Links 3/22/09

Finches choose sex of offspring BBC

The Big Takeover Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (hat tip Crocodile Chuck). Wonderfully well written and some eye opening details.

Financial sector must feel pain Aline van Duyn, Financial Times (hat tip reader carping demon)

Washington Mutual sues FDIC for over $13 billion Reuters

McKinsey Strikes Again Independent Accountant

Try, Try Again, or Maybe Not New York Times

Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived? Frank Rich, New York Times

Rogoff: The Worst Is Over? Are You Kidding? Henry Blodgett

Financial Crisises and the International Monetary System Robert Mundell

The virtues of public anger and the need for more Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Reorganising the banks: Focus on the liabilities, not the assets Jeremy Bulow, Paul Klemperer VoxEU

Antidote du jour:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Anonymous

    Those pigs are old enough to be croutched or to have their testi’es removed for their benefit. They grow fatter, faster and hasten their day at the slaughter house. Insert tax payer where ever you like.

    I crouthched eight 90Lbs pigs for a hobby farmer as a kid. If you let them get to big, it’s a day long wrestling match. To many wealthy people in society restrict power, dilute its effectiveness when aimed at the little piggy’s.

    Grosse Pointe.

  2. Anonymous

    For all the people who ever wondered what would happen if a pig was crossed with a shar-pei, there is now an answer.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m not even half way through the Rolling Stone article… but it is great.

    This short-sighted trajectory our entire culture has been on, needs a dead serious review of banking history. We keep getting fed that this crisis is a monster we’ve never seen before, far too cloudy and complex to understand let alone attempt to explain.

    Bullshit. Capitalists concentrate wealth until their obsession with competition destroys their grip on reason and everything around them. They promote the centuries old fallacy that their wealth and generational grooming has bought them unsurpassed knowledge and ability, and they use that empty faith to protect their own wealth, hide out, and wait till the psychological trauma wrought by ruthless depression renders people incapable of looking-back, instead fixating on the promise of a bearable life for their children.

    When we get past the posturing vacant fluff and spin of mainstream media coverage of this mess, and the experts/academics bickering interpretations of financial minutia… there are very basic stakeholders, methods, psychological elements at play (and outcomes) that are as familiar to history’s banking crises as there is in any other reoccurring feature of civilizations.

    I hate when the content on NC elicits nonconstructive “mob” ranting. I do however love when the crisis is discussed from this broader long-view perspective. The topical stuff tells the development of the story, but the discussions of class trends and history put it in context.

    Good links Yves, and good luck not keeping things productive and reasoned when the discussion focuses on stuff that naturally stokes fear.

  4. Anonymous

    (cont’d from my 7:03 comment)
    WOOPS… KEEPING things productive…(I don’t know where that “non” came from! Turn it upside down and read it as French, something! ah, prosecutions not pitchforks!)

    p.s. – in searching for something else, I came across a Nov post, wherein the comments you mentioned an Argentinean Survival Guide, that put any US bunkermate to shame. Its actually a really interesting read, and reassuring to hear from the horses mouth for once. I want to post the closing excerpt here, for those who see decline as an opportunity to flourish.

    “Final thought: A Message of Hope

    Finally, I want to give a message of hope to you all, and remind you and me both that survival is about surviving, but not for the mere fact of living , but to live happy, rich lives.
    Prepare because it’s the smart thing to do, and not because you are looking forward to SHTF and other disasters.
    Do not make the mistake of thinking that TSHTF will be a brand new start for you, and that all your problems will just go away and you’ll have a new start in the brave new world.
    It doesn’t work that way. Quite the contrary, everything will get worse, small problems will turn into bigger, more serious problems. If you have drinking problems, you’ll drink more, if you can’t keep a job, you’ll spend years unemployed, if you have a disease, you’ll see that it’s harder to get attention and medications. Again everything gets WORSE.
    Someone once asked me, “How is it that you cant shoot a criminal 200 meters away, but police don’t do anything to stop them?”.
    SHTF, whatever type of crisis it may be, isn’t fair. It will be absolutely unfair.
    You’ll have good, honest people starving, while corrupt ones make profit, you wont have a cop to protect you but they sure will come after you when a criminal presses false charges against you. That’s the way it works.
    So, anyone looking forward to TEOTWAWKI for a fresh start, better think again, and get your life straighten out NOW.
    Survivalists are often considered as dark fatalists, doomsday worshipers. This is not so, the real survivalist should not be like this.
    Negative people will have a hard time dealing with a crisis. It takes a positive, good natured person to make it through.
    Know that there are dangers, and situations you can not predict and prepare as best as you can for them. But never forget to live life at it’s fullest.
    You and I, we don’t know how long we have on this Earth, so make the best out of it, each passing minute.
    A survivalist should not be a pessimist, he should always be positive, happy and enjoying life more than anyone else because he understands that each minute of peace we have is precious and unique, and he never takes it for granted.
    The way I see it, the survivalist is a vital, fit, ever curious, good humored person. He’s fit because he takes care of his body, and his body takes care of him, he’s curious, because he thinks that it’s important to learn new things all the time, and he enjoys learning, he has a good humor because he’s sure of himself, and treats others the way he wants to be treated.
    That’s how we should behave. Being a survivalist is 90% mental attitude. And even if SHTF does not occur in our life, that attitude makes our life more rich and fulfilling.
    There are things in life we can control and others we can’t, the survivalist way of thinking makes sure we control those we can and accept those we cant.
    So, if you have that mentality, either by having a fully independent homestead or simply a few funds, some supplies, a couple of weapons and bug out bags, set that chin a little higher, walk a little bit straighter, no mater if you are a doctor or accountant, trucker or plumber, be proud my friend, because you are a dyeing breed.
    You are, without a doubt, a better person.

    – FerFAL

    The Saucepan
    I know that many of you are asking themselves: What is this guy doing with such a pic?
    The saucepan is a symbol in my country. It was used to remove one useless President after another, a total of 5 in one week. People would beat the pan in their homes and on the streets as a sign of protest. The sound of MILLIONS of pans beating is… humbling, to say the least. It’s like one giant vibration wave that no one could ignore, therefore the president had to escape the government house through the roof in a chopper.
    It is also a symbol of hunger. Thousands of Argentines beat pans like that one against the closed doors of the banks that refused to return them their money.
    The saucepan.
    A powerful symbol indeed.
    It only proves that it’s not the weapon, M16, FAL, M1A, it’s the willpower that matters.
    A saucepan. When every single Argentine beat it, the power of all of them united was enough to remove a president, backed by an entire army.
    Not a shot fired, just the will of the people.. and a saucepan to be heard.

  5. ruetheday

    The Mundell deck was disappointing.

    A global currency? Not. There’s no way “the world” represents an optimal currency area. Putting aside issues of sovereignty (which are enormous), monetary policy would become more difficult, not less difficult. Just look at the struggle within the Eurozone with Germany versus everyone else. Mundell is engaged in “wishing the world could be more like my models”.

    The constant blaming of the Lehman failure on the crisis is getting tiring as well. Yes, it was (mis)handled in a completely boneheaded way. However, there were no buyers. Or at least there were no buyers willing to buy it as a whole without a complete government backstopping of all potential losses. Knowing what we know now about the Andromeda-sized hole in their balance sheet, the reticence was completely justified. There was no time to try and break up the firm and sell off the better assets. I’m not sure there was a solution that didn’t involve liquidation. Not to mention that if a solution were found it would have simply meant delaying the timebomb not defusing it.

  6. Anonymous

    Bring It On

    Spit on the rich man,
    Claw back his wealth,
    Let the class lines sharpen,
    Threaten his health,

    But consider the fact,
    That when you do,
    There is always someone,
    Who is poorer than you …

    As the intentionally created ‘perpetual conflict’ in the ruled class now heightens and moves to solidifying the planned ruler and ruled world class structure, many sell out media collaborators will switch from greasing the chutes of the wealthy elite projects mode, to a deflective stirring the pot of the masses mode. It is a time for being wary. Consider the role that those who you listen to now played in getting us all here. Be extremely skeptical and alert to the false mea culpa … they are not “all honorable men” …
    it is important to stay focused on reclaiming the ill gotten wealth and resetting the system that allowed it — not fighting each other …

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    i on the ball patriot

  7. Ben Ross

    Try, try again shows that you can become a professor at Harvard Business School – and an NYT blogger – without the slightest competence in statistics. The study proves, if it proves anything, exactly the opposite of what is asserted.

    First-time entrepreneurs are not a bunch of clones or identical twins. They vary in their endowment of innate ability and previous training, or whatever it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Those who succeed the first time have, on average, greater ability and experience than those who fail the first time. Consequently, the population of previous failures has, on average, a smaller initial endowment that the population of first-time entrepreneurs.

    Now we have two plausible cases. (1) The first-time failures who try again are a random sample of the population of first-time failures. If this is the case, their abililty to achieve the same success rate as the first-timers shows that the experience of failure does help.

    (2) The failures who try again are more able than those who fail and don’t try again. In this case, we can conclude nothing.

  8. Anonymous

    The Rolling Stone article is a must read that presents a convincing argument that the US is truly being overthrown, an uneasy feeling I have had for ten years. As the “shadow” government presses ahead with the secret bailout of international financiers, the utter lack of community organization to counter what amounts to the greatest threat to the nations’ security since WWII is unsettling.

    At a minimum, people should be demonstrating on a massive scale. The nation, including myself, does not yet understand the scale or the ramifications. The secrecy, lies from the government, and subversion of the publics’ right to transparency and knowledge have precluded a sufficient education of what is really going on, or worse, what should be going on.

    I think you are a patriot in providing an educational forum. Let’s hope the diffusion of knowledge to the public can catch up with unfolding coup.

  9. Anonymous

    Ben Ross: Now we have two plausible cases.

    Mr. Ross, if you can, please read the article more carefully.

    The study examined the claim that a failure leads increased likelihood of success in the future.

    It found no statistical basis for this claim.

    That this conclusion may offend or support your particular ideology is neither here nor there: the data remains.

  10. Ben Ross

    What does ideology have to do with this? I am criticizing the statistical analysis (I assume the column accurately reflects the original study, which is not linked) for making an obviously incorrect assumption – that all first-time entrepreneurs start with an equal likelihood of success.

    An analogy – you go into an apple orchard planted just a few years ago at harvest time. 22% of the trees bear fruit. A year later, you look at the apple orchard again. Of the trees that bore fruit the previous year, nearly all bear fruit again. Of the trees that didn’t bear fruit the year before, 23% bear fruit this year.

    Is the conclusion that another year of growth doesn’t help young apple trees bear fruit? Of course not.

    In statistical language, the fallacy here is that a conditional probability (the probability of a success in round two, given a failure in round one) is being compared to an unconditional probability (the probability of success in round one). To make such a comparison, you need a model of the underlying physical process. The picture caption has it exactly right:
    William H. Davidow, a venture capitalist, says he would want to know why an entrepreneur’s last deal failed “and what the person learned from it.”

  11. lineup32

    The Rolling Stone article misses a rather big part of the story and that is that America no longer runs the world’s economy and cannot skim off excess money and commodities to run a luxury consumption economy using excessive credit. While the political and financial corruption is widespread and reaches to levels beyond what most of us can imagine that still does not cure that Americans cannot live like royalty,buying news cars,new houses ,expensive vacations without hard cash. The new reality will be called a depression but unlimited growth via credit has always been a suckers rally.

  12. Anonymous

    Ben Ross: What does ideologyhave to do with this?

    Because, Mr. Ross, I have no other idea why you are so upset here.

    The question is whether past failure leads to increased success.

    The data appear to say “no”.

    And this will remain the answer, regardless of the “physical model” used to explain the result, or, in general, whatever you wish to believe about the way things should work.

    Of course, these are all statistical arguments. Perhaps some failures do actually learn. Perhaps some just failed because of bad luck. This is why Mr. Davidow wants to know more before he offers more money to a previous failure. But by and large, integrating over the entire population, the selection processes in the market appear to be more accurate than the ideological biases of the market participants themselves.

  13. Anonymous


    or assume a submissive posture in the global pecking order.

    Grosse Pointe…now that would blow more American minds that living on the streets eh, go team USA.

  14. Ben Ross

    The data don’t say anything by themselves. (Well, they say that some people who failed the first time succeeded the second time, but it would be wrong to attribute that phenomenon to learning rather than chance and stop there.)

    You are right that these are statistical arguments. All statistical arguments rest on explicit and implicit assumptions – what I referred to in my last comment as a physical model – about the random processes that are under observation. (Some advocates of non-parametric statistics would say not all, but the exception is not relevant here.) If an assumption is not reasonable, and the reasonable alternative assumption leads to a contrary conclusion, then the data don’t support the conclusion.

    The implicit assumption in this study (at least as described, perhaps inaccurately, in the newspaper) is that all first-time entrepreneurs start with identical capacities for success and that the increased rate of success of first-time succeeders in the second round is due entirely to learning from their lucky success in the first round. This seems unlikely to me. It seems much more likely that some characteristics predispose some to success. Those characteristics might be innate ability, willingness to work hard, connections, education, lack of ethics – which ones it is matters for ideology but not for the math. If the predisposition plays a significant role in determining who succeeds in the first round, the statistical analysis is invalid.

  15. Richard Smith

    Ben Ross and Anonymous 11:48 (etc),
    The paper’s here:

    …so you can review the controls and assumptions rather than having to try to guess what the NYT writer missed out.

    At least one can calibrate what ‘recent’ means to an NYT reporter (up to 2 3/4 years old, apparently)

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Heaven has no prettier sight than ugly caterpillars to beautiful butterflies transformed

    Nor Hell uglier view than when cute little piggies into bankers and politicians turned.

    By the way, by one simple calculation I have worked out recently, as in the last few days, the species to replace Homo Idiots Idiots should have been here or will be very soon.

  17. Conor Ryan

    Wow! I love the illustration Rolling Stone has for their article “The Big Takeover”. A whole new take on Ouroboros.

    But, dang! Ain’t it the truth!!

Comments are closed.