Links and Quick Takes 5/20/08

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‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails Times Online

Reconciling Estimates: Biofuels and Food Prices Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

The Real Source of Gladiator Politics Robert Reich’s Blog

Some Closing Comments Across the Curve. This stood out:

One salesman reported to me an example of irrational exuberance in the corporate bond market. It seems that on Friday that in extremis homebuilder Hovanian (HOV) was able to execute a $600million private placement of 5 year notes. The bond carried a Sisyphean 11 ½ percent coupon. I assume that the bond came at 100 on Friday and the middle of the market on the issue at one point today was 104.

Banks Keep $35 Billion Markdown Off Income Statements Bloomberg (hat tip, The Financial Ninja). This is significant, and I managed to miss the story during the day. Key quote:

Taking losses on a balance sheet instead of an income statement is acceptable under accounting rules, which make a distinction between so-called trading books and long-term investments. Changes in value on the trading side go straight to revenue. Changes in the value of bonds held for the long haul can be marked down on the equity line of a balance sheet, as long as the declines aren’t considered permanent.

SAR #8140 Some Assembly Required

Don’t Look Now, But SoCal Home Sales Surged in April Paul Jackson. Note the high proportion of foreclosure sales…

“Short sellers are an endangered species, like the dodo bird” FT Alphaville

A Rout, not a Crisis Russ Winter. On propaganda. Go read it

Mies Madness Culture of Life News

Oil Producers Mask Decade’s Worst S&P 500 Profit Drop Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:

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