Links 3/16/10

Let’s Sex Up this Economic Reporting Financial News Express

Final destination Iran? Herald Scotland (hat tip readers Crocodile Chuck and Scott). Seriously Not Good, and timing peculiar given the current official unhappiness with Israel intransigence (as in a move like this undermines US criticism, or simply shows it to be a sham).

CO2 at new highs despite economic slowdown Scientific American (hat tip reader John D)

Big Bailout Banks Slashed Lending In January Huffington Post

Wall Street Dominance of Swaps Clearing Must End, Brokers Say Bloomberg

Strategic default: In come the waves again Ed Harrison

Lawmakers press for action on China currency Reuters (hat tip reader Phil S)

Brazil to Break Patents on U.S. Films, Books, Drugs Reuters (hat tip reader John D)

Letter to the Editor: Stovepiping To Persia Chris Floyd

Memo to Moody’s: It’s Accounting 101, Not Economics Marshall Auerback, NewDeal 2.0

At Lehman, Watchdogs Saw It All Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times. In case you had any doubts….and this begs the further question: not only did they choose to ignore Lehman’s bogus accounting, how could they miss all the CDS exposures leading to AIG?

China’s Fragile Economy, Its Housing Bubble, and What It Means To Us: Part I The Daily Capitalist

We need explicit rules for bail-outs Lorenzo Bini Smaghi Financial Times. There was a wee blogosphere spat on this topic recently…

Our Next Economic Plague: Japan Disease Andy Xie, Cajing (hat tip Crocodile Chuck)

An important item from last week I managed to miss: The End of an Era in Finance Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

Survey: Readers don’t want to pay for news online Associated Press (hat tip reader John D)

The problems with the Schäuble proposal Wolfgang Munchau. He reads it as a road map for Eurozone exit. Will that ultimately prove to be a formula for breakup, or shrinkage to a more economically homogeneous membership?

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Jojo

    Good article as a follow-up to yesterday’s post on China.
    the Atlantic
    March 2010

    Cyber Warriors

    When will China emerge as a military threat to the U.S.? In most respects the answer is: not anytime soon—China doesn’t even contemplate a time it might challenge America directly. But one significant threat already exists: cyberwar. Attacks—not just from China but from Russia and elsewhere—on America’s electronic networks cost millions of dollars and could in the extreme cause the collapse of financial life, the halt of most manufacturing systems, and the evaporation of all the data and knowledge stored on the Internet.
    By James Fallows

  2. Ina Pickle

    OH crud. That does rather make the civil cases against Lehman’s execs harder. Doesn’t make them impossible, mind you, but a whole lot harder. Criminal cases? Yeah, I really can’t see how that will work now. If the SEC and Fed set out to give cover to thieves and liars, I am not sure how they could have done a more thorough job of it.

    At what point does putting people into regulatory positions of authority, whose entire belief system is that there should be no regulation, a violation of the law creating and tasking these regulatory institutions? At what point is the Executive violating the constitution by refusing to uphold the law of the land? Wow, aren’t those fine questions to come before the present Court.

  3. John Zinsser

    Ina –
    There is an additional issue here. More regulators is not necessarily the answer REGARDLESS of their belief in regulation or not. In fact those that most believe in regulation face counter incentives to performing well. Yet the Dodd bill does NOTHING but increase the way we did what went wrong from one perspective.

    I argue for a more simple, more effective, and more beneficial mechanism here: An Organizational Ombudsman might have made all the difference. Not a a way to promote increased whistle-blowing, because we know what that does to people, but a mechanism to actual address and SOLVE problems in a confidential and neutral manner.

    Failing to add this to the reform bill would be a complete failing of common sense.

  4. tyaresun

    Dani Rodrik and the IMF can learn a lot about capital controls from India’s experience. Of course, the IMF has been critcal of these policies over the years but now that it has opened its mind to new thoughts, there is a good possibility of synthesis of ideas.

  5. Naive_person

    Quote in the SciAm CO2 article: “Concentrations can keep rising since each carbon molecule emitted typically lingers in the atmosphere for many years.” Please. Try _hundreds_ of years on average. This is a very important point because if you believe that this global warming is primarily man-made, then capping carbon emissions won’t solve the problem.

    1. gordon

      Which is why we need to think a lot more about ways to get CO2 out of the atmosphere, and not just concentrate about ways to stop putting more in.

  6. dearieme

    I know you prefer to be gullible on AGW, Yves, but surely you might have spotted the flaws in this?

    “Carbon dioxide… rose to a median 393.71 parts per million of the atmosphere in the first two weeks of March from 393.17 in the same period of 2009”.
    i.e. it increased at a rate of 0.54 ppm per annum.

    “”.. the increase is accelerating” Johan Stroem, of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said…”

    “The rise in concentrations… was below the average gain over the year of around 2 parts per million.”

    i.e. 0.54 ppm per annum is less than 2 ppm per annum. So the rate is NOT accelerating, but instead slowing.

    Bah, humbug.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What if we are due for another Ice Age?

      It would be nice to retain our Global Warming arsenal.

      The question, are we due for another Ice Age?

  7. Peripheral Visionary

    Survey: Drivers don’t want to pay for parking
    — Think they should be able to park free on street

    Report: People reluctant to pay for food
    — ‘It just falls off the tree, why should I pay for it?’ ask savvy consumers

    Unwelcome News for Airlines: Flyers looking for tickets without having to pay for them
    — ‘The airplane is going to be flying from Dalles to L.A. one way or the other, why should I have to pay just because I’m on board?’ asks area man

    Feedback for Music Industry: Listeners Looking for Music, Performances Without Costs Attached
    — Citing free availability of airwaves through which music travels

  8. Carrick

    Lehman Whistle-Blower’s Fate: Fired
    Mr. Lee Raised Red Flags About ‘Repo 105’ Accounting Device; Let Go for Downsizing, Said Firm

    “Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. ousted a whistle-blower just weeks after he raised red flags about the securities firm’s accounting in 2008.

    Matthew Lee, a 14-year Lehman veteran, was let go in late June 2008 amid steep losses at the firm as it tried to maneuver through the global financial crisis. Earlier that month, he had raised concerns with Lehman’s auditor, Ernst & Young, that the securities firm was temporarily moving $50 billion in assets off its balance sheet.

    This accounting strategy helped to mask the risks Lehman was taking amid scrutiny by investors and …”

  9. RPB

    Re: Final Destination Iran?

    Those bombs are significantly smaller and in insufficient number to take down Iran’s NBC/air defense infrastructure. With reports that some of the most important facilities are buried under 100+ feet of concrete/rock/sand you would need something substantially larger than a 2000lb bomb (the biggest listed in the story). Furthermore, you would likely see large amounts of aviation fuel, spare parts and additional aircraft shipped to Diego. Moreover, you would also see substantial quantities of bombs (more in the range of 1000s of bombs and much larger bombs too) being shipped to other Middle Eastern Airbases. In all likelihood more aircraft would have to arrive from the CUSA as well.

    This is just sensationalism by the Herald and nothing more. IF, IF the US is to attack Iran leaks like this would not get out and if they did they would involve SUBSTANTIALLY more ordinance and support equipment.

    Be real here. This stuff is probably restocking magazines to be used in Afghanistan.

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