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Links 1/24/14

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A New Physics Theory of Life Quanta (Nikki)

Bodily maps of emotions PNAS. But what about people who don’t “feel” their emotions?

ALMOST EVERYTHING IN “DR. STRANGELOVE” WAS TRUE New Yorker

A simple formula for climate-linked economic damage VoxEU

Lew and Dimon warn of Bitcoin dangers Financial Times. Technophiles may pooh-pooh the comments as mispresenting Bitcoin, but they miss the significance. If Treasury really has decided that Bitcoin could be used by terrorists, that means it will be included in the anti-terrorist finance operation. That effort gets top attention from regulators and central bankers around the world and hires top notch independent contractors.

Bitcoin is not optimized for privacy Ian Welsh

CEO … or Caveman??? Huffington Post. On the TransPacific Partnership.

US trade shocker one step closer to reality MacroBusiness. The US is now openly bullying.

Another Look at China’s GDP Numbers WSJ Real Time Economics

Political crisis in Thailand: You go your way, I’ll go mine Economist

WaPo Blames Ukraine For Enacting U.S. Like Laws Moon of Alabama

Eurozone manufacturing expansion accelerates; risks remain Walter Kurtz

Romance and Reform: Does Hollande Mean Business This Time? Der Spiegel

West’s 30-year vendetta with Iran is finally buried in Davos Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Deadly blasts hit central Cairo BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Live Q&A with Edward Snowden

Government oversight board issues report saying NSA bulk phone calls program is illegal Daily Kos (Carol B)

U.S. Willing to Hold Talks if Snowden Pleads Guilty New York Times. At best, playing to the media.

NY Times’ Jill Abramson: ‘This Is The Most Secretive White House…I Have Ever Dealt With‘ Huffington Post. Quelle surprise!

Huge ‘Super PAC’ Is Moving Early to Back Clinton New York Times

A Safe Harbor Without Full Protection New York Times. On creditor efforts to use state law claims to challenge the senior position of derivatives counterparties in bankruptcy.

Feds indict Klansman trying to build an anti-Muslim X-ray cannon Raw Story (furzy mouse). Only in America….

Slammed by food stamp cuts, New York City soup kitchens ran out of food Daily Kos (Carol B)

Hospital Chain Said to Scheme to Inflate Bills New York Times

54% of Republicans Say We’ve Got Too Much Inequality George Washington

Harvard, MIT Online Courses Dropped by 95% of Registrants Bloomberg. Lambert: “Remember the UVA thing, when the whole board and the Deans and the squillionaire donors were all excited about MOOCs? And that’s why they fired the President in the dead of night, because she wasn’t sufficiently enthusiastic? And now…. Here we are.”

Dr. Doom Roubini: Tech to Replace White Collar Jobs Bloomberg

Low-Wage Workers Have far More Education than They Did in 1968, yet They Make far Less EPI (Carol B)

Ignore Davos man MacroBusiness

Nassim Taleb: If Bankers Don’t Like Bonus Caps They Should Grow Some Balls And Start A Hedge Fund DealBreaker

Existing Home Sales Soaring Highs Deceptive Economic Populist

Tsunami of Retail Store Closings and Downsizings Coming; Expect Layoffs and Shorter Hours Michael Shedlock. If you kill wage growth and employment levels, this is the eventual result, further depressing spending…

This Is How Tops Are Made Karl Denninger (Scott)

The Bull Market Ends (or Is It Just a Correction?) Barry Ritholtz. Funny, sentiment was almost universally bullish a mere ten days ago?

Consumer Manipulation Bruce Schneier

Hierarchy Works Pieria

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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75 comments

  1. F. Beard

    Wonderful antidote, I’m not sheepish to say.

    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10

    1. XO

      I’ve been around a few farm animals, including sheep. There’s a good chance that shortly after this pic was snapped, that sheep (or one of the flock), knocked that little girl down. They ain’t goats, but they ain’t people, either.

          1. OregonChris

            I like this antidote too. Even if the sheep did knock her down after this picture she was more than likely fine. 2-3 year olds fall down all of the time and generally don’t get injured by a ground level fall… Mom or Dad or Grandparents or someone who cares was probably right outside the frame ready to pick her up.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Somehow, it reminds me of the golden ‘Ram in a Thicket’ they dug up at the Royal Cemetary of Ur.

  2. fatmoron

    Speaking for myself, I tried to take an EdX class during the fall, and actually found it to be pretty informative and interesting. I would have finished it if the course material was compliant with the computers at my job site. Unfortunately, they ran exclusively IE, and EdX was glitchy as hell running through Internet Explorer (at least in my experience).

  3. Kevin257

    Another interesting post from Bruce Schneier, Income Inequality as a Security Issue, makes the point that inequality also drains the economy because it “pulls production away from value creation to protecting and securing the wealthy’s assets: one in five of the British workforce, for example, works as ‘guard labour’ ” and such jobs “generate little value and lower overall productivity.”

  4. fadez

    “Lew and Dimon warn of Bitcoin dangers Financial Times. Technophiles may pooh-pooh the comments as mispresenting Bitcoin, but they miss the significance. If Treasury really has decided that Bitcoin could be used by terrorists, that means it will be included in the anti-terrorist finance operation. That effort gets top attention from regulators and central bankers around the world and hires top notch independent contractors.”

    Before or after the FBI auctions off its millions of dollars of bitcoins, I wonder?

    I think the blockchain will offer rich pickings for investigators. They should give it some time. Besides, anything bad said of Bitcoin in the article applies equally to USD.

    I find it a bit rich when Jamie Dimon, in particular, expresses incredulity when: (1) the aggregate of fines and settlements paid by JPM (all woefully insufficient, I might add!) while under Jamie Dimon’s control greatly exceeds the entire market value of all bitcoins in existence; and (2) JPM keeps trying to patent a Bitcoin alternative despite 175 rejections to date!

  5. diptherio

    Re: Hierarchy Works

    Interesting article, and difficult, especially for a constitutional anarchist like myself. Having been a part of number of hierarchies (as we all have), both functional and dysfunctional, and also having been (and being) a part of a number of “non-hierarchical” groups, I can relate to what Francis is saying. It took all of five minutes at the Occupy encampment for people to be looking to me for answers and asking me what to do (fortunately, I wasn’t the only one). I guess that’s why I’ve been accused of having “natural leadership qualities”…There may be organizations composed entirely of equals–who act like equals–but I haven’t found it yet.

    So the question is really not how to get rid of hierarchy, but rather how to make it as functional as possible. One of the best managed jobs I’ve had was as a housekeeper at a nursing home. The maintenance/janitorial manager was a woman named Sheryl who made it a point to ask her employees for advice on work-processes and generally went out of her way to make sure that everyone felt they were being listened to and–here’s the radical part–that they actually were. Sheryl was a great manager because she spent so much time subverting the normal expectation of how a manger should relate to her staff.

    In one of the Illuminatus! books, Hagbard Celine, leader of the League of Dynamic Discord says that he spends most of his time trying to discourage his crew (they all live on a yellow submarine, of course) from treating him like their leader. It’s clear that there is some sort of hierarchy in the LDD, but it’s definitely not the usual kind.

    I think the most important factor (or one of the most important) is the attitude of those at the top. If they are the sort that just likes to boss people around, and is mainly in it for themselves, the whole org will suffer. If, on the other hand, the “top dog” has the best interests of the staff and the org at heart, they can use their leadership position to make life better for everybody. Unfortunately, that second type of management personality seems rather rare these days, and we usually find the first sort running our organizations (often as not straight into the ground).

    Another important consideration is the extent to which participation in a hierarchy is voluntary or forced. If we voluntarily place ourselves beneath someone else in a group setting (as many people seemed happy to do wrt me at Occupy, for instance) then we are less likely to feel put-upon by the demands/requests of those above us. However, if we have become a member of a hierarchy out of necessity, in order to keep a roof over our heads, and are made to do what another tells us, we are more likely to resent the hierarchy.

    This, so far as I can tell, is one of the main problems with work, as most people experience it here in the US. You have to work which means you have to submit yourself to a hierarchy–and since there are many more menial positions than management positions, most people will be required to exist on the lower rungs of a hierarchy that they have entered only out of necessity. I think this fact alone can go a long way to explaining the incredible rates of depression in our society.

    1. Brindle

      Re: “Hierarchy Works”
      The level of individual self-awareness of participants in a hierarchy is central to its benefits for all those involved. A pack of wolves is an excellent example of an evolved hierarchy.

    2. McMike

      My first post-college job was a large corporation. Highly hierarchical, almost military-like in its progression of ranks. It remains the most high-functioning environment I have been in.

      I have ever since then tried to turn away from it and embrace hippy-dippy experiments in “empowerment,” flat organizations, etc. Truth is, a little bit of enlightened hierarchy goes a long long way.

      Leaderless organizations remind me of this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAaWvVFERVA Anarcho-Syndicalist Commune.

      It’s a tough pill for a liberal-libertarian-socialist to swallow.

      1. diptherio

        “Enlightened” is the key word there. All too often, the leaders of our hierarchies are not all that enlightened. At the aforementioned nursing home, for instance, the head administrator and the owners of the facility (Sage Corp.) were quite obviously devoted to “maximizing shareholder value,” (or at least to minimizing costs) which led to atrocious conditions for staff and residents alike. The middle management was pretty good, but the upper management were first class d-bags.

        Hierarchies may be inevitable to some extent, but the best functioning ones are likely those where the people in power are not principally concerned with exerting power. The Myth of Maximizing Shareholder Value post from today seems a propos in this regard, as well as the post from 2007 linked to therein.

        Again. I think the important things are that hierarchical relations are entered into willingly and that they serve a purpose beyond the maintenance of hierarchical relations.

        1. McMike

          As a manager, project manager, and facilitator, I have learned a valuable lesson (the hard way). Although I usually enter a project/issue with very specific idea for solution, if I can step back and engage the staff/stakeholders, bring them along with me, and let go and let them have real input/impact into the process, what results is inevitably similar to what I envisioned, but much better due to modifications/enhancements. And it is usually workable. And of there’s course buy-in.

          And occasionally I find out I was flat wrong. So the trick is to let go and understand that I might get turned down. You can’t fake it.

          So the trick is a very physically and emotionally draining and time consuming high-wire dance between leading and letting go. Hiding my intentions while showing my biases. Blending Socratic method with trial lawyer leading questions. Holding the leash loosely while opening the cage door and window. etc.

          aka enlightened manipulation, but without a net.

          1. diptherio

            The owner/benevolent dictator of the semi-communal hippy-hotel I live in has mastered what we refer to as “the weak force.” Just enough “dictating” to keep the whole thing on the rails, while granting large amounts of room for personal variation and improvisation. Sounds like you’re also mastering the weak force.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s hard for us who were born into a hierarchical world to say if it’s possible or impossible to be otherwise.

            There is a natural tendency, undoubtedbly, to attach ourselves to those who are more capable than us. Maybe he/she is older, more experienced. Maybe out of habit, we simply follow. I assume every situation is unique, with many, many situations for each person. Perhaps I don’t know how today and so, I follow someone. But as soon as I learn how, I want to be treated as equal, or maybe, I will always be content with following…

            Situations change.

            The risk is always that someone abuses it to your disadvantage.

            1. McMike

              I think the attraction to mentors is innate.

              Society used to be largely oriented around bringing their youth into the tribe in productive capacities. And that is, of course, what parenting is all about.

              There’s a range of books about how that is lacking in modern life. Lacking good mentoring from our parents and community, absent coming of age processes, and without purposeful apprenticeships, we are adrift as adults; looking for someone to fill that role.

              It is one of my greatest regrets in life not making a point of seeking mentors.

              Being on the tail end of the baby boom, I have often felt like the after-dinner mint that follows a fat boar through the belly of the python. Too young to grab the generational mentorships and entrench in the vacancies; too old to have a boomer take me under their wing. I often find myself advising or working for people just a few years older than me. At least that’s the way it worked out for me. Tom Tomorrow called us the “wedgie generation” – stuck between Boomers and X-ers.

              If you sort of chart my life timeline against cultural, technological, economic, “great turning:” sort of themes, you find me a lot in between. A tweener. Intermission man.

              I could have gotten in on the late 1980′s bond orgy and gotten rich with some of my college pals I suppose, but I never had a taste for Wall Street.

    3. RanDomino

      Yeah that article was some bullshit. Just because something is ‘natural’ does not mean it’s good. If “works” means “results in a nightmare world of enforced violence” then okay yeah I guess it “works”.

  6. XO

    Someone — I believe it was Glenn Greenwald, long before he was prominent — wrote an article, the gist of which was that just because a person was despicable, did not mean that every position they held, nor their every utterance, was automatically false.

    It reminds me of the Bitcoin story, above.

    While the Bitcoin might be used to fund terrorist activities, and therefore be dangerous to general peace and order, the truth is that it would only supplant the dollar’s current role as the currency of choice for waging war and violence across the globe.

    There is lots or money — the specie of which matters not — to be made on warring and hatred.

    The difference being that the dollar currently holds a monopoly on that function.

    Bitcoin is, indeed, dangerous to someone.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It was only yesterday that the worry was central bankers taking over Bitcoin or using Bitcoin to keep the party going.

  7. Klassy

    I agree with Snowden that the storage of the metadata for 5 years (or indefinitely) is the most evil part of the surveillance program– worse than the chilling effect because the private sector already has that covered.

    1. Andrew Watts

      I’m pretty sure telecom companies only store data for about a year. It depends on which company we’re talking about. I’ve heard some only do it for 3-6 months.

  8. financial matters

    It seems that the solvency problem eventually had to run into the liquidity problem.

    Liquidity works if you have a temporary problem that just needs patching over but the underlying collateral is sound.

    These currency problems seem to be calling in the ponzi schemes.

    Sovereign currencies need to work from the ground up rather than relying on foreign exchange and destructive capital flows.

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=227894

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/24/britain-boe-dollar-idUSL9N0GY05I20140124

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/09/a-financial-sovereignty-strategy-for-egypt.html

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: Government oversight board issues report saying NSA bulk phone calls program is illegal

    While the headlines may be reporting that the privacy advisory group wants this mass surveillance program shutdown, their follow up recommendation enable the government a transition period until a new program can be instituted by Congress. This transition process doesn’t significantly modify the program nor do they specify what would be done if Congress didn’t create a new program. This leads me to suspect they’re trying to run down the clock on the American people’s attention span.

    Their overall solution to this problem is just as bad as the original metadata program. They suggest that national security letters (NSL) be used in place of any searches of a metadata telephone/internet database. There is a multitude of problems with this suggestion. The overly restrictive nature of being issued a NSL runs contrary to how a democratic society should operate. Their issue do not have to for the sole purpose of a counter-terrorism investigation. They also can be used to obtain more intrusive records beyond phone/internet metadata. Furthermore, the FBI has consistently under reported to Congress the amount of NSLs that have been issued over the years. If you consider the usage and abuse of the NSL topic they should be reformed alongside the intelligence community’s mass surveillance programs.

    This report was not very encouraging in any of these regards. The good news is that their report is the most complete historical account to date of the intelligence community’s mass surveillance metadata program. They also included omissions from previously declassified FISA court rulings. A part of this historical account included a detailed history of NSA abuses of this program.

    Some of these abuses are relatively minor like an analyst accidentally emailing metadata to an unauthorized user. More moderate risks include an incident where intel from this database was posted to an inter-government website (wiki?) that revealed it to other government agencies unauthorized to view it. The most disturbing revelation is an incident that resulted in the daily misuse of the program derived from what sounds like an experimental project. The purpose of this project sounded like an advanced algorithm meant to automate the collection of metadata from their database for analysis. In the interests of fairness I’ll let the report and General Alexander explain this particular case.

    “As explained in a supporting declaration filed by NSA Director Keith Alexander, “it appears there was never a complete understanding among the key personnel” who reviewed the agency’s reports to the court “regarding what each individual meant by the terminology used” in the reports. “Furthermore, from a technical standpoint, there was no single person who had a complete technical understanding of the [program's] system architecture.”

    When the non-compliance issues was discovered the DoJ immediately informed the FISC. I’m not sure I want to speculate further into this incident. It’s a lot to unpack as it reveals the mindset of those highly intelligent technicians and their goals.

    Other than that incident there is nothing overtly malicious that implicates the NSA in any deliberate legal malfeasance. Beyond the fact the NSA has used section 205 of the Patriot Act to enable the massive expansion of their authority to collect domestic metadata. This is something that Senator Wyden has consistently warned us about over the last few years.

    1. Andrew Watts

      The comment was already too long as it was. Otherwise I would’ve included more quotes from the report. Also I meant section 215 of the Patriot Act and not 205 as I wrote.

    1. MikeNY

      You can hardly predict something that you’re not sure exists… the Fed is a dogmatic bubble agnostic.

      It is also a serial bubble-blower, because it overstimulates. Why does it overstimulate? Because its models are broken and wrong: it still believes in 3%+ real GDP growth; it still believes FASTER GROWTH is the answer to all our problems, including ever-worsening economic injustice; it still believes in the growth talisman. And it has a Messiah complex.

      The Fed is a deluded, dangerous, deranged and functionally reactionary institution.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We live under a GDP Growth totalitarian state.

        If you speak out against GDP growth, if you are less than enthusiastic about stimulating the economy, be warned that you will be sent to a gulag to be reformed so you can eventually become a patriotic GDP contributing citizen.

        GO GDP GO!

        1. susan the other

          Yes. This is a tyranny of our own making. The article on the viability of a carbon tax is based on GDP. But it doesn’t carry its logic to its own source which is the capacity of the earth and humans to use economic growth. If it factored in this, and population estimates, etc. would a carbon tax sound viable over time. While we are farting around with a carbon tax to mitigate damage caused by global warming, the planet seems to be in stage five extinction of plants and animals and human toxics. Not to even mention the gyres of plastic and the accumulation of CO2 at 20% each year in the gone-forever upper atmosphere… I’m not confident that any of this will solve anything because it is based on our GDP totalitarian mindset. Not to mention Fukushima…

  10. Bridget

    In Tokyo and Yokohama, many of the larger train and subway stations do double duty as shopping malls, food markets, and restaurant and entertainment arcades. Commuters spend a lot of time in these facilities as they travel to and from work and around the city. I imagine giant American shopping malls reinventing and repurposing themselves as transportation hubs one day, thereby capturing customers who will no longer drive to the mall simply to shop, but will pass through the mall regularly while using public transportation to go about their daily business.

  11. yan

    This article is on the Trans Atlantic Trade Deal (the one with Europe) and talks mostly about the clauses (de)regulating food. While in Europe, for now, there is complete traceability from “farm to plate”, the US, in its omniscient grandeur, only requires food companies/restaurants/vendors/shitpeddlers to certify the final thing, where you never know where it came from or even what it is that you will be ingesting. That’s one of the things that the US is requiring and that apparently is getting major pushback.

    http://lamentable.org/?p=14334

    Sic transit gloria mundi

    1. JohnL

      Gloria was sick on the bus on Monday?
      Similar traceability differences apply to industrial chemicals for example.

  12. JTFaraday

    re: Harvard, MIT Online Courses Dropped by 95% of Registrants, Bloomberg

    Voting with their feet. I never thought that on-line TV telecourse idea was too engaging. And if anything, teaching things that actually matter–like writing–is probably more labor intensive on-line, not less. Not that any of that would stop them if they could make more money doing it.

    That said, I would read Marx on-line with David Harvey, (outside the MOOC venture):

    http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital/

  13. McMike

    Golly, so the nuclear arsenal was in fact always one drunk/sociopath/terrorist/schizophrenic away from global annihilation? The leaders knew it and pissed their pants over it, but never really did anything about it, or God Forbid told the public? The second tier leaders ignored and subverted the leaders? The mid-tier operators basically ignored everything and sloshed around in a giant FUBAR kabuki?

    This despite official dog and pony assurances that we have all sorts of fail-safes and techno-assurances and the best possible rigorous safeguards, human screening, training etc ad nausea.

    I wonder what other dangerous and complex systems follow this same plot line?

    *cough* nuclear power
    *cough* fracking
    *cough* GMO foods
    *cough* NSA

    1. Ex-PFC Chuck

      Per Schlosser’s book what progress was made in clawing control back to the Oval Office was mainly the work of Kennedy.

    2. susan the other

      McMike. No kidding. A contemporary truth that only fiction could tell. It’s hard to imagine that we were once a nation of Quakers whose main imperative was not to engage in deception and hype. We need a new Quaker movement.

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for your first link to the article from Quanta on “A New Physics Theory of Life”. Fascinating… carrying the causal factors forward would seem to make mating unnecessary for procreation of life, which w/b too bad for reasons identified in your second link today from PNAS.

    We have fossil evidence of gender differences among dinosaurs. Makes one wonder what factors in the evolution of life led to this happy outcome.

    1. susan the other

      I enjoyed it too. Makes me respect geology, rocks and rubble. Those theories about biology and entropy have been around a long time. And the new tech that reduces “machines” to the geometry of molecules (or atoms?) which do the work all by themselves. (Nano?)

  15. EmilianoZ

    Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/01/strangelove-for-real.html

    President John F. Kennedy was surprised to learn, just a few weeks after taking office, about this secret delegation of power. “A subordinate commander faced with a substantial military action,” Kennedy was told in a top-secret memo, “could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative if he could not reach you.” Kennedy and his national-security advisers were shocked not only by the wide latitude given to American officers but also by the loose custody of the roughly three thousand American nuclear weapons stored in Europe.

    The most unlikely and absurd plot element in “Strangelove” is the existence of a Soviet “Doomsday Machine.” The device would trigger itself, automatically, if the Soviet Union were attacked with nuclear weapons…..A decade after the release of “Strangelove,” the Soviet Union began work on the Perimeter system, a network of sensors and computers that could allow junior military officials to launch missiles without oversight from the Soviet leadership. Perhaps nobody at the Kremlin had seen the film. Completed in 1985, the system was known as the Dead Hand. Once it was activated, Perimeter would order the launch of long-range missiles at the United States if it detected nuclear detonations on Soviet soil and Soviet leaders couldn’t be reached. Like the Doomsday Machine in “Strangelove,” Perimeter was kept secret from the United States; its existence was not revealed until years after the Cold War ended.

  16. sleepy

    Re: Iran

    It would seem that sanctions against Iran will soon be effectively dead, regardless of whether Congress successfully interferes with any ongoing negotiations.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Roubini, Tech to replace white collar jobs.

    One day, mark my words, serfs will replace robots.

    You can’t replace humans slaves that easily!

    I want my slave job back!!!!

    1. Jackrabbit

      Sorry Mike, you couldn’t be more wrong. Krugman is mostly writing to say: “I support the President”. He has also written in support of TPP. Connect the dots and THINK about what this support really means.

      The Obama Administration’s agenda:
      1) “Solve” inequality with higher minimum wage
      > > But allow the rich party on (and the income boost will fade over time)

      As discussed here the other day, higher minimum wages are likely to make slightly more jobs available (due to increased spending) but cause people to stay in their jobs longer. This makes it even more difficult for those without a job.

      Remember: There are millions who are unemployed and millions more that are jobless but not counted by the BLS.

      Raising the minimum wage “buys” Obama some populist good will that he will use to push TPP.

      2) “Solve” unemployment with TPP
      > > More jobs for now (in exchange for Constitutional rights and sovereignty of the people

      1. Jackrabbit

        I think Krugman’s link in the blogroll should be replaced by a link to the WH press office.

        Keep the name “Paul Krugman” – just change the link: Paul Krugman

      2. Jackrabbit

        I guess I’d better make this clear:

        I am not against an increase in the minimum wage. It is long overdue. I’m against Obama’s formulation of an increase in the minimum wage as the answer to inequality.

        And I’m against Obama’s “selling” of TPP as a source of jobs. He could’ve made a forceful case for addtiional stimulous or jobs program. Instead, he made most of the Bush tax cuts permanent and instituted austerity programs for the rest of us.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I am in the minority on this, but I think that remedy gives just a brief respite before they resume their economic waterboarding…economic death is not the goal here, though occasionally it does happen.

          What good is a dead serf?

          Those in pain, understandably, will be thankful. The other prisoners, waiting for their turns, will likely reflect and desire for economic waterboarding to go away completely.

          1. MikeNY

            Beef,

            I am with Hugh, and you, I think, that a living wage and meaningful work for every willing worker is a matter of basic human decency, so I don’t really disagree with you. But again — I think today’s column was diagnosis; it wasn’t solutions or cures. And I will take a correct, or correcter, diagnosis as a step toward the right cure.

            I think people here know how I feel about growth for growth’s sake.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re right about differentiating btw diagnosis and solution.

              I would add about differentiating btw long term and short term solutions.

              Even not immediate, let it be stated and entered in the record.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                ‘…into the record.’

                By the way, it’s great more and more people are rebelling against the GDP Growth ueber alles totalitarian state.

        2. MikeNY

          Jack,

          You may be right on your specific beefs with Krugman, but PK didn’t bring any of that up in his piece today in the NYT.

          His solutions may be wrong, but today’s diagnosis — that the wealth and income disparity is pernicious, is perhaps the most pressing social issue facing America, and his Keynes citation — seem to me absolutely right, spot on.

          “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” — Voltaire

          1. Jackrabbit

            I bet you fell for the ‘hope and change’ thing too. Sheesh.

            Once bitten, twice shy.

            Krugman is a big supporter of the Obama Administration and TPP in particular. What more do you need to know? Do they have to wear team uniforms before you get it?

            Follow the money – and follow the logic.

          2. Jackrabbit

            I meant to add: you wouldn’t be the only one to have fallen for the ‘hope and change’ nonsense.

            But so many seem all-too-willing to be ‘had’ again by some other establishment guru/expert/pol.

            1. MikeNY

              I’m sympathetic to someone’s disillusionment with BO, and to reasoned objections to PK’s policy prescriptions.

              I’m not sympathetic to a logic that submits that the truth value of any proposition is a function of who utters it.

              We’ll just have to disagree.

              1. Jackrabbit

                As a general rule, I think people deserve to be heard out. But Krugman is a different animal. He has crossed from economics into the realm of the political. And his pro-Obama stance (in what he says – and doesn’t say) are too consistent to give him the benefit of the doubt on most issues.

                I think of Krugman as any partisan political operative on the left or right. But Krugman PRETENDS that he is just an independent expert. Unfortunately, he has built a fan base for whom he can do not wrong. Like Obama, we get excuse after excuse: his heart is in the right place!; the republicans are worse!; he’s right _most_ of the time, etc. Thus, he spouts BS – like promoting bubbles with impunity. And from his lofty academic perch he deftly helps the Obama Administration shape public opinion.

                In the post that you pointed to today, Krugman is promoting Obama as a good guy doing what is right in raising the minimum wage and addressing the awful inequality that plagues us. (If you listen closely you can almost hear the cheers: Hooray! Go team!) But Obama really has little concern for the little guy. As demonstrated again and again – from the BS “I go to sleep at night and wakeup in the morning thinking of the unemployed”, to Michelle’s “Change takes time” speech, to the sequester, to his not pushing for a jobs program.

                What Obama WANTs is to use the jobless to promote his trade agenda. This will serve the interests of those who matter to the Obama Administration. And Krugman is on-the-team.

                So don’t make excuses for Krugman. And don’t pretend that he deserves a hearing like anyone else. He has an agenda as much as Summers or Bernanke or Lew or Obama, etc.

                And make no mistake, ‘bashing’ the corrupt Democrats does not mean that I am pro-Republican. to me, the whole political process is just an elaborate means of bribery.
                /rant

  18. McMike

    re Manipulation. I remember back in the days of telco deregulation, when I first heard the pricing term “unbundling.”

    How far we have fallen since.

    Buying a cell phone plan, choosing a service contract on your appliance purchase, buying health insurance… it’s all a giant crap shoot.

    Most people know on some level that the game is rigged, and they are probably getting hosed. I do major spreadsheets and try and reason out the risk and distill it down to the underlying assumptions… major waste of time, I think I would be better off flipping a coin.

  19. cyclops

    “US trade shocker one step closer to reality MacroBusiness.”

    I live in an area that has world class sand and gravel deposits, a legacy of the glacial epoch. Existing gravel pits are grandfathered and there are significant, nearly unsurmountable hurdles for establishing new ones.

    The question is, under the new proposed trade giveaways – if they’re unfortunately approved – does anyone know if foreign corporations would be exempt from the rules or be able to claim financial harm because local and state law and regs prohibit the establishment of new pits? There’s also the question of whether local gravel companies would be able to partner with foreign corps to get around the rules.

  20. Jim Haygood

    ‘[Argentina's] reserves have tumbled at a rate of $1.1 billion a month over the past year to a seven-year low of $29.3 billion. Energy imports increased 23 percent to $11.4 billion in 2013 while exports fell 24 percent to $5.3 billion.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-24/argentina-to-ease-fx-controls-after-peso-devaluation.html

    Less than two years ago, Argentina seized oil company YPF from Repsol. “They should expropriate 100 percent, not just a part of it,” Fernando Solanas, a congressman and filmmaker who belongs to an opposition party, told the NYT in April 2012. “Oil is a public interest.”

    So much for ‘the people’ creating another Spindletop of gushers to achieve energy independence. As Mexicans learned from decades of bitter experience with Pemex, legions of ghost workers in state-owned petroleum monopolies are a recipe for relentless production declines. Now México is changing its constitution to end Pemex’s monopoly.

    Meanwhile, Argentina’s backpedaling (to quote the NYT again) ‘is symbolized by the rise of La Cámpora, a nationalist youth organization led by Mrs. Kirchner’s 34-year-old son, Máximo. Members of La Cámpora now hold supervisory or senior management positions in nationalized companies like YPF and the state airline.’

    How’s that workin’ out for y’all … letting a ‘nationallist youth organization’ manage the pillars of the economy? Hey, at least they get free Che T-shirts!

    1. McMike

      Indeed. They should open themselves up to foreign corporate and Wall Street exploitation.

      That’s works out so well for the rest of us.

    2. Marko

      “….Argentina’s YPF boosted oil output 3.4%, gas output 2.2% at operated fields in 2013″

      “In December, the company increased oil production at operated blocks by 8.7% and that of gas by 11.4% compared with the year-earlier period.”

      http://www.platts.com/latest-news/oil/buenosaires/argentinas-ypf-boosted-oil-output-34-gas-output-21100722

      also see the WSJ : http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20131105-711912.html

      JH asks : ” How’s that workin’ out for y’all … letting a ‘nationallist youth organization’ manage the pillars of the economy? ”

      So far , pretty good …….

  21. Hugh

    Important to remember that with permanently high unemployment the minimum wage is a target for employers to shoot for for all their employees. The effect is not to raise the overall wage structure but to depress it to the minimum, or even find creative ways, independent contractors, for example, to go below it. And of course, with Obamacare, worker costs can also be reduced by pushing them into part time work below 30 hours a week.

    If government provided a right to meaningful work at a living wage, then the private sector would have to compete in terms of wages, benefits, and job quality. This would put upward pressure in all these categories.

    On another point, it is interesting how Eric Holder sprouts a pair of balls and goes all Clint Eastwood when it comes to Edward Snowden, but when it comes to the largest frauds in human history and their perpetrators, Wall Street, the banks, the corps, even an electron microscope couldn’t find them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A secondary effect of the primary effect of pushing part time work to below 30 hours is that there will be more cars in the parking lot…meaning higher total worker-trip-mileages (only approximately of course, because not all workers drive) and more carbon emission, assuming, and not incorrectly judging from employment numbers, more part timers to staff the necessarily hours.

    2. psychohistorian

      I think that we need to get lots of folks to wake up to the history of repression.

      I have recently read a very powerful book by David McNally called Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism that I think supports the move to this end. You can get a taste of the author and book here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeyKvT2YYSE

  22. psychohistorian

    Thanks for the link. I did get a purloined copy, probably from there. Because I so support what David McNally is saying I have made a point of buying the book.

    I DO hope it is widely read, and the sooner the better.

    1. Skippy

      I do think it is incumbent on those that can afford it pay for it, tho, for some the knowledge is the primary importance. That’s why I bought a couple boxes of Yves book. and spread them around.

      skippy… here’s to the day when everyone does not observe the orb or life as numerical proofs.

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