Links 8/4/10

Appearances matter in politics Politico (hat tip reader John D). In case you wondered why Sarah Palin got anywhere…..

King Tut’s Chariots a Marvel of Ancient Engineering DiscoveryNews

67% of Political Class Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction, 84% of Mainstream Disagrees Rasmussen Reports (hat tip Pat Caddell)

One in 31 Adults” rdan, Angry Bear

On Web’s Frontier, Anonymity in Name Only Wall Street Journal

Banking system on verge of new crisis, hedge fund Noster Capital warns Telegraph (hat tip reader Scott)

Wow, Even The Homebuilders Hate Housing Tax Credits Now Clusterstock

No Such Thing as a Simple Mortgage Megan McArdle

The German Unemployment Story is Better than the NYT Suggests Dean Baker

Do Deficits Matter? Foreign Lending to the Treasury L. Randall Wray, New Deal 2.0

Financial markets seem willing to ignore the US slowdown Gavyn Davies

Prop-hostile climate throws up tough calls for banks Financial Times

Welcome to the Recovery Timothy Geithner, New York Times (hat tip Francois T). The worst is he might actually believe his PR.

The Biggest Lie About U.S. Companies MarketWatch (hat tip reader Crocodlie Chuck)

Commodity ETFs: Toxic, deadly, evil MarketWatch (hat tip reader Scott A)

Wall Street play for which we pay John Kay, Financial Times

Studies Question Bank Capital Fears Wall Street Journal. A more accurate title would be, “Studies Challenge Bank BS on Capital Rules.”

Antidote du jour:

Picture 8

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. i on the ball patriot

    The Wall Street Urinal article — “Anonymity in Name Only” — should have been titled — “Redlining Now Called Steering”.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. DownSouth

      Violent crime was not responsible for the quadrupling of the incarcerated population in the United States from 1980 to 2003. Violent crime rates had been relatively constant or declining over those decades… Only 49 percent of sentenced state inmates were held for violent offenses. Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national “war on drugs.” The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges.

      Although many battles had already been fought and lost, U.S. Commander-in-chief Ronald Reagan officially proclaimed the War on Drugs on September 14th, 1985, during a poignant nationally televised address to the American People. With his wife by his side, the elderly, orange-haired president announced he was sending on to Congress what would become the National Drug Enforcement, Education and Control Act of 1986, a bill that elevated drug enforcement to national security status. That’s when Nancy stepped before the cameras to urge America’s youth to “just say no.”

      “When the chapter of how America won the War on Drugs is written, [this speech] will be the turning point,” a White House press release exulted. To prove Reagan’s commitment to the drug war, his flacks pumped, the president would submit to a urine test.
      –John Ross, The Annexation of Mexico

      1. DownSouth

        And as it all turned out, because of a glaring double standard in enforcement and sentencing standards, Reagan’s “War on Drugs” more than anything became a War on Black, Brown and Poor People. All this blatant discrimination was done in the name of “enforcing the law.”

        But, as Ross goes on to thoroughly document, Reagan’s War on Drugs was also a war on Mexico and on Mexicans. Throughout history the war on Mexico has run hot and cold, depending on the political expediencies of the moment. The historical context Ross provides is one of the many factors that needs to be considered when looking at phenomenon like Arizona’s SB 1070. Here’s Ross:

        Mexico, by the sheer weight of propinquity, presents the greatest threat to the “national security” of its northern neighbor. Oil, drugs, immigration, and subversion are all issues that heighten U.S. paranoia.

        To protect its “national security” against the Mexican threat, the U.S. prepares for war. Ever since Pershing crossed back into New Mexico, the contingency plans have been on the books. From 1920 to 1940, the plan was called “The General Mexican War Plan,” which mapped out the sealing of the border, blockading ports, seizing the Tampico oil fields and disconnecting rail service from the south. The General Mexican War plan was replaced by the “Rainbow War Plan” during World War II, which color-coded Latin nations and pinpointed scenarios for intervention and cooperation—-Mexico was designated green.

        Under former Reagan defense secretary Caspar Weinberger’s contingency plans, the designated color is also green—-as in dollar bills. Weinberger’s scenario is detailed in his hot-selling compilation of seven scripts for U.S. global conquest, The Next War (with foreward by Lady Margaret Thatcher). The year is 1999. President Lazaro Paz, a U.S.-trained economist, is assassinated and a charismatic Jesuit-trained populist, Eduardo Ruiz, takes over, nationalizing the banks (again!) and the insurance companies and “forcibly” distributing farmland to the people. The DEA establishes that the new president is in debt to the narco-lords. His repressive regime and failed economic policies drive 7,000,000 Mexicans across the border. Cocaine prices hit an all-time low on U.S. streets. When a terrorist bomb rips through San Diego’s swank Horton Plaza mall (237 innocent shoppers dead), the White House is ready to move.

        Of course things didn’t turn out quite like Weinberger imagined. It wasn’t the failed economic policies of a populist president that was to devastate Mexico’s economy, but the failed neoliberal policies implemented by US-installed puppets. And neoliberalism didn’t drive 7,000,000 Mexicans across the border. The final toll was much greater, closer to 12,000,000.

        1. i on the ball patriot

          “And as it all turned out, because of a glaring double standard in enforcement and sentencing standards, Reagan’s “War on Drugs” more than anything became a War on Black, Brown and Poor People. All this blatant discrimination was done in the name of “enforcing the law.””


          It was also a method of deflecting from the scamerican alcohol and tobacco cartel — which owes its existence to soft money, hard money, pac money, etc. (cute little doublespeak euphemisms for graft and corruption), and kills over 500,000 scamericans a year making 9/11 look like a day with Mr. Rogers — and thereby cheapening ethically, and at the same time co-opting, police forces throughout the nation.

          Cops today, in reality, stand as butt sucking arrogant muscle for the man. They are paid goons. Its one of those extra sweet ‘Free Market’ deals where, through the scam bought and paid for rule of law, you have a drug business that has goons to arrest and jail your competitors and those citizens who use your competitors products.

          Scamerican law enforcement — to protect and serve the alcohol and tobacco drug cartel and its drug kingpin — Snowbama …

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        2. craazyman

          Yeah 12 million, and there all over the place here in New York. This one dude today brought my delivery from the deli.

          he was about 4 feet tall and brown as mud and didn’t speak a word of English. But his teeth and eyes were bright.

          The bill was $13.25 and I gave him a $20 and I
          said, “Four please”.

          And I held up four fingers and smiled. The deli’s just a block away and I wanted to give him a $2 and 75 cent tip.

          So he looks at me and empties both his pockets and his wallet and sort of shrugs and says “Ughh. No.” And then he looks at me.

          This guy doesn’t have any change. And he looks at me with an expectant face and says “You have?”

          I had $200 in tens and twenties.

          So I grabbled my wallet and said “Let’s go to the store.” I didn’t want to show my frustration because I consider myself a spiritually enlightened person and he headed for the elevator and I live on the 2nd floor and always take the stairs because I hate elevators, and so I said “We’ll take the stairs”

          So he got out of the elevator and walked down the stairs with me. ha aha hahahah ahahha :) :)!!

          what a parade

          And then he followed me down the street, about 4 feet behind me and slightly to the left. What could we even talk about? the financial crisis?? Death and resurrection? Octavio Paz? or Pablo Neruda? Maybe if I spoke Spanish.

          At the restaurant he said something to the cahsier in Spanish — in a surprisingly deep masculine voice, even though he looked like a 20 year old midget — and she looked at me and I said “He didn’t have any change.” She looked annoyed and looked in the direction he walked, to the kitchen.

          He had walked away by then.

          So I took $2.75 from what she gave back to me and I said “Give it to him anyway. I don’t want to seem spiteful”

          And she smiled nicely at me and said “Thank you sir.”

          I don’t know what a guy like that would even do in Mexico. Or anywhere really. Yes, they should repossess the land and give him an acre or two and a hoe and a donkey. But they should also make sure the Azetcs don’t try to make a comeback. LOL. Could happen. They’re still there in the Middle East.

          1. brent

            Let’s get this straight. You speak English (though you don’t write it accurately), he speaks Spanish, so that makes you real smart and him real dumb? You use a phrase like ‘brown as mud,’ but I’ll bet you’re very sure you’re not a racist? And you think if you use the stairs, everyone should–but you’re not narcissistic, are you? And is it your superior height that gives you the privilege to make disparaging remarks about this man’s capacities? You need help, craazyman, though I doubt you’ll know how to find it.

          2. craazyman

            no brent, but I can see why you might think that. I don’t feel myself superior at all. I see everyone as soul spheres in the etheric realm, our physical incarnations are nothing. and for all know he’s an old soul down on this plane for one last joy ride, and mocking me in jest in his own mind, laughing at my refusal to take the elevator.

            you might know the bit in Carlos Castenada’s books — this goes way back — about the sentimental gringo who feels sorry for the Mexican busboys because they have to wait tables on those who treat them badly.

            And the Don Juan character just laughs at that and says they’ve mastered themselves on a soul level, and so what others think of them is a joke to them.

            As for bad spelling. Yes. As for needing help, in that human way we all do. But as an elitist or a racist or anything with an “ist”. No. But we can disagree. :)

  2. Aunt Deb

    The Rasmussen link is a rather enjoyable read, if you like reading self-aggrandizing buy-my-book stuff.

  3. Sungam

    One thing that should be pointed out about that Rasmussen data is that if you have a look at their other surveys 84% of the “Mainstream” disagree think the country is heading the wrong direction because:

    * The Government is not cracking down on illegal immigrants. (“59% Support Arizona Law; 53% Trust States More than Feds To Enforce Immigration Law”)
    * The new Healthcare Bill will be disastrous for this country (“70% of Mainstream voters feel the bill is bad for the country, 80% of the Political Class disagree and see it as a good thing for America.”)
    * The government is taking too much control of the economy and the free market should be kept free of interference (“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 75% of Likely Voters prefer free markets over a government managed economy. Just 14% think a government managed economy is better while 11% are not sure.”)

    So while the polling shows that there are a lot of upset people out there it isn’t for the same reason most people reading this blog are upset.

    As another aside, I find the labels used, “Mainstream”, “Political Class” to be unhelpful especially since you need to dig a certain amount to get an idea for the proportion of people each of these groups represent. Even when you do find that it doesn’t show the methodology used to assign people into these buckets. Not to mention that labelling things “Mainstream” vs “Political” really colours the debate and thinking.

    1. DownSouth

      Gallup polling in 1968 showed only 20 percent of Americans approved of “marriage between blacks and whites.” By 2004, 76 percent approved. When Gallup first asked the question in 1958, 4 percent approved. It was not until Gallup’s 1997 survey that a majority of Americans approved of interracial marriage.

      In 1968 only 20% of the country supported interracial marriage.

      That’s right.


      And this was a year after the Supreme Court had ruled that banning interracial marriage was unconstitutional.

      1. dave

        Support for the death penalty was also extremely low back around that time, then support increased steadily since the 80s. Progressives like to think cultural values are always progressing towards their POV, but often that’s not the case.

    2. DownSouth

      And then there are these polling results:

      According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama’s citizenship, with 11 percent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 percent saying the president was probably not born in the country.

      CNN provides a copy of Obama’s birth certificate for all to see, but for entirely too many on the right-wing, facts and veridical truth count for very little.

    3. Stelios Theoharidis

      I rarely see the value of polling anymore. Now lets say that the poll questions themselves aren’t inherently biased. Which they typically are, since that was the case with the offshore drilling moratorium, which wasn’t an offshore drilling moratorium but a deepwater drilling moratorium.

      My big question is related to cell phones. I don’t know what the statistics are in relation to exclusive cell phone users, but it is plainly obvious that they are younger members of society, probably with more liberal attitudes. Honestly, I don’t know too many people with home phones anymore. Those that I do know that have them, barely answer them. Not to mention the millions that have lost their homes recently and don’t have a home phone at all.

      Then you have the whole issue of actually picking up the phone and participating in the poll. I would be surprised to find out that polling had been extended to cell phones. I would also suspect that busier individuals would be less likely to participate in the polls themselves. How that slants the polling numbers is up in the air.

      But, if someone called me during the day and asked me to participate in a poll, I would probably tell them to piss off.

      1. Stelios Theoharidis

        I forgot about the utter lack of nuance that every question I have ever seen polling companies use. What free markets, I certainly don’t see any free markets. 75% of Americans like free markets versus a government managed economy. So they prefer the markets to the gulag, or US style capitalism to European style capitalism?

        Everyone knows thats 80% of Americans think our political elite kill puppies, hate apple pie, and freedom.

    4. Moopheus

      Basically, the way Rasmussen defines political class is that if you are educated and think the government might actually be useful for something, you’re in the political class.

    5. bob

      “Mainstream Americans tend to trust the wisdom of the crowd more than their political leaders and are skeptical of both big government and big business.

      Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters currently hold Mainstream views. In January, 65% of voters held Mainstream views. In March 2009, just 55% held such views. ”

      More of the “scientification” of polls. I stopped reading after this bit. The crowd believes in the wisdom of the crowd. Why even poll?

  4. eric anderson

    That’s odd. You forgot the story of the day. Missouri rejects ObamaCare mandate by 70% referendum vote.

    And so it begins. How do you like your Tea?

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Mission Accomplished! Can you mix tea with champagne???

      Maybe MO can set up the secession prop now, so that Prop C can actually have some effect. [Please, though, don’t make them explain the rationale that some insurance mandates are fine (car liability insurance), and some are ridiculously loony (health insurance).]

      Regardless, agreed that this is a great day for those who love something, not sure what that is that they love, but it surely is a great day. Rejoice!

  5. Jackrabbit

    I wonder if “Welcome to the Recovery” will become as infamous as Bernanke’s “subprime is contained”.

  6. lambert strether

    “Financial markets seem willing to ignore the US slowdown”

    * * *

    Of course. Creating permanently higher unemployment and an underclass is their policy goal.

  7. Hugh

    Welcome to the Recovery, or as many of you may know it, the Depression.

    “Financial markets seem willing to ignore the US slowdown ”

    In other words, they are ignoring fundamentals, the very definition of a bubble.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We are either in pre-bust or bust, the only two possible phases of the business cycle.

      1. Sungam

        We are either in pre-boom or boom, the only two possible phases of the business cycle.

        The system described is no different from the one in your sentence but I’m sure you agree that it reads totally differently…

  8. b

    “The Biggest Lie About U.S. Companies”

    I seem to remember a post within the last few months on this site that argued that corporations were sitting on mountains of cash and not using their money to fund new projects/production (jobs) and that this money that the corporations have saved was partly due to streamlining and reducing their workforce. While that may be partly accurate, doesn’t this article refute the claim that corporations are simply sitting on piles of cash?

    1. Cujo359

      They might be sitting on piles of their own stock, instead. A corporation with nothing else to do with its money will sometimes find that a good way to use it.

      1. b

        I’m not sure that takes away from what the article is arguing, basically, that nobody is looking at the liabilities of these companies. The article mentions that their total domestic debts have risen to $7.2 trillion, the highest level ever.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Banking system on another verge of disaster?

    How do we know this is not just another crisis mongering to get more bailout money for the banks? Maybe there was never any crisis that wcould have ripped the very fabric of space-time.

  10. kevinearick

    The Incredibly Shrinking World – Resonant Frequency

    Absent the Internet, in the beginning of the crisis, $2 Trillion computer money in the hands of the multinationals would have lit the economy on fire. Now that the world is beginning to see the true dimensions of that $500 Trillion debt load, it’s a pittance. The reason the empire cannot catch up is that the kids are increasing the speed of the economy by a factor of 10, and if the empire doesn’t like that, it really won’t like the next speed, 100, which will blow every seam.

    A constitution is designed to protect the majority from itself. A tiny percentage of any population creates the economic profit, what the empire is currently calling final demand, which is then distributed through the circuitry. Naturally, the empire leverages yesterday’s money with all dispatch to fulfill its misguided imperative of creating artificial orange juice, first to replace the orange and then the tree itself, bringing the plague on itself and its minions, each and every time, erasing the outcome from its history, dooming it to repeat the failure.

    The empire has not only run out of time in this iteration, but it has also run out of geography. By throwing a few million people off unemployment during the suspension, at a savings of a few billion a month, to preserve the $250 billion/mo subsidy to the multinationals, the empire lit the kindling on the second stage, and the algorithm will work its way up through to the logs, hoards placed in the bonfire like dominoes by the system pointers. That’s algebraic reduction for you; the hoarders seek to protect their “investments” and become immobile in the process, leaving them both last to be fired and least capable of recovery. As the pensions are diverted into municipal and state bonds, which are no longer honoring their commitments, the animal path becomes ….

    Watch out when the empire starts attacking those that create the economic profit, in its fight over the distribution. That’s when empires get replaced, and the “rich” find themselves in debt to the extent they “thought” they were rich. Only a handful on this planet can grab that planetary voltage, and the gatekeepers are not among them. On average, the rich are the least secure, which is why they so desperately seek control, by keeping their chattel more ignorant than they, calling it leadership.


    “Thermistocles preserved the state at her most imperiled hour; yet him you exiled and condemned. Miltiades brought you victory at Marathon, yet you bound him in chains and ravened to cast him into the Pit. Cimon, who won you empire, you hounded to the grave. Alcibiades? By the gods, you didn’t let his feet warm the very pedestal you had set him upon before dragging it and him to earth and jigging with glee upon the sundered stones. Acid and bile are mother’s milk to you. You would rather see the state ground to dust by its enemies than preserved by your betters and be compelled to acknowledge this to their faces. This is the most bitter fate you can imagine, men of Athens. Not vanquishment at the hands of those who hate you, but accepting grace from those who seek only your love.

    Men are jealous. Of all affairs beneath heaven, they may bear least success in a friend … They are your betters and for that your craven hearts may never acquit them.”

  11. Frank Ohsen

    “Worse, Obama himself recognized it; he was reading biographies and speeches of FDR as president elect, yet chose to pass on an historical opportunity.”

    Yves, do you really believe he was going to invoke FDR policies just because he said he read these things?

    There was nothing he arbitrarily ‘chose’ here, Yves. He was told what he had to do from the onset in order to be elected.

    Ay carumba the obvious already.

  12. chris

    We’ve already identified what the problem is, now we the people need to ask ourselves what we’re going to do about it. I would really, really like to see more talk of a general strike.

Comments are closed.