Links 9/1/10

Drunk baboons plague Cape Town’s exclusive suburbs Telegraph (hat tip reader Paul S)

How Many Lone Nuts Does It Take To Make A Party Mix? Firedoglake. The title isn’t too hot, but the article makes a good point.

Simpson to disabled vets: You cost too much Daily Kos (hat tip Brad DeLong)

Obama’s Iraq Challenge Michael Hirsh, Newsweek

Iraq and the collapse of neo-con illusions ABC (hat tip reader Skippy)

Oil Tests Positive for Dispersants in the Mississippi Sound George Washington

The Land-Residual vs. Building-Residual Methods of Real Estate Valuation Michael Hudson

Obama was too cautious in fearful times Financial Times

Home truths for complacent economists Dean Baker, Guardian

Canada’s Housing Bubble: An Accident Waiting to Happen Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Be sure to look at the scenarios for the bubble unwind. Ouch.

CrowdQuery: Will Ratings Agencies Escape Justice? Barry Ritholtz

Robert Barro’s Questionable Claim Mark Thoma (hat tip reader Don B)

The Backward Slide Into Recession Mike Whitney, Counterpunch (hat tip reader Scott A). Not that this is news, but a good treatment.

Probe chief to issue Wall St data Financial Times. The Angelides Commission is going to have its revenge.

Policy tools that could lower interest rates further Jim Hamilton, Econbrowser

A deregulation conundrum John Hempton (hat tip reader Scott). This is a very good post from a few days ago that I managed to miss. A must read.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 6

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  1. LeeAnne

    “Drunk baboons plague Cape Town’s exclusive suburbs”

    Just substitute Washington’s and Manhattan’s for Cape Town’s …

  2. attempter

    Re Hempton and regulation:

    The piece is very interesting, but as he implicitly concedes is describing an ideal not likely to work in reality. Reality has already proven regulation of rackets and racketeers cannot work. At best you get a brief respite where they have to regroup before launching the criminal assault all over again. Ultimately, in so precisely laying out the nature of the problem, Hempton is implicitly giving another argument for wiping out all racketeering completely rather than trying to regulate it. The likes of Marc Rich should simply have zero standing or even existence under US law.

    Re Lone nut party mix:

    That’s a well-defined dynamic of hypocrisy, although it’s of course no monopoly of the rightist wingnuts.

    The procedure is to remove a criminal from his criminal category, conceptually isolating him as an individual, and then claiming either that he did nothing wrong or on the contrary that he’s an individual rogue.

    Who’s the number one beneficiary of it these days? Obama, of course. The liberal teabaggers not only separate him from the category neoliberal corporatist gangster but claim he’s the opposite, a “progressive”. Meanwhile the “true progressives” still want to claim liberalism itself (an elitist, trickle-down ideology by definition) is benign, but claim Obama’s a renegade from the mainstream of it, when in fact he’s smack dab in the middle of this mainstream.

    Re Michael Hudson:

    Just yesterday I finally got around to reading his excellent long piece “From Marx to Goldman Sachs”, and today here’s another one. Well, one bookmark replaces another.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Disagree on the John Hempton piece as a “must read”, I would put it on the “must avoid” list, he is either drinking the kool aid or selling it …

      In “A deregulation conundrum” John Hempton sidesteps the obvious, throws gasoline on the flames of divisiveness by bouncing his argument off of the usual inflammatory trigger points (Ayn Rand, Tea Party, ground zero mosque, etc.), and continues the deflection from the real problem under the guise of a plea for the “right form” of regulation.

      In effect he legitimizes and validates the captured and corrupt rogue scamerican government by encouraging debate about remedial reform intended for that co-opted and corrupt government. It is an example of asking the brainwashed chickens to civilly and respectfully implore the uncivil and very disrespectful fox to stop eating them. The brainwashed chickens lap it up as can be seen in his comments section.

      The obvious is that the hijacked scamerican government now functions as the human resources department for the global wealthy elite and they are cutting, slashing, and burning, ‘benefits’ big time. Reform of the electoral process through election boycotts as a ‘vote of no confidence’ in this crooked government is job one.

      No balls! No brains! No Freedom!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  3. Bates


    How would you word a post without use of catagorization of all the principals contained in your post?

    I try to imagine what your world view is like but have a tough time putting myself into your shoes.

    Individuals, unlike shoe sizes, seldom fit neatly into one of your catagories; ie, ‘financial terrorists’, ‘racketeers’, ‘criminals’, ‘neo liberal corporatist gangster’, ‘progressive’, ‘true progressive’, ‘liberalism’, ‘elitist trickle down ideology’, ‘renegade’, ‘mainstream’, etc.

    I believe that your posts would be more interesting with less attempts to catagorize those who you discussing. Many site visitors do not have a clue what you are talking about. Many site visitors are registered independents and do not affiliate themselves with any political party. Many site visitors are not interested in politics because they realize that pols are all bought and paid for by big finance. Many site visitors realize that definitions of liberal and conservative have changed since the early 20th century. Many site visitors realize that attempts, by you or anyone, to catorgorize them is an attempt to drive a wedge between American Citizens…a tactic used forever by pols. Perhaps what you need to do is post a page of catagories with definitions and then link to it with each of your posts?

    Beleive it or not, the whole world is not out to get you. The world really does not care about me, you, or any other individual…since most individuals are looking out for their own interests they really don’t have time to spend on those that are not blocking their path.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      I think Attempter rocks, his terminology is excellent, his posts interesting and I most generally agree with the thrust of what he is saying.

      He drives his “wedges” well so as to reveal the real; ‘financial terrorists’, ‘racketeers’, ‘criminals’, ‘neo liberal corporatist gangster’, ‘progressive’, ‘true progressive’, ‘liberalism’, ‘elitist trickle down ideology’, ‘renegade’, ‘mainstream’, etc.

      Strange, with all of the Orwellian bullshit out there one could question, you focus on Attempter.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. liberal

      Many site visitors do not have a clue what you are talking about.

      It’s not his job to provide you with a basic education.

      Many site visitors are not interested in politics because they realize that pols are all bought and paid for by big finance.

      Uh, how is getting the banksters off our backs going to happen, aside from reform via political means?

    3. attempter

      Your comment is peculiar because most of the terms you object to are nonpartisan and purely behavioral.

      I think any reasonably intelligent reader would consider my comments to be aimed at the whole power structure including both parties. I can’t imagine what could be more non-responsive than your bringing up “conservative vs. liberal”.

      As for my terms, I use them precisely because I have no special definition for them. I call them criminals in the same way I’d call a street mugger or a gangbanger a criminal, because that’s exactly what they are, in spite of their ugly veneer of pseudo-respectability.

      You’re objecting because you want to defend their crimes and don’t like precisely the fact that I’m attacking them as common criminals, using many terms a normal crime victim would. So you make your clumsy attempt to accuse me of inscrutability, when I’m probably coming through way too clearly for your taste.

      As for their not being “out to get me”, I have indeed been personally victimized by the gangsters. Not as badly as many others, it’s true. But then, evidently unlike you, I feel solidarity with all the victims, however wretched and filthy according to your measure.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Projection(?): “Many site visitors do not have a clue what you are talking about.”

      Really? I find Attempter’s posts refreshingly clear and well-grounded. The “labels” you find so confusing slice quite cleanly through typical tribal jargon—without partisan tags. That, perhaps, frustrates your rebuttals because it resists the clichéd dueling of red vs. blue catechism. Attempter’s views are well above the muddy trenches.

      Check back in NC’s archives or read his very thoughtful analysis at “Volatility” for some badly-needed consciousness-raising.

    5. Yves Smith Post author


      Who designated you as the arbiter of what visitors to this site like or don’t like, know or don’t know?

  4. Jones

    The Canadian Housing Bubble meme has been making the rounds now for more than a year with Rosenberg, Turner and even Mish sounding the alarm. There appears to be some sort of need to compare the dynamics of the real estate market in Canada to that of the US. That is a flawed premise as liar loans, sub-prime and house as an ATM were and are not a characteristic of the Canadian market. If one looks at price growth on a year over year basis for the past 20 years (inflation adjusted), we are talking 2% annual growth. Consider that tax rates and interest rates have declined dramatically since 1990 and I think you will discover that the Canadian real estate market is not and has not exhibited the characteristics of a bubble. While there may well be a correction as part of the normal cycle the idea that prices will crash is without merit.

  5. skippy

    RE: Drunk baboons plague Cape Town’s exclusive suburbs.

    Granted I was in rare form, it is the Tri-Nations…cough, but to call me and a few mates baboons…really!

    Skippy…before we wander again, which way is it to Bloemfontein?

    PS…on second thought it was baboons.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Jim Hamilton’s paper argues that by unloading its T-bills and exchanging them for T-bonds, the Fed could drive down ten-year yields by another 50 bips.

    Probably true, but why would they want to do such a thing? Lower long yields would cut the income of savers (including pension funds) even further. Not only would the yield curve flatten, implying a greater chance of recession, but also the heightening of deflationary expectations as yields sink to pathologically low levels would reinforce the contractionary effect by dousing any remaining ‘animal spirits.’

    No happy, leaping baboons, once we turn Japanese!

    Worst of all, driving long yields farther down would recruit a whole new crop of Bond Bubble Believers, like the folks I saw the other day wheeling a shopping cart full of empty soda bottles toward a broker’s office, hoping to exchange them for a small denomination T-bond to secure their financial future.

    When the last sucker spends their last nickel to get on board the Magic Beanstalk of ever-rising bond market total returns — LOOK OUT BELOW!

  7. joecostello

    I have to say I find Mr. Hempton’s piece disconcerting. It is revealing for the author’s prejudice as much as anything. There’s a certain, “well if it makes money there must be something right about it.” In the end it comes down to the question is society most fundamentally constructed on the rule of law or the rule of “markets”, simply defined as if it makes money its ok.

    In the past three-decades, we’ve done a radical, and that’s the word, experiment of reconstructing society based on the rule of markets. We’ve not only destructed much of the law, but allowed adherence to what is left to be decided on an individual as needed basis. That’s the recipe for the mess we have.

    If you have a society based on the rule of law and it decides to put sanctions on a given country and someone breaks that law either in letter or spirit, they need to be prosecuted. The same goes if you have laws that companies, traders, or whoever are supposed to act in certain ways, when they don’t, they are prosecuted.

    This says nothing about the underlying justness of the law, but how a society must function. If the law is unjust, you work to change it, but until that point, if you’r flouting it, you can expect to be prosecuted, and just because you’ve made a lot of money doing so, says nothing about how just the law is or isn’t. And yes, this is a dynamic process, constantly being changed and tested, that after all is life.

    On another point, which is simply ridiculous, Mr. Hempton writes, “Plenty written by Krugman look like it advocates deregulation. (Not convinced: see his review of Laura Tyson’s book on trade theory in Pop Internationalism. Indeed see most of Pop Internationalism as favorably reviewed by – of all people – the Cato institute.)”

    “Looks like!” Krugman is a neo-liberal, mouthing supposed Keynesianisms. His whole career has been as a shill for the corporate globalization process. His “all trade is good” is as infantile in thinking as Ayn Rand’s if “it makes money it’s right.” It comes out of classical thinking against the mercantilist state control of two centuries ago, but with no acknowledgment of the contemporary economy. But economics is a science right? Just like gravity, makes no difference what era you’re in, or what planet you’re describing.

    Now, deep into a crisis in large part caused by the corporate globalization process of the past three-decades and its resulting tremendous structural imbalances, all Krugman can say is spend more money, it’s simply a bad joke. Poor Mr. Keynes what is advocated in his name must make him violently spin in his grave.

    1. attempter

      Not being familiar with Hempton, I couldn’t tell if he was giving implicit apologetics for the “morality” involved or was just trying to isolate the regulation variable. I went with the latter, at least for purposes of what I took from it.

      I forgot to mention Paul “In Praise of Low Wages” Thugman in my comment, but you nailed it.

      1. joecostello

        He states, “Trading through the American embargo – well that is just another instance of getting around restrictions and profiting (very) handsomely.”

        It would be more accurate to write getting around “the law”, and getting around the law always pays pretty handsomely. This is the whole thing about “financial innovation” it was largely about getting around the law, thus handsome profits. Granted he, and Mr. Rich are making points on the difficulty of international law, but again, piracy has always been handsomely profitable.

        Again, I said it was disconcerting, but as I read it, there seems to be the notion well if you can make money on it, there’s something wrong with the law — “they(handsome profits) all come from giving people what they really want rather than what they say they want.” I don’t mean to single out Mr. Hempton here, except to say this type of thinking is rampant and part of the reason we are where we are.

        1. Tim

          The fundamental problem is many countries don’t have the same laws who is to say what countries laws should be followed. The real problem is that in the name of national sovereignty it is to the advantage of leaders in smaller and medium size countries to attempt to subvert policies carried by larger nations such as the US and Britain in order to create regulatory arbitrage. The leaders of Switzerland who sheltered Marc Rich were democratically elected and is quite probable that many citizens in Switzerland approved of Rich’s actions even though much larger citzenry of the United States and their elected leaders dissapproved.

          The only solution is one man one vote one world government.

    2. jdmckay

      I have to say I find Mr. Hempton’s piece disconcerting. It is revealing for the author’s prejudice as much as anything. There’s a certain, “well if it makes money there must be something right about it.” In the end it comes down to the question is society most fundamentally constructed on the rule of law or the rule of “markets”, simply defined as if it makes money its ok.


      So called “conservative” media… WSJ OpED, Weekly Standard, NR… all argue vociferously, almost every day, for the “makes money” line.

      WSJ OpED in particular has been hammering this hard… almost every day, for weeks.

      Very troubling to me, as I know so many (seemingly, or otherwise) smart folks who are led by the nose by these guys.

      In the past three-decades, we’ve done a radical, and that’s the word, experiment of reconstructing society based on the rule of markets. We’ve not only destructed much of the law, but allowed adherence to what is left to be decided on an individual as needed basis. That’s the recipe for the mess we have.

      Yes, completely agree.

      Thing is, in corridors of power this is not the debate. Seems like the powers that be are pushing it to more extremes:
      * more tax cuts
      * privatize SS
      * privatize and/or gut Medicare (essentially, any social safety net)

      And all these, filling the vacuum which should be inhabited by conditions you describe.

    3. craazyman

      Youze guys. Man, I thought the dude came down hard on the Randian Morality with a sarcasm veiled as thinly as a Victoria’s Secrets Nightie.

      Not sure what you all are fussing about — except the big stumble by Mr. Hempton in my view, which is his toleration of unregulated trade where there’s no so-called “Agency” problem

      Man, Life is an agency problem. That’s why they invented Religion, which creates its own Agency problem, like a never ending circle. And the only way to jump the circle is to head for the absinthe bar and ascend.

      I’m too lazy to put it all down, but I have a new theory from my studies of contemporary analysis that I refer to as the “Ascension of the Absolute” — which is that consciousness is going through a confused time right now, and in all activities around the globe, there’s a gravitation toward seeking propulsion from the undistilled essence of various schools of thinking. It should be clear to anyone just channeling this — from the gangland murders in Mexico, to the Al Queda terror, to the Iran Mullahs, to our own Mullahs. Every school of thought is confused and seeks its own transcendence from a fixation on its core principles, which is actually a form of retrograde.

      The Agency problem is in the middle of it all, like the Mullah’s selling oil to Spain through Isreal and Albania.

      It’s like in Doestoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov”, when Ivan famously says to the saintly Aleksey “Everything is permitted.”

      You have the “leaders” leading by “core value inflamation” (CVI), but doing whatever the hell they please on the side. This is not a new problem. As the prophet Jeremiah sayeth “The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means and the people love to have it so and where will ye be in the end thereof.”

      The Agency problem.

    4. earthday

      Good points! That’s exactly the issue. There need to be consequences for not following regulations. People need to know they will be enforced and that technicalities won’t get you off either. Of course, this then goes back to the discussion about the justice system. If judges won’t convict the ruling classes, where does that leave us?

  8. Anonymous Jones

    Ah, baboons…

    “It is so unrelaxing. Rather than chatting over our meal, we are looking over our shoulders and bolting the food as quickly as we can before it is stolen. We can’t even leave a window open in summer. We are under siege.”

    It’s a real trouble to find out that no matter how much you strip from the peasant class, the world remains chaotic, unpredictable and outside of the fine tuned control that you would like.

  9. Anonymous Jones

    That Hudson piece is really, really worth a read to those who care about well thought out arguments. See, *that* is good analysis of returns, strategy, valuation, and tax policy.

    “The upshot is that developers use one set of statistics and logic to calculate their “total returns” on their properties, but support a different logic for use by government statisticians and Congressional authors of the nation’s tax laws, whose support from the FIRE sector depends largely on their not understanding its essential dynamics.”

    Really well done. Not sure I agree with all of it, but a fantastic and well thought out analysis of the dynamics at work in reality, not the dynamics at work in the delusional minds of most interested parties or those too inexperienced to see the subtleties involved.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ss that a pregnant male seahorse?

    I thought I saw little baby seahorses inside the pouch.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      By the way, we don’t need more ‘female’ representatives. Recently, I heard something about concerns that we would lose some of them in the upcoming election.

      We need more representatives with the female energy (the yin energy). Being open minded, I think both men and women possesse that, unless you’re being superficial and only look at the anatomical differences.

      Better yet, the current structure has too much yan. We need to reform the system to make the system itself more feminine.

  11. Jim

    So crazyman please tell us more about how to escape what you characterize as a situation in which “every school of thought is confused and seeks its own transcendence from a fixation on its core principals, which is actually a form of retrograde.”

    Why is such a fixation retrograde and how does(I assume)a reconfigured agency alleviate this problem?

  12. PQS

    Just wondering what anyone thought of this I found at Reuters today:

    I liked his ideas, but I’m no professional….

    First, the Obama Administration should use the power provided in the Dodd-Frank legislation to force an accelerated cleanup of bad assets and to mandate refinancing and principal reductions for performing loans with viable borrowers. If any banks resist, the Treasury should use the power under current federal law to remove recalcitrant officers and directors of these same banks.
    Second, President Obama also needs to focus on the growing competitive problem in the U.S. mortgage sector. The mortgage banking industry suffered significant consolidation since 2007. In particular, the competitive, third part origination players went out of business via bankruptcy or by being taken over. The industry is now dominated by a cozy oligopoly of Too Big To Fail banks (TBTF).

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