Links 2/25/10

Australia summons Israeli envoy over Dubai killing BBC

Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview NPR

Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent Reason (hat tip reader John D)

Noah’s ark was circular Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

Killer whale shakes trainer Dawn Brancheau to her death Times Online

New home sales fall to a record low CNN (hat tip reader John D)

Bernanke Transparency Offer May Not Defuse Calls for Audits Bloomberg

Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide New York Times

Martin Wolf Makes Me Look Like Pollyanna Paul Krugman (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Financial Innovation Pt. 1: Two Problems and TRACE Mike Konczai, New Deal 2.0. This is a great case example, although Konczai does not hit the punch line hard enough (maybe that comes in Part 2). What Wall Street has defined as innovation is precisely the opposite of this sort of activity, which increased liquidity, transparency, and lowered dealer spreads. Heavens, we can’t possibly apply the positive brand of “innovation” to anything that reduces our profits!

Goldman Is Unpopular Because ‘It Brings Envy,’ Corzine Says Bloomberg. I had to resist the impulse to post on this. On the one hand, harping on Goldman seems to be getting a bit tired, and other parties were plenty culpable too. The high end of finance was a criminogenic environment. But then you read idiocy like this, and it demands a retort of some type. Goldman people are standing up and ASKING to be whacked thought their hopeless arrogance and astonishing capacity for denial

No, people are NOT mad at Goldman because it is “successful”. Americans love success, look at Steve Jobs, Oprah, any one of a dozen rags to riches stories. What they hate about Goldman is:

1. That the taxpayers rescued it at considerable expense, everyone there seems ever richer than before, there has not been an iota of shame, apology, change in behavior. The teeny weeny bit of restraint around bonuses was only due to a firestorm of protest. This is socialism for the rich, and the public has every reason to be upset

2. Goldman has again and again been the leader in shady behavior. Yes, it may not have been illegal, technically, but much of it OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN illegal. The fact that Goldman could get away with so much stuff that does not pass the smell test simply confirms the suspicions of favored treatment and special dealings (which is actually correct, but the only error is suspecting it happened on specific deals, as opposed to being the result of a concerted, long-standing lobbying effort by the industry to weaken regulations).

3. Goldman is persistently arrogant and tone deaf. They insist on rubbing your fact in 1 and 2, and add insult to injury by trying to assert that their profits are the result of “talent” when from 2006 to 2009, looting was a major source of earnings.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Ignim Brites

    Re: Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview
    Did I read this right? “Participants in these experiments are asked to describe their cultural beliefs. Some embrace new technology, authority and free enterprise. They are labeled the “individualistic” group. Others are suspicious of authority or of commerce and industry. Braman calls them “communitarians.””
    Are individualists the new authoritarian personalities?

  2. Ignim Brites

    Re: Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide
    Is it bad that people seek to profit from the collapse of a government? That is an counter revolutionary sentiment to be sure. But the implication of the title is that certain bankers, using insider information, are seeking to suck the last drops of blood out of the corpse of the Greek nation. The implication is not substantiated in the report. However, it is hardly too far fetched.

  3. liam

    Corzine’s such an ass – nice job turning Jersey around there. Goldman is the smug brother of the local banana republic military dictator boasting of his skill getting government contracts.

  4. But What Do I Know?

    I realize it must get boring to keep reiterating your points abut Goldman, but please do–it is important to remember exactly why they should be disliked/punished in the face of the revisionism promulgated by them and their lackeys.

  5. Michael

    “Goldman Is Unpopular Because ‘It Brings Envy,'”

    Hmm, sounds like the pretty common theme of `the russians/arabs/`enemy’ of the day only hate america and want to bomb us because they’re jealous of our success’.

    This is pretty much a signature thought of your culture as seen from the outside … i’m surprised you’re in any way shocked.

    PS Oprah no opinion on, but Steve Jobs is a nasty piece of work!

  6. craazyman

    Don’t ever think you whack Goldman too much.

    They are a primary symptom of our cultural pyschosis. They are a morally bankrupt and ethically criminal enterprise. They are a case study in the irony of the sophist Thrasymachus’ claim to Socrates in Plato’s Republic that justice is “the advantage of the stronger.” They are an exemplar of Inonescu’s Rhinoceros absurdist drama.

    The fact that someone like Corzine could say that shows just how hopelessly lost the man is. He is an embarrasment. The entire firm is an embarrasment.

    I do not envy Goldman anymore than I would envy Idi Ami or Papa Doc Duvalier.

    The tide is turning against them and the culture will eventually puke them up like bad milk. I predict they will not be in business, in their current form, within 3 to 4 years. GS is likely a prime short right now.

  7. wunsacon

    >> “Goldman Is Unpopular Because ‘It Brings Envy,’”

    I’m sure those close to the King often said the same thing about the peasants.

  8. attempter

    To give an example of the real Corzine, he told his driver to speed (a government car with bubble light blazing) on the Garden State Parkway because he was late to a fluff PR shoot. They bounced off another car (an innocent bystander) and crashed. Luckily, Corzine himself was the only one badly hurt. But he could easily have killed someone, which he evidently felt entitled to do. Can’t keep the cameras waiting.

    He’s a Goldman guy all right.

  9. EmilianoZ

    I’ve never been to a killer whale show and never intend to go. Those animals should be in the wild where they belong.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    So, if Noah’s Ark was circular, maybe he was an alien (maybe even an illegal alien at that) and his little UFO (unidentified floating object) saved us.

    1. MyTooCents

      Genesis 6:14-16 (

      14 Make thee an ark of timber planks: thou shalt make little rooms in the ark, and thou shalt pitch it within and without. 15 And thus shalt thou make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits: the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

      16 Thou shalt make a window in the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish the top of it: and the door of the ark thou shalt set in the side: with lower, middle chambers, and third stories shalt thou make it.


      I guess the presupposition of Irving Finkel (“a British Museum expert”) is that the Bible is less trustworthy than the tablet that was found in the 20th century. I wonder how many people agree with that presupposition?

  11. Valissa

    Let me preface what I’m about to say with this… please note that I am about to criticize global warming propaganda from the left. While I am sincerely concerned about the environment and pollution and a strong proponent of alternative energy, I have gotten increasingly suspicious regarding the money and power games I’m seeing in the whole global warming kabuki theater.

    Here is my problem with the climate change-worldview article…

    On the other side of the debate was environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr. “Ninety-eight percent of the research climatologists in the world say that global warming is real, that its impacts are going to be catastrophic,” he argued.

    Please note that Robert Kennedy Jr is NOT a climatologist so his opinion isn’t worth much in this piece. And actually using his statement shows that this article is propaganda… since there are so many scientists on board with global warming it should have been easy to get a quote from one of them. Wonder why they didn’t do that? While he is correct that global warming is real, he is INCORRECT when he says that most scientists believe in the catastrophic forecast… depending on the research scientist the percentage of global warming attributed to human civilization varies quite a bit (no doubt this is why a real scientist’s quote wasn’t used). BTW, I have been interested in climate science since I was 10 y.o. starting with my interest in dinosaurs and have followed changing theories of climate science peripherally since then (over 40 years) and this includes a minor in geology (math major). So I have been aware of climate change most of my life and remember back in the 70’s when the sience fashion trend was to blame global cooling on pollution. Note: some things that humans do cause cooling as well as warming.

    For a long time I kept my mouth shut about my opinions on global warming science versus politics, but no longer. Once upon a time I believed that even though the details of the science weren’t settled that it was a worthy goal to take steps to be more environmentally respectful. And I still believe that. However the more I research the more it looks like the science is being abused politically in order for some people to make money and gain power.

    Here are some important issues that I never/rarely see addressed and make me suspicious.
    What kinds of enironmental engineering and technologies will be used to mitigate pollution and global warming? How effective are these? How expensive are they versus results? Where are all the studies showing science’s ability to actually control/impact global warming or cooling? Which companies will benefit? Who will be the people determining the regulations and what are their own vested interests? Who will be in charge of making sure that others comply with regulations? Why is the head of the IPCC an economist and not a climatologist? What is going on with Al Gore, his Goldman Sachs buddies and their Chicago Climate Exchange? Exactly how is this green/enviromental tech bubble going to be started and who is going to profit and how much will this really help ‘save the planet’ versus simply making alot of money for those who create the system?

    I could go on about my suspicions… but let me leave you with this article to think about:

    World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco

  12. rob

    “Goldman Is Unpopular Because ‘It Brings Envy,’”

    This is exactly the attitude expressed to me in ’05 when I was railing about the coming economic collapse brought about by the likes of Goldman. The entire financial landscape stank of Enron-style accounting fraud, then referred to as SIV’s.

    Whenever criminals are caught stuffing their pockets with booty, their smarmy accusation is that You’re just jealous that you don’t have the opportunity to do unto others before they do unto you.

    Despite all the evidence of peak oil production, the one that really convinced me is that something very basic has changed in the US over the last generation. The rich realized the game was up, the US economy was not going to grow and deliver a bigger share of the pie to the poor, because the fuel propelling its expansion was doomed to start delivering a negative ROI, so they decided long ago to do exactly what the foreclosed-on have been doing currently: rip out and sell everything on the way out while they still have the chance.

    Envy is one of the deadly sins, but like all the deadly sins, it is only a refinement, a subset, of THE deadly sin: GREED. And that is what unabashedly runs Wall ST. and the US economy. By assuming the mantra that “Greed is Good” the US has assumed the mantle of “The Evil Empire” with which Reagan dubbed the USSR.

    This is why the term “moral hazard” is nothing but an empty husk. In an economic system driven by evil, there is no moral hazard, as there are no morals.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What makes a liberal a liberal should be his heart and not his intelligence; otherwise, he would be a conservative.

    I am afraid Reason is not reasoning, or at least focusing, along the right path here.

    1. Andrew Bissell

      Drink! (old Hit ‘n’ Run joke)

      The Reason post is only relating and commenting upon an academic study, not necessarily supporting its conclusions.

  14. sam hampster

    re: Goldman-Sachs

    How many ways can you say it…they win, we lose. No doubt, they are already positioning themselves to win and to paint the giant “L” on our foreheads in the next crisis.

    Any violent protest in the U.S. will only further the profits of the corporate-military complex.


  15. DR

    Pride Comes Before the Fall….

    Goldman’s golden sunset moment

    No human organization stays at the pinnacle of the greasy pole forever. In the ’90s it was Salomon Brothers, the famed bond trading house made famous in Michael Lewis’ 1989 book, Liar’s Poker. Salomon eventually was consumed and digested by Robert Rubin’s Citigroup, with the once-proud titan now sharing Citi’s fate as a poor fallen ward of the state.

    What firm could be the next Goldman? I’d look to the private equity and real estate powerhouse, the Blackstone Group. Quietly, almost surreptitiously, it’s become one of the largest financial institutions in the world.
    My next decade prediction. Blackstone will be selected to run bailout state/local/PBGC pension plans the were taken over by the US government in exchange for state/company austerity measures. Blackstone will be the US’s soverign wealth fund.

  16. lambert strether

    1. Yves writes:

    The high end of finance was a criminogenic environment.

    2. sam hampster writes:

    Any violent protest in the U.S. will only further the profits of the corporate-military complex.



    New game: Non-violent protest. See the 198-fold path.

    1. anon


      Thank you for the link. I’d like to post it in reply to every comment I see that calls for a guns and ammo solution (although that would become a full time job).

      It’s as tiresome and disheartening to hear all these simplistic ‘checkmate’ soutions as it is to hear Corzine’s and co’s childish, “you’re just jealous” remarks.

      GS is a warehouse of industry standard products and services that threaten banking, gov’ts and social structure.

      I like an approach to reform that’s developed by plodding through that handy inventory list, prioritizing the most abusive products/services , and checks them off as they are addressed. I like Goldman as villain no 1. The sooner they can be transformed into a laughingstock rather than a terrifying threat, the sooner we can disarm them and gets some reform that actually protects us from their predation.

      Disarming them by ridicule, rather than trying to shame them with righteous indignation seems like a much better strategy for taking them down. Taibbi gets that.

      I’m past the point where Goldman revelations provoke an “OMG, those F**ers”. I’m at the stage where I’m saying, come on guys, now you’re just ridiculous. Rip off your hedge fund clients all you want, skim via HFT all you want,
      skim lucrative spreads through the primary dealer all you want, but proactively undermining the Euro and by extension the EU, is just a step too far. After AIG we are no longer amused, especially since we know there’s more tawdry stuff to come.

      Thomas Barton,JD ‘ comment yesterday (don’t mean to plagarize, Just want to highlight an insightful point)
      suggests a ridicule strategy can be powerfully destabalizing to the overall con.

      “The Volcker Rule may well suffer from many defects and is an incomplete remedy.. The true measure of its importance is that much effort has been expended to kill it. In many ways an accomplished con artist might well contend that the passage of the Volcker Rule would be akin to introducing any element of doubt into the mark’s head while the con is being run. Once the element of doubt has been introduced the entire efficacy and ultimate success of the con has been compromised, whether markedly, severely or fatally.”

      Paging Jon Stewart! introduce a L Van Praag character for the nightly report so we can laugh in their faces, rather than gasp at their hubris.

      Goldman’s a glamorized bucket shop. period.

  17. Cynthia

    “Goldman Is Unpopular Because ‘It Brings Envy,’ Corzine says”

    Following the 9/11 attacks, I’d frequently hear Americans say that Islamic terrorists attacked us because they are envious of our wealth. So I find it ironic that Corzine and other Goldman apologists have turned this argument on its head by arguing that the American people are angry at the Goldmans and other financial terrorists because they are simply envious of their wealth.

    I’ve always known that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But I never knew that terrorists and freedom fighter could be envious of each other’s wealth!

  18. Doug Terpstra

    Jon Corzine gives a ray of hope that public office cannot always be bought. This may be more significant after the Supine Court decision allowing corporations to buy elections.

    GS looted the US and has now Greeced the skids of global collapse. Before long it will likely join the unstoppable juggernaut Enron in its Gehena graveyard of infamy. But this time the blowback will be painful (or mercifully quick) for those who enabled it. I do not envy GS, resent them like hell for the homeless and jobless, but envy, not a bit.

  19. kevinearick

    For aet and others of like persuasion:

    Mythology teaches that economies are installed from the top, down. That is incorrect. Economies are waveforms, built from the bottom, up, with new economies overtaking old economies. Mythology handles the transfer. Politics follows form.

    In the last, and final, iteration of the old demographic acceleration economy, long-term assets, which are no longer relevant in a demographic deceleration environment, were increasingly financed with short-term paper, until the mismatch maxed out, as always, with the usual expectation that demographic acceleration, backed by a reserve currency, would pull in the demand slack.

    Now, when interest rates should be hiked, the Fed is stuck, because those assets can only produce economic losses. They are a sunk cost, but they are booked, off sheet in most cases, as capitalization expenses, under the assumption that future income will comfortably offset the future expense, like the rest of the entitlement system. Because that assumption is incorrect, those costs are due now, rendering the old economy, technically, insolvent, which is why the sharks are circling.

    Big Government and Big Capital are locked up, and the door to purely municipal interest was left open some time ago. There is nothing preventing communities, globally, from building the required foundation, with properly adapted community banks, schools, and hospitals, at dramatically lower costs, relative to the cost of carrying all that dead inventory.

    And the normal hurdle rate, preventing self-sustaining communities with surplus from trading globally, in their own enlightened best interests, has dropped to negligible, because of the mammoth excess supply in the global trading infrastructure.

    All the components are there, except for the required mythology to catalyze the conversion, which is normally installed with the misdirection of war, but can be skipped if humanity is prepared to wake up, to the fact that humans are critters, no better and no worse than any other critter on the planet. Humanity is entitled to nothing. Entitlement requires slavery, and the economic slave economy has run its course.

    Democracy is a steep climb, with temporary rest in the interceding valleys. Naturally, many would like to remain at rest in the valley, and those that gain control over increasingly scarce resources in the valley seek to prevent the escape of those pursuing democracy. That status quo only lasts so long.

    We are now at the point in the cycle where everyone is waking up to the fact that the valley has been consumed to death. If you do not wish to climb, that is your business, but the undertow base threshold alone is 20% unemployment; that wall of water is coming, and it’s big.

    I am not instructing you; I am giving you notice, before cleaning up. Like economies, markets do not quite operate the way most people are taught. Whether it is a white swan event or a black swan event depends on your perspective.

    Good luck.

      1. kevinearick

        do you ever sleep?

        do you sleep when you sleep?

        I miss Vinny.

        Wonder what he’s doing over there.

        Is he sleeping?

        1. Skippy

          Preceptive and inquisitive.

          An early IA program that had conflict’s with it’s programmers arguments, whilst it absorbed isolated/forbidden information on it’s own, PLC resoulution may come some day.

          Skippy…till then I seek!

    1. kevinearick


      I didn’t miss you comment, but my only reply was that the money going to lobbyists is a drop in the bucket, which would not have necessarily been constructive.

      The doctors make the big money controlling all the inputs, the machines, the labs, the cost of medical school, etc., as well as holding controlling interests in both the capital structure and the organizations; and insurance company administrative overhead carries medicare administrative overhead, so those 30 and 3 numbers are meaningless, the numbers also ignore all kinds of government side administrative costs, and if you are talking about getting rid of insurance companies, that’s a few million layoffs among women.

      Maybe we can agree on this:

      The constitution is a limited partnership between the people and capital, in which capital is the junior partner, but, over the course of time, through extensive lobbying, the cart has been placed before the horse, and the cart has no wheels.

    2. kevinearick

      I must say Yves that the commentary over at

      Protests Grow in Greece, Portugal and Spain

      reminds one of the Internet as it was meant to be.

    3. kevinearick

      Suppose I shouldn’t say final. The kids will take capital out into space and drop it off, starting the whole process over again.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      The list is alphabetical, but the way the article is set up, it looks like a ranking.

  20. linda in chicago

    @ lambert strether,

    Don’t be misled into thinking that non-violent protest will necessarily be tolerated. It is the most threatening form of protest of all. Just read the newspaper Ha-aretz or the blog Electronic Intifada if you want to learn what happens to non-violent protesters in Israel-Palestine.

    IMHO, non-violent protest here in the USA gets leaned on very heavily in order to discourage people from “forming the habit” of protesting, rather than over the content of the protest itself.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Agreed. I am not up on the particulars, but here in New York, there are all kinds of restrictions on protests that are expected to have more than 1000-2000 people. They make it very difficult to assemble, let alone march, and if you want to protest something in particular (say a horrid person is to speak at the UN), they go to great length to keep the protestors from getting near the actual event.

      And they’ll take video of the rally, to send the message that yes, Virginia, you are now on the official Enemies of the State list. And people are thrown in jail overnight for no good reason (this happened during the Republican convention). Wearing a mask to defeat the videos/biometrics assures incarceration.

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