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Links 9/16/10

Falling in love costs you friends BBC

Young, male, testosterone-fuelled CEOs more likely to start or drop deals University of British Columbia

Most common ‘moderate’ activity in US? Preparing a meal PhysOrg

Travelling through China with the Universal Travel Group: fly from Beijing to Yichang – pick up your tickets at Shenzhen airport! John Hempton (hat tip John L). This is amusing if you are a finance type.

If Blackwater Couldn’t Keep Benazir Bhutto Safe, Why Is State Still Contracting with Them? Firedoglake

Let’s stop pretending that hard work conquers all Gene Lyons, Salon

Japan’s Move on Yen Lacks Global Support New York Times

Paulson made the right sacrifice John Gapper, Financial Times

Allure of Home Ownership Dims, Fannie Mae Survey Shows Wall Street Journal

The hypocrisy of most deficit discussions Linda Beale

Goldman Sachs accused of ‘systemic’ sexual discrimination Raw Story

September Oversight Report: Assessing the TARP on the Eve of Its Expiration Congressional Oversight Panel. There are some good tidbits in the report, for instance, a confirmation that the bailout of AIG is still projected to lose money (which begs the questions we raised earlier in the week: why is the Treasury still coddling the insurer?), with estimates from government sources ranging from $36 billion to $50 billion. Plus a long form discussion of changing priorities, and how the fact that it was clearly a sop to the banks has real long term repercussions.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 2

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38 comments

  1. russell1200

    The problem with the slate article is that it is not a discussion of the science, but a reaction to somebody’s fuzzy understanding of the science.

    The scientific evidence is very strong about expertise coming from focused practise. The science is indicative that a lot of persuits that cannot be easily practised (lack of possible repitition, lack of feed back) show very little evidence of much expertise by anyone.

    1. Dirk

      The Slate article was not saying that practice doesn’t matter, but that it takes a mixture of elements, one of which is experience, for one to achieve “success” in one’s career.

      Another purpose of the article was to give one example, namely Orszag, that being well educated is not the same thing as having intelligence, much less possessing wisdom.

      And the last purpose was to show that the NYT really should spend more time selecting its writers, unless their intent is to give such writers a venue for hanging themselves.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      This really is hilarious. russell1200 reads the article and then exhibits *the EXACT same ideological blindness* in his comment (which was meant to denigrate the article but instead affirms it). Well done, sir.

  2. Bates

    RE: “The hypocrisy of most deficit discussions”

    This screed by Linda Beale is so full of baloney I hardly know where to start… Amazingly, she is right about a couple of points…but mostly for the wrong reasons…

    “But tax cuts cut revenues.”

    Yes, tax cuts do cut revenues. The alternative is to tax more, giving that revenue stream to a government that has proven many times that it will waste the increased taxes on every pork barrel project and foreign war that comes to hand. Linda seems to believe that increasing general taxes on the wealthy will benefit the general population. Wrong…Or, perhaps Linda believes that the wealthy should suffer just for the hell of it…because Linda and friends made stupid financial decisions when times were good and now she is up to her azz in debt? So, let’s tax the wealthy and we can all be in the same life raft watching the Titanic sink.

    Since when did the government become such a great shepherd of our tax money? The frickin government is doing such a great job that we should willingly give them more money to piss away? Get real!

    If taxes are raised on the wealthy in an effort to help those in need, the taxes should be structured so that the SS Trust Fund (I know it’s a joke) is bolstered and that the new tax revenues are for specific uses…and not thrown into the general revenue (pork barrel) fund to be spent on bridges to nowhere.

    “If you cut revenues without finding appropriate government programs to cut, then you will increase government borrowing and increase government deficits.”

    I agree…but, when did the government downsize itself? Linda believes that suddenly the gov will decide to downsize when it receives more taxes through a tax increase on the wealthy? Get real.

    “Now, deficit increases make sense sometimes. When the economy is in a slump, it means that private spending is down, so government spending is needed to move it out of the slump.”

    Pure claptrap. Too bad Linda did not bother to point out when government spending has kick started an economy in the past. Sure, the gov can pour trillions of misallocated dollars into an economy, and an economy can get a short term bump in GDP, but governments are never as good as individuals when allocating capital. Hell, individuals make lots of mistakes allocating their own capital…ask Linda.

    “A deficit that is caused by increased government spending that helps the economy by restoring jobs and getting the economy moving again is a deficit that will be reduced as the economy grows, people with jobs pay taxes, and government spending that was used to supplement inadequate private spending can be cut back.”

    More claptrap and unsubstantiated claptrap at that! Gov can offer tax incentives to pull forward demand…when the incentive program ends the bump in sales ends…and, people have misallocated more capital by buying new items before their old items needed replacement. Gov can send checks to individuals but the checks are used to pay down existing debt…a deflationary effect and exactly what is not desireable.

    “Infrastructure spending provides that kind of a stimulus–building systems that will last for years now, to create jobs and stimulate the economy serves the public interest now and for the long term.”

    …………………………………………………..

    Here is what happened with infrastructure spending in Japan…

    “The Japanese government has spent two decades squandering the wealth of its citizens. The New York Times detailed the trillions wasted in a story last year:

    Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world while failing to generate a convincing recovery. Between 1991 and 1995, Japan spent some $2.1 trillion on public works, in an economy roughly half as large as that of the United States, according to the Cabinet Office.

    Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy. He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic.

    In Hamada, residents say the city’s most visible “hakomono,” the Japanese equivalent of “white elephant,” was its own bridge to nowhere, the $70 million Marine Bridge, whose 1,006-foot span sat almost completely devoid of traffic on a recent morning. Built in 1999, the bridge links the city to a small, sparsely populated island already connected by a shorter bridge. “Roads and bridges are attractive, but they create jobs only during construction,” said Shunji Nakamura, chief of the city’s industrial policy section. “You need projects with good jobs that will last through a bad economy.”

    ……………………………………………………

    “But the deficit created by the Bush tax cuts doesn’t make sense. It is based on “trickle down” economics–the view that if the rich get richer, everybody else will do well too. But that hasn’t been the case. Since 1980, the rich have gotten immensely richer, but most Americans have hit stagnation, with real wages not sharing at all in the productivity gains that have made corporate managers multimillionaires. The productivity gains, that is, have gone to the people at the top, and the people at the top have horded them, supporting tax policies that give themselves huge tax cuts.”

    Linda is correct here but she does not ask or answer the real question…Why were American Jobs allowed to migrate overseas? Let’s point the finger of blame where it belongs. Jobs were exported because corporations bought congress azzhats and administrations from Bush 1 until now. The FIRE sector has done the same. Labor has no bargaining power anywhere on earth! In addition, industrial overcapacity is running in the vacinity of 33%…IOWs, the world has the capacity to build 60 million vehicles a year when peak world demand was only 40 million vehicles. The ‘output gap’ exists not only in vehicles but in every consumer and business catagory that one examines. Many former production workers have been replaced by robotic machinery and those jobs are gone…forever. We are witnessing a structural change in the world labor market and Linda, and few others, recognize the change.

    “Tax cuts–especially for the wealthiest people and corproations–do not make sense.”

    I agree…but once again Linda assumes that more taxes collected by gov will miraculously be used to benefit the citizens…wrong.

    “By the way, Lieberman is, as usual, supporting the GOP platform on taxes with a statement that “the more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be.” When private spending has declined, that statement is not only likely wrong, it misses the fact that without government spending there is likely to be no recovery.”

    I don’t give a damn about politics but Linda seems to think that blue is better than red or vice versa. She is wrong, both parties are owned by the FIRE sector and big business. Anyway, there is definitely a ‘crowding out effect’ by gov borrowing or taxing in normal economic times. Now that almost every aspect of American Capitalism has been taken over by the Gov and Fed I don’t think ‘crowding out’ matters much. Besides the fact that any gov spending will be into the financial sector first and any scraps will be thrown to the rest of us.

    America is on ‘life support’ supplied by every larger marketing of debt by the Fed in the form of bonds. There is no possible way of repaying, or significantly paying down the amount of debt that America’s Gov has accumulated short of default or massive inflation.

    IOWs, Linda and others can screech all they wish about red, blue, tax increases, tax decreases, etc… None of it matters when our country is on course to hit the reef of bankruptcy. Linda’s screed is a tempest in a teacup…Another attempt to distract America’s Citizens from the real problems that face us. Massive debt that cannot be repaid.

      1. Bates

        Yeah Skippy…What we are witnessing is that in the recent past too much capital at low interest rates was provided and that capital was almost all misallocated…to the point where we now have overcapacity everywhere one cares to look.

        I am not a fan of Marx but he is the only one that saw this coming and pointed out this structural flaw in capitalism vs labor…and long before the advent of robotic factories. Marx saw that ever more excess profits from production would be reinvested in ever more efficient plant and equipment. He was right. So now the world has misallocated over 33% of world GDP into excess capacity.

        The plant overcapacity and accompanying ever smaller profit margins in manufacture go a long way toward explaining the massive expansion of the financial sector…a sector where profit margins are limited only by the lies and leverage the FIRE sector is willing to use.

        The world now faces an absolute structural change in labor forces…and the pace of change will only speed up as robotics grow cheaper and more flexible and are used in ever more businesses.

        I can see the problem but I certainly do not have any suggestions on how to fix it. Adjusting the population would do no good for the overcapacity might shrink somewhat but not enough…same problem with increase in population…overcapacity would initally increase and then when population leveled off overcapacity would lie dormant…as it is now.

        Maybe we need Sandra Conner to battle Sky Net? :)

        1. attempter

          The world now faces an absolute structural change in labor forces…and the pace of change will only speed up as robotics grow cheaper and more flexible and are used in ever more businesses.

          I can see the problem but I certainly do not have any suggestions on how to fix it.

          Leaving energy constraints aside, it’s obvious how to fix it.

          These robots are supposed to be working for we the people, not for a handful of criminals. That was always the Big Promise of the modern system.

          So if these robots and machines can do all the work, then we should all be able to live lives of modestly comfortable leisure, with all necessities covered.

          What’s standing in the way of that? Nothing but a depraved, immoral political choice. We can choose the opposite any time we decide to stop being subhuman slaves and accept our rightful inheritance as human beings.

        2. manysails

          I read somewhere the solution is for employees to be allowed to work for 32 hours a week, but be paid for 40. That way more people will have jobs and a living wage. Efficiencies in the business, whether by robots or otherwise, can continue to make money for the owners. I’m not sure how this would work, but it would have to be government mandated I suppose.

    1. Jim the Skeptic

      The Democrats earned their reputation for “tax and spend” by the mid 1970s, and I have been a registered Independent since that time.

      The Republicans earned their reputation for “borrow and spend” in the last ten years.

      ‘Borrow and spend’ is infinitely worse than ‘tax and spend’. Your rant against American Government debt seems to indicate your agreement with that conclusion.

      Why didn’t the Republicans offer to eliminate the tax cuts early to cover the costs of the two wars?

      Neither party has clean hands, but the Republicans have been on a mission since President Reagan. They said that government was the problem, but given the opportunity, they used the power of government to benefit the top 1%. I choose to remember that while some choose to forget.

      1. propertius

        The Republicans earned their reputation for “borrow and spend” in the last ten years.

        You mean “41 years” – Nixon, Ford, and Bush I all ran sizeable deficits every year.. The only Presidents to have surpluses in the last 50 years were Clinton (FY2001, FY2000, FY1999, and FY1998) and Johnson(FY1969).

  3. LeeAnne

    “Or, perhaps Linda believes that the wealthy should suffer just for the hell of it…because Linda and friends made stupid financial decisions when times were good and now she is up to her azz in debt?”

    I’ve suffered similar vulgar ad hominem attack from the same writer; I would not stoop to mentioning the name. This guy has an agenda; several agendas that are not helpful -au contraire, quite the opposite.

    It is sexist in the worst possible way. Wish I didn’t have to point that out. But it may not be obvious to anyone who has not suffered similar remarks from the same person on this blog.

    1. Bates

      You have an agenda as well. Every blip up in oil prices is an indicator of peak oil. Every one on your site that disagrees with that assumption is scorned…that is why your site is not worth a visit.

      When I attempted to point out that oil, at $147 a bbl, was not an indication of PO but an indication that there was too much money created by the idiots at the Fed and sloshing around looking for a return on investment in all commodities you made fun of me. I shorted oil and made $151,000 in less than two weeks. Then all the big mouths on your site suddenly grew silent…some disappeared forever.lol… The Persian Gulf was full of oil tankers loaded to the gills with crude and they couldn’t find a market to sell into…and you said the price spike was caused by peak oil. You are too ignorant of economics to comment on economics…and the dumbest mistake you and pals made was kicking Illari and Stonleigh off your site…but, it was a good move for them to get away from you and yours.

      BTW, I am not sexist and I have no ‘agenda’ except to shoot holes in comments from the ill informend, just plain dumb, or those (like you) with an agenda. Have a nice day.

      1. craazyman

        that was a very good trade bates.

        what’s your best 10-bagger. I work hard for less money that I’d like to make, and if I can make a quick $1 million by putting 200G down and hitting 5 to 1 in a few months I could change my life for the better.

        1) I’d move in to the absinthe bar with a harem upstairs
        2) I’d watch more football
        3) Work out and really get ripped like an NFL wide receiver.
        3) I’d piddle around with my artistic fantasies and take masterworks of American landscape photography.

        These are not aspirations that serve humanity, but why meddle in other peoples problems when I have so many of my own. I think people would appreciate being left alone. ;)

        1. Bates

          craazyman…I seldom take a position and when I do it’s in commodities. Going short oil was a no brainer for I watch that market constantly and have some connections in the ME.

          Right now I have a couple of long positions in AU…one at about $300, another at $683. I am letting them ride and rolling on expiries. They are hedged on the down side since AU passed $1000.

          I don’t make a lot of bets and watch markets closely for years before making any bet.

          LeeAnne…here is a very recent link to Stoneleigh on a Max Keiser video. She is discussing peak oil and how it connects and interacts with the real economy. All peak oilers should take a look at this one. Stoneleigh is one of the few that understand how the economy responds very quickly but that oil productions responds slowly and how that will impact oil pricing and the coming inflation/deflation that the world faces. Stoneleigh is in the second half of the video…Enjoy.

          http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-16-2010-max-keiser-interviews.html

          1. Bates

            craazyman…do you believe that ag will reposition itself to it’s historic relationship to au; ie, (~15:1)? Something to think about. Divide 15 into 1270 and the result is a significant number compared to ~20…isn’t it?

            The snag is that ag is an industrial material as well as a historic monetary metal. If the world economy collapses and new trade currencies must be found how will ag be effected? I have a position in ag. This is NOT a reccomendation for anyone to buy ag…commodities are not for the faint of heart and one can be wiped out very, very, very quickly.

      1. Bates

        I think you doth protest too much. Did you make the same financial mistakes with your own funds that Linda made?

        ‘The problem with socialism is that sooner or later governments run out of other people’s money to redistribute’

        Is this the core of your beef? You want more of other people’s money for your own purse? If not, what do you want?

        So far all I have read from you are complaints about my posts…do you have any thoughts of your own that you would care to share with us?

        1. LeeAnne

          You are too ignorant of economics to comment on economics…and the dumbest mistake you and pals made was kicking Illari and Stonleigh off your site…but, it was a good move for them to get away from you and yours.

          maybe you’d like to provide a link to this site ? …or even just the name of the site you refer to.

          1. Bates

            I have already provided enough info for a really bad detective to find the site. Try your google feature.

            Besides…I don’t care to mention the name of the site for it would detract from the level of discussion here.

            DownSouth certainly knows of which site I speak…ask him. Your screen name is the same, and is spelled the same with no break between first and middle name, is capitalized the same way, as the self-centered, overbearing, moderator of the site. Also, you whine the same way…Too much coincidence?…possibly.

            You still have not posted any of your own economic thoughts.

          2. LeeAnne

            You’ve made accusations publicly that are blatantly untrue -they are in fact lies. You have the obligation to prove them. So provide the link There is no such thing as my site -none exists, and calling DownSouth to justify your lie is beyond the pale.

            I have no knowledge of the following accusations against me that you have made:

            “When I attempted to point out that oil, at $147 a bbl, was not an indication of PO but an indication that there was too much money created by the idiots at the Fed and sloshing around looking for a return on investment in all commodities you made fun of me. I shorted oil and made $151,000 in less than two weeks. Then all the big mouths on your site suddenly grew silent…some disappeared forever.lol… The Persian Gulf was full of oil tankers loaded to the gills with crude and they couldn’t find a market to sell into…and you said the price spike was caused by peak oil.”

            And say that someone you have been interacting with resembles my site doesn’t get you off the hook.

          3. Richard Smith

            Bates, you are making a jackass of yourself.

            Check your spelling, check LeeAnne’s handle, check LeAnne’s handle at the Oil Drum, and apologize to LeeAnne.

          4. Kevin de Bruxelles

            Richard,

            I think it even worse, it seems to me Bates is actually refering to “Leanan” who has/had an important position at the Oil Drum. Most of the links to “LeAnne” on the Oil Drum are actually misspellings (or normalizations) of “Leanan” (although I didn’t check them all).

            In any case it is highly unlikely that our “LeeAnne” has anything to do with the Oil Drum’s “Leanan” and so Bates should indeed apologize.

          5. Richard Smith

            Hah – I didn’t look beyond the first few hits. Combining Gaelic names and Saxon spelling produces some pretty strange phenomena.

  4. rd

    The title “Paulson made the right sacrifice” is quite bothersome to me. I thought a basic precept of capitalism was that the successfull succeed and the unsuccessful don’t. As a result, there are bankruptcy laws to provide for oderly dissolutions or re-organization of companies.

    The concept that a financial firm that had been reckless was “sacrificed” is at the heart of many of our current problems. The reality is that many more should have been “sacrificed” in one form or another in order to retain the basic rules of capitalism. Instead, it appears that the language of the realm is simply accepting that TBTF firms should be wards of the realm while receiving all of the benefits of excessive risk-taking.

    We need to tak a hard look at the language being used now as there seems to be a global acceptance that a Lehman failure was a an active action by a government of a “sacrifice” when the real active actions were bail-outs. The language should be framed instead that the Lehman failure was a passive action of a government allowing a failed firm to go bankrupt which is how the system should work properly.

    1. Glen

      Good point!

      Letting a failed firm “fail” is not a sacrifice, the taxpayers were sacrificed when they bailed out all the other companies which should have also gone bankrupt.

    2. Nathanael

      An extremely crucial point is that when you let an individual ‘fail’, it actually hurts someone, a lot. That’s why we have a social safety net: we don’t want individuals’ failures to mean that they are homeless, starving, and disease-ridden

      When you let a *firm* fail, it doesn’t have the same effect. The individuals involved in it can go work at a more competent firm. The ones running it (the incompetents) are rarely, if ever, reduced to homelessness and starvation.

      I agree, firms must be allowed to fail when they screw up horribly. The bank bailout — Bush’s TARP program — was a horrible abuse.

    3. LeeAnne

      rd,

      It bothers me too; the language. thank you for noting it. I think it needs to be called out every time.

      The consensus on that score, I have observed, has been, from the start of the public phase of this fraud, to use emotional words and gestures everywhere in place of the language of law, regulation, and fraud; the purpose being to erase from living memory, from the public consciousness, the history of the ongoing fraud, to enable the perpetrators to continue it scot-free.

      It is something perfected over the decades by the likes of the Luntz/Goebbels/Orwellian propaganda machine and accelerated from the days of Henry Paulson’s mantra ‘we’ve been working hard’ after his bended knee before Nancy Pelosi, followed by Bernanke and CashCarry ‘we are working very hard,’ on and on followed by, well, everyone has fallen in line: Greenspan, ever so slightly bowed who said he was ‘mistaken,’ about his Ayn Randian ideology, etc… examples every day in the media.

      There’s a consensus at work among the guilty still in power, their cronies and cohorts, with their wholly owned megaphone, the international MSM, to use emotional words where the language of law, regulation, and financial fraud are called for and conspicuously missing.

      The strategy and its effect are anything but trivial; it is, to use a famous first lady’s words, obviously, a vast conspiracy.

  5. Debra

    Geez, look, if that puppy and that cute fuzzy little rabbit can get along, and they aren’t even of the same species.. maybe we are BEHIND “the animals” on the evolutionary scale on this one..
    As excited as the testosterone slant on young males makes me, I can’t help but catch the uneasy feeling that the “experiment” (?) done is junk science in capital letters, with neon lights flashing (not my caps, heh ??). Where are the conclusions ? What do they really mean ? Are they even.. significant ??
    Plus, I don’t really think we need researchers to tell us this…if we just use our little neurons we can figure it out.

  6. kevinearick

    Black Box Economics

    The IC is cheap and easy to replace, minimizing cost. It can be secured from most people with a simple, arbitrary algorithm, maximizing proprietary revenue. The end result locked people out of their own economy, with the multinationals drawing all the real asset value out of the economy, and the banks replacing it with accounting assets, real estate price inflation, assuming they had an infinite supply of economic profit to draw from. Bad assumption. Now, everyone in the system has to be weaned off of inflated real estate prices, and the black box economy is ruling out a real economy, through all kinds of government RICO activities.

  7. Jim

    Beyond Politics and Economics:

    There is no democracy in any love relation: only mercy.

    From Gillian Rose “love’s work: A Reckoning with Life”

  8. acat

    “Letting a failed firm “fail” is not a sacrifice, the taxpayers were sacrificed when they bailed out all the other companies which should have also gone bankrupt”

    Sorry, as much as I would have liked to see it go down that way, the only POINT is that the firms that would have failed are the Primary Dealers of the world.

    Those entities have not been private or free for many decades.

    They are in POINT of fact, the gvt!

    P.S. they are not interested in less debt in the system.

    1. Glen

      I realize the Fed is not “officially” part of the government and that certain firms act as the government’s agent, but I’m not aware of who or how many are in special relationships.

      It would be very informative to get a list.

  9. traderjoe

    RE: cooking as the best exercise most people get…

    Fiat money, tuned out sheeple, King Corn, Food Inc., Fox News/MSNBC, etc., etc. How far we’ve allowed ourselves to become debt slaves to the banksters. It will be a rude awakening for many, many people when the system comes apart at the seams. What happens when McDonald’s don’t get their daily shipment of supplies anymore???

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