Links 10/09/09

The $900 Baby Stroller Is Not Dead Helaine Olen, The Big Money

Lowly females pick mediocre mates BBC

Daily Candy in Childhood Linked to Violence in Adulthood US News and World Report. I must stress that statisticians like pointing out spurious correlations, and this may well be one.

Cancer-Causing Virus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Wall Street Journal. I wonder why it took so long to figure this out. My understanding is that everyone who has chronic fatigue has had an Epstein-Barr virus, meaning mono. That would suggest a pathogen of some sort.

New email shows fund “blow-up risk” fear at Bear Reuters

You Just Got a Ph.D in Not Knowing Where the Markets Are Going? Great! Brad DeLong

Wal-Mart: Abusing Its Power for Forty Years Megan Barnett, Minyanville

Veriana plans ‘movie derivatives’ FT Alphaville

Another Mortgage Mess In The Making? Boom2Bust

Trade Procyclicality in the Current Recession: The View from the US Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

The Obama Recession Christopher Beam, Slate

Treasury Hails Milestone in Home Loan Modifications Peter S. Goodman, New York Times. Does a very good job of saying the milestone touted by the officialdom means very little.

Britain snatches the financial crown from the US Times Online (hat tip reader Skippy)

FHFA’s DeMarco Speaks – Ouch! Bruce Krasting. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour. From my sister in law Tracey:

A wild polar bear comes across tethered sled dogs in Canada’s Hudson Bay. The photographer is certain they are about to become lunch.


But the bear had other plans….






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  1. carol

    In reaction to the Slate article: “The Obama recession”:

    the man who is waging a war against prudent savers and future taxpayers (both in the US and elsewhere), in addition to fighting an escalating war in Afganistan, has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize….

  2. John Groves

    Absolutely amazing pictures. I never knew sled dogs and polar bears could be pals. Wow, that WAS an antidote du jour for sure.
    Thanks Yves.

    1. rd

      The polar bear must have just had a seal for lunch. Otherwise, the dog would probably have been an appetizer.

  3. fresno dan

    “Daily Candy in Childhood Linked to Violence in Adulthood”
    The good news is that the perpretrators are so fat that they can’t actually catch anyone to assault.

  4. Richard Kline

    Great White Heap: “Alright, I give up: y’all are just toooo cute.”

    Regarding chronic fatigue, this is one of the principal exhibits to me regarding the failure of modern medical research. Tens of millions have had it. I’ve had it, and my health has never been fully the same. The medical profession, speaking practically, refused to diagnose it because they had no idea what the hell it was. And there was zero (0) push by the industry to pin down the source, and come up with even a treatment plan, let alone a vaccine for what was virtually certain to be a virally-initiated syndrome. No effort. Thirty years to get a read on this thing.

    Regarding Obama and the Peace Prize, my first reaction is such total appalation that words would fail. However, the award committee has a long history of using the Prize as a political laser pointer. Obama has done less than nothing to deserve the award, but manifestly it is an indication that, well, he’d better get his ass in gear and earn the damned bauble. Because he _could_ end multiple conflicts which need to end, had he any spine or plan. He doesn’t, and he won’t, because frankly it is in his political interest to keep those conflicts going at a low boil; it’s sick to say that, but obvious if you think it through. So he’s not going to end either one, not that I ever thought he would. He may build them down to a lower level in the summer of 2012: I mean what _else_ would he have to re-run on?

    1. curlydan

      He’ll have a health care plan that hasn’t started, with fees that haven’t kicked in, with a neutral budget impact.

    2. kevinearick

      Economic health and healthcare are closely related:

      A Nobel Peace Prize for continuing the nonsensical application of force to address yet another symptom, which will beget yet additional symptoms.

      Why does this sound familiar?

      Ah, healthcare:

      On the demand side, the doctors are artificially increasing demand by providing drugs / treatments (arms) that superficially address symptoms identified, and create additional symptoms in the process, a vicious cycle.

      On the cost side, the doctors wear many hats, on all sides of the transaction, except the patient’s. They control access to education, regulation, hospital equipment, laboratories, and serve as special interests in the semi-closed holding company pyramid schemes.

      By artificially controlling supply and demand (oil, physical property), they increase their own salaries, especially at medical schools, resulting in exponential downstream costs, in another vicious cycle.

      And they often marry someone who also collects multiple salaries from the trough, usually as a hospital administrator, public administration professor, consultant, and charity administrator (corporate inbreeding).

      And the healthcare bill addresses these problems how?

      Obviously, the output gap between reality and mythology has grown so large that many are finding it impossible to get back from la-la land.

      In symbiotic systems, if you find cancer in one are, you may expect to find it in others shortly.

      If we just employ more computers; that will solve everything. Human beings are awfully inconvenient, useless eaters.

      What were they doing in Auschwitz again? Oh yea, never again.

      If we would just get out of the way of the doctor-patient relationship. Let the experiments begin … (if we could just find the genes for thinking…)

  5. a

    Cute photos!

    “Britain snatches the financial crown from the US” Oh, so Sydney comes in at number 2, ahead of the U.S.? ROTFL. Methinks that is absurd.

    1. Skippy

      Rotfl back at ya. I submitted that link and another one from ABC (Aussie one) online for the high-jinks value see:

      Britain has toppled the United States as the world’s leading financial center, according to the latest league table from the World Economic Forum (WEF), but the gloss was tarnished as the UK scored worse than Nigeria, Panama and Bangladesh for financial stability.

      BTW WEF is the davos gang.

      Now for the Aussie take see:

      The New South Wales Government’s hopes of turning Sydney into a global financial hub have been delivered a boost by the World Economic Forum.

      In its latest assessment of 55 of the world’s leading finance systems the forum has ranked Australia second only to the United Kingdom and ahead of the United States.

      The state Treasurer Eric Roozendaal says it is a great vote of confidence in Sydney as it accounts for nearly half of Australia’s total finance and insurance output.


      My take on the story see: Dear world we would like to be the next ground zero like Wall St as it looked like such a good time, so please send all your financial enterprises our way with their amazing ability to blow them selves, and any one with in spitting distance to kingdom come.


      Skippy…has anyone checked in to the possibility that anyone with stinky finger syndrome *SFSGFC* are actually Ferengi (pronounced [fɛˈrɛŋɡi]) are a fictional extraterrestrial race from the Star Trek universe. They and their culture are characterized by a mercantile obsession with profit and trade and their constant efforts to swindle people into bad deals. They are also known for their business acumen and for exploiting females. Notable Ferengi characters include Quark (ben), Rom (timmy), Nog (larry), Ishka (M.Schapiro ), Zek (henry), and Brunt (rubin).

      Their home planet, Ferenginar, is the center of the Ferengi Alliance and is governed by the Grand Nagus and a Commerce Authority made primarily of the Council of Economic Advisor’s (formerly Board of Liquidators). Like most of their culture, their religion is also based on the principles of capitalism: they offer prayers and monetary offerings to a “Blessed Exchequer” in hopes of entering the “Divine Treasury” upon death, and fear an afterlife spent in the “Vault of Eternal Destitution”.

      Sound familiar eh eh.

      1. Skippy

        sorry forgot definitions see:

        Grand Nagus = Treasury

        Commerce Authority = FED

        Council of Economic Advisor’s (formerly Board of Liquidators) = Former GS Exec’s

        1. psychohistorian

          Thank you skippy!!! You forgot the part of them forcing their women to run around naked…

          With apologies to Voltaire….Sanity, like history is a lie commonly agreed upon.

          I salute you sir.

      2. a

        “The New South Wales Government’s hopes of turning Sydney into a global financial hub have been delivered a boost by the World Economic Forum.”

        Sorry, but the sense of history is to trade out of China in that time zone.

        1. cougar_w

          It was perfectly clear in the first instance because it was transparently obvious, once mentioned.

  6. Yearning to Learn

    My understanding is that everyone who has chronic fatigue has had an Epstein-Barr virus, meaning mono. That would suggest a pathogen of some sort.

    just an FYI:

    we (or at least I) always check for EBV and Mono in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

    only some of them have ever had EBV

    also: mono is not one infection. it can be caused by several infections. Most commonly EBV, but also CMV as example.

    to sum:
    only some patients (and nowhere near all) with chronic fatigue have ever had mono.

    mono is not caused by one infection. it is caused by several, with EBV being most common, CMV second most common.

  7. Ghoghogol

    Since XMRV was only discovered in humans in 2006, it has taken a while to put together the means of isolating and detecting the retrovirus in human cells. Exogenous murine leukemia virus or MLV is the original virus found in wild and laboratory mice. Somewhere in nature, mostly likely, since the XMRV DNA sequence is highly conserved and diverges significantly from MLV, there was a cross-species transmission of a mutated MLV strain to human.

    The presence of secondary or tertiary viral infections in CFS would indicate a suppressed immune system. But what causes the suppression is still not known. Maybe XMRV.

  8. ronald

    Excellent read thanks to Mr.Krasting, some bits of interest:

    “Read this to mean, “The next shoe to drop will be prime mortgages.” It was always perceived that prime mortgages were money good. They are not.”

    On the issue of REO (real estate owned from repo/default)

    “- Currently the Enterprises are managing a real estate owned (REO) inventory of almost 100,000 properties, a number expected to grow.”

    “The government can’t sell this crap. If they did, it would just tank the RE market and cause more Prime defaults. Uncle Sam is going into the rental business big time. But that does not look too promising either. Some sobering thoughts on that market:

    “-As of mid- year 2009, rental vacancy rates hit their highest level since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking vacancy rates in the 1950s.”

    1. cougar_w

      [rental vacancy rates hit their highest level] That part is confusing. I had imagined that as home ownership tanked, those homes would become rentals under new ownership. Of if bank-owned, then remain vacant (until sold) and existing rental inventory would become scarce.

      As it turns out, people turned out from their homes are vanishing.

      Not literally of course. They are moving in with family, or returning to their home lands, or turning into street people.

      The reason (I assume) is because they are losing their jobs and cannot return to the housing market as renters any more than they could afford a mortgage.

      I don’t see how this could be a leading indicator into a recovery. This sounds like the hammer pounding nails into our coffin.


  9. dearieme

    “I wonder why it took so long to figure this out.” Because such a loud part of the medical profession prefers either to say “it’s bogus”, or “it’s psychosomatic” or “it’s your own fault” – not just about chronic fatigue, but about many conditions. This puritanism is defended by bad science,and given how difficult – or occasionally impossible – it is to do controlled experiments on people, much of medical science is necessarily rather bad science. As I’ve sung before – “Most medical research is wrong” is a better approximation to the truth than most medical research. And that may well include those latest findings, alas.

    1. cougar_w

      There is very little science in medicine.

      I say this as a scientist.

      Medicine is about trial and error more often than not, and medical research is less about fact-finding than patent-finding. They don’t want to cure you they want to sell you medications, and this is in no fashion the same thing. Not even slightly. Witness all the crazy ads running in ladies’ magazines (on every third page) that start out “Are you frequently emotional? Or tired? Or irritated?” that end up suggesting you consult with your doctor about SuchAndSuch pill. As if being emotional, tired and/or irritated are not correct responses to the level of casual corporate insanity in general operation around us!

      Physician, cure thyself. The rest of us will be just fine.


      1. dbt

        When’s the last time you picked up an issue of Nature Medicine, as a scientist? Did you open it and find that the pages were all blank?

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This is my interpretation, strictly fictional, of course.

    The bear was once a professor in a very, very university, who was fired for not getting his students into high paying jobs. He only taught them to be decent beings.

    Here, the professor was trying to show how the wild bear, symbolizing one’s wild, uncontrollable lust to spend beyond one’s means, is tamed by the chained sled dog, which metaphorically represents the profligating desire as under control.

    This kind of teaching, especially when done by example as opposed to through abtract, empty words, lead not to rich jobs in the Silicon Valley, the Wall Street, nor in prestigious law firms or teaching hospitals, but merely to better interaction between man and the rest of the world.

    No wonder Wild Bear the professor was let go.

    1. kevinearick

      “we have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligence to anticipate what the average opinion expects the average opinion to be.”

      J M Keynes, General Theory of Employment, Interest, & Money

  11. Anonymous Jones

    I did not find the Wal-Mart article that interesting except for one sentence, “And it’s hard to deny the fact that Wal-Mart does provide a valuable service to our battered consumer economy: People need cheap stuff like never before.”

    Why did I find this sentence interesting? Because, of course, I absolutely deny the fact that is supposedly so “hard to deny.”

    Which items of Wal-Mart’s cheap stuff do people “need?” The food that is making them sick and obese? The cheap Chinese toys that wind up in a landfill within six months? Another TV with more DVDs and video games that provide them yet another reason to further isolate themselves from others and the community? They “need” this stuff why exactly?

    Not only does it seem they don’t need this stuff, it actually seems they would be better off without it entirely.

    I do not endorse any proactive paternalistic movement designed to stop people who love their cheap sh*t, but it is unfortunately evidence of the depth of our culture’s sickness that we believe such nonsense that the poor “need” this stuff. We are so infected with consumer culture that even an article bashing Wal-Mart praises one of its most deleterious attributes and most everyone just passes over the sentence with a, “Yup, at least consumers are getting more consumer surplus from Wal-Mart’s efficiency and cost-cutting practices.”

  12. psychohistorian

    Anonymous Jones’s comment is getting to the quick of the issue.

    Where is the social visibility and regulation of the marketing and advertising industry that has brought you the ignorant public that is easily manipulated to consume against their best interests. They are behind everything you see on TV including the “news”.

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