As you can see, the want of my own posts tonight is not due to a failure to look for material!
Dolphin ‘superpod’ spotted off Wales BBC
Monkeys show language recognition Science News Examiner
Prince Charles: next generation faces ‘living hell’ unless climate change tackled Telegraph
White House Ponders Bernanke’s Future Wall Street Journal. Looking at the alternatives, we are probably better off with the devil we know. Summers? Dear God. Roger Ferguson? I know him from McKinsey, and let’s put it this way: everyone to a person was stunned when he got his earlier Fed appointment. But then he went to head a fancy financial products group at Swiss Re, which was doing stuff he and they did not understand, and in short order lost about a billion dollars. That qualifies him to be a systemic risk regulator? Christiina Romer is also on the list (oh dear) plus Janet Yellen and Alan Blinder.
Pakistani president Asif Zardari admits creating terrorist groups Telegraph (hat tip reader Paul S)
Swiss Government/UBS-Versus-The USA and Me Bruce Krasting and Bern to block UBS record transfer to US Financial Times
Home Prices Post First Quarterly Gain Since 2006 Housing Wire
CHART OF THE DAY: We’ve Wiped Out All The New Jobs Of The 21st Century Clusterstock. Eeek.
McKinsey Quarterly on State Capitalism (hat tip Zero Hedge)
S&P Increases 2005-07 Subprime and Alt-A Loss Assumptions Research Recap
RMB 1.5 trillion in new Chinese lending — can we turn this thing off? Michael Pettis
The Money Multiplier Mark Dow
Yen: Safe Haven, But for How Much Longer? Ben Bitroff
What, Me Worry?: Few Expected Green Shoots in the Bond Market Brad DeLong.
Global Financial Stress Menzie Chinn, Ecnobrowser
Shipping flashes early warning signals again Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph
Apartment Vacancy Rate Hits 22-Year High Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader Don B)
IMF Sees Stronger Global Rebound From ’09 Recession Bloomberg
Who gets the credit? And does it matter? Household vs. firm lending across countries Thorsten Beck. Berrak Buyukkarabacak. Felix Rioja, and Neven Valev, VoxEU
U.S. Treasury Opens Distressed-Debt Program Without Pimco Bloomberg (hat tip DoctoRx)
Antidote du jour. Fans around the world watched the Michael Jackson tribute:
Re: the short list for FOMC Honcho, it is telling, the lack of talent bruited about. Yellen is the only one of capacity, and one feels certain that Hell will have nitrogen ice cubes in its mojitos before she's chosen, she's a 'diversity' token name—and to much of a mind to take charge. But don't waste any angst on Summers being appointed. Yet. Now, he has _far_ more power where he is with vastly less accountability. —And THAT is the point of this list. Someone's head is going to have to roll for the 'slowness of success' to Obama's policies; Bernanke is yesterday's man and The Last Guy's appointment, he's it. But Summers will want no one of independent mind at the Fed, so a hack it will be, as lackey to the Treasury, and ultimately a captive balloon of our Financial Exarch, L. Summers.
@McKinsey Quarterly: "State capitalism and the crisis"
When I read Bremmer's article I was reminded of something that the Rev. Al Sharpton said at Michael Jackson's memorial service:
And I want his three children to know, wudn't nothin' strange about yo daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with.
Sharpton's comment promted me to think of just how bizarrare it is that we live in a culture that deems someone like Michael Jackson to be "strange," and yet public liars like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield and Colin Powell, who were willing to stand before an entire nation, and indeed an entire world, and spout blatant untruths that carry lethal consequences for millions of innocent people, are judged as "normal."
The following passage by Bremmer is really quite stunning:
As globalization came to seem more and more like a historical inevitability, the assumption among wealthy nations was that the injection of politics was a temporary stage, that these developing economies would mature (each at its own tempo) into a state of grace in which economic balances, not politics, would drive local markets.
It boggles the mind how Bremmer could make such a statement. It is as if, for Bremmer, the armies of paid lobbyists, the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, the bought-off national press, the millions of campaign contributions by Wall Street firms that buy access and influence, none of this even exists in Bremmer's mind.
The surreal quality of it all is evidence of something that Cornel West wrote of in The Future of the Race:
My fundamental problem with Du Bois is his inadequate grasp of the tragicomic sense of life–a refusal candidly to confront the sheer absurdity of the human condition. This tragicomic sense- tragicomic rather than simply "tragic," because even ultimate purpose and objective order are called into question–propels us toward suicide or madness unless we are buffered by ritual, cushioned by community, or sustained by art.
James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time also wrote of the tendency to live in mythical make-believe worlds in order to escape our responsiblities to this life:
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the ony fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life. It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.