Links 4/27/09

Sorry this went up so late! And some links got lost too. Grr!

Where have all the butterflies gone? Guardian

Mexico flu: Your experiences BBC (hat tip reader Dwight), These reports suggest the flu started earlier and has produced more fatalities than the official reports suggest.

Fed study puts ideal US interest rate at -5% Financial Times. A blank check for more Fed experimentation.

Money Multipliers, Velocity, and Excess Reserves Michael Shedlock

Two-thirds facing a pay cut or freeze Independent

How much “capital flow reversal” insurance should the world offer? Brad Setser

Are CDS a good thing? Felix Salmon

Thain Fires Back at Bank of America Wall Street Journal. While it is hard to muster up much sympathy for anyone in the Merrill-BofA affair, it’s blindingly obvious that the Charlotte bank was aware of the Merrill bonuses. Paying them without notification would have been a breech of the merger agreement, and Thain is too seasoned (and well trained to call lawyers when in doubt) to have made an error of that magnitude.

$60 billion and counting: Carry trade-related losses and their effect on CDS spreads in Central and Eastern Europe Raphael Aue, Simon Wehrmüller, VoxEU

Money for Nothing Paul Krugman. On the fact that Wall Street is gearing up for a good bonus year.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Allen

    Geithner was appointed by the NY Fed in 2003. The BoD chairman at the time was Peter Peterson. Minor affiliation with Lehman, Blackstone.

  2. Martin

    Since my comment isn’t related to a specific current article I thought I’d post here. Just some additional anecdotal evidence of credit contraction. My credit limit was just cut from $17,600 to $9,000 on an MBNA card (FIA card services). It used to be Wachovia branded but Wachovia cut it’s cord on it last month and I’m going to get a rebranded card in the mail. When I called to ask why they cut the limit they said it was due to low usage ($2000 max over past 12 months)

    I saw the following quote in the Treasury “whitepaper”:

    “The BHCs also were asked to project losses on loans that could be drawn down from unused credit commitments in place as of year-end 2008…” ( pg 8)

    I made me curious as to whether the credit reduction (which my card issuer also said they haven’t mailed a notification on yet but would be “soon”) was part of a mitigation effort by B of A due to the results of the stress test. Since I haven’t been mailed the notification (which I also thought was illegal), I assume the reduction was very recently, but I can’t say if it was general credit conditions, related to the Wachovia change-over or something else to cause the reduction. All I know for sure is it wasn’t something related to my personal credit as there have been only positive changes to that in the past 3+ years.

  3. skippy

    @Doc H,

    Posted by: Jim | April 27, 2009 at 08:28 AM

    Hi, Jim. I'm a mexican citizen, living in Mexico City. I've just followed the press conference with the Health Minister via live coverage on television. Only two journalists, both from non-mexican media, asked him about Perote Veracruz farm and they cited Veratect as "one biosurveillance company warned about an atypical outbreak in Veracruz" and also they asked if the spreading of the virus was caused by the slow action of the health & goverment entities involved. The Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova stated that the biosurveillance company, referring as Veratect, was "highly irresponsible for not making any proper statement to the WHO or CDC. Me, as a concerned citizen that wants to be fully informed, ask you, Jim, is it true? Is it true that if the mexican goverment or health department have responded and acted quickly towards the Veracruz "atypical pneumonia" several cases, this would have been a controled disease? I don't judge anyone but as a millions of mexicans, I feel suspicious. Another fact is that Jose Angel Cordova said that the first cases in Veracruz weren't categorized as influenza A/H1N1, there's a chance that they didn't have the elements to identify the virus promptly, so they dismissed the cases as pneumonia. Actually, today also he said (Jose A. Cordova) that Mexico gov didn't had enough personnel nor laboratory facilities to identify influenza virus, slowing the diagnostics. Just for the record, he said today that the current ability was to perform just 15 lab tests for influenza type A virus. I would like to know your comments about this. Thank yo very much for your published information. Best wishes.

    skippy, cheers.

  4. Doc Holiday

    Top thoughts:

    1. Team Sarah, a social networking site of nearly 70,000 of Gov. Sarah Palin’s supporters, is hoping its members have a shot at derailing the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the president’s Health and Human Services secretary

    2. As the cable networks went 24/7 with influenza coverage Monday, liberal bloggers went after Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Arlen Specter for working to slice $780 million in pandemic planning funds from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.

    A spokesman for Collins seemed to shift some of the blame to the Obama administration, noting the unfilled seats at the Department of Health and Human Services. The Service Employees International Union, in turn, blamed Senate Republicans for a delay in confirming HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius.

    3. According to the research of epidemiologist Donald Henderson, who directed the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness after Sept. 11, as much as 25 percent of Congress could eventually become infected.

    But Henderson says it is unlikely that the Capitol building would be completely shut down or that Congress would be dismissed.

    Swine flu has D.C. pointing fingers4. As you know, Senate Republicans have been filibustering Sebelius over lingering questions about her views on late-term abortions and some campaign contributions she received from an abortion doctor. Late last week, the Senate Dem leadership announced that in the face of GOP opposition, they had agreed with Republicans to bring Sebelius’ confirmation to the floor for a vote tomorrow that would indeed require the 60 votes.

    The outbreak of the flu epidemic had led some Dems to hope that the GOP would drop their filibuster, which would mean the 60 vote threshold would no longer apply. And even GOP Senator Susan Collins called for the Senate to expedite her confirmation today.
    Want to know why? Sargent explains it succinctly:
    Bottom line: The filibuster over an abortion controversy is still throwing a hurdle in the way of this nomination, despite the flu epidemic.

    Meanwhile, Rome burns… and Republicans continue to procreate:

    See: Mark Foley

  5. Doc Holiday

    Virus not the deadly pandemic first feared, Canadian experts sayEvidence of its virulence comes from the somewhat sketchy data emerging from Mexico, which has had 1,900 cases and 149 deaths that it suspects are caused by the virus, leading some observers to talk of a relatively frightening 10% death rate.

    The fact many of those infected have been young is also worrisome, given that seasonal flu tends to hit the sick and elderly hardest, and the infamous 1918 pandemic took a disproportionately high toll on the young, said Dr. Brian Ward, a McGill University infectious-disease specialist.

    Yet only 26 of the Mexican cases have been confirmed by laboratory test, and most of the suspected cases have been among people who got so ill, they ended up in hospital.

    It is almost certain that many more – perhaps tens of thousands more – Mexicans contracted the swine flu and experienced little more than sniffles and aches and pains, never entering the health care system, said Dr. Bill Bowie of the University of British Columbia.

  6. jbmoore

    If the scientists are correct, the flu virus is temperature sensitive. Heat kills it which is why flu strikes primarily in the winter months. It could just be a local outbreak in Mexico. The infected people in the U.S. are likely travelers from Mexico. Since summer is just around the corner, the chances of this virus blooming into a wolrdwide pandemic are likely to be hype for the time being. This may change when winter comes along, but for now a swine flu epidemic is likely to be overblown because the virus will have a lower half life outside of the host due to higher environmental temperatures. We are likely on the tail for now.

  7. Doc Holiday

    Swine shorts look to bankers for TARP Bonuses

    Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hogs Monday finished sharply lower, and June through July closed limit down, on swine-flu fears, negative fundamentals and U.S. stocks’ setback.
    Pork bellies also closed down hard with May and July limit down. Live cattle and feeder cattle ended lower.
    Lean hogs fell out of bed soon after the opening alarm that was sounded by the U.S. and Mexico swine-influenza outbreak. The virus killed more than 100 people in Mexico and produced 20 confirmed cases across parts of the U.S.
    Word that countries such as Russia and China temporarily barred U.S. pork imports also sent lean hogs into a downward spiral.

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