of Gays bashing the crap out of those who oppose them, calling them every nasty name in the book. If you want the bleeding heart liberal version of slash and burn Republicans, listen to the diatribes of those who expose, or try to expose, flaws in the pro-Gay argument.

      Here’s an oldie but a goodie: Gays are born that way, so you’re either GAY or NOT-GAY. Is this clear?

      Back a few years ago, Gays wanted to have openly Gay scoutmasters. They said, well, if your kid is gay, then he’s gay and having a role model will help at a critical time in his life. If the kid isn’t gay, then he gets a lesson in the modern world. Win-win, right?

      Meanwhile, over in England, teenage boys in prep school traditionally engage in homosexuality. Massively. Before settling down with wives and forgetting all about it. Is this just another inexplicable English quirk, or is the line between Gay and Not-Gay as clear and precise as the gays claim? And at that Critical Time of Life, too!

      I can shoot lots of holes in the official gay argument. (Ever hear of the male g-spot? If you have, that’s all you need. Gay sex is way more intense than straight sex. Try it!) I’m writing these inflammatory lines simply to provoke the hostility that you need to see, so that you will understand just how nasty BOTH sides are.

      As well as a reminder of just how far from the truth. The truth is out there, if you can find it. Beware of those who make claims.

      1. i am

        I think gays get some slack since they are an “oppressed minority group.” Vitriol coming from some gay persons is an (i think quite understandable) reflection of what they have often recieved. I do find this sort of thing more hostile and objectionable when it comes from or serves those in power. I also find it worse when directed publicly at private citizens. But I suppose those are both opinions that others may not share.

        A main thrust of the prepschool gay sex discussions that i found center around the difference between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts. I find it quite plausible that there is an inborn sexual orientation but that it is possible to engage in sex acts that are against the orientation.

      2. Skorn

        DOM,

        I think it rather “curious” for you to focus so intently on the GAY? I can tell you feel genuinely oppressed and attacked for your political views – I hope you get your prostate/male G spot question “worked out” real soon.

      3. Binky Bear

        This is the Ted Haggard argument, that teh gayz are just viciously tantalizing straight people who would actually go whole hog into the gayness if they just knew how great gay sex was. The anecdotal evidence to back up the assertions are caricatures as well.
        It’s pretty clear from a scientific perspective that there is a spectrum of sexuality for everyone; but it’s also true that there are “reds” who will never be “violets” and vice verse. The underlying issue is always civil rights and who we as a society choose to grant and deny them to; who we will respect as human beings worthy of God given rights and who we decide are subhumans. We have in the past agreed as a nation that by virtue of the color of a person’s skin that they are worth 3/5 of any white person. We are working towards giving more Americans the benefit of being 5/5s human regardless of the details of their existence; only reducing that fraction where laws are violated and prosecuted.
        The Limbaughs and Haggards have a stake in shaving the fractions of women, people of color/minorities, and people with different genders down to less than 5/5s. Limbaugh takes the Streicher/Sturmer role; Haggard is the penitent backsliding sinner. I think we can be a better nation than either of these two visions.

        1. CMike

          The three-fifths clause had nothing to do with assigning value to persons based on their race — except for purposes of apportionment. Southern slave owners wanted “other persons” counted as full persons when determining the number of congressional seats and electoral college votes that would be assigned to the states. Northerners did not want slaves counted at all when determining the numbers of U.S. Representatives the “free persons” in each state would be sending to the national legislature. The three-fifths compromise was an attempt to balance the national political power whites in regions of the country with large slave populations would hold in relation to that which was to be held by citizens in regions of the country without large slave populations.

          Article 1, section 2, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

          Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

    4. RanDomino

      Liberals aren’t trying to drive women back into the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. That’s what everyone seems to be missing here- when Limbaugh does it, it’s part of a campaign directly against Women’s Liberation.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Limbaugh has no political power. He cannot introduce legislation, nor pass nor sign it. There are those who claim to be “liberals” who serve both as legislators and as executors (governors, presidents, mayors, etc.) who have such powers, but who fail to use them, despite being expressly elected to do just that. Rush Limbaugh isn’t the problem. Fake liberals (does the President come to mind?) are.

        There was a thread a few days ago on how hard it is to start a new party. The change came about after the Civil War, when legislation was passed at the state level that prohibited new parties and which enshrined Republican and Democrat, by name. That legislation needs to be repealed, by referendum if necessary. Or start court cases to get the laws thrown out as unconstitutional. (If state constitutions do not specify parties by name, then a legislature made up of parties lacks the power to do so.) Do this essential groundwork (repeal or use the courts) and there will be lots of parties. Whether they will be any better is another matter.

        1. wunsacon

          >> Limbaugh has no political power. He cannot introduce legislation, nor pass nor sign it.

          That’s comedy gold you got there!

    5. bunkum

      Hehe.

      How many dems have apologize to Maher? Or any other librul commentators like him?

      How many repubs have apolgized and kneeled befor Limbaugh?

      Both sides do it, my ass.

    6. EH

      That would be a category error: Maher, et al, criticized Palin and Ingraham based on things they actually said. Rush criticized based on his imagination.

      1. Accrued Disinterest

        Bingo!! Palin, Ingraham, et al are contributing members to the echo chamber that maintains (as one of it’s many disharmonious melodies) that liberals are not “real” Murkins, they’re dogs, communists, traitors, perverts, liars, miscreants, illegal alien harborers, druggies, class warfarers, out of work, stinking hippies, etc. They’re striving for a permanent Republican majority (Newty squawks this crap, too) which, if you think about it is a tad extreme. The latest from the fizzle from Wasilla is that Obama wants to take us back to slavery. That being said, sexist slurs should never be used…there’s plenty of other ammo.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I hold no brief for Palin (except that I think she’s a pretty smart politician) but if you want to take a swim in a sewer, try the career “progressive” talking points in 2008.

    7. CMike

      Actually gronk, Yves Smith’s link served up the equivalency in the form of weak tea. If you can handle a version that’s more along the lines of several shots of whiskey, here’s a Bob Somerby post that does that.

      SPOILER ALERT: here’s the, er, money shot from that post:

      Salon’s Rebecca Traister agreed Olbermann regularly displayed his contempt for women. “Olbermann has a terrible record of going out of his way to talk about young, attractive women he believes to be stupid in grotesquely dismissive and oversexualized terms.”

      Traister had written the same thing in her columns for Salon, for instance calling Olbermann out when he “felt free to call [Paris] Hilton a slut on air and speculate about whether anyone had ever ejaculated in her face.”

      1. EH

        I don’t know why it’s called speculation about Paris Hilton. Google easily points us to documentary evidence, though whether what is depicted rises to the level of sluttery is a matter of opinion.

        1. CMike

          This just in from the deceased pundit Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (d. 1592):

          …every other thought crawl defeated under the yoke; by its imperious authority it makes a brute of all the theology of Plato and a beast of all his philosophy. Everywhere else you can preserve some decency; all other activities accept the rules of propriety: this other one can only be thought of as flawed or ridiculous. Just try and find a wise and discreet way of doing it!

          …And then we go and assign sexual restraint to women as something peculiarly theirs, under pain of punishments of the utmost severity. No passion is more urgent than this one, yet our will is that they alone should resist it–not simply as a vice with its true dimensions but as an abomination and a curse, worse than impiety and parricide. Meanwhile we men can give way to it without blame or reproach.

          And especially for K.O.:

          …I am well aware that love is a good thing very hard to recover. Our tastes have, through weakness, become more delicate and, through experience, more discriminating. We demand more when we have less to offer: we want the maximum of choice just when we least deserve to find favor. Realizing we are thus, we are less bold and more suspicious; knowing our own circumstances – and theirs – nothing can assure us we are loved.

    8. Vincent Vecchione

      This idea that liberal misogynists never get called out is ridiculous. It’s also telling that this blog frequently links to Matt Taibbi (who is great, don’t get me wrong), but who’s used undeniably misogynist terms in the past. Of course, the piece linked to today doesn’t mention him, which is convenient. Anyway, it’s all just a right-wing lie anyway. I’ve personally been involved in plenty of campaigns to call out liberal misogynists, including Keith Olberman and Michael Moore.
      http://politics.wdir.salon.com/2012/03/07/the_myth_of_left_wing_feminist_hypocrisy/singleton/

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Taibbi and Ames don’t offend me because they call absolutely everyone they don’t like the worst possible names. They are obnoxious on every possible axis, so I don’t see the gender-related rudeness as being all that prominent in their mix of invective.

      1. aet

        “Capacity utilization” may be off, but see my comment below as to amounts of nat gas, for general use, and of coal, consumed to produce electricity: those numbers ARE up.

        1. aet

          With the shuttering of most of Japan’s fleet of nuclear power plants, I’d guess that Japan’s “capacity utilization” as to electricity would thus be way way down…but does that mean that japan’s electricity consumption, itself, is also way way down?

          Not necessarily.

      1. ohmyheck

        Not to say that NOAA has its facts wrong, but I have lived in Utah for 35 years, and this is, without doubt, the warmest and least-precipitous winter we have ever had.

  2. Ben Wolf

    The Nature link is a real doozy. A complete whitewash of Tepco and the japanese government’s repeated lies in the aftermath of the earthquake. Add Nature to the list of journals we can no longer trust.

    1. aet

      No one has yet dies as a result of the nuclear accident, and no body is likely to, either.

      The land effected will remediate over a few decades. How does land ever recover from strip-mining, or mountain-top removal methods, used to mine the coal for generating electricity?

      I’ll wait for YOUR peer-reviewed technical paper detailing the risks which you so clearly see: but I won’t hold my breath.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This is indisputable – plenty have suffered, a lot, as the result of the Fukushiam disaster.

      2. scraping_by

        When you’ve bought off enough peers, financed enough journals, and sued enough dissenters, it no longer means much.

        The length of time for the radioactivity to decay, and wash out in the watershed, will probably not be data-driven. Radioactivity is good for you, in some peer-reviewed journals.

        The common law definition of causing a death is a year and a day. Radioactive effects show longer term, but no less definite for that, time lines. So, legally, but in reality?

    2. john

      I heard an NPR (All Things Considered?) promo for a story that could be summed up as, “They got everyone out in time, so Fukushima is no big deal”. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it.

  3. aet

    “Does anyone have electricity use or production data? This looks awfully bearish but we have had a super warm winter.”

    Here’s some natural gas consumption data for the USA:

    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_nus_a.htm

    …looks like 2011 saw an increase in use of nat gas of about 2% or so over 2010.

    And coal consumption looks to have gone up by 5% as to the mass of coal used for electricity production from 2009 to 2010, from 845 thousand toms to 886 thousand tons (last annual data available):

    http://205.254.135.7/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec6_4.pdf

    People are using less gasoline and oil, because oil is relatively more expensive than other sources of energy, and because they can (ie use coal and nat gas for electricity generation).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The percentage change YOY on a particular source of energy is not what you should look at.

      YOu should look at this actually:

      The % of a particular source of energy in the total energy consumption times the YOY % change of that particular energy source.

  4. Nervous Rex

    Year over year Oct/Nov/Dec 11 are down
    for total electricity consumption from
    Oct/Nov/Dec 10 (and the trend) by 5%,10%
    and 20% respectively:
    http://205.254.135.7/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_1

    The electrical generating source which has
    changed most, and in synchrony with the total
    power decline, is coal, see here:
    Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors) ›
    Release Date: February 29, 2012 | Data from: Electric Power Monthly
    http://205.254.135.7/electricity/data.cfm#generation
    Look at 2010 Dec vs. 2011 Dec. (and all other
    months).

    Gasoline use has dropped per EIA, with an
    already prepared graph for your convenience:
    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=wgfupus2&f=4

    There is a notable, unusual decline in
    1) coal use in Dec 2011
    2) electricity generation in Dec 2011
    3) gasoline consumption in Dec 2011

    The more recent months appear to continue the
    trend.

    I’m Nervous, but it’s really early here and
    the coffee hasn’t kicked in so easy on tearing
    up my comments please :-)

  5. Nervous Rex

    Dangit, caught one error. Total electricity
    prod/cons was only down in Dec 11; the previous
    two months were nominal in total electricity.

    Coal consumption did start to decline, though,
    in Oct 11.

    A short table, from Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 1997 through December 2011
    (Thousand Megawatthours)

    Electricity from:
    year Mon Coal NatGas Total
    2010 Oct 132,270 77,738 307,921
    2010 Nov 135,185 69,227 306,010
    2010 Dec 167,258 77,573 362,119

    2011 Oct 126,872 79,078 309,279
    2011 Nov 121,197 75,637 304,268
    2011 Dec 132,706 86,606 336,419

    December Electrical Prod/Cons was monotonically
    increasing every year since forever until this
    year.

  6. Nervous Rex

    OK, sorry, last comment from me, the decrease
    in coal is perhaps partly from the 20%
    decrease in heating-degree days (but not
    entirely this).
    http://205.254.135.7/electricity/monthly/update/
    Highlights: December 2011

    Warm temperatures across the Eastern half of the continental U.S. led to lower retail sales of electricity during December 2011.
    Coal-fired generation decreased in every region of the United States when compared to December 2010.
    Electric system load ranged in the mid-to-low section of the annual range across all wholesale regions except the Bonneville Power Administration in the Northwest in December 2011.

    Key Indicators
    Dec. 2011 % Change from Dec. 2010
    Total Net Generation
    (Thousand MWh) 336,419 -7.1%
    Residential Retail Price
    (cents/kWh) 11.52 4.2%
    Retail Sales
    (Thousand MWh) 299,421 -6.1%
    Heating Degree-Days 713 -20.6%
    Natural Gas Price, Henry Hub
    ($/MMBtu) 3.24 -25.7%
    Coal Stocks
    (Thousand Tons) 175,100 -0.1%
    Coal Consumption
    (Thousand Tons) 73,190 -17.4%
    Natural Gas Consumption
    (Mcf) 639,148 8.2%
    Nuclear Outages
    (MW) 7,440 55.1%

    Secondarily are efficiency increases, which
    may be substantial but I can’t tell from this
    presser:
    representing approximately 112 million megawatt-hours of electricity (MWh). These savings signify an increase of 21 percent over 2009 levels, or nearly 20 million MWh.
    These might be those ‘negawatts’ that
    Amory Lovins mentioned a long time ago.

    http://www.distributedenergy.com/DE/Articles/Electric_Energy_Efficiency_Savings_Grows_Significa_15640.aspx

  7. Max424

    re: China trade deficit

    China’s year over year petroleum imports were up a whopping 18.5% in February. China is now importing a mind boggling 5.69 million barrels of oil per day.

    Oil import figures like that can wipe out ANY sized trade surplus in a hurry, even massive trade surpluses like the ones China enjoys vis a vis Europe and the US.

    In the very near future, only oil exporting nations will have the capacity to run a trade surplus. Petroleum addicted countries like China, the current so called, Surplus Champion, even if it averages just 6% growth over the rest of this decade, will know only massive trade deficits* by the end of this decade; due almost solely to its crude import needs.

    (That’s just the way it is at our present location on Hubbert’s Curve).

    The Battle of the Reserve Currencies seems to be shaping up as the most hotly contested Big Power struggle we will see in the early part of this century. China desperately needs to establish a PetroYuan if it wants to keep doubling. America needs to hold fast to its crumbling PetroDollar if it wants to keep from disintegrating.

    China is aware this. America is aware this, too. And of course, Henry “Currency” Kissinger … came out of the womb aware.

    *Massive, as in, much, much larger than the massive deficit the US is running right now with the rest of the known world, the universe, and possibly with God, too.

    1. ohmyheck

      Thanks for the simple, straight-up info, and for the last sentence, though terrifying in scope, made me chuckle inspite of myself.

    2. justanotherobserver

      5.69m/day is mind boggling ?

      the us has 1/3 of china’s population and imports 17m barrels a day. now that qualifies as truly mind boggling.

      peak oil, here we come…

      1. ohmyheck

        How much of that oil is consumed by the US Military forces verses public consumption?

        It takes alot to keep all those jets in the air and warships floating about, protecting our rights to impose democracy on those who would resist…and to keep the oil flowing…so we can protects our rights to impose democracy on those who resist…to keep the oil flowing…

        1. Max424

          I believe the figure for 2011 was $17 billion, up from $13.4 billion in 2010. Most of the increase was due to rising oil prices and our inability to supply cheaply our distant forces in landlocked Afghanistan, due to a new and costly development, the “/Taliban/Terrorist/Al Qaeda/ISI Hindu Kush Blockade.”

          The US military uses more oil than any other non-state actor. It uses more oil than Sweden. The DoD purchases a majority of its oil from that great defender of freedom, British Petroleum.

          Note: The military loves BP and freedom so much, if gave the foreign corporation exclusive use of our Coast Guard during the Gulf spill crisis –mostly to control 3,500 square miles of sea and air space; but also to help clamp down on dissident fisherman and shrimpers.

          1. Max424

            British Petroleum?

            Oops. That was the corporation that did nasty things, like conspire with the CIA to topple the extremely popular, and get this … democratically elected! …. President of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953.*

            They renamed themselves Beyond Petroleum, presumably because they no longer get their hands dirty in the oil patches. They’re mostly a finance corporation now, one subcontracts out the heavy lifting.

            It’s a great system! When something goes wrong, you just blame it on the hired help –or, the patsies, in corporate parlance.

            *Iranians don’t hold a grudge because they have longer memories than we do. No, they hold a grudge because they are keen students of history. Especially their own history.

      2. Max424

        “5.69m/day is mind boggling ?”

        Yes, considering by as late as 1998, China did not import any oil at all.

        Note: the US imported 8.9 million bpd in the 2011, not 17. Unless there is an “unexpected” shock to the economy, total US oil consumption for 2012 will finish at around 18.2 million bpd, down roughly 2.1 million bpd from its 2008 peak.

        The US spent $335 billion importing oil in 2011, making up well over half of its total 2011 trade deficit, of $558 billion.

        Importing petroleum, in 21st century, is the Big Vig every oil importing nation-state must overcome (and that list will include pretty much EVERYBODY by 2025).

        For oil importing giants like China, which is on pace to be importing somewhere between 30 to 40 million barrels of oil, per day, in the year 2020, this will prove impossible –unless it can create a new, Ponzi-based “currency arrangement” with its export partners.

    1. Ignim Brites

      Very interesting, especially about the impact of Toxoplasmosis on the sea otter population.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The tracking of the sakura line up the archipelago is an annual spring event.

    For autumn fun, they track the momiji line down the other way.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Have you notice how China manages to produce crap announcements about its trade balances in March, which just happens to be on the eve of when Treasury has the opportunity to certify China as a currency manipulator (April and October) – Yves

    We should try delaying the certification decision by a month for 12 straight months and see what happens.

  10. Bill C

    Yves: “…so we don’t want dog lovers to feel neglected”

    Not to worry, those of us who have dogs NEVER feel neglected….we get plenty of attention, especially when we have food in hand.

  11. ohmyheck

    Re: Felix Simon and Greece and CDS-

    “First came AIG, which ended up paying out on its CDS obligations at 100 cents on the dollar, although that decision was highly controversial. AIG’s Joe Cassano reckons that AIG shouldn’t have paid out anything at all, since the underlying obligations hadn’t actually defaulted.”
    And-
    “The problem was that AIG itself was downgraded, and couldn’t come up with the requisite margin; as a result, it had to unwind the CDS it had written at the bottom of the market and at enormous cost. And of course most of the rest of us reckon that because AIG was insolvent, its creditors/counterparties shouldn’t have got everything they were owed, and should instead have taken some kind of haircut.”

    Well, gee, Joe Casino/Cassano, according to this link, AIG didn’t pay out anything, the US Taxpayer did.
    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/who-owns-a-i-g-a-continuing-story/?hp
    “The AIG restructuring is significant because it also puts the US Government over the 80 percent threshold in ownership, giving it 92.1 percent of A.I.G.”

    Gee, Mr. Casino, AIG didn’t default because it was bailed out by the US Treasury Dept. before that happened.

    As far as I know, the US Government= US Taxpayers, which begs the question, in the article title-”Who Owns AIG?”

    This article is from Oct. 2010, so I don’t know what happened to this restructuring plan since then. As a part-owner of AIG, I’d like to know where my bonus is? “Check is in the mail”?

    I see this as another example of Privatize the Gains and Socialize the Losses.

    (I know, I know, it’s “complicated”, and I am a moron, but Ima gonna post this comment anyway.)

  12. polistra

    On Greece: I’m still dimly trying to understand the whole CDS business, but not getting anywhere!

    Seems weird to have ISDA, a private agency consisting mainly of the big players in the business, deciding when to trigger a payout.

    Is this the first major payout, or is this pretty much routine? Does ISDA have any claim to objectivity, or does it mainly represent the buyers or sellers of CDS’s?

    Maybe Yves or someone could write a piece explaining this system better than the media have done.

    1. Jib

      There has been a lot written on CDS over the last few years. Check out the external links to the wikipedia article on them. From those link, you can follow a trail to various articles and posts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_default_swap#External_links

      As far as the ISDA, by law, CDS are unregulated ( The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000). This was the era of peak power for libertarian views on regulation of finance (repeal of Glass-Steagall was 1999). So letting the private sector police itself was seen as superior to having a govt agency do it. There were people like Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers who actually believed this. When the new dictionary comes out, their pictures will be next to the entry for ‘useful idiots’.

      1. F. Beard

        So letting the private sector police itself was seen as superior to having a govt agency do it. Jib

        There is nothing free market about a government enforced usury and counterfeiting cartel. No wonder then that it cannot police itself.

        But it’s gonna be fun watching the banks fight each other. May they devour each other and we be rid of them!

  13. deeringothamnus

    Cats are nasty bird predators, whilst dogs make a good stir fry. Happiness is a warm puppy.

  14. justanotherobserver

    how exactly do dolphins end up beaching themselves like that ?

    seems like they would no when the water was getting too shallow.

    they do engage in “surfing” in order to eat fish trapped agains the shore, but this looked almost like they simply rode straight in and didn’t realize what was happening.

    odd…

  15. Thorstein

    Yves,

    Read this short, self-serving interview with Citadel’s Ken Griffin:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/ct-biz-0310-ken-griffin-interview,0,4421212.story

    Griffin opposes a downtown casino for Chicago because:

    ‎”There is no great city in America that has a casino (downtown),” Griffin said. “And there’s a reason for it. Casinos do not represent the values of a great city.”

    Griffin omits the fact that the reason why he moved to Chicago in the first place was to find employment in Chicago’s “casinos” — the financial industries directly tied to the Board of Trade and Merc. The old saw in Chicago is that there is no casino in the world bigger than the S&P 500 stock-index futures pit. And Griffin, owner a very large market-making operation, in effect owns one of the casinos dependent upon financial hicks, like the US Treasury which effectively bailed out his bond-arb fund in late 08.

    The casino-mentality has ruled in Chicago for over 100 years, when Frank Norris first documented it in his novel “The Pit: A Story of Chicago.” As a character in Henry Blake Fuller’s “After The Procession” (1895) complained:

    “This town of ours [Chicago] labors under one peculiar disadvantage: it is the only great city in the world to which all its citizens have come for the one common, avowed object of making money. There you have its genesis, its growth, its end and object; and there are but few of us who are not attending to that object very strictly.”

  16. Hugh

    Re “Jobs Data Improve, but Growth Picture Darkens”, what people seem not to realize is that the jobs and employment numbers are being pumped up by the models and seasonal adjustments used. We will have a much better idea of what is happening when the data for May come out when these positive seasonal adjustments fall off.

    Also the author makes a big deal about the number of hours increasing but total private average weekly hours were 33.8 in February 2012 as compared to 33.6 in February 2011.

    And, in any case, a straightforward relation of productivity to hours worked (wages) sounds very much like an application of Marx’s discredited labor theory of value. The truth is and remains that wages are and have been largely flat for the last 40 years. So it is a bit of a red herring to bring them or their surrogates into the discussion.

  17. Lidia

    RE: bearish indicators of gasoline usage.

    All I can say is that I’m back in the US after a year away, and the commercial landscape in suburban RI is grim. People may be driving less because there are fewer things to drive TO, as many big box stores and strip mall spots continue to empty out and become abandoned.

  18. Susan the other

    I’m late to these links; they were yesterday’s. But I’d just like to say this about WSJ or whoever tweaks the stats: As long as it brings us to a point of equity and stability, go for it. (But the key word for me is equity.)

  19. Susan the other

    Uno mas. Did anyone see last night’s (Mar 10 MHz) report of Fukushima survivors? Just to give Mish a little dimension: There is a gas station owner there at ground zero whose underground tanks required some off-grid pumping and so he installed a stationary bicycle to pump the gas for his customers. Japan will prove ingenious, and the information we gain will be a saving grace. We are not going through a “housing bubble” or even a “financialization bubble” or any of that nonsense. We are going through withdrawal from oil. And since all currency is based at least in part on oil, all currency is at extreme risk of collapse. And any debt based on any currencies prior to this “crash” will have to be reassessed. And not the way the EU did Greece.

    1. A Real Black Person

      There are a few other people who view Japan’s situation differently.

      http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/03/05/why-high-oil-prices-are-now-affecting-europe-more-than-the-us/
      DaShui says:
      March 5, 2012 at 10:31 am “Seems to me like Japan is the worst off, because now they are running a trade deficit to pay for oil. The old model was: import energy, turn it into value added consumer products to export and use the money to buy more oil. With rising oil prices, and Chinese competition, I don’t see how this can continue forever. And they have limited ability to grow food”

      Gail Tverberg says:
      March 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

      “Last May, Jim Kunstler spoke at a conference I was at and indicated that he thought Japan would be the first country to drop out of the modern economy. He may be right.”

      A withdrawal from oil is a withdrawal from modern civilization, which means a withdraws from industrialization. Japan hasn’t implicitly or explicitly expressed a desire to do so. I’m not sure how this withdrawal from oil will happen if they are importing more oil and are using oil, along with imported natural gas and imported coal to make up for the drop in the availability of nuclear power.
      http://www.npr.org/2012/03/11/148136383/nuclear-woes-push-japan-into-a-new-energy-future?ft=1&f=1004

      Japan is not retreating into some kind of sustainable green low-petroleum economy.

  20. racing

    After checking the results on Sunday morning we found that we were in 31st place, much worst than we had first thought, after a great day on Sunday we moved up better than we had thought. 0 likes

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