Links 11/21/08

US global dominance ‘set to wane‘ BBC

Unable to recognize voices, unless it’s Sean Connery The Body Odd

Goldman’s Gold Standard Is Less Golden Walll Street Journal Sallie Krawchek, when she was an analyst at Sanford Bernstein covering Wall Street, dared to point out the obvious: it was better to be an employee of a securities firm than a shareholder. Note the reverse was generally the case when they were private partnerships. We said when Goldman went public it would eventually be the ruination of the firm.

China Now Largest Foreign Creditor Of United States Boom2Biust

Contemplating CAPM Option Armageddon

The Return of the $70 Per Hour Meme Felix Salmon. Debunking an urban legend.

Time for the Government to Buy Citigroup Brad De Long

Paulson Trying To Rewrite His Own History Bespoke Investment Group

Just give us the money Willem Buiter decided to become a bank (hat tip Ed Harrison).

Argentina’s Impending Bankruptcy Independent Accountant

The Equity Market Has Nothing on Credit EconomicPic Data

The Simple Arithmetic of Hank Paulson’s Financial Disaster David Fiderer, Huffington Post

The Big Easing Chevelle, Models and Agents. On how Bernanke lacks cojones.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Edward):

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  1. doc holiday

    Many newer dishwashers feature microprocessor-controlled cats, sensor-assisted cat spit cycles that adjust the wash duration to the quantity of dirty dishes (sensed by changes in spit temperature) or the amount of dirt in the rinse water (sensed chemically/optically). This can save water and energy if the user runs a partial load.

  2. Richard Kline

    I knew that $70 an hour number had to be bogus, but didn’t have time to run it down. Glad to hear Salmon put the real facts forward—which show as ever that the hard right are stone liars about anything that counts.

  3. Independent Accountant

    For decades now, I have taken issue with one tenet of “Fama-Miller” finance, i.e., the existence of a “risk-free” asset. I have said there is no such thing. There is a least risky asset. It’s that four-letter anathema to economists: GOLD.

  4. Anonymous

    ef Executive Rick Wagoner’s salary and other compensation rose 64 percent in 2007 to about $15.7 million, mainly due to option grants, according to a proxy filed on Friday.

    The GM compensation committee cited significant progress over the past few years in reducing the automaker’s health care cost burden, increasing growth internationally and improvements in its cars and trucks in the 2007 awards to executives.

    Wagoner’s compensation rose from about $9.57 million in 2006. The figure was arrived at based on Wagoner’s salary, all other compensation and the basis of annual grants.

    GM paid Wagoner a salary of $1.6 million in 2007, along with $1.8 million in non-equity incentive compensation and nearly $700,000 for other compensation that includes insurance benefits, security, aircraft expenses and other factors.

    GM, which reported a record $39 billion net loss in 2007, released the figures in a proxy statement on Friday afternoon that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The automaker, which has been restructuring, reached a contract in 2007 with the United Auto Workers that has permitted buyouts for its UAW hourly workers, a second-tier wage for new hires and a plan that will push billions of health care obligations into a union-aligned trust.

    Wagoner had accepted a reduced base salary in 2006 and 2007 and only about 16 percent of his compensation is guaranteed.

    Fritz Henderson, who was promoted to president and chief operating officer in March, the No. 2 spot behind Wagoner, received compensation of about $9.3 million in 2007, up from about $5.1 million in 2006.

    Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s compensation rose to about $9 million in 2007, from about $5.1 million in 2006.

  5. Anonymous

    India Poised to Grow Faster Than China Among Top Automakers

    $7,500 Factory Workers

    Maruti pays factory workers about 26,000 rupees a month, or about $7,500 a year. By comparison, an assembly line worker in Dearborn, Michigan, makes about $57,000 a year, according to the United Auto Workers union Web site.

    “India is one of the top three low-cost car-producing countries, along with China and Thailand,'' Chaba says. “That's primarily because of good-quality labor at lower cost. Even the cost of supervising — managers — is quite low, despite the fact that we have disadvantages on the utilities side.''

    Most car plants in India generate their own power because the supply from state-owned utilities is erratic.

    Kia to open plant in Georgia
    3/13/2006 4:42:12 AM
    Daily Journal

    Perdue said Kia's decision to locate in the state "is a testament to the tools, experience and know-how Georgia will deliver to one of the automotive industry's leading innovators."

    The plant will hire 2,893 workers when it opens at an average annual salary of $50,000. Another 2,600 employees are expected to work at five supply companies, which have committed to place plants in Georgia near West Point to feed parts and materials to the main plant.

    Kia President and chief executive officer E.S. Chung said the company, which produces budget sedans and sports utility vehicles, "has entered an aggressive growth phase in the U.S."

    The Georgia plant is expected to produce 300,000 to 400,000 vehicles annually.

  6. Anonymous

    GM, UAW Agree to Cut New-Worker Pay Scale, People Say (Update3)

    Under a four-year accord reached Sept. 26, all new employees would start in so-called non-core jobs such as janitorial and maintenance work and make about $28 an hour in pay and benefits, compared with $51 for present employees, the people said. They asked not to be identified because contract details haven't been released.

    The new hires would retain their non-core status until they obtain an assembly-line or other higher-rated job. The two-tier system, like an historic deal to transfer retiree health benefits to a union-run fund, marks another milestone in negotiations between the biggest U.S. automaker and the UAW.

    “This is a really big deal,'' said David Lipsky, a professor of collective bargaining at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “The UAW has always prided itself in being an egalitarian organization: `We all hang together, with equal treatment for everyone.'''

  7. mft

    Re: Paulson Trying To Rewrite His Own History

    “I’m afraid Paulson is applying Don Rumsfeld’s approach to the financial world,” said Josh Rosner, managing director at Graham Fisher & Co. in New York. “Rumsfeld’s core tenet was that sometimes you can’t predict outcomes, so just put the ball in motion. That approach is irresponsible.” (Bloomberg)

    Oh no, please no!

  8. River

    Yves, David Fiderer’s article is an excellent catch. David is correct, much of the important testimony by Paulson, when questioned by Barney Frank, was remarkably under reported.

    Bushco chose a course of letting MBS tank rather than help any American individual homeowner…Not that I believe that mortgage rescues would work.

    Frank wanted to get on congressional record exactly who shot John. As usual, Hank was backed into a corner. Fiderer also pointed out how much MBS has tanked since the election…a change of course after the election is obvious in the MBS and bank stocks. Games within games while Rome burns.

  9. River

    Off Topic:…

    Jon Markman: Buffett in Trouble?
    Posted by Barry Ritholtz on Friday, November 21, 2008 | 09:00 AM
    in Derivatives
    I’m not so sure I believe the wild speculation part of this (last para), but I know Jon Markman, and he is a thoughtful and sober guy.

    He writes:

    Shares of Warren Buffett’s insurance holding company are on the ropes this month, plunging 30% in part because the famed investor dabbled in an area of the market he has long publicly derided: derivatives. And due to a tangled web of financial relationships, they may be taking Goldman Sachs shares down with them.’…snip…

  10. David


    PLEASE stop spreading the FUD on Argentina — this is the third or fourth time you’ve linked to or mentioned it, and it’s just wrong. I get that you’re looking for trouble brewing in the periphery, related to the current crisis, but the issue in Argentina is more complex.

    “Analysts” in Argentina have a dim record of blatant distortion in service of their own interests. There’s also blatant currency manipulation in attempts to discredit / play chicken with the administration, which the central bank has to fight off regularly (attempts which the WSJ describes “strong-arm” tactics). “Journalists” at the WSJ (and the NYT as well) seem to fall in step with the reactionary neoliberal chorus as necessary.

    In Argentina the state has been running a huge cash surplus for more than four years; there’s no evidence that a default is anywhere on the horizon. It’s a blatant invention that the takeover of the AFJP has anything to do with difficulty making debt payments. When making this point, the WSJ quotes “economists”, carefully not mentioning any names.

    For more details — see this CEPR paper (from a colleague of dean baker’s)

    The article you link to basically quotes the WSJ, whose article leads with “Argentina’s leftist government presented its controversial proposal…”. Starting by identifying the government as “leftist” is a good sign of bias. Also, describing nationalizing the horribly-run and poorly-performing private pension funds as a “controversial” proposal is laughable — imagine if someone in this country called privatizing social security a “popular” proposal.

  11. Anonymous


    It’s silly to complain about alleged bias (“leftist government”) when you yourself use far more biased wording (“reactionary neoliberal chorus”).

    If you seriously doubt Argentina is heading for bankruptcy, why not put your money where your mouth is and invest your life savings in bargain-priced Argentinian debt.

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