Links 10/25/10

Dolphins learn to ‘walk on water‘ BBC

Monty YahooNews (hat tip reader John M)

Robbers Show a Creative Side Wall Street Journal

Marathons damage the hearts of less fit runners for up to 3 months PhysOrg. Weekend warriors beware!

Wikileaks: Lifting the fog of battle Financial Times

Wikileaks: Americans handed over captives to Iraq torture squads Telegraph. Funny how the Wikileaks revelations have dropped off the front page of the New York Times and appears to be on the front page of today’s Journal only in the news summary column.

Rebecca Solnit, Invasion of the Democracy Crushers Tom Engelhardt

Falling Into the Chasm Paul Krugman

Geithner Expects China to ‘Continue to Move’ on Yuan Bloomberg. Huh? Wen Jinbao has been saying that even a teeny weeny rise in the renminbi will kill a lot of exporters and therefore produce a lot of unemployment and will be very bad for the stability of China. So what exactly is Timmy smoking?

If Bernanke Is Really Debasing The Dollar… Clusterstock

Oil Supertankers Not Looking So Super Paul Kedrosky

Richard Clarida’s retrospective on the financial crisis Jim Hamilton

Food and Finance James Kwak

Who are the Undeserving? Mark Thoma. Gee, we call them members of the lucky sperm club.

US foreclosure pipeline slows Financial Times

Foreclosures Had Errors, Bank Finds New York Times. But BofA insists those errors were trivial, and still maintains no homes were foreclosed on in error. But this is a retreat from its previous position.

Owners Seek to Sell at Loss as Banks Push Foreclosure New York Times. The servicer excuses are predictably questionable.

Monetary Base And Short Term Debt (Ultra-wonkish) Paul Krugman

Antidote du jour. While we are on the subject of dolphin antics…

Picture 36

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  1. Tim Duncan

    If I recall correctly, Flipper walked on water quite often in the 60’s TV show to indicate (Lassie-like) a source of danger. So, on behalf of the late Flipper, I say “been there, done that” to the BBC.

    1. Jojo

      Maybe there is more than “play” involved? Perhaps dolphins are trying to walk on water so that they can get a better and longer view of the “air-world”? Perhaps they will grow legs in the far future and walk on land one day…

  2. Doug

    In ‘Chasm’, Krugman correctly notes that Team Obama’s economic policy has failed and, one outcome, may well be voters turn to Republicans. He then says this is sad because Republicans have learned nothing from the crisis.

    But, he fails to note whether Democrats and/or Team Obama have learned anything from the crisis. He pleas for giving Obama a second chance. Fine. But in the absence of Team Obama having learned anything, all that is likely is a repeat of the first chance.

    1. wunsacon

      Agree, sadly.

      What’s scary though is: do things really have to get “even worse” before they get better? I thought things were bad enough. When do things finally turn around?

    2. CingRed

      I don’t think we will see meaningful progress until everyone quits voting for the lesser of two evils, that is, the democrat or the republican, depending on your bias, and starts writing in the name of someone they truly believe will do a good job. As long as we continue to vote for the two parties that are bought and paid for there is no hope for improvement. If you can’t see that the powers that be are just playing you between the two bozo parties then we are doomed to find the bottom of the vat of molasses we have been in for the past 40 years. IMHO with extremely few exceptions a vote for someone in either party is just a waste.

      1. Sundog

        If you believe in civil liberties can you find a stronger supporter than the Libertarian Party? Rather than taking the lame “none of the above” option when registering to vote, you can send a message.

        Very odd that it’s so easy to opt out of party alignment when registering, yet there’s no widespread adoption of “None of the above” when it comes casting a vote.

      2. Ted K

        It’s been my experience Libertarians are just Republicans who are too cowardly to argue their position, they find it easier to give the stock answer “Oh, well, I’m not a Republican I’m a Libertarian.” Subtext: I support 95% of what Republicans do, but when you show the hypocrisy and lies I blurt “I’m a Libertarian!!” then the other person is just supposed to go “Oh……. ” and let you go back to being a hypocrite.

        Exhibit A: Who has had more impact on politics?? The Teabaggers or the CATO Institute?? Even I hate the Teabaggers, they win that one hands down.

        1. traderjoe

          Have you ever actually read the libertarian party platform?

          Libertarians differ from republicans on many, many key concepts, including social policies, national defense, etc. and libertarians take a very ‘unique’ approach to economics and the role of government in society.

          To equate them to either of the corporate-parties is ignorant. I’m not suggesting a favoritism to them – simply that at least they provide an alternative.

          And while I have quibbles with the Tea Party, and don’t really believe they are all that independent after all, again at least they provide the beginnings of what could be a break from the two-party system. Calling them Teabaggers just furthers the apparent ignorance of your posts…

          1. Ted K

            Once again as a typical Libertarian coward, you give lots of vague views. What is it SPECIFICALLY you disagree with Republicans on??? Let’s hear it Mr. Libertarian.

            Libertarians disagree with the social policies of Republicans??? Name me ONE.

            Libertarians disagree with Republicans on National Defense?? Where???

            You have to give me a link, a link…. to explain your political beliefs??? PATHETIC

  3. Jackrabbit

    “Chasm” comment that apparently failed moderation:

    But the truth is that the Democrats are not much better or different on economic matters because each Party, on the whole, is so beholden to corporate interests. The difference between the parties is centered on social issues. Each Party brings a captive “base” to the negotiations for corporate money.

    Whatever the outcome of the mid-terms, we can count on continued political gridlock and a worsening economy. If there’s a silver lining its that the worse things get, the more likely it is that ordinary people find the courage and conviction to demand reform of our corrupted, broken political system. That is the only way that we will truly get “change you can believe in.”

  4. craazyman

    @ Paul Krugman’s article

    As a non-economist, I am always mystified by economic logic of all varieties.

    I don’t dispute that Mr. Krugman is correct in his assertion that Obama’s stimulus wasn’t enough. But I would dispute that the correctness of his belief can even be determined.

    Corporations have something like $1.4 trillion cash and aren’t spending it because they don’t have confidence in demand growth — given, it’s often said, America’s deficit and debt, which would only be made worse in the short term by a bigger stimulus.

    $1.4 trillion in cash is 10% of GDP. Oddly, for the numerically watchful, Wall Street’s larcenous bonus pool of $144 billion — multiplied 10 to 1 by the money multiplier — would also equate to about $1.4 trillion in potential spending if it were deposited in community banks that would lend money to desperate people.

    Is God playing mathematical tricks on us?
    Or is this synchronicity only a delusion of an overly imaginative mind?

    This is an ontological question that defies rational analysis, as, it seems to me, does economics as a whole.

    Who can say what would spark the economy?

    That depends on imagination, and I’ve commented several times on what my school of thought — Contemporary Analysis — holds on that in regard to economic issues. I won’t bore the board again. LOL.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Money really is the only god worth worshipping in the religion of economics.

      It creates ITSELF out of nothing and does it, not ONCE in the far distant past, but continously.

  5. Hugh

    Julian Assange is, to my understanding, Australian. So the issue of treason against the US does not arise since treason is a crime against one’s own government.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The Military-Financial-Media-Complex has no case against Assange, whose documents now dwarf Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers exposing war crimes and shaming America to the world, so they’ve adopted Nixon’s dirty tricks of smearing the messenger—only this time with NYT actively playing the role of Nixon’s henchmen “plumbers”.

      At Salon, Glenn Greenwald writes, “‘Erratic and imperious behavior.’ ‘Delusional grandeur.’ ‘Imperious.’ ‘A vendetta against the United States.’ ‘Not in his right mind.’ [NYT’s John] Burns didn’t even bother to break into Assange’s psychiatrist’s office to smear the whistle-blower as a psychologically ill, America-hating subversive and paranoid narcissist. He just passed on snide rumors and accusations from disgruntled associates and — presto — the Nixonian smear job is complete.”

      1. EmilianoZ

        This smear campaign against Assange has all the tried and tested old tricks. The rape accusations, for instance, remind me of a famous episode in Nader’s legendary fight against GM. GM sent some pretty women to chat him up while he was doing his grocery shopping. GM actually acknowledged as much in a trial which Nader won for something like “invasion of privacy”. It looks like Assange was submitted to the same test and proved to be of more flesh and bones, LOL! Let’s hope it was worth it, that they were top model material.

        What’s interesting is that the mainstream media have become willing henchmen in this coordinated lynching. As if we needed more proof that the liberal class is rotten to the core, as Chris Hedges said. This CNN journalist, Atika Shubert, is a fucking disgrace. She should be ashamed of herself. What I found most damaging in the NYT hit piece is that even organizations like Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders condemned Assange. I think those organizations have just joined the rotting liberal class Chris Hedges is talking about.

        It is also very disappointing to see countries like Iceland or Sweden, supposedly beacons of journalistic freedom, give in so easily under US pressure. Iceland is in deep financial shit, so maybe that’s not so surprising. But Sweden! Et tu, Brute?

  6. Cynthia

    As I read James Kwak’s article entitled “Food and Finance,” I’m reminded of the enormous numbers of nutritionists who have made wild and outrageous claims over the years that if you eat this or drink that, you won’t have a heart attack or you won’t get colon cancer. Ernest Rutherford would call these self-proclaimed scientists stamp collectors, but Richard Feynman would be more critical, calling them cargo cultists. And yet I would be even more critical, calling them high-paid sellouts to the food and beverage industry.

    Thinking back as a young kid in the early 1970s, you’d be hard pressed to find a single carton of yogurt on the grocery shelves. But as soon as various sorts of so-called experts in nutrition made attention-grabbing claims that if you eat yogurt every day, you’ll live to a ripe old age of 100, almost every grocer from Birmingham to Atlanta started packing their shelves with yogurt. Most people back then ate yogurt not because they thought it tasted so good, but because they believed it would give them longevity.

    Since then, the food and beverage industry have known that the best way to boost its sales, and thus rake in the dough, is to market their products as though they are silver bullets to better health and longer life. And this latest news (see link below) about the health benefits of pomegranate juice turning out to be totally bogus is just another reflection of America’s insatiable appetite to sell products, even if it means lying, cheating or stealing to do it. Those in the food and beverage industry know good and well that more often than not they’ll get away with bending the truth, which means more power to them and more money in their pockets.

  7. Karen

    Rebecca Solnit has it wrong – corporations are just a fig leaf allowing the law to be perverted to protect the human beings who run them from being punished for criminal acts.

    Corporations serve the interests of real, live, breathing human beings – though not those whose interests they are SUPPOSED to serve.

    Criminal verdicts against corporations result in innocent shareholders being fined for the illegal acts of top managers.

    Since being of sound moral character is now unfashionable, the managers have every incentive to violate the law in the name of the corporation again and again, whenever there seems to be anything to gain from it. And the worst of them know enough to sell out their stock options in time to avoid sharing any of the financial pain of the punishment.

    A corporation feels no pain. Punishing one is an exercise in absurdity.

  8. Hugh

    Krugman continues to lament the Democrats, accuse the Republicans, and miss the point.

    On his other contribution, equivalence is not identity. Just think of mass and energy. In some kinds of financial transactions, T-bills at a zero rate could be interchangeable with money but just let Krugman try to buy a cup of coffee with one. Beyond that, I don’t think the increase in the monetary base is ever completely sopped up by future interest rate hikes. So this equivalence seems to apply only in part, not in whole, and how much of an equivalence is that?

    1. Anonymous Jones

      How many people buy coffee with cash now? Sure, some buy it with debit cards linked to a “cash” account. Don’t some buy it with credit cards that are set up by a bank depending on how much income and how many assets you have? Wouldn’t T-bills be such an asset? Ready to be liquidated when settlement of the card debt is necessary?

      Not that I disagree with your larger points, but the issue is a little more complicated, I think.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    About ‘If Bernanke is really debasing the dollar’…

    Is he really saying a currency is not debased if it doesn’t go down versus some other major currencies?

    Isn’t that like one political party gaining a few more seats saying voters approve of them more than ever before when in fact, the approval ratings for Congress are as low as you can remember?

    It doens’t matter if one currency is dabasing a little slower or less than other currencies if they are all debasing and by debasing, you measure debasement by the loss of faith people have in them.

    When debased, people simply stop going to the churches, synogues, temples and mosques of paper money.

    1. CingRed

      Let’s keep it simple. Money does not equal wealth except at that moment in time in which both are measured and equated. When you expand the amount of money in the system you do not increase wealth, you simply destroy the store of wealth that is held in dollars waiting to purchase an asset that has intrinsic value. (So much for money being a store of wealth.) QE and all other forms of monetary expansion that is not based on the amount of wealth in the system simply kills the saver and rewards the borrower. Let’s see, humans tend to be among the only savers in the economy and government tends to be the biggest of borrowers (to finance the purchase of votes primarily). It should be easy to see why they are pounding the drums so hard to make everyone believe that QE will bring about a nice ending to this story. If a trillion in QE is good then let’s go for 20T and see if Krugman isn’t still bleating about the fact that it wasn’t enough. I’ll sit by and watch the ensuing carnage from the economic collapse it precipitates.

  10. michael

    Glad you picked up on NYT rapid dismissal of Wikileaks’ documents.
    NYT finds the personality of Wikileaks founder more newsworthy than the documents themselves. In Nixon White House they had to break into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s files. Now establishment press simply discredits the messenger: arrogrant, grandiose, demented, etc.
    Neat trick.

  11. Sundog

    One of my anthro profs was into pondering “makeovers” as promoted by magazines targeted at young women. (Recent flyer in my neighborhood for a new “salon and spa” demands: Liberate Yourself! Think for Yourself! Set Yourself Free!)

    He was also into apocalyptic cults and the aftermath thereof.

    What if the apocalyptic Silicon Valley cult of the Singularity mashed itself up with the makeover?

    Asked by CNN about his company photographing people’s homes for its “Street View” feature, Eric Schmidt said, “we drive exactly once. So you can just move, right?”

    The Google chief told Wall Street Journal editors that young people will eventually be allowed to change their names to escape their Google record. The editors thought Schmidt was “apparently serious,” but Schmidt later said he was kidding.

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