Links 2/13/09

Penguins in peril as food search turns into marathon Times Online

Bleak forecast on fishery stocks BBC

Australia’s catastrophic Summer – Update Econspeak. The significance of this note will probably be lost on some. Eucalyptus trees are full of oil and burn like torches. Industrial policy threw gas, or in this case oil, on the fires.

Obama’s BlackBerry brings personal safety risks CNet

Save banking, not the bankers or the banks; the case of ING Willem Buiter. I may not always agree with Buiter, but how can you not be keen about someone (particular someone with official standing) who writes like this:

I had been planning to blog today on US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s proposals for saving/reviving financial intermediation in the USA. However, picking through the entrails of this multi-faceted, surprisingly incomplete, seriously underfunded, occasionally well-designed but mostly inadequate, counterproductive and unnecessarily moral-hazard-creating set of proposals was just too depressing. I will wait till I am at my parents’ home this weekend, mollified and mellowed by my father’s good claret, before I review the Geithnerbharata

More Good News Independent Accountant

Irving Fisher: Out of Keynes’s shadow Economist

Serious Fraud Office opens AIG inquiry Independent

Moody’s: The United States is Resilient… Not Resistant to Downturn EconmPic Data. You must look at the Moody’s chart.

Consumers Cut Food Spending Sharply Wall Street Journal. If you had any doubts things were bad, this should settle it.

Mortgage Servicing Problems for Prepayments Credit Slips. I can’t imagine this is permissible, which no doubt shows how naive I am.

Half of all CDOs of ABS failed Financial Times (hat tip Felix Salmon, who commented, “Looks like the markets were right after all, rather than “overshooting” as the don’t-mark-to-market types liked to think.”).

Failure to Rise Paul Krugman

Looting Social Security William Greider, The Nation

Antidote du jour:

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  1. russell1200

    The Economists take on Fischer seems a little more balanced than your earlier link to the Australian economist, Steve Keene, who said that Bernanke had no clue about Fisher and seemed to be saying that he was unaware of the full extant of his arguments.

  2. fresno dan

    “Mortgage Servicing Problems for Prepayments”
    “For the most part the system works, as it’s all highly automated. But when it doesn’t, the power imbalance between the financial institution and the consumer puts the consumer at a serious disadvantage. We really need a better system for resolving consumer disputes with financial institutions.”

    The thing of it is, there are a zillion government bureacracies involved (state or Federal) – but try getting one of them to actually look into your case (or tell you to go to another agency that JUST told you to go to this agency). If a guy like ?Markoulas? can’t get the SEC to look at Madoff, how can I get anyone in the gubermint to do anything???

  3. Anonymous

    Social Security

    Anyone who gets lazy and thinks that the slaver republicans or Wall Street are good guys or unlucky or anything less than financial terrorists should be reminded by their eight year assualt on social security and medicare.

    I always believed that Paulson’s was a wall street trojan horse sent in to get social security into their hands. Wouldn’t that have been nice. As late as two months ago, he was still making overtures to privatization. The dialogue has definately turned to a new strategy of terror.

    Heads up everyone. This is not entirely a random financial crisis. In many respects, we are watching the financial overthrow of the system by radical, plantation capitalists who would like you and I barefoot and subservient.

    If that seems paranoid, just look at the republican agenda in action. In the face of impending depression, they are holding out for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. At the expense of lifelines for the newly destitute.

  4. Anonymous

    Consumers Cut Food Spending Sharply Wall Street Journal. If you had any doubts things were bad, this should settle it.

    Americans pay for over packaging and advertising, marketing of their food. And this is all Financed by the same folks who are bailed out and corrupt our country.

    Starve these Banksters and Agricrooks. Do not buy Industrial, over processed, long distance food. Buy local food. Buy from small producers. Buy in bulk, save on the packaging and the refuse it generates. FInd a Farmers’ Market in your region. If you have some land, grow some of your own food.

    If you eat their food, you help to finance the country’s demise.

  5. Richard Kline

    Econospeak: “The fires in Victoria actually began in a pine and eucalyptus monocultures near the township of Churchill.” Monocultures . . . I didn’t know that. Both species are extremely volatile, and they are mass planted in an endemic fire zone???? Eucaluptys can combust without direct spark contact; it’s surrounded in a cumbustible vapor cloud. Humans are the stupidest animal on two legs; it takes _brains_ to be that dumb. And yes, the MSM just somehow didn’t get to this salient fact in its reportage.

  6. Keenan

    RE: FT on defaulting ABS:
    “However, about one-third of the CDOs of ABS that have defaulted, or almost $105bn worth, have been or are being liquidated –often ­leading to losses for investors and putting further pressure on market prices of the bits of mortgage bonds and other CDOs they are selling”

    Wonder if we will see full public disclosure of the liquidation prices and other particulars of these securities.

  7. Richard Kline

    Buiter’s piece is a crunchy noughat of chuckles and choked moans. My deflection vectors on all that, as follows:

    On ING: OYY. Or if you’re from the American East Coast, that’s —-ING OYY!

    Ireland: Too big to save, too small to care.

    On the delicious notion of carving out existing bank stakeholders with the toxic waste whilst whisking depositors and loans in the money into multiple Resurrection Banks (TM): You broke it, you bought it.

    And it the world is ending in five minutes, there is yet time to pour a glass of claret and reflect. Let’s meet someday, Wil, say halfway which figures as Nassau in the Bahamas, for a glass some day to come.

  8. Jesse

    I like Buiter quite a bit, and almost always agree with him.

    Like the girl with the curl, however, on the odd occasion when he is bad he is horrid. LOL.

    On the whole, he is a breath of fresh air.

  9. Anonymous

    People: a question for you all about Buiter–this caught my eye:

    As it is Dutch tax payer money that is funding the bail-out, such financial protectionism is hardly surprising. But it will limit the scope for global diversification of assets and of funding compared to what would be possible in a world with a supranational fiscal authority and compared to a world in which the importance of the fiscal authority as the recapitaliser of last resort and the ultimate source of bail-out support had been forgotten, as it had been in the North Atlantic region since the Nordic banking crises of 1992 and 1993.
    Not sure if this aligns with Hayek’s *Denationalization of Money* concept but would appreciate someone commenting on this as it pertains to the U.ncle S.ugar’s so-called Bank Bail-0ut.

  10. Anonymous

    Yves, your site has a lot of people commenting who seem to be very knowledgeable. Unfortunately all of the good economic sites offer critiques and outcomes but don’t examine how we will get to a particular point. What are the difficulties, the surprises, the process in detail?

    Could we, for example, narrowly define nationalization so we know exactly what we’re talking about, examine the process to carry out the defined nationalization in detail, discuss the difficulties and how to overcome them in detail?

    In other words could we have a single blog post in which everyone contributes to coming up with a detailed plan examining as many ramifications as possible and offering ways to overcome the various difficulties.

    We know that the men and women in the government and in finance are fallible. So, use the knowledge of crowds and provide a solution.

    Could there be one blog just one on the internet which offered a solution and not a critique?

  11. artichoke

    The SS trust fund holds Treasuries. To the extent that those are just liabilities of the US, i.e. on a net basis the US is just owing the money to the SS trust fund, it is perhaps looted.

    But the Treasuries are real. Now if those were sold and the proceeds invested in stocks, held by brokerages in trust for the person who “owns” the account, then it would be looted and now after the stock crash, there would be not as much left.

    On the contrary the value of the Treasuries has mushroomed, as bond rates have crashed.

  12. Anonymous


    There’s growing evidence that the Churchill fires were started by an arsonist. Whether plantations were an issue is not clear, but will no doubt be covered in the Royal Commission. The Econospeak article is polemic (eg use of “neo-liberal” as perjorative) rather than evidence based analysis. May turn out to be be correct but its just an opinion at present.

  13. Richard Kline

    So Anon of 3:11, everything you say (may) be true, but all of it is so totally beside the point it is far from clear that you even understand what you are saying. Yes, the Churchill fire is presently aleged to have been started by an arsonist. And what of the scores of other fires?

    Suppose, just for argument that they were all started by arsonits, or none of them. The issue is, what happens after the first spark. Monocropping highly flamable species in that zone of Victoria and elsewhere all but guarantees catastrophic, unstoppable, and _extremely fast moving_ fires. Given the height to which eucalyptus grows, you have great potential for crown burst. Look, you evidently live there, and fires are regular threats; I’d like to think you understood this. Importing used tires and creating mammoth tire dumps in the same zone would be not a whit less stupid, or a wit different from this policy.

    In case you also don’t _think_ about what you read, it is fully evident that the ‘blame the firebugs’ meme getting chat in Oz is being pushed hard to deflect criticism from government, local and national, for ineffective safeguards and for things like, well, authorizing flammable monocultures. Think about it.

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