Links 1/14/11

Ellen Stewart, Off Off Broadway Pioneer, Dies at 91 New York Times

World’s first flu-resistant GM chickens ‘created’ BBC (hat tip reader John M)

EDSAC computer to be rebuilt at Bletchley Park PC Pro

Skepticism and wealthy investors John Hempton (hat tip Richard Smith)

Attorney at firm representing Assange accusers helped facilitate CIA renditions in 2001 Raw Story

GM and Chrysler, owned by the government, lobby the government Washington Post

The Giffords Tragedy: Is the Media Partly at Fault? Matt Taibbi (hat tip reader Mary S)

Auditors See Rising Defaults in Rural Loans New York Times

SEC Probes Financial Firms on Sovereign Fund Bribes Bloomberg. Had wanted to post on it, but up WAAAY too late. Short form: this is a great opportunity sure to be squandered. Unlike insider trading, which typically involves very junior staff, selling to sovereign wealth funds takes pretty seasoned people and often involves top officers. These probes could be used to get knowledgeble insiders to turn other information but the SEC does not think this way. And any bribery will simply start being laundered through “consultants”.

More on Erik Hurst and FT Alphaville on Structural Unemployment Mike Konczal

The US won’t default, even if the debt ceiling stays Felix Salmon

Wonk Room » Conservative Statehouses Hand Out Corporate Tax Breaks While Raising Taxes On Low-Income Citizens Jodi Dean

China Just Hiked Its Bank Reserve Ratio Again Clusterstock

Goldman’s pieties go too far Sebastian Mallaby, Financial Times. Good, but the author misses a key issue: thirty years ago, investment banks were far more concerned about propriety and brand image. Yes, they’d still nick customers, but much less blatantly.

Can Europe Be Saved? Paul Krugman, New York Times. This account will be old hat to reader of the financial press, but a good summary for laypeople who’ve decided to get up to speed.

The risks of raising interest rates too quickly Martin Wolf, Financial Times

This time may truly be different – balance sheet adjustment under population ageing Kiyohiko G Nishimura, a January 7 speech posted at the Bank of International Settlements (hat tip reader Don B)

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 6.47.21 AM

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  1. rjs

    re: The Giffords Tragedy

    he was living at home…we have a problem with boys transitioning to manhood…only 45% of young men under 24 are employed…

      1. Peripheral Visionary

        I’m not sure he is that far off. I have known a few young men in the “failure to launch” category, and I do think there is a strong tendency toward emotional, if not mental, instability in that demographic. A perceived failure to become independent in the outside world can be a severe emotional burden, and can lead to self-destructive behavior.

        The stereotypical “basement dweller” (see: is a young man without an education who lives in his parents’ basement, suffers from various bad habits, and carries out his frustrations through extreme politics and violent video games. That may be a stereotype, but there are too many young men who fit it all too well, and from what I can tell, Loughner does not seem far from it.

        1. Richard Kline

          He killed four people over the age of 70 three of whom were women, shot two other women at point blank range who survived, and put a bullet through a 9 year old girl right in front of him that killed her. That is _not_ ‘failure to launch.’ Whether a behavioral syndrome of such a kind exists is a point perhaps worth discussing, but it simply isn’t relevant to discussing this particular person.

  2. Richard Kline

    Junior: “So Ma, whadda yah think I could buy if I was six figures in debt with an underwater house like the pale goom over there pointing a shiny toy at us?”

    Elder: “You sure get some funny ideas with you brains tipped over on the side of your skull like that.”

  3. Anon

    Isn’t the game up when you deem the banking industry as ship-shape as big tobacco or asbestos, and manage to spin that as a positive? viz.

    The banking industry is entering another “golden age,” with so much cash on hand that earnings will grow 20 percent annually over the next few years, well-known banking analyst Dick Bove told CNBC…

    Bove dismissed worries about the foreclosure mess, in which banks are facing huge potential liabilities from sloppy and sometimes negligent processing of mortgages.

    “They’re legal problems, not financial problems,” he said. “The banking industry is almost like the tobacco industry or the asbestos industry. And by that I mean, for the next five to seven years, they’re going to have to allocate a big chunk of revenue simply to paying legal bills.”

    Banks Entering ‘Golden Age’ With 20% Profit Growth: Bove

    1. Paul Repstock

      The sorry thing is he is right. The banks are gorged with zero interest money from the government, now they just need to kick off some financial wizardry to create a demand for loans. Then tight money will allow raising interest rates (Preventing inflation dontcha know), the warchests borrowed from the Fed at 1% will be loaned at 10%+. I would be stunned if they only show 20% growth of earnings ( with that kind of a profit margin the bonuses and other skimmings (theft) will need to be truly monumental to hold earnings growth down to 20%.

      This is all predicated on maintaining their current illusion of not being bankrupt in this time frame. Not a done deal, but with enough White House and media support, nearly anything is possible. After all, it is just money; they print that every day.

  4. Ina Deaver

    What’s funny is that the mother’s face in the cheetah picture looks exactly like I feel when used as a piece of furniture by the kiddies: “I love you, but you need to shove off.”

  5. Jackrabbit

    NYT today: Banks Poised to Pay Dividends After 3-Year Gap.

    When QE2 was announced in November I wrote that it made more sense to view it as an effort to bolster the banks ahead of equity offerings than as an effort to help the job market (The Fed’s PR-driven excuse). Bank plans to pay dividends are a natural progression toward raising more equity.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Someone wrote on Calculated Risk that the banks are making $5b a month off QEn (I’m not sure where they sourced that number). But whatever it is, it seems that it only tells part of the story. The other question is which of the primary dealers are benefiting the most.

      The whole QE2 episode, from how it was devised to how it was sold and it’s ultimate benefit (raising equity, IMO) is very instructive. A combination of opportunism (coming off QE1) and medium-term planning (equity raises) along with the necessary PR imperative (jobs!).

      1. Jackrabbit

        Now that I think of it, the discussion on CR was probably prompted by the NYT article the other day describing the Fed’s QE trading. The Fed buys about $5 billion per day from primary dealers.

        Sorry for the confusion.

  6. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: SEC Probes Financial Firms on Sovereign Fund Bribes

    “And any bribery will simply start being laundered through ‘consultants’.”

    It already is laundered through consultants. I have worked on this directly, and it is enormously frustrating. Anything that could potentially run afoul of FCPA is handled through various “service providers” (consultants, lawyers, etc.) domiciled overseas, with contracts, invoices, etc. drawn up. Not convincing, but just enough to create doubt in a courtroom environment. What is needed to turn an FCPA case is a witness, but since those involved have strong incentives to keep their mouths shut and/or are domiciled overseas, cooperating witnesses are very hard to come by.

    The real problem is that so many other nations have such little interest in stamping out corruption, and willing cooperation from overseas on anti-corruption cases is very low. The simple fact is that a corruption case can effectively be pursued if it is entirely within the U.S. and/or Europe, but as soon as Africa, Asia, or Latin America enters the picture, it becomes extremely difficult.

  7. Hugh

    I would agree with Konczal that structural unemployment is a canard. I am uncomfortable with his emphasis on the U-3 unemployment rate and I would assume Establishment survey data. The disemployment problem is far larger and far less discussed.

    I like the use of the passive in Can Europe be saved? Saved by whom?

    I haven’t read the Taibbi piece yet but I wrote elsewhere yesterday on media and elite exploitation of the Tucson shootings, essentially that it was a great opportunity for corrupt elites to burnish their image, present a human face, and distract us a while longer from their looting.

    The SEC is worse than useless. If it investigates anything at all, it ends up by enabling wrongdoing by levying such weak penalties against it.

    State legislatures are, if anything, even more dominated by wealthy and corporate interests than the federal government. They have a history of regressive taxation on their citizens. As for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy who own them, these are always portrayed as “necessary” and “needed” for economic growth.

  8. skippy

    Another day of water, mud, sodden belongings and coming together.

    Skippy…Amongst the tragic…there can be seen a better time…one that even supersedes the the previous days…we are more then the sum of our daily toil…our earthly possessions…we are tribe… ancestral good will…we come together in the face of that which we can not subjugate…TOO SHARE THE BURDEN! WATCH US SHARE!

  9. Jack Parsons

    “EDSAC computer to be rebuilt at Bletchley Park”

    Someday Konrad Zuse will get the recognition he deserved:

    It’s a great story. He was a grad student in aviation and worked at Messerschmidt as a “Computer” aka someone who did calculations. He said “y’know, it would be cool if a machine could do this”. A few years and a lot of components later, he had a calculating gizmo sort-of working in his parents’ parlor.

    He made the mistake of being on the losing side of a war; computer history was written by the victors.

  10. So that's how it's gonna be ;0)

    To whom it may concern. We can skip the confusion [mine, I’m guessing]. I can even address the proper audience, if you’d like. Let me know your preference and I can share my thoughts at your query.

    Thanks. Peace and Prosperity.

  11. Should I ...

    … just give up on the idea of genuine sharing?

    I swear I have nothing to do with THE anonymous that’s in all the blogs. It’s so cosmically ironic that I have used a similar screenname. I’m not even kidding.

    Had I known, I’d’a chose something different… no doubt at all just for the karma and everything. I’m not into the bad vibe thing. Just that ignorance is bliss, until the cliff appears, and then ignorance is pain. I am just looking with a certain kind of binoculars in a sense, and I’m trying to share what I see. I realize that there are those that gain from everything being concealed. And there is a need to protect from the baddies in other regards. But if I knew the right venue perhaps it would be easier. Somehow everything gets financialized, politicized, and hyperbolized… and the truth somehow slips through the cracks. Sad. TOF.

    Perhaps there is a better way?

  12. PQS

    This article is from last year, but I heard an article on Deutschewelle radio last night in which this former banker was quoted. (Couldn’t get a link from DW’s site – too byzantine…)

    The article also said that there is a private organization in the UK dedicated to raising awareness about limiting bankers’ pay, which, of course, has about .0001 chance of any success. (Also couldn’t get a link from the google on this…)

    The above “City Boy” has extremely harsh words for his former employers and co-workers. Would that even one person in the US would have a similar Great Awakening.

    1. Worth Reading

      Thanks for sharing that aticle. It was worth reading. Here’s the key quote for me:

      “If the banking crash happens again in 10 years time no-one should be surprised,” he [former City Boy trader] said.

      And it’s true. Next time, no-one can say – “Who could’a node?” Cuz so many people are saying it already, right now. Only the ‘greater fool’ could notta node [not have known]. That’s why so many work so hard to be sure that there is ALWAYS a greater fool.

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