Links 1/18/10

Shoot, I had this ready to go last night! Apologies!

Clash over Haiti aid flights: French blame US over medical delays. This is THE lead story in the Financial Times. Per the Greg Palast link provided yesterday, Iceland and China both got some help to Haiti before the US did. The US, by contrast, sends an aircraft carrier three days into the crisis, with no emergency supplies of any kind. And we have this as the lead story in the New York Times: Rescues Beat Dimming Odds in Haiti when this story Looters roam Port-au-Prince as earthquake death toll estimate climbs Guardian (hat tip reader Michael T) seems a much more accurate take of the state of affairs. Now perhaps somewhere in the US, the MSM is providing coverage of our shades-of-Katrina operations in Haiti, but it looks as if that story is instead being told abroad, while here, we are getting heartwarming stories of rescues.

Don’t Shelter Your Children: Coping With Stress As A Child Develops Resilience And Emotion Regulation As An Adult Scientific Blogging (hat tip reader Michael T). My one data point here is a woman (now over 60) whose mother sheltered her throughout her childhood. She regularly has panic attacks all her adult life.

‘Doomsday Clock’ moves a minute back BBC

New York Times Ready to Charge Online Readers New York Magazine and How the NYT should construct its paywall Felix Salmon

Assertive China goes a great leap too far Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck. The “China overreach” may be too optimistic a hope. This may be a clever way to selectively expropriate assets.

Read more: New York Times Ready to Charge Online Readers — Daily Intel

Ominous lessons of the 1930s for Europe Financial Times

ECB prepares legal ground for euro rupture as Greek crisis escalates Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. The headline and lead-in do sensationalize some sensible scenario analysis, but the substance is nevertheless interesting.

Sakakibara Says Slower U.S. Recovery May Hurt Dollar Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs bankers ‘set for 81% rise in bonuses’ Guardian

Antidote du jour:

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  1. ZN

    my sources indicate no looting & dismiss such charges as racist, nor any signficant violence (little to none). the same false charges were made in aftermath of Katrina other than violence committed by Sewerwater, er, Blackwater &c.

    in such conditions going into abandoned stores for food & water is not looting. Some wags say when black faces take food & water it is looting; when white faces take water & food it is foraging.

    there is long history of oppression here from invasion in 1914 c.e. by Wilson to almost present when Canada, France, & US overthrew the elected government.

    the US presence here is more occuppier to make the country safe for sweatshop investers. See comments by Mme Clinton on this subject.

    Haiti cannot afford the $100M loan. it will only further drain resources ensuring proverty always tending towards stravation. so much for IMF (wasn’t S Johnson associated with this org?)



  2. Jojo

    “Now perhaps somewhere in the US, the MSM is providing coverage of our shades-of-Katrina operations in Haiti, but it looks as if that story is instead being told abroad, while here, we are getting heartwarming stories of rescues.”

    Surprised but Brian Williams and NBC national news is doing a good job showing the good & bad in Haiti.

    And yes, I have seen video & photo’s of looting. There are some in the link below:

    January 18, 2010
    Haiti six days later

    Haiti remains a place of profound need, anguish, desperation and danger, with a few glimmers of hope and slowly growing capabilities to receive and distribute the international aid now flowing in. Sporadic looting, sometimes violent, was met with force by security oficials and ordinary citizens, resulting in a number of further deaths and injuries. The tenuous security situation has led to at least one temporary evacuation of a medical facility, to protect the care-givers. Despite the long time since the earthquake, at least five people were pulled from the rubble alive this weekend, including a young girl trapped inside a supermarket who was fortunately surrounded by food, and survived on fruit snacks. (38 photos total)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The big issue is not the looting v. non-looting. You are going to have some disorder in situations like this. It’s inevitable when people are desperate.

      The issue is the US inaction/slow response on rescue (particularly give our resources and proximity) relative to other countries, plus when we finally did act, then deciding to assert control in a way that impeded effective delivery of assistance.

      1. Jojo

        And what this hows is that we, as a country (regardless of administration in power) are incapable of learning from past lessons, such as Katrina in this case.

        Similarly with the recent underware bomber. Despite billions of $$ spent, new rules/laws passed and codified, etc., we still couldn’t pass a real test.

        I suppose Obama will pop up at some point and say “I take responsibility”, which means absolutely nothing anymore.

        We will likely repeat the same mistakes in the future because the people who aspire to politics and civil service are not the right people for those jobs..

      2. gordon

        Yves Smith, some Americans are responding quickly; they are sending electronic Bibles.

        From Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC):

        “As international aid agencies rush food, water and medicine to Haiti’s earthquake victims, a United States group is sending Bibles.

        “But these aren’t just any Bibles; they’re solar-powered audible Bibles that can broadcast the holy scriptures in Haitian Creole to 300 people at a time.

        “The Faith Comes By Hearing organisation says its Bible, called the Proclaimer, delivers “digital quality” and is designed for “poor and illiterate people”.

        “It says 600 of the devices are already on their way to Haiti….”

        1. Jojo

          Yes, one of the things I noticed on the TV news reports were the large number of foreign people in Haiti who seemed to have some sort of affiliation with religious organizations.

          It almost seemed like to me that Haiti was perceived as the place to be for missionary people with plenty of souls needing saving.

          But since Haitians don’t have much money, where were these groups getting all the the $$ to support their work there?

          1. Anonymous Jones

            Ah, we are finally realizing that proselytizing has always worked on the Shock Doctrine as well.

            Crisis Proselytism?

      3. Jeff Rosenberg

        I was quite irked at you for linking to the Greg Palast piece, and commented on that site critiquing his very ill-informed rantings … not surprisingly, my comments are yet to appear 36 hours later. So I shall summarize here, for you.

        RE Palast’s fascination with Iceland’s speedy reaction: They comprise the designated “International Search and Rescue Team”, and were in the air “almost immediately”. Kudos to them, they met their agreed-upon readiness standards for international assistance. How is that supposed to reflect on the US response, precisely?

        RE “Slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans”: one could also say overpopulation, or corrupt gov’t, or a slew of other things. The proximate cause, however, was indeed an earthquake.

        RE China’s sending rescueres with sniffer dogs inside 48 hours: any mention of when the US sent our first rescue teams & sniffer dogs? Was it at 36 hours, 72 hours, or what? Not much of a comparison without the data.

        RE “Robert Gates said, ‘I don’t know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.’ We know Gates doesn’t know”: What exact measures that adhere to the physics of space/time would Mr Palast have had the US Gov’t do? Where’s the list of actions that were immediately feasible? Or is this just rhetorical nonsense?

        RE FEMA’s disaster response assets arranged along the Gulf Coast: Does Mr Palast have any evidence that this equipment isn’t already being tagged for Haitian relief? Does he assume that it isn’t merely because it isn’t already distributed in Haiti? Has he not heard of the logistical issues there? Has he not read of the reports of food & water being delivered (granted, not nearly enough yet) and the plans to evacuate some to the arriving ships?

      4. Jeff Rosenberg

        RE “Send in the Marines… The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters”: Actually, press reports state the Haitians are BEGGING for the Marines, so I don’t see what Palast’s criticism is about. And yes, the USS Carl Vinson took three days to make it there; it’s a 90000 ton ship, and was at sea off North Carolina when the quake struck. Good luck repealing the laws of physics in making it any quicker. It didn’t bring “relief supplies” because it didn’t make a port call, it went straight to the scene; it sent it’s normal fixed wing aircraft to land and loaded up on choppers as it steamed. The carrier & choppers are a MAJOR ASSET: there’s plenty of AvGas onboard (the airport has none), and with the choppers the supplies coming off the cargo planes can be widely distributed across the disaster area … which is better than distributing over the roads at this point. Granted, it’s not enough … but it’s better than nothing, which is what there’d be otherwise.

        RE the issue Sec Gates makes of security: remember the complaints about New Orleans’ lack of security right after Katrina? How is this not an issue DoD is going to consider?

        RE previous US Presidents moving troops ashore quickly in Haiti: does Palast have any information on how much PLANNING TIME was available to those Presidents and military forces? No? Unjust comparison.

        RE the naval hospital ship: It’s a Navy Reserve asset, not normally kept manned 24/7, as the Navy doesn’t normally need a hospital ship roaming the waves. Maybe Mr Palast would like to pay more for the Military-Industrial Complex and have it manned by docs & nurses 24/7? And pay even more to have a few more of these ships & personnel pre-positioned nearby any & all potential worldwide disaster areas?

      5. Jeff Rosenberg

        Yves wrote: “The issue is the US inaction/slow response on rescue (particularly give our resources and proximity) relative to other countries, plus when we finally did act, then deciding to assert control in a way that impeded effective delivery of assistance.”
        Yves, I have great respect for your blog commentaries & media appearances on financial, regulatory, and even political matters, but on this one I forecast you being very embarrassed when all the facts are laid out on the table (as they invariably will in some gov’t report) and you reconsider your statement.

        The charge that the US “impeded effective delivery of assistance” is laughable; IMHO you fell for the egotistical self-stroking of Doctors Without Borders (i.e. “But we’re important! You must recognize how important we are and let us in as a #1 priority!”). Sorry fellas, when everyone is a #1 priority, no one is. In this situation, everyone can make that claim because the need is so great. So they loitered overhead along with the rest, waiting for an opportunity, and the chaos of the airfield led to their particular aircraft not being able to loiter any longer and getting scrubbed for the day. I doubt it was anything personal or pre-planned by the Air Traffic Controllers. I admit the public complaint is an effective PR technique to ensure they made it onto the ground the next day, though.

        My hats off to all those on the ground there now. Let’s ask what we can do to assist, and not toss around utterly unrealistic complaints and try to tell the QB’s what to do and how to do it from our armchairs as we watch on tv. There will be a post-game analysis, and the negligent and incompetent will be found out then so as to not be allowed involvement in future events. But for now, they’re the players on the field: support them.

        Jeff Rosenberg
        Captain, Infantry
        Cal Army Nat’l Guard
        currently deployed in Kosovo

        P.S. — These views are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of the US gov’t, DoD, Dept of Army, NGB, Cal Guard, FORSCOM, NATO, USAREUR, KFOR, AST-Balkans, or any other entity I fall under.

  3. Tom

    Yves, for whatever it’s worth, panic attacks imply anxiety which implies hyperawareness of the body’s sensory stimuli. Anxiety then leads to awfulizations of serious disease causing these sensations (i.e. abdominal pain, constipation/diarrhea/irritable bowel, headaches, dizziness, inability to focus, as well as increased perception of pain to minimally painful stimuli). Increasing testing leads to inconclusive results, and a diminishing sense of satisfaction with the medical profession, and a search for even more astute diagnosticians to figure out what serious malady the patient must really have that none of the other doctors could diagnose.
    For what it’s worth, religious expression can be psychologically useful way to reframe stress into a more benevolant experience.
    Just my $0.02 worth.

    1. Jeremy

      Tom, a different view point is that for some (many?) people, anxiety is not caused by external factors, but is caused by diet. This is explained very clearly in The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross.

      My wife suffered from depression (actually chronic hyper-anxiety) to a greater or lesser extent for the last 20 years. She has been prescribed most of the major anti-depressants at one time or another and universally suffered uncomfortable side effects without any of them touching her anxiety.

      The Mood Cure explains that for her the anxiety is a false anxiety, created by a problem with brain chemistry. The brain chemisty problem is caused by a deficient diet. In her case it was a lack of tryptophan, which is converted in the brain to serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid you get in eggs, cheese and meat, and her diet clearly did not contain enough. Part of this I believe was due to following a low fat diet (which typically avoids eggs, cheese and meat), and part is due to being a Coeliac. Part may also be the general decline in nutrition content of food due to industrial agriculture.

      The book gives a simple program to follow to identify and correct the imbalances using relatively cheap dietary supplements. The book claims a very rapid response, but I think this was overdone. There was certainly a noticable change for the better within a few days of starting the supplements, but it has taken at least 4 months to say that the improvement is significant, and she still has off days. Having said that, this program is the first that has actually created a change for the better.

      It does raise issues about whether the Pharmaceutical companies know the cure for depression is dietary and simply silence it. The issues with Seroxat demonstrate that the drug companies are desparate to get a patentable product that they can market to treat depression, whether it has genuine benefits or not.

      It also raises issues with standard medical advice about low fat diets. I wonder whether the higher incidence of depression in women is because they are more likely to be on a low fat diet rather than because of any genetic reason.

      1. Yves Smith Post author


        Your thesis in this case is all wet. This woman eats the same as an adult as she did when she was young (7th Day Adventist, lapsed but still vegetarian). Her anxiety attacks started as soon as she encountered the real world, not the one she had been protected from.

  4. bb

    on greece: i think many commentators fall too quickly into the temptation to speculate without having adequate knowledge on the matters. greece is a sovereign in the eurozone. it can issue euro banknotes ONLY with the explicit permission of the ECB ( ). what it can do though unrestrained, is further hollow out the social benefits system by borrowing more and more from private and public pension schemes. it can as well further hollow the domestic private banking sector by twisting the arms of bankers to buy worthless government debt. what greece cannot do is have a meaningful impact on international bonds markets, because no one outside of greece is actually buying greek government bonds.

    so in one sentence: greece can only commit suicide as a state by bankrupting all social benefits plans and the domestic banking system, but the impact on the eurozone as a whole will be zero.

    expecting other european nations to make good on greek pension promises is lunatic.

  5. Kevin de Bruxelles

    Right now the largest problem facing the Eurozone is an overvalued Euro against the Dollar, so the problems in Greece are a net positive if they help convince people to sell the Euro. With the high Euro we are seeing a repeat of the currency dynamics of the Great Depression where Britain and then the US moved quickly to devalue their currencies while Hitler stubbornly refused to devalue and kept the value of the Reichsmark pegged to gold (although it was no longer convertible). Germany only got through this by means of a strategic defaults, export subsidies, and a huge bureaucracy that limited imports. Europe, if they continue to follow current policies, can nowadays can only hope to discreetly subsidize exports.

    I was glad to learn from this AEP piece that the EU is starting to play hardball with Greece by wargaming a potential Greek eviction not only from the Euro but from the EU proper. In the end both sides can inflict damage on the other but there is no doubt that Greece will suffer much more than the EU will in case of withdrawal from the EMU. So in the end there will probably be some kind of face saving compromise where the EU will help out a little but only after Greece takes substantial steps towards reform. Of course this will only calm nerves about the Euro and make it rise again so somehow Europe still has to get control over the value of its currency against the dollar.

    1. bb

      you are a vocal supporter of stealth looting of people’s savings. why not simply have balanced budgets where governments spend just as much as they collect rather than debasing savings and converting the working class into perpetual slaves? why shall any government deprive its people of the right to spend less than they earn, save, and retire from the workforce with confidence they will outlive their savings?
      isn’t it more appropriate that we know the cost of the ‘benefits’ we are given and be able to cast a vote if we want those ‘benefits’ at the proposed cost?
      this is the path germany is on, this seems to be the socially responsible path. we’ll see who would follow.

      1. kevin de bruxelles


        Obviously I’m not making my points very clearly since I agree with you that governments and the people they serve both need to live within their means and clearly in Greece this has not been happening. I see the tough moves by the EU as forcing the Greeks to get serious about facing the cruel reality that awaits them.

        The point about the value of the Euro is important because Europe is starting to lose manufacturing to the dollar zone (not necessarily the United States) while at the same time Chinese goods are gaining market share. China and the US have created huge global imbalances and Europe, which as a whole has tried to maintain a balance between imports and exports, is now the only place where China or the US can find any margin for adjustment since both the US and China are so committed to their systems of imbalance and are only reinforcing them as the crisis continues.

        1. bb

          i maintain the position that any currency should reflect the strength of the economy, not the whim or special interests of politicians.
          it is a popular delusion (probably keynesian) that debasing the currency does anything for the greater good of the nation. it simply brings temporary employment to the country, china most notably, but in the longer horizon, china is not far better off than the eu/us because it is saving in a rapidly depreciating unit of account. look at their ‘growth’ or reserves in terms of gold, oil, etc., you will see they are not growing at all.
          but on the other hand, they gladly exchange a month worth of food supplies for a designer bag, or a day’s wage for belgian or swiss chocolates. we have to feed their vanity and have them work for us.

      2. Jeff65

        “why not simply have balanced budgets where governments spend just as much as they collect rather than debasing savings and converting the working class into perpetual slaves?”

        This is upside down! Most working class people owe much more than their cash savings. Inflation benefits debtors. Your position actually favors those who have accumulated the most financial assets. This ain’t the working class!

        1. bb

          you have a somewhat myopic view on reality. let’s call it ‘the vast ponds reality distortion phenonmenon’. there is just too much vapor rising from the oceans and the earth is round for an american to comprehend that what he has at home is not the norm around the globe. france does not have credit in the form you know, germany, italy have puny credit markets as well. those 3 economies make 70% of the eurozone.
          back to your argument. you are falling into a logical fallacy: you premise that since people have too much debt, the poorer you are the more beneficial inflation is for you. well, everyone on the fringe is affected more than the people at the core. i have seen hyperinflation and can tell you it did not make people more equal. it simply set back the society for almost 10 years. stable money value makes you invest and build plans for the future, constant debasement makes you hoard money, buy foreign currencies, put money in unproductive assets like houses, etc.

          and here is a fine example of diverging policies and their net results: germany’s GDP contracted 5% in 2009, yet their unemployment went up from 8 to 8.9%. the u.s. GDP contracted merely 1%, but the unemployment went up from 5% to 10% in 2009. to whose benefit is it to fudge the numbers and pretend that ben has saved the country from disaster? who’s still gotta print another tillion to cover this year’s deficit? when you are cheating, you are cheating yourself.

          1. Jeff65


            Regardless of debt, inflation least favors those with the most financial assets. I’m not suggesting higher inflation should be a policy target, however. The policy target should be full employment. Inflation fears are overblown as a reason to implement fiscal austerity measures.

            Another good article to read titled “Zimbabwe for Hyperventilators 101”:


          2. bb

            you still seem somewhat confused to me: inflation favors debtors that CAN service their debt. inflation is not created for the sake of having it, it is the result of unsustainable economic policies. inflation is either the result of incompetence, or of the advancement of crony interests.
            if prices rise 10%, incomes rise less than that by definition, making everyone poorer in the process. if it were otherwise, everyone would be asking for more and more inflation.

            you can have a good primer on inflation here:


          3. Jeff65


            I’ve read Rothbard. It made perfect sense in its own vacuum, but I found out later it doesn’t describe the real world. Gold standard thinking doesn’t work in the fiat currency world.

  6. bena gyerek

    you should be careful with ambrose evans pritchard. the telegraph is ideologically anti-european and should be taken with a wheelbarrow load of salt.

    ft alphaville ran a good critique on that article:

    the substance: greece could theoretically be excluded from the euro’s institutional structures, but could not be forced to give up the euro (nb montenegro and kosovo are already unofficial euro users). moreover, the eu report makes clear that the possibility of expulsion from the euro is very unlikely, precisely because it would also legally entail expelling greece from the eu, and there is no legal means of doing this (although it is possible for a country voluntarily leave the eu under the recently ratified lisbon treaty).

    of course legal niceties will always be subordinated to political necessities in a crisis. and the political reality is that if the situation does become critical, germany would probably bail greece out and/or the ecb be would be told to cut greece some slack and/or greece could unilaterally secede from the euro.

  7. Mary

    What planet are you living on? There has been daily coverage of the lack of aid getting to the people of Haiti–from abc, cbs, and nbc. Why should I give value to your “words” about the dumb, bad, incompetent USA, when your knowledge base is money/big banks/bad deeds? 200,000 may be dead. How many thousands injured? How many millions to feed? Yet just a week after the earthquake and you are joining the (predictable) band wagon–banner reads USA can’t get anything done right. You are not qualified to cast judgement. Not yet, anyway.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      I was in Australia when the tsunami hit. Australia is much further away physically from the disaster area that the US is from Haiti.

      The response, both from Australia and countries in the region, of getting people and resources into the afflicted areas was vastly faster. And the governments involved were willing to leverage charities and private sector resources much more than the US has been willing to here (for instance, using private aircraft to fly people to hospitals in Oz and places closer by). They also allowed non-military volunteers in to set up databases to track the missing, since they could wind up in hospitals some distance way from where they have been last seen. I see no evidence of anything like that in Haiti.

      The US press has not given much play to the fact that the US armed services appears to be slowing disaster responses. Frankly, this is not part of its job description, and when it moves into a “theater” it appears to assert operational control. For instance, the US armed forces has refused to make air drops of food, the argument being that it will make the security situation worse (this may have changed, I have not caught up on the day’s news). But with the airport far less than operational and the port badly damaged, this is a dubious tradeoff. People being hungry with no near-term prospect of relief. That is just as much a trigger of violence as possible fighting over food air-dropped in.

      1. Jeff Rosenberg

        Mary wrote “You are not qualified to cast judgement. Not yet, anyway.” I concur fully.

        We must remember that first reports are usually wrong, contradictory, and lacking context. But it makes great TV!

        Factors affecting the US military ability to conduct relief ops in Haiti that aren’t being mentioned, but probably are being considered by the planners: how much spare US military airlift capability is there, with routine worldwide air operations and two wars going on? Is the use of these limited assets better used getting supplies/personnel onto the airfield, or airdropping? Will more aircraft & crews become available as routine missions elsewhere get cancelled? Are there enough riggers, pallets, and parachutes available for sustained massive airdrops where we won’t recover the pallets & parachutes, or do we need troops at the airdrop sites to secure that equipment for follow-on reuse a few days later?

        These are some (there are plenty more) of the operational factors that present planning constraints & limitations that are not solved by mere urgency. They will not be mentioned in press reports as “why not’s”, but the impact is there.

        (see post above for personal disclosure)

  8. Gerard

    Please note that a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier has the capacity to produce 400,000 gallons of fresh water daily. It can also generate enough electricity to supply a city of 100,000.

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