Links New Year’s Eve Day

The Most Anticipated Products & Technologies of 2011 PCMagazine

Georgia Prisoners End Protest, But Continue Demands ColorLines (hat tip reader essy). This is from two weeks back. but is relevant because I linked to a story that discussed the strike and never put a link to one on how it played out.

Doctors Getting Rich With Fusion Surgery Debunked by Studies Bloomberg. Back surgery is arguably the most abused type of surgery, but there are also a lot of knee procedures that have low efficacy rates.

Former NIH Director Spins Through Revolving Door, Ends Up at Sanofi-Aventis Health Care Renewal (hat tip reader Francois T)

Pricing Fracas Leads to Coal Shortage Caixin

Alter’s ‘The Promise’ Epilogue: Obama Team’s Dysfunction Prompted Lack Of Focus On Jobs; Bill Clinton Annoyed At White House Huffington Post (hat tip reader Tim S). Ahem, I think this infighting story is still too kind to Obama. This is a corporatist team, and any plan from the principals, even if any one had had free rein, would have amounted to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. In addition, Obama has shown repeatedly that he is more interested in being able to claim he got a deal/policy done rather than having said deal/policy make an iota of sense.

Manhattanites Seek Luxury Rentals as Cost Beats Buying Bloomberg

Curiously Weak Consumer Confidence Tim Duy

Rattner to Pay $10 Million in Settlement With Cuomo New York Times

Why Can’t Europe Avoid Another Crisis? Why Can’t the U.S.? Simon Johnson

Retailers Swipe at Credit-Card Plan Wall Street Journal

Commercial property loans pose new threat Gillian Tett, Financial Times. Not new news, but a reminder of how central banks have painted themselves in a corner with super low interest rates.

Biggest Surprise of Last Two Years: Bad at Losing Mike Konczal

Noncompliance with HAMP Guidelines as an Affirmative Foreclosure Defense? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer Foreign Affairs (hat tip reader May S). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2010-12-31 at 1.40.55 AM

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  1. Jojo

    Incredible Pics from ISS by NASA astronaut Wheelock
    November 22, 2010

    On September 22, 2010, with the departure of the Expedition 23 crew, Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock assumed command of the International Space Station and the Expedition 25 crew. He is also known as @Astro_Wheels on twitter, where he has been tweeting pictures to his followers since he arrived at the space station. We thought that we should put some of them together as a tribute to him and the whole ISS crew. The images bring breathtaking views from our only off planet Vista point. The following pictures are all visible on Astro_Wheels’ twitpic account and for these we are eternally grateful to him for sharing these with the world. The captions are all his own words. [29 Pictures]

  2. dearieme

    If I wanted to be intellectually serious about an economic/political issue, I hope that I’d no more write “In some cases, these policy changes originated on Capitol Hill: the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, for example, and the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act” than I’d write “In some cases, these policy changes originated on Capitol Hill: the 199* and 200* tax cuts, for example, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act under Clinton”.


    1. Tertium Squid

      I’m with you on that re the Rich Get Richer article. I also noticed this gem:

      “Policymakers have repeatedly failed to enact reforms that would have accommodated new union-organizing techniques and empowered unions to counter the growing power of business to resist labor’s demands.”

      Maybe I’m missing some brilliant new “union organizing technique” that lawmakers are stifling, but I assume that’s actually code for the card check business, which – however new the “technique” – is in principle as old as anything.

      It should say a lot that one of their answers on how to retard the wealth and power of the rich is to make it easier for unions to put the squeeze on workers. What you end up with is a lot more squeezed workers.

      1. AR

        Here’s a novel union-organizing technique:

        Organizing 2.0: Savvy Online Campaign Yields Victory for N.Y. Can Plant Workers
        IBEW, December 28, 2010

        Nonunion workers at Anheuser–Busch InBev Metal Container Corporation in Newburgh, who make cans for Budweiser beer and other brands, were worried about their futures after the company was sold in 2008 to a Belgian group.

        Employees reached out to Local 363 last spring for support – but the fear of captive-audience meetings, harassment and other actions by the employer left many at the plant wary of how to press forward without management sidelining their efforts.

        So organizers got crafty and set up a special blog strictly for the 164 employees to debate, strategize, air concerns and ultimately come together for victory, all while avoiding many of the union-busting tactics so common in most campaigns.

        1. Tertium Squid

          That’s great, except all they did was set up a blog. There was no need for legislation or regulation changes or whatever else. Again, in support of his thesis, Lieberman says:

          “Policymakers have repeatedly failed to enact reforms that would have accommodated new union-organizing techniques and empowered unions to counter the growing power of business to resist labor’s demands.”

          A blog surely is not one of these “new union-organizing techniques” that needs accommodative legislation or regulation.

          So what is, other than card check?

          See, the problem here isn’t you or me, it’s the author’s tendentious refusal to be specific here. I suspect it’s because the “technique” in question is a controversial one that reasonable people can disagree about, and mentioning it will detract from his thesis.

  3. dearieme

    Simon Johnson: “…only because there will be no other way to avoid wasting 60 years of political unification.”

    When I was young my father made sure to explain to me the folly of basing decisions on “sunk costs”. I had assumed that economists knew too. Evidently not.

  4. Jack Rip

    Lieberman’s article in Foreign Affairs misses, in my opinion, important behavior on the conservative side that is crucial in our political system. Conservatives deny and reject science and its effect on the economy. Denying evolution, global warming and homosexuality adds a layer of irresponsibility to the class warfare that is the bread and butter of all conservative movements; this is uniquely American. This rejection has a cost, which is borne mainly by the non-rich.
    The other conservative myth brought about is the absolute evil of taxation. Since taxes are evil, one should never raise them. Progressive taxation, therefore, turns repeatedly regressive and the rich pay less taxes proportionally as conservative dominance continues.

    1. lambert strether

      I especially like the quote at the end of the Alter article from Obama: “All I want for Christmas is an opposition I can negotiate with.” As if the two legacy parties were opposed on anything except how hard to f*** the rest of us.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Not unrelated to lambert s’s comment, a quote from the PC mag article:

      Expect 3D camcorders, which will let you create content for your 3D TV.

      Anyone want to guess what the pioneering market will be for these devices?

      Hint: it starts with ‘p,’ ends with ‘n,’ and has four letters.

        1. aletheia33

          born with severe strabismus and myopia, i can see in 3D sometimes and other times not. sometimes wonder if it’s a factor in having a “different perspective” on things in general. hope that for you as for me the difference in vision has been in some ways enlightening.

  5. effem

    All these “rich getting richer” articles consistently miss monetary policy as the #1 reason for growing inequality. Encourage credit creation, discourage wage increases (i.e., inflation), and bail-out falling asset values repeatedly and you end up with record inequality. Why do we let the Fed off the hook so easily?

  6. Jerry

    The world is full of beginnings and endings. We begin a new year with a certain hope—another year, another chance, a new day. But we carry with us the same fears, the same longings, the same resolutions. Is there ever really anything new about a new year? When the past or present seems so broken that its shards seem to reach well into the future, new days are often filled more with fear than with promise but….
    The new years walk, restoring
    Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
    With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
    The time. Redeem
    The unread vision in the higher dream. (T.S. Eliot)
    “But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
    The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
    his mercies never come to an end;
    they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
    ‘therefore I will hope in him'” (Lamentations 3:21-24).

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    2010 – in the financial zodiac, it’s the Year of The Zombie Nations.

    The zombie virus jumped from banks to sovereign hosts.

    We are all zombies now!!!

  8. ron

    Obama myth making…

    We will see a variety of political media directed towards Obama’s 08 election base trying to paint him as really understanding what needs to be done as he sweeps out the hacks that keep him from doing the people’s business.The story line will be that he got bad advice and always wanted to create Change that mattered etc. Its always a road show with both political parties and there various media lapdogs.

  9. Hugh

    I hated Robert Lieberman’s article on wealth inequality. It’s all policy and historical process, but curiously without the real historical context. It’s government’s fault, or pluralism, or something. Civil rights was too much, disturbed the balance, and pushed business to counterattack against the New Deal. Whatever.

    It all seems like placing the gun on trial for murder, not the trigger puller, and criticizing the victim for getting in the way of the bullet, or maybe asking for it by overreaching.

    Lieberman and/or Hacker-Pierson have just suped up the old “Stuff happened” explanation, you know the one kids and politician’s use. The glass/economy broke. How did that happen? Well,it (the glass or economy) fell. It’s never “I dropped the glass” or “The rich tanked the economy.”

    For those of us who have been writing about kleptocracy for a long time now, these tentative forays into “something’s wrong, must can’t quite put my finger on it” come across as willfully stupid.

    Konczal is also wrong. Obama may well be bad at losing but what we have seen for the last two years is not defeats for Obama but rather his and the Democrats’ agenda. If it looks a lot like the Republican agenda, that is hardly an accident. The two parties have only the most superficial and minor of differences. The only real loser over the last two years has been the rest of us. Why isn’t Konczal writing about how well or poorly we lost?

    1. Albert

      I agree about the Lieberman article on inequality. It’s the same old arguments presupposing this important red/blue divide where the conservatives are the Bad Guys and the liberals are the Good Guys. He totally ignores the deeper philosophical and practical agreement between establishment liberals and conservatives (e.g. pro-centralization, Big Business and Big Government) by focusing on true but superficially so problems with conservative policies. The guy is stuck in the 1980s and 90s before Clinton and GWB rendered useless the concept of the red-blue divide, except for the purposes of distracting and riling up respective bases.

  10. Advocatus Diaboli

    The possibilities are ‘hilarious’.

    One tip enough to put name on watch list

    A year after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials say they have made it easier to add individuals’ names to a terrorist watch list and improved the government’s ability to thwart an attack in the United States.

    The failure to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the watch list last year renewed concerns that the government’s system to screen out potential terrorists was flawed. Even though Abdulmutallab’s father had told U.S. officials of his son’s radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person’s name on the watch list.

    Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the watch list.

  11. eightnine2718281828mu5

    Encourage credit creation, discourage wage increases (i.e., inflation), and bail-out falling asset values repeatedly and you end up with record inequality.

    I’d like to highlight the key word here, which is ‘repeatedly’; during every recession we have conservatives cutting back the social safety net to force people to take jobs at ever lower compensation levels. At the same time the Fed steps in to protect the financial assets of the upper class.

    Wash, rinse, repeat; after a few cycles the desired effect is achieved.

    Another form of class warfare: The upper classes view law, medicine, and finance as acceptable career paths for their offspring. Tech has historically paid well, but it lacks the cachet of social status and tends to be avoided by the upper class.

    And which of these professions is specifically targeted by our H1B program?

    Why it’s tech of course, and every dollar saved on tech salaries flows up the management chain.

    I saw a cable news segment last night where one of the panelists speculated that the DREAM act might get enough votes for passage if the administration could pick off a couple conservatives by increasing H1B levels. With unemployment at ~10% we have conservatives convinced that more folks should be standing in unemployment lines.

    Gates, Ellison, and Otellini will not rest until an engineer’s salaries are pounded level with the national median.

    And of course they’re already complaining that we don’t graduate enough scientists and engineers. Apparently they believe that college students shouldn’t notice that the H1B program is being used to put a ceiling on the incomes of these professions.

  12. Bev

    Could you type the names of the unusual animals that you show? This one is so cute, but I’ve never seen it before. What is it?

    And, thanks for all the good insight during this past year and hopefully more for this upcoming year.

  13. IF

    Happy New Year from the Owens valley, right next to Mt. Whitney! I was hoping to hit some hot springs, but it seems California is getting a lot of snow this winter, making travel unpredictable. Barry linked to an article how global warming made CA colder. Any case, best to you and your good work!

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