Links 4/29/09

Chemical ‘caterpillar’ points to electronics-free robots New Scientist.

Rudd sides with the bigots Larvatus Prodeo.I had found Australians to more tolerant of gays than Americans (you see a gay angles played up in advertising, which is inconceivable here) so this is surprising.

The Last Temptation of Risk Barry Eichengren (hat tip reader Dave)

Fed Is Said to Seek Capital for at Least Six Banks After Tests Bloomberg

Milan Police Seize UBS, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank Funds Bloomberg

Green shoots: grounds for cautious pessimism Willem Buiter

Sticky Leverage Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader Don)

Days could be numbered for BofA and Citi CEOs Reuters

Bronte Capital with a Major Scoop on Alleged Fraudster Columbia Journalism Review (hat tip reader Tim S) and Fraudulent hedge fund associated with the Vice President’s family harasses blogger John Hempton

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Martin):

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  1. Brick

    Willem Buiter’s article has some tasty titbits in, but his explanation of the inventory cycle helped clarify some niggling worries I had about others suggestions the recession was over due to an inventory rebound. Despite some technical reasons why demand should pick up due to inventory contraction halting, the fundamental of the customer spending less money is unlikely to turn round in the short term. While house prices are still declining and jobs are being lost consumer appetite will be subdued. I do think he has under estimated the US consumers resilience to curbing their spend spend spend ways, not that it makes much difference with unemployment rising.

    The following quotes highlight the potential problems and consequences for the US.

    The ability of the UK authorities to raise future taxes or slash public spending is, however, likely to be greater than that of the US, whose political system is polarised to the point of paralysis.
    Federal government deficits significantly larger than those envisaged here would unnerve the financial markets and trigger a buyers’ strike in the US Treasury debt markets, either because of a fear of default (quite unlikely) or because of a fear of large-scale irreversible future monetisation and inflation (quite likely).
    This would point to a significant further step down into recession at some point in the future.

    Next up is John Hempton’s revelation that the vice president’s family may be involved in investigations by the SEC. What interests me is that the company concerned was able to use its lawyers to silence the whistleblower. Ultimately there is a real risk that the average American will come to the conclusion that decision makers don’t have their best interests at heart as they all become tarred by association with questionable dealings.

  2. skippy

    Poor Antidote du jour…having to live day by day, on one nut, and nothing stored for winters cold harsh reality.

    skippy…but he is a fighter! Been around longer than we have, so follow his footsteps, survive for today if you must and live to see better days.

  3. Neal



    …(Geithner) also said there are signs of “thawing” in credit markets and some indication that confidence is beginning to return. His remarks reflected an improvement in earnings in several lenders’ results for the first quarter, and a reduction in benchmark lending rates this month…..

    (end quote)

    Returning the CON in confidence

  4. Jon

    Disclosure: I do not support defining same-sex unions as marriages.

    “Rudd sides with the bigots.” Poorly met.

    I know few people who have taken the time to truly understand proponents of both sides of this issue that use such language. These sorts of epithets serve to polarize and poison the discussion. Perhaps that is the intent, I honestly do not know. If not, “Rudd sides against gay marriage” would have been far classier.

    A good starting point for any interested, the second page especially:


  5. Yves Smith


    Rudd wasn’t just against gay marriage, he also said he was against civli unions. This is pretty surprising in Oz (look,the phone company uses drag queens to promote its services, that’s how well accepted the gays are). This is pretty surprising from the Labor party.

  6. DownSouth

    @Rudd sides with bigots.

    What I find most intriguing about this whole debate is: Why has it gained such preeminence in the national discourse?

    As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote:

    Why, in an age of religiosity, has Niebuhr, the supreme American theologian of the 20th century, dropped out of 21st-century religious discourse? Maybe issues have taken more urgent forms since Niebuhr’s death – terrorism, torture, abortion, same-sex marriage, Genesis versus Darwin, embryonic stem-cell research.~

    Questions of social and economic justice were always first and foremost with Niebuhr. And in his day and time they were most salient with the public.

    The Australian cultural critic Robert Hughes put it this way in The Culture of Complaint:

    The GOP’s “morality” was all about sex and honoring thy father, and it tactfully avoided other commandments, particularly the one against stealing.~

    What Schlesinger and Hughes are describing is the abandonment by the nation’s major churchs, and perhpas by the public, of issues of economic and social justice in favor of other issues, such as gay marriage. Why has this happened?

    And equally as interesting, why have the Torys (social and economic conservatives) and economic libertarians teamed up in the GOP to do battle with the democratic socialists and social libertarians in the Democratic Party?

    It seems the only thing the Torys and economic libertarians have in common is that they both embrace philosophies that perpetuate a privileged economic elite.

    This combination of Labor and Toryism that we see coming from Rudd reeks of even greater cognitive dissonance.

    Anyway, just as economic hardship helped to focus the mind in the 30s, all the furror over gays may go the same way as prohibition. The future doesn’t look too well for the Torys, at least not on the gay marriage issue:

    Consider this: In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released Monday, 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they supported same-sex marriage. By contrast, 57 percent under age 40 said they supported it, a 26-point difference.

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