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Links 3/20/12

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If you get this with only thin links, or OK links but not post of my own, it means my satellite connection is down thanks to serious thunderstorms here in Dallas (yes, Virginia, I don’t have a road warrior data card because need one all of about once a year, and the non-subscription options get totally sucky reviews).

Rare whale swims up West Coast toward Russian home Associated Press

Bears’ wounds heal as they sleep BBC

Huge manhunt under way after fatal France shootings BBC

Greece creditors get $2.5bn CDS payout Financial Times. We asked, since the sovereign CDS market is puny, why Geithner invoked CDS Horror as the reason not to have an involuntary restructuring of Greek debt. His reply:

1. They will use any excuse that is convenient at the time.
2. Their major source of information is the banks and as recipients of largesse they will do whatever it takes to achieve their objectives.
3. Most politicians and regulators wouldn’t know a CDS if it ran them over on K Street and then backed up over them again.

The oil price is the new eurozone crisis Telegraph (hat tip reader May S)

The Hungarian crisis VoxEU

U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran New York Times. Why is this front page news of the NYT now, after months of saber-rattling? You don’t need war games to figure this one out. Look at the Strait of Hormuz and the proximity of Saudi refineries to Iran.

UN judge quits Cambodia war crimes tribunal Aljazeera

[Alleged Afghan Shooter] Bales Defrauded Ohio Couple Who Say He Owes Them $1.3 Million Bloomberg.

Capitalism: A Ghost Story Arundhati Roy (hat tip reader Balaji)

With Larry Summers’ World Bank Bid in Trouble, Mexico Insists on Open Process Huffington Post.

How Obama Tried to Sell Out Liberalism in 2011 New York Magazine. This is a very useful piece, in that it debunks the current Obama defense of the failure to come to a budget deal, but it still fails to point out that Obama wants to cut entitlements.

Billionaire floods super-Pacs with funds Financial Times

Political Malpractice, Deficit Edition Paul Krugman

Political intelligence: Wall Street pays handsomely for Washington inside dope Yahoo News

People of Keene, NH force city council to reconsider DHS grant for a tank Truthout. Lambert: And by “tank” I mean “a friggin tank.”

“Are You Hungry?” SignOn (hat tip reader Martha R). The Mayor of Philadelphia wants to ban church-run public soup kitchens. No, I am not making this up.

The States Get a Poor Report Card New York Times. State governments are corrupt! Who’da thunk it?

‘Morgan Stanley offers lesson for Blankfein’ Financial Times. Surprised it took this long for someone to point this out.

Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent Matt Taibbi (hat tip reader Adquifer). I haven’t written about this and need to. First, the funds investing in this want more than the going rental yield, their return targets are higher. Second, they are greatly underestimating the difficulty of managing home rentals. I guarantee most of these deals will come a cropper and the managers will try to dump them back on local governments.

‘What is the real rate of interest telling us?’ Martin Wolf, Financial Times

How the housing bubble increased segregation Washington Post (hat tip reader May S)

For 2nd Year, a Sharp Drop in Law School Entrance Tests New York Times. Is the higher education bubble starting to pop?

Why 3.5 Million Job Openings Isn’t Great News BusinessWeek (hat tip reader May S)

Wells Fargo Deals Major Setback to Administration Refinance Program Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

No, a nation’s geography is not its destiny Reuters. Contra Jared Diamond.

Mundane knowledge: Toronto street people Understanding Society

Making 9 Million Jobless “Vanish”: How The Government Manipulates Unemployment Statistics Daniel R. Amerman (hat tip reader May S). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

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98 comments

  1. dearieme

    “People of Keene, NH force city council to reconsider DHS grant for a tank”: presumably it’s just the USA preparing for another invasion of Canada.

    1. bob

      This probably qualifies as the centerfold-

      “Modern urban environments with reduced visibility are easily traversed with the LENCO bearcat, shown here complete with mercenary add ons….”

      http://tinypic.com/r/2dtw1g7/5

      I had to screen-shot it, fascists…

      1. rjs

        in re: “I didn’t think any hardware was allowed to stay stateside”

        The Pentagon Is Offering Free Military Hardware To Every Police Department In The US: The U.S. military has some of the most advanced killing equipment in the world that allows it to invade almost wherever it likes at will. We produce so much military equipment that inventories of military robots, M-16 assault rifles, helicopters, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers eventually start to pile up and it turns out a lot of these weapons are going straight to American police forces to be used against US citizens. Benjamin Carlson at The Dailyreports on a little known endeavor called the “1033 Program” that gave more than $500 million of military gear to U.S. police forces in 2011 alone. 1033 was passed by Congress in 1997 to help law-enforcement fight terrorism and drugs, but despite a 40-year low in violent crime, police are snapping up hardware like never before. While this year’s staggering take topped the charts, next year’s orders are up 400 percent over the same period.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/program-1033-military-equipment-police-2011-12

        got to have some way of dealing with the occupations..

        1. Susan the other

          And worse. This trend is happening alongside the hidden implosion of our economy. And we all know it. It isn’t just drugs, or occupy. It is a full blown disaster.

          Daniel Amerman. Last link. On the disappearance of 9 million jobs. That article states the true situation. That the fantasy of boomer retirement and jobs for the 25-55ers, and a strong stock market and a functioning, well funded government – that whole tangled fantasy is done. We have 30 million people without a job. We have a true unemployment rate of at least 20% with most of the pain falling on the very age group needed to keep the country afloat.

          1. eclair

            Yes, I have been watching the employment/working age population ratio decline and this article laid it out in all its horrible data-driven glory.

            Interesting side note; I posted the article this morning on my local area’s Progressive Dems FB page. When I went back to check on comments a few minutes ago, it had disappeared.

          2. Ms G

            Eclair — any follow up on your “disappeared” post? That’s Kremlinesque and way creepy.

          3. Aquifer

            Eclair – are you surprised? It doesn’t exactly fit with a “progressive Dems” pro Obama agenda, now does it?

          4. Minitru

            So Eclair just got airbrushed out of history. We should never forget for a second that the Democratic party wields delegated authority for the state (that’s not me saying so, that’s the Supreme Court.) Democrats, expecially the “progressives”, will lie for this predator state. They will censor you for the state. They will carry out government attacks on you. Dems are now infiltrating every unauthorized association to suppress dissent or reform. Having a Dem in your civil society organization is exactly like having a cop there.

          5. Lambert Strether

            “Having a Dem in your civil society organization is exactly like having a cop there.” Well, that’s hardly fair to the cops. After all, the cops can’t target you for assassination with a drone strike….

          6. Minitru

            But in all fairness, they’re generally too timid to punch you in the face or mace cute girls.

        2. abprosper

          Brain dead idea giving police heavy firepower like that, beyond the usual reasons there are a lot of local police forces who aren’t exactly fans of the Feds and if things go south, the just armed rivals with military grade weapons.

          Other nations have this concept of dismantling unneeded weapons or just getting rod of them through attrition by not making new ones for a decade or so we ought to try it.

          Also I really doubt every police armory is super secure, they just greatly increased the chances of those weapons leaking into the hands of extremists too.

    2. vlade

      You call that a tank? This is what I call a tank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_II Actually, it wasn’t that great, but hey, at least it has some historical value and could generate some turism income for the town.

      BearCat has a whiff of sense for someone like LAPD/NYPD (and even there I’d doubt whether they SWAT teams really need an APC) but for Keene.. But how about selling them some nukes while we’re at it! That will solve the crime and terorrism problem once and for all!

    3. aletheia33

      we’ve just got to make a wiki for the hard tech geeks to devise a way to convert the tank to a useful civic purpose. put a plow on it for the winter storms. rent it out to local farmers cheap for plowing the earth. take everything off it that weighs it down or gets in the way. sell the gun parts, or hold onto them for later reuse. maybe public works and police departments can rotate uses. or sell the tank and buy a police cruiser or a fire truck, or use the proceeds however we the people want.
      i am not kidding.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Proposal for a global Tank Coop. The good people of Keene lease the tank to the good people of Homs in exchange for something of equal value based on goody goody commodity index, let’s say, the rule of law index. The more tanks that pour into the Syrian Civil War, ousting Assad and installing a democratically elected republic, the more the rule of law index goes up, and the happier we will all be!!

        1. aletheia33

          how about cutting out the middleman and shipping costs and have the tank go directly to the people who are building it? i’m sure they could use it for something.

    1. sleepy

      Thanks for that link.

      I live in a small Iowa city, and though rents are low comparatively, they are sky high as far as affordability goes.

      $650 for a tiny one bedroom, and wages are at the bottom. Not much difference here between the minimum wage and the average wage.

    2. josap

      Nice map.
      Wages are low in my area and still high vacancy in lower end apartments. Lots of move in special signs.

    1. Aquifer

      Thanx! I was looking for that – the link posted in Links was totally unrelated ….

      Amazing – a whale crossing the ocean twice, on an empty stomach … It has often occurred to me that, come the famine, fatter folks will be better off :)

  2. René

    RE: No, a nation’s geography is not its destiny.

    “We need another, better theory — one based on institutions and that also explains why institutions differ systematically across countries and why they change.”

    You might want to read “Riding The Waves of Culture” by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden Turner. It’s about institutions, its cultures and the cultures in which those institutions are based in and about the differences between national cultures in general.

    I enjoyed reading that book as much as reading “Guns, Germs and Steel”, although very different books both have very interesting theories and explanations.

    1. René

      Bought “Collapse“, but I am afraid to read it.

      To be honest, I am FED up with all these advanced theories, explanations and warnings.

      We don’t need any more theories and explanations. It’s advanced window dressing, virtually none of those professors are willing to grab the bull by the horns. We the people and all other living creatures of this world are getting royally screwed by the OLIGARCHY.

      ALL IS A SWINDLE.

      We need to stamp the 0.00001% into the ground. Problem solved. Have a nice day.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sometimes, I think books make the best furniture.

        And if you are expert at playing with Legos, you can make many useful pieces out of them. All those hours spent practicing toy-playing when one was a kid (or an adult), well, they don’t have be wasted hours.

        1. René

          Agreed.

          I was working for the LEGO Company based in Slough, England on September 11, 2001.

          Panic everywhere because the “terrorists” would possibly also be targeting London we were told by the British authorities.

          *Special warning for London Underground travellers!*

          … and I still had to travel home to Islington, North London via the tube after work that day… scariest day of my life.
          For at least 6, 7 years, whenever I had to go through a major public transport hub, I automatically went on edge and look around for bombs and “terrorists”.

          Apparently, ”they” really got me. No more fear now, I am ready.

          And also, I am so happy and so grateful that the mighty American military, together with their heroic British counterparts and super-intelligent Israelis are willing to fight the terrorists.

          Peace will be upon us soon. First nuke Iran. Than get Kony.

          Or maybe first Kony and than Iran? Not sure. But all will be okay before 2013. We can do this. Thanks.

          http://www.corbettreport.com/911-a-conspiracy-theory/

    2. Valissa

      RE: No, a nation’s geography is not its destiny.

      Life is complex and many factors effect a nation’s history. Given that fact, I am always perplexed by people searching for mythical “unified field theories” for anything. I read Guns, Germs and Steel which shared ideas that Diamond was working on and proposing ideas for further research. Diamond never claimed he had all the answers, or that his theories were definitive. It was book reviews, news articles and bloggers, etc. that said those things. People are always searching for easy linear answers and explanations to what’s going on in the world and why. And they generally search for simple answers that confirm their own biases and/or fears, IMO.

      Is geography a factor? Of course. Is it the only one? Of course not. Even Stratfor looks at more than just geography…they also look at a country’s history, economics, and culture.

      There is a difference between seeking knowledge and information and looking for patterns, and seeking definitive answers/explanations. The latter is both more comforting and easier to argue about, and makes for better headlines.

      1. JerryDenim

        I am currently about two thirds of the way through Guns, Germs and Steel so I enjoyed the link to the article claiming to refute Diamond’s theories, but I took serious issue with the essay’s antagonism of Diamond’s work and the authors’ gross misrepresentation of Diamond’s classic best-seller; Guns, Germs and Steel.

        At no point in G,G & S did Diamond claim geography was destiny (merely one of many very important factors) and he made it very clear that his explanations were not intended for modern analysis but rather as an explanation for the vast disparities in technology and killing power in the year 1492 when old and new worlds collided. Straw men and unwarranted controversy may sell books, but I find both to be off-putting. I doubt I will buy their book.

      2. Anonymous Jones

        I know!

        It’s one thing to attack what ignorant simpletons make of Diamond’s work, but the authors should be clear that they are attacking the simpletons, not Diamond.

        If they want to refute Diamond, the authors should probably, you know, actually read and try to understand his work and the limitations *he himself* puts on that work!

        Ah, people…

    3. RanDomino

      This article is asinine! Surely the authors don’t honestly believe Diamond was arguing that geography is the SOLE cause of inequality. How stupid would a person have to be to think that? Is it possible that anyone could ignore the fact that (largely non-indigenous) elites have ruled over practically all of these extremely poor countries for hundreds of years, propped up initially by military and organizational prowess (which were the result of Guns, Germs, and Steel) and continuing their rule through brutal application of force?

      Historical materialism is not enough; Class analysis is also necessary. Apparently this article’s authors have neither! Are they saying “different economic and political institutions which lead to very different incentives” come out of nowhere?? What a joke!

  3. Wendy

    Re: Martin Times’ FT article, what if anything can individuals do? The solution he suggests is global/macro, and of course he is very skeptical it will come to pass. What will happen to the savings glut? Is there anything individuals can do?

    1. John L

      Struggle with that too. We have to “take care of our own retirement” but the market is rigged to generate return free risk for savers and huge profits for Wall St. So I’m looking at local investment opportunities – farms, farm stores, bakers, community solar, etc. – instead, cutting out the middleman.

      1. aletheia33

        seems like good thinking, and thanks for reporting this for all of us to consider. obviously, our communities could be greatly strengthened in this way, and all benefit.

      2. Wendy

        interesting ideas. community windfarms may also be something to consider and add to the solar list, depending on area of the country. thanks for your thoughts. I would really like to get into this topic more, if anyone is interested. I am in the same boat as other commenters here, a week or two back, about putting everything into cash a year or two ago and is now tired of being on the sidelines, while inflation forces the value of the cash downward. meanwhile I don’t trust financial advisors. and, I would also like to use my resources to help the community. it’s a tricky question.

  4. Walter Wit Man

    Re: Trust No One

    Excellent advice. Our media (including blogs) is almost completely corrupted.

    For instance, logging onto an email account today I got suckered into clicking on a video of that stupid Bethany woman, the reality Real Housewives ‘star’, and her interview with Anderson Cooper. I assume she was hawking some crap.

    She supposedly has a wardrobe malfunction and exposes her bottom to the audience.

    I don’t believe it. It was probably staged.

    To be an informed modern citizen one has to be aware of how things are filmed and be aware of cgi tricks, etc. It’s all about tricking us.

    This is a small example but the images we see on television are carefully created.

  5. aletheia33

    as far as i’ve taken this question, it comes down to the individual asking herself not so much “what can one person do” as more directly inwardly asking “what can i do”?
    i am beginning to realize that any individual has far more power than she/he ever uses in human society and government.

    and it’s my sense that one of the big first questions one faces is how much can or is willing to risk.
    the extent of one’s action should be adapted to the kind/level of risk one is willing to undertake. one can take a step just beyond one’s comfort zone/doing nothing. take on a small risk. feel it out. discovering one is still fine, one may choose to ramp up the risk level a bit more.
    discovering one is exhilarated, one may choose to ramp it up a lot more!

    one could be risking just losing some of one’s leisure time (not insignificant in a society where more of such time is being stolen from all employed people both working and middle class by the day).
    one could be risking the disapproval of some of one’s friends/neighbors/coworkers etc.
    one could be risking or undertaking having a lower income or even losing one’s job.
    losing one’s job seems to be too far to go for most people, but i see signs that more are moving toward contemplating that particular risk. (what’s a better way to live–in constant fear of losing one’s job, or having lost it and learning to cope anyhow, with new ideas and ingenuity and resourcefulness? people may begin to ask this more and more seriously.)
    and so on. some people put their whole life on the line. that seems to invigorate some, exhaust others.
    no one expects parents to sacrifice their parenting time to political action. yet many parents do.

    it’s tricky because if you give up too much (or have too much taken from you), it does seem to get more and more difficult to use one’s power.
    my basic assumption, to repeat, is that each of us has far more power than she avails herself of.
    one discovers this i suspect only when one makes that first small step toward using one’s power and sees the results.

    TPTB are hoping we will not figure this out.
    they are well aware that when the payoff of high risk is a certain degree higher than the payoff of not using one’s power for enough people, the sum power of each individual exercising her power will be far greater than TPTB’s power to crush that action.
    they hope they are and they may seem to be way ahead of us; they have a plan and we don’t. they are using greece as a lab experiment for planning their next moves and preparations.
    how far can individuals be pushed? TPTB are going to find out.

    what TPTB do not realize is that by destroying people’s societies and communities, they are destroying the very thing on which they plan to keep feeding forever.
    in that and many other ways, they are profoundly foolish.
    i think their unquestioned thralldom to their egos and cravings clouds their brains.
    but as long as individuals do not realize their own power and the power of combining their power with others’ and fully using it, the destruction of societies and communities will continue apace.

    and so i believe one begins by asking oneself, “what can i do”? and, more particularly i believe, “how can i fully alchemize the love that flows through my heart as power”?
    more likely, the heart will simply choose and one will find oneself acting before one realizes that it has happened. the heart is inexhaustible, so the power of the action that arises through it is beyond reckoning.

    probably not answering the question you meant to ask–sorry wendy–but FWIW my own current response to the general question what can one individual really do/why bother/despair/passivity.

      1. Wendy

        I appreciate your perspective. I am one of the rare ones with time and inclination, and also some funds, I am just looking for more specifics. My heart hasn’t “chosen” because what the choices might be (outside of the traditional ones, which seem exhausted and fruitless) is not clear.

        1. aletheia33

          @wendy,

          thanks for your response. i hope your question does raise answers helpful to you, here and elsewhere. your question really deserves everyone here trying to come up with what answers they can. what i have to say below is not really directed at you but is just coattailing on your question, is another response it prompted, and is just continuing with my own take. though it is framed in second person singular at places, please do not take this as directed to you specifically–or if you wish to, please forgive what i am sure is complete inadequacy in speaking to your condition.

          i am sure that with your obvious intelligence and your resources, on some level of consciousness, you (and others holding this question) already know what you are going to do, and you already see with great clarity what needs to be done. … as i said, one tends not to fully recognize or trust one’s own power.

          i believe it’s just a matter of pulling aside a certain veil of the mind that is used to thinking in a habitual way and that can be obscuring.

          i believe your intelligence and resourcefulness will have great effect when applied in any action that is socially constructive and that keeps your heart loving making that action.

          beyond that, i doubt at this stage of emergency anyone can know very clearly exactly what will turn out to be most effective for any individual to do.

          ahead of that, in my experience, is simply the beautiful step of simply starting somewhere. of becoming an actor. once that is engaged, lots of clarification, i think, follows pretty quickly. so one can just take a step almost at random (as long as doing no harm), and by virtue of one seeing what then happens, both outside and within onself, the next step will be 100 times more clarified and effective. as more and more step out in this way, people will begin to see together, it will become clearer to all, what makes most sense, and does not, to do.

          i also do have this sense about risk–that however generous one’s resources, the element of risk is important in taking effective action. maybe just because creating always involves risk, and i believe we are at a time such that only creativity will save us. one might be afraid to do something, like give a talk to 50 people, or tell one’s friends what one really thinks is going down, and it’s infinite one is always afraid of something that is inviting. if i do something i’m afraid to do but know is right, i think there is a guarantee there of effectiveness and power. (assuming common sense is also in play and it’s not just about doing something meaningless that one happens to find scary. but you get the idea.)

          forgive this length–this question “what can one individual do” strongly engages me, with so many perceiving what is up yet still waiting–for what it’s not obvious–to join in the growing community of those who choose to act. americans’ majority passivity is a historical reality, but not thereby a given, nor do i feel it has been much investigated or understood. people talk about u.s. affluence, bread and circuses and the like, propaganda, fear of the state/police keeping people at home and immobile, but is that true? we need to look into and understand this better.

          1. Wendy

            thank you for your response. food for thought. I am trying to figure out next steps, and these ideas are interesting.

    1. John L

      Thanks for this. For you & Wendy, see if there’s a transition town near you: http://www.transitionus.org/

      Other less obvious ways of achieving a positive return are investing in your own security – energy, food, water, health, community relationships.

        1. John L

          No, I left it out deliberately. I find more security in knowing my neighbors than in arming myself against them.

    1. aletheia33

      @ john merryman, thanks. i found your piece provocative and useful and hope others will as well. looking forward to reading the other pieces published alongside yours.

  6. Hugh

    It is almost like Ameran has been reading the posts I’ve been doing for some time on the monthly jobs reports from the BLS because I write about them in this way, but he makes some errors that I don’t, at least not recently.

    First, it’s important to understand that the U 3 is the official unemployment rate and the BLS gives a number, the unemployed, that goes with it. The BLS also has a broader measure the U 6. It is also given as a rate and has three components: the unemployed, part time workers who would full time if they could, and the marginally attached, those who have looked for work sometime in the last year but not in the last month. The BLS does not publish a number that corresponds to this, but it does report numbers for each of the components and it can be calculated.

    So turning to Ameran, he is wrong to say the U 6 is an unemployment rate because one component of it, involuntary part time workers, is, in fact, employed, just not fully employed. The U 6 is a measure of the un- and under employed or simply as the usage I have adopted from others the disemployed.

    Ameran is correct, however, that the U 6 does not capture the full extent of the problem. As I have done, he looks at the participation rate to compare where we would expect the labor force to be and where it actually is. But I think he is double counting the marginally attached, whom the BLS considers not to be in the labor force, once as part of the U 6 and again as part of his Constant Workforce Participation calculation, a calculation which seeks to add back into the labor force those the BLS has defined out of it. The marginally attached are also part of this.

    Ameran also points to big changes between the December 2011 and January 2012 numbers. But these numbers are not directly comparable because they mark the point where the BLS switched between using data from the 2000 Census to those of the 2010 Census.

    I think it is excellent his addressing how un- and under employment are affecting different age groups in the labor force. He also points to the decline in quality of new jobs, something that is close to my heart as well.

    Like me, he is deeply concerned about how employment statistics are being used, deceptively, to define away much of our employment problems. For the reasons I outlined above, my own calculation of disemployment (17.5%) is lower than Ameran’s but higher than the BLS’. This gets halved by the official (U 3) unemployment rate to 8.3%. Meanwhile neoliberal economists are trying to raise the level of “structural” unemployment to 6-7%. If we take 7%, then our jobs deficit gets reduced to a mere 1.3% or about 2 million people. On the other hand, if Americans had good, solid jobs, there is no reason to think that unemployment, people losing and/or moving between jobs should be more than 1-3%. But even if we take the more traditional 5% of the past, that still leaves by my calculations some 21 million disemployed or more than 10 times the whittled down figure of our policymaking elites.

    As for Ameran’s extension of his findings to entitlements, I think he is off because he doesn’t understand the impact of wealth inequality, kleptocracy, and fiat money. He makes a good point that markets aren’t taking into consideration the impact of our deteriorating labor force picture will have on growth but I think he misses that these markets are casinos and they don’t really care about fundamentals or growth.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    RE: Making 9 million jobless invisible.

    Are they adding insult to injury by makng them ‘stealth bums?’

    1. Wendy

      Oh, it’s worse than that: it’s making you illegal. Homelessness is illegal, defined as “vagrancy.”

      That article was stunning and depressing. what can we do?

      1. John L

        Remember those future predictions from the 1950s and 1960s? Well you may be too young, but I do. This decline in work was predicted. We were all supposed to benefit through shorter working hours, longer vacations. Didn’t turn out that way. All the benefit went to the 1%. These jobs are not coming back. We need to reinvent society to cope with that. All we can do is start over at the bottom and try to build something better from the ground up.

        1. Wendy

          Nah, but I have read the backward looking ones, pointing out all these massive increases in productivity accompanied by… longer hours?!? LESS leisure time? yes, indeed. it makes zero sense. have you actually participated in person in any of these groups or organizations you are linking to? I see Woody Tasch (Slow Money) is giving a talk in NYC on April 19 – although $29/head, it seems kind of steep, I will check out some videos of theirs and see if it seems worth attending in-person.

  8. Hugh

    I wrote a fairly long response to the Ameran article on unemployment and wordpress ate it. Nor can I repost it since wordpress just says it is a duplicate. I do not like wasting my time like that.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        If it’s a verboten expression, it would go into moderation rather than get eaten. That happens to me once in a while but Hugh I think has had it happen twice recently. I’ll ping my tech guy. Sorry.

        1. Anonymous Jones

          I have often wondered what would happen if “verboten” were a verboten expression.

        2. EmilianoZ

          LOL! We sure would love to have the list of verboten items with the reasons why they be verboten.

          I think I know some people who are on that verboten list.

    1. admin

      @Hugh, sorry about that. Your comment got marked as spam(it was false positive). We have re-instantiated it.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Someone is rhapsodizing over the Hungarian crisis. From the link:

    Hungary’s centre-right government, which won a two-thirds majority in the parliament in spring 2010, has introduced taxes on financial institutions that are an order of magnitude higher than similar taxes being discussed elsewhere in Europe. It has levied crisis taxes only on sectors dominated by foreign-owned firms, introduced a 16% flat rate for personal income tax while raising other taxes on labour, and nationalised private pensions to plug the hole in fiscal revenues created by the flat tax. It has unilaterally changed the private loan contracts between banks and households to ease the strain on households’ balance sheets caused by borrowing in foreign currency before the crisis and by the large depreciation of the Hungarian currency since then. These measures have, on the one hand, introduced new distortions across sectors, and on the other undermined such fundamental institutions as private contracts and property rights. Such measures are unlikely to be conducive to long-term growth

  10. MLS

    re: sovereign CDS market

    According to DTCC data (via FT Alphaville), the gross amount of sovereign CDS is roughly $2.7 trillion. That is perhaps puny relative to the overall CDS/derivative market, but it is meaningful relative to bank capital (gross matters if the other side can’t pay).

    1. Aquifer

      I had just finished it and was coming back to say the same – it is, IMO, a “must read”

      Just about anything by Roy is excellent. Between Roy and Vandana Shiva, the two I am most familiar with, India produces some pretty kick-ass women!

      Have you read her other stuff? She is, IMO, a great writer and speaker as well …

      1. John L

        Powerful stuff, and a must read. India was the birthplace of Buddha, who taught 2600 years ago that the causes of suffering are greed, hatred, and ignorance. Not much changed but the date.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s one of those mysteries in life that Buddhism in India pales greatly to other countries.

    2. Joe Rebholz

      Amen. It is long but well worth it. We are used to seeing the system as Governments and Corporations. But the discussion on NGO’s adds a whole new perspective for me.

    3. Alexander

      Thought the same: pretty long essay, but covering an incredible lot of ground. Pretty disheartening, too: Her essay makes clear like hardly anything I read of late what any movement to liberation is *really* going against. It seems almost impossible to successfully fight this global net of power and mindfuck.

      1. aletheia33

        @ alexander,
        i’m glad you said “almost”.
        i believe we cannot “win” if we define the fight in too many terms we are used to from the past.
        i find myself delighted these days to be discovering the number and quality of people who have been working on visioning reinvention of broken systems and institutional structures from the bottom up.
        TPTB have invented a brave new world hatched from old ideas long proven to be useless and destructive to all, mated with unprecedented technological advances that aid in oppression.
        we the 99% can certainly come up with a different and more humane way hatched from our common sense, courage, and resourcefulness.
        TPTB can’t hold a candle to what we’ve got to work with–once we wake up to our own power to make and realize our own sensible, practical plan.
        we’re talking a long term fight and long term creation here. nothing else, i believe, will enable what is needed. and it is happening; many people are taking this on and becoming leaders gathering others.
        please do not give up or become discouraged. become a leader.

    4. JTFaraday

      Agreed. A great synthesis of issues abroad in which we are deeply implicated.

      “Scholars of the Foundation-friendly version of economics and political science were rewarded with fellowships, research funds, grants, endowments and jobs. Those with Foundation-unfriendly views found themselves unfunded, marginalised and ghettoised, their courses discontinued.

      Gradually, one particular imagination—a brittle, superficial pretence of tolerance and multiculturalism (that morphs into racism, rabid nationalism, ethnic chauvinism or war-mongering Islamophobia at a moment’s notice) under the roof of a single, overarching, very unplural economic ideology—began to dominate the discourse.

      It did so to such an extent that it ceased to be perceived as an ideology at all. It became the default position, the natural way to be. It infiltrated normality, colonised ordinariness, and challenging it began to seem as absurd or as esoteric as challenging reality itself. From here it was a quick easy step to ‘There is No Alternative’.

      It is only now, thanks to the Occupy Movement, that another language has appeared on US streets and campuses. To see students with banners that say ‘Class War’ or ‘We don’t mind you being rich, but we mind you buying our government’ is, given the odds, almost a revolution in itself.”

  11. Hugh

    Here’s another attempt to post a comment on the Ameran piece:

    It is almost like Ameran has been reading the posts I’ve been doing for some time on the monthly jobs reports from the BLS because I write about them in this way, but he makes some errors that I don’t, at least not recently.

    First, it’s important to understand that the U 3 is the official unemployment rate and the BLS gives a number, the unemployed, that goes with it. The BLS also has a broader measure the U 6. It is also given as a rate and has three components: the unemployed, part time workers who would full time if they could, and the marginally attached, those who have looked for work sometime in the last year but not in the last month. The BLS does not publish a number that corresponds to this, but it does report numbers for each of the components and it can be calculated.

    So turning to Ameran, he is wrong to say the U 6 is an unemployment rate because one component of it, involuntary part time workers, is, in fact, employed, just not fully employed. The U 6 is a measure of the un- and under employed or simply as the usage I have adopted from others the disemployed.

    Ameran is correct, however, that the U 6 does not capture the full extent of the problem. As I have done, he looks at the participation rate to compare where we would expect the labor force to be and where it actually is. But I think he is double counting the marginally attached, whom the BLS considers not to be in the labor force, once as part of the U 6 and again as part of his Constant Workforce Participation calculation, a calculation which seeks to add back into the labor force those the BLS has defined out of it. The marginally attached are also part of this.

    Ameran also points to big changes between the December 2011 and January 2012 numbers. But these numbers are not directly comparable because they mark the point where the BLS switched between using data from the 2000 Census to those of the 2010 Census.

    I think it is excellent his addressing how un- and under employment are affecting different age groups in the labor force. He also points to the decline in quality of new jobs, something that is close to my heart as well.

    Like me, he is deeply concerned about how employment statistics are being used, deceptively, to define away much of our employment problems. For the reasons I outlined above, my own calculation of disemployment (17.5%) is lower than Ameran’s but higher than the BLS’. This gets halved by the official (U 3) unemployment rate to 8.3%. Meanwhile neoliberal economists are trying to raise the level of “structural” unemployment to 6-7%. If we take 7%, then our jobs deficit gets reduced to a mere 1.3% or about 2 million people. On the other hand, if Americans had good, solid jobs, there is no reason to think that unemployment, people losing and/or moving between jobs should be more than 1-3%. But even if we take the more traditional 5% of the past, that still leaves by my calculations some 21 million disemployed or more than 10 times the whittled down figure of our policymaking elites.

    As for Ameran’s extension of his findings to entitlements, I think he is off because he doesn’t understand the impact of wealth inequality, kleptocracy, and fiat money. He makes a good point that markets aren’t taking into consideration the impact of our deteriorating labor force picture will have on growth but I think he misses that these markets are casinos and they don’t really care about fundamentals or growth.

    We’ll see if wordpress load this or not.

  12. Hugh

    I tried to post a comment on the Ameran piece, but wordpress won’t let me. It’s not like there was any profanity involved. Ameran makes some good points, but I think he double counts the marginally attached to the labor force. This accounts for about 2.5 million of the nine million he cites. December and January data can’t be directly compared this year because they are based on different Censuses. And the U-6 measures both unemployment and under employment, not just unemployment as he implies despite talking about involuntary part timers with regard to it.

    We’ll see if this loads or not.

  13. Kathleen

    Yves,

    This is a bit off topic on today’s links–but, I’m wondering why nobody seems to be writing about the Executive Order the White House released late Friday on National Defense Resources Preparedness.

    It enables the President to declare martial law and his cabinet to commandeer the country’s resources at will, including the nation’s finances.

    It’s one thing to be prepared for war. It’s another to supersede all property rights.

    I’m sure it’s food for future posts, at the very least.

    1. Weed that Victory Garden!

      I’m not sure there’s anything new there. The Defense Production Act has been around since the Fifties. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I see that order mostly as a sign of mobilization. Mobilization itself can cause wars, but industrial base stuff is at least somewhat less threatening than a carrier group off your coast. On the other hand, industrial mobilization could be intended as a signal of preparedness for a big stinkin war – a response to Russia’s presence in Syria, for example, or great-power support for Iran.

  14. Max424

    Self-described journalist Chuck Todd is an Dissembling Apologist Chicken-Sh*t Kiss-ass.

    However, unlike most DICK’s, I’ve long believed Chuck had a tiny reservoir of integrity at the center of his moral core, and he wishes to tap into this diminishing pool of decency, as often as he can, before the DICK side of him sucks it away completely.

    I think that’s why, from time to time, Todd reaches out to Glenn Greenwald. Admirably, Chuck is seeking experienced, professional help. A part of him … wants to get better.

    Although, looking at a transcript of some recent interplay between the two, I think Dr. Glenn should shutter the Todd case away in the Hopeless file.

    http://www.salon.com/2009/07/16/todd_2/

    Proscribe Chuck some heavy psychotropics, Dr. Glenn, and send him on his way. That’s all you can do.

  15. p78

    …”wants to cut entitlements”

    Before going to the US I have never heard of calling the “pension” (after a life of work) or the “medical care” as ‘entitlement’.

    In my country they were always called “Rights” or “working people’s Rights”.

    It is also interesting that my country’s right-wing government now dictates that the state TV and Radio make frequent mention to “Privileges” (which is the translation in our language of “entitlements”). I wonder whether my country’s government is trying to play the same card that was so destructive in the 1980′s in the US.

    1. aletheia33

      language is usually a strong indicator of intent. when one can see the distortion, one is probably not imagining it. propaganda, in fact, is not so easy to disguise. it reveals itself against its makers’ own will, as language is a slippery and vast creature subject to the control of no one. those who buy into propaganda choose to delude themselves, for whatever motive. you seem to be on the right track to me.

    1. ginnie nyc

      Incredible. This is the same guy that twice cut everyone’s Food Stamps last year, so that in effect the monthly allowance was halved.

  16. LucyLulu

    Just when you think the banks can’t get anymore arrogant, Wells comes out and announces they’ll only do refi’s on their own loans under HARP (and get not only releases on reps and warranties but credit on the mortgage settlement for doing). Exactly what do they have over the Administration that they can get away with this?

  17. Benedict@Large

    Rise of Neoliberal and Undemocratic Europe
    From Maastricht to the Fiscal Treaty. An interview with Susan George
    http://www.tni.org/article/rise-neoliberal-and-undemocratic-europe
    This is about as clear an explanation that you can find on how the Euro Project is being used to UN-democratize Europe, stripping it of ALL of its social programs while transferring ALL financial decisions to the elite banking cartel. Europeans of course will still be allowed to vote, just not on anything that matters. You know, sort of like the United States.

  18. Charlena Benty

    Hey this is a good looking website, is wordpress? Forgive me for the foolish question but if so, what theme is? Thanks!

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