Links 10/10/10

Your humble blogger is busy on another project. Not sure it will come to fruition; will probably take a good chunk of next week to see, and if it is viable, the crunch will probably extend into early the week following. As a result, my own posts for the next few days to full week will probably be limited to the foreclosure crisis. I have asked some regulars to help with guest posts and cross posts, so I hope you enjoy the change in programming.

Toxic algae rapidly kills coral BBC

Biggest Genome Ever ScienceNOW

Deepwater Horizon: Drilling deep, drilling dumb Guardian

Cop hauled off to psych ward after alleging fake crime stats Raw Story

Politico Uses News Stories to Push Its Deficit Agenda Dean Baker

The Finality of Foreclosure Sales Bob Lawless, Credit Slips

Statement by CEO of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Kansas City Register. Wow, this is an almost perfect statement from the Ministry of Truth. Virtually every statement is a lie or very disingenuous. I’m seeing if I can get a lawyer with recognized credentials to shred it; that will be more effective than if I do.

Cyber Soldiers Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

That Hissing? A Property Bubble’s Slow Leak Andy Xie, Caixin (hat tip reader Don B)

Robert Reich: Aftershock Jesse

Up to 40 States Plan Inquiry Into Foreclosure Data Associated Press. Bloomberg mentioned this in passing yesterday; this initiative seems to be moving forward.

Those Jobs Numbers Were Horrible, And The Fed’s Next Move Won’t Really Help Anything Clusterstock

IMF fails to strike deal over currency frictions Telegraph

Banks to fight EU bonus rules Independent

Decoupling is back, with a vengeance Dani Rodrik

Facebook Politicians Are Not Your Friends Frank Rich, New York Times

Antidote du jour:

Picture 4

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  1. Moebius

    This HR 3808 fiasco provided some mighty fine entertainment. I like to figure out the dynamics and motivations of the various parties involved. Senator Leahy provided a somewhat plausible explanation of his motivations, but I think that there can be no doubt that most of the other parties involved in smoothly getting this bill to the President were carrying water for the banks.

    Listening to the interview of the Ohio Secratary of State on Democracy Now leads me to believe that she provided the trigger to getting knowledge out to the blogosphere. The powers that be folded immediately in the face of the internet mob.

    This bill’s demise was an unmitigated disaster for the banks and their supporters. Obama gets some points for performing a quick and hard veto but everyone else looks bad. One of the avenues by which the law can be quickly and quietly changed is now shut down due to the heightened awareness of the unanimous consent process.

    I have discussed this issue with several of my friends. It is astonishing to hear their reaction. Regardless of the massive fraud executed by the banks they unanimously recoil at the thought of the common man in the street (TC MiTS) getting to keep their house if they do not pay their mortgage.

    1. Glen

      I don’t think you’ve really looked at ALL the implications.

      ANYBODY that bought or refinanced in the last four or five years has a very good chance of not having clear title.

      Ask all your friends that “recoil” how they will feel if they pay off their loan AND DON’T GET CLEAR TITLE or if they go to sell their home and CANNOT because they cannot get title insurance for the buyer.

      The failed Wall St firms and failed TBTF banks messed ALL of us up. How about we start throwing them in jail and get our money back?

      1. Moebius

        There are a multitude of implications of the current growing mess.

        In order to not screw up titles to property foreclosure really has to be a slow and deliberative process that involves substantial time of experts in the field. The banks have tried to finesse this procedural issue through massive documentary fraud. If the forms are followed for each foreclosure including the court time time from failure to pay to repossesion is going to stretch out to over a decade. There is just not the expert and court bandwidth available to do this any faster.

        This is going to collapse the private money supply.

        1. wintermute

          I agree re lack of clear title seizing up a large chunk of the property market.

          …collapse in money supply. Signal for start of a dollar bull-market and gold, euro to take a tumble…?

    2. Hugh

      I don’t know what Leahy’s explanation is, but the man is an empty suit. He always can find a reason why he didn’t do something. I pretty much had it with him at the time of the Roberts nomination where he bascically said that he thought Roberts was lying to him but because he was smooth about it he would vote for him anyway. His cave on the corporatist Roberts paved the way for the nomination of the even worse Alito. Leahy did vote no on Alito and on cloture, but he failed to really organize any effective opposition to Alito either in the hearing or the votes.

      And of course Judiciary which he chairs should have been the prime nexus for investigation of Bush Administration criminality. But Obama only wanted to look forward, and Leahy only looks where he is told. So we know how that turned out.

      The man wouldn’t know what a principled stand was if it fell on him.

    1. Ron

      Reich: Main point is that the economy needs to funnel money into the middle and lower class so that they can be quality consumers! Reich’s views are driven by the concept of consumer consumption as being the primary role of the economy. His answer for the lack of demand is basically provide purchasing power to the masses and then regulate the money flow to keep the demand side in full gear. Somehow this sounds like another pipe dream created by an economic model that works in a mathematical sense but constantly fails due to real life events such as war,greed,environmental degradation and finite energy stocks to name but a few.

  2. eric anderson

    re Reich

    He asserts there are fewer “undocumenteds” (i.e. lawbreaking invaders) in the country today than five years ago. This could well be true, but he cites no source. I can’t personally see any reliable way to count them.

    Reich can call it what he likes — he calls the American people “reactionary.” Even in good times, the majority of Americans wanted our federal immigration laws enforced, and enforced consistently. Now, they are simply insisting on it, and they will not be pacified until this takes place. If Reich thinks the federal immigration laws are wrong, he ought to focus on that, not on people who simply want laws to be followed.

    Silly little man.

    1. DownSouth

      eric anderson says: “Even in good times, the majority of Americans wanted our federal immigration laws enforced, and enforced consistently.”

      Nah. Undocumented immigration only reached a flash point after the economy imploded. One only has to follow McCain’s changing stand regarding the issue to see where the political winds are blowing.

      The reasons for this are several, but one of the principal reasons is that the people who actually caused the economic problems—-the banksters—-are in search of scapegoats.

      There’s no better way to evade any personal responsibility or accountability than to focus the blame on the weakest and most helpless segment of society.

      And any weak group will do: poor people, the unemployed, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Gays, you name it, just so that they’re weak enough so they can’t put up a good fight.

      It is unfortunate, indeed, that at this time the leadership of the white South stems from the closed-minded reactionaries. These persons gain prominence and power by the dissemination of false ideas, and by deliberately appealing to the deepest hate responses within the human mind.
      –Martin Luther King, Jr. from his keynote address in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on 17 May 1957

      1. wunsacon

        I see Eric’s statement and yours as complementary — not contradictory. I.e., the majority of Americans indeed wanted to stem the amount of illegal immigration, for a long time. The *politicians* are finally pretending to do something about it for the reasons you state.

        1. DownSouth

          In order to believe that, one would have to believe that the impetus for the anti-illegal-immigrant movement comes from the bottom up, that it’s a grassroots movement, and not astroturfed and orchestrated from the top.

          That may indeed be the case, but for me it’s a tough sell.

          If these anti-illegal-immigrant people are really interested in protecting jobs for native-born Americans, then why are they only against illegal immigration? Just because the Bill Gates of the world have the political clout to get their workers in legally, does that mean these legal immigrants do not compete with native-born workers in the jobs market?

          What’s the real agenda here? It certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with preserving good-paying jobs for native born Americans.

          1. Siggy

            The agenda is all about reducing the living standard of the middle and lower classes while preserving that of the upper class. If you want to stop illegal immigration, eliminate the minimum wage. do not issue driver’s licenses without a birth certificate or a green card.

            The labor cost arbitrage will drive the politics of the world for a generation or until there is a great leveling and/or war.

    2. craazyman

      Given what the illegals have to put up with here, I’m amazed that they come here at all.

      It just proves how bad things are nearly everywhere else. And the crazed mania of humanity. Can any one of us comfortable scholars of global affairs imagine getting on a bus to ride 2000 miles into Mexico to wipe someone’s floor or clean their toilet? Can you imagine yourself in those shoes? Beaten like a mule by some Saudi prince? It just goes on and on.

      Why is that? I wonder. And why do those countries that people — just like you and me — will risk their lives and every shred of their human dignity to get away from, get a free pass, a free pass when it comes to criticism about the way they run their affairs.

      It’s as if the assumption is that they can’t help themselves or that they are doing the best they can. That wouldn’t fly here, politically, for a nanosecond, as we can see from the spirited debate here and elsewhere.

      But somehow it flies when it applies to places where all sorts of predations are accepted as acts of nature, not acts of man. That is quite a pardon, really.

      I wander around western Queens for fun. Really. It’s a strange place, long empty streets and flat warehouses and taxi depots. Iron work yards. Auto repair shops. Bakeries where the smell of sweet bread fills the empty streets with the rising sun. Grease and blowing trash. Someone occassionally walks by, alone like in a movie. You can see the sky everywhere. The people are mostly Hispanics or South Asians, workers with dirty hands and dirty shirts, cigarettes, and casual fun talk back and forth in languages I do not understand. They are not illegal by and large, although I’m sure some are. But the most amazing thing is this: They seem very very happy. They have pride of craft, the kinesthetic joy of working with their hands and, by their standards, freedom. They have their big families and their colorful clothes and their kids in packs of 4 or 5.

      These people will never riot or complain. Nor will the illegals. They are all just happy to work and live.

      Folks, we’re dead enders, trying to keep some little flame of something alive, some little flame of something that words strain at, but that we know exactly to the depths of its bottomless pit in every spiral of DNA. I wonder whether these happy people will understand that flame and how bright it really is. One would like to think so. I do think so. The kids will. You just have to believe. And you have to speak up and say what it is, just to help others who don’t know it to see it too eventually. Maybe even the places where they came from. And then maybe they wouldn’t have to come anymore.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Thanks, Craazyman. You have a great sense of empathy and justice. As you know, many of those countries who provide our refugee labor get a free pass on how they run their affairs because we are their collaborators (or masters) in imposing disaster captitalism on their people.

    3. WandaGB

      Robert Reich pretends that illegal aliens are victims. Naive bunk. They come here to exploit the economic stability and opportunity created by millions of citizens over two centuries. They are parasites, not heroes.

      As to the oft quoted b.s. ‘imagine getting on a bus to ride 2000 miles into Mexico to wipe someone’s floor or clean their toilet’ – a simple question: in Mexico who cleans the toilets? Is it honorable to clean a toilet in America but not in Mexico? What is the difference? Answer: the U.S. has worked to create a viable society. Mexico has not. Meanwhile, illegal immigration is a corrosive phenomena that is killing those on the bottom rungs in our country and destroying the hope of a sustainable future here. I am proud to be against illegal immigration; proud to work for a sustainable U.S. population with reasonable consumption.. Reich is a mouthpiece for the liberal brain impaired that would have us grow like cancer to 1 billion people.

  3. BDBlue

    Chris Hedges on the March to Nowhere and why liberals will never be able to combat the Tea Party and rally the country so long as they remain locked into the corrupt Democratic Party.

    1. Chris

      I’m not sure these rallies do much. I think they just make people feel good, but in the end fascism marches on, and the elites do what they do anyway.

      How ’bout 500,000 people blocking traffic in NYC? That would send a message.

  4. Hugh

    I wrote on the unemployment numbers. A few of the take homes.

    Jobs needed to keep up with population growth were 130,000 in September. Taken together with the 95,000 jobs lost, that’s a 225,000 jobs shortfall for the month.

    While the U-3 remained static at 9.6% and 14.8 million, the U-6 measure of un- and under employment jumped from 16.7% to 17.1% or from 25.74 million to 26.36 million, an increase of 620,000.

    My estimate of BLS undercounts also increased by 100,000 in September, from 5.4 to 5.5 million. This would put the revised rate of un- and under employment at 31.9 million or 20%.

    If you look at these numbers, the employment situation in September wasn’t bad. It was abysmal and it looks like there is a lot of softening in the economy.

    As with housing, it is both surprising and shocking how little is being down in Washington, by either Democrats or Republicans, to seriously address the employment disaster. They simply don’t care.

    1. Ron

      Your take on the Sept Unemployment situation mirrors the latest Consumer Metrics take on the economy.

      “Our own headline for the end of September would be that both our Weighted Composite Index and our Daily Growth Index have turned down again. In fact, our Daily Growth Index has now reached a level exceeding the lowest level recorded during the “Great Recession of 2008”:

  5. John Thompson, cpa

    If I bought in 2006, which I did, I no longer have any assurance that if I do pay off my mortgage, that I will have clear title. It is this reason that I have willfully and unabashedly stopped paying. It has been over a year and have not heard a word, thus confirming my beliefs that clear title can not be found. If we, as a country strategically defaulted en masse, we may be able to resolve this nightmare quickly, otherwise, we are looking at decades.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What about securitized credit card debt?

      Are there any ownership issues – like who owns the money you owe on your credit cards?

  6. lorac

    isn’t there ever ANY good news to go along with the “antidote du jour”? it’s sad that the only happy part of this site (and most information-based web sites these days) is a picture of cute animals. sigh.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      lorac says: “isn’t there ever ANY good news to go along with the “antidote du jour”? it’s sad that the only happy part of this site (and most information-based web sites these days) is a picture of cute animals. sigh.”

      Do you want really good news? Do you want to smile and feel good? Do you want hundreds of reasons to work harder to take back our hijacked by the wealthy scum bag elite government and to strive for a better more equitable world?

      Click here …

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. lorac

        i don’t want only pollyanna type news, just something interesting to counter all the ugly news that is everywhere. what is wrong with that? try reading “search for the meaning of life” sometime. those who become too mired in the ugliness and feel too much futility don’t rise up to combat it, they give up. all the posts i read lately tell me the ills, but not how i as an individual or even part of a larger group can do something to change it. or even how others are able to effect change of policy (without pouring billions of dollars that i don’t have into pols pockets). what i see is that even those with influential position don’t effect a change or tempering of the problems. maybe it’s all too big to change….

  7. Ron

    For those not familiar with consumer metrics here is their short form GDP take which is an excellent quick take on what is happening to the economy and the best explanation for the current FED frenzy about Q2: for a better take visit them at:

    “The September GDP release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (“BEA”) contains only minor revisions to previously published data. The headline “third” estimate of the annualized rate of GDP growth was revised up to 1.7% from the August “second” estimate of 1.6%. To keep these numbers in perspective we need to look a little more closely at what the GDP tries to measure. The classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation:

    GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports − imports)

    or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand:

    GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

    ► “C” (consumer demand) represents over 70% of the entire U.S. economy. At an annualized $10.3 trillion dollars, it is the “800 pound gorilla” within the U.S. economy.

    ► Deteriorating (X-M) nearly offset the total positive growth contributions from the industrial and governmental sectors. This is a substantial change from the 4th quarter of 2009, when improvements in (X-M) added 1.9% to the final GDP growth number.

    ► “I” (Gross Private Investment) pulled the final GDP growth rate up by 2.9%. This is also a highly volatile component of the GDP growth rate, having recently swung as negative as -6.8% during the 1st quarter of 2009.

    ► Within “I” there is a subcomponent called “change in private inventories,” which represents the adjustments that factories make to inventories in their supply chains. From the 1st quarter of 2010 to the 2nd quarter of 2010 that subcomponent dropped from a 2.6% contribution to the GDP growth to a .8% contribution. When consumer demand contracted in 2008 that number went as negative as -2.3% (during the 4th quarter of 2008).

    ► At the Consumer Metrics Institute we measure only a portion of the “C” in the above equation. In fact, we intentionally capture only the discretionary durable goods transactions of internet shopping consumers, a particularly volatile subset of “C.” We don’t track the core non-discretionary items that represent perhaps 90% of take-home pay: groceries, gasoline, utilities, non-discretionary medical expenses and current housing (and in a deleveraging world, you can add personal savings and/or debt retirement to that list).

    ► However, the particularly volatile subset of “C” that we do measure provides us with an amplified and leading signal; during the 2008 contraction our Daily Growth Index bottomed at about a -6.0% contraction rate, whereas the “C” measured by the BEA bottomed at a -2.46% rate — giving our Daily Growth Index about a 2.4x signal “gain” factor.

    Our own headline for the end of September would be that both our Weighted Composite Index and our Daily Growth Index have turned down again. In fact, our Daily Growth Index has now reached a level exceeding the lowest level recorded during the “Great Recession of 2008″:”

  8. dladow

    Since you are going to be focused on the foreclosure mess this week, I would be interested to see some posts expanding on Chris Whalen’s comments at the recent AEI conference that regardless of the legal problems with foreclosing securitized mortgages, which seem to be not only the result of sloppy (at best) or grossly negligent execution but inherent flaws in the structure of the system, the fact remains that these foreclosures overwhelmingly represent bad loans – loans that the borrower has no realistic ability to repay. In addition to the hopelessly bad loans, apparently there are no incentives for the big 5 institutions who control residential mortgages to restructure or refinance loans that could be salvaged, which will needlessly add to the number of foreclosures. And the bottom line is that foreclosures on this scale are an economic disaster for the banks. Apparently Fannie and Freddie can tender bad loans back to the banks who are obligated to repurchase them. The banks don’t have enough capital to do so. Second, the foreclosures turn an asset with a theoretically positive cash flow into an asset with no income and significant (and costly) management burdens for which the banks are not set up to carry out effectively. Without occupants or periodic upkeep, these houses will rapidly waste away. The scale of the problem is immense: in the trillions, apparently. Will this be the point at which the insolvency of these institutions is finally recognized and dealt with under a resolution trust authority arrangement, or will the government attempt to kick the can down the road a bit further? And if they choose the latter, how will that be accomplished?

    1. Sundog

      Here’s a link for the AEI event with Whalen, Roubini and others. If I recall correctly, Roubini starts around 0:50 and Whalen 1:10.

      BTW I suspect YS is rather more tuned into bank problems both on the domestic front and across the pond than any particular post or brief series of posts might indicate to the casual observer. Stay tuned to this channel, do not adjust your set.

  9. steveo

    The middle chart is GLD/SLV. You can see this is an excellent indicator, when this ratio is at a bottom, the market usually tanks, within 3 to 5 days, but sometimes immediately. The trick is figuring out when the bottom is.

    This top chart is SPY/VIX I plotted it just to see if any interesting effects came up….none really

    The Bottom chart is SPX, the S&P 500, follow each purple line from the GLD/SLV bottoms. Amazing methinks. The two highlighted candle patterns are similar, the first one started the Head of the infamous 2009 Head and Shoulders Bear trap. The second one is NOW.

    And finally, a boatload of other charts for your free consumption.

    Like this stuff? Sign up as a follower and then follow on your Google reader.

  10. SqueekyFromm

    Well, I am just beginning to understand Economy stuff, but this one, from the MERS CEO I already get:

    “Technology designed to reduce paperwork has a very positive effect on families and communities.”

    True. People often get stuck in a rut, and having to move to a tent, or in with their parents, certainly gets them out of the same old boring routine. Everyday, its just a new adventure! Plus, it helps rid them of those pesky mortgage payments and frees up their personal disposable income.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  11. Steve Roberts

    Just like the Republicans before them, Democrats will become interested in the deficit about 2 hours after the next round of elections are tabulated. Right now there isn’t a deficit big enough that Democrats think is relevant or stimulative enough. Very similar to Republicans during the Bush administration.

  12. Sundog

    Prison officials had informed Mr. Liu that he won the award — a decision vehemently condemned by the Chinese government — the day before. In their hourlong visit, Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, said her husband had told her, “This is for the lost souls of June 4th,” and then was moved to tears.

    Sharon LaFraniere, “Wife Arrested After Visiting Nobel Winner”

    Not unrelated: Banksy does the Simpsons intro.

    banksyfilm, “Simpsons”

    1. Sundog

      6) The middle class is over. It’s not coming back.

      Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day? … …

      13) Enjoy lettuce while you still can.

      And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

      16) “You” will be turning into a cloud of data that circles the planet like a thin gauze.

      While it’s already hard enough to tell how others perceive us physically, your global, phantom, information-self will prove equally vexing to you: your shopping trends, blog residues, CCTV appearances – it all works in tandem to create a virtual being that you may neither like nor recognize.

      No worries, he only goes on to 45.

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