Links 7/7/09

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Climate change is shrinking sheep BBC

The laser that can halt blindness and offer hope for millions Mail Online

NiMH Batteries, Chevron Patents and the Future of Plug-in Hybrid Cars SEA (hat tip John D)

How useless is a Chocolate Teapot? Kitchen Science Experiments (hat tip reader Munch Paulson). A follow up to a weekend post.

Jobless Koreans Turn to Manual Labor New York Times

The World Finance Crisis & the American Mission Robert Skidelsky, New York Review of Books. I am very late to this, but it is still worth reading.

“Half of the World’s Emissions Came from Just 700 Million People” Mark Thoma

Earnings and PE ratios in the Great Depression Certain Ruin

Debt Burden Quickens Power Shift as G-8 Nations Lose Influence Bloomberg (hat tip DoctoRx). This is a good piece, but misses one key point: there will be defaults, as there were in the 1930s. We may do it via inflation, but there will be debt repudiation.

Debt tripping up Canadians The Star (hat tip DoctoRx)

Under restraint Gillian Tett and Aline Van Duyn, Financial Times. On the less than rosy prospects for the revival of securitization.

Insight: Reservations about the dollar David Woo, Financial Times. Good discussion of the not-so-hot future of the dollar as reserve currency. The punch line:

In the near term, the global economy remains too fragile to absorb the shock of a large and disorderly decline of the dollar. In that respect, the chances for co-ordinated intervention among developed economies to support the dollar are higher now than any time in the past 10 years.

Banks Planning “Harry and Louise” Ads Noam Schreiber. Ooh, this makes me ill, but consider: the reason those Harry and Louise ads worked was because people like their doctors, and that extended to their perception of the health care system (even if they know the system is broken, they are afraid of changes to their relationship, even if that isn’t in the cards for them. Plus people were not as dissatisfied with health care then as they are now). By contrast, does anyone like or trust their bank?

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Aki_Izayoi

    Does anyone expect the number of hikikomori and parasite singles in the US and in other countries to go up in the future. In Japan, that's what happened during deflation. I feel so sorry that many people might not have a relatively unlevered parents to live with (in Japan living with your parents in comfortable since you are probably the only child their) as hikikomori or parasite singles. These people would be forced to go into the unskilled job market (that job market is a zero sum game) and compete with old people whose pensions were vaporized.

  2. Aki_Izayoi

    The above comment was relative to the Korean post. People will be content with a lower standard of living (i.e. not consuming as much as before and going into debt) if they have secure jobs or make-works that provide a nice income, access to food, shelter, clothing, and health care. In addition, the pain from a reduced standard of living will be reduced if everyone shares that experience. I remember an article (,1518,634122,00.html ) that says that people thought living in the GDR (East Germany) wasn't that bad since you had a make-work job that was in a low stress and non-competitive environment, and you always had a secure pension, shelter, health care etc. It wasn't the prosperity the "neoliberals" promised, but it is still a good existence. I hope people will adapt to a lower standard of living in a good way, and not having to be humiliated by begging to a religious charity because they have a nice welfare state to fall back on. I doubt a large welfare state will be feasible in the US. The welfare state is not designed for prosperity, but to reduce suffering.

    People always say that a lower standard of living is bad and communist, but deal with it.

    The US should consider propping up the labor market by protectionism, immigration restriction, and make-work jobs. Why do the elites focus on propping up asset prices?

  3. plschwartz

    Thanks so much to you and John D. for the battery piece.
    I guess at one time I would have been shocked at the lack of publicity about this problem, but that was a 20th Cent. feeling.
    Anyway lets try and get the story around.

  4. juan

    Why do the elites focus on propping up asset prices?

    Because that's what they own and, on both an absolute and relative basis, very much more than the 'lower' 90 percent.
    See section on Wealth

  5. Richard Kline

    Wee puss: "Yyeessssssss! Blind mice! Carrying bearer bonds! God Iz the King of the Katzz!"

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