Links Christmas Day 2008


  1. Dave Raithel

    Re: Brain Dead People Think Best (Phys Org)- I guess those moving dots were WMDs. Those of you who get my point do, and those who don’t should not be reading this. Correct: I am not a Gladwell fan, and after reading Freakonomics (right, by another guy hipply recognized about the same time) I thought: This guy has a fucking job?

  2. Dave Raithel

    Re: Question Worth Considering…

    So, does anybody really know how an “economy” works? The very phrasing of the question in the context of everything else I read here connotes fluid dynamics, or something akin mostly physical. What we got is a line of people with their hands out. They (and that means you and me) all expect something back for what they (and that means you and me) have been doing till the time (and this is analytical, mind you, it isn’t that people are literally sitting in your factory … unless it is Chicago a few weeks back, or Detroit several generations back, or … Who was those Wobblies….?)it was their turn to stick their hands out.

    Sorry, but after this point, I just want to get more drunk. Exchange rates are a variation on the theme (Can one predict the rate of expropriation of surplus value? Well then make buck, and Lazarus dig yourself.) Once we (and this is an editorial “We”) start “conflating money is debt” with “capitalism is a Ponzi scheme”
    I have to writhe around and scream I know nothing, but I know that, and ya’ll are killing us …

  3. Anonymous

    On the conflation theme, what I find facsinating is the conflation of economics with politcal theory. I’m not sure why anyone would call the US Economy a “Ponzi scheme”, whereas a “Horse racing event” is probably more apt. The financial system turned into a gambling parlor where large bets were made by legal bookies where the family running the numbers were the financial instiutions. Now those bets are being called and the IOUs collected. And the mob made the money regardless.

    And that’s an interesting point. The outrage here is very misdirected. If you want to be mad and punish the “evil doers” here, than the men in the NYT piece should be hung in a public square. I can think of no greater criminal out there than Mozillo – someone who KNEW the end result and took his rake off. Why an angry mob of CA mortgagees hasn’t yet burned down his house and him with it I’ll never understand. Or why criminal charges haven’t yet been levied at the least. You cannot tell me that there is nothing wrong with any of Countrywide’s books or reporting.

    So I read rants like Jesse’s with amusement as he shakes his fist at “the system”. My friend we’re all the system. Aim squarely your anger at actual individuals and ruthlessly pursue them. When real people are in the dock, that’s when the beginning of change can happen. We all get the system we want and allow.

  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous, you may yet see Mozillo burned in his own home …

    Grand deceptions, like the global financial coup that is now in process, never unwind in an instant, nor in a linear fashion. Those deceived by it are now scattered along different points of the awareness trail. Those at the forefront, like Jesse, yourself, and Yves, are raising the volume of the alarm that will awaken and get more people on that awareness trail.

    The question is this; does the victim wake up before the evil doctor completes the frontal lobotomy. The anesthesia of propaganda has been liberally applied. If the evil doctor is successful we plunge into a ruler and ruled world with the ruled in perpetual conflict with each other.

    We live in a pivotal time in the evolution of humanity. This is not your plain old vanilla tulip bubble. There are darker elite political forces at work here that need to be brought to the light of day and eliminated.

    And miles to go before I sleep …

    In the end it will come down to this; no balls, no brains, no freedom.

    Peace to all and thanks for a great blog!

    i on the ball patriot

  5. doc holiday

    Groundwork for an XMAS metaphor/puzzle (gathered from random pixel dust):

    1. Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their Christianization.

    2. Sinterklaas has a long red cape, wears a white bishop’s dress and red mitre (bishop’s hat), and holds a crosier, a long gold coloured staff with a fancy curled top. He carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year.

    3. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the mitre was ornamented with rich, heavy embroidery in gold, which gave it a still more imposing appearance.

    The mitre is, theoretically, always supposed to be white. The official “Cæremoniale Romanum” distinguishes three kinds of mitres: the mitra pretiosa, auriphrygiata, and simplex. The first two differ from each other only in the greater or less richness of the ornamentation; the mitra simplex, or simple mitre, is one of white silk or white linen entirely without ornament. The fringe on the lappets at the back should be red.

    4. In Norse mythology, Hugin and Munin travel the world bearing news and information they have collected to Odin. Hugin is “thought” and Munin is “memory”. They are sent out at dawn to gather information and return in the evening. They perch on the god’s shoulders and whisper the news into his ears. It is from these ravens that the kenning ‘raven-god’ for Odin is derived

    5. Geese were common sights in the lush green lands of Ireland, and their migration was duly noted by the ever-observant Celts. Consequently, among Celtic animals, the Goose deals with our own migratory or transitory nature. The sign of the goose urges us to consider our changes of mood and heart.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Independent Accountant

    Anonymous 8:35 AM:
    Mozillo is a peanut. The real big criminals are Paulson, Rubin, Bernanke and such. These are our chief counterfeiters. They are undermining the legitimacy of our system of government and potentially dragging us into a war.

  7. Anonymous

    Independent Accountant said,”The real big criminals are Paulson, Rubin, Bernanke and such.”

    I am sorry but those guys are the front men for the oligarchs behind the curtain. We need to eliminate the rich and start over with a more balanced society that is not focused on greed and screwing your neighbor or his wife.

    Merry somethingorother and peace to all.

  8. Anonymous

    Independent Accountant, I must agree with anon of 12:46, at least partially. I could see Paulson and Rubin perhaps being closer to the oligarchs, while Bernanke is simply an academic who really believes in what he is doing. He was chosen because he produced the research that would justify the idiotic policies he is undertaking, and did so at one of the most prestigious universities.

    Things will have to fall further apart before we get movement.

  9. donna

    Mozillo better pay his security guards well and never fire a one of them…. if any of them lose their homes, he’ll be toast.

  10. spare some change?

    Don’t pretend that the executives are entirely to blame for this. Everyone played along with them because times seemed to be good. If wage data is to be believed… the average underworked and overpaid Tradesman, Realtor, Taxicab Driver, Avon Lady, Insurance Agent, Newspaper Editor, PC Repair Tech, etc., here in the US is worth hundreds of times more than the Chinese factory worker who makes his toys. Everyone knows this can’t be sustained but is in denial. Americans are accustomed to the best of everything and they will support any politician who promises to pick your pockets to help them live in the lifestyle they feel they deserve. They feel entitled to it.

    This whole economy needs to go down hard. Nobody’s learned anything. Even the comments here, from supposedly the smartest monkeys in the tree, show a lack of understanding of just how deep the corruption is. We’re all part of it, we have been for decades, we supported it by participating in it, there were no lack of opportunities to learn about the evil we weere doing, we deserve to go down with it.

  11. articoke

    @spare some change?

    Well OK as an American you can say I haven’t learned anything. You are entitled to your opinion.

    But when you have an inverted pyramid, where the borrower who fibs about his income is at the bottom and the banks that bet $50 trillion on whether he can make his mortgage payments at the top, I would allocate the blame as follows:

    Banks 100%
    Debtor 0%

  12. spare some change?

    The willingness of debtors to suspend their disbelief, to enter into agreements whose basis is that you can get something for nothing, shifts some of that blame over to the debtors.

    I’m thinking of a pair of smug homeowners I talked to a couple years back who condescendingly advised me, and anyone else who would listen, why adding granite countertops was a great investment (“you get the most bang for your budget remodeling the kitchen!”) – but there were plenty like them I encountered in the last year of the Bubble. Dumb chatterers whose heads were filled with whatever thoughts cable TV filled them with.

    The basis for the American dream is a foreign policy of pure evil, coated with a frosty icing of greed and wishful thinking for consumption back home.

    Nobody’s hands are clean in this. Nobody at all. Not here in America.

    But if it’s any consolation to you guys, I think of you ‘doomers’ who saw how f—ed up the economy was several years back as being the least culpable.

  13. Anonymous

    re: odin and geese and the transitory
    nature of all things

    just the other day i saw a portion
    of the sky littered with geese.
    the -v- was being reevaluated.
    yet one goose took the spearhead
    and the others followed and
    formed the wedge. nothing changes.
    everything changes. good stuff.

  14. Anonymous

    Yves it was at least a dozen years ago I read a book on Animals Foraging.
    Birds for sure and IIRC honey bees as well were able to make the correct decisions whether to fly further for better food, or stay with lesser food nearer by.

  15. artichoke

    @spare some change?

    So you’re American I take it. Are your hands clean? If not, what should you have done differently?

  16. bg

    Yves, re screed…

    I do think the piece makes you think about the legitimacy of all the IBs, hedge funds etc. I do not want to defend Fuld et al, but nor do I want us all to start a relativist decent that can only lead to blaming capitalism broadly.

    The entire concept of corporations is a legal entity to shield liability and thus encourage entrepeneurs to take risks. But as any person who has ever run a business knows there are conflicts of interest between lenders, stock holders, managers and employees. It is easy to feel there are solid lines of expected behavior, but in fact there are agrieved and tears in many ventures. Even criminal prosecutions are less than black and white. I can make a pretty compelling case that Kozlowski and Skilling were prosecuted in the grey areas of law, and they are mostly guilty of being unpopular.

    What if I accepted a loan when I knew I was headed to bankruptcy? There is malice, but no fraud. What if I got people to invest in my hedge fund, and I was a bad investor? No malice or fraud. What if I got investors for project A, and then used the money for project B? Is this fraud?

    A lot of latitude is given in capitalism to managers, and rightfully so. It is expected that investors will be careful in giving money to managers. We hope that money will police itself. If people were investing in Madoff or even Fuld, they have been adequately punished. Do we blame capitalism for the excess punishment given to investors unable to do their jobs? I guess you do if you want to protect the rich.

    Or we can say, this is our Minsky Winter, that will teach another 2 generations of investors how to stear clear of danger. Its not like there wasn’t evidence of the trouble, just too few trained investors.

    Merry Christmas to all…

  17. tenletters

    @spare some change

    I agree, we have all been lining up at the trough in one way or another.

    Can we blame the greatest generation for working so hard and saving, thus making life too easy for the boomers?

  18. Jesse

    The only certainty is change.

    The only mistake is to expect more of the same.

    The only mistake is to continue to be fooled by randomness.

    (yes yes I know people like you always say it will change but when? it never does.)

    You either have not lived long enough, not read enough history, or have your head buried firmly in the boob tube.

    Sea change is coming.

  19. Anonymous

    My birds, Mabel, Crimson, Dinner, Ruby, Bilbo, Chicken, Blue and Cheese love your duck and wish her a Happy Holiday with nothing less than love, warmth, food and shelter. Good will to all. Simple = Abundance. If this is as good as it gets….then it is darn good. Friends, food family laughter. Some things can’t be taken away with numbers or credit or anything else thrown at us. We are all blessed.

    Happy Holidays,
    The Hen Haus and family

  20. Anonymous

    I can’t help but think in a tongue-in-cheek manner in regards to the NYT “How To Run a Hedge Fund” article.

    Looking at Yale’s current year return with their endowment, it definitely shouldn’t be “How To Invest In A Hedge Fund”. Hell, I’m sure that learning to run a HF in this economic environment may be somewhat like learning how to operate a nuclear power plant after it has been bombed to pieces.

    Might be a good idea to know, but definitely not the time or place to exactly execute on that knowledge. Also, now that we are facing a Brave New World regarding the world of Finance, the old rules will not really apply. Sounds mostly like “How to make the sale” with the HF stuff as a setting in a play.

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