Links April Fool’s Day

Earth population ‘exceeds limits’ BBC

The New Neocon Alliance with Obama Jacob Heilbrunn Huffington Post

The Economist to Launch London Theme Park Economist (hat tip reader Justin)

Alan Greenspan: “I screwed up!” Models and Agents

Paid Cadillac Prices, Got a Chevrolet Daniel Gross, Slate

Will The Real Geithner Plan Please Stand Up? Simon Johnson

Stress Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

‘Tarp cop’ launches probes into bail-out fraud Financial Times. The Congressional Oversight Panel seems to be taking fraud much more seriously than the Treasury, but does it have the manpower?

Asia is the victim if the bond bubble bursts Yu Qiao, Financial Times

Foreign central banks aren’t going to finance much of the 2009 US fiscal deficit; their reserves aren’t growing any more Brad Setser (hat tip reader Joseph)

Survey finds Chinese manufacturing worsening Associated Press (hat tip reader Michael)

Federal Plan to Aid Small Businesses Is Flawed, Lenders Say Washington Post. Is Team Obama becoming The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight? An announced plan has now been rebranded “a work in progress”. Consistent with our view that they are engaging in wishful thinking re what a GM bankruptcy would entail.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Michael). On patience and wisdom:

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  1. eh

    The foto reminds me of when we had a rooster for a while when I was in high school — it came from a science class egg hatching (experiment). We raised/kept it until it was full grown and insisted on loudly cockle-doodle-doing every morning from his sleeping quarters in the closet. Once he was bigger, it was fun to watch the cats scatter when he approached their bowls. They knew better than to mess with that chicken. Oddly enough, when he was out in the backyard and saw a strange cat up on the fence he would make tracks to the door and ask to come in.

    If the skunk is not a pet then it really is best to do away with outside bowls. Soon you have every kind of animal and every neighborhood moocher coming around.

  2. reason

    Are you sure that the BBC link at the top is an April Fool’s joke. It sounds perfectly feasable to me. (Or does Nina Fedoroff have 6 children?)

  3. Anonymous

    Just to clarify, the “top cop” for TARP is not employed by the Congressional Oversight Panel. Barofsky is a Special Inspector General, presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed like other executive branch employees (see here) and can be removed only by the President (who must notify Congress of the reasons for the removal). Having said that, as a practical matter, it’s very difficult to remove an IG unless you have a very good reason because of the political fallout and potential accusations of cover up. And, of course, part of any IGs job is to coordinate his or her efforts with others with oversight authority, including Congressional committees.

    It’s good that the TARP IG doesn’t specifically work for Congress because that means Committee chairs and others can’t water findings down or decide simply to hold a hearing and send a sternly worded letter. IGs routinely do criminal investigations (having a number of special agents on staff) and refer them for prosecution. Indeed Mr. Barofsky is a former federal prosecutor.

    The TARP IG on paper is one of the more impressive nominations of the Bush Administration. No way, IMO, would he have been the choice if Bush had been staying in power. But it’s easier to pick a tough watch dog when you know he’s going to be watching the next guy. And for the record, that’s fine with me. I have no patience with Wall Street looting the Treasury regardless of the political affiliation of its Secretary.

  4. Anonymous

    “Mr Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor in New York , said his role was to prevent the money being diverted illegally. He noted there was a “potential exposure of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money” if the bail-out efforts were to suffer from the average rate of fraud in federal programmes.”

    We need cops, lots of cops, pouring over the financial services industry and government agencies. Not a bunch of ivy league lawer types lounging at the SEC. People with integrity and a sense of outrage at the massive stealing of their parents and childrens’ wealth.

    If some mutt holds up a 7-11 with a squirt gun he gets a lifetime of trouble. If Rube Greenberg rigs the insurance market and then blows up the financial system, he gets a golden retirement.

  5. ya get the leaders you deserve

    Alan Greenspan: “I screwed up!”

    Alan Greenspan was the greatest con artist on the face of the earth now trying to break his own record as such.

    That his remarks get print space says a lot about the sorry state of reporting that relies on public relations handouts instead of journalism.

    Alan Greenspan’s only excuse for his leadership in the race to the bottom other than his compromised character is that he is a devotee of the Ayn Rand cult.

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for the April Fools and for wasting my time.

    Some people should stick to their knitting. Trying to be funny has the opposite effect.

  7. jm

    What an apt visual metaphor.

    The bowl represents the worlds’ pension funds.

    The skunk represents the denizens of the financial industry.

    The dog represents the general public.

  8. Anonymous

    Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Michael). On patience and wisdom:

    On going hungry and stinking for years.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Not only does Earth (I assume they meant human as I usually don’t read the linked articles) population exceed limits, but as I have found out recently, humans can be shown to have exceeded their allotted time on the evolutionary tree – we should have been replaced by another wiser species already. We should have been another Neanderthals, another evolutionary dead-end (Noble prize winners in physics/peace/medicine or not) already, collectively speaking, of course, because some of us are Neanderthals NOW.

  10. brushes9

    How are Halliburton ex-pats enjoying their new, scary, environment in Dubai?

    April Fools, all of you, Halliburton!

  11. Anonymous

    i have a question as far as derivatives and other financial instruments, are there triggers in these things that activate at certain stock prices?


  12. lineup32

    GMAC expands auto lending to more consumers
    GMAC to temporarily waive some dealer charges and fees, set aside $5B for consumer loans…f-14816926.html

    “At the same time, the company said it is setting aside $5 billion for consumer loans over the next 60 days and will resume lending to consumers with credit scores below 620. Muir said other factors, such as the applicant’s job and financial history, also will be taken into account in deciding whether to grant financing.

    GMAC also said it will cut certain rates for both new and used vehicle financing, but didn’t specify by how much.

    Muir said the change is a return to business practices that where in place before the tightening of credit markets forced GMAC to raise its minimum score.

  13. Keenan

    Uh Oh! According to the Washington Post, it appears the Social Security fund will cross the event horizon at least 7 years earlier than forecast:

    “With unemployment rising, the payroll tax revenue that finances Social Security benefits for nearly 51 million retirees and other recipients is falling, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. As a result, the trust fund’s annual surplus is forecast to all but vanish next year — nearly a decade ahead of schedule — and deprive the government of billions of dollars it had been counting on to help balance the nation’s books.”

    Recession Puts a Major Strain on Social Security Trust Fund

  14. Juan


    The WP picked up the ‘story’ from AEI and, if you care to look into it a little further, i.e. an actual analysis, the story is “totally misleading and verging on outright lying.”

    See: Bruce Webb’s New Tactics in an Old War..

  15. Keenan


    RE: SS trust fund

    Thanks for the link with the whole story.

    Just goes to demonstrate that the stories in print shouldn’t be taken as complete and entirely credible just because of the prestige of the masthead.

  16. Charles

    The Yu Qiao piece in the Financial Times is so out of step with reality that it can qualify as an April’s fool joke. If it is not, there is no cause for optimism : it means that Chinese economic “elite” (this guy is professor of economics in the most prestigious Chinese university) is completely clueless. Therefore, the brutal awakening to reality that will inevitably occur soon will generate a lot of resentment and anger, not an ideal state of mind to tackle world problems rationally and efficiently.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Anon @ 10:53PM

    Overpopulation itself is a remedy for the problem of overpopulation.


    More people reproducing increases – exponentially, if you want to know – the odds that a mutuation will occur who will be more adaptable than Homo Sapiens Sapiens (check that, Homo Dummies Dummies) and that new species will replace us.

    The question is whether it will be peacefully or with violence. I assume it will be peacefully as I hope the new species will be wiser than us.

    Well, I hope this writing will not be construed as a betrayal of my own species, because deep down, I don’t hate us and I do love animals, vegetables and minerals.

    If we can stablize and maybe eventually decrease human population, perhaps we can delay our inevitable fate, but I doubt we can prevent it. It doesn’t matter if you are a Noble Prize winner, the world’s first trillionaire, or not. All of us will be replaced.

  18. brushes9

    I’m sorry that I wished April Fool’s on the Halliburton crowd in Dubai, earlier in comments. May they all land on their feetsies.

    The mood is expectant with the G-20. There is a lull. The DOW goes up on speculation while the collections clocks keep ticking.

    My plans for healing got moved up and my anger has been safely processed frontally and creatively socialize with the ones involved.

    Now, I can identify today’s fear and it is quickening me, not paralyzing, just like a healthy person. I’m so happy.

    May the fear quicken all good people in our time of need.

  19. artichoke

    The Yu Qiao article proposes what we used to call a “debt for nature swap” but of course we were thinking of taking over a developing country, not China taking over large parts of US infrastructure.

    China should indeed invest their dollars in natural resources and other things around the world while they have value. I just don’t see how they have the leverage to force the US to do this swap though.

    The US should do exactly this, in the words of the article: “devastate Asians’ hard-earned wealth and terminate economic globalisation.” Surely we won’t let them take over the US in the name of economic globalization, nor become slaves for generations.

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