Links 1/30/10

Masculinity in a Spray Can New York Times

AIG exec’s big loan from Blankfein New York Post (hat tip Michael T)

Shoes may have changed how we run BBC

FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan Would Permit Blocking of BitTorrent Electronic Frontier Foundation (hat tip reader John D)

Australian Greens go Black p2pNet (hat tip reader John D)

Aliens can’t hear us, says astronomer Guardian

Most Parents Don’t Realize Their 4 Or 5-Year-Olds Are Overweight or Obese Science Daily (hat tip reader Michael T)

NY pols stunned to learn Obama administration opposes funding for 9/11 health bill Daily News (hat tip DoctoRx)

Bloomberg’s Reilly Wrecks the Lex on Fed/AIG Columbia Journalism Review

It’s All About Leverage Michael Schussele

A Growing Share of Americans’ Income Comes from the Government Michael Panzner

The Audacity of Populism Wall Street Journal

A Colossal Failure Of Governance: The Reappointment of Ben Bernanke Simon Johnson, Baseline Scenario. Today’s must read.

And a little note from Marshall Auerback re the 5.7% GDP growth release yesterday:

Even if you use the government’s own massaged data, it suggests that we’ve had barely any growth at all and curiously, a massive rally in the stock market. I was chatting to Frank Veneroso about this yesterday. He pointed out that the giant gains in the stock market (after an 86% fall from 1929-1932) were accompanied by the most explosive fundamentals ever. The years after 1932 saw the most rapid advance in industrial production in the entire history of the U.S. economy. The market rose starting mid-1932 with a 14% rise in industrial production in a mere four months. It soon deeply corrected as a result of a fall in industrial production into early 1933 that wiped out all those very sizeable but brief production gains. The stock market’s biggest surge came off that early 1933 low. It was coincident with a 62% rise in industrial production in a mere four months. That outsized gain in the stock market and the one that followed it were obviously driven by extraordinary fundamentals.

By contrast, the almost 70% rise in the S&P since last March has occurred amidst a modest five percentage point rise in manufacturing production off its cycle low. And, in fact, there has been only a 2.6% increase in industrial production so far relative to March when the stock market rally began.

So viewed relative to the fundamentals, there has never, ever, ever been a stock market rally as outsized as the one since March of last year.

Antidote du jour:

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23 comments

  1. LeeAnne

    Hey, look at this. I have to admit not watching political speeches. I’ve seen Obama a couple times and listened each time for a few minutes. The preachy style and the first person ‘I’m your daddy” shout out turns me off big time; and I voted for him. There was no other choice and haven’t regretted my choice, just more cynical than ever about everything that concerns us here on this blog until now.

    But you gotta watch this. WOW! The Republican caucus regrets they allowed cameras into the Obama Q&A –you better believe they regret it. This performance has to be the best presidential debate in the history of the republic. He laid them out. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys and a few gals.

    RussertXM_NBC: GOP aides telling me it was a mistake to allow cameras into Obama’s QA with GOP members. Allowed BO to refute GOP for 1.5 hours on TV here here

    Oreo :: President Obama Smacks Down GOP at House Republican Retreat

    1. avrymann

      LeAnn, I could’t agree with you more.

      When I saw that tag line that GOP advisers said that the meeting should not have been televised, it piqued my interest. Damm, Obama has an unbelievable gift in his oratory and his presence. Not only did he hand the The Republicans their a$$’s he showed them to be the deceitful little wimps they really are. They tried to trick or embarrass him with loaded questions and not only did he call them on it, he turned it around to make them look like fools.

      I have always felt that the big O is a salesman not a statesman. But, every time I think he’s toast he comes back with something like this. It is a mistake to underestimate him.

      This political exchange is a must see.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Although one could certainly describe the Q&A as ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,’ what a stunning display of incompetence by the GOP to lob up softballs to Obama and let him pontificate with no real chance at follow up from the representatives. Of course, the questioners were probably not intelligent or informed enough to engage in a debate even had they been given the opportunity (does the phrase ‘out of their league’ come to mind?), but forget about that for a second; just the set up alone was so stupid, it so obviously played into Obama’s strengths, and it provided the president with a totally perfect pulpit from which to bully.

        Strategery in action!

        [Also, speaking of Shakespeare, does the phrase ‘tragic flaw’ also come to mind here? Obama really seems to believe he can talk his way into, or out of, anything. No need to crack any skulls, I’ll just charm you with my wormtongue! This really has disaster written all over it…remember…the way to tell it’s a comedy is that the couples get married in the end, and the way to tell it’s a tragedy is that everyone dies at the end. Good luck. I don’t see many weddings in our future.]

        1. DownSouth

          Anonymous Jones,

          You say “Obama really seems to believe he can talk his way into, or out of, anything.”

          I was thinking the same thing as I was watching. This guy must think he can charm a rattlesnake if he believes he can reason with these people.

          But on the other hand, none of it seemed very genuine. It’s all too surreal, like the public defender who’s a member of the Klu Klux Klan defending a black man charged with raping a white woman before an all white jury.

        2. Kevin de Bruxelles

          As usual, I have a slightly more cynical take. The Obama vs. GOP spectacle was nothing more than a cheap two-party exercise in rebuilding Obama’s credibility with his base. Cheap to the right as they managed to give the left a “big win” by helping to reinforce Obama’s crumbling left wing base while in doing so the right gave up nothing more than a little pride. But as a down payment for granting him this emotional win, the right has been receiving weeks of policy concessions from Obama. This was vital for two-party cohesion because the right had been seeing a thinning of their flocks in the form of rebellious tea baggers. But while the recent Democratic humiliations have helped reinforce the right, these policy concessions came with the steep price of many of Obama’s sheep to starting to wander away from their shepherd. Now in a dual shepherd system this is OK as long as those wandering sheep are gravitating towards the other shepherd. But as with the tea baggers, Obama’s sheep were wandering off on in the wrong direction, a direction that might lead them towards some other, unapproved and dangerous third shepherd. So in order to balance the accounts, and help quell any rumblings of discontent on the left, the GOP sacrificed the pride of a few congressmen at the altar of two-party hegemony. They will hope that at least some of those wandering flocks will come back to daddy Obama, or at least give him another look.

          Because deep down inside, the left know that Obama will never achieve anything close to what they want. So those unable to face the wilderness without their shepherd will have to content themselves with three more years of the occasional emotional high derived from an empty Obama rhetorical flourish, a cute first family photo, or an occasional “slapdown” of clowns on the right. As for policy–forget about it. In the Obama Administration, it is a case of non-overlapping magisterial; vapid rhetoric for the left, rigid control over policy for the right.

          1. run75441

            Kevin:

            This is a well written and lucid reponse. You have a vivid imagination. I guess we will have to wait and see whether Obama will really come out of the box.

    2. DownSouth

      LeeAnne,

      I watched it, but I didn’t take away the same thing you did.

      On the contrary, it didn’t strike me that Obama was so good, but that his opposition was so utterly bad.

      The Republicans fielded 8 questions based on blatant half-truths, distortions and outright lies. It amounted to little more than hackneyed campaign sloganeering. Do you think Obama would have had such an easy time batting down 8 questions crafted by Yves and 7 Yves clones?

      What I saw was all stage management–making it appear that there’s a real debate going on when there was none.

      And you’ve got to ask yourself another question. If Obama is so good, why can’t he get his message across to the American people? Take the first question he fielded from Rep. Mike Pearce, for instance, regarding the stimulus package. How do you explain Obama’s response vs. this?

      “CNN Poll: 3 of 4 Americans say much of stimulus money wasted”
      http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/01/25/poll.stimulus.money/index.html?iref=allsearch

      Well here’s how I explain it. Daniel Yankelovich in Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World advised politicians to:

      Learn what the public’s pet preoccupation is and address it before discussing any other facet of the issue.

      Do you really believe the questions the Republicans asked and Obama answered address the public’s pet preoccupations? Or let me put that another way. During the hour and seven minutes of questions and answers, do you recall the word “bailout” ever being mentioned?

      1. LeeAnne

        Obama answered the questions put to him clearly and accurately. It would surprise me if he had any advance knowledge or control. So, the questions you or I would ask or Yves are irrelevant in this context.

        I didn’t say that I am now turned around and thrilled with what he has and hasn’t accomplished; I’m not. I am thrilled that he and they are on record with their talking points which he not only answered clearly and accurately but at the same time took the opportunity to criticize their tactics as if they were naughty children when in fact they are the representatives of venal beasts which I think he did a pretty good job of exposing on record on tape for others to put to future good use.

        This was a magnificent performance; his stature went up; theirs down.

  2. doctoRx

    Per Marshall Auerback’s commentary, the US has also likely never seen this degree of money-printing.

    Apropos of the above, a technician was on CNBC yesterday. He proposed a 50% decline in stocks was coming this year. You would have thought he was proposing that the Sun would start rising in the west. The commentators alertly observed that this prediction implied new lows in the market averages. The technician said yes, that’s his prediction. However, based on CAPE (cyclically-averaged P/E) and Andrew Smithers’ analysis of Tobin’s Q, the stock market was roughly only at fair value–not undervalued–around its lows. To get to historic levels of undervaluation would have meant much lower lows.

    The next decade in the stock averages could mirror the second decade after Japan’s bubble peaked in 1989 and thus could be as bad as, or worse than, the last decade we have gone through.

    Not a specific prediction, but IMO very very possible

    1. craazyman

      I predict Brad and Jenn will get back together. It’s destiny. That’s the thing when you have these intense experiences in your younger years they never leave you. It’s like your mind forms around a certain emotional reality and it just never dies, ever. It’s not quite like Wuthering Heights, maybe more like the Odessy when Odyseus finally makes it back to the Homestead and their looting the place. It’s hard to know who your friends are, but it’s written in the stars who you’re soul mates are.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        That’s why people keep voting and writing letters to their ‘representatives’ — its an emotional soul mate thing.

        You can overcome it by rubbing Spam all over your body. You have to make yourself slipperier than the controlling deceptive imprints of your youth.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  3. jimmy james

    And if we seem piggier than those of the past, it is because we stand on the shoulders of pigs.

  4. craazyman

    Aliens can’t hear us? Oh? They’re flying around all over the place in UFOs and abducting people, but they aren’t fron outer space they are from multi-space mind/space/time.

    The whole notions of time and distance will unravel into astonishingly new thought clouds which will rise and fall like solar flares of imagination. It may take a while, though.

    Aliens. ha ha ha ahahaha.

    I’m an alien. A stranger in a strange land. Where is home? Inward inward inward.

    -Cyrus Kow, ME, Engineering, People’s Republic of Morgellon

  5. gordon

    From the linked “A Colossal Failure of Governance” piece:

    “…if the Senate had refused to reconfirm [Bernanke] – financial sector representatives insist – there would have been chaos in the markets”.

    Is this a prediction or is this a threat?

  6. bob

    Shoes-

    I found that completely true. I hated running in the city because of very painful ‘shin splints’, so bad that my legs had a black and blue mark down them. Was told to do exercises to lessen it, didn’t help much.

    Then I had the idea to try ‘track flats’, the kind designed for older cinder tracks. It worked, no heel.

    The heel cushioning is supposedly to lessen the impact on the heel, but it ends up ‘pushing back’ on the rest of the leg to compensate, in my opinion.

    There were a few studies done on nike’s air shoes where it was proven that they led to more injuries beacuse of the rebound in them. Can’t find any links right now, not surprised.

    Less is much more. Finding real track flats is getting very difficult, I hope someone starts making them more available.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    Is there a reason there is no military contractor sector analysis. Have you seen the military budget? It is almost as large as the stimulus package. The difference is it is an annual, not a one off line item expense. Truman made a career driving around the country to military bases and defense plants to make sure that every mother who wrote him about a son shivering without a blanket or a pair of gloves had the proper equipment and that it was not shipped to an Army Surplus store by corrupt supply officers. I would suggest some Democratic Party saber rattling along these lines. If you think Medicare fraud is bad, again, compare line items. The Military Appropriations: 2007/ $600.9b 2008/$666b 2009$654b 2010$663.7b This includes $130b for Afghan/Iraq war for 2010, but does not include the VA, does not include National Intelligence and does not include Homeland Security. With that much money, and contracts flooding into the economy, why hasn’t there been a detectable hiring boom? But that is beside the point. If the Republicans can’t stand the stimulus spending spreading out over 2009 and 2010 or the Health Care Reform bill, which is $90b/ year over 10 years, why is it they can without blinking, thinking or reading vote on those appropriations of astronmical size? And why can’t Obama, start an anti profiteering anti corruption campaign?

    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/

  8. Paul Tioxon

    By way of global comparison, we spend more annually than every other country in the world added together. Look at the 11 nuclear powered air craft carriers we have. Does any one in the world have anything like this at all? Answers next week. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm

    Do you think there is some room for improvement? Waste?, mismanagement?, am I being stating the obvious but what is not broadcast nearly as much as US Senate cloture procedures, the indispensable civics info that is the pricipia media of the social order.

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