Links 7/24/10

Naked Capitalists,

I am away from my computer for most of the weekend.  But I do have some links for you all.  Since I have cobbled them together rather haphazardly due to my time constraints, they may be a bit heavy on the (depressing) economy/finance side. Sorry for that.  I hope to make amends on Sunday or Monday. Also, please send foreign-language links; they are needed (only one below).

Wishing you all well and hoping Yves is having a fabulous holiday.


The Poisining Rolling Stone Politics (On the gulf disaster; hat tip EmilianoZ)

O.C. home sales, selling prices still rising Lansner on Real Estate : The Orange County Register

Irán amenaza con llevar a Asia sus depósitos bancarios europeos Expansion

Beijing’s population surges near 20 million China Daily

U.S. Strengthens Asia Military Links Amid Concerns Over China Bloomberg

Wall Street Exhales After Sidestepping Pay Czar’s Wrath WSJ

On Shirley Sherrod and The Power of Redemption Peggy Noonan, WSJ(must read and no paywall I believe)

QE2: investors braced for the sequel FT

U.S. bank failures reach 102 so far this year Reuters (if you saw the Sheila Bair interview I linked to before, she says that bankruptcies continue to rise after the recession meaning this is wholly expected after a deep downturn. What say ye – propaganda or well-considered?)

Goldman coughs up counterparties on AIG hedge Reuters

A.I.G. Failure Would Have Cost Goldman Sachs, Documents Show NYTimes

Greece expects second tranche of bail out funds FT

The science of human sound: We’ve got rhythm The Economist

Unemployment benefits: Read this shirt The Economist

Long term unemployment The Economist

For-profit colleges: Monsters in the making? The Economist

Stress tests: the seven failed banks The Telegraph

Stress tests leave UK banks unscathed The Guardian

America The Beautiful Quarters US Mint (hat tip Mary. It’s not gold or silver thought, is it?)

Looting by public officials in Bell California Credit Writedowns (This is outrageous, frankly)

What if universities get rid of tenure? Marginal Revolution

When Denying Loan Mods, Loan Servicers Often Blame Investors—Wrongly ProPublica

Taiwanese animation: Microsoft as Obi-Wan to Apple’s Vader. Where’s Skywalker? Credit Writedowns (where are the Droid and Apple fanboys (Vinny) adding their snarky comments to these posts? I expect more from you! If you can believe it – I am both an iPhone and Android lover. My son has taught me that the iPhone is AMAZING for learning games –seriously amazing)

Moody’s tires of Hungary, Hungary tires of austerity FT Alphaville

Antidote du Jour: Boy is it hot! (Thanks Paul)

Boy is it hot

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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. rjs

    “U.S. bank failures reach 102 so far this year Reuters (if you saw the Sheila Bair interview I linked to before, she says that bankruptcies continue to rise after the recession meaning this is wholly expected after a deep downturn. What say ye – propaganda or well-considered?)”

    Elizabeth Warren on the Coming Commercial Real Estate Crisis; 3000 Community Banks at Risk

  2. Bates

    “U.S. Strengthens Asia Military Links Amid Concerns Over China” Bloomberg

    Bloomberg usually manages to put a positive spin on any story they cover…but, not this one. If there are any adults in the US Gov will they please stand up and be recognized? Our State Dept and Sec Defense are in SE Asia pleading for help from those that are not going to enter even an economic fray with China, much less a military one.

    Hillary comes off like a spoiled brat stamping her feet and quickly papering over the lengthly and costly US/Vietnam war, not mentioning 58,000 dead American troops and untold Vietnamese dead, in her haste to cobble together an alliance to counter a percieved military threat from China…

    “Vietnam is on the verge of becoming a “great nation” and the U.S. wants to take its relationship to a “new level,” Clinton told reporters in Hanoi. She met Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who said yesterday they discussed defense links and were “leaving the past behind.”

    Meanwhile Sec Def Gates said…

    “The U.S. regards Indonesia and Vietnam as increasingly important allies in the region, the Pentagon said in a February report. Gates met in Jakarta with his counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

    The U.S. will begin a “measured and gradual” relationship with the elite unit known as Kopassus, which is already involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations, Gates said yesterday. Indonesia’s Defense Ministry has pledged to remove from active duty any military officials “credibly accused” of rights abuses, he said.”

    We are really hard up for allies in SE Asia when we have to enlist the help of Malasian military butchers! On the other hand what difference does it make to a country that has ripped up it’s constitution and routinely tortures and kidnaps people on no charges and ‘disappears’ them to foreign jails?

    And who started this row?…

    “China cut off high-level military exchanges with the U.S. in January over [US] arms sales to Taiwan…” Taiwan is and has always been a province of China.

    And now Admiral Mullen is ‘nervous’ because two way communication between high level US and Chinese Military personnel have stopped…

    ““I’ve moved from being curious about what they’re doing to being concerned about what they’re doing,” Mullen told U.S. troops in South Korea. “I see a fairly significant investment in high-end equipment, satellites, ships, anti-ship missiles, high-end aircraft.”

    Meanwhile, China has attacked no one…

    “China’s military poses no threat to any nation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said June 10.”

    The idiots in the US Administration do not get it. China is conducting a protracted economic war and their aim is to weaken the US economically which will in time weaken the US Militarily. Remember all those photos of the once great USSR Naval Ships rusting and sinking in harbors after the economic collapse of the Soviet Union? Think about it.

    The real story is not in today’s links but I will link it for you…

    “Chinese Central Bank Outlines Plan To Ditch The Dollar As The Yuan’s Peg”

    “Hu Xiaolian, deputy governor at the Chinese central bank, has released a paper which suggests it’s soon time for China to peg the yuan to a basket of foreign currencies, rather than the U.S. dollar alone.

    This especially makes sense for China given that, going forward, the U.S. might not the voracious consumer it once was. Thus tying itself at the hip to the dollar might not be as useful as it was before.”

    Remainder of story plus full pdf doc at link. This is not a fairy tale. The Chinese are telling the world exactly what their intentions are…and, we did this to ourselves. Our economic competitors are on course to take down the dollar as world reserve currency. Those azz hats that we elected took bribes and ‘campaign donations’ from banks and multi national companies. ‘We’ plus ‘them’ have destroyed a great nation and it happened, as predicted, from within. Oh wait, the .1% that make $millions$ per month will not suffer but we on Main St will definitely be hurting. Go look in the mirror and tell your reflection that China could have accomplished their ‘economic miracle’ without US Politicans and their friends, the multinationals and bankers.

    Read more:

  3. craazyman

    The following article so forcibly struck me that I felt compelled to post it here. It may be worthy of being a link.

    It gives stats that describe the collapse of the American middle class.

    Here are a few . . .

    • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
    • 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
    • 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
    • 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
    • In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
    • As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
    This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.^DJI,^GSPC,SPY,MCD,WMT,XRT,DIA

    I know it has been already commented frequently, but these stats strike me as nothing less than conditions for some sort of social collapse or rebellion. I am still not sure what collective ideas such an event would constellate around, if indeed it would around any.

    I suppose something like a descent into a Haitian-like anarchy is a possibility, although what’s more likely is an counter-balancing and contemporaneous ascension of some sort of as-yet-undefined poltical/economic ideology that takes its roots from American ideas and history but fuses into them principles of economic and social sustainability and notions of economic boundaries as forms of social protection zones (i.e. the idea that an economic system, like an ecosystem, needs protection from outside toxins and invasive species, such as sweatshop labor and unregulated capital flows).

    The latter ideas are very far from being original and clearly lay implicitly at the heart of much trade debate, but the notion of “free trade” and “free enterprise” and “free markets” being better the more free they are is clearly an idea which still dominates the levers of our corporatocracy and whose time has passed.

    What comes next is not that clear, but these stats above illustrate the facts on the ground that any economic ideology has to recognize.

    There is no doubt a size at which an economy can achieve all relevant social goals in terms of food supply, housing, clothing, healthcare, arts and culture, science, etc. It may be doable with only several million people, with trade carefully structured to ensure that the economic ecosystem preserves its social and cultural institutions in conditions of health and vitality in the most life-enhancing and freedom-enhancing way possible. Somehow this has to happen in a way that doesn’t choke the life of the ecosystem, but instead empowers it.

    And this can no doubt be achieved without the concentrations of wealth, looting and impoverishment that we have now.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I am surprised that the amounts public officials are paid are so secretive that they just found out about the salaries of the Bell officials.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Socrates taught and was paid with cheese, goat milk, eggs, etc. A graduate of his school didn’t get a diplomat nor guaranteed a lucrative job, much less than a career when finished but was certain more enlightened than many Ph.Ds of today.

    We have come a long way from that to tenured professors and for-profit colleges.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sorry, make that ‘certainly,’ not ‘certain.’

    (To my cat: Stop sticking your face in my coffee!)

    Actually, my cat and I had a little mis-understanding this morning, after he brought into the house a dead bird for breakfast. I tole him that I do the hunting and gathering around here, that he is the master and doesn’t have to do a thing.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    We haven’t heard much from Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain lately, but that didn’t stop me from thinking what would happen if these countries decide to form some kind of economic alliance:

    Argentina, Sweden, Spain (ASS?)

    Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine Poland, Italy, Denmark (STUPID?)

    Brazil, Angola, Denmark (BAD?)

  8. DownSouth

    Re: Shirley Sherrod

    Bob Herbert over at the NY Times also had a great article today on Sherrod, and said something in regards to Obama that I think most of us here at NC figured out a long time ago:

    Black people are in a terrible condition right now — economically, socially, educationally and otherwise — and there is no effective champion fighting for their interests. Mr. Jealous and the new edition of the N.A.A.C.P. have shown in this episode that they are not ready for prime time, and President Obama seems reluctant to even utter the word black. Or poor, for that matter.

    1. Valissa

      Glen Ford over at Black Agenda Report has written much about Obama’s lack of interest in the black community. Here are a couple of links. I haven’t seen a story on Shirley Sherrod yet, but I expect there will be one published soon.

      Glenn Ford… Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect
      Barack Obama’s presence in the White House is bad for Black people’s mental health. Even as the African American economic condition deteriorates by the day, Blacks perceive a world in which their prospects are improving. Something did change for the better for Black people in 2009. The problem is, it only happened in their minds.

      Glen Ford… How President Obama Has Shut Down Black Political Demands and Neutralized the American Left

  9. scraping_by

    Peggy Noonan is professionally disingenuous. As the keeper of the flame for a kinder, gentler kleptocracy, she sweetens the bitter and blurs the sharp edges until we’re not quite sure how we got into the handbasket. But with such nice person, it couldn’t be bad.

    Character assassination is the stock and trade of the right wing. A lot of people fall into straw man arguments, but only the right lives through enemies. Always a person, never a principle. I once listened to Congressman Steve King from west Iowa answer every question in a thirty minute interview by snarling the names of the Speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate. I’m sure no one bothered with a transcript.

    “And it’s not the poor versus the rich, it’s the powerful helping the powerless.” Oh, please. Like the “we” like the “redemption” like the rest of the softening, it’s a lot of cover for the one that got away.

    While Ms. Noonan’s kid’s TV lessons are one takeaway, another might be the affable, optimistic, hopeful generalized snobbishness about people on public assistance can metastasize. Hate talk is hate talk, however buffered the vocabulary.

    It may be a coincidence, but it’s a truism in the recovery community that an addict divides other people into two groups – enablers and enemies. What’s the right wing addicted to?

  10. skippy

    How it done in the real world see:

    Corruption behind Pratt wealth: report

    Bribery and corruption, systematic tax evasion and currying political favour helped build the cardboard empire of billionaire Richard Pratt, who died last year, according to The Sunday Age.

    The newspaper says its investigations found that Pratt, a big donor to political parties whose wealth was valued at around $5.2 billion when he died of prostate cancer, was an aggressive pursuer of political favour.

    The paper says it has unearthed allegations that the cardboard box cartel with Amcor, for which Pratt was fined $36 million, actually started a decade earlier than previously believed, ripping a potential $2 billion out of the Australian economy

    Skippy…PS…was a nice guy, gave to the poor, good sort to his close friends.

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