Links 10/4/10

Apologies for thin links, I have an indecently early AM meeting (as in turned in and am back up, having mistakenly failed to publish this before retiring).

Experts baffled by ‘small’ Bangladesh tigers BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Collective Intelligence: Number of Women in Group Linked to Effectiveness in Solving Difficult Problems Science Daily (hat tip reader John M). The funny bit is I have seen studies (don’t ask me to find them) that show that most men prefer to work in all male environments, while most women don’t care all that much about the gender mix. And I wonder whether results like this depend in large measure of the presence of women simply dampening jockeying for dominance among men, which gets in the way of task focus (I have real trouble with gender stereotypes like the one embedded in this finding, that women are more “sensitive”).

Sex in the U.S.: Survey Finds ‘Enormous Diversity‘ MedPage Today (hat tip reader Skippy)

Empathy’s failures Bad Science (hat tip reader John M)

Lessons on Reform: The Count-Duke of Olivares Joe Costello

Bugatti, Ferrari Sell Out of Supercars as Luxury Roars Back; Porsche’s $275,000 911 Speedster May Sell Out by Late October; Mercedes Order By `Nothing Town’ Shows Rise of India’s Cities Bloomberg (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Imports from China, Numbers Please Dean Baker

How an unloved bail-out saved America Steven Rattner Financial Times. Revealing that this piece comes from a member of Team Obama.

How has the crisis changed the teaching of economics? Economist (hst tip reader Skippy)

Ireland’s taxpayers have shouldered too much Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Why we need to follow the Irish and restructure our ‘zombie’ banks Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in Right Wing Radio Duck YouTube hat tip reader Sundog)

Antidote du jour:

Picture 29

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  1. Dan

    “And I wonder whether results like this depend in large measure of the presence of women simply dampening jockeying for dominance among men, which gets in the way of task focus (I have real trouble with gender stereotypes like the one embedded in this finding, that women are more “sensitive”). ”

    Wait, isn’t the whole “jockeying for dominance” thing a perfect example of the type of gender stereotype you have trouble with?

  2. attempter

    Re ostentatious, inflammatory cars:

    That should be taken as a direct metric of looting. (And of adding insult to robbery, that they want to rub it in our faces. Much like the way driving a Hummer has long been an open declaration of one’s aggressive sociopathy and a challenge to a physical fight.)

    The money that’s paying for it was directly stolen from the taxpayers. Now the criminals want to be as brazen as they can be in partying with what they stole, flaunting it. Such vehicles should be dealt with accordingly, every chance we the people get.

  3. LeeAnne

    On teaching economics. As Petit commented, rather than charts and technical stuff for Economics 101, the history of economics should be taught. Subjecting undergraduates to the technicall approach first is a racket that’s cheaper for the university.

    On women in the workplace: the cost to the psyche of men who are required to maintain and reinforce among themselves the ugly myth of women’s inferiority is incalculable. Men and women are different; equality of power will never come about by claiming they are not.

    The world would be a better safer place if all decision making forums were 50% women. That shouldn’t be controversial. All decisions in the world being made almost exclusively by men effect women disproportionately since women include the population of minor children. So its not 1/2 the population that is unrepresented. Its probably closer to 2/3rds the world’s population exploited by the minority.

    If we lived in a meritocracy that would make sense. But we don’t.

    Was it Stalin who when asked where power comes from, answered “you pick it up in the street.” So that’s how you get 100s of millions brutally killed and worse in a world God has endowed with abundance -not a meritocracy -but psychopathic killers. And that, my friends, is where the US is headed.

    Women embody instincts that complement that of males; vive la difference. All of those instincts need to be represented in the decision making process.

    All-male decision making has brought the world and the earth to the edge of destruction.

    1. Kevin de Bruxelles

      The world would be a better safer place if all decision making forums were 50% women.

      I’ll go ahead and step into this minefield!

      So for example if Goldman Sachs were to double their Management and Executive Committees to include the current member’s spouses (or whichever hot former-model they’re currently banging) do you really think the decisions coming out of these suddenly 50% female committees would be any more altruistic?

      Personally I doubt it; I think the spouses might even take the opportunity to vote themselves even more shopping sprees. Because from what I know, people with power and wealth tend to fight like crazy to hold on to or increase their status. Women, Blacks, Gays, Chicanos, Muslims, act just as selfishly as the notorious white male when it comes to protecting the power they hold. Identity politics has been pushed by elites to help take the spotlight off the real thing that divides people within a society: social class.

      That said, I have nothing against say the Senate having 50 women in it. I just wouldn’t hold my breath for any great changes coming from this change since undoubtedly these would be 50 very rich women who would use their position to increase their class’ power.

      1. EmilianoZ

        Hi Kevin,

        How was your rally? I attended the one in DC. You can see some participants’ pictures at Wapo’s webiste (some of which I posted myself):

        You’ll see the slogans were very diverse. I would say the crowd was about the same size as the Tea Party’s, which I think is a feat since it was hardly advertised. The majority seemed to belong to some union or organization. The Washingtonian liberal bourgeois (your terminology) didn’t show up. For some reason they seem much more interested by the Stewart/Colbert march to come. I personally asked some of them to come. They gave me the most frivolous excuses (gym, yoga, laundry and whatnot).

        I would say the crowd was 45% white, 45% African American and 10% Latino.

        1. Kevin de Bruxelles

          We got close to it on our bikes but it was already over. It was supposed to go on until 6:00 but by 4:45 when we were riding on our bikes towards it, all the workers were walking the other way towards their busses for the ride home. My children had different sports practises that day so I thought we would just catch the last hour of the rally but it didn’t work out. They had 100,000 participants according to organizers. It was the biggest march since 2001 here.

          Below is a link from the local news. The tone was quite positive. The march went off very well with very few problems or arrests. They interviewed a policeman and he said that his people had a lot of sympathy for the marchers and supported their message. I have a feeling though they will be back next year in a much worse mood. Austerity hasn’t even started in Belgium yet. There hasn’t been a government for some time now and there are few signs that we will have one any time soon. And this suits most people just fine.

          As for the race of our participants, they were at least 95% white although as you will see on the clip the march was quite colorful in any case!

      2. LeeAnne

        I’m surprised at the chauvanism of your remarks; you couldn’t be serious. Its really insulting. Why would the mention of women in equal numbers in power bring to mind spouses and the hot former models GS partners are banging who may vote themselves even more shopping sprees. Really!

        Is shopping for sports events tickets, for cars, gambling, yachts and jets a superior activity; conducting business routinely in topless bars and lap dance joints, hiring prostitutes and helping to spread STD diseases to their spouses evidence of male superiority in the halls of power?

        You must have an argument that is not demeaning to women. But that’s exactly the problem. The need for men to tell themselves that women are some kind of inferior form of life to maintain the falseness of their claims to superiority is the typical knee jerk reaction of the defensive position.

        The only thing keeping women out of the highest positions in equal numbers is the secret societies that men who are groomed for power practice; the gender imbalance is unnatural (against nature) with deadly consequences for the world. Token board members is not the issue; participation at every level is.

        But thanks for weighing in Kevin. The following may interest you and alter your prospective. The same society that criminalizes women victims of prostitution, penalizes illegal immigrants rather than their employers; and for the same reason. Demeaning women as well as immigrant workers makes them more subservient and pliable; rather gross for a civilized country; but worse for a country given to loudly claiming the high road.

        “…Swedish women have 47% representation in parliament and hold 52% of ministerial positions. The Swedish government has actually set national objectives for gender equality… .

        Sweden has criminalized the sexual abuse of women and children, and decriminalized the victims of prostitution; now a crime. here

        ” … but in the end it was the women’s groups within the parliamentary parties that were responsible for the success of the legislation, crossing and even defying their own party lines. However this was not as homogeneous as is sometimes perceived. Moderate women never joined the movement, and both Moderate, and a number of Liberal women opposed the bill.”

        “Most of the parliamentary debate was undertaken by women, which Ulrika Lorentzi, former editor of the feminist magazine Bang, referred to as the ‘Sex Wars’. Women held 41% of the seats in parliament which although the highest proportion in Europe still meant they had to lobby for male support within their parties in order to get this passed. The women’s movement had prostitution high on its agenda, criminalisation of purchase had been on that agenda for a hundred years, and there was little opposition to this. However ensuing public debates revealed that even Swedish feminists were divided on the approach that had been taken.

        For the women, this was a test case of their ability to come together as a caucus and push through a women’s agenda over the wishes of male colleagues.”

        1. Ming

          you wrote:
          shopping for sports events tickets, for cars, gambling, yachts and jets a superior activity; conducting business routinely in topless bars and lap dance joints, hiring prostitutes and helping to spread STD diseases to their spouses evidence of male superiority in the halls of power?

          I agree with you… the toys that men like are just as trivial as the toys that women like. And the fact that married men would hire prostitutes is immoral. Mind you, as a Chrisitan, I don’t see anything wrong with conducting business in the topless bars or the strip joints :-) Are we not providing income for disadvantaged women? ( you have to admit, this is creative writing at it’s finest…)

          I would caution you on your assertion tha getting more women into the halls of power would correct many problems. As Yves pointed out, their are many women of great talent and great character that do not get selected, instead a charming but destructive Harpy like Carly Fiorna becomes CEO… Where is Sheila Blair and Elizabeth Warren?

          I have a suspician… there is certain type of social predator, the sociopath or the non-violent psychopath that is able to ascend the halls of power. Their brilliance lies in their ability to charm people and to decieve,
          intimidate and backstab anyone who threatens them or who competes with them. What is needed, for people and organizations to recognize these social predators and to manage them in the approprate
          fashion…( perhaps by moving these predators to the organizations of their enemies…. )

        2. Kevin de Bruxelles

          I knew it would be a minefield!

          I was simply responding to your statement, “The world would be a better safer place if all decision making forums were 50% women.”

          And I gave you two examples where this would not be the case. and you seem to accept this since you did not try to refute either claim. On the totally unrelated issue of whether rich men have more obnoxious conspicuous consumption habits than rich women, I really don’t have an opinion so I will defer to yours.

          If it is is chauvinistic to state that social class is a more important criteria to me than gender, then so be it. I would also state social class is more important than race and I suppose by implication that makes me a racist; but again, so be it. Of course many people who reasoned that a black President would be more fair than a white one may be now questioning the validity of that logic. In 2012 we may get to test that very logic concerning the gender of the President.

          Thanks for the links discussing Sweden. I have lived there for several years, I speak Swedish (although it is getting very rusty), and I am married to a Swedish feminist, who has lots of Swedish feminist friends who I often have these discussions with. That’s why I feel comfortable dancing in this minefield! The typical suject of our discussions is that men have to give up power in the public realm (but only on the basis of maintaining the economic justice of the country) but women have to give up power in the family realm (mostly childrearing and cooking). I see the traditional model of a man working long hours just to bring a paycheck home while delegating the home to his wife as a very bad deal for men. Some Swedish feminists agree, others violently disagree with the notion that men should have anything to do with childrearing or that women should give back anything in any areas of female traditional domination. Obviously men are also divided on this issue.

          So outside of its food and wine culture (or lack there of) and maybe education policies, Sweden is my model society, especially its gender policies. But remember, those gender policies wouldn’t mean a thing if the society was economically unjust. And the work of making Sweden a just society was often the work of fat, male, maybe chauvinistic, and most importantly of all, working class, Social Democratic politicians who fought and WON the battle of bringing justice for the masses. While there is no doubt Swedish working class women could have accomplished the same result, I highly doubt bourgeois females would have fought quite as hard for working classes fairness. And that is the point of my reply to you. It is this social justice, combined with the prosperity brought on by the amazing industrialization of Sweden (one small example: the two auto makers in such a small country) brought them their high and fair standard of living to Sweden, and that makes the moves towards gender fairness in the public realm have true value. And even in Sweden, while in the public sector there is near equality, Swedish private sector businesses have a much lower rate of female representation than say in America.

          But what you didn’t mention is that in Sweden where women are making obvious gains in the public realm, they are giving up their historic advantages in the family realm. For example in the case of divorce, alimony is exceedingly rare (and temporary if granted at all) and custody of children is almost always split equally (one week with mama, one week with papa) and so there is no child support. I think many men in America would find this a very attractive system.

      3. i on the ball patriot

        Kevin — dancing in the mine field — said; “Identity politics has been pushed by elites to help take the spotlight off the real thing that divides people within a society: social class.”

        Errrr …. just maybe …

        Identity politics has been pushed by MALE elites to help take the spotlight off the real thing that divides people within a society: the super wealthy MALE social class.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. Kevin de Bruxelles

          Et tu iotbp?

          I thought the following line was quite beautifully written (and not just because of its political content):

          The bugs flock to the lampposts,
          A feast is in the air,
          They’ll soon fatten on the blood,
          Of the bankers hanging there…

          You’re not telling me you’ll let female bankstaz escape this fate just because they are women – are you?

      4. Skippy

        @ LeeAnn, Agree 50/50% distrabution…efficiency…cough *domination* can get stuffed. Terms like butch women and effeminate men et al are just tools of domination.

        Skippy…although it is funny, many of the so called powerful men pay big bucks to have mommy dominate them at very private clubs…lool. Friend of mine was once a dominatrix to some big names politics / money…knowledge has its down side too…sigh…even old Ben Franklin was know to occasion the lower sections of a French castle in silly garb, attended by naked women lmao.

    2. Ming

      The article in ‘Science Daily’ should expose
      it’s raw data and methodology for assessment… too many of these papers
      are written with a bias to support an idealogy. There
      have been too many papers written which assert that women have superior employment characteristics to men.

      That being said, I wouldn’t be suprised if mixed gender teams had superior characterisitics.

  4. craazyman

    Men generally can be verbally blunt, hard and severe with each other and they know enough about the male psyche not to take it personally. They generally are quick to honestly recognize facts and the usually don’t hold grudges.

    Working with women makes many men feel somewhat restrained in the way they might otherwise naturally interact. There is a real concern that they’ll trigger some emotional reflex that pollutes the working relationship.

    I think this would account for the preference, not jockeying for dominance. Many men are content to be led and do not wish to lead.

    I don’t believe this bias is applicable to all women by any means. Women who grew up with rowdy older brothers generally have an easier time working with men, I’ve observed.

    And of course there are men who don’t share the full contours of the male gorilla pysche.

    But these are only stereotypes, broadly true, but individually quite often contradicted by real people in many cases. And the specifics of setting introduces variables that broad generalizations cannot account for.

    I get tired of the men/women thing anyway. The uniqueness of individuals and the cultural constructs that regulate interaction I think account for so much more explanatory power.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Kevin danced in the minefield, you wallowed around in it.

      But if I were a women the first thing I would do — before I kicked yours and Kevin’s ass — is give back the right to vote.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  5. suedehead

    Could you possibly comment on the recent Michael Hudson post regarding Chinese/U.S. currency dealings in Counterpunch. He is very critical of Krugman and blames the U.S. for most of the problems with trade.

  6. Ron

    OT. Notice the price of oil of late? Over 80 bucks again which will be felt at the pump and heating oil costs!

  7. fish

    Steve Rattner referenced approvingly…….hahahahahah! Whoooo! Now I can face the day with a smile! Steve Rattner…….ahhh.

  8. Cocomaan

    Not sure if you saw this, Yves…

    Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics
    By Charles Ferguson

    The Obama administration recently announced that Larry Summers is resigning as director of the National Economic Council and will return to Harvard early next year. His imminent departure raises several questions: Who will replace him? What will he do next? But more important, it’s a chance to consider the hugely damaging conflicts of interest of the senior academic economists who move among universities, government, and banking.

    Summers is unquestionably brilliant, as all who have dealt with him, including myself, quickly realize. And yet rarely has one individual embodied so much of what is wrong with economics, with academe, and indeed with the American economy. For the past two years, I have immersed myself in those worlds in order to make a film, Inside Job, that takes a sweeping look at the financial crisis. And I found Summers everywhere I turned.

    1. Hugh

      Pardon the language but we really need to stop calling people like Summers who are monumental and serial fuck ups “unquestionably brilliant”. What does that even mean? He drove the economy off the cliff, not once but twice, but he did it brilliantly… Me, I could use less of such brilliance.

      1. Cocomaan

        Good point. One could argue that some of the smartest people in the world work in high finance, but didn’t see the bust coming. I’d guess it’s a matter of perspective, seeing the big picture, and a healthy dose of hubris.

        The article is a great critique of the revolving door: not a lot of new material, but it’s a new look from the perspective of academia rather than Wall Street.

      2. craazyman

        “Unquestionably brilliant means he’s only brilliant if you don’t question it,” said the Joker to the Thief.

  9. Hugh

    The consensus view on changes in economics education is that there should be a greater emphasis on the history of spells.

    It is both laughable and sad that these clowns and charlatans are faced with economic events where they have hundreds of times more data to look at than for previous crises yet they can’t do the analysis themselves. They have to retreat to history. Don’t get me wrong. History is important, but it is suggestive, not determinative. And it doesn’t replace doing the analysis on the current situation.

    Nor are the outlines of that situation hard to discern. They are comprised of a politico-economic kleptocracy that spawned both systemic fraud and an enormous inequality in wealth between looters and lootees. But just as economists missed all this in the build up to and unleashing of the bubble burst and meltdown, they continue to miss it now. Or perhaps “miss” is the wrong word since most of these economists were the paid shills and whores of the kleptocrats. In the responses I scanned there seemed to be a noticeable absence of recognition of their role and culpability in this fiasco.

    They all strike me like the parson who tried to look dignified after being caught in a bordello wearing nothing but his socks. Economics needs to be completely rethought and recast, not sometime in the indefinite future, but now. And these guys show manifestly they are not the ones to do it.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Agreed. If this represents the best collective wisdom of economists today, we are in deep doo-doo. One that caught me was, “There will be adjustments but no paradigm shift” by Gilles Saint-Paul:

      “To summarise: the crisis will (and should) affect the research agenda of the discipline but in a way that can hardly be called a paradigm shift. As for teaching at the undergraduate level, this should lead to no major change except perhaps that more attention should be paid to topics such as credit market imperfections.”

      A few more revealing titles:
      “The “how” hasn’t changed but the “what” has”
      “It should emphasise the possibility of multiple equilibria”
      “Recovery may lead to complacency”
      “Small changes will give way to broader shifts”
      “For now, new questions will be asked of old models”
      “A deeper micro understanding of financial issues is needed”

      These all male pontiffs sound like senile theologians on the cusp of the Reformation, just without the pointy hats. We need a few tweaks perhaps, nothing too radical; undoubtedly higher prices for indulgences would help.

      1. Jackrabbit

        . . . senile theologians on the cusp of the Reformation . . . undoubtedly higher prices for indulgences would help.

        LMAO! Thanks.

      2. psychohistorian

        Cusp of the Reformation….Bleh!

        The jaded part of me notes that evidence has just been released that aliens came down and disabled our nukes w/o problem which in my mind would put the final nail in the coffin of Xtianity relegating to the mythological status it deserves. But no, the fascistic/corporatistic and Xtianity cabal running America for the uber rich continue to hold power.

        It just seems really stupid to be destroying society and the world in which it is attempting to thrive for mythological religious feelings of entitlement and anti-social decadence of the uber rich.

  10. MarcoPolo


    It’s hard to know exactly how this plays out. But to my mind this is what QE brings. One should not forget that the US$ does not exist in a vacuum. And a new “Plaza Accord” can be used as a method to break away from $ dominance. My sense is that the French would love that (as well as the Chinese) and there may be real advantages to the US as well.

  11. skippy

    The universe is strange today Yves. On *ads by goggle* on top of the page I get this see:

    Talk on Capitalism Capitalism: A Moral Defence by Ayn Rand Institute Head 11/10 Sydney @

    Dr. Yaron Brook will demonstrate how Ayn Rand’s revolutionary ethics of rational self-interest supplied the moral foundation that previous proponents of capitalism lacked. Dr. Brook will explain why individual rights are crucial for capitalism’s survival – why productivity and profit, the “selfish greed” that conservatives abhor, are not vices but cardinal virtues. He will explain why as individuals we must proudly embrace the radical individualism our lives and happiness require.

    Skippy…and its held at the Tatters Club Sydney…roflmao!!!

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