Monthly Archives: February 2013

OCC Offers Lame Defense of Failure of Litigate as More Proof Emerges of its Abject Failure to Supervise Foreclosure Reviews

Elizabeth Warren’s opening salvo in the Senate Banking Committee, when she asked assembled top officers from various banking regulators when they had last litigated a case against a financial firm, drew blank stares (the SEC, which regularly files civil suits, was able to muster an answer).

Thomas Curry, the Comptroller of the Currency, addressed Warren’s question in a speech on Tuesday. However, his response was partly regulatory bromides, partly artful misdirection, and on the whole, provided more proof that regulators lack the will to regulate.

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Germans and Eurocrats Throw Hissy Fits Over Italian Elections

It’s unlikely that the destabilizing of the political calculus in Europe resulting from impressive showing of anti-austerity candidates in Italy will end prettily or nicely. However, Europe had already put itself in the position of having only bad choices. So the question is who suffers, and the public in periphery countries are starting to rebel against being broken on the rack while Eurocrats and pampered German and French bankers feel no pain.

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Thirty Years of Financial Inefficiency

Arjun Jayadev at Triple Crisis provides a quote from Thomas Phillipon that somehow never sees the light of day in the financial press:

…the unit cost of intermediation is higher today than it was a century ago, and it has increased over the past 30 years. One interpretation is that improvements in information technology may have been cancelled out by increases in other financial activities whose social value is difficult to assess.

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Invia i Pagliacci! Ci Devono Essere Pagliacci! [extended play]

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

[Patient readers, I had an early morning Internet meltdown, followed by an RL meltdown, and so was not able to complete this lengthy piece in time (and in fact, because both Interent and phone were down -- infrastructure devolution -- wasn't able to communicate with Yves. Apologies! Since there are comments on the "single," I won't take it down. This, however, is the LP! --lambert]

Even though, as the headline shows, I have little Italian, and less Italian politics, I’m so chuffed that Beppe Grillo did well in yesterday’s Italian elections — even though he was neither a wizened, permanently tanned, and shamelessly unrehabilitated whoremonger nor a Goldman Sachs alumnus (sorry for the redundancy) — that I thought I’d do a wrap-up before conventional wisdom completely congeals. Alert readers will, of course, correct and amplify this post in comments!

First, I’ll briefly summarize the state of play following the election. Then, I’ll look at The Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S), the organization that Beppe Grillo heads: the semiotics of the M5S logo, and M5S organization and tactics, and where M5S fits on the political spectrum. I’ll conclude by pointing to a meme to watch, used to describe the Italian political system (and oddly, or not, not “ours”). In Appendices, I’ll give a brief timeline of Mr. Market’s reactions to the election, some funny quotes from Grillo, and a note on comedians.

1. State of play in italian election

Italy’s parliamentary elections were marked by a sharp fall in turnout (possibly due to bad weather), inaccurate polling before the race (possibly due to youthful cell use), and inaccurate exit polling. In policy terms, Italian voters rejected austerity:

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Can the Euro Exist Without Fiscal or Political Union?

This column draws on the history of the US – especially its assumption of states’ debt after the War of Independence – to investigate which path might best serve the Eurozone. History tells us that unions require a well-constitutionalised system of restraint on fiscal behaviour, both at the federal level and at that of individual states.

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Jack Lew’s Grotesque Citi Employment Deal and the Institutionalization of Corruption

Corruption has now become so routine in Washington that improprieties far worse than Turbo Timmie’s implausible failure to pay taxes on income from his days working as a consultant to the World Bank barely evoke a yawn from the media. Apparently the fourth estate is either so bedazzled by star turns, like Michelle Obama presenting at the Oscars (!!!) or so cowed by the prospect of being cut off from information that it dutifully falls in line.

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Invia i Pagliacci! Ci Devono Essere Pagliacci! [the single]

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Even though, as the headline shows, I have little Italian, and less Italian politics, I’m so chuffed that Beppe Grillo did well in yesterday’s Italian elections — even though he was neither a wizened, permanently tanned, and unrehabilitated whoremonger nor a Goldman Sachs alumnus (sorry for the redundancy) — that I thought I’d do a wrap-up before conventional wisdom completely congeals. Alert readers will, of course, correct and amplify this post in comments!

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Richard Wolff Discusses the Failure of Capitalism with Bill Moyers

The fact of this talk is telling in and of itself: that a mainstream commentator would devote an entire segment to the idea that capitalism isn’t working. While that idea may seem obvious to many NC readers, it was supposed to remain relegated to the sphere of deviance (see Daniel Hallin’s spheres of discourse for more detail).

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