Links 1/28/09

The Moose Elizabeth Bishop. A departure from our regular programming (hat tip reader Megan)

Emperor penguins face extinction BBC

Every Man an Island, Part 1 and Part 2 Byte Size Biology

Recycling ‘could be adding to global warming’ Telegraph

The Big Banks vs. America: A Roundtable with David Kotok and Josh Rosner Institutional Risk Analyst. This is an important piece, if you haven’t read it yet.

Treasury plan isn’t working, MPs say Telegraph

Senate Provision Would Let Buyout Firms Defer Taxes on Canceled Debt Wall Street Journal. So where’s my bailout?

It’s the Economy, Girlfriend New York Times. On the “Dating a Banker Anonymous” support group. More than a bit cringe-making.

AIG Said to Offer $1 Billion in Retention Payments to Employees Bloomberg

Treasury forces Citi to cancel jet order Financial Times. Yes, they did not have the good sense to do it on their own.

A measure remodelled Financial Times. A good piece on proposals to change the GDP (and best yet, to get away from the idea of a single measure). However, it still has some whoppers like ” it is clear about what it includes and excludes, is based on objective prices thrown up by free markets and is comparable across countries.” Huh? He has clearly never heard of the US’s massive hedonic adjustments (applied since 1987) and “owner imputed rent.” Um, “imputed” means it is NOT an observed, or market number, but a guesstimate.

What is a non-performing loan? John Hempton

Inflation(ists) vs. Deflation(ists) – Part II Cassandra

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Buzz):

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  1. Glen

    The banks just don’t get it; $1 billion “retention” payments, private jets, sulking about their reduced bonuses etc. Even worse, the government is doing bugger all about it too. How many lynchings will it take?

    The word verification is ominous; fighte

  2. Richard Smith

    IRA piece v. interesting.

    More pantomime to come, in the MLEC/TARP mode, until continuing asset writedowns force a change of approach. That would be true to form.

    Volcker’s exit is a sort of wild card that might accelerate a change of tack.

    Well, here’s hoping. Obama had better watch it – he is getting stitched up.

    Word verification is “fubra”.

    Nearly right.

  3. russell1200

    M is for Moose.

    My pre-kindergärtners last homework was to cut out and label(from magazines, Internet, etc.) words that begin with “M”. He came up with mountain lion, and mortar, macaroni and cheese on his won. Microraptor was the obligatory dinosaur.

    But apparently monist his more mainstream cohorts “Moose” was the most the most popular item cut out. So the moose must be making a comeback.

    I do wonder (per the last lines) how I am supposed to know what a moose smells like?

  4. Tortoise

    Here is a link on a really important issue:

    Quotes: “Could Silicon Valley become another Detroit? … At some point, companies such as Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle could be eclipsed by foreign rivals, just as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been… One woman he met [in China], a 28-year-old fresh out of graduate school, had been given $5 million to pursue nanotech research. ‘In the United States,’ he says, ‘a young assistant professor would struggle to raise $50,000, let alone $5 million.'”

    You better believe it! We are losing ground on a most important front, while paying attention to banks! Hell, let all the banks fail. They can be replaced within a week. But leading-edge technological infrastructure takes generations to develop.

  5. Anonymous

    Regarding those “ladies” with banker boyfriends, I knew the theory about money plus success equals ability to get a good-looking girlfriend (what Steven Barnes called the Beauty-Power axis), but I was a bit surprised to see it laid out so … brutally. Looks like true love is dead after all.

  6. fresno dan

    “AIG Said to Offer $1 Billion in Retention Payments to Employees”

    Uh, aren’t these the guys who were working there when the decisions that bankrupted the company (i.e., US)were made??? And you want to ENCOURAGE them to stay???

    hmmmm…the only thing I can think is maybe we would be a Zazillafillagillion dollars in debt if they hadn’t worked there…nah.

  7. fresno dan

    from “
    The Big Banks vs. America: A Roundtable with David Kotok and Josh Rosner”

    Rosner: First, I am very cautious about making loss estimates because your loss number could be very low. I can actually draw a scenario that gets us well above that level of charge offs, especially if we assume worsening macro conditions and their further impacts on ADC books, corporate defaults and other areas outside of the structured exposures.

    Yeah…exactly. Scary. Nice truth telling – although it is amazing that after about a year there are still those saying the worst is over.

  8. dearieme

    “It’s not what I signed up for.” For better or worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, but not in NY.

  9. john bougearel

    I wrote back to Chris Whalen the following:

    Rosner identified the paradigm shift that needs to occur on Capitol Hill. Clearly legislators fear the giant tree-failing they were unprepared for when LEH fell. This is blinding them to the reality that the new mechanisms are in place for future giants to fall without creating the same shock caused by LEH. We need to help them work through their irrational fears to see the new mechanisms in place: “We need to somehow communicate to Summers et al, though the media if necessary, that the managed breakup of the big New York banks does not necessarily mean a systemic failure and another crisis…”

    A condensed version of the interview on TBP, NC and elsewhere could begin to do the trick, along with collectively harnessing the anger of small and mid-tier banks so they can effectively lobby on Capitol Hill. Let the small bankers present the solutions to blinded legislators.

    I also added: Very happy to see that smaller banks are “SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF”

    If we can harness that collective energy on the Hill, they might accomplish something no one else has been able to effect yet

  10. Anonymous

    Recycling ‘could be adding to global warming’ Telegraph

    Garbage and recycling were touchy-feely, airy-fairy issues which became lucrative Cash Cows and were taken over by the Big Corporations. I live in a rural area and we have recycling here. Big diesel trucks, two at a time because of the different materials, drive long distances picking up miniscule amounts of materials. This only pays because we pay for it through municipal taxes. Just a Racket.

    Here’s a good book on the Garbage Racket from 1993:

    I have seen the exact style of Plastic Recycling Bin I had to pay $90 for in two different movies, one about New Zealand and one in Poland. The Boyz globalized this Racket big time. Most “environmentalists” don’t have a clue about the Recycling Rackets.

  11. cian

    How did the recycling story slip through? Its obvious propaganda. Recycling may, or may not be, a good thing; but almost all the reasons against in that article aren’t true. And burning rubbish! Sure, I love the smell of dioxins in the morning. But then what can you expect of the Torygraph.

  12. Dave Raithel

    Yves Smith asked: Where’s my bailout?

    Well, as I understand the story. You first need to borrow lots of money to invest somewhere – the example given was $1 Billion. Then you have to conclude your investment is losing money. So you buy the debt (pay off early?) back from the people you borrowed from at something less than what you owe – in the example, $600 Million.

    So now then, where is that $400 million difference? I don’t understand that part – has it been eaten by the losing investment, and so isn’t really there? (I do assume we are using round figures here; some of this has dissappeared, somewhere, in the manner that Mr. Rosewater discovered with which to make a living.) Well then there shouldn’t be any taxes to begin with. But by assumption (the whole point of the story), some taxes are due, else they would not need be defered. It’s these simplest of mysteries that just leave us proles stupified, mesmerized, confounded, by what paper hangers do…

    My best guess is that you will get a bailout when your balance sheet demonstrates a loss of consequence to the systemic stability of the finance system, whether or not such a loss actually exists in real economy measures, whether or not the loss is of systemic consequence …

    By the way, the other day, Yves Smith posted a link to Tyler Durden, who suggested, given the numbers, that the banks just write-off all the loans to consumers; and then the FEd write off all the loans to the banks, and everybody start over again. (I pinged a note asking: How is this not a “j” jubilee?) I mention this because Ms. Smith has said she infrequently watches television, but I usually end my day with The Daily Show. Last evening, Jon Stewart suggested:

    Rather than “the government” (yes, there are inaccuracies) put money into banks, why doesn’t “the government” just give people the money to pay off their mortgages and their consumer loans; once people have paid off their mortgages and consumer loans, they will have no more debt, and that will recapitalize the banks, and then things can start over again …

    There seems to be a meme spreading, with mutation, through the less officious, less professional, but mostly ordinary world most people have to live within…

  13. Archimedes39

    Those “12-step” chicas lamenting their choice of boy-friend is yet another sad example of how rubbish normally found in “People” or other such mags has gained a toehold in the NYT. At best, this “news” should have been placed in the “Style” section, for Allah’s sake, not taking up valuable real estate in the NY/Regional news section. Feh.

  14. Yves Smith


    The article was listed in the business section. That’s where I found it. I don’t read the NY/Metro section online, I see it only on those rare occasions when I read a hard copy.

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