Links 9/9/10

Apologies for thin links, still traveling….

Keeping up appearances Ben Goldacre, Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

Humpback dinosaur – theropod of the north Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

Labor Day 2010 II Joe Costello

Pat Choate: Our “Innovation Crisis” & Patent Backlog The Big Picture (hat tip reader Francois T)

Retailers – Reality Check Time Jim Quinn

Food Stamp Participation Climbs 10% Mark Thoma CBS MoneyWatch (hat tip reader Francois T)

Japan Plans to Seek Discussions With China on Bond Purchases Bloomberg. Tim Duy, who pointed out this story, notes, “I see the evolving conflict between China and Japan as a very significant story. It is absolutely classic – Japanese policymakers never realized the tide could turn against them.”

Geithner Says China Needs to Let Markets Drive Yuan Higher Bloomberg. The article curiously fails to mention that the yuan has actually FALLEN on a trade-weighted basis its widely ballyhooed announcement that is was going to have a more market-based currency policy….maybe…someday.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 18

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  1. KFritz

    Re: Food stamps. The most scabrous aspect of the program is the absurdly low ‘convertible currency’ requirements to receive food stamps. A single adult must swear by all that’s holy that he/she has $2000 or less in ANY form of cash, including savings, to receive food stamps. A cash poor property owner is quite all right, but it’s $2000 or less or lie otherwise.

    1. attempter

      Yes, down to the details everything in neoliberal policy is meant to favor rentiers and steal from and otherwise disfavor producers.

      It’s always coddle the parasitic landholder and smash anyone who has (or seeks) an income based on actually working.

      I hadn’t read before that food stamps as well are disbursed according to that formula, but it doesn’t surprise me.

      Another detail is how the system has dragged its feet in making it easier for food stamps to be accepted at farmers’ markets, by CSAs, and such. They want to make sure that as much as possible food stamps are used to buy corporate-processed junk.

    1. Francois T

      We may not have the ability to scale up production now, but that doesn’t mean we cannot do it ever again.

      There are all sorts of good incentives society at large could provide to those with the will and wherewithal to do so.

      It’s a matter of deciding if we value manufacturing Made in USA or not. Of course, as fiscal and corporate policies stands now, there is no incentive to prioritize that. And we also know the GOP doesn’t want manufacturing to come back here. They said so without saying it explicitly just 2 days ago.

      But we can do it…if we want it bad enough.

      1. purple

        We can’t have made in the USA and be the reserve currency anymore. Not possible. We have to choose to between finance and production, but the choice in many ways has already been made. Let the ‘hapless’ Asians and Germans design and produce.

        1. Glen

          Even finance is losing steam in the US. Estimates are 80,000 finance worker bees are going to be let go in NY. This could increase as more Americans pull out of the markets, and the rest of the world starts cutting off US finance company access.

          Plus, US economy was the big draw for foreign investment which has also peaked. If US manufacturing stops and real economy slows, US finance will be dead.

  2. Paul

    “Japan Plans to Seek Discussions With China on Bond Purchases”

    Welcome to the currency manipulation club Japan. Now you too get to feel what it is like for China to prop up your currency while not allowing capital flows from your country to reach their industries. Perhaps since Japan is not as reliant on the Chinese manufacturing teat as the U.S., these negotiations can lead to meaningful reform (“stop buying our bonds to influence the exchange rate, or else we will impose and import duty”).

    1. charcad

      Quinn is excessively optimistic. In SW Florida the Venice – North Port – Port Charlotte area is a classic example. Two (2) Home Depots sufficed throughout the peak r.e. boom years until 2006. Admittedly these stores were quite crowded. One was in Venice and another in Port Charlotte.

      Since high tide in 2006 two more HDs and three Lowes opened in the same market area. This was a 350% increase in stores in an area that was experiencing a small population decline.

      I ascribe part of this to the absence of alternate productive investment opportunities in the USA. Both money and physical plant exists to throw up and outfit these big boxes. Meanwhile other forms of productive activities (i.e. making many of the products that are sold inside) are hindered or outright prohibited by government dictat.

      On the plus side they’re all relaxing low stress shopping experiences now. The employee:customer ratio in all of them is often larger than 1 and sometimes greater than 2.

      I hope one or two are left standing after the dust settles.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Was it the British who said about us being over-debted, over-weight and, last but not least, all over everywhere?

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I don’t know how to explain it, but to me, today’s antidote is worthy of being a Zen koan.

  4. Sauron

    Re: Foodstamps and perverse incentives. It irritates me to no end when conservatives argue against the social safety net. Of course if it wasn’t there people would be more motivated to get jobs … that aren’t there.

    Re: the decline of US production. I am rereading “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David Landes. He draws a parallel between imperial Spain and the modern US. I liked this quote: “Spain, in other words, became (or stayed poor) because it had too much money. The nations that did the work learned and kept good habits, while seeking new ways to do the job faster and better.” And when the gold and silver ran out …

  5. Cynthia

    Something doesn’t smell right to me about Michael Lewis’ take on the Greek financial scam ( see link below). I, for one, am having a hard time believing that Greek bankers didn’t play some sort of criminal role in this scam. Maybe Lewis is right that Greek government workers are overpaid and underworked leeches who are sucking their government dry in order for them live comfortably as middle-class citizens, but he’s probably wrong that Greek bankers are squeaky-clean, plain-vanilla type investors who unknowingly got sucked into this scam to rip off the Greece government of billions of euros.

    So I’d like to see someone investigate this further. And since Bill Black is a bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out financial fraud, he’s the man to do it.

    But if Lewis is right that corruption in Greece isn’t confined to the rich and powerful, in other words, if he’s right that this corruption has spilled over into the middle class, then there is a very important lesson for us to learn from this. If we don’t put a stop to all of the corruption taking place among our rich and powerful, it will spill over into our middle class, causing widespread corruption to take place there as well. I suppose you can call this the spillover effect of corruption.

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