Links 4/18/10

Brain ‘splits to multi-task’ BBC

To prove device’s safety, Taser drugs, tortures animals Raw Story

Why China’s “Document Number 10” Will Cause A Brutal Monday In Stocks And Real Estate Clusterstock

Think Tank Politicization Mark Thoma

Goldman Sachs Gave More Money To Federal Politicians Than Any Other Financial Firm Huffington Post

Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics In Sweden (of all places) A Fistful of Euros

Goldman Sachs Clients-First Pledge Undercut by SEC Bloomberg. Bove estimates “worst case liability” at $700 million.

This Bailout Is a Bargain? Think Again Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Hat tip Barry Ritholtz:

There once was a man named Tourré
He toiled for The Squid night and day
At Paulson’s request
He created a mess
And sold it to bank IBK

Antidote du jour:

A Mockingbird swoops in and strikes a barred owl on the head as he sits on a limb perhaps a little bit to close to the nest of the attacker. Mockingbirds are known for attacking other birds, domestic pets and sometimes humans that venture into their territory. (The Birmingham News, Hal Yeager)

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    1. Claire

      My American history isn’t very good (ok, it’s terrible), but my understanding is that this was traditionally the case in the US, and that the media only became less partisan in the 20th century in order to broaden their appeal and increase circulation.

      I guess you could view the renewed partisanship in media as the historical norm, only this time as a result of the fragmentation of the industry due to the internet blogs, etc.

      Just a thought.

  1. GregG

    Taser Corp. just doesn’t (want to) get it. Robert Dziekański (YVR incident) wasn’t on Meth, he was completely stressed and wrung-out to the max. At a certain level of distress, regardless of the cause, for some people, tasers are lethal.

    Police forces have to start viewing tasers as lethal force in some circumstances — and they can’t always know ahead of time what those circumstances are.

    Before reaching instantly for their super convenient, lazy-boy, stun-o-matic ray gun, they need to pause and ask themselves if this was to escalate into one of those lethal cases, is lethal force really justified, or could they take another approach.

    1. Richard Kline

      Tasers are significantly less lethal than three 9 mm slugs in a tight patter, but they remain problematic. Some people can die from them, and you just can’t tell who. The issue is very comparable to the use of chokeholds, which became widespread, and then banned, for incapacitating unarmed resistants. A very small percentage of the time, but a _certain_ small percentage, they will probe fatal due to sudden respiratory arrest from anyone of several causes. No one can tell beforehand who, or when, will fall within that fatal percentage, nor even at what point in the use of a chokehold some one would risk being too far gone. In fact, it was, and is, quite possible for someone to go unexpectedly into cardiac arrest hours _after_ the chokehold had been used and released. Tasers are a better bet than that, but not a good bet as we see. The fact of the matter is that there are exceedingly few ways to reliable incapacitate a resisting adult without putting their life at risk, other than having six or so folks experience at restraint jump on them. Often not available. The next best course is to break the person’s kneecap, but that’s not likely to pass muster with the judge or the public, either. Hmmm: problem.

      On an entirely different note, nice info from Clusterstock on official moves against RE speculation in China mainland. Hot money from the ‘near abroad’ has been very much the ‘accelerator’ of speculation. RE would have boomed even without it, but with it the distortions involved slosh well outside of any economic stimulative interest, or direct control, of the central government. If we see real follow through efforts to brake the velocity and entry of near abroad money, we’ll know that the central government is serious here.

  2. Margaret

    I found the article ‘To prove weapon’s safety, Taser drugs, tortures animals’ completely incorrect.
    If one reads the abstract carefully it is obvious that during THE WHOLE experiment (drug administration and shock administration) all sheep were fully ANESTHETIZED. For those unfamiliar with this expression let me explain that it means ‘state of unconsciousness, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and analgesia (lack of pain)’. So there was no way those animals were in any way tortured!!
    One can object the purpose or usefulness of the study and the fact that all 16 sheep were at the end of the study euthanized, but nothing beyond that. There was no “drugging and torturing involved”.

  3. attempter

    Morgenson again proves she’s the one decent writer the NYT has, with her contradiction of the Big Lie for which they’ve been shilling.

    She even takes a shot at their promiscuous bestowal of anonymity privileges in their role as Treasury stenographers. (Well, she singles out the WSJ, but the Times has been doing it just as much.)

    It’s good to see Taser has some defenders at NC. Let’s always be very sensitive to the prerogatives and hurt feelings of those who would use power in such ways. Seig Heil!

    1. walt

      ‘The losers in this equation are savers and investors, especially people on fixed incomes. “All interest-sensitive investors have been transferring what they should be receiving to Uncle Sam and the banking industry,” Mr. Whalen said. “And you are talking about a lot of money.”’

      Can’t this be estimated? Even within a factor of 10 would be shocking. $1 trillion/year?

      1. attempter

        Nomi Prins has estimated that the Bailout has already cost or exposed us to the tune of $14 trillion.

        And here’s a story about TARP inspector Barofsky’s estimate that the total cost could run to $23.7 trillion.

        He calculated that prior to 12/09, when the theoretical limits on using Fannie and Freddie to launder the Bailout were lifted to infinity, and when the Fed and Treasury stipulated that they saw no limits on their prerogative to buy MBS forever if they so choose.

  4. DownSouth

    ► “This Bailout Is a Bargain? Think Again”

    Haldane’s metaphor for the deletirious consequences of bankster activities was most appropriate. He called them “banking pollution.” The Obama administration wants to let the banksters off scot free for these damages to the commons.

    “Measures of the costs of crisis, or the implicit subsidy from the state,” Mr. Haldane said, “suggest banking pollution is a real and large social problem.”

    So to help visualize what kind of world the banksters are creating, I went looking for photos of pollution, and found these:

    1. DownSouth

      And for word-pictures of the kind of world the bankers are creating, this from one of the greatest masters of the art of word-pictures:

      Far and wide, lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as shrivelled and poor as the miserable people. Everything was bowed down, dejected, oppressed, and broken. Habitations, fences, domesticated animals, men, women, children, and the soil that bore them—–all worn out.

      Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a national blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a polite example of luxurious and shinging life, and a great deal more to equal purpose; nevertheless, Monseigneur as a class had, somehow or other, brought things to this.
      –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

  5. Ina Deaver

    Yves, perhaps it is time for a transatlantic cruise? How ’bout that Queen Mary?

    Of course, being stuck a couple of weeks in London is hardly torture. But taking the slow boat might be very nice, and this seems like the perfect excuse!

    Hope that you are enjoying the detour.

  6. DownSouth

    ► “Goldman Sachs Clients-First Pledge Undercut by SEC”

    Richard Bove characterized the Goldman crew as “brilliant and capable,” but this begs the question: “brilliant and capable” at what?

    The answer seems to be that they are “brilliant and capable” at fraud and deceit. They are—-giving them their fair due—-master thieves.

    One cannot help but be awed by the abilities of a Goldman or a John Paulson. Just look at the extent of the elaborate webs they create to cheat and defraud, not just the people of the United States, but the people of the world.

    Take Goldman’s and Paulson’s huge residential mortgage derivative play, which Lynn A. Stout characterized as allowing “the unscrupulous to buy fire insurance on other people’s houses.” Think of all the pieces they had to put together in order to pull this off:

    1) They had to get congress to pass the law allowing them to buy insurance on other people’s houses.

    2) They had to get congress and regulators to gut building and safety codes, allowing the use of flammable materials, defective wiring and defective heating units and hot water heaters.

    3) They had to get congress to gut funding for fire departments.

    4) They had to have high-placed officials like Greenspan and Bernanke running around the country, assuring everybody that gutting fire departments and building and safety codes didn’t increase fire hazard.

    5) And then, when something like the Great Fire of London strikes, and insurance companies didn’t have the wherewithal to pay off all the claims, you had to have your ringers inside government like Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner to make sure taxpayer funds were used to pay off on the insurance policies.

    So yes, Goldman and Paulson are “brilliant and capable.”

    Too bad all that brilliance is used to burn down other people’s houses.

    1. Siggy

      Dear Down South,

      Love your stuff.

      Lets consider the the Goldman/Paulson/COD-CDS gambit.

      Paulson perceives that house prices are excessively high and in that there does a exist a price bubble that cannot continue forever. At some point there will be a correction. That gives rise to: How does one short house prices?

      You need a good proxy for house prices. How about the Case-Shiller Indexes? The market in those little beauties is too thin and the trade in those futures is on an exchange.

      What other proxies are there? There are the RMBS bonds with some very interesting low rated tranches. Interesting from the point of view that they are the first loss absorbers. Now there is also this CDO business were there is this inherent concentration of income streams that are subordinate and whose expected term value is zero. Now there’s vehicle for laying on a very big short.

      What say we buy a CDO and then we buy a CDS against the CDO. Voila, we have a winner; and, we’re doing a public service by assisting in a price correction for all those over priced homes. That is, after all what we do, bring reality to price structures.

      But then, consider that the houses, derivatives and related chicanery are merely a symptom of a deeper and far more pernicious problem. It’s really the currency that is the cancer. That is, it is the continuing erosion of the purchasing power of the currency that motivates the search for yield.

      I see this recent political move by the SEC as being akin to chemotherapy for an incurable, terminal lung cancer that will do nothing to improve the quality of the life that remains.

  7. LeeAnne

    Bruce Bartlett’s politicization of think tanks is an interesting anecdote, but the single-mindedness is the effect is far more sinister in my view than simple partisanship.

    I don’t recall in history corporate prerogatives of issuing stock becoming fiefdoms with rights to counterfeit money into infinity with the help of investment banks conveniently used in an endless daisy chain to further their financial power and the serfdom of everyone outside the loop of their privileges.

    Masters of propaganda like Luntz use this material to orchestrate scientifically realized talking points and memes broadcast through the megaphone of their thoroughly owned media outlets to mesmerize decent people like frustrated Tea Baggers who are misled into thinkinig they can influence the ‘system’ when, in fact, they can only influence ‘elections,’ who are dead meat and don’t stand a chance once their emotions are engaged. Fear will do it.

  8. LeeAnne

    in other words the mind loop Bartlett describes is the corporate fascist enterprise in full view.

  9. Ignim Brites

    Mark Thoma is very aggrieved that the professoriate must have their views contaminated by contact with the hoi polloi from Harvard College. Well that’s called democracy. Moreover, no nation or civilization can get in as much trouble as this one without a significant corruption of its universities. If we were truly a secular rather than a christian roading, slave ethic loving nation we would be employing, every six months or so, a Roman style decimation of university presidents and economics departments until the majority felt that things had turned around. As it is we have to rely on the professoriates’ anxious regard for their pension funds for their motivation to see things clearly. Perhaps that is even more cruel. But it is after all festive and, as such, a basis for hope.

  10. Comrade R, Neva

    What a pile of bullshit is this? Fuck Capitlism and embrace Marxism! Viva la Revolucion!

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