Links 2/7/10

Sorry for short links tonight….

An Open Letter to Dr. Walter E. Massey Chairman, Bank of America President, emeritus, Morehouse College William Black

Military Power of the People’s Republic of China Department of Defense (hat tip reader Paul Schwartz)

BORN POOR? Santa Fe Reporter (hat tip lambert strether)

Fire Departments Charge for Service, Asking Accident Victims to Pay Up ABC News (hat tip reader John D)

Greece, Spain, and the Euro Trojan Horse Michael Schussele

Rompuying along Economist (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Global Ocean Protection Measures Have Failed Der Spiegel (hat tip reader T. Rex Bean)

Europe’s Dying Nightlife Der Spiegel (hat tip reader John D)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Robert M). From Pravda, “Man Becomes Best Friends with Sperm Whale“:

Andrew Armour has become known as The Whale Whisperer after he befriended a giant sperm whale named Scar that now allows him to swim alongside him and Andrew talks to him.

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  1. scott

    I got a kick out of this headline in the weekend WSJ…not the Onion

    Mortgage Bankers Association Sells Headquarters at Big Loss

  2. LeeAnne

    William Black’s letter, IMO a snapshot of a corporate finance fascist as roving American diplomat. Chilling.

    Just when you think we’ve gone the limit –there’s no end to the degrading influence of the moneyed class in this country.

  3. ZA

    Oh, that Schussle piece is so conflicted, it’s simply hilarious. Yes, just like Lehman and Bear, we’re merely seeing an unwarranted “speculative attack” on the sovereignty of these nations. The happy outcome of all this is that Greece will get to borrow even more at ever-lower rates.

    Why anyone would loan Greece money at 6.63% for 10 years is completely beyond me.

    Swami sez: We will continue to see this absurd policy of binding risk to increasingly systemic single points of failure.

  4. kevinearick

    skippy …

    think about removing the wiring from the hoistway, installing an adjustable vacuum and a small magnet at the top, and the effect of transformers and transistors to create a pump. If they get the punks out of the way, we’ll give them some gamma, which they can use to solve their other problems.

    To replace the oil economy is a big, big deal, for them, and that can’t happen until everyone sees that the oil motor has failed. Set yourself up to be patient.

    They have already used the new tools to fix some of their laser problems. No doubt they have their kids working 24 hrs/day to figure this all out. So much the better, I would just as soon go back to raising kids and punching a clock.

    1. kevinearick

      you might take a look at underwater development; capital wants to move in that direction in a big way. It will crystalize some of their simpler space problems, and it should suck in a lot of capital initially.

      … besides they want a response in a showdown, in case the kids decide to show them what a gamma burst looks like.

      They have already been drilling holes into the core to test the ultimate solution, gun to the head of the public.

      1. kevinearick

        picture the ACME drilling rig in the valley, Wile E. Coyote in a big hard hat, leaning on the sign “Your Tax Dollars At Work; Speeding Fines Are Quadrupled”, with the Road Runner taking a coffee break, up on the bluff, beside a lever under a boulder.

        it’s funny, but it’s not. that’s the economy.

    2. Skippy

      I was privileged too witness some of the laser work being done early on at TRW, in those days.

      And yes sad as it is, others will not listen, my preperations are underway for me and mine.

      Skippy…If the reflection coefficient is known, mismatch can be calculated…eh

      1. kevinearick

        if you run the controller parallel, diagnosis is much easier, the equipment is much more reliable, and you can test designs when humans are not aboard.

        you’ll probably end up working on the HVAC equipment, just to keep your own equipment at the right T. Watch those HVAC guys; they have a tendency to blow themselves up, expecting the controller to operate reliably.

          1. Skippy

            Naw, outside independent inspectors that don’t zero and recalibrate test equipment after transit. Atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields and radiation sure do take a toll…snicker.

            After that they usually tell me just to fax the data rather than come on site lol.

            Skippy…working with things that go BOOM, has made me a by the numbers guy.

      2. Skippy

        If there are two or more components in cascade as is often the case, the resultant mismatch loss is not only due to the mismatches from the individual components, but also from how the reflections from each component combine with each other. The overall mismatch loss cannot be calculated by just adding up the individual loss contributions from each component. The difference between the sum of the mismatch loss in each component and total mismatch loss due to the interactions of the reflections is known as mismatch error. Depending on how the multiple reflections combine, the overall system loss may be lower or higher than the sum of the mismatch loss from each component. Mismatch error occurs in pairs as the signal reflects off of each mismatched component.

        So for example there are mismatch errors generated by each pair of components. The mismatch uncertainty increases as the frequency increases, and in wide-band applications. The phasing of the reflections makes it particularly harder to model.

        Too bad economic forecaster’s can’t bounce their RF off the ionosphere and even if so, there is always too much atmospheric static…sigh…

        Skippy…This observable and measurable event (although difficult and not 100% accurate as energy increases), says so much too me, with regards to our present state of affairs.

          1. Skippy

            Could say so much in regards to your last statement ie: responsibility anxiety brought on by having both arms and legs tied behind ones back in the execution of ones duty’s whilst the their fork hovers over head re: risk management > your ass, not mine.


          2. kevinearick

            maybe next time they’ll keep their f—— mouths shut, and keep their f—— hands off my kids.

            wish you well.

  5. Ignim Brites

    Schussele’s piece “Greece, Spain and the Euro Trojan Horse” contains the following:
    “The problems in Greece and Spain are vastly different, but both are derived from the Euro. Greece and Spain both suffer from a competitiveness gap in that their Euro exchange rate is overvalued while surplus exporting countries, like Germany, have an undervalued exchange rate.”

    Now what in the world does it mean to say that one area of a common currency region has an undervalued exchange rate with another area. It is like saying that Texas has an overvalued exchange rate with California. A lot is being made of Germany’s competitive advantage but it is difficult to believe that German wages are vastly lower than Greek wages. So from whence derives German competitiveness? It To argue that within a particular geographic area a particular currency is not suitable is a political judgement. The Greeks have to pay their debts in euros much as Californians have to pay their debts in dollars. Why a potential Greek default should have any significance for the euro or whether Greece should stay in the euro zone is also just a political question. It is true that Greek default might drive down the value of euro for a bit as traders take a more jaundiced look at European assets in general but so what. That is just the normal process of economic judgment. If California were to default on some of its bonds, that would probably drive down the value of the dollar for a while. Again so what. It is not like California would abandon the dollar and set up its own currency.

  6. Swedish Lex

    I read the latest Charlemagne column with some interest. The analysis is correct, largely, but it should have been clear to Charlemagne that some of the conclusions could, or perhaps should, as easily have been exactly the opposite of what he is suggesting. Charlemange for instance writes that “Mr Van Rompuy’s favourite argument, ever since taking office, is that EU growth must double in order to pay for social-welfare systems that he terms the “European Way of Life” and that this battle cry is “feeble”. I would argue the opposite, since maintaining social protection for the jobless in times of crisis when social costs are soaring and tax revenues nose diving, is a great challenge to the cohesiveness of a society. Charlemagne could have at least made clear whether he thinks that the EU should adopt the U.S. approach – make unemployed vanish from the statistics and onto the street corners after a few months of unemployment – or do as in China, just send them back to the countryside to farm the land as best they can, instead.

    Charlemagne continues and mocks Sarkozy “who startled the World Economic Forum in Davos by calling for “moral” capitalism, in which environmental law, labour law and health law would enjoy the same status as rules imposing free trade. Underneath, this was code for an age-old French wish: community preference, or rules to handicap imports and favour EU goods. Mr Sarkozy talked of Europe’s expensive climate-change commitments and the need to fight “environmental dumping”. This needs watching. French calls for a “carbon tax” at EU borders may be gaining momentum, says a senior diplomat.”

    Rather than discussing whether Sarkozy’s ideas make sense in the current situation we are in, it is easier to wave the old flag of French mercantilist tendencies. Incidentally, Sarkozy at the joint Merkel Sarkozy press conference last week discussed the matter of a carbon tax in relation to third countries, mentioning that similar provisions exist in the Bill before the U.S. Congress, the intention being that they would be triggered if e.g. China would engage in Co2 dumping hurting U.S. domestic indutries. Is Sarkozy wrong to suggest the necessity of a EU Carbon tax if the U.S. and the other major trading partners adopt similar measures? Or is it better to stick the head deep down in the sand and continue to repeat the free trade no matter what mantra? Charlemange also omits to mention that the EU is a, if not the, major force trying to pick up the pieces after Copenhagen in order to get multilateral negotiations going again.

    1. kevin de bruxelles

      I loved this paragraph from that article:

      Lisbon failed because lots of Europeans do not want to live in the most dynamic and competitive economy in the world. They prefer to work fewer hours than Americans or Japanese (about 10% fewer, on average), to take long holidays, and to retire as soon as possible. Among EU leaders it is fashionable to predict that the financial crisis will lead to a revolution in “European economic governance”. Yet that phrase hides a dearth of new ideas.

      Damn right they do. Why didn’t he just add that those no-good Euro-slackers are also clinging to their universal health care and free preschool systems as well? Really, who’s the target reading audience of these appeals for euro sacrifice? Angry American white collar grunts who work 70 hours a week and have only two weeks vacation but should feel proud that they are contributing to the most “dynamic and competitive economy”?

      The irony is that whilst the Economist is dying for “new ideas” the push by Sarkozy and the rest of the EU reflects the wisdom of old ideas, particularly those old ideas of Adam Smith. He wrote way back when of the need within a capitalist system of a disinterested “wise legislator” who would intervene to correct the inevitable excesses of a system based primarily on selfishness and shortsightedness.

      Instead of bashing European families for spending time together, he should bash the true enemies of capitalism, the “red tape” cutting fools who by destroying disinterested regulating bureaucracies are really destroying the sine qua non of a system where competing economic interests can do battle. A good idea might be for the Economist to ask its writers to read “The Wealth of Nations”

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The whale is a perfect example of you can go home again.

    It came originally from the ocean to settle on land only to evolve into a marine animal again.

    I would like to believe we can go from the Agricultural age to the Industial age back to the Agricultural age too (or back and forth between any two ages)…unless we are less than the whale, i.e. not truly the smartest masters of the universe.

    That’s something for you Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens chauvinists to think about.

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