Links 11/13/08

Songbirds ‘sing from hymn sheet’ BBC

Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? Smithsonian

Why Palin Still Matters Andrew Sullivan

No to Lawrence Summers The Nation. A petition against Summers as Treasury Secretary.

Should GE be a AAA company? Ed Harrison. If you blinked your eyes, you might have missed that GE got a bailout too. So many bailouts, so little time (left).

Lehman to put $8m of art on block Guardian

Retailers Feel Pinch of Returns New York Times

Bush Warns Against Dismantling Market Systems to Solve Crisis Bloomberg. A little late for that now, don’t you think?

Abandon all hope once you enter deflation Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. And a deflation data point: Red Sox Will Not Raise Ticket Prices New York Times.

Gold May Exceed $1,000 in Three Years, Morgan Stanley Says This view is based on (hold your breath) fundamentals.

Unadulterated version of China’s growth David Pilling, Financial Times

Paulson Abandons TARP, Where’s the Ridicule? Dean Baker

LoS to Become Bank Holding Company Long or Short Capital

Antidote du jour:

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  1. a

    How is the Red Sox *not* raising ticket prices (after astronomical increases over the course of a decade) a sign of deflation? Call me when I can afford an afternoon out at the ballpark for the family.

  2. River

    RE: ‘Why Palin Still Matters’

    ’46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural “identity”. Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring.’

    Our founding fathers hoped to avoid ‘the tyranny of the majority’, so they sought a republic, and were terrified by democracy.

    ‘This deluded and delusional woman still doesn’t understand what happened to her; still has no self-awareness; and has never been forced to accept her obvious limitations. She cannot keep even the most trivial story straight; she repeats untruths with a ferocity and calm that is reserved only to the clinically unhinged; she has the educational level of a high school drop-out; and regards ignorance as some kind of achievement. It is excruciating to watch her – but more excruciating to watch those who feel obliged to defend her.’

    The people that voted for Palin are the same group that put Bush in office twice. These voters do seem proud of their ignorance and they have been able to reach their current level of ignorance by their circumstances of an easy life style in the US. With a little bad fortune in the economic future of the individuals that believe that fundamentalisim, telling women what they can do with their bodies, telling same sex couples that they do not have the same rights as hetrosexuals, maybe this mass of ignorance will begin to wake up. Perhaps they will find out that eating and having shelter is more important than wishing for the rapture?

  3. Anonymous

    TARP About Face.

    Hey, it is really about the TARPaulin.

    Used by Paulson to coverup his bait and switch sell to Congress (remember the dire predictions of what will happen if it didn’t pass?)

    Now it turns out not to be needed.

    Or maybe it is a TARPalin, kind of like Sarah’s $150k wardrobe that doesn’t belong to her and have to be returned so she can wear clothes from the second hand shop.

    Brought to you from Ripley’s.

  4. Richard Kline

    Gobekli Tepe is a fascinating artifact. Arguably, it is _not_ the world’s first temple, since the conceptual system which is represented there had been extant for multiple millennia elsewhere as I have studied it. But it is one of the most complete surviving places explicitly conceived for worship, and a more comprehensive site for its conceptual system than known older ones. There is a link formed by this site to the inception of a particular kind of macroculture in the Near East which I do not fully understand, but we may never have enough evidence to do a comprehensive reconstruction. For all those reasons, Gobeklit Tepe is one of the most meaning-filled sites in the world; a great ripple of human history started from or near its ‘pebble.’

    Sarah Palin: C’mon now, she’s just a member of a party long active in American politics: the Know Nothing Party. Seriously, look up the program of that namesake and you’ll see that Sarah (who couldn’t tell you the century in which it was active) is a card carrier if ever there was. The Know Nothings know too little to regularly maintain their own party, so they usually merge with a bigger, bettern known party, which has typically been the Republicans, yes. Now, the Republicans have left the Republican party, leaving its corpus to Sarah and the Know Nothings. I dearly hope to the gods that she runs again in four years, because she is an anchor of failure who will doom any ticket she punches.

    The vote of last week does have one story which has been little told, which includes Sarah, though: Republican turnout was massive, and Demo gains were more limited than the expected exactly for that reason. —And even so, they still lost, because enough non-voters who stand on the other side turned up for the Demos. Whether the Dems will maintain that kind of turnout depends much on what kind of bail out they now promulgate. We’ll see.

  5. Richard Kline

    Why isn’t there more ridicule for Paulson’s kiss off? We-e-ellll, a lot of Very Important People voted for the TART, er _TARP_, or shilled it on, including our esteemed President-Elect. If they made rude noise or pointed fingers they would look silly, wouldn’t they? Ergo, they look busy instead, and elsewhere.

  6. Independent Accountant

    Morgan believes gold is a commodity. I think the dollar is a commodity and gold is money. I think Morgan is “bullish” on the dollar, thinking it will be worth .001 ounce of gold ($1,000 an ounce to 99.99% of Americans) in a few years. Study the experience of our friends in Iceland. What’s happpened to the gold price of Krona recently?

  7. River

    When the fiat dollar is worth zero gold will cost an infinite amount of dollars…and, all fiat currencies eventually wind up at zero value.

  8. Stephen


    The article you point to is interesting. When Clinton came in he left the Bush 41 tax increase in place, you know the one that cost Bush 41 the election. Likely the best thing Clinton did as it helped lower long term bond rates and helped fuel the recovery.

    Problem is, are we in a similar situation, or is that a situation that will come? meaning, tonight we spend like drunken sailors to prevent the meltdown, then we work our tails of the rest of the week to pay for it, generally meaning higher taxes (work more to get the same) Might be time for a national sales tax, those things pee money like a firehose. Manic behaviour but I dont know what else will work.

  9. tompain

    Yves, thank you for posting the link to Why Palin Matters. This is vitally important for the nation to understand. I urge anyone reading this comment to immediately read what Andrew Sullivan has to say about this, if you have not already. It is a matter of national security.

  10. Moopheus

    Are those guys at Morgan the same ones that said $200 oil by the end of the year?

    I am always struck by the similarities of rhetoric of the goldbugs and the real estate shills. The value always goes up! It’s always a good time to buy! They’re not making any more of it! The main difference being that it’s hard to get buy without a place to live (though you don’t have to own that place), and it’s easy to live without gold. Personally, if financial armageddon really did happen, I’d rather have a good supply of rice and beans stashed away than gold.

  11. Jmd

    Regarding the anti-Palin contingency, ugh! Who are these paleo-libs that are so threatened by a woman of substance getting into the ring with their beloved Biden and Mr. No-Birth-Certificate/Love to Consort with Domestic Terrorists. And anyone who’s still reading Andrew Sullivan (whose site does not accept comments, btw), must be really hard-up for reading material. He’s worse than Peggy Noonan.

  12. tompain

    JMD, no one fears a woman of substance. In case you didn’t notice, a lot of those “paleo-libs” supported Hillary. What we should all fear is a moron being put into the presidency solely as a result of one man’s choice of her (or him) as a running mate. Say what you will about Biden and Obama, but Obama won the nomination of a major party to get on a ticket. If Palin can do that, swell, I will still view her as a moron but she will have convinced the American people otherwise, and the people are entitled to mistakes of their own making. But until then America ought not to accept the possibility that a mistake of that magnitude might be foist upon them so that a complete idiot like her can end up in the Oval Office simply because McCain thought it was really mavericky to choose her.

  13. AAI

    So, we’ll have deflation AND inflation, according to these links. Evans-Pritchard warns against deflation, and Morgan Stanley sees $1000 gold. I doubt they can both be right. Maybe we see deflation for a year and then inflation in time for Morgan Stanley’s 3-year price target? Doubtful, if we’re in the deflation “grip.” Just maybe we’ll have something in the middle. A choppy sideways equity market while bouts of panic hit and recede, as value buyers gradually see global imbalances repairing themselves and a new multi-currency world order evolving. Sounds a bit more boring than what we have today. Sell vol on spikes.

  14. Anonymous

    Ambrose-Pritchard goes too far when he writes:

    [Deflation] also redistributes wealth – the wrong way. Savings appreciate, which is nice for the “rentiers” with capital. The effect is a large transfer of income from working people with mortgages to bondholders.

    Reading this just makes your hair stand on end. People who responsibly saved for the future instead of partying in a debt bubble fantasy… they’re now the designated “rentier” enemies of the people, stealing bread from the mouths of the working class?

    This sentiment is precisely the reason why inflation will roar, perhaps after a very brief bout of deflation. Sometimes democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner, and inflation is what they’ll vote for. The exact mechanisms of how it will be brought about are perhaps not yet clear, but also more or less irrelevant — it’s a question of politics, not economics. If helicopters don’t do the trick they will find some other creative ways to make it happen.

  15. River

    Off Topic:

    US media is not carrying all the important stories…as usual. A dislocation of the bond market is possible and we should be paying attention. A recent auction of long bonds is an example of what happens when foreign buyers become nervous about long term prospects for the dollar and ‘full faith and…’

    Central Banks Shun the US Long Bond Auction – “Too Many Unknowns”

    “Indirect bidders, a class of investors that includes foreign central banks, bought 18 percent of the securities offered, down from 43 percent at the last sale”

    U.S. Treasuries Fall After Investors Shun 30-Year Bond Auction
    By Cordell Eddings and Sandra Hernandez

    Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — Treasuries fell, led by 30-year bonds, after investors shunned the government’s $10 billion sale of the securities amid concern that U.S. debt sales will grow…

    “The 30-year is not a central bank product, and there’s no real interest from pension funds” at a yield below 4.5 percent, said Andrew Brenner, co-head of structured products in New York at MF Global Ltd., the world’s largest broker of exchange-traded futures and options contracts. “There’s just no interest in it…”…snip…

  16. River

    Off Topic:

    and yet another story from foreign sources…

    ‘The Dollar Will Be Devalued By A Large Margin’ The Economic Times Of India

    ‘Even worse is the scenario of the future of the US dollar. The US is pumping more and more dollars into the world economy, seriously aggravating the burden of its external debt, which is already over $20 trillion. If the confidence in the US dollar is shaken and the dollar goes into a free fall, we may well have what has been called ‘mother of all monetary crises.’

    Faced with appreciation of their currencies in relation to dollar and fall in exports, major economies may well embark on competitive devaluations and protectionism, leading to a downward cobweb of production and employment in the world. The Great Depression of the 1930s may well repeat. We must not let that happen. We must make dispassionate analysis of the causes of the crisis and devise corrective measures however bitter they may seem.’…snip…


    The Standard – Hong Kong
    Gold rush
    By Benjamin Scent
    Friday, November 14, 2008

    ‘The mainland is seriously considering a plan to diversify more of its massive foreign-exchange reserves into gold, a person familiar with the situation told The Standard.

    Beijing is considering changing its asset allocations during the financial tsunami in order to build up gold reserves “in a big way,” the source said.

    China’s fears about the long-term viability of parking most of its reserves in US government bonds were triggered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s US$700 billion (HK$5.46 trillion) bailout plan, which may make the US budget deficit balloon to well over US$1 trillion this fiscal year.

    The US government will fund the bailout by printing new money or issuing huge amounts of new debt, either of which will put severe pressure on the value of the greenback and on government bond yields. (Is it odd that almost everyone in the world EXCEPT Americans can see this coming? – Jesse)’…snip…

    Those scoffing at gold should check this one out. China is talking the purchase of 3,000-4,000 tons purchase. How will China pay for it? Dollars or equivalent of course.

  17. Anonymous

    Would gold be trading in such a narrow range if all purchases were physical? I have read that there is a premium for physical gold delivery of 75 to 100 dollars an ounce and waiting times of up to four to six weeks. It would be interesting to compare the total quantity of ‘paper gold’ with physical stockpiles available for delivery and- what would happen to the price of gold if say- 20% of buyers asked for delivery at the same time.

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