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Links 4/12/13

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Yes, dear readers, I need to do a writeup on the Senate Banking Committee subcommittee hearing yesterday on the Independent Foreclosure Reviews. But I was all off kilter hours wise, plus a part 2 is next week. In the meantime, you can watch the high points of the much-deserved shellacking by Elizabeth Warren.

Mali to give France new camel after first one is eaten Reuters (Richard Smith, natch)

Snake Man: Trang rescue volunteer catches king cobra with bare hands Coconuts Bankgkok (furzy mouse)

10 Things That Will Make You SUPER Nostalgic For The ’90s Onion (Lambert)

Should we promote ‘healthy choices’ or ‘healthy environments’? VoxEU

Windows 8 causes most precipitous PC decline in history ExtremeTech (Carol B)

Portugal Generated 70% of Energy from Renewable Sources in First Quarter OilPrice

Magic trick transforms conservatives into liberals Nature

Poll: Most Women See Bias in the Workplace Wall Street Journal. Duh! Women experience bias everywhere. Barry Ritholtz told me recently that for over 15 years, when his wife would put down her credit card to pay for dinner, the waiter would inevitably bring back the charge form to him to sign. Every time. She would sputter to him about it and he would say, “It’s because I have a penis” and sign the receipt. He similarly recounts how women he knows who run businesses and want to get a quote (say for an IT installation) will have the salesperson try to find someone else to talk to, assuming the woman can’t be in charge (mind you, I never get this sort of thing, but I send a “don’t fuck with me” vibe rather than normal female politeness/chipperness).

Recently Barry’s wife looked at the receipt. He’d written “I have a penis” in the signature line. He’d been doing that for 15 years (she dug out some older receipts to confirm) and the restaurant and bank never saw anything amiss.

Brassiere Support Is A Lie, Say French Scientists PopSci (Robert M)

Google helps users plan digital afterlife Financial Times

Great, now engineers think that they are economists too PandoDaily (furzy mouse)

Does Australian prosperity depend on immigration? MacroBusiness

Pentagon Says Nuclear Missile Is in Reach for North Korea New York Times. But look over there: US denies report North Korea already has nuclear missile capability Telegraph

Margaret Thatcher’s legacy: roundup of the best writing Guardian

Obama Has Become the Democrat Republicans Always Wanted to Run Against Jon Walker, Firedoglake

10 Facts Obama Doesn’t Want You to Know About His Social Security Slashing Budget Plan Alternet

One way to blackmail progressives in office — put a hostage in the bill Gaius Publius AmericaBlog

1500 gun laws proposed across 50 states this year alone and half weaken gun control Sunlight Foundation (Paul Tioxon)

Congressman Grayson Asks for an Investigation into Federal Reserve’s FOMC leak George Washington

Federal Reserve Officials Leave For Wall Street With Privileged Info Huffington Post

Money Funds, Waiting for the Fog to Lift New York Times (Richard Smith). Notice basically two options: floating NAV or restricting withdrawals in roiled markets.

JPMorgan Analysts Say Big Investment Banks Are ‘Uninvestable’ Bloomberg

Ina Drew: heinously greedy or heinously incompetent? mathbabe

Former Greek prime minister: The US is like Greece Chris Hayes (LucyLulu)

Wells Fargo Reports 28% Jump in 401K Borrowing; Reflections on the Economy Michael Shedlock. Wow, this is consistent with Richard Koo’s reading on consumer spending v. financial assets.

Paul Krugman: Lust for Gold Mark Thoma. While goldbugs are inflationistas, IMHO gold does well either 1. in deflation or 2. when the public does not trust the monetary authorities. If you look at the record of gold in the 1970 through the early 1980s, most people talk about the returns using the peak price. In fact, gold had a classic blowout, the price had a monster three day runup. Tell me exactly how many people sold in that narrow window.

Who Makes Up the ‘Working Poor’ in America? WSJ Real Time Economics

Bait and Switch, CEO-Style In These Times (furzy mouse)

Vermont Employer uses Behavioral Economics to Turn Debt into Wealth Nathalie Martin, Credit Slips

Antidote du jour (Francois T):

Piggy in the shower

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172 comments

  1. Inverness (@Inverness)

    Yves writes “mind you, I never get this sort of thing, but I send a “don’t fuck with me” vibe rather than normal female politeness/chipperness).”

    Is it tiring to be tough all of the time? You might be able to handle the side effects better. I can’t figure out what’s more tiring: asserting yourself, dealing with the side effects (“whoah, calm down, lady!” or getting trampled over.

    Better to be male and get that automatic respect that comes with it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You seem to think this is a posture I’ve adopted. It isn’t. My father sent a “don’t fuck with me” vibe and I learned it from him. Frankly, it’s very useful. And it isn’t about overt aggression. It’s much more body language, vocal timbre, and facial expression, I think.

      I think I would go absolutely nuts if I got the amount of bullshit most women endure in silence.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The best way to send a ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe is with the discreet bulge of a concealed carry pistol underneath a well-tailored jacket.

        1. Rich Scillia

          That’s only true if your’re a pussy to begin with, and need to carry in order to make up for it.

      2. Inverness (@Inverness)

        Funny how I assumed you trained yourself to be that way — clearly a projection. I’m fascinated you identified with the male parent.

        I suspect a lot of women are conflicted between accepting domination by those who tend to be taller with deeper voices, and trying to adopt those gendered characteristics with creeky voice and aggressive driving.

        But that could be projecting, yet again.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, it had at least as much to do with the fact that my father was a misogynst, so cute girl strategies would have backfired with him. And I wasn’t at all cute looking either. And my mother was dependent and hated it, so she actively encouraged me to not be like her. So neither parent wanted me being girl-y.

          But I think there is an element of projection here. I don’t see people primarily through gender, which I have come to realize is weird. I find all this gender role stuff really tiring.

          1. pjay

            When I look at the 92% male on the job fatality rate, the underfunding of male healthcare issues and the consistent bias against men in family court, I have to scratch my head and consider which gender is really discriminated against.

          2. Tyler

            Yves, you may send a “don’t fuck with me” vibe rather than normal female politeness/chipperness, but you’re a lady alright. I’d take my oath on it.

            OK, I stole that last part from Tombstone, but it’s true.

          3. Jessica

            My sense is that there are people for whom the gender thing makes sense. It actually fits them fairly well, so they understand others through that lens too. That might even be as high as 70% of people.
            There are also a lot of people for whom the gender thing does not fit.
            Both realities are real.

          4. craazyman

            probly ’cause yer living mostly on astral plane 7 where entities are light beings in invisible clouds.

            they have to incarnate on this vibrational plane to fully realize the universal dualities and gain experience for higher planes, sometimes the transition can be confusing

            I’ve noticed that if anyone wants to pay for my dinner in a restaurant I frankly don’t mind. But I’m enlightened. Even a very expensive dinner in a trendy restaurant with a pricey bottle of Spanish wine followed by a mouth watering high-calorie chocolate desert accompanied by brandy from 19th century Burgundy — I still don’t mind if they want to pay, with either cash or credit card, it just doesn’t matter to me. Women shouldn’t have to take this stuff just lying down (no pun intended).

          5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            92% male on the job fatality rate?

            I wonder if it has been this way since the days of (only men could hunt saber-toothed tigers) Australipithecus Sediba?

          6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I was just curious if women and men cooperated in hunting saber-toothed tigers, or men discriminated women back then as well, monopolizing that exciting aspect of division of labor.

          7. Yves Smith Post author

            craazyman,

            haha, I have a buddy that I occasionally buy lunch because I usually owe him a favor, and a line he has often used is, “A woman is never so lovely as when she pays.”

        2. Richard Kline

          The situation being described does involve embedded sexism, but there is a significant thread of something else. Customer service as it has come to be practice routinely gives hardassed complainers whatever it takes to placate them, while making that up and more by grossly exploiting the mild-mannered and uninformed. It’s grotesque but that’s who it’s done: A-holes get what they want, and everyone else gets ripped off, BY DESIGN. Woman have been socialized in this culture to be mild-mannered, and have been historically uniformed sooo . . . .

          Customer service in this country and in Western society has come to be a carefully refined form of conditioned exploitation. I think about this every time I have to call a service provider, or read the documents they give me. I have to wade through their multi-layers of steer-and-steel to actually get to any place where ‘service’ can be extracted. By design. To make me any everyone else give up and just let them shave off the extra $5 a month or whatever. This to me exemplifies much of what has become sick in our society, that most every commercial interaction, certainly with a corporation, is carefully designed to shave off the hide of the customer. Commerce is definitely user-hostile here. But that does disproportionately discriminate against cooperative, mild-mannered, moderately informed women, yeah.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Today’s commerce is very smart.

            ‘To ensure quality service, this phone call will be monitored and recorded.’

            Talk about consideration.

            To get that with your emails, you would need a privatized KGB or Mossad.

          2. JTFaraday

            “Customer service as it has come to be practice routinely gives hardassed complainers whatever it takes to placate them, while making that up and more by grossly exploiting the mild-mannered and uninformed. It’s grotesque but that’s who it’s done: A-holes get what they want, and everyone else gets ripped off, BY DESIGN.

            …Customer service in this country and in Western society has come to be a carefully refined form of conditioned exploitation.”

            It’s true, the A******s always do seem to get what they want around here.

        3. Brian

          “training” doesn’t seem apt. Isn’t it a matter of; Are you going to tell me what the hell I am paying you for or not? If someone you hire won’t talk to you, suspect the worst. Isn’t it rather like eye contact? If someone is being shifty in any way, why would you not need to change the tone? I am glad my daughter got the “DFWM” attitude. It is a life skill.

        4. Joel3000

          Market based societies, in which most transactions occur between strangers , are undergirded by violence. The appearance of the ability to
          commit violence, literal or figurative, is an asset in such a society, and
          the perception of weakness a liability (although not the only explanatory
          variable).

          Women as a whole will not ever find equality in a system where the physical and emotional realities of smaller bodies and lower testosterone
          levels are a huge bias against them.

          The notion that this world, which is basically run like a pirate ship now,
          can be made fair for women is absurd, as long as the pirate ship paradigm
          continues.

          The fact is that money based transactions between disconnected parties
          favor the stronger party. Being genetically weaker is a disadvantage.

      3. Richard Kline

        You couldn’t do it, Yves; just couldn’t do it.

        Barry has a good, New York sense of humor which I have always enjoyed. There is a mild disconnect in that anecdote in that for the large majority of men and women dining together, it would still be a social faceplant for both parties if the man didn’t at least make a major effort to pay, and wait staff are just going to be conditioned to steer away from any implication of that. But that said, the staff should _always_ return the invoice to whomever actually GAVE them the card, so if her card is returned with the invoice to him that’s simply poor service no matter what.

        1. craazyman

          I’m surprised Mr. Ritholz didn’t wind his arm back like a clock and lay the waiter out cold with a bolo punch. :)

          1. HotFlash

            I am astonished that Ms Ritzhold put up with it even once. *My* husband tells the server that the card belongs to me, if that is the case. The server can be forgiven, at least once or but Mr’s behaviour? For such a cause I would divorce.

          2. craazyman

            It is astonishing. What if the waiter is a waitress? Does she still get the same note if she presents the man with the bill? One would hope not. But if not, isn’t that itself a form of bias and condescension? Is there a presumption that some notes are not fit for a woman’s eyes? That hardly seems plausible. The mind reels in confusion.

          3. Valissa

            I’m a bit surprised at all the passionate comments on this topic :)

            My own experience is that most of the time, if I put my card on the table and it’s obviously near me (not in the middle) or I’m the one who hands it to them directly when they bring the bill, then the waiter/waitress returns it to me. IIRC, in general a waitress is more likely to get it right, and at high end restaurants the tab is more often presented to my husband.

            We have different last names and when we travel we have a policy. If I book the hotel room and it’s in my name then my husband goes along with being Mr. V, and if he books it then I go along with being called Mrs. X.

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Do men see bias at home?

            Are men stigmatized for wanting to grow up to be house-husbands?

            When shopping for post-dishwashing hand lotion together, does the clerk ask to talk to the wife, ignoring the house-husband?

            I would like to hear some anecdotal stories.

      4. dolleymadison

        That’s interesting…my son, a law student, theorized that my inability to find a lawyer was due to my “manly” personality. Being small, feminine and relatively attractive, this startled me. He said no (southern) man wants to have a female client who is smarter and more aggressive than he is…”That sh%T might go over in the North but not here. You gotta act dumb if you want them to help you.” is how he put it. To which I say F$ck That.(I eventually won as a Pro Se.)

        1. LucyLulu

          Being one of your neighbors, I think there’s some truth to what your son says about attitudes in this part of the country. I’ve learned to enjoy it (most of the time), it has its advantages.

          That being said, I don’t think that’s why you had problems retaining an attorney. My sister, a local attorney, told me that attorneys don’t want to take foreclosure cases, unless they are bankruptcies. They see the cases as being ultimately pro bono cases. The borrowers are too broke to afford the required hourly legal fees, nor do they want to relieve homeowners of their much needed money on a suit that is unlikely to win (and banks will appeal if they do, pushing fees into six figures), and the awards don’t typically include compensation. Attorneys prefer to take on cases that pay. So they just avoid foreclosure cases, since like any type of law, one needs to take similar cases fairly regularly before being able to practice with a fair degree of skill.

          Congrats and good for you for winning pro se. It’s not an option that most people could pull off. The lawyers probably did you a favor by turning you down. Not only did you save yourself some big bucks, but it’s more likely they would have lost your case. Do you need work? Perhaps you could assist other homeowners with fighting their cases pro se (though only atty’s can accompany into courtroom, at least in Guilford Co, but could help with filings). Maybe even get some of those attorneys who didn’t want to take your case to send you referrals. Just be careful, obviously, that you don’t represent yourself as offering legal advice.

          If you want some help with your appeal, I’m not a lawyer but I’ve read a lot of cases, am pretty informed, and have a genetically inherited legal aptitude :) . I may have some ideas, or at least offer some support. Let me know and I’ll figure out a way we can get in touch.

        2. LucyLulu

          I should add your son’s comment reminds me of something my attorney told me at my (only) divorce settlement conference. My ex was represented by a woman (as was I) who was very sharp but a real shark. We were discussing the funding of our children’s college education, which my ex, in his delusional state, believed my parents had promised to pay. (He didn’t want to help them, despite being quite well paid.) They had not, nor would they. In 23 years of marriage. They’d never provided financial assistance to us or our children. It ran contrary to their philosophy of not appreciating what one hasn’t earned. His attorney was arguing the case for him, that my parents should be required to cover the children’s college expenses. I was floored and lit into her. I said that it was our responsibility as parents to provide for our children, what on God’s earth made her think my parents should be expected to cover our obligations. His attorney backed down.

          During our break, my attorney told me, “Laura, if we go to trial, I’m really going to have to work with you. I need to teach you how to act meeker and more submissive. This attitude won’t fly in the courtroom.” I was living in the Bluegrass, which has a similar culture.

          1. DolleyMadison

            HAH that’ s funny – grew up in the bLuegrass…:) now in the “belly of the beast” – mecklenburg. And yes, I thank God every day I went Pro se. I have been doing research for free for a few FC attorneys with the proviso that they cannot charge their clients for it – since as you correctly noted most have limited funds. One or two have taken me up on it but frankly, they don’t “get it.” My son will soon be practicing and he brilliant if I do say so myself – more importantly has a passion for this and I will be helping him. I am very interested in forming some sort of non-profit, as well…maybe we can put our heads together Lucy and bring North Carolina into the modern age. (and on what planet would he expect your parents to educate his kids? Geez.)

      5. Mannwich

        Personally, I think a general “don’t fuck with me” attitude is necessary for both sexes now. Sad but I think true.

      6. Brick

        “He similarly recounts how women he knows who run businesses and want to get a quote (say for an IT installation) will have the salesperson try to find someone else to talk to, assuming the woman can’t be in charge (mind you, I never get this sort of thing, but I send a “don’t fuck with me” vibe rather than normal female politeness/chipperness).”

        Perhaps it does not come down to the “don’t fuck with me” vibe, perhaps it is the you “knowing, what the fuck you are talking about” vibe that makes the difference. I usually discriminate against both males and females that talk gibberish and try to find the specialist that can actually give me the information I want. More often than not it is not the boss but an “underling” that knows what he/she is talking about.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Urm, you are just displaying unconscious sexism, because your tacit assumption was the women deserved to be treated badly because they were less well informed. As in outcomes were justified by lack of female competence.

          Anything coming from a woman is assumed to be lower quality. For instance:

          In one study, first done in 1968 and then replicated in 1983, college students were asked to rate identical articles according to specific criteria. The authors’ names attached to the articles were clearly male or female, but were reversed for each group of raters: what one group thought had been written by a male, the second group thought had been written by a female, and vice versa. Articles supposedly written by women were consistently ranked lower than when the very same articles were thought to have been written by a male [Goldberg 1968,Paludi et al 1985,Paludi et al 1983]. In a similar study, department chairs were asked to make hypothetical hiring decisions and to assign faculty rank on the basis of vita. For vitae with male names, chairs recommended the rank of associate professor; however, the identical vita with a female name merited only the rank of assistant professor [Fidell 1975].

          http://people.mills.edu/spertus/Gender/pap/node7.html

          Women in science have to have on average 2.5x as many journal articles to get tenure as men.

          Transgendered women => men have reported their work under a male name is seen as better than their work as a female (when it’s published work, people often assume the lesser, female name work was by a sister) and that for the first time, they can speak without being interrupted. Harder to sound intelligent if you aren’t allowed to finish what you were trying to say.

          Go take the Harvard Implicit social attitudes test and see how you score on male/female.

          https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

          1. Brick

            I did the gender science test: “Your data suggest little or no association between Male and Female with Science and Liberal Arts.”

            “Urm, you are just displaying unconscious sexism.” I don’t think so. I think I gave a very rational explanation for the behavior of the people receiving the calls.

            On your assumption: “Anything coming from a woman is assumed to be lower quality.” Your link gives the following reference:
            http://www.hws.edu/offices/provost/pdf/campus_climate2.pdf

            Which in turn leads us to the original 1968 work of Goldberg: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03180445?LI=true

            Which is titled: “Are women prejudiced against women?”

            To be fair the article http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00289673

            Finds that both women and men equally favored the work of male authors. With some interesting findings. Males really despised the combination “feminin field” and female author, for example. Now the problem is this paper is exactly 30 years old. More importantly these test were done with college students.I did not find any papers since 2009 which did such a test. That would be interesting though since I very much believe that my generation is – well – better in every respect. So, I should probably not take the bias vs old people test.

            Now hopefully the person recieving the call wasn’t a student but a specialist in the relevant field. In that case, a paper which tested the bias of reviewers, might be more relevant: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1286270/pdf/jaba00090-0150.pdf
            “However, because the bias found in this study was against men, the extent of the bias may have been exacerbated by the fact that the research was done in a female-dominated setting.”
            A large study found no bias: http://ecobias.org/resources_files/Tregenza%20in%20TREE%202002%20bias.pdf
            Editor 7 is probably sexist though. But sadly we don’t know if E7 is male or female.

            Back to the calls: the person listening should know after a few sentences if product requirements make sense or not. So I still believe that sexism isn’t the most likely explanation.

          2. Brick

            Forgot something: “As in outcomes were justified by lack of female competence.”

            I tried to say that yes, the behavior was due to lack of competence in that specific area or more nicely framed: the boss usually does not(have to)know the specifics, therefore it is better to talk directly to the expert.

            I did not want to argue that this was due to gender I wrote: “More often than not it is not the boss but an “underling” that knows what he/she is talking about.”

    2. Dave of Maryland

      So we have effeminate, dysfunctional males and dysfunctional, ball-busting females and we hold them up as role models?

      Healthy males and healthy females get what they want in life, using maleness and femaleness, respectively. But in fact most everyone whines because dysfunction is the norm. Including me.

      Women who function as healthy females have been deliberately overlooked in the rush to promote various kinds of sexual dysfunction. To the extent that a severely dysfunctional society hasn’t killed them all off. I’m not sure there’s all that many healthy males out here.

      You can find imposed dysfunction everywhere in American society, to the extent that a large percentage of the population (I have no idea if an actual majority or not) stands around clueless after they’re dead, terrified of going further. That’s sad.

    3. neo-realist

      In American Society to be more specific, better to be a white male. Non white ones don’t nearly get as much respect.

      1. LucyLulu

        I know some white males who would disagree with you. They believe they are the new disadvantaged class, the victims of reverse racism and affirmative action.

        I know, hard to believe, but true.

        1. neo-realist

          They sound paranoid and delusional. I guess they’ve been stopped and frisked by cops without engaging in criminal behavior, failed to get a cab even though it was available, had store detectives looking down their backs in stores, couldn’t buy a house or rent an apartment in the building they wanted and could afford and received nasty stares from prospective employers in job interviews.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            And look at what happens to Muslims, or Sikhs, who are assumed to be Muslim by many thanks to the turban. Lordie.

      1. Jackrabbit

        1. The Banks choose how many were harmed in each category.
        (as further explained in Pam Martens post.)

      2. Jackrabbit

        3. Warren asked if the OCC and Fed would release information that they have about illegal foreclosures. The OCC and Fed told her that they “have not decided” to release information regarding illegal foreclosures, claiming that information that is provided via bank examination is privileged. Such confidentiality is necessary, they claim, to ensure that they get info from the banks.

      3. Jackrabbit

        4. Warren highlighted the lack of information from the regulators by again pointing out that they have failed to adequately respond to information requests. In letter with 11 specific questions, only one was answered and 3 others had minimal responses.

      4. Jackrabbit

        5. The regulators initially expected the reviews to take 120 days and a few million dollars!! Wait – these guys regulate BANKS, right? And have been doing so for many, many years, right?

      5. Jackrabbit

        6. The regulators claimed to not have the authority to discipline consultants that have been selected to work under a REGULATOR-mandated assignment. They requested that Congress provide them with such power.

        (It seems that Regulators have no power to influence Bank management of consultants assigned to work on Regulator-mandated assignments.)

      6. Jackrabbit

        2. Under questioning from Warren, the OCC and Fed admitted that they never conducted a statistically meaningful sampling to determine how much harm was done. 100k records were reviewed but how they were selected is unknown to the Regulators.

        1. LucyLulu

          Of course, they wouldn’t know how the sample was selected. Those were the attorneys for the OCC and FRB, not those actually involved.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday’s links included a video interview with Dr. John Hussman. His characteristic obsession with stock valuation, and disdain for trend following, came through clearly.

    Just as it did in the late Ninenties Internet bubble, Hussman’s refusal to respect the trend is eating his lunch in today’s Bernanke bubble. His ‘staggered strike’ put positions, which he’s had on for months, are melting like an ice cream cone in the sun as the bull smokes higher, and Hussman fecklessly shakes his fist at the recalcitrant beast.

    If a genius like Hussman can’t get it right, what are the rest of us to do? Part of the answer lies in the trend following method which Dr. H so disdains. Last week, Gary Antonacci published a new, and quite accessible, paper on the subject, which can be downloaded from SSRN:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2244633

    In the key part of the paper, Antonacci tests a five-component portfolio from 1974 to 2012. Its 20%-weighted components consist of stocks, REITs, Treasuries, corporate bonds and gold. When a component has outperformed T-bills over the past 12 months, it is held. If not, T-bills are held instead. Brute simple.

    This portfolio averaged nearly 12% annualized return since 1974, with a worst dip of less than 10%. Its stock and REIT components currently are invested, while its gold component is not.

    Unlike Dr. Hussman’s approach, this portfolio is unconcerned with valuation. As long as stocks keep rising, it will own them. If stocks should experience a 30% crash out of the blue, well, 30% of a 20% weighting amounts to a 6% hit to the portfolio. Meanwhile, its Treasury and gold components likely would rise (as they did in 1987) with a stock crash, muting the dip still further.

    Anybody can make an investing mistake, but repeating the same gross error twice is a firing offense.

    1. Can't Help It

      Whenever I heard someone talking about trend following, I always think of John W Henry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_W._Henry.

      I think it’s easy after the fact to identify things that worked, but the only certain thing is that 50 years from now, someone will write another “certain researcher picked such and such a portfolio from 2011 to 2030 and the portfolio returned Y%”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have a fancier alternative to Dr. Hussman’s approach.

      Mine goes like this:

      Because one can design a derivative based on anything, and since derivatives are still the game in town, I propose to have a derivative bet on the share of the national wealth owned by the 0.01%.

      When the 0.01% own more, the value of the derivative goes up.

      Now, I further propose to leverage that 1,000,000 to 1.

      The only thing I need now is someone from the 0.01% to take the bet.

    3. MLS

      re: Dr. Hussman. Someone I know worked with (actually hired) Dr. Hussman many years ago. This individual made no qualms about how intelligent he is. However, this person felt that such intelligence actually held him back from making truly excellent investment decisions on a regular basis. It seems Dr. Hussman typically has such a mountain of data in front of him that he is unable to effectively filter out the noise and focus on what matters. Thus, while several indicators may say “buy stocks” he is paralyzed by the handful that say “maybe not”, or “don’t”.

      My friend and I agreed that this is analysis paralysis, and what the good Dr. didn’t seem to understand is that if you wait until all the indicators point one direction, it’s too late, and you should probably be doing the opposite of what your indicators tell you.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s hard when your model does not factor in things like the effective of the market-plunge protection team, accounting rule changes for holding toxic assets, etc.

      2. hyena

        Analysis paralysis – sounds like a trader’s argument applied to investment performance. You were both attributing to Hussman’s temperament what he leaves to Kalman filters and the like. This putative ‘paralysis’ doesn’t stop him taking a position – but maybe you just don’t like the position he takes.

        Hell, I’ve done better than him too, at times (like the late-stage psycho 90s), but once you’ve lucked out enough times, Why would you want to shit bricks like that? I find I still take more risk than he does – with play money. But you don’t pay him, or anybody, to get out at the top with the money you live on. You pay him to ignore Wall Street shills and think for himself. It always makes me happy when he comes under attack, because it’s at turning points when he’s seen as a threat. And it’s at turning points that I get to snack on the carrion of laid-off brokers and financial advisors and their ruined clients.

    4. craazyman

      It’s too soon to put a fork in Hussman, he may yet be proved right.

      I read his column every Monday, almost first thing. I’ll admit he has me under his spell, so much that I’ve missed most of the stock surge. But there’s other reasons too, beside him. Like Shedlock and Martenson, they have me spellbound also, and all the gold bug wackos, they sort of make me think the end is near and I worry. And all the drama I read here at NC.

      After a while you think the world won’t be there anymore and you’ll walk out the door of your house one morning into a black void like deep space. You won’t fall, or rise. You’ll just float by yourself, 200,000 light years from anything, not even a particle of interstellar dust. That’s how bad it was when the sh*t hits the fan. You only wonder how you’re still aware of anything at all.

      What will the market do under those circumstances? It will probably go up, due solely to momentum.

      If Hussman is wrong, it will likely be through his corporate profit margin reversion thesis. This will have to manifest somehow, likely in management earnings outlook projections that start to disappoint. We’ve had erosion there already over last half year, but Fed money has levitated the market.

      If we’re in a new normal of high profit margins juiced by low labor costs and ongoing deficit spending, this could go on a while and it may trend into something longer-term that doesn’t take the market down. After a few years, and if the market’s higher, one would have to say they were all wrong. The next year will be pivotal here.

      If the sh*t doesn’t hit the fan soon, all the doomers and recession-is-here-now pundits, like Ed Harrison a few months ago, who also has me under his spell, will have some explaining to do. But then, that’s the secret of success as a pundit, You just keep explaining and hope nobody notices. If you’re entertaining enough, they won’t.

      1. Bill Smith

        But you gotta admit, if they keep destroying the economy, the stock market has to keep going up!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Don’t make fun of gold or silver.

        To me, gold and silver are green.

        Green, not like money, but as in ‘environmentally friendly.’

        Think about it. Do you prefer

        1) gold chalices or plastic cups

        2) silver spoons or plastic ones?

        Which ones are less like to burden our badly abused landfills? Which ones are more sustainable?

        Right now, I am trying to set aside some fiat money and when possible, I might pick up a grail or a spoon.

    5. LucyLulu

      My own non-expert philosophy and experience is that jumping ship early beats the hell out of jumping ship late.

  3. Expat

    Re: Vermont company:
    This must be socialism since it is good for the workers. Surely this company, being so clever, can come up with a way to bleed the workers with 100% payday loans, fire them when they pay back, and then offshore the whole thing to China. I am sure that would improve shareholder value much more…and it would be in keeping with the American Way!

  4. Richard Kline

    The Windows 8 cometary disintegration upon hitting the reality atmosphere is the single most catatrophic product introduction I can think of EVER. And I don’t tend to categorize in those extremes, but *wow*. The Edsel at least worked pretty good as am automobile, despite a design interface that made users sweat, puke, and rub their aching heads simultaneously. The descriptions on Windows Wipeout when that thing was released were thorough and unbelieveably scathing in detail. There’s no possibility that product could succeed, and the entire process was designed to bankrupt all of Microscum’s ‘partners.’ Yes, the algae bloom of a product _is_ bad enought to kill the PC all by itself, as if that instrument didn’t have problems of it’s own. Consumers can’t stand it, and businesses won’t have it.

    “The horror, the horror . . .”

    1. They didn't leave me a choice

      If I was you, I’d be horrified at what is happening to the PC. It’s the only relatively open computation platform we have, and now it’s being destroyed in favour of its retarded stepchildren grown inbred in walled gardens under the watchful gaze of big brother. Yes, PC’s are not easy to carry around, and on the road you will likely want something light. But when you are at home, who in their sane minds uses a tablet or similar tool? The screen is small, the controls are awkward, the whole thing lacks power and thus everything is slow and on top of that the applications available for tablets range from pure shite to just short of anemic.

      1. Ed

        I agree that the virtues of tablets vs desktops are way oversold, I would have greatly preferred good access to banks of public (for fee) PCs at internet cafes and the equivalent, so you would be always near one and could download your files from email/ the cloud and start working, instead of having everyone carry around weaker, handheld machines. Oh well. Though laptops are a good compromise.

  5. diptherio

    Radical Centrism: Uniting the Radical Left and the Radical Right ~Macroeconomic Resilience, Ashwin Parameswaran

    Neoliberal crony capitalism is driven by a grand coalition between the pragmatic centre-left and the pragmatic centre-right. Crony capitalist policies are always justified as the pragmatic solution. The range of policy options is narrowed down to a pragmatic compromise that maximises the rent that can be extracted by special interests. Instead of the government providing essential services such as healthcare and law and order, we get oligopolistic private healthcare and privatised prisons. Instead of a vibrant and competitive private sector with free entry and exit of firms we get heavily regulated and licensed industries, too-big-to-fail banks and corporate bailouts.

    T. Greer over at The Scholar’s Stage has some pretty good thoughts on the topic as well:
    http://scholars-stage.blogspot.co.uk/

    1. jrs

      Good ideas. I think policies based on it could work quite well.

      The problem is if the idea is to unite the far left and right that way, that will never happen, the divisions are too deep and cultural/philosophical rather than *even* about political ideology at root. They are about much deeper assumptions than the role of government frankly which is what the article treats, it assumes the surface disagreement is really what it’s about. Frankly they should just be pitching the idea to centrists, social democrats, not very dogmatic peeps with a few libertarian sympathies and so on. I think they are clueless on their target market basically, doesn’t mean the product isn’t good.

      1. diptherio

        That’s a good point. Sadly, logic often seems to be one of the last things considered when politics is involved (uh, not here of course). Getting past our hang-ups enough to be able to even have an intelligent conversation can be quite the challenge sometimes, even for though of us who like to think we’re more enlightened than that. I have to admit, dudes in nice suits give me the heebie-jeebies, even when they’re on “our side.”

        1. T. Greer

          Respectfully, I disagree. There are big differences. But a common enemy unites people in funny ways. Someone watching the election of 1800 would have been shocked that 30 years before the same group of men, so philosophically divided and vitriolic (this humorous video give you the idea) once stood hand in hand in the same cause, ready to “hang together” as traitors. Hamilton’s and Jefferson’s views were very different – in many ways, radically different. But both put their life on the line for America’s independence. In 1776 their similarities were more important than their differences.

          We are not at year 1800. When the fight is over and crony capitalism has been destroyed, we can duke it out as they did then. But right now we radical righters are the only people who recognize the same thing you folks left of mainstream do. Crony capitalism is destroying our Republic. This is America’s greatest challenge and her greatest danger. We agree with you on this. The center just doesn’t see it. And look, we are up against interests entrenched and corrupt. You need every ally you can get.

    1. danb

      I was on Warren’s email list of constituents here in Ma. I asked by email three times for her position on various legislation -such as the weakening of Dodd-Frank- and have never received any reply. Instead it seems I’m no longer receiving constituent emails from her. Possibly a coincidence, but I’m not expecting any replies to my questions this long after querying her. I do so miss the “thanks for being a part of this” salutation. Obama’s budget gives her the opportunity to cite FDR re his anticipation of rogues like Obama trying to kill SS. Then, if she is really for the common people she’d claim the FDR mantle to retake the Dem party for the people. This is most unlikely to arrantly silly.

      1. jrs

        I guess it is a new marketing technique for a played out Dem party. But I’m not most Dem’s, we’re the new and improved class of Dems, who will ride to the rescue (you know just like the Dems have been promising to do for maybe a decade – with nothing to show for it). This time is different!

  6. diptherio

    I read the Windows 8 story with some interest, since I’ve just been hired to teach an older guy how to use it. He just upgraded from his old Windows XP machine and is totally baffled. After reading that article and a couple of others, I called him and pretty quickly had him convinced to switch to Ubuntu. It sounded better to him and his wife than trying to memorize a dozen keyboard shortcuts. Gotta love self-destructive monopolistic capitalists…

    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/121015-windows-8-may-drive-me-to-linux

    1. Ned Ludd

      You might run into issues with printers. Apple now owns the code for CUPS, the Linux printing system (they also hired the chief developer in 2007). They then switched the internal architecture to use PDF, which is also used internally by the OS X graphics model (called Quartz).

      When the new version of CUPS, based on PDF, made it into Ubuntu, two of our three Brother printers quit working with Ubuntu. I got one to work by editing the PPD file and another file. For the other printer, I had to switch from the PostScript driver to a generic PCL driver, which the printer luckily also supports (albeit with fewer features).

    1. Valissa

      Obama lied, duh! A real news flash would more along the lines of “Obama told the truth!”

  7. Klassy!

    Re: healthy choices v healthy environments– I read the article twice and I still see it as simply promoting healthy (and virtuous– they use that term) choices. Isn’t it just promoting Cass Sunstein type solutions?
    Maybe I’m missing something.
    Maybe it is the whole western mind/body split mentality.
    I was hoping for a different discussion. Sometimes I think things that are “unhealthy” are healthy in the context that they bring a person pleasure.

  8. financial matters

    Money Funds, Waiting for the Fog to Lift New York Times (Richard Smith). Notice basically two options: floating NAV or restricting withdrawals in roiled markets.

    This article talks about how to regulate money market funds with things like letting their value vary (ie lose money depending on the risk of what they invest in) or having ‘gates’ (limits to withdrawls).

    Of course money fund managers want to maintain the fiction that these are safe. Just ignore MF Global or Cyprus.

    Haircuts on these funds gets peoples attention fast and may require the govt to step in again to bail out these funds as happened in 2008 when President Bush went on TV to explain that these funds were going to be guaranteed. This guarantee was quietly withdrawn a year later in Sept of 2009.

    The interesting thing will be to see which happens first. Better regulation and transparency or a major money market fund breaking the buck.

    Another bailout of these funds involves bailing out risky behavior (similar or even idenical to toxic MBS, ie Lehman and Reserve Primary Fund) and therefore is another moral hazard encouraging imprudent investing decisions.

  9. Herman Sniffles

    A few days ago there was a link here to an article about how eating red meat may raise cholesterol levels. My “bad” cholesterol level is 130, low enough to increase my risk of getting cancer. I can apparently eat steak and eggs three times a day without it going up. My friend Steve’s “bad” cholesterol level is 250. So the docs put him on a very restrictive diet which drastically reduces his intake of all sorts of fats, and his level fell to 240. This points up the fact that your cholesterol level is mostly genetically determined. Your body produces its own cholesterol, it doesn’t scavange it from what you eat. That’s why they use cholesterol loweing drugs. My point here – which is quite asside from the one on top of my head – is that this ‘PETA Propaganda’ seems to fit in nicely with some of the other ideas presented here: a teenager who drives drunk once should have his license taken away FOR LIFE, no matter how much real estate goes up it is in fact actually going down and absolute proof that it is going up is really just more proof that its about to start going down at any minute,and of course the obvious response to a Fascist takeover by big banks and corportions complete with highway scouring private drones is to take all out guns away. And let us not forget that seals wear sunglasses. This is still the first site I link to each morning, but sometimes I wish the seals would remove their sunglasses and go back to just being seals. I believe we all have a responsibility to at least try to recognize and identify out own biases, even the ones we love very much.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m not sure you are recounting your readings correctly. The new recommendation on LDL is to have it down to 100. Frankly, I think that’s driven by the statin mongers.

      http://heartdisease.about.com/od/cholesteroltriglycerides/a/cholrecs.htm

      Plus as you point out. overly low cholesterol levels (which I thought was total cholesterol of more like 120-130, not LDL) does increase stoke risk.

      Per your friend, yes and no.

      The reality is that doctors give bad advice on how to reduce cholesterol. Plus (more important) the research increasingly says that cholesterol levels aren’t the driver of heart disease. No one routinely measures for the type of cholesterol that is the real culprit, Lipoprotein A. Homocysteine and triglycerides are seen among the better informed MDs to be more important indicators.

      People who do Atkins, which allows you to eat all kinds of red meat and fats but requires you to severely restrict carbs, show big falls in their cholesterol levels. Your body can make cholesterol from carbs. Cutting carbs (particularly simple sugars and refined carbs like flour) will get you a lot further than cutting red meats, although I think that’s healthy for other reasons (American beef is full of hormones).

      Exercise also helps lower cholesterol levels.

      See this:

      http://www.ourhealthcoop.com/pdf/MikeCiell_unified_theory.pdf

      1. davidgmills

        I was talking to my brother (PhD in biochemistry as was my father) not too long ago about another PhD in biochemistry, Dr. Ray Peat. Peat did his dissertation on progesterone and had spent 40 years researching it. Progesterone is made from cholesterol and is the precursor of the hormones testosterone, estrogen and hydrocortisone. In other words, four of the body’s six major hormones are derived from cholesterol.

        Peat did some extensive research on the deaths of women, to find out what was the optimal cholesterol level for longevity. His conclusion was the number women needed for longevity was 270 (very high according to the AMA which wants it under 200). Peat found that low cholesterol did in fact decrease a woman’s chances of dying from a heart attack but caused a woman to die sooner from something else.

        My brother couldn’t believe what I was telling him about Peat’s research, but after checking out Peat’s articles and references, he concluded Peat was right. In fact, one of the things my brother found in his research was that LDL is very good at killing bacteria. My brother jokingly commented to me that in lowering one’s LDL that you don’t die of heart disease, you die of MRSA much sooner.

        So both my brother and I who were on statins got off of them. Plus my brother found a new meta study of 62,000 people showing they did no good for those who didn’t have cardiovascular disease, making the decision even easier.

        My dad, who taught medical students biochemstry for 40 years, found very few MD’s that knew enough biochemistry to give him any confidence in their ability to decide whether medications were justified. So I have always been very skeptical of what they recommend.

        As for your Atkins comment, I have been an Atkins dieter for about 18 years. My dad thought Atkins’ ideas made sense from a metabolic point of view which is why I started doing it and still do. Atkins was a cardiologist and he wasn’t nearling as concerned about cholesterol as he was about triglicerides and blood pressure.

        The other thing that is getting attention as a possible marker for heart disease is C reactive protein, which measures inflamation. Progesterone is great at reducing inflamation (remember it is the precursor of hydrocortisone) which is why I take it and I am a man.

  10. Jeff

    RE: Great, now engineers think that they are economists too

    This argument assumes that debt and the ability to borrow money is something that is desirable in all currencies. If debt and leverage aren’t desirable, then deflation and all the other issues raised aren’t a problem.

    I also don’t see a problem with having parallel currencies where some of them are debt based and inflating and some of them are not. It is similar to the current situation with gold and different rates of inflation for different currencies.

  11. Brindle

    Countries U.S. Invades Or Attacks Adopt Death Penalty

    U.S foreign policy is violence based; it encourages countries it has invaded to kill its citizens rather than impose prison terms.

    —These countries where the US is carrying and has carried out global operations all seem to adopt the use of the death penalty and begin to rely on use after US involvement.
    It is not being used to impose justice but to control the populations of these countries, where there are dissident and/or insurgent groups that these countries’ governments wish to defeat or suppress.—

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/04/12/countries-subject-to-us-intervention-become-executioners-impose-death-penalty/

  12. Jackrabbit

    6. The regulators claimed to not have the authority to discipline consultants that have been selected to work under a REGULATOR-mandated assignment. They requested that Congress provide them with such power.

    1. Lambert Strether

      First thing we do, let’s fire all the administrators.

      Quite directly, the suffering of the adjuncts is caused not only by their policies, but by their high salaries. They are parasites, pure and simple. Fire them all and let the university, which as an institution has survived for over a thousand years, return to its key functions of teaching and scholarship.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      And think of the lost human potential. All those university administrators could instead be doing something productive with their lives. Like working in nursing homes or doing landscaping or working tables at a restaurant. Stuff that actually helps society.

  13. b2020

    Alternet idiocy:
    “The Social Security cut doesn’t reduce the deficit.
    Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit, since it’s funded separately. In fact, it’s forbidden by law from contributing to the deficit.”

    Why is this so hard to understand? In any given year where less payroll tax enters the trust fund than benefits are paid out, the federal government suffers a double hit:
    a) There is no excess payroll tax entering the trust fund, which otherwise would be quietly diverted to subsidize the general deficit, and – bonus – “by law” does not even have to be counted as “contributing to the deficit”.
    b) General tax revenue has to be paid into the trust fund to pay back payroll tax diverted to subsidize the general deficit in previous years, i.e. to pay back the debt owed by the federal government to the trust fund, which means you cannot sustain deficit spending without borrowing money somewhere else, in a way that is counted as “contributing to the deficit”.

    In other words, anybody who does not count Social Security as par tof the “deficit” is pretenting that a negative cashflow of payroll tax into trust fund is not a federel government liability. That’s what motivates Obama’s “push” – if there is a gap, there is less public money for the oligarchs to privatize. If there is a surplus of payroll tax, the government gets to borrow without “contributing to the deficit”.

    Bullshit like this “it’s not counted as deficit” prayer mill serves to cover up the incentive structure and motivation of bad faith actors like Obama. Instead of “qui bono” – follow the damn money already – we get some vague insinuations that “Obama does not get it” and “nobody gets why he does these things”. Pierce prose, not piercing analysis.

    But fear not, thanks to these stooges, the Trust Fund will soon be flush in perpetuity with payroll tax that is never, ever to be withdrawn and paid out to anybody.

    1. LucyLulu

      Agreed. That’s why babyboomers being required to pre-fund their retirements by contributing surplus funds to the SS trust fund was a scam from day one. We should never fall for funding future benefits (future liabilities) again, including by funding them with cuts in benefits .

      In 1981, SS was forecast to run short on funds in as little as two years. Hence, the Greenspan Commission raised payroll taxes, the retirement age, and began taxing benefits. This led to surplus funding that now totals $2.5+ trillion. FDR set up SS expressly as an independent agency, which can neither contribute or receive funds from general revenues, as a means of guaranteeing workers that the money they contributed would be returned to them when they retired. Reagan promised, upon signing the SS Amendments of 1983, “Today we reaffirm Franklin Roosevelt’s commitment that social security must always provide a secure and stable base so that older Americans may live in dignity.”

      Non-interest income is 12.89% (includes taxes on benefits and other revenues) of taxable income and costs are projected to gradually increase to over 17% in 2035 before leveling out.* In other words, the 35% increase in funds needed would either need to come from increased taxes or deficit spending (at this time I don’t see money creation as realistic option). BUT…… a tax increase imposed now would only result in more surpluses in the early years and deficits later.

      Since the problem SS poses now doesn’t even hit the radar, it seems that the focus should be on programs that result in increasing revenues by increasing the revenue base. The trustee report bases it’s deteriorating actuarial deficit in large part on declining employment and worker hours. As we saw during the 90′s under Clinton, when the economy is booming, revenues also boom. Austerity causes the economy to contract. Economic forecasting has a dismal record, the future can be influenced. For that reason I take the trustee report with a grain of salt. If the real employment rate could approach ideal levels and we saw the return of more well-paying jobs, SS ‘problems’ could essentially take care of themselves.

      *http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/

    2. davidgmills

      Ask your self a couple simple questions. If you could legally print money would you have any debt? Would you need a source of income? If the government can print money, then why does it have debt at all, and why does it need to tax? When economists start seriously answering the question of why a government, that can print money, has debt and needs to tax, then I will start to seriously listen to their arguments about debts and taxes.

      1. Calgacus

        If you could legally print money would you have any debt?

        Yes, because the money you print would be debt. All money is debt. That is what money is – negotiable debt. Money is defined in terms of the more basic concept credit=debt, not vice versa.

        Would you need a source of income?
        You would not need a source of income of your own liabilities, except for your printing press / keyboard / fountain pen. But you are issuing these liabilities/ debt / money in order to get income in real goods and services. Government spending is the real taxation. This goes back to the days of ancient Egypt say and taxation-in-kind. The pharaoh would levy a tax on a village, take wheat, stone for his pyramid, etc. And would spend by giving the village credit in his Treasury for the amount they had been taxed.

        If the government can print money, then why does it have debt at all, and why does it need to tax?
        It needs to tax, because otherwise there would be no demand for the government’s money. The credit in the Pharaoh’s Treasury has to mean something, has to be usable for something, or why would any village or person want to have it?

        When economists start seriously answering the question of why a government, that can print money, has debt and needs to tax, then I will start to seriously listen to their arguments about debts and taxes.
        Read some MMT. These are good questions, and there are good answers, which are very old. We’ve just been in a dark age of economics in the last few decades, when such answers were forgotten. For they were known, but for most, were not accorded their central place, as the point of view to start understanding monetary economies. That’s all MMT is – reorganizing old economics by putting what always was central in its proper place.

        There is no particularly good reason for a country like the USA to issue bond debt, rather than just print money. There might be a slight disinflationary effect of printing bonds, particularly in a full employment economy. There are marginal effects, minor reasons; issuing bonds = raising interest rates, might sometimes increase savings desires for financial assets, for currency, so the government might be able to get more for its dollars. But this isn’t always true.

  14. Edward Lambert

    The Fed funds rate has a predictable behavior with the limit imposed by effective demand. The rate rises before the limit and then peaks at the limit. In normal times it is an simple and easy way to predict the Fed funds rate. This is seen in past data…

    http://effectivedemand.typepad.com/ed/2013/04/fed-funds-rate-and-the-effective-demand-limit.html

    The Fed funds rate would normally be rising right now considering we are close to the effective demand limit. But so much capital and labor has been marginalized by low labor share of income that inflation is no where near being triggered. We will go through this business cycle completely with no rise in the Fed funds rate. It really is amazing.

    http://effectivedemand.typepad.com/ed/2013/04/monetary-policy-and-the-limit-of-effective-demand.html

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Does Australian prosperity depend on immigration?

    Did Roman prosperity depend on slaves/refugees supplied by the legions?

    ‘We have plenty of upward mobility here in Rome, especially for those ex-tribal chiefs who have been recently made low by our legions. That’s the only reason you have lots of room on the upside now. Welcome to the empire.’

    ‘Besides, our ill-designed pension plan needs an infusion of young workers, never mind their home countries could use them and they might themselves prefer to stay home in Greece, Parthia or Dacia with a culture they have grown up with. And since our patricians are crafty tax-dodgers, there is another good reason we need these new taxpayers.’

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Magic trick turns conservatives into liberals.

    And with MMT, you can actually discover a long-lost species: fiscally liberal and socially conservative people.

    Today, a lot of people are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Maybe we need to balance that.

        1. Massinissa

          I object to the insinuation that someone who quotes the bible is automatically socially conservative.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Objection noted.

            In fact, you are right.

            What happens here is a specific reference to a mutual friend we know.

  17. ScottS

    Alfred Anaya Put Secret Compartments in Cars. So the DEA Put Him in Prison:
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/03/alfred-anaya/all/

    “What’s troubling a lot of people is that this conviction seems to impose a new sort of liability on people that create state-of-the-art technology,” says Branden Bell, an attorney in Olathe, Kansas, who is handling Anaya’s appeal. “The logic goes that because he suspected his customers of doing something, he had a duty to ask. But that is a duty that is written nowhere in the law.”

    The fascinating story of the criminalization of ignorance.

  18. Doug Terpstra

    On Warren’s “shellacking” of the Fed, let’s see a little bread with the circus please. She thought this was all about transparency? Oh that’s a good one. What Warren pretends not to understand is that the specific form of fraud, forgery, and robbery are “trade secrets”. If these specific processes were revealed to the public in any detail, beyond “mistakes were made; oops, here’s $1K for your trouble”, it could actually harm the banks’ ability to loot and possibly expose the Fed’s and OCC’s complicity.

    Warren sounds just a bit uppity here. She may have to be taken for a ride on Air Force One, a la Kucinich, in order to clarify her theatrical role in disaster capitalism, and to be reminded that she doesn’t have a big swinging dick to be questioning her pencil-dick masters in public.

    1. Jackrabbit

      As I watched the hearing, it seemed to me that it was the Regulators that were pretending:

      Pretending that they are powerless
      - that they have no power over consultants that are working on Regulator-mandated assignments? (Why isn’t their power over the Banks sufficient?)
      - that they have no power to release information about illegal foreclosures. (Remind me again: who do Regulators work for and what is their mission? And don’t criminal acts void contracts like confidentiality?)

      - Pretending that they were surprised that the reviews took so long and cost so much. They say they initially expected it would take 120 days and costs a few million dollars. These guys are supposed to know Banks and how to regulate them?

      - Pretending that “getting cash to consumers” was paramount. That’s why they cut the reviews short and settled for pennies on the dollar – without even accurately assessing the extent of the damage.

      - Pretending that their mission trumps Congressional oversight. Answering one question out of 11 (with minimal answers for 3 others.)

      ==

      SOMEHOW, Warren (and a very small number of others) seems to be doing a fairly good job at exposing Regulator malfeasance. I’m not saying she’s perfect but some think she’s got a magic wand or something.

      1. Lambert Strether

        “They say they initially expected it would take 120 days and costs a few million dollars.” If that was true, why didn’t they just do it themselves?

        The story is, is it not, that OCC voluntarily got out in front of the pack on this? I’d ask, who volunteered them?

        1. LucyLulu

          Are you suggesting the OCC employees should have done the review themselves?

          There were 4 million borrowers with loan files to be reviewed. I hardly think the OCC has the extra staff on hand for a project so large, even a project that only takes 120 days and would cost a few million dollars. They may also, one might hope, be aware of their limitations.

          Or were you suggesting the OCC hire the consultants themselves? That sounds like a reasonable proposition for a non-captured regulator.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        All excellent points. Manifest regulator malpractice, dereliction, negligence, and probably collusion are on embarrassing public display here, and Warren’s point-blank questions (almost) mandate follow-up action.

        However, I am now cynical enough to expect that the only follow up will consist of the typical wet-noodle lashing—like Carl Levin’s wink and nod to the OCC to be a bit more firm in its overlooked oversight of JPMorgan’s egregious criminality; or like the token fines levied on HSBC for rampant money laundering; or the nonexistent action for years of Libor rate-rigging.

        In that case, Warren’s credibility will be shrdded like all other Roman Senators before her, like Dodd, Kucinich, Lieberman, et al. Under the eunuch Reid, the Senate really has become a circus-sans-bread in the service of the kleptocracy. Warren has a shot at greatness, but I am certainly not holding my breath.

        1. Jackrabbit

          I share your cynicism. But I think Warren will be true to financial services transparency this because it is her signature issue.

          Whether it results in any real change is another matter. Warren is only part of the equation. Congress-critters will not risk their re-elections. Like many, I am surprised at how sheepish the American people have been. But maybe that is changing.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Oh, I guess you were being somewhat sarcastic (“She may have to taken for a ride on Air Force One”). Sorry, I didn’t get that at first.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree and this is why I haven’t posted on this yet. I don’t want to look like I’m loaded for bear for Warren. She is having an impact on the discourse, which is important (a lot of the bank strength is the perception of strength, if Warren can show they are a bunch of whinging welfare queens, that’s a big advance).

      But all this browbeating was a demonstration of powerless, not power. It’s the regulator version of the joke about corporate criminals, from Rodney Dangerfield:

      “Steal $1000 from the convenience store and you get 10 years in prison. Steal $100 million and you get called before Congress and called bad names for 10 minutes.”

      So I need to mull a bit and calibrate my response correctly.

      1. Jackrabbit

        I think Warren has been careful to position herself as pro-consumer, not anti-bank.

        I think this causes some confusion but probably makes her more effective / harder to detract/sideline.

        1. Lambert Strether

          In this context, I am not a “consumer.” I am a citizen. So I’ve got this old school idea that the rule of law ought to apply universally, and therefore that elite banksters shouldn’t have impunity. Operationally, the difference between a tongue lashing and a tongue bath would be what, exactly?

          1. Jackrabbit

            I understand and agree. All citizens have a stake in this.

            I may have been a bit too hasty in characterizing Warren. IIRC, she _DID_ remind the regulators at one point that they work for the American people (not the banks).

            Nevertheless, most of her remarks are focused on Banks providing consumer information. And that has been very effective in bringing to light issues that Banks want hidden.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Banks as “whinging welfare queens”. Classic. Dangerfield too, worthy of a British comedy skit.

        I too hope that Warren stands up and walks her talk. She has an appealing voice, an easily convincing message, and power in the Senate as committee member with a big pulpit . . . IF she chooses to use it. With determination, she could completely shift the paradigm. (Meanwhile, avoiding small aircraft ;-)

          1. Lambert Strether

            Nobody who takes “middle class” seriously as an analytical construct is in no way “the real deal.” Even if the “suck up, kick down” mentality is perfectly exemplified by Obama’s remaining supporters, who are cheerfully throwing elders and the poor under the bus to avoid the smidgeon of cognitive dissonance that seeing Obama steadily and whole as the con artist he truly is would entail.

          2. DolleyMadison

            Have to agree with Lam here…AT THE SAME TIME Warren was wagging her finger at the “regulators” Obama was meeting with Jamie Dimon and Brian Moynihan and other assorted banksters. So while Warren is asking how the banks were able to corrupt a regulatory mandate to review foreclosure files for evidence of fraud and abuse, the leader of her party is cozying up with the very CEOs responsible for the fraud…she may talk a good game but how does she have any credibility at all against the backdrop of Obama snuggling with Dimon and Brian.

          3. financial matters

            Have to admit I don’t really understand these comments but put another way I think Warren understands the problems of the 99%. She now has some political power and I don’t see her as needing FIRE money to support her activities as do many of our political class. Obama is definitely not displaying these attributes and I think he wants to benefit from the FIRE sector. I think the FIRE sector has to be seen clearly as extractive of the real economy not to mention its blatantly fraudulent activities.

  19. Michael Hudson

    Great video of Ms. Warren, Yves.
    So NOW that you’ve seen her in action in the senate, do you STILL regret that she settled for that, in contrast to getting the job of heading the consumer protection advocacy? (My own fear is that Obama would have just ignored her.)
    or, has she become even a stronger advocate?
    This is not a rhetorical question. I’m simply curious as to how the pros and cons work out as of today.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Her beating up on the regulators has not led to a change in outcomes. And they’ve been stonewalling her and I don’t see that changing either. So even in her limited objective of getting more disclosure, she’s not gotten anywhere yet.

      So while she has shown she has a bully pulpit, it’s not clear yet how she is going to convert this into concrete outcomes. She’s barely been in office, so it is early to tell.

    2. LucyLulu

      FWIW, IMO Warren would have carried more clout as the head of the CFPB. As a senator she is one of 50 and is limited in what she can do where “the banks own the place”. She can’t single-handedly pass legislation or sanction institutions (or joined by a couple others, e.g. Brown). I think she would like to see real reform, but is limited by not having god-like powers.

      Rep. Hansen Clarke, to Slate, after losing in 2012 in gerrymandered Detroit district, on Congress:

      “Everybody in this building knows that the housing market was the root of the financial crisis. Here’s the problem: They’re scared of crossing the financial industry and being defeated with the industry’s money. So they’re silent. Silent. Silent. Silent. Their rationale is: If I get defeated, I’m not going to be able to do anything. That’s what the problem is. I want to start a $20 million PAC for the people on the street. Then I’d get something done.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What we think of as a house can in fact be several ‘houses.’

          I imagine my cat, living 6 inches off the floor…she experiences a whole different house than I do, living in the stratosphere, by comparison.

          And we utilize household things and rooms differently. What I value as a decorative rug, is to her a scratch mat. There are nooks and crannies that I am not aware of but are treasures to her.

          1. Klassy!

            Yes, I’ve thought about how differently the world must look to my cat– also, the differences in vision. For some reason, this bothers me. It also bothers me that other people do not percieve the world exactly as I do. I want to think there is stability to what I see. There’s no good reason I should feel this way.

    1. craazyman

      If that dude spends the weekend at home, I’ll bet he can reach planet 17 without any artificial propulsion.

  20. just me

    Re Margaret Thatcher’s legacy: roundup of the best writing Guardian — they left off Craig Murray’s piece! Would have been great as final selection: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/04/margaret-thatcher/

    Let me give one anecdote to which I can personally attest. In leaving office she became a “consultant” to US tobacco giant Phillip Morris. She immediately used her influence on behalf of Phillip Morris to persuade the FCO to lobby the Polish government to reduce the size of health warnings on Polish cigarette packets. Poland was applying to join the EU, and the Polish health warnings were larger than the EU stipulated size.

    I was the official on whose desk the instruction landed to lobby for lower health warnings. I refused to do it. My then Ambassador, Michael Llewellyn Smith (for whom I had and have great respect) came up with the brilliant diplomatic solution of throwing the instruction in the bin, but telling London we had done it.

    So as you drown in a sea of praise for Thatcher, remember this. She was prepared to promote lung cancer, for cash.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps she wanted to be a Native American.

      Wonder if she believed in the sacred, but not recreational, use of tobacco (and marijuana).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One of those days, I will have a funny story that has not been spoofed before.

    2. Zachary Smith

      From the link:

      *** A friend of South African apartheid and mass murderers – from Kissinger and Pinochet to the Khmer Rouge after they had killed two million Cambodians – she was a zealous saleswoman for the arms industry. ***

      I suppose a person ought to feel sympathy for surviving family members, but from all accounts I’ve seen the woman truly was a ‘wicked witch’.

  21. Valissa

    re: Vermont Employer uses Behavioral Economics to Turn Debt into Wealth

    Enjoyed that story very much, thanks! It was fascinating to see how this win-win situation, with clear benefits for both the employees and the employers, was socially engineered using ideas from behavioral economics.

  22. ScottS

    Congress Repeals Financial Disclosure Requirements For Senior U.S. Officials:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/04/12/177063450/congress-repeals-financial-disclosure-requirements-for-senior-u-s-officials

    The provision was part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (Stock), which became law in March of 2012. The act was intended to stop members of congress from profiting from nonpublic information.

    So, who had “this would last just over a year” in the pool? Whoever had “under a year” must be furious!

    1. AbyNormal

      surfed around to read some ‘thoughts’ on this…im feeling sick to my stomach. please don’t shoot the messenger but i’ve heard pain shared is usually lessened

      LA Times:
      Barack Hussein Obama is en route to becoming America’s first 21st Century transformational President. In his 1st term, President Obama:

      Guided the US out of the GW Bush recession and ended the mistaken nonsense Iraq war;
      Signed major healthcare legislation to give all Americans access to medical care that had others fought for but failed to do for 100 years; and
      Presided over the greatest cultural shift in American politics on issues like marriage equality and immigration.

      For his 2nd term, President Obama is leading on a non-notorious B-I-G legislative agenda for a Budget (grand bargain) on sustainable deficit /debt paths, enforceable Immigration reform and enhanced Gun regulation. If legislation with strict background checks, Dems agreeing to slow entitlement growth and Repubs agreeing to raise tax revenues, and with real enforceable immigration reforms gets through Congress and become law, Barack Hussein Obama will cement his legacy as a 21st Century transformational President.

      John Kennedy in the 1960s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s changed America’s trajectory. President Obama is changing America’s trajectory for the 21s Century. Among other successful achievements, President Obama is an effective megaphone by which the people of America speak which truly is transformational.

      (please confirm…we’re nearing the end)

      1. Glenn Condell

        True, but doesn’t the fire of anger cool down to leave the embers of depression? Probably it varies with personality type; maybe with some people the occasional dummy-spit is like a spring clean, dispelling the grumpy fug leaving fresh air behind.

        I have gorged on facts every day since the advent of the super-highway allowed me to from the late 90s on. I am helluva lot more informed, but am I happier? That’s a toughie.

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