Links 4/21/10

The real reason Swedes live longer Guardian (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Americans and Government Joe Costello. Short but important

The T Word Robert Cringely (hat tip Crocodlie Chuck)

Goldman Sachs taps ex-White House counsel Politico

GOP seeks SEC records on Goldman Politico

Goldman Donations Spurned in Illinois Campaign for Obama Seat Bloomberg. Reader MindtheGAAP noted, “If Congress begins to feel that it’s too politically risky to accept campaign contributions from the banks, the game is pretty much up.”

An Open Letter to Senators Reid and McConnell The Agenda Project

Transcript & Video: Bill Black Testimony on Lehman Bankruptcy FireDogLake

More than Half of U.S. Households Affected by Joblessness Washington Post (hat tip reader John D)

Bubblicious mortgage deals, Canadian version Ed Harrison“>Most Likely Scenario For Greek Debt Crisis Sudden Debt (hat tip reader Hubert)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Leigh):

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  1. nowhereman

    I’ve seen several Bill Black videos. The guy is my hero. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone with his credentials state more clearly, the depth and breadth of the situation more simply and to the point as he does. Yet the gavel drops, and he is ignored. I’m weary, I’m sad and I’m disgusted.
    God help us.

    1. alex

      I couldn’t agree more.

      That is the clearest and most coherent case of an authoritative figure using the 5 letter ‘f’ word and of ripping Geithner and Bernanke a new one.

      If the MSM cared about reporting the news, or even if all they cared about was drama, clips from that testimony would be on every major news show and Black would have to stay up 24/7 to fulfill all the interview requests. Someone correct me if I’m wrong (as I don’t watch news) but I suspect it’s got barely a mention.

      1. fresno dan

        At some point you have to ask, “Who is evilieer? The guys who do the frauds, or the guys who know, or who don’t care, about the fraud?”

        Its like lets not have any criticism of our fine Fed officials, especially as I voted for their confirmations.

        1. alex

          I don’t know if I’d call them more evil, but the (non)regulators deserve more scorn. It’s like crooked cops. You don’t love career criminals, but you rather expect them to do criminal things. Crooked cops are beneath contempt.

          I wonder if Bill Black is like the honest cop, who in my experience with cops I’ve known personally, hate crooked cops more than I do.

    2. Cynthia

      Bill Black is a human bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out financial fraud. So if Obama really wants to take the bite of crime in our too-big-to-fail banking system, he should either replace our bankster enabler in the Treasury Department or our Barney Fife of a sheriff on Wall Street with Bill Black. But Obama will never do this as long as he remains in bed with our banksters. Apparently Obama doesn’t mind that he’ll go down in history as the president who made America middle-classless.

    3. EmilianoZ

      I love Bill Black too. I’m glad I bought his book about the S&L debacle even if it’s pretty dry.

    4. Evelyn Sinclair

      It was so good to hear a strong, sane voice speaking the truth.

      Sometimes it feels as if there is no voice at all for what needs to be said.

      Thanks to Bill Black and the bloggers who give him a voice on the internet.

  2. Crocodile Chuck

    Homeless Meerkats? What vile mortgage servicer has foreclosed upon Meerkat Manor?

  3. dearieme

    Dear Yves,
    If you haven’t yet seen this morning’s Telegraph, do have a look. The “Alex” cartoon made me burst out laughing.

    P.S. Meerkat lovers – do visit

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I know this about meerkats – they stick together as a group, posting lookouts for predators like eagles, something we not-so-sapient human serfs should inmitate to protect ourselves against dangerous vampire squids.

  4. Glenn Condell

    A little factoid I came across today, via Jon Schwarz’s A Tiny Revolution, that I’d not noticed here:

    As Jon says ‘Since the SEC filed suit against Goldman Sachs for fraud on Friday, the media has produced over 5,000 articles about it. Through superhuman effort, they managed not to mention in any of them that John Paulson, the hedge fund manager at whose behest Goldman acted, hired Alan Greenspan soon after the events in the fraud complaint.’

    But no-one could have known the crisis was coming, could they Alan?

    1. LeeAnne

      Thank you for the link –the photo says it all –no judgment of an idiot, like being a devotee of the Ayn Rand cult –a wordsmith at best, thoroughly evil and duplicitous.

      There were no limits in Greenspan’s ideas for concentration of wealth and representation for only those of the top of the financial manipulation heap.

  5. MarcoPolo

    Re: Goldman donations spurned.

    I was thinking last night that having Goldman on one’s resume is to be a pariah. No more revolving door for Goldman. Kaskari made it to PIMCO just in time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s kind of backward looking. It should be about those who have accepted Goldman donations in the past. That money is tainted money for sure. What Goldman will do in the future is not known.

      So, it’s simpler to just ask those who have accepted Goldman money in the past to resign.

      And whoever accepted the most in the past and is still in office today should be the first to resign. I think that’s fair.

  6. LeeAnne

    “Americans and Government -Joe Costello”

    No one can disagree with the conclusion of this article, that disenfranchising the public isn’t good for government, but the slant of the statistical argument is venal.

    The chart shows the highest degree of feelings of ‘enfranchisement’ under George W.

    A fear chart would be more accurate.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I’ve seen those numbers in the Costello article before, but still, every time I see them again, they sadden me. I’m in my own sort of epistemic closure in that I question everything that is presented to me, and I find it difficult to accept much of anything as “known.” I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I generally distrust most all politicians; so I’m biased about what I’m going to say next…

      But wow, I can’t deny that I believe the 50% of the Republicans who trusted the government under George W Bush are the turds in the punchbowl that is the US.

  7. fresno dan

    “Lehman was the leading purveyor of liars’ loans in the world. For most of this decade, studies of liars’ loans show incidence of fraud of 90%. Lehmans sold this to the world, with reps and warranties that there were no such frauds. If you want to know why we have a global crisis, in large part it is before you. But it hasn’t been discussed today, amazingly.

    Financial institution leaders are not engaged in risk when they engage in liars’ loans — liars’ loans will cause a failure. They lose money. The only way to make money is to deceive others by selling bad paper, and that will eventually lead to liability and failure as well.”
    Transcript & Video: Bill Black Testimony on Lehman Bankruptcy FireDogLake

    Was it Upton Sinclair who said ‘that it is hard to get a man to stop selling crappy mortgages when his millions upon millions in bonuses depends on him pretending that the mortgages are not crappy’??? or something kinda like that…

    1. colinc

      That was another in a long list of very entertaining and stimulating articles.

      Alas, he is a true “maker” of mixed emotions. Literally a paradox wrapped in an enigma embedded in a conundrum. I absolutely love his prose, insight, reason and very obvious intelligence! On the other hand, I want to absolutely despise him for aiding and abetting the absolute thieves comprising the financial oligarchy cheating all the rest of “us.” Regardless, I “fear” I will never tire of reading his posts. I hope Natasha returned to the room bearing the caviar and ice and treated him well! :D

  8. Peripheral Visionary

    “Swede life: Research has found that the idea of a blond and bronzed Scandinavian family, glowing with health is not just a stereotype . . . ”

    Wait, Scandinavians have families? I was under the distinct impression that the last sighting of a Scandinavian child in the wild was in a small village outside Alborg in 1987; that since then the population of Scandinavian children has been confined exclusively to reservations in Utah and Minnesota.

    But to the point of the article, I think that while the correlation may be real, the causation is far from obvious. I should note that the countries cited, the Scandinavian countries and Japan, are some of the most collectivist countries in the world; their cultures have intense pressure toward conformity and social participation. The countries cited as counter-examples, the U.S. and Britain in particular, are some of the most independently-minded countries in the world. I could easily see both wealth distribution and life expectancy being impacted by a strongly conformist culture that limits excesses in wealth and lifestyle.

    Would I give away a culture that encourages independence for a culture with greater equality and longer lifespans? That’s about the easiest choice I can think of making, although I suspect that many people would be more than willing to take the trade.

    1. Valissa

      I have a friend who is Dutch and has lived in the US for 15 years. She is an artist, which doesn’t pay well, so she also cleans houses, does a little gardening for folks and conducts seasonal rituals at America’s Stonehenge. She could have stayed in the Netherlands and had a comfortable ‘normal’ life… something she cringes at the thought of. You see, she really felt trapped by the collective conformity there and loves the sense of freedom she has here [note: freedom is always relative]. She feels its much easier to be one’s unique self here in the US, and that its much easier here to find spiritual and artisitic fringe/alternative communities here too. She goes back to the Netherlands annually to see her parents but has zero desire to ever return.

      Currently she benefits from the Mass Health Insurance, but even before that passed here she found creative ways to get her medical needs met or she paid out of pocket. Although she doesn’t make very much money, she handles it well, saves and even declares her housecleaning money on her taxes! She’s not a citizen, but has a green card. You won’t find her whining and complaining about the state of the world, as she simply lives her life well given her means.

    2. Kevin de Bruxelles

      The obvious reason as to why people in Scandinavia and Japan live longer than people in the US and UK is that there is no underclass to speak of in Scandinavia and Japan. If you were to compare just the middle classes of Britain and the US against Scandinavia and Japan the numbers would be similar.

      So if America and Britain want their overall numbers to come up, they would have to force their underclasses to become middle class. But this is where the question of conformity comes into play. In Sweden for example they have no problem enforcing a middle class standards on all. I’m sure Japan is the same. In America this will never happen – the left would object by spraying guilt and shame about people making cultural judgements about those living in ghettoes and trailer parks, while the right would just shrug their shoulders and ask why bother trying to fix what will always be broken.

  9. Tim

    So Yves, about the list at the Agenda Project…

    Your thoughts on this:

    Require all standardized derivatives to be traded over exchanges and central clearinghouses with pricing transparent to market participants include a strong presumption that most existing OTC transactions would be standardized. Require all inter-bank and inter-dealer contingent claims (including but not limited to derivative and swap transactions) that cannot be standardized to be reported on a daily basis to a regulated transparent clearinghouse. Mandate significant and consistent margin and regulatory requirements across standardized and OTC contingent claim transactions.

    Good enough?

    Or should things like those synthetic CDOs and the like be banned too?

  10. Linda Drozdowski

    My husband enjoys listening to Diane and on 4/21/10 he said there was a show speaking about views of differences between Bush and Obama and there was a woman who had e-mailed regarding how people have forgotton how during the Bush years there were alot of vacations taken by the President and how Obama has been working on problems that were placed in his lap upon starting as President and how people need to open their eyes to all the good Obama is trying to do. Do you have a way for me to hear that show. I am so sorry to have missed it but I do not have access to a radio at my workplace.

    Please tell Diane that my husband always enjoys her show from 10 – 11:00 a.m.

    Thank you,

    Linda Drozdowski
    10001 Sharon Lane
    N. Royalton, OH 44133
    tele 440-237-1567

  11. Camilla

    Interesting to read the letter on Politico( in conjunction with this Bloomberg story:

    Seems that while securities law experts are saying that Goldman should settle because they’re unlikely to get the case dismissed and the reputational damage done by the discovery phase could be extensive, Rep. Issa and several Republican colleagues are doing their best to provide a Goldman with a defensive tactic by suggesting (and requesting evidence to prove) that the SEC violated federal law when deciding to pursue the case.

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