Links 8/5/10

Reader notice: Yves will be on CSPAN Washington Journal this Saturday from 9:15 AM to 10:00 AM. The host Paul Orgel will take viewer calls, and it would help a great deal to have smart questions from NC readers.

Military dog recovers from PTSD after Iraq war BBC

Hagens: U.S. addicted to energy, debt
Salina (hat tip Crocodile Chuck)

SpendingPulse July Retail Report: Sector Spending In Holding Pattern MasterCard Advisors. Further confirmation….

Fed’s Bullard is concerned that the US may be headed towards a bad equilibrium, like Japan Gavyn Davies

China Said to Ask Banks to Test for 60% Housing Drop Bloomberg

The NYT Gives Track Records on the Oil Spill, Why Not on the Housing Bubble? Dean Baker

The Hellenic Patient FT Alphaville

Wheat storm will soon blow itself out Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The Road to Serfdom Is Lawlessness: Inside Goldman Sachs Jesse

Remember Fallen Soldiers’ Families Denied Cash Payout as Insurers Profit Bloomberg? Read this nauseating bit of industry shilldom The Insurance Industry Is Getting the Shirley Sherrod Treatment Huffington Post (hat tip reader Francois T) and get ill

IMF blueprint for a global currency – yes really FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Scott)

Shilling: “The Economy Really Doesn’t Have Much Gas Any More” Ed Harrison

Tax Cuts and the Stimulus Package Mark Thoma

Can the US manufacture employment through exports? Michael J. Ferrantino, Danielle Trachtenberg, and Alison Weingarden, VoxEU

The government is the last borrower left standing billy blog

Antidote du jour:

Picture 9

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  1. Aldebert

    Yves, I love your work, but I think you have it all wrong on the life insurance policy accounts. You need to consider the confusion that results from the fact that so many life insurance policy beneficiaries are just regular “folks” with no financial sophistication.

    I have never heard of a simple term life policy that gives the insurer the right to refuse to pay the benefit to the beneficiary in cash upon request (after submission of proof of death, etc.)and I doubt that any state ins. commission would approve such a policy.

    These cash accounts, when involving a reputable ins. co.) amount to buying high quality short term (i.e., one or two day) AAA or AA commercial paper with a current yield of 2.5% – 3.0%.

    The post was correct. The Bloomberg reporter was not.

  2. DownSouth

    Re: “Can the US manufacture employment through exports?”

    I think the authors ask the wrong question. The question should be: “Can the US manufacture employment without exports?”

    Ferrantino, Tratchtenberg and Weingarden don’t seem to be too alarmed by the fact that “last year the manufacturing sector accounted for 11% of US GDP, whereas finance, insurance, and real estate alone accounted for roughly 20%.”

    But as Joseph Chamberlain, one of the few to perceive and sound the alarm of Great Britain’s imminent fall, commented to a group of London bankers in 1904:

    Granted you are the clearing-house of the world, but are you entirely beyond anxiety as to the permanence of your great position? … Banking is not the creator of our prosperity, but is the creation of it. It is not the cause of our wealth, but it is the consequence of our wealth, and if the industrial energy and development which has been going on for so many years in this country were to be hindered or relaxed, then finance, and all that finance means, will follow trade to the countries which are more successful than ourselves.

    Chamberlain’s comments were roundly criticized and his calls to formulate an “industrial policy” fell on deaf ears. Aaron L. Friedberg concludes in The Weary Titan: “In the controversy that followed many free traders simply refused to admit that any problems existed, while most tariff reformers blamed foreign governments for all of Britain’s woes.”

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      And a follow-up question:

      Can the US create enough jobs with exports soon enough to make any difference?

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The economy doesn’t have much gas left?


    How about running the economy on sustainable ‘economic-energy source,’ like human labor, even if that means turning off the engine and hauling it into the shop for replacement for a few days?

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      I think he meant Hopium gas (with apologies to the folks over at Calculated Risk who, I think, created the term “hopium”).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My understanding is that Hopium gas only works on disposable brains, which you can get for 99 cents or less.

  4. Transor Z

    An insurance industry mouthpiece saying the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner backs them on the issue is like a Citigroup mouthpiece saying the South Dakota consumer protection commissioner solidly endorses their credit card practices.

    One of the few amusements I get from financial news nowadays is observing the residual boomtime arrogance of shills persisting in their rhetoric. Green’s actually ridiculing the ignorance of a mother of a dead soldier for not reading the fine print in her son’s policy or understanding that Prudential isn’t a FDIC bank. Stone cold tone deaf.

    Summary: Can you believe that these ignorant proles can’t understand that the check book is to help protect grieving white trash mothers and widows from themselves so they don’t go on a binge and blow everything on NASCAR souvenirs, tacky lawn ornaments or crystal meth????

  5. kevinearick

    language is a means of producing responses which differ less than the stimuli do … where resemblances between the stimuli are more important than the differences. This fact makes us apt to overlook the differences between stimuli, which produces nearly identical responses…

    Events can be collected in groups by their correlation … That is to say, it makes this the shortest way of describing what occurs…

    The tendency of our perceptors is to emphasize increasingly the objective elements in an impression, unless we have some special reason, as artists have, for doing the opposite. But it must not be supposed that the subjective elements are any less “real” than the objective elements…

    The most notable of such characteristics is frequency in wave motion … If it were not (for), in the physical world, processes spreading out from centers and retaining certain characteristics practically unchanged, it would be impossible for different recipients to perceive the same object from different points of view, and we should not have been able to discover that we all live in a common world…

    Matter has ceased to be a “thing” and has become merely a mathematical characteristic of the relations between … structures composed of events.

  6. Sundog

    Long, well-written piece on Bradley Birkenfeld and the UBS tax evasion business.

    Despite its long-running criminal conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, UBS, one of the banks hardest hit in the subprime mortgage crisis, received $5 billion in a backdoor bailout through AIG, which honored some of its policies.
    Last August, just three days after Birkenfeld was sentenced and five days after the U.S. and Swiss governments agreed to a settlement, President Barack Obama played 18 holes at Martha’s Vineyard’s Farm Neck Golf Club with the UBS Group Americas chairman and CEO, Robert Wolf, one of the top donors to his campaign and a member of the president’s economic recovery advisory board. UBS officials insist the bank’s U.S. offices had no knowledge of the Swiss-based fraud, despite Birkenfeld’s sworn testimony that UBS Americas coordinated the lavish marketing events in the U.S. for Swiss private bankers and their U.S. clients.

    Michael Bronner, “Telling Swiss secrets: a banker’s betrayal”

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