Links 11/16/10

Pterosaur reptile used “pole vault” trick for take-off BBC (hat tip reader John M

How to Speak Like a 17th Century Vagabond Cryptonym (hat tip Richard Smith, via Paul Kedrosky)

Major spy scandal as five Scandinavian governments catch the U.S. watching their citizens Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Mr. Obama’s Most Recent “2%” Sellout is his Worst Yet Michael Hudson

Merkel Defends Tough Stance on Euro Bailouts Der Spiegel (hat tip Richard Smith)

There’s an interesting gap between what Mr. Market is up to versus the escalating noise level from politicians and the media on the Euro sovereign risk front per Nemo. Periphery country debt spreads were pretty much flat, Ireland actually tightened, but you’d never know that from stories like this: Ireland told: Take EU bailout or trigger crisis Guardian and Contagion hits Portugal as Ireland dithers on Rescue Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (hat tip Richard Smith). Or is it that Mr. Market is pleased with the properly cowed state of the EU officialdom?

The levelling-off in OTC derivatives FT Alphaville

G.M. Rising: Who Should Get the Credit? Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times. Entirely predictable. As someone who has worked with PE companies, I’m far more predisposed towards Gladwell’s point of view.

This Week’s Developments in Foreclosure Fraud David Dayen, FireDogLake. Among other things, Dayen dispatches a rumor floated last week by John Carney about lame-duck intervention on behalf of MERS. Some concerned readers had e-mailed us, and we are equally skeptical. The source of Carney’s rumor is Neil Garfield, who has made such wild, unsubstantiated claims in the past that he is virtually a negative indictor.

Treasury bonds suffer a post-QE2 shakeout Financial Times. This proves the point Marshall Auerback made in a recent post, that the Fed’s QE2 program is operationally inept. The Fed can’t control both volume and price, and if it had wanted to hit a target yield, which was presumably point, it should have said so and committed to buying in whatever volume proved necessary.

Fed’s Dudley: QE2 Exit Could Take Years Reuters

Antidote du jour:

Picture 45

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  1. Martin

    In the article of Andrew Sorkin, he basically names two issues, that were improved by the financial engineers.
    Separation from useless parts of the business and reduction of legacy costs.

    If the first would have been done consequently, there wouldn’t have been a GM in the late 90s any more.

    The second is only possible to that degree in a default. Gladwell in his article had explained in detail, what Wagoner did to reduce e.g. legacy costs. But of course unions and workers will not be willing to let too many promises made go, when the company can pay, and bond holders don’t have to pay anything.

    That is probably the point of Sorkin – adhering to contractual promises to workers is failure; adhering to contractual promises to bond holders is winning.

  2. Ted K

    Let me just preface this by saying I am not Jewish, so I consider the following to be “reverse racism” before all the self-righteous cocks*ckers here start attacking me.

    You know Schwartz is usually a Jewish name yes??? And Jews are usually sharp as hell. How could Nelson Schwartz be so damed dumb to buy that bullshit from an obviously extremely biased source??? I mean isn’t a journalist supposed to take a few grains of cynicism with him when he’s listening to this crap from a BANK WORKER?????? What am I missing here people??? It’s been obvious from the getgo these jerkwads didn’t want to modify the loans.

  3. attempter


    Critics of the Obama-Bush agenda are recalling how America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century was an era of economic polarization and class war. At that time the Democratic leader William Jennings Bryan accused Wall Street and Eastern creditors of crucifying the American economy on a cross of gold. Restoration of gold at its pre-Civil War price entailed a financial war in the form of debt deflation. Falling prices and incomes received by farmers and wage labor made the burden of paying debts heavier. The Income Tax of 1913 sought to rectify this by only falling on the wealthiest 1% of the population – for they were the only ones obliged to file tax returns. Capital gains were taxed at normal rates. So most of the tax burden fell on finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector.

    The vested interests have been fighting back for a century, and now see victory within reach with the perpetuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, phase-out of the estate tax on wealth, the tax shift off property onto labor income and consumer sales, and slashing government spending on anything besides more bailouts and subsidies for the emerging financial oligarchy.

    That sums it up, and should put in perspective things like the Zoellick gold-standard trial balloon.

    The word “conservative” is almost never appropriate; what we see from the elites, including both Washington parties, across the board is nothing but aggressively reactionary policy assaults.

    As in every piece Hudson reminds us of what we need to do (to the extent we’re still going to function in something similar to the existing dispensation) – shift the entire burden of taxation off productive labor and onto land, interest, hoarded currency, and all other unproductive rents.

    Re 17th century vagabonds:

    If we don’t do at the very least what Hudson proposes, then here’s what’s in store for us:

    You can take that dictionary along.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Do you not see the Big Lie here? The income tax was sold in 1913 on the promise that it would never touch wage earners; only the richest 1 percent.

      Surprise! Now even pimply-faced teenagers earning minimum wage at the hamburger stand get nicked for withholding — shamefully; scandalously.

      Predictably, the politics of envy kicked in. Working folks, taxed to their knees, now denounce ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ despite progressive rates which apply to higher incomes (and larger estates, in the case of the macabre death tax).

      It took less than a hundred years to turn perceptions on their head, and the original lie is forgotten (obviously such government perfidy is not gonna be taught in public skools).

      Both the Federal Reserve and the income tax are engines of war finance, as the dismal weekly statistics on the Af/Pak ritual slaughter confirm.

      Anyone who pushes for more taxes to feed the Beast, instead of slashing the living piss out of ‘defense’ spending, is by definition a War Pig. Sorry, Michael Hudson.

      1. Jeff65


        If we can’t have good government, let’s have none. The asset rich can then protect those assets at their own cost.

      2. attempter

        Hudson wants to shift the taxes. Whether or not his depiction of the original income tax is idealized, it’s far too regressive today. I’d happily get rid of it for all but the highest extractors, and impose the rates of justice upon them.

        I don’t think anyone disagrees about the war machine, so I’m not sure with whom you’re arguing.

        That’s all reformism, though, which I don’t think is possible. If it were ever politically possible to bring morality and rationality to the tax code, it would be possible to bring them much further.

      3. par4

        Then the rich will hire mercenaries to kill whoever is in their way. More democracy is what we need not less government.

    2. craazyman

      thank you attempter for the nod to Mr. Nace’s fascinating book GANGS OF AMERICA. I have downloaded the free PDF and am eagerly reading it.

      Mr. Nace quotes Abraham Lincoln’s foreboding vision of corporate power in 1864. Linclon writes in a letter to a friend:

      “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic
      is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the
      safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”

      That quote hardly seems out of date. And while it has been 150 years since then — that is not much in historical time. Lincoln’s fears may yet come true, since the people today are so beaten down that anyone who calls out the Financial Slave Ship Gulag Press Gang Corporations for what they are seems to be thought of as a “radical”.

      ha ha hahaha. A radical. Just like the Founding Fathers. It is not radical to believe that money should serve man, but today it seems accepted as an act of nature that man should serve money. Truly that is a state of nature, I suppose.

        1. attempter

          So we have a disputed quote. So what’s your point?

          I think I’ll go and point out everywhere I can that it’s kind of a fib that Lincoln opposed slavery. (He really didn’t care much about it, as his letter to Garrison demonstrates.)

          BTW, Snopes is a systematically pro-system, pro-corporate “resource”. All its debunkings just happen to go in that direction. But look for the facts about, e.g., supply side economics or GMO yields (which I just did), and the pickings are slim. As in, I wouldn’t even know how to find it on the site, as there’s no Search function.

          But just click on “Business” and you’ll see where they’re at. Poor wittlwe business, always getting picked on by those nasty rumor-mongers.

          So I wouldn’t take them as a reliable resource on the Lincoln quote.

        2. attempter

          I wanted to clarify: By “not being able to find”, I mean everything’s organized in an intentionally unsystematized way. The site wants you to read amusing lists, but not to go looking for the facts on particular topics.

  4. Jaded journo

    As usual, Sorkin sucks up for access and writes a waste of a column. He conflates the benefits of bankruptcy with the practices of PE.

    The not so sotto voce argument here is that this example of hard-hearted enlightenment proves PE works. Not quite. Any new managers would have declared insolvency at GM. Rattner and company did so. Big deal.

    Claims that PE can do anything beyond financial engineering still seems a completely reasonable starting point for examining any buyout.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘Treasury bonds suffer QE2 shakeout’

    Do tell! I could have written that headline on Nov. 3rd; practically did, in fact, denouncing it as ‘Bernanke’s folly.’

    After all, what happened in the last go-round in March 2009? Yield on the 10-year note dropped 50 bips from 3.0% to 2.5% on announcement day. Six weeks later, it was back to 3.0%. Six more weeks, and it was at 4%. Three hunnerd billion just don’t buy what it used to, eh Benny?

    This ain’t bloody rocket science, except maybe for goofball Princeton academics who ‘don’t do technical analysis.’ But the chart of the 10-year yield don’t lie: Bernanke’s fraudulent chain letter scheme has failed, spectacularly.

    Off with his pointy head!

    1. eric anderson

      If we actually had a news media in this country with a brain attached, they would have pointed out what you just did on the day QE2 was floated as a trial balloon. Not only that, every reporter would be confronting Geithner and Bernanke and any other government stooge who supports the policy with these facts at every opportunity.

      If we actually had a functioning new media…

  6. LeeAnne

    Major spy scandal as five Scandinavian governments catch the U.S. watching their citizens

    This is good news since it seems that only outside forces, countries other than the US/UK finance gangsters driving the political economy, can help the US save itself.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    As we humans busy ourselves to save the world, this kind animal here reminds us to not forget to smell the daffodils!!

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