Links 7/22/10

Banks accused of ‘disingenuous’ capital claims – view from dc FT (interview with Sheila Bair on her thoughts on the new resolution authority. See this blurb from 2008 on excess leverage for context.)

Straws in the wind at the convenience store: "Welcome to America" Corrente (Thanks Lambert)

From stress-test inferno to capital purgatorio FT Alphaville

HTC EVO 4G vs. iPhone 4 Credit Writedowns (techies will like these animation videos. Pretty funny)

Die young, live fast: The evolution of an underclass New Scientist (Also read Stress which talks about the health effects of chronic stress, which I see as related) – Eurozone data ease double-dip fears (This is welcome. Data in core Europe is good – better than in US)

Why the US spends more on health care Incidental Economist (Hat tip Mark Thoma)

Part VI in the Ed Hugh series – Emporiki decides not to compete on deposits John Hempton

Depression makes the world look dull New Scientist

Cross-check: How George W. Bush rejected my "Sharp" idea for countering terrorism Scientific American

Statement on Evans’s Stimulus Letter from Davidson, Galbraith, & Skidelsky New Deal 2.0

Nexus One A Failed Experiment In Online Phone Sales International Business Times

Inside China’s gated communities for the poor Globe & Mail (Hat tip Halon)

Growing China oil spill threatens sea life, water – Environment (Hat tip Conor)

Antidote du Jour: Bears can have fun too (Thanks Fred)


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About Edward Harrison

I am a banking and finance specialist at the economic consultancy Global Macro Advisors. Previously, I worked at Deutsche Bank, Bain, the Corporate Executive Board and Yahoo. I have a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. As to ideology, I would call myself a libertarian realist - believer in the primacy of markets over a statist approach. However, I am no ideologue who believes that markets can solve all problems. Having lived in a lot of different places, I tend to take a global approach to economics and politics. I started my career as a diplomat in the foreign service and speak German, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and French as well as English and can read a number of other European languages. I enjoy a good debate on these issues and I hope you enjoy my blogs. Please do sign up for the Email and RSS feeds on my blog pages. Cheers. Edward


  1. Tom Crowl


    “Die young, live fast: The evolution of an underclass”

    I encourage everyone to read this fine article and think about its truths. Particularly as it relates to issues of governance.

    Excessive wealth AND influence imbalance is deadly for any society. In fact, it can be much more significant than GDP no matter how large that may be.

    When an individual feels helpless within the society he inhabits, when prospects are dim…

    He AND she WILL follow a rational path… a path that over time will bring down the society in which they have no voice.

    The metastasizing of global finance, along with the (what I believe to be)… intentional degradation of meaningful political participation…

    poses the threat of an out-of-touch political and financial elite promoting policies of centralization directly contrary to the need for ‘dispersed self-sufficiency’… and a capable citizenry.

    While we eternally debate political philosophies, and this certainly has value…

    We do NOTHING to address mechanisms of interaction and participation.

    Capability ENABLES Responsibility!

    “A Citizen’s responsibility in an area is directly proportional to his or her ability to have an effect. Without improvement in mechanisms of meaningful involvement, we will see a continued growth in apathy, frustration and ultimately a resort to less healthy forms of expression.

    For political parties or a government to convince that they really want that necessary ‘criticality’… that truly creative tumult…

    They’re going to have to be serious about wanting citizen involvement.

    Democracy IS Personal!”

    1. attempter

      When an individual feels helpless within the society he inhabits, when prospects are dim…

      He AND she WILL follow a rational path… a path that over time will bring down the society in which they have no voice.

      Yes indeed, if the species retains vigor.

      I think if the empirical facts of a system are that it’s going to render you hungry and sick (by stealing your resources and withholding from you the social infrastructure you yourself built), that it’s going to cut your life and that of your children far shorter than the resources and infrastructure available could extend your lives (not to mention the quality of your lives), and that it’s showing every sign of becoming extremely violent toward you in the future, then revolution becomes the most rational response, even beyond its moral imperatives.

      That primates will forego short term benefits to punish cheaters is not at all irrational, the way it’s often represented. It’s for the health of the species.

      So we should smash the criminals among us. It’s a biological imperative.

    2. craazyman

      Ludicrous Rex

      -A Short Postulation on Group Consciousness–

      They nailed this idea with the Dan Ackroyd/Eddie Murphy 1980s movie “Trading Places.”

      I think what seems fundamentally different about our culture today than at any time in my life . . . 49 years and counting . . . is the extent to which “the poor” are a increasingly a sociological and economic caste and less a section of our communal tribe down on its luck.

      Well, not to get too sentimental. There’s always been a bit of an American caste system cloaked in ethnic or racial labels. There’s always been an “other” in America. Or anywhere really, if folks there are honest.

      But in a way that is both hyper-American and atavistic to the earliest impulses of animal aggression based on blood strength — the tribe is bifurcating, like a splitting beam, like a ripped tree trunk pierced in half by lightening, driven by the random and kleptocratic patterns of money accumulation, which in of themselves are rarely based on talent or ability (except in music and sports, arguably, and in some entreprenurial business settings) but on the luck of the draw of the global slosh of markets and politics.

      And with tribe dead and all labels except money empty of any power to dominate the imagination of our fractured and cubist and futurist frenzy of disassembled instincts, there is nothing but wealth to define self to self in the hive.

      And even so, there are those who know this is how a bacteria colony thinks. And so what seems especially repugnant and shallow about our culture today is the very notion that there could be something inherently different about the poor and economically marginalized, and that those differences become somehow the currency of analysis by those who neither Know nor even Feel, but simply talk and talk and talk . . .

      This very notion took thousands of years of Western Civ to eradicate. And we are again, watching it rise in the Eastern Skies like a comet to bring us the plague that we thought we had long-ago defeated, forever.

    3. aet

      I don’t buy this.
      I don’t think people, especially powerful people, car all that much about what little people are doing….and I don’t think that “they” are out of touch at all…IMHO, they have the best information that people have….such as it is..
      There’s a whole lot even the brightest, or most ruthless, do not know. Or ever will know, for that matter.
      AFASIK see, there seems to be plenty of room for wevrybody to stretch out, and relax. figuratively speaking, for the whole human race.

  2. Tom Crowl

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar with “Jersey Shore” though a quick Google search reveals it as a “Reality TV show” on MTV.

    So not quite sure how it relates (clarification is welcome)… but I’d be leery of assuming that Reality TV shows are a good depiction of reality.

  3. attempter

    Re crappy jobs at the store:

    I wonder if they still bother to indoctrinate college grads in the idea that working at the Gap or Barnes and Noble or wherever is “just temporary until you find your real job”, the implicit message being, “so don’t sweat the crappy wages, lack of benefits, etc., and whatever you do don’t waste energy trying to organize; what’s the point? You’re only going to be here for a little while.”

    That was a lie even back in the 90s, let alone today.

  4. tyaresun

    Universally good euro data the day before stess test results. What surprises are they going to spring on us tomorrow. I bet the results will be worse than expected.

  5. Ed

    On the New Scientist article and the above comments, mobs of peasants with pitchforks happen fairly rarely. If you look at the history of past revolutions in detail, they all tend to be elite driven. They often occur after a (sometimes literal!) bankruptcy of the old government, and spin out of control after the more responsible and less responsible factions of the elite argue about how best to pick up the pieces.

    The usual peasant response to a hopeless, worsening, situation (for them) is more like what we saw in the last decades of the Soviet Union: they work, but barely, get drunk often, lie to their bosses, etc. They usually stay as far away from politics as they can, to the point in deliberately avoiding picking up political information. The often casual attitude towards work in “developing” countries is typical.

    One thing that puzzles me about the American elites is the drive to offshore just about everything. What on Earth do they intend to do with the 300 million people who are left in the country? About two fifths of adults have no real full time work, and that number is trending down. You here accusations on this blog and others that the goal is to make Americans essentially serfs or even slaves, but serfs and slaves are put to work. Neither institution makes no sense with a labor surplus.

    1. craazyman

      good comments Ed. You’re right.

      I don’t think it’s anything conscious in terms of a plan. I know some folks believe this is all orchestrated. I don’t share that belief. I think it’s all a profoundly unconscious phenomenon. Consider that the earth is 4 billion years old. Cave paintings were made 35,000 years ago. Jesus came 2,000 years ago. So did Roman Law. All this stuff today, from now even back to the neanderthals, is just a flash of lightening in the universe of time. Nothing but a little dot of something that I can hardly fathom except in my most austere channeling sessions when the sky is clear and dark and the stars swarm in their millions. Then I can sort of see it, faintly glowing in my mind, but then only if I look just to the side, and then only briefly and it’s gone. ha ha hahah ahahahahah

    2. aet

      Is that how the Iranian revolution worked out?
      Or are things different, where alcohol is nopt involved?

  6. EmilianoZ

    Re: Stress

    It makes me feel less bad as a human being to learn that baboons are even worse than us. If they had been in our shoes, if they had evolved to acquire a level a intelligence comparable to ours, no doubt planet earth would be totally destroyed already.

    1. aet

      Maybe ‘destroyed” for humans or baboons: but life is a whole lot more than just humans or baboons.
      Life has a whole lot more time than humans do….

  7. Jessica6

    I don’t know if this would be of interest to this blog but the Chief of Statistics Canada just resigned over the PM’s attempting to politicize the agency.

    The head of Statistics Canada has delivered an extraordinary rebuke to the Harper government over its plan to scrap the mandatory long-form census, quitting his post in a highly public letter that bluntly undercuts Conservative efforts to sell the changes.

    Chief statistician Munir Sheikh, who helmed what has been ranked among the top statistical agencies in the world, used his agency’s own website as a last act Wednesday evening to fire a shot across the bow of the Prime Minister’s Office.

    Mr. Sheikh, whose agency relies on rich data to take the collective pulse of Canadians, posted a statement saying the Conservative plan to replace a compulsory census questionnaire with a voluntary one won’t work.

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