Links 4/13/08

Veteran osprey lays Easter egg BBC

Horse breeders braced for prices to stall Financial Times

Amazonfail: A Call to Boycott Amazon Edward Champion. Amazon is engaging in some pretty serious censorship, I am now torn about running Amazon ads.

U.S. institute names 99 top ethical companies Reuters. I am curious as to what an ethical company is, exactly. I had assumed it was an oxymoron. International Paper and Google are on the list, so I have some doubts.

I Agree with Hank Paulson, not Paul Krugman Ken Houghton, Angry Bear

S&P On Mortgage Insurance Industry: Not Pretty Bruce Krasting

China’s latest thought experiment... Models & Agents. On China’s currency dollar problem and SDRs.

Surgical’ Bankruptcy Possible for G.M. New York Times. Team Obama acts as if it is wedded to its surgical bankruptcy fantasy, and is pushing the “surgical” branding too. Let’s hope this is merely high stakes poker, and they haven’t started to believe their own PR. One of the many things that gave me cause for pause is (in earlier discussions) the Feds cut the amount of DIP financing allotted to GM by making more optimistic assumptions about auto sales. Moves like that raise the odds of the worst outcome, that a Chapter 11 morphs in the courthouse into a liquidation. If so, kiss the economy goodbye.

$80,000 for Year Off From Law? She’ll Take It! New York Times

Ireland is ECB’s sacrifical lamb to satisfy German inflation demands Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Moody’s uses First Amendment – when it suits BreakingViews

Bailed-Out Banks Face Probe Over Fee Hikes Wall Street Journal

Surge in middle-class homeowners seeking help Independent

AIG in spotlight over derivatives Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Independent Accountant

    Moody’s First Amendment position is preposterous. I have said so for decades. CPA firms get sued over their opinions. Not frequently enough in my opinion. Why should Moody’s not be sued too? If you can’t sue Moody’s over its opinion, the opinion is worthless. The SEC could end this nonsense tomorrow by adopting the policy that no NRSRO has First Amendment protection for its opinions. I have advocated the SEC do this for decades.

  2. bg

    Regarding Amazon censorship, I was a director at Amazon for 4 years until very recently, and have worked with Drew. Most of the bad press I saw involved unfortunate accidents. We stopped selling a controversial book entirely due to a glitch. Of course no one would believe us. But I dealt with these glitches all the time.

    Generally the company was not against selling anything legal to a responsible buyer. I know there was a computer game where the theme was to stalk/kidnap/rape avatars. Amazon pulled that product. There has also been some situations where the provocative images were loaded into the search results. I let my children shop on Amazon, so respect the care to manage this.

    But most of all, there are 20Million titles in the system, ranking algorithms are fragile due to human interpretations of categorization and relevancy.

    Amazon is a very good company on many other levels: Their speed of delivery, prices, and customer service are amazing once you are used to the competition.

  3. Russ

    Every day I see new examples of heads-I-win/tails-you-lose. Now it’s this Moody’s example. It’s just sickening.

    Is there any sort of formal term for this? There should be – it’s such a common attitude nowadays that we need to consider it an ideological principle, as a standard feature of corporatism.
    It’s a kind of self-seeking catch-22, gutter Kafka.

  4. Anonymous

    AEP’s constant overt/veiled attacks on the Euro have become tiresome. I am not saying that the/a multi-national currency is overall a good or bad thing, but at some point, medicine has to be served to those who are unwise. Ireland and Spain, as much as I love both countries, drunk fully at the tap and now have to suffer the consequences of the hangover. AEP’s “cures” for this hangover (if these countries did still have their own currencies…ah, the peseta, I miss it) are simply hair of the dog and attempts to foist the consequences over onto other countries vis a vis currency manipulation. This is obviously untenable if all actors had a separate currency and tried currency manipulation simultaneously in, say, a global recession. My, that could never happen…oh, wait. Anyway, the pound is about to be obliterated along with the majority of the finance-based UK economy. He can moan now about the sovereignty lost in joining a multi-national currency, but it won’t save him once the UK economy has been finally and rightfully hoisted on its own petard.

  5. Anonymous

    Follow Mr. Champion’s updates, and if Amazon hasn’t explained/changed/apologized for the weird new policy in 24 hrs, then contact someone from their Board or the advertising dept (Champion has the contact info posted.)

    It sounds like such a dumb policy that it must be a “glitch”, as they announced after some delay. That doesn’t explain why they told two bloggers that “adult” (gay) content is no longer ranked.

  6. Anonymous

    That boycott Amazon thing is dumb. They still offer a great service and you can still find all the books if you enter the search term, which is how most people use amazon, when they know what they are looking for, it just doesn’t appear on the “best selling” list which is pretty useless anyway when the book is the 3xx,xxx or 4xx,xxx most popular seller…

  7. LeeAnne

    Yves, you’ve done your best by passing on the information.

    There’s no need IMHO to reduce income for the blog.

    Wait for clarity and keep up the good work.

  8. LeeAnne

    Russ “…it’s such a common attitude nowadays that we need to consider it an ideological principle, as a standard feature of corporatism. It’s a kind of self-seeking catch-22, gutter Kafka”

    That’s putting it well. But we do have a word for it. It is out and out fraud. The rating guys are a 100-year-old US institution licensed with a mandate upon which the entire investment fortune of the country relied, particularly those most conservative investors who required their ‘trusted’ money managers to invest only in AAA rated vehicles.

    If the rating agencies are not bound by law who is?

    If TPTB insist on lawlessness from the highest levels of government and throughout the corporate enterprise we have to deal with it.

    Sorry to say, its so hard to swallow, but I was brought up to believe our uniqueness as a country with no shared nationality was that we were “a nation of laws,” not personalities, like Bush/Cheney/Baker/Rumsfeld/Paulson/Bernanke/Obama/Geithner,Summers and the rest of them behind the curtains.

    Even Obama speaks too often in the first person when referring to national policy and principles.

    Its chilling!

  9. autodidact

    That is the most absurd rant on amazon I have ever seen. Amazon is a private company, and they have a right to classify any product as they wish, to list or not list any product they wish. I am a happy buyer at amazon, and a happy seller of used books, CDs, and DVDs on It’s a win-win. Let the cranks build their own multi-billion dollar online store and list items as they choose. Freedom. What a concept!

  10. Moopheus

    “I am curious as to what an ethical company is, exactly. I had assumed it was an oxymoron”

    Well, it is a relative, not absolute, scale, comparing companies to others in their industries. Though it does raise the obvious question: how bad does your company suck if you get topped by McDonald’s and American Express?

  11. Anonymous

    >> Amazon is a private company, and they have a right to classify any product as they wish
    >> Freedom. What a concept!

    Not sure what the snark is for.

    Everyone "gets" that Amazon is a private company. Similarly, private buyers have the freedom to boycott the company (and encourage everyone else to follow suit) if they don't like the company's policies. And it's probably more efficient, too, than trying to start a competing company.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Another instance of why animals are smarter than Homo Idiots Idiots – the panda is doing a fine balancing act Greedspin can only wish he could do years ago.

    By the way, that cute, peaceful panda wasn’t thinking about how to design some CDSs to destroy the world, I can assure you. On the other hand, your ‘educated’ humans are no doubt, right now, at this moment, working overtime on some other financial crimes for that we all have to pay a price in the future. How do we deal with them? Well, that’s for another day.

  13. Russ

    Amazon is a private company, and they have a right to classify any product as they wish, to list or not list any product they wish.

    While I don’t know the facts regarding the current incident and therefore haven’t made a judgement on it, it do know that Amazon is most definitely not a “private company”. It is a monopoly-seeking structure and therefore a quasi-public entity, and should be treated as such.

    The sad state of affairs that America has so grotesquely lost its way that the monopolies which have gutted our local economies and communities are allowed the bullying license to do this does not change the facts of the case.

    Let the cranks build their own multi-billion dollar online store and list items as they choose. Freedom. What a concept!

    Ah yes – the law allows rich and poor alike equal freedom to sleep under a bridge, and as long as you have the money to buy a press you can have freedom of the press.

    What a vile slander of the term “freedom”, which was once a human concept.

  14. Anonymous

    Yves, as much as I appreciate your daily dose of economic must-reads, it is way past time you ditched Telegraphs’s AEP from your possible link list. His europhobic banter is not worthy of linking, let alone discussion, on your highly regarded blog.

  15. Dalton48

    Don’t scrap AEP. He is hyperbolic and, yes, a Euro-skeptic, but he sometimes hyperventilates over very important things weeks before others catch on — and does so entertainingly.

  16. Yves Smith


    I suggest you familiarize yourself with the practices of other blogs. This happens to be my private forum, and I care about the quality of comments. Ad hominem attacks are not permitted, that is clear policy, and if you don’t like that, too bad.

    Censorship implies I am deleting comments based on subject matter or opposition to my views, That its wildly inaccurate. I am deleting based on abusiveness, and it fortunately does not come up often.

    I am in contact with all the top econ bloggers, and trust me, I am far more liberal than my peers. Barry Ritholtz, for instance, has deleted 20 comments on a single post. I haven’t removed that many in six months.

  17. Exponential


    Alex black said: “But the music is better with Obama in the game – Jay-Z, Beyonce…. God, if McCain had won his favorite band was ABBA. It could be worse.”

    Your concern for the quality of your blog did not kick in at that point. You did not erase Alex’s comment. It’s all right with you if people make insulting, abusive, ad hominem comments as long as they are anti-white.

    To repeat: It’s an absolute disgrace that we have hip-hop in the White House.

  18. grokker


    That is the most misguided comment I have ever seen here, and that takes some doing.

    First you accuse Yves of censorship. Then you accuse her of not censoring enough. You get hot and bothered about someone approving of Obama’s taste in music, a trivial issue, and you make out a comment about McCain to be anti-white? This is projection, pure and simple, You have race on the brain, big time. That remark was if anything a comment about what was called in the 1960s the generation gap.

    That comment was inconsequential, but you want to make a Federal case about it? T

    he last time I checked, Yves is white, I think she is plenty capable of determining whether a remark is offensive to her ethnic group.

Comments are closed.