Links 9/21/10

Warning over soaring dementia costs BBC

Working from home and online shopping can increase carbon emissions Newcastle University

Obama hints at personnel change Financial Times. Oof, saying someone is, or worse, has been doing a good job in the officialdom is the kiss of death.

Gulf states in $123bn US arms spree Financial Times. Hhhm, no wonder we are touting the Iran menace.

The United States Does Leave Drug Prices to the Market Dean Baker

Corporate Donations Shift to GOP Wall Street Journal

Keeping It “In the Family” Pam Martens, CounterPunch (hat tip Stephen V)

15 Shocking Poverty Statistics That Are Skyrocketing As The American Middle Class Continues To Be Slowly Wiped Out Economic Collapse Blog (hat tip Barry Rithotlz)

Sequential Signals John Hussman

Where is the World Economy Headed? Michael Hudson, CounterPunch (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

The Credit Writedowns Interview with President Bill Clinton Ed Harrison

Amazing Arrogance, Gall, Chutzpa, and Unmitigated Effrontery from Berkshire Hathaway Michael Shedlock

The Brothers Koch and AB 32 New York Times

Is This What a Recovery Feels Like? Room for Debate, New York Times. We weigh in, along with Jeff Frankel, Mike Konczal, Tyler Cowen, Arnold Kling, and Megan McArdle.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 5

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  1. psychohistorian


    I like your idea of a pitchfork list precipitated by the comments of Charles Munger. I don’t know or care about his net worth but expect he is at the high end of the oligarchy that serves the interests of the world’s uber rich.

    Think about the antisocial attitudes of those folk. They are the ones, whoever the hell they are, that need to be on the worlds’ PITCHFORK LIST.

    I hope the pitchfork list idea goes viral. It is time to reclaim our humanity.

  2. Ignim Brites

    Do we really need to worry about increasing numbers of elderly with dementia? Seems likely that life expectancy will begin to fall significantly as medical systems crumble under continued economic deterioration.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This koala bear knows not to borrow against his treehouse and spend what he has not, and so, he can sleep soundly.

    Notice also the minimal decoration of his dwelling…no plasma TV, no internet connection – very little carbon emission, that’s for sure.

  4. Ed

    The Michael Hudson piece is long and quite thoughtful.

    On the 15 shocking poverty statistics, the key indicator I am looking for is a decline of average life expectancy in the US. Once (and if) that happens, we will know for sure that the most bleak assessments of the US economy turned out to be correct.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Hudson’s piece is excellent, an exceptionally clear synopsis of the financial parasitism described in Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” and John Perkins “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. I hope the BRIC countries heed his warning. Awareness is widening.

      Most hopeful from Hudson’s piece is the precarious predicament faced by the bloated parasites and predators. As they exsanguinate their victims and exhaust their hunting grounds, the game collapses of its own weight. That tipping point is near when the predators begin to turn on eachother and a healthier, more diverse and dynamic ecosystem can be established.

  5. Robespierre

    Finally I recalled the last resort of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: “Let them eat brioche.”

    Today (Munger):
    “suck it in and cope”

  6. PQS

    Re: “Recovery Feels Like…”

    The stories in the comments are heartbreaking: middle class people with good educations and white collar jobs who are now nearly destitute.

    How many thousands more heartbreaking stories have to be told before someone in power wakes up to this?

  7. Hugh

    You know Bill Clinton can fake sincere concern better than anyone. He’s the kind of guy who would sell you a used car that blew up the instant you drove it off the lot, then put his arm around you and commiserate with you over your loss. Mr. neoliberal DLC Washington Consensus feels for the “middle class squeeze”. This from the man who signed the CFMA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley into law, the deregulation of derivatives and the repeal of Glass-Steagall. He manages to acknowledge that wages have been flat for a generation but does so without any mention of the vast wealth inequality that is the real cause of the squeeze on the middle class.

    As for the writer, he/she manages to discuss the contracting FIRE sector without ever mentioning bubbles or fraud, that is what blew the bubble and the effects of its bursting.

    As for Clinton’s argument that unemployment is the result of skills mismatches, Yves has demolished that idea here. If employers actually wanted more workers they could, you know, train them *shock* *gasp*. The writer says that increasing aggregate demand would just further resource misallocations. But I don’t think anyone is really arguing this. Unfocused increase in aggregate demand is a good idea if your economy is on the brink, to pull it back. But it isn’t a long term strategy. There are many ideas out there for targeting resources to socially beneficial ends, ending our dependence on fossil fuels, re-industrializing the country sustainably, rebuilding infrastructure, redesigning communities, improving education and healthcare. We can and should increase aggregate demand and target resources. It is not an either/or.

  8. Hugh

    Re the NYT op-eds, Kling is a deficit hawk, the NBER’s Frankel is a deficit dove. Both are idiots. I’m not sure Megan McArdle actually said anything. The other contributions I mostly agreed with. Yours and Cowen’s were the best, although I found Cowen’s optimism at the end of his incongruous.

  9. Anonymous Jones

    Michael Hudson really nails it again and again in that piece. If you have time, Yves, I really think it is worth a separate post (or at least having its ideas incorporated in future posts). His ability to communicate his ideas is fantastic, but some of the most important pithy points are lost in the longer speech. We need markets free from monopolies, not markets free for exploitation from monopolists. It’s a very important distinction and life strategy.

  10. Cynthia

    Most of us know that over the past several decades the gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us has widened considerably. But few of us know that over the same period of time the gap between the top wealthy and the bottom wealthy has also widened considerably. This is why Todd Henderson and others who are among the least wealthy of the wealthy are suffering from something that Paul Krugman would described as fat-right-tail envy (see link below).

    And the best way to combat this potentially deadly form of envy is to simply shorten the gap between the top wealthy and the bottom wealthy. We can accomplish this by shortening the gap between top executive and bottom executive pay and by placing a higher tax burden on capital rather than on labor.

    Plus it would also help to the take the profit out of all aspects of government. But to do this we must de-privatize most government services, especially our prison system and our military and police forces, and close the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street. Above all else, we must eliminate all private funding of presidential and congressional elections. Believe me, if I were made dictator for a day, I’d make sure that all of these things are done before all of my power is gone in 24 hours.

  11. rd

    Regarding the drug prices: the US does not allow anything close to a free market.

    First, the US government won’t negotiate drug prices which is the antithesis of a free market approach.

    Second, other countries do negotiate drug prices, so the US consumer pays for the R&D costs as well as marketing etc. while the other countries can pay for the marginal cost of production. Since we can’t re-import the drugs from another country because they have suddenly become “dangerous”, then we are stuck with the non-negotiated rates.

    I will note that the private insurers are starting to take a harder line on this. Last spring I was informed that a nasal spray I had been using for a decade was no longer covered by my insurance. They offered a couple of alternatives. I tried them and switched to one with no apparent difference. I suspect that this will occur more frequently. This is standard practice for almost any other product line that consumers and businesses buy.

    Finally, I have no problem with the patent protection system as it is necessary to spur R&D and risk-taking. However, it appears that many doctors are ill-informed as to why an expensive drug for a condition may be unnecessary if a cheap generic would work. Much of our pharmaceutical cost issue is probably as much an education issue as anything else.

    I know from my family’s experience in Canada that the doctors often have to show why an inexpensive drug is ineffective before they can prescribe a more expensive one. That almost sounds like a free market with cost control discipline.

  12. rd

    Here is a fun one on the value of economists from Marketplace:

    Basically, the economists track record in predicting things like GDP growth and interest rates are compared to a parrot’s track record if it was trained to say “GDP growth and inflation will be 3.5 percent, and interest rates won’t change” and “Whatever happened last quarter!”

    The economists do not come out favorably in the comparison. Does this mean we could eliminate entire swaths of the government bureacracy with a final cost that is only chicken feed?

  13. carping demon

    So, why does the NY Times mention AB 32 five times in its editorial, and the Koch brothers six times, yet neglect to mention that the proposition to overturn AP 32 is Proposition 23? Is that for them to know and readers to find out?

  14. Maxine Udall

    Typo alert:
    The United States Does Leave Drug Prices to the Market Dean Baker

    Should read: The United States Does NOT Leave Drug Prices to the Market Dean Baker

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