Links 12/28/08

Food needs ‘fundamental rethink’ BBC

Sikh Signs For Package, UPS Driver Enters His Name As “TERRORIST” Consumerist

Amex drops credit limit on customer for shopping where poor people shop Tom Barlow

The yield curve (wonkish) Paul Krugman

British banks may face second credit crunch in the New Year Independent

Bailout of Long-Term Capital: A Bad Precedent? Tyler Cowen, New York Times

Holiday Thoughts about Three Especially Vulnerable Groups Robert Reich

Nine out of 10 shoppers plan to cut spending in new year Guardian

Is Prozac causing all of these stock market bubbles? RFK Action Front

Germany resists calls to spend its way out of trouble International Herald Tribune

Accounting Standards Wilt Under Pressure Washington Post

A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere New York Times (hat tip reader Don). OK, you tell me, are servicers really this incompetent, or is this a design feature. or an unholy mix of the two? You don’t see this inability to trace transactions in checking accounts or credit cards.

Krugman’s “hangover theory”, revisited Steve Waldman

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Independent Accountant

    Krugman’s comment makes sense to me. He’s treating the yield curve as if it’s a “real option” in effect.

  2. Anonymous

    Regarding “Krugman’s “hangover theory”, revisited”;

    Micro deception and corruption policies do not always result into macro deception and corruption policy but sometimes the jargon frosting covering the slime pie is so well done, so removed from reality, so intriguing, so tasty, and so mesmerizing, that otherwise rationale people “buy the market”.

    Pastry chef Krugman always serves up such a popular decoying delight.

    If we want to maintain a well diversified aggregate portfolio of citizens it may be necessary to be more skeptical and check the mislabeling of ingredients.

    We might be better off by encouraging people to focus on the main ingredients at the top of the label and learn that deceptive slime ball gangsters are not ‘financial wizards’.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet …

    i on the ball patriot

  3. curious-er

    On the Sikh story: it was very nice of to add that

    Not all Muslims (very few, in fact) are terrorists.

    It is equally true that not all Americans (very few, in fact) are murderers.

    But we don’t feel a need to add this reminder after every murder story in the paper. Why? Is it because there are so many murders in this country that to repeat that phrase and note that these are the exceptions and not the norm in the American society would be boringly repetitious, or is there something else going on here?

  4. Independent Accountant

    I read the Cowen article. I said the LTCM bailout was a mistake in 1988. Anyone with a functioning brain should have seen the result. Cowen writes, “It has become increasingly apparent that the market doesn’t know what to expect. … Regulatory uncertainty is stifling the ability of financial markets to engineer at least a partial recovery”. Welcome aboard Cowen! “As we look ahead, we may be tempted again to put off the hard choices”. Absolutely. Got bonds? You fool. Got gold? Get more.

  5. joe c

    Demand for oil will fall by largest margin in 25 years – Guardian

    Global demand for oil in 2009 will fall by the largest amount for 25 years, according to the chief energy economist of Deutsche Bank.

    Adam Sieminski said oil prices could hit a low of $30 a barrel next year, a fall of a quarter from today’s price, because of the sickly global economy. He forecast an average price of $47.5 for the whole year for oil traded in New York. Deutsche Bank predicts global demand will contract by 1 per cent, or 1 million barrels a day, three times the fall seen this year and the biggest since 1983.

    Could easily go lower than $30, depending how deep the slow down.

  6. Lenin3

    AMEX really doesn’t have a clue, do they? They are busy pumping those models and running those regressions. All the while, they are working hard on tanking their brand. How about picking up the phone and talking to your customers before slashing their credit?

    To my mind, AMEX must be in huge trouble or they are really stupid. Either way they are on their way out if they continue on this path.

  7. ruetheday

    Re: “A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere”

    Gimme a break. When I make my payment every month, it has no trouble making it to whomever owns the mortgage. The road only leads to nowhere when the issue is making note mods. Then all of a sudden (conveniently) it can’t be done because there’s no paper trail. Perhaps the borrowers in question should just stop making payments.

  8. masaccio

    I have two bankruptcy cases where no one can find the note, so the trustee got an order declaring that the amount owed on the note is zero. The Chapter 7 Trustee is going to sell the property free and clear, with liens attaching to proceeds, and the amount due is zero, so all the proceeds go to unsecured creditors or back to the debtor.

  9. doc holiday

    Yves is screaming here, with the monkey pix, that an economic recovery will begin around the next, Year Of The Monkey, which begins Feb 08 2016 and thus ends Jan 27 2017.

    Nonetheless, The Year of The Ox (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water) may offer us the possibilities and characteristics of crap associated with states of being that may evolve towards things being: Dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.

    See also: We should also keep in mind, that if the Lunisolar calendar ends in 9 it is Yin Earth.

    土 Earth
    Three Enclosures, Change of seasons
    The Yellow Dragon(黄龙)
    The Planet Saturn(土星)
    The Color Yellow(意)
    Digestive system, Spleen(脾) and stomach(胃)
    Powerful, Wise, Patient, Militaristic, Prideful, Prudent, Stable, Reliable, Hard-working, Ambitious, Stubborn, Seeks to Conquer
    Disciplined, Rigid, Controlling, Tenacious, Logical, Governed by Service and Duty to Others
    Earth Governs Dragon, Sheep, Dog and Ox. It is the central balance of the elements and can lend qualities to all 12 animals as well.

    But not limit thyself to just that stuff and hence open yourself to even greater possibilities here: 2009 World Predictions still updating…

  10. Anonymous

    Why in the world is the so-called “International” Accounting Standards Board beholden to European politicians?

  11. Andrew Bissell

    The LTCM bailout was only one in a string of bailouts, including the ’87 crash and the Mexican and Asian crises. These attempts to ‘smooth out’ returns and banish recessions from capitalism only succeeded in finally blowing one last bubble that is ‘too big to bail.’

    Thanks, ‘Committee to Save the World’!

    What all this has to do with an excessively free market is a mystery to me.

  12. RFK Action Front

    Hi Yves! Great work as always! Thanks for the link to my post! And the monkey photo is priceless!

  13. Anonymous

    Sikh Signed “Terrorist”

    While this particular Sikh is not a known terrorist, Sikh terrorist did blow up an Air India Jumbo Jet, planted a bomb on luggage of another aircraft which exploded on the ground in Japan, and so on.

    So while the driver’s action is reprehensible, it is not true that Sikhs should be completely disassociated from “terrorists”.

    Individual Sikhs, however, should be innocent until proven guilty.

  14. Anonymous

    The NYT article just goes to show the one way street, that is the Debit highway. Accountability in systems is my pet peeve, how can i control/be responsible in my position if i can’t see where the ship is going and how its running.

    But it seems those above and before me, must have done their apprenticeship with a criminal gang. The criminal mind knows not to leave incriminating evidence lying around/out in plane sight/easy to lay ones hands on.

    I would have like to see the in house e-mails for Wells Fargo on this one lol, let the finger pointing begin.


  15. bg

    “Is Prozac causing all of these stock market bubbles? “

    This is very thought provoking piece. I can tell you from personal experience that upon going on Antidepressants in the 1990’s, I quickly left my wife and went from being shy with the fairer sex to being outlandishly bold. I made a similar transition in business. All for the good, in my case. Others might disagree.

  16. Anonymous

    “OK, you tell me, are servicers really this incompetent, or is this a design feature. or an unholy mix of the two? You don’t see this inability to trace transactions in checking accounts or credit cards.”

    I vote incompetent! Servicers have actually been a big part of fueling the foreclosure crisis, too, though funnily enough, you don’t hear about them much. They lose payments, put payments into a “suspense account” if one is late, then forget where the suspense accounts are . . . It’s like the money disappears into a black hole, never to return. Let’s just say the NYT story is not at all uncommon.

    People will refinance to get away from what they thought was a bad bank, only to find they are still stuck with the same incompetent servicer.

    Whether servicers are designed that way? Well, that’s the stuff of class action lawsuits, so good luck getting anyone to admit to that.

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