Links 4/19/10

Things looking somewhat more positive on the “stranded in London” front. Airlines are starting to push back versus air travel authorities, and it does appear that airplanes can fly below the volcanic ash (albeit with presumably worse economics, since engines on big planes are optimized to fly at 30,000+ feet). So flight might resume this week.

Mat of microbes the size of Greece discovered on seafloor Scientific American

A Data Point on “Epistemic Closure” Bruce Bartlett (hat tip Richard Smith)

Steven Rattner Caught Up In Pension Probe Huffington Post

Wall Street beware: the lawyers are coming Frank Partnoy, Financial Times

A Modern Tale of Financial Loss Jesse

Report: SEC knew of Stanford scheme since 1997 Associated Press (hat tip reader Hubert)

First, define the problem Free Exchange

Was Fully Half Of Chinese Q1 GDP Simply Wasteful Projects? Clusterstock

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Tim C):

A dog who survived being shot in the head three times has fully recovered, and now spends much of his time playing doting dad to a litter of kittens.

When Been was found, he was 10 kilograms underweight, but now the mongrel weighs a healthy 27kg and enjoys tending to four kittens who are being bottle-fed after being rejected by their mother.

After the three-week-old kittens are fed, Been licks them clean. If they are not locked up at night, he picks them up and puts them in his basket.

“He’s just a big sook,” says his new owner Jaine Reynolds, a Nelson SPCA administrator.

The story continues here.

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  1. VenusVictrix

    Partnoy makes a credible argument about the problem with financial regulatory reform – specifically:

    “Regulators will never keep pace with financial innovation, and bankers run circles around even the best-intentioned rules, especially in derivatives. More fundamentally, Wall Street interprets detailed rules as a shield from liability.”

    This point is well-demonstrated by the deviant alliance between Goldman and AIG which was ultimately foisted on the American public via the bailout scheme.

    And concurrent posting of the link to “SEC knew of Stanford scheme” nicely illustrates the public’s misplaced faith in “regulatory oversight”.

    It seems private litigation and actions by foreign investors may be our best hope of real “financial reform”.

    (The link to Partnoy’s piece brings up a registration notice from, but it is accessible via Google.)

    1. LeeAnne

      Principals based rules work if –a big if –requires a constituency willing to live by rule of law.

      Seems the US has failed that test.

  2. Sundog

    Ryan Chittum (Columbia Journalism Review): “The record shows states all but begged Hawke’s OCC to take on abusive lenders or allow states to do it to themselves. The OCC first preempted the states, then sat on its hands, effectively running interference for its regulated institutions.”

    John Ryan (Conference of State Bank Supervisors): “I was regularly hearing from state regulators that sending complaints to the OCC was equivalent to a black hole. This resulted in the GAO conducting a study on the matter. The agreement they sent the states was not meant to be cooperative. It required the states to say ‘we surrender, we have no authority’. Their focus was not on cracking down on lending practices but rather facilitating the subprime business model of the biggest banks.”

    Then there’s the case of Texas.

    Alyssa Katz: “If there’s one single thing that Congress can do now to help protect borrowers from the worst lending excesses that fueled the mortgage and financial crises, it’s to follow the Lone Star State’s lead and put the brakes on ‘cash-out’ refinancing and home-equity lending.”

    Katz’s book Our Lot: How Real Estate Came To Own Us is essential reading.

    My opinion is that an asset bubble like the dotcom boom needs to be distinguished from an asset bubble like the one based on real estate. Different categories, entirely. To create the current Mess required big institutions running around the rules; also it couldn’t have happened without allowing captured agencies to subvert regulators working closer to the action at the state level.

    At the core, Samuelson had it right.

    Paul Samuelson: You can take the boy out of the cult but you can’t take the cult out of the boy.

  3. bob

    Suggested steps to recommend Yves for a Colbert report guest-

    Call for information at the Colbert Report Studios at (212) 586-2477. This is a local New York City phone number, and someone should be available to answer it during regular business hours.

    Stop by the studios at 513 W. 54th St. in New York City. Keep in mind that you will not be admitted into the building unless you have a ticket for that day’s show. If you do not have a ticket on the day of the show, arrive early and get in the standby line for a chance to get a ticket. Standby tickets are not guaranteed.

    Use the “Contact” section of the official Comedy Central website. The website is found in the “Resources” section.

    Email the Colbert Nation webmaster at

  4. Kevin de Bruxelles

    It looks like flights are starting again today in Sweden. The airline companies are running into a slight problem though; do they honor the passengers with tickets for today or do they give priority to those passengers who have been waiting for several days? Obviously it is more fair to give priority to those who have been waiting so they are trying to find a way to do that.

  5. M.InTheCity

    I’ve been remiss in not thanking you for having the drinks on Wednesday in London (as they say in Britain I’ve had a bit of lurgy over the past few days). It was also so kind of you to invite me and my fiance out for dinner with you and fellow posters as well. It was such a lovely time! It was great to meet you and other like-minded people.

    As per your suggestion, I will certainly try to post a bit in the comments now, as I’ve only been lurking for about 3 years in the shadows.

    Of course, I wish you all the best in getting back to the US. If you will be sticking around for a couple more days, you might want to have some drinks again!

  6. LeeAnne

    “Report: SEC knew of Stanford scheme since 1997 Associated Press (hat tip reader Hubert)”

    As long as we have a shadow system with secret budgets and a big black hole in CIA, DEA, etc. we can expect a spooky system (horrifying). Rumors in the media suggested that Stanford was a DEA operative being protected by them.

    Its credible, And to the extent they have control over their ‘assets’ to the end of their days, we can’t trust the system. Too Bad, no?

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