Links 10/10/09

Any Data You Give Google Can And Will Be Used Against You Clusterstock. I stand by my prejudice against G-Mail, although I am told the only way to have any hope of real privacy (aside from using complicated coded messages in chat rooms) is to use a separate laptop, only in a public hotspot, and only with a particular account (Yahoo, G-Mail, whatever). You must never use that laptop for anything other than your covert communications and you must never access that special e-mail account from any other device. Most people lack the discipline.

India agrees to cheetah survey BBC

Film to portray Nehru-Mountbatten love affair Financial Times. Cate Blanchett is one of the leads. You are all therefore required to see it.

Ten Thousand Apply For Ninety Job Openings In Louisville Huffington Post

Gaza report seals Abbas’ political fate Sami Moubayed, Asia Times

Panel Says Obama Plan Won’t Slow Foreclosures New York Times

Top Financial Services Committee Members Rely Heavily On Finance Campaign Contributions Sunlight Foundation. Not a surprise, but useful to have the data.

Banks to be forced to lend £27bn to business Times Online. The link above probably explains why we can’t make this sort of thing happen in the US.

U.S. states suffer “unbelievable” revenue shortages Reuters (hat tip reader John D)

Israeli’s bid to buy Al-Jazeera from Qatar PressTV

Mourning Rally Cassandra

Green Shoots Data Defined Ken Houghton, Angry Bear. Raises another possibility, that of unrealistically low GDP deflator for 3Q to affirm the notion that all is indeed on the mend. Haven’t we seen that movie before?

Smoking the Green Shoots of Recovery? Same Store Sale Arithmetic at the WSJ Dean Baker

Lying Is Wrong Katie Porter, Credit Slips

Ben Bernanke… only you could be so bold Accrued Interest

What Not Being Able To Buy Oil In Dollars Means Ian Welsh, Crooks and Liars (hat tip reader John D). Makes a persuasive case that moving away from dollar pricing of oil is more significant than some believe.

Why One Bubble Burst Deserves Another Andy Xie, Cajing (hat tip reader mannfm11). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Richard Kline

    Reading the story on the 10,000 walk-ups for 90 factory jobs in Louisville, half—5,000—hadn’t graduated from high school. . . . Those in that half are doomed; one realizes that. They will never recover any career trajectory during and after the five+ years of high unemployment one can reasonably expect from this crisis. Barring going back and getting some education/skills, which is unlikely to happen with budgets for anything like that amongst the first slashed at present when they existed at all. Those 5,000 have been written out of the American _economy_; they were already redacted from the ‘American Dream,’ regardless of by whose choice. Sad, bad, and the tinder for rad.

    1. Tradermark

      Agreed. Middle class in this country competing with middle class in far cheaper locales in a flattening world.

      What is the paradigm changer is college educated believe(d) they are immune and that is now changing too. This will become very clear over the next decade.

  2. none

    This is a financial blog – not a computer security blog.

    You don’t understand what you are talking about.

    All cloud based email, gmail, hotmail, yahoo, et all, are insecure. They all have the same flaw, data control – users have no control over data storage. For instance, if you delete something – you ultimately don’t know if you have deleted anything, as you do not have control over how data is stored. The server could be set up to delete it from the account, but store it indefinitely on a server backup. It could be anything, as only the company who controls the server knows the storage policy, let alone computer security policy.

    All plain text email is insecure. The email can be intercepted at any point during transmission, or at either end.

    Encryption helps to mitigate security problems, but fundamentally all computers are in secure.

    1. Skippy

      Said…This is a financial blog – not a computer security blog.

      You don’t understand what you are talking about.

      Um I think Yves comments were about Identity protection, not Information, and by decreasing the points of reference *too* an individual one may remain autonomous if they watch their language (flaging programs). Hence your responce seems a bit over the top.

      On all other points you made, you are correct.

      Skippy…thats why my modeling rig is isolated from the net or other devices. People working on code should never have E-Mail (on same device) or connect that device to the net.

      SEE: Appearing on Thursday, the account of the theft said that in mid-September a network intruder had access to Valve Software’s e-mail accounts and, on Sept. 19, apparently copied the entire source-code tree for “Half Life 2.” link:

      1. none

        Skippy –

        The last time I checked, your identity is information.

        Your ip address is information.

        Your mac address is information.

        Both of which are logged when a link is established to a server, to create a unique location on the web.

        If you use a public email address from a personal computer (desktop or laptop), you are uniquely identifiable.

        A non-encrypted link to a proxy still makes you identifiable.

        Even taking the Birthday problem into consideration, (the birthday problem states that if there are more than 30 people in a room there is a high probability that 2 share the same birth date) your birthday and address makes you uniquely identifiable.

        There are algorithms that are able to calculate the most likely area where you live – by determining the areas that you visit. So even with rotating locations of logons on public terminals – it still is fairly easy to find someone with public information and software.

        If you don’t want to be identified stay off the web.

        1. Skippy

          OK I didn’t want to spell it out as I felt you knew what I was eluding too. One can buy (stolen) or build from scavenged parts a note book, now install pirate OS and cruse around in your car to find an open WiFi (unless you have skillz, cuz most have terrible encryption protection) or even public hot spot (higher risk to sniffing), create email account and send message. Never use it again, rinse and repeat.

          Skippy…I have purposely allowed hackers in just to find them and infect them or report their IP lol good times ah good times. BTW all over IP idnet, ex server admin in the gaming sphere #2 server on the planet at that time.

          1. none


            Ok – Skippy

            Now it is a computer blog.

            But the average person has no idea what information security or privacy on the net means or how to achieve an acceptable level of privacy or security – I know now that you do.

            I come from the opposite direction than you do.

            I lock down my OS. Lock down my browser. After lock down, I convert my OS to an embedded version that will not accept changes, and returns back to its original state on restart.

            I configure a default deny on cookies, both website and flash, and accept only those I need, set a default deny on scripting and activex, then configure a trust list, and wash the web with edexter and openDNS.

            My system is not perfect but I don’t need it to be – what I do on the web would bore the tears off a clown.

            Cheers –

  3. LeeAnne

    “Top Financial Services Committee Members Rely Heavily On Finance Campaign Contributions ”

    when are we gonna demand representative government?

  4. DownSouth

    @The Andy Xie article


    I admire his treatment of the interplay between illusion and reality.

    The illusion was destroyed with the implosion of Lehman.

    World leaders then went into high gear to restore the illusion, and it appears they have had some success.

    But the reality remains.

    I also applaud Xie’s analysis of the reason for all this. The question that begs to be answered, after all, is what does the grand Wizard of Oz hope to achieve with his illusions? “The trick is to get the credulous masses to join the bubble game at high prices,” Xie tells us. What more need be said? The masters of smoke and mirrors have but one goal, and that is to separate all but a select few from their property.

  5. fresno dan

    “Top Financial Services Committee Members Rely Heavily On Finance Campaign Contributions”
    What is amazing to me is the return on campaign contributions – a few tens of thousands gets you billions, and insurance of trillions.

    1. bob

      What’s the difference between a politician and a hooker?

      The politician is always going to come back looking for more.

  6. Ronald

    Xie’s analysis is that trading gains are somehow based on smart traders and reflect economic trends. Beyond casino luck significant trading gains are based on insider information.

    “Trading gains are a form of income redistribution. In the best scenario, smart traders buy assets ahead of others because they see a stronger economy ahead. Such redistribution comes from giving a bigger share of the future growth to those who are willing to take risk ahead of others.”

  7. DownSouth

    The Ian Welsh article is also quite good.

    The pattern is well established. Spain, Holland, Great Britain and now the US, all were great hegemons who lost their military prowess and their knack for innovation. As a result their economies suffered, and the same solution is always attempted–to substitute the hocus pocus of finance for something real.

    I think Welsh gets his timing wrong, though. It was the Viet Nam war where the mystique began to come off US military power, Iraq and Afghanistan serving as mere confirmation. The economy began to suffer in the 70s. And it was then that all the financial hocus pocus began. Our ability to innovate—scientifically and technologically–remained quite healthy, though. But clearly the empire wasn’t hitting on all eight cylinders. But Welsh is probably correct in stating that we are rapidly losing our ability to innovate too. When that happens, standards of living will suffer, and Americans will be brought down to the level of much of the rest of the world.

  8. winterwarlock

    correct. there is no such thing as privacy.

    you may want to talk to some of the people
    who used to operate behind Bianca’s Shack.

  9. Tolak

    About that Iranian media article on Al Jazeera being bought by a right winger Israeli tycoon.

    Seeing this stuff passed on this blog as news gives me pause. I really wonder about the veracity of what I been reading for all this time on NC. You almost had me.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I see that you assume that any news from a Middle Eastern news outlet is by definition untrue. The story is also being reported in an Egyptian newspaper (translation here) and in the Jewish Chronicle.

      And it is not “being bought”, at least yet, Haim Saban has offered to buy 50%. An offer and a closed deal are two very different states of affairs.

      I suggest you do basic homework, like a Google News search, before casting aspersions on the accuracy of information featured here.

  10. IF

    It is better to leave a hand written note than to use a computer. Just look up Billy Cottrell. Smart kid. That is one of the reasons why I disliked that Yves required passwords to be used on this site for a while.

  11. bob

    I would go further and say to never turn the wireless on anywhere but that public access point.

    Google and several other companies are using the SSID’s of access points to create 3d maps of everywhere. Some of the original “find me” apps on the iphone used existing 3rd party databases of SSID locations to pinpoint your position, not the GPS chip.

    That’s right, there was a van that drove down your street pinging every wireless router and switch, and noting the MAC and SSID, and then plotting them on a map.

    Need to know where you are? Turn on your wireless card and see which networks pop up, then go back to the drive by data base and see where all of those networks are, and then where they all overlap.

    This is actually pretty neat from a surveying perspective. Most surveyors would take 1 known point on the ground to 15 determined by GPS. GPS is not that accurate, and dependent on a good view of the sky. With the SSID data they can get dozens of known points on the ground.

    Each wireless router or switch is a radio beacon.

  12. Hugh

    “Past experience, however, demonstrates that most trading profits involve redistributions from many to a few in zero-sum bubbles. The trick is to get the credulous masses to join the bubble game at high prices.”

    From Xie’s article. This is exactly right. It is what some of us have been saying for a while now. The rising stock market is not about wealth creation. The insane P/E ratios should tell you that. It is about wealth transfer. This rally is and has been a sucker’s market. Goldman’s profits do not come from any added value but at the expense of everyone else.

    Ian’s piece goes along with this. There are definite advantages to having the world’s reserve currency be dollars and how we buy oil. But we have been seeing for the last 30 years are massive transfers of wealth and misallocation of resources. We have not invested in the middle class, in education, research, healthcare, and energy as we should have. Think what our country would look like if we had. Bad and stupid choices have consequences. But we have a political class that is capable of nothing else.

  13. ComparedToWhat?

    Regarding email & privacy/security, I thought it was surprisingly sensible that Hank Paulson never used that medium for communication, or so he claimed. He didn’t cite a reason but I assume that would be lack of security.

    Here are a couple of video links that I enjoyed this week. First, Vincent Reinhart moderated a couple of panels at AEI on Friday under the title No Way Out: Government Response to the Financial Crisis. The first was extremely good (Greg Ip, Chris Whalen, and Angel Ubide); this is the best discussion of the mess I’ve come across. I looked over the pdf slide files for the second session and gave it a miss. Even if you can’t spare the time to watch the video on CSPAN, have a look at Reinhart’s slides.

    Next is Stephen Roach introducing his new book at the Asia Society: A Hard Look at the Next Asia. I’m getting tired of the euphemism “Asia” for China, which is mostly the subject of this talk. That’s a bit unfair to say in this context though, because while lots of top people in finance talk as though they’re diplomats- or greenspans-in-training, Roach is refreshingly down to earth.

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