Links 11/2/10

Jellyfish cells ‘diagnose’ cancer BBC

Japan dolphin hunt town meets with activists PhysOrg

Opt Out of a Body Scan? Then Brace Yourself New York Times

The Phantom Left Chris Hedges (hat tip reader Foppe)

Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’ Independent (hat tip reader May S)

Foreign Money, National Security, And The Midterm Elections Simon Johnson

Brazil wins with Dilma Rousseff Guardian (hat tip reader Doug T)

‘Obama Failed to Connect the Dots’ Der Spiegel (hat tip Mark Thoma) An interview with Robert Reich

Fed easing may mean 20 percent dollar drop: Gross Reuters (hat tip reader Swedish Lex). I think this is being overhyped. If the Republicans come in, the threat of more serious Fed oversight will rise greatly. They will be very reluctant to get aggressive with QE2 and have Congress trying to leash them.

Debt costs jump for Dublin and Lisbon Financial Times

QE2 risks currency wars and the end of dollar hegemony Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex). Includes a discussion of capital controls.’

EU leaders trigger another bond market crisis Eurointelligence. The headline is a notch too alarmist, but directionally correct.

Greek Woes Marc Chandler

UK-Swiss deal undermines global efforts to tackle tax avoidance Guardian (hat tip reader May S_

Big Investors Appear Out of Thin Air Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

Ambac warns over prospect of bankruptcy Financial Times

Lawmaker Questions Power to Foreclose Wall Street Journal. Another attack on MERS

Foreclosure crisis is a sitting duck for politicians Financial Times (hat tip reader Richard Smith)

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Ina Deaver

    Oh thanks – now I have “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea” running through my head. At work. Cute kid, cute whale.

    Those TSA screeners are awful. That guy with the wallet ought to see what happens if the underwire in your bra sets off the metal detector: by the time I got cleared to go to my flight, I felt profoundly violated. May God have mercy on us all.

  2. Enkco

    From TSA article:

    ‘Can you explain the reason for the new process?’ He said there was nothing new. ‘We have always done this.’ ”

    So, Mr. Delahorne said, “I did what they told me to. But on the other side of the metal detector, I said to another screener, ‘Could you explain to me why the procedure is now different at this airport, like having to remove a wallet that never set off the metal detector?’ And he said, ‘No, no. The process has always been the same, at every airport.’ ”

    We have always been at war with Eurasia.

    1. Jack thomsen

      If we stop killing innocent Muslims – they won’t want to bomb us in our sleep. How about that for a solution?

      Or – how about enforcing the UN sanctions against our ‘buddy’ Israel? they run a concentration camp named Gaza… and we underwrite the occupation.

      I dunno… maybe we could stop doing that.

  3. Peripheral Visionary

    I will vote for the first politician, Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or The Rent Is Too Damn High Party, who will promise to reduce security at airports.

    I realize that security is there so that we can feel safe, but at this point, I will cheerfully take a feeling of fear if I could simply get through the line faster without being virtually strip-searched.

    And on a related note, I will be “opting out” of the virtual strip-search machines for as long as it is an option (and I have to wonder: what would they do if virtually every passenger “opted out”? but knowing this administration, I think I already know the answer to that question.)

    1. Jack thomsen

      see ABOVE

      We could stop killing innocent Muslims – and rein in Israeli death camps for starters… then – nobody will want to kill us!!

      But then the 2% majority will destroy our economy and stop underwriting Democratic candidates – and the warring GOP will take over both houses…. oh… that just happened!

  4. Lins

    First, I want to sincerely thank you for your outstanding contribution, from this blog, to Econned, there are no words to adequately convey the admiration and gratitude I personally have for what you do.

    I rec’d a call yesterday from a client regarding a HAMP horror story. Time constraints did not allow me to get the entire story in detail, however the long and short: this story is very similar to the Gonzo Lira HAMP contribution a few weeks back.

    From what I gathered, this individual started the HAMP process about 10 months ago, has been rejected (or ejected if you will) from the program three times and is still facing foreclosure. Naturally, Bank of America is the service.

    Are you interested in getting a detailed accounting of this story?

  5. Cynthia

    While it’s true, as Chris Hedges aptly points out, that the Left has been reduced to a mere ghost of its former self, it’s also true as Barry Ritholtz aptly points out (see link below), that the battle lines are no longer drawn between Right and Left; they are now being drawn between You and Corporations. The goal of our corporations is to keep the Right and left fighting amongst each other so that our corporate elites are free and clear to walk away with even more wealth and power for themselves.

    So from this I conclude that if there is any place where Corporate America is located on the political spectrum, it is in the Middle. And because American corporations across all sectors of the economy are masters at manipulating us plebs, then it is the Manipulative Middle, not the Extreme Right or Extreme Left, that is the enemy of the people. Unless you didn’t already know by now, the Manipulative Middle is occupied by most, if not all, of our political leaders from both sides of the aisle, including all of our neocon/neolib spin doctors from K Street, and all of our banksters and war profiteers from Wall Street and the Pentagon

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘My brain is bigger than yours.”

    “But my thumbs are opposable.”

    Tune in next week to find out who won.

  7. EmilianoZ

    Plenty of good stuff in James Kwak’s interview with The Straddler:

    I particularly like the idea of “intimidation by maths” (let’s note that journalists who have not served are also intimidated by generals).

    But I’ll excerpt this:
    “In one transaction that ProPublica talks about, JPMorgan did this deal, they got $20 million in fees, they created a CDO whose total value was about a billion dollars, and for whatever reason, instead of selling it to other investors, they held onto it. The next year, when the crisis hit, they booked a loss of about $880 million and Magnetar made about $1 billion. So there are two possibilities here. One is that the people at JPMorgan really thought that the CDO wouldn’t collapse, even though these are people who should have known more about this market than anybody else. The other possibility is that they knew there was a fair chance it would collapse, but the $20 million in fees—half of that went into the bonus pool, most of it went into their bonuses, and they knew that if the collapsed, as long as it didn’t collapse this year, the losses would be borne by other people, which is exactly what happened. So it’s hard to say, were they clever and exploiting their own bank, or were they so caught up in how much money they were making that they were blind to the fact that it was going to collapse?”

    This goes to the heart of the issue. Those guys have a strong incentive to ride or create a bubble because there is no clawback. Too much to gain, too little to lose.

    Nassim Taleb was at some gathering organized by The Economist. Here’s how Buttonwood summarized his talk:

    I’ll excerpt this:
    “Taleb’s answer was to have maluses as well as bonuses, that traders and executives have to be penalised for making mistakes. Without that structure, they will always game the system.”

    Note that Buttonwood said they would post the video. This was the beginning of last week. I’m still waiting. Someone please link to the video if it ever gets out.

  8. paper mac

    The BBC news article is a great example of how not to write a science story. First of all, jellyfish cells are in no way involved in the process described. The use of GFP as a microscopy tool and cell marker is one of the most established technologies in cell biology, and has been around for almost two decades. The use of GFP in viral vectors for the purposes of labelling proliferating cells (in this case cancer cells) has likewise been around for years. It’s not a usable technology in the clinic because no regulatory agency anywhere in the first world will let you inject a cancer patient with your favourite custom lentivirus, and it’s not likely to be anytime soon.

    I was particularly struck by this comment from the study author:

    Prof Maitland said: “When we heard about Dr Tsien’s work, we realised how that advance might be useful in the diagnosis of cancer.”

    This is, frankly, outrageous. GFP was cloned in the early 90s, and it didn’t take long for it to be used in viral vectors. Its use in labelling tumours and other proliferative cell populations has likewise been established for years. Either the reporter or Maitland appear to be suggesting that this is Maitland’s idea, that it’s novel, and that it’s clinically relevant, all of which are false.

    It would have taken all of 10 minutes on wikipedia, and, perhaps, reading a review paper or two for the reporter to discover that he was being sold hard by a PI who had just published a “meh” paper in a low-impact journal and wanted to milk it for some press. It’s kind of ridiculous how scientifically illiterate our science journalists are- even more ignorant of their chosen field than finance journalists, I think.

  9. Ed

    The Independent article on abstract expressionism is a must read, especially in conjunction with the recent exhibit on abstract expressionism at MOMA in New York.

  10. Sundog

    Seems we’re talkin’ perty big numbers.

    The higher cash-in share in combination with low cash-out refinancing activity brought the net dollars of home equity converted to cash to the lowest level in 10 years. In the third quarter, an estimated $7.4 billion in net home equity was cashed out during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $9.4 billion in the second quarter and less than 10 percent of the peak cash-out volume of $84 billion in the second quarter of 2006.

    FraudieMac, “One-Third of Refinancing Homeowners Pay Down Debt in Third Quarter”

  11. Richard Kline

    Chris Hedges is on a major rant, but I’m totally in sympathy with him. While there is an American Left, it’s small and was exiled from any substantively _accurate_ mention in the media a generation ago.

    I find the right in all its stripes—ignoramus, more-for-me-ers, plutocratic puppeteers—distasteful. I consider the vacuity of the liberals a far greater threat though, exactly because they counterbalance nothing. We have a ‘Weimar moment’ here, and while I can’t say that the fascists will win (I mean they already run the country, how could they possibly do it better by making it official?), I know that a tolerant and functional civil society loses one day at a time until there’s nothing left for the bosses to cart away. Americans have always been optimistic, never more than liberal Americans, but we see optimism turned into self-dealing Pollyannaism. Pollyannamation.

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