Links 7/17/09

Huge blob of Arctic goo floats past Slope communities Anhcorage Daily News

In Push for Cancer Screening, Limited Benefits New York Times. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. For instance, the US is the only advanced economy in which it is considered good medical practice to have everyone at age 50 get a colonoscopy. In other countries, they do test, but only individuals at risk. Their mortality rates are not higher than ours.

How Markit turned from a camera into an engine Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Plunging Revenue Squeezes State Budgets Further: Wall Street Journal (hat tip DoctoRx)

Paulson reveals US concerns of breakdown in law and order Independent. So the message is if the banks werem’t rescued, the US would fall into anarchy.

Banks ‘must publish pay of all their top earners’ Telegraph

Only So Much Boilerplate to Go Round EconoSpeak

More evidence that the amount of juice used by hedge funds was never as great as many assumed AlAboutAlpha. True but misleading, since it only allows for borrowing, and does not consider other ways of achieving leverage (derivatives, purchase of instruments with embedded leverage).

With Credit Markets Still Frozen, CIT Shops for Investors New York Times. The perils of letting a Wall Street type run a business.

FOMC Forecasts – Reality or Fantasy? Tim Duy

Shattering the Right vs. Left Prism Once Again: The Wall Street Journal Goes After Goldman and the Bank Bailout Ariana Huffington (hat tip reader Marshall). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. fresno dan

    "An upshot of the decades-long war on cancer is the popular belief that healthy people should regularly examine their bodies or undergo screening because early detection saves lives. But in fact, except for a few types of cancer, routine screening has not been proven to reduce the death toll from cancer for people without specific symptoms or risk factors." NYT
    The point is raised all the time about how our 2x spending doesn't get us any better health in statistical comparisons to other countries (which is accurate). One could also accurately say that we could reduce current health care spending by 90% and it would have no statistical affect on health care outcomes. What happens when health (i.e. insurance) reform runs into the reality that most health care is, in fact, ineffective.

  2. fresno dan

    Paulson reveals US concerns of breakdown in law and order" Paulson.

    I have a self imposed limit of only commenting once per blog, because I think it rude to dominate a conversation, but I am breaking that rule BECAUSE PAULSON DRIVES ME INSANE!!!!!!!!
    Here is a guy, WHO worked for GS, and apparently had no clue about the state of the American economy in early 2007. He may as well have said that the collapse left us vulerable to invasion from Mars.

  3. Minh

    Paulson reveals US concerns of breakdown in law and order Independent. So the message is if the banks were rescued, the US would fall into anarchy.

    I believe you ment "So the message is if the banks weren't rescued, the US would fall into anarchy."

    The Kanjorski-Paulson exchange is here between 53:00 and 1:00:11, this should be of interest to ZeroHedge's Tyler Durden

    Here's what Paulson testified "Our financial system underpins our modern economy; commerce today requires a string
    of payments, whether that string of payments is for delivering a gallon of milk from farm
    to consumer or for delivering a new product from idea to production. And that string of
    payments depends on trust. Our financial system works because consumers and investors
    have confidence in the strength of financial institutions.
    Last fall, that confidence was largely gone, especially among those who lend to financial
    institutions by purchasing their debt. The crisis of confidence threatened to disrupt our
    entire financial system—not just the institutions that had high credit losses on their
    mortgage investments, but all financial firms, whether weak or solvent, would have
    suffered as widespread fear prevented investors from lending to any financial institution.
    As liquidity dried up, the continued collapse of financial institutions that provide credit
    and handle payments for our economy would have meant that firms across industries—
    not just Wall Street, but every street—would have seen a massive curtailment of their
    access to liquidity and thus their ability to purchase supplies and pay employees. Missed
    payrolls would quickly have turned into even more millions of layoffs, and this in turn
    would have meant an even greater retreat of consumer spending than we have witnessed
    since last September. It would have been extremely difficult to break the momentum of
    this downward spiral. Fortunately, the most dire of consequences were averted. I am proud that, along with
    many others, I brought what experience, talent, and efforts I could to right our nation’s
    Now that the financial system has stabilized, many, including this Committee, have
    begun to look back to analyze the efficacy of our responses to the crisis as it unfolded.
    Learning the lessons of the past is a necessary and important step as we forge our way
    forward. The complexity of the crisis and the multifaceted character of the solutions,
    coupled with the short time in which decisions had to be made, will all require careful
    consideration and analysis to help the current Administration and future generations
    understand and confront issues of economic crisis. Our responses were not perfect, and,
    even when our actions proved effective, Congress and many in the private sector played a
    significant role. But, having had the benefit of some time to reflect, and to consider
    views expressed by others, I am confident that our responses were substantially correct
    and that they saved this nation from great peril."

    This kind of reasoning maybe right, but it also reminds me of the Bush administration total bull.hit that because of what they have done after 9/11, no more terrorists' attack took place. Guess who created the mess in the first place: killed most of the 3000 people in the two towers that day: the 19 Arabs or the demolition experts ?

    My question is when the US government, specifically the money-controlled press, Mr Obama and his democratic dominated congress stop beating about the bush and get to the point of prosecuting the real culprits of 9/11, illegal foreign invasions and subsequence economic collapse ?

  4. skippy


    Chill till some one comes up with the thermite residue…from some one who played with blow u up stuff from childhood on the farm to the military. It's the key, slow thermite or shape charges with copper, combo of the two, other than that, it was still an extraordinary event "Black Swan of multiple building collapse" so local to the vertical, bugger me.

  5. Ryan

    The point is raised all the time about how our 2x spending doesn't get us any better health in statistical comparisons to other countries (which is accurate). One could also accurately say that we could reduce current health care spending by 90% and it would have no statistical affect on health care outcomes. What happens when health (i.e. insurance) reform runs into the reality that most health care is, in fact, ineffective.

    Maybe true, but if you think pre-screening, even under a national healthcare scheme, will go away, you're dead wrong. My company the other day was talking about the new healthcare plans they were offering, and they give us some "annual check/preventative care" money that doesn't cost us anything. The reason of course is to catch something early so they don't pay more later (my company is self-insured), which suits me fine, I don't want to be sick, but our HR head was telling us that if he didn't get the standard check, he wouldn't be standing there, because they early detected him having breast cancer.

  6. Anonymous

    the US is the only advanced economy in which it is considered good medical practice to have everyone at age 50 get a colonoscopy.

    You are beginning to see why health care costs are climbing so fast. This country pushes health care like dealers push heroin. We just have far more heath care demand than is necessary and patients rarely question their doctors.

    The number of tests patients go through is excessive. I have 4 siblings in health care at a hospital in a poor section of town. Each works in a different department – one is in billing (IT), one is in the legal department, another in a testing lab, and another is a liason with doctors on fund-raising and grant applications. It is a unique opportunity to get to listen to front-line workers in several departments communicate with each other – the only time it probably happens in the actual course of business is when department VP's talk and they are too removed from the day-to-day functions that they are unaware of the cross-departmental ramifications of a decision in another department. And doctors have ZERO interest in understanding concepts such as affordability; it's a combination of arrogance and CYA.

  7. MarcoPolo

    Yves, I hope I’m not driving this into the ground. I’m back on VAT. I never considered it a realistic possibility for the US and normally discount all of the discussion as coming from what you term as plants & leaks. It’s a system which is different to income taxes. Maybe superior. But not clearly superior. Compare the difficulty in adopting that system to the difficulty/impossibility of adopting metric measurement – which is clearly superior by any measure.

  8. Doc Holiday

    I'm against kitties being fed tissue paper during the first year or so of their days on Earth, however, as these things grow into cats, a full spectrum of paper can be introduced as a nutritional supplement*, but That's Just My Fuc-ing Two Cents, which I think should be a new webpage (

    * This is really not a bad idea during these economic challenging times, but be careful using newspapers with soy ink, because that may impact estrogen levels and increase the need for catnip.

    FD: meow

  9. Hugh

    I agree with the comments about Paulson. Here's a guy who never saw the bubble or the meltdown coming but could prognosticate about the social effects of a bank crisis? All the scare talk was just blackmail to get $700 billion, no questions asked, or else. Paulson is a major villain in the crashing of the economy, infinitely worse than Madoff. He should be giving his defenses before a jury not Congress.

  10. Jason

    AIG black hole alert! :
    – – – – –
    European banks including Societe Generale SA and BNP Paribas SA hold almost $200 billion in guarantees sold by New York-based AIG allowing the lenders to reduce the capital required for loss reserves. The firms may keep the contracts to hedge against declining assets rather than canceling them as AIG said it expects the banks to do, according to David Havens, managing director at investment bank Hexagon Securities LLC.

  11. Minh

    @Jason: That was a $307 bln blackhole as of Sept 16 of '08. After planned $85 bln rescue it is now $192 bln as view from Europe.

    Here was the links at the fall of 08

    and now from your link: (note that prime loans are now also under stress)

    The $192.6 billion figure for the swaps includes $99.4 billion tied to corporate loans and $90.2 billion linked to prime residential mortgages, the insurer said.

    “The sheer size of the portfolio and the ‘black box’ nature of its underlying loans and assets do little to calm fears of further CDS losses,” Shanker said in the July 8 research note. “Potential markdowns in the regulatory CDS portfolio may result in collateral calls that would again put pressure on AIG’s liquidity.”

    The government’s rescue includes a $60 billion credit line, $52.5 billion to buy mortgage-linked assets owned or insured by the company, and an investment of as much as $70 billion. AIG plans to reduce its debt under the credit line by $25 billion by handing over stakes in two non-U.S. life insurance units, the insurer said last month. AIG has tapped about $43 billion from the line as of July 15.

    The American are known to be very generous, aren't they ? Just for how long Uncle Ben's printing press can operate before the US congress turn it off ?

  12. skippy


    Thanks for the link. I'm fairly up to date on the subject, but the more the merrier. Still the hole area was wiped clean and thats the biggest problem to contend with, motive/method be dammed. Plus any samples left are too small a fraction of the total aftermath (present in any litagation).

    Skippy…for my part the hole thing does stink to high heaven.

  13. Minh

    The thermite reaction is taught in UK highschool and in VN highschool. I guess it is the same in the US.
    The UK google video is good as it describes the theory and do the reaction before the camera at once. I remember how difficult it was to convince even my brother, a Ph.D. in electronics circuit design, that 9/11 was an inside job. The more people think they know, the more difficult it is to present the knowledge in an neutral and accessible manner. If you say t=sqrt(2h/g) they may not remember, but if you say h=1/2gt2, or a=s0t+1/2at2, they may recall. If you say thermite reaction, they may fail to recall, but if you write down the reaction like Fe2O3 + 2Al = Al2O3 + 2Fe + Heat, it would be easier. It may help some to remember if you mention specific number like Al2O3: 1339 Kcal/mol Fe2O3: 198,5 Kcal/mol. That depends on each person structure of memory, and their preference filter, like eyes, or ears, or logic, or specific numbers.

    In short, like any kind of propaganda, no matter what is the message, you need to be consistent and express the information in the easiest form accessible to potential 'converts'. I guess the 9/11 shown on TV live, with subsequence repeats regularly every few weeks were successful propaganda until now. But because of the reality now most people a facing, they're more susceptible to altenative explanation, more fundamental like the demonstrable knowledge of math,physics and chemistry taught in highschool.

    Sorry, just type, no spell-checked.
    It's facinating to see the blowback of falsehood propaganda in the making. It took more than 12 years from Reichstag fire to the fall of Berlin.

  14. skippy


    I have personally used just about all the goes boom stuff out there, military to commercial and homemade over a 30 year period, including thermite. Just imagine Skippy and about 10 friends blowing the hell out of the desert at 29 stumps USMC base, with enough gear C4, thermite, detcord etc on many different types of steel from tanks to structural stuff. So I understand small and big explosions and the jobs to be done on rock, steel, body's

    The physics alone get the short hairs standing on the back of my neck with out including explosives. So I'm not suggesting any thing other than more evidence must be compiled before hitting the streets, get my drift eh, don't blow your wad on the first day of court.

    Skippy…concave top of soap dishes makes a sweet shape charge for C4.

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