Links 1/10/10

Desert ostrich ranch is a shadow of owner’s dreams Los Angeles Times (hat tip reader Paul S)

Officials Hid Truth About Immigrant Deaths in Jail New York Times

France mulls ‘psychological violence’ ban BBC (hat tip reader Michael T)

Mondo Hondo: Obama Goes Traditional in Latin America Chris Floyd

Consent-Only Overdraft Protection: Maybe Not So Great Consumerist

U.S. Regulators Wishing for the Derivatives Fairy Craig Pirrong, Seeking Alpha

The Other Plot to Wreck America Frank Rich, New York Times

China’s Not a Superpower The Diplomat (hat tip reader Michael T)

Antidote du jour:

And here is a bonus from my sister in law Tracey:

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  1. DownSouth

    Re: “Mondo Hondo: Obama Goes Traditional in Latin America” by Chris Floyd

    Latin America got a breath of fresh air as Bush had his hands tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US needed international support to project US imperial aggression in Asia, so it wasn’t a good time to unleash the death squads upon Latin America. This allowed Argentine president Nestor Kirchner to figuratively shoot the US the finger and settle Argentina’s foreign debt for 25-35% on the dollar:

    The Argentine government kept a firm stance, and finally got a deal in 2005 by which 76% of the defaulted bonds were exchanged by others, of a much lower nominal value (25–35% of the original) and at longer terms. In 2008, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced she was studying a reopening of the 2005 swap to gain adhesion from the remaining 24% of the so-called “holdouts”, and thereby fully exit the default with private investors.

    Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas took advantage of a similar situation in 1938, masterfully playing the Hitler card in order to sucessfully nationalize Mexico’s oil production:

    But it looks like Obama feels he has the situation sufficiently under control in Asia so that he can unleash the goons on Latin America again.

  2. Ronald

    While Frank Rich continues the hunt for the bad guys and of course their proper hanging in public which he understands may never happen and if it doesn’t then all shall be repeated which is the daily mantra. No mention about the U.S.A. official policy of growth via excess credit creation which has conveniently spiked GDP for 20 years, no the financial media along with most Americans can’t wait for the good days to start rolling again so we point fingers are the evil bankers and look forward to the public hanging party since that will certainly cure our economic ills.

  3. emca

    Frank Rich’s article “The Other Plot to Ruin America” brings to fore two California personalities, Phil Angelides and Darrel Issa. Angelides, as stated is the former California Tresurer. He was also a Democratic candidate for governor in 2006 against the renown Mr. Schwarzenegger, where he gain the reputation in that run of being a lackluster party hack subservient to the state (mainly) public unions and where he also suffered the aggressive non-endorsement of the flamboyant Willie Brown, former Democratic speaker, San Francisco mayor, etc.

    Darrel Issa is the republican representative of CA.’s 49th district. Mr. Issa in his past life was twice charged with auto theft and twice accused of misdemeanor possession of an illegal weapon, once which resulted in conviction. Darrel incidentally, should have a personal appreciation of crime and punishment, though some might argue, he hasn’t learned anything of socially redeemable value from that intimacy.

    I mention these personal histories not to disparage these representatives of the public trust, but to suggest there may be personal limitations on what they can hope to accomplish in their joust against, what I will term, an immoral and unethical giant. I cannot see (as Frank Rich) the former as an second Ferdinand Pecora, but he is a Harvard graduate, past advocate of clean government, and therefore has the intellect and will to be undeterred in his efforts. If we don’t see a spectacular report from his findings, at least we can look upon a diligent and honest effort. Mr. Angelides appears untainted by corruption, which is also positive.

    Issa on the other hand, has become somewhat the champion of the Taxpayer vs. Wall Street/Government. His call for an openness of deal making, Federal and Financial collusion at the expense of the public is exemplary. Whether this is merely political theater, a means of returning his party to a position where they can again take up the reigns of past exploits, I leave the reader to access, but as Mr. Issa seems to enjoy some popularity with the Press, I would encourage him on his present efforts.

    Incidentally, Mr.Angelides is the son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Issa the grandson of Lebanese immigrants. Their ambitious pursuits though are typically ‘American’ and both despite their political differences, have backgrounds in heading businesses and at least appreciate the work, organization and drive that it involves.

  4. Francois T

    About hiding and covering up immigrants’ deaths in jail.

    The amount of cover-up documented by the NYT is undoubtedly criminal in nature and in any democratic society, should be treated as such.

    I hereby put 1000$ on the table that nobody in position of authority at the INS will ever be punished for what was done.

    Any takers? ‘Cause I could use 1000$, since I do not work on Wall Street.

  5. gordon

    Frank Rich contrasts Sandy Weill of Citi with Andrew Carnegie, the late 19th Century steel baron. Rich eulogises Carnegie as a real economy-builder in contrast to Weill’s speculative games as follows:

    “To see how far American capitalism has fallen, contrast Weill with the giant who built Carnegie Hall. Not only is Andrew Carnegie remembered for far more epic and generous philanthropy than Weill’s — some 1,600 public libraries, just for starters — but also for creating a steel empire that actually helped build America’s industrial infrastructure in the late 19th century. At Citi, Weill built little more than a bloated gambling casino”.

    But Mr Rich doesn’t mention that Carnegie built his steel empire behind a high tariff wall. Maybe Mr Rich’s next article will be a rhapsody on the benefits of tariff protection and an explanation of how necessary tariffs are to Nation-building enterprises.

  6. CrocodileChuck

    the Diplomat piece on China is interesting. two points:

    1) “To be sure, China can compensate for the loss of its external demand by increasing domestic consumption. But this process requires a complete overhaul of China’s growth strategy, a politically difficult and painful step the incumbent government has been unable to take.” More to the point, there aren’t property rights in China as we in the West understand them. As well, there isn’t a national two (or three) tier distribution system (wholesale->retail) either. Last, there is a big ‘trust’ problem, eg another tainted milk episode was publicised last week. So, the endgame of growing internal demand has some signifcant challenges before it.

    2) There was no mention in the piece of the internal dynamic which has reared its head multiple times in China’s past: a rich, coastal elite which increases its wealth through trade and a much poorer majority in the hinterland. China’s widening gini coefficient will ensure that this problem will once again rear its head.

  7. Doc Holiday

    10,400 shopping centers under distress

    Shopping Center Receiverships and Foreclosures Usher In New Year – CoStar Group
    Mark Heschmeyer reported that there were nearly 9,700 shopping centers in the U.S. under “distress” — based on a tally of retail centers with vacancy rates of 60% or higher. As of this week, that number is up to 10,400 centers under distress, representing a 7.3% rise in little more than three months.

    Green shoots everywhere!

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