Links 5/2/09

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Parrots Join Humans On The Dance Floor NPR

Lithium in water ‘curbs suicide’ BBC

Extinction has a weird appeal Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

Banking Fortunes – From “Catastrophic!” to “Just Awful”! Satyajit Das

Public pawnbroker keeps Parisians’ secrets safe Reuters (hat tip Dimitris). Late to this, but interesting nevertheless.

Same Data, Conflicting Forecasts Joe Nocera, New York Times

SEC Chief Schapiro Wants Authority to Make Hedge-Fund Rules Bloomberg

Chrysler’s Bankruptcy Deals Blow to Affiliates Wall Street Journal. The big auto companies are big elements of a large and fragile ecosystem, We’ve worried that the consequences of a bankruptcy on the parts makers have been underestimated, If enough of them fail, it can hurt all US auto players, including the touted transplants. From the story:

“Without a clear timeline for when the [bankruptcy] situation will end and production will resume, I believe we will see massive suppliers bankruptcies that will stop Chrysler from resuming production,” Chrysler’s procurement officer, Scott Garberding, said in a statement filed with the bankruptcy court Thursday.

Chrysler was preparing to shut down all of its vehicle assembly plants for 60 days on Monday. But on Friday two plants in the U.S. and two in Canada were forced to cease production because a few suppliers stopped shipping parts or materials.

On Wall Street: Chrysler saga sets dangerous precedent Financial Times

Derivatives and attempted state capture in Kazakhstan Willem Buiter (hat tip reader Olaf). He misses the fact that CDS are written on a reference entity, not on specific bond issues, but otherwise makes a good point.

The hedge fund of Foggy Bottom Economist

Antidote du jour. NPR did not give raccoons the credit they deserve (I first heard about their musical skills from an algorist):

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  1. Richard Kline

    We and others have hashed muchly over where the problem lies with potential BK for Chrysler, with digging out the bond rubble and CDS tsunamis as real worries. For me, though, the parts suppliers and dealer networks are the parts not really addressed by the ‘defibrilate the bastards and pray’ approach of this Admin pre-jack. There may be little but empty buildings left of the dealerships after six months of closure, and whether parts suppliers are active anywhere except in court is anything but certain. The ‘Chrysler’ part of the problem has at least minimal credibility as a continuing concern in this plan. The ‘rest of the system’ part of the problem may well be the one that blows out with the force of the impact.

    I’m not saying that this is an easy problem. And I am all for getting on with it. We may wish that we had nationalized and then built down under control rather than stopped the patients heart and attempted an immediate resuscitation. If this goes badly, it is a direct consequence of ideological blinders forcing a less than optimal choice.

  2. lineup32

    The relationship between creating new home subdivisions in rural America and new car manufacturing is the heart and soul of American manufacturing today. Hard to drive 2 hours one way to work in an old beater and get to work on time.
    The auto supply chain was geared for 16+ million cars which means investment (loans)to update manufacturing capacity and higher inventory levels. Not only are the direct suppliers going BK and downsizing but all the service related industries that feed from the process will also go under as there is no alternative manufacturing sector to service.

  3. Doc Holiday

    This may be a great spot for grassy knoll theory, but I doubt it. Nonetheless, I'm sitting here thinking, pandemic, pork industry , Global panic by authorities to use mass media to shock people — and so, this seems chaotic and surreal, unreal, retarded and the wheels turn, questioning why, and then, what's left besides theory and oddities? Theater?

    I'm not a conspiracy nut (in general) and if anything I just make attempts at slinging mud at corruption, collusion and nepotism and stuff like that that ends up being ranting and raving about fairly normal stuff, like TARPr fraud.

    Today however, I'm thinking about this non-flu event and the possibility that something else is going down and my hunch suggests that this global effort to begin scanning people at airports is what this is really about, i.e, I'm thinking that some high level threat was so significant, that the flu became a way to add new layers of security into travel systems. I keep seeing that airports are all rushing to have thermal imaging, which apparently can be used to spot fever in travelers — but isn't it possible this is also a way to detect other stuff or to record faces, or to add info to some database?

    The telling thing that is a tipoff, is the global threat, i.e, not just an isolated area, but a worldwide hunting technique, to discover something and to control populations.

    I know, that was weird, but someone has to dream about this shit ….

    FYI: OPGAL is a developer of thermal imaging technology and cameras principally for military uses and, more recently, for industrial, security and commercial customers. Recently announced their Fever Detection System, a packaged hardware & software systems for use in mass screening of people for possible fever, indicative of infection, e.g. SARS virus.

    Shortly after introducing its FDA – Fever Detector & Alarm system, Israeli-based Opgal says it has received orders for 400 systems from airports and other public facilities around the world. The company's systems are already installed in airports in Singapore, South Korea and Vancouver, Canada, and further units were due to start operating at Chinese airports, and Ben Gurion in Israel by the end of May.

    Opgal, a subsidiary of Rafael and Elbit (Nasdaq:ELBT), develops and supplies infra red thermal imaging products based on both cooled and uncooled (microbolometric) technologies.

    Health Ministry tests anti-SARS units
    Jun. 02 – The Health Ministry has begun a trial of the $25,000 thermal imaging units which have experimentally installed at Ben-Gurion Airport to detect feverish passengers who might have severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), The Jerusalem Post reported.The trial, in which patients quickly pass through the units and are then tested by thermometer as a comparison, will be conducted in the emergency room of Haifa's Rambam Hospital. A fever is only one of the symptoms of SARS; others are a cough and breathing difficulties. For the last two weeks, thermal imaging units developed by Opgal of Karmiel have been screening incoming passengers from around the world for fever, replacing a battery of public health nurses checking temperatures of passengers arriving from countries at high risk for SARS. After completing the tests at Rambam over the weekend, the ministry will decide whether the imaging units are accurate enough to be installed permanently in the airport's arrivals building. Opgal, owned by Rafael and Elbit, was founded in 1983. It is the leading producer of thermal and imaging systems for security purposes, military use, navigation, and search and rescue. With $16 million in turnover a year, it employs 80. The company says that sophisticated algorithms and software create high sensitivity to body heat, even when people are fully clothed. Lights blink and an alarm sounds when people with a fever higher than 38.25 C pass by the sensors.Some 300 of the units have been ordered by southeast Asian countries for delivery next month. Operating the system does not require special training.

    Oh well, maybe it's nice to have people helping us and keeping us safe, regardless of what's going on.

    In closing, I'd also like to offer my new slogan for Smithfield:

    Version 1: " Are pigs aint swine, their family!"

    V2: "Let our family of pigs into your home"

    V3: "If our pigs could talk, they would say thank you"

    Finally, see and hear and then eat Pork:
    Templeton with Bloated BellyIf that isn’t enough crap, try this:
    Heads Will RollFull Disclose: The Author has run out of milk and will have cereal Sunday and keep an eye on pork sales at the grocery…

  4. Doc Holiday

    Suidae The other white meat, and now, even healthier! Invite our family into your kitchen…

    The preceding slogan has just won the Global Suidae Marketing Slogan Award, for most original Post Swine Flu Marketing Campaign.

    We now return to our previously interrupted story on Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White and his relationship with the local butcher:

    Charlotte’s Web is an award-winning children’s novel by acclaimed American author E. B. White, about a suidae named Wilbur who is saved from being slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte. The book was first published in 1952, with illustrations by Garth Williams, and helped increase sale of pork by ten fold….

    The rest, as they say, is just bullshit….

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