Links 3/20/09

Slaughter of the seals in Russia is stopped by Vladimir Putin Times Online. So Putin can save cute seals, but Team Obama won’t save wolves (note the issue is that the population has to be much larger to have the needed genetic diversity, and a judge last year made a preliminary ruling supporting that view. And wolves, as alpha predators, keep the number of coyotes down, so the result of more wolves, contrary to public opinion, is not necessarily a net negative to livestock. Coyotes are quite effective at killing baby sheep and cattle).

Robot fish to hunt down pollution Financial Times

Ratings Agencies to Cash in on the TALF 1440 Wall Street

Australia’s Web blacklist leaked ComputerWorld. The list is here.

Banks warned on commercial property ‘black hole’ Financial Times. Get this: the head of Apollo Management, Leon Black, has a more dire forecast for US bank losses than Nouriel Roubini, if memory serves me correct. Roubini is calling for global losses of $3.6 trillion, roughly half in the US. Black is now saying the additional cost of fixing US banks could be as much as $2 trillion.

HR 1586: Not a good tax clawback Steve Waldman

Financial Journalists Fail Upward Thomas Frank, Huffington Post

IMF criticises US stability plan Financial Times. Now I do think it is official, that Geithner’s days are numbered. It’s one thing for Republicans to be on his case, quite another for the IMF. I can’t recall an instance of it going after a Treasury Secretary.

Northern Rock Made Risky Loans After Brown Rescue, Auditor Says Bloomberg. This is why rescues are bad ideas. No private investor would put a lot of dough in a troubled company without management changes and decent oversight. The bank has the incentive and the personnel still in place to go out and do the same stupid things it did to get itself in trouble all over again.

No Return to Normal James Galbraith, Washington Monthly (hat tip reader geoff)

Antidote du jour. To quote reader Tim, “Why male elks have long antlers”:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Anonymous


    Thanks for the postings and links.

    I have to say I am discouraged by hearing the Obama said on Leno’s show that Geithner is doing great. How much more are we going to keep digging down before we cut our losses with the derivative fleecing. Why don’t those folks understand that the best course of action is to deal with the re regulation first to fix the confidence problem and then clean up the mess. Could it be that they are as greedy as those they replaced?

    The clawbacks are just so much obfuscation of the real criminality and the sheeple of America are buying it hook, line and sinker.

    Color me jaded.


  2. Anonymous

    a warning to your readers to not click on any of the banned Aussie sites: mostly kiddie porn

  3. Anonymous

    RE: Got Clawbacks? Thugz on the Bailout.

    Got to say after spending some misspent youth with nefarious types on and off the street (or clean[?] capitalists vs dirty below the radar capitalists) that its spot on.

    The gentlemanly code of conduct that some comply to is always beheaded by those that subscribe to win at all costs.

    The population must decided which kind of capitalists they want to be and bare the burden of that choice. Fast, hard, no prisoners and no second chances or warm, fuzzy, take it slow growth.

    Grosse pointe

  4. Anonymous

    Isn’t it time for the Fed govt to take advantage of property value declines on Long Island to begin its re-wildernessing. Restoring canine wolves to the island would be an biological improvement over the human variety currently extant.

  5. Gentlemutt

    Yves, Thanks for posting the James Galbraith piece. He is the anti-Rubin, and that is what we need.

  6. Anonymous

    Yves, the post by Kolivakis needed editing badly. I gather that you’re busy, but, please!

  7. thomasb

    Are we delisting wolves to save cattle?

    Wolves are yet another casualty of our insistence on beef (and other meats)but it’s just the tip compared to the other ravages of the industry:

    “The modern factory farming system is a prolific consumer of fossil fuel and a prolific producer of poisonous wastes. Up to 100,000 animals are herded together on huge feedlots. These animals do not graze on grass, as picture books tell us; they can’t graze at all. Feedlots are crowded, filthy, stinking places with open sewers, unpaved roads and choking air. The animals would not survive at all but for the fact that they are fed huge amounts of antibiotics. It is now conceded that the antibiotics fed to cattle are the main cause of antibiotic resistance in people, as the bacteria constantly in these environments evolve to survive them. The cattle are fed prodigious quantities of corn. At a feedlot of a mere 37,000 cows, 25 tons of corn are dumped every hour. It takes 1.2 gallons of oil to make the fertilizer used for each bushel of that corn. Before a cow is slaughtered, she will eat 25 pounds of corn a day; by the time she is slaughtered she will weigh more than 1,200 pounds. In her lifetime she will have consumed, in effect, 284 gallons of oil. Today’s factory-raised cow is not a solar-powered ruminant but another fossil fuel machine…”

  8. Anonymous

    Bus driver in my town has been suspended for this incident relating to the seal hunt:

    To trust too much, as Harvard’s Roger Fisher and William Ury once pointed out, is unwise. And given the environmental abuses committed on the planet, one could hardly blame anyone, protest groups included, for being wary of any commercial interest where other species are concerned.

    But that one should not be completely trusting does not alleviate one of the obligation to be completely trustworthy. On that note the aforesaid protest groups have let down their cause badly. There are many instances of stated objectives being subsequently found to be but the first round in an escalating series of demands, once those objectives are won. (Fisher and Ury refer to this as ‘upping the ante’ and no, they do not sanction it as principled action.) Outright deception is often used as a tactic, presumably on the basis that all’s fair in love and war. For example, twenty-one (!) years after the hunt of whitecoat seal pups was banned in Canada(source: Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing, 30 December, 1987), PR releases by anti-sealing groups continue to imply otherwise. Your linked Times article is a case in point.

    Not only are protestors guilty, themselves, of not speaking the truth, they can arguably be said to speak more from a position of power, than to it. On that note, you are not going to convince me that the most serious environmental problems emanate from an region (Atlantic Canada) of which the entire population is barely a tenth of the greater New York area alone.

    The point, Yves, is that a belief in one’s own moral superiority on an issue isn’t enough. A lust to win contests of will – and such groups only too often try to score such victories – is a good part of why the planet is in its present condition in the first place. Abandon the bully pulpit – you’re capable of better.

  9. Anonymous

    Just a quick note on the wolves vs. cattle kerfuffle: I’m a born-and-raised, died-in-the-wool eastern liberal greenie :D. I married into a western cattle ranching family and now help run the ranch. I can tell you w/o reservation that coyotes are not now, and never have been, nearly as big a problem as the wolves. Our total calf loss before the wolves made it out of Yellowstone was ~1% p.a., due to combined effects of illness, injury, coyotes, etc. It is now ~5% and the increase is due to the wolves. That loss rate will only increase as the wolf population grows. I can also tell you w/o reservation that ranching is barely a viable business as it is, and that uncompensated wolf losses are already driving some ranchers out of business. “Good!”, the uninformed but environmentally concerned might say. “Now there will be fewer cattle and sheep roaming the range and things will revert to a natural balance”. Wrong: The ranchers who can no longer make ends meet typically sell their land to developers, and what was open range becomes communities of “ranchettes”. This has already happened to three family-owned ranches that I know of personally. They couldn’t afford to keep their ranches running anymore and sold their deeded land to developers. Not a desirable outcome in my opinion. …A quick wolf-related anecdote: Our nearest neighbor runs sheep. Two summers ago, a single female wolf with two pups came through and killed more than thirty sheep in one night. I was there and saw the result. Horrific and unrelated to killing for food. Much as I hate to say it, and as devoted an environmentalist as I am, there’s a reason wolves were feared and vilified in fairy tales: They’re serious and scary predators.

    It’s fit and proper for wolves to be restored and become part of a balanced ecosystem. But it’s also fit and proper for ranchers to either be able to protect their herds or receive compensation for livestock killed by wolves. This is not the case right now: The current legislation does not allow the rancher to protect his herd and does not compensate him for wolf loss. Until this changes, more and more ranches will go under and more and more pristine range will be developed as a consequence. By not recognizing this, the “environmental” groups have championed wolf legislation that actually undercuts their very admirable goals and hastens development of formerly pristine land.

  10. john bougearel

    What is noteworthy about the BN story below is that the ex-CFO of C who managed the atomic mushroom of toxic assets onto its balance sheet will now oversee the disposal of these assets! What an f-in joke! Instead of being shit-canned, he gets reassigned to sell the same assets at firesale prices to private investors, while we the taxpayers pay the gap/difference between what the bank wants to be paid for these assets and what private investors are willing to pay for them.

    "Citigroup Shifts Crittenden to Oversee Units for Sale; Kelly Is Named CFO Citigroup Inc., whose biggest shareholder is poised to be the U.S. taxpayer, reassigned Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden to oversee the Citi Holdings unit that houses $850 billion of assets the bank plans to sell."

  11. Anonymous

    @john bougearel:

    What makes you say that the taxpayers WILL pay the difference between what the Citi Holdings assets sell for and what the bank wants?

  12. Anonymous

    Re: ranchers

    It’s not a viable business, hence they have been on life support far longer than the bankers. We are spending ungodly sums for the 2% of U.S. beef that is ranched to support the ranchers’ “way of life”, which bears a striking resemblance to a bankers way of life modulo their bad taste.

  13. Anonymous

    Couple of on the ground observations on coyotes vs wolves (from Wyoming):

    Coyotes don’t hunt in packs, but wolves do. A coyote will normally kill two or three lambs a week. Fairly manageable if you have a large herd of sheep. If a pack of wolves hits you, it can be 5-10 lambs in one night. I’ve never seen a calf killed by a coyote. Cows can defend themselves against a lone coyote, but not a pack of wolves.

    Not sure where the “life support” in the comment above comes from. I know I’m not getting anything from the government. Used to get wool payments a couple decades ago, but that’s long gone.

  14. Peripheral Visionary

    Anon 10:50: Well put.

    “Much as I hate to say it, and as devoted an environmentalist as I am, there’s a reason wolves were feared and vilified in fairy tales: They’re serious and scary predators.”

    Totally agreed. Wolves are wild animals, and represent a genuine threat to both livestock and humans. Wolves are full-blown, full-time carnivores that, hunting in packs, can and will take down anything. The settlers hunted the wolves to extinction, not just because of the threat to livestock, but because of the very real threat to children (and pets, and even, on occasion, adults.)

    For various reasons, bears, coyotes, and mountain lions are able to live in reasonably close proximity to humans, but I simply do not see that happening with wolves (nor with wolverines, although they’re very rare creatures.) I fully support protection of certain wolf populations, but they should be the populations that are in deep wilderness areas, where there is rare contact with humans. People living in areas bordering wolf populations need the ability to defend themselves against wolves.

    I think we’ve fallen into the trap of seeing wolves as wild versions of the friendly domesticated dogs we are familiar with. That is a seriously flawed perception; we should be thinking of them as being closer to sharks or alligators than to dogs.

    And to echo the comment above me, the only “support” ranchers get is that they are able to lease Federal lands at below-market rates; but I would hasten to point out that “market rates” on ranchland have more to do with its potential for real estate development than ranching. Ranching or subdivisions: I know which of the two I prefer, and I have no problem with the Federal and local governments cutting ranchers a deal on land leases.

  15. Anonymous

    As the experience in Yellowstone demonstrates, wolves will out compete coyotes. tWolves are winners and are now doing well. It is not surprising that there is a need to control the number of wolves.

    Steve Koch

  16. john bougearel

    @ non 11.45,

    The way Tiny Timmie is setting up his private-public bank initiative is to have the gov’t (i.e. the taxpayers) pay the difference between the firesale price that private investors pay for those toxic (non-performing) assets and the mark-to-model price that the banks are willing to sell those toxic assets for. Timmie will be detailing his public-private bank plan to us this coming week. Stay tuned and brace yourself for another shitty soundbite from Geithner.It is coming to a theater near you soon enough.

    The taxpayers-at-large will thus be subsidizing these private investors buying this toxic waste. Cretin-den may even be dispose of these assets to private investors that he personally knows and has relationships with. Ain’t the life of cronyism grand?

  17. Anon1

    Anyone read the great article at Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi? Really lays it all out. Also makes a case for why the 1950 Accounting and Auditing Act needs to be rescinded and the Fed must be made transparent AND subject to examination by the People.

  18. Anonymous

    That is a seriously flawed perception; we should be thinking of them as being closer to sharks or alligators than to dogs.

    Except that shark attacks number about 50 a year (~10% fatal), while wolf attacks are maybe 50 a century (so rare that statistics are likely unreliable).

    Is there even one documented instance of a wolverine attack on a human? (I can’t find one online, but maybe I’m using the wrong search.)

    As a matter of perspective: about a thousand people are struck by lighting every year, ~10% dying as a result.

    It is not surprising that there is a need to control the number of wolves.

    Actually, there is a far greater need to control how humans dispose of their garbage.

  19. Anonymous

    @ john bougearel–

    Thanks for answering my question. Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but hasn’t every previous plan for getting the taxpayer to overpay for the assets been rejected?

    On other fronts, the WSJ has a terrific op-ed challenging the legend that allowing AIG to fail will cause world financial collapse:

  20. john bougearel


    I wish it were so, and I wish I did not have to sound off so jaded about it, but re-assigning the CFO of Citi to dispose of the toxic waste he had a hand in putting on the books in the first place… this is over the top.

    You are right to mention that every previous plan to overpay for this crap has thus far been rejected. But Geithner’s public-private bad bank is precisely a reincarnation of the same crap that Paulson has been propagating since M-LEC. The corrupt powers that be at the US Treasury just won’t stop this attempt to expropriate of public monies. They are elected and appointed to serve the public interest and not that of the f’ing private banksters.

    You are right again that you are being too optimistic here in this regard. This time it looks like it will be rammed through by Geithner.

    Yves wrote about this on March 16 in her “Now It’s Official: Public Private Partnership to Overpay for Toxic Bank Assets” missive.

    To quote YS: “We have been saying from the first time the idea that Team Obama floated the idea of having a “public private partnership” buy toxic bank assets, that it was merely a very costly way to disguise overpayment.”

    YS was tipped off to the developing story by a reader. According to an email by UBS’ Andy Lees, the public-private bad bank “deal would have two subsidies: first to the investors to let the pay more for the assets that their current market prices, second, further capital contributions to the banks to allow them to take a haircut on their marks. That would allow for a deal to be done at prices somewhere between the banks’ inflated marks and the current market prices.”

    Yves assessed the developing rot as follows: “This is billions to avoid price discovery, which is what it needed to assess the magnitude of the problem, attract private capital, and do triage on sick financial firms.”

    So, if things go Geithner’s way, the US Treasury will have sold the American public down the river the again.

    This transfer of wealth by the US Treasury is an act of criminal theft, for which the US Treasury ought to be indicted by the US AG.

    But that ain’t gonna happen. So blow a kiss and wave Buh-Bye to hundreds of billions more of taxpayer dollars.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Star Fleet prime directive is that if, in the absence man’s interference, wolves exterminate coyotes, then so be it. That’s fate. That’s nature. Now, if man had earlier introduced wolves to that area, threatening native coyote population, that’s a different story. In that case, man should undo it. But things are not that simple…now you have developers lurking, ranchers trying to hold on to what they have, etc. You make one move and it impacts detrimentally ten other parites. Thanks to progress, science and technology, you can’t go back to the way nature was and you know deep down it will be worse going forward, with more and mre Homo Sapiens, sorry, Dummies Dummies arriving with each passing year. So you are stuck with the only viable alternative – to freeze the present until a workable solution presents itself.

    But there is a silver lining. Yessiree, the way I figure it, the more humans we have, the greater the chance a genetic mutation will occur, through planned and accidental reproductive activities, that will give rise to a new species that will replace the current lords of the universe, OK, I exaggerate a bit, just the masters of planet Gaia. And knowing humans intimately, as I have been observing them since the day I was born, I know it’s not beyond their capability to put a big hole in the Ozone layer, allowing more cosmic particles to reach the surface, thus speeding up the process of genetic mutation, leading to humans’ own demise, their replacement by a new master species.

    So, like profligacy eventually leads to thrift or travelling west to reach the East, more humans eventually means fewer or no humans at all.

  22. Anonymous

    I am so pleased to see the assholes in the MSM awaken with poignoint criticism of the new administration. Who knew what and when did they no it ?

    After 8 years of sitting in the corner jerking off while Nero burned down the country, they choose to focus on why AIG issued bonuses. Meanwhile, the lapdogs create the diversion while their owners rob the country blind.

    Let’s repair the damage caused by media concentration while we fix everything else that has been destroyed since January 1981.

  23. Anonymous

    I love it. The governor of the biggest welfare state in the country, Alaska, is refusing stimulus funding. She won’t last long if the welfare checks stop coming. Ditto Louisiana.

  24. Sandi Rubinspan

    from James Galbraithe:

    According to the O’Bama economic team:

    “The CBO estimates that because of the multiplier effect, two dollars of new public spending produces about three dollars of new output.”

    I think this is possible, if, the cash goes to working or unemployed families. And, America stops mindlessly buying imported goods. This is difficult because Walmart’s plantation captilism strategy has held the day since January 1981.

    If the money goes to the wealthy, like the Republicans believe it should, the stimulus will be zero.

  25. dd

    Obama administration seeks to create jobs as it slashes jobs in Friday night massacre:
    Postal Service closing offices, cutting jobs
    The U.S. Postal Service said Friday it will cut jobs, offer early retirement to tens of thousands of employees and close administrative offices, the latest round of cutbacks in the last year.
    The Postal Service plans to close six of its 80 district offices this year, and reduce administrative staff positions at the district level by 15 percent, including 1,400 mail processing supervisor and management positions at nearly 400 facilities around the country.

    Benjamin Franklin is crying.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBee

    DD, I could be wrong, but the last thing we want is angry or stressed out postal workers.

  27. Don

    Lets not pit wolves against coyotes. I often see coyotes, even in my back yard (40 acres), and they are harmless (unless they lose their fear, in which case they can be troublesome, so I try to keep them fearful). Anyway, cattle and sheep do considerable damage to soils, flora, riparian areas, etc.

Comments are closed.