Links 1/21/11

Birds post ‘no trespassing’ signs BBC

Deep sea fission World Nuclear News

Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard YouTube (hat tip reader Scott A)

Report reveals flooding’s massive impact on farms and mining The Australian (hat tip reader Skippy)

Freshman Republicans want even longer Afghan war Salon (hat tip reader May S)

World needs $100 trillion more credit, says World Economic Forum Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex). No joke, it says we can double credit levels without having a crisis. And the piece was co-authored by McKinsey, which has the biggest banking practice of any consulting firm. I might accept this proposition if they can tell me where all the equity is supposed to come from, but I imagine they finesse this issue.

China Goes to Nixon Paul Krugman, New York Times. Erm, Nouriel Roubini was talking about inflation eventually ruining China’s terms of trade in 2007.

Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens New York Times

Obama’s unforced regulatory fumble Andrew Leonard, Salon (hat tip reader May S)

JPMorgan’s EMC Mortgage Sued Over Home Loan Documents Bloomberg. Aha, no wonder Wells got so sanctimonious yesterday, since it is Wells that really suing JPM over buybacks: Wells Fargo Won’t ‘Pay Up’ to Settle Mortgage Buybacks Bloomberg. My industry sources do not know Wells’ Fannie/Freddie deals, but report Wells’ non-conforming loans were just as bad as everyone else’s.

Fix Foreclosure Fraud With a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights Richard Eskow, Huffington Post (hat tip reader Mary S)

Banks Want Pieces of Fannie-Freddie Pie Louise Story, New York Times. This is absolutely ridiculous, and says a lot about the brazenness of the banking industry that they have the nerve to propose this. I’d shred this except I don’t even want to dignify the idea by giving it unwarranted attention.

Did the Poor Cause the Crisis? Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate

Do capital controls work? Eduardo Levy-Yeyati, VoxEU

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 3.09.14 AM

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    1. financial matters

      The bird looks like a Jungle Myna from southern Asia that likes to pick ticks off of grazing mammals..

  1. charles 2

    Deep sea fission is very robust, thanks to unexhaustible amount of water that can mitigate a loss of coolant accident and shield efficiently against radiation. It is the only nuclear design that is war-proof (the war risk is the elephant in the room for all nuclear plant safety assesments)

    But submarines have the nasty habit of being expensive. Keeping it at an affordable price is going to be a challenge.

  2. DownSouth

    Re: “Did the Poor Cause the Crisis?” Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate

    Back in the early 1980s, during the height of the culture wars, I had a friend who always claimed that gays were “the last nig-ers.”

    But now gays have gained respectability. So in the never-ending quest for scapegoats, have working people now replaced gays as “the last nig-ers”?

    If we look at Johnson’s evidence, that appears to be the case.

    But if so, isn’t this a historical first? Has any civilization in the history of man ever explicitly singled out its workers to heap society’s problems upon? Did the Greeks blame their slaves for their political problems? Did the medieval nobility blame the peasants for their failures? Quite the opposite, isn’t the trick normally to find some group of people that looks different or thinks different and blame the plight of the huddled masses on it? Imperial Spain had the Jews and the Muslims. In Nazi Germany it was predominately the Jews, along with a plethora of other small and powerless groups, equally helpless in the face of the fascist juggernaut. In the U.S. it has been the Indians and then the blacks and then, beginning in the 1980s, the gays.

    But hasn’t the trick always been to mollify the workers by blaming their predicament on anyone but those who were actually responsible for it? But now it is the workers themselves who are being blamed.

    Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

    1. DownSouth

      Re: “Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens” New York Times

      Still, discussions about something as far-reaching as bankruptcy could give governors and others more leverage in bargaining with unionized public workers.

      “They are readying a massive assault on us,” said Charles M. Loveless, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

      Well this makes a little bit more sense than throwing stones at all workers.

      Have public sector workers become the new gays?

    2. DownSouth

      Re: “Obama’s unforced regulatory fumble” Andrew Leonard, Salon (hat tip reader May S)

      This article has a fatal flaw, and that is that it is oblivious to the regulatory double standard that exists in America.

      BP and Goldman Sachs operate with impunity in a regulation-free world. But if you happen to be a small businessman, the regulators mutate into tyrants, ruthlessly and unforgivingly enforcing the most trivial and petty of legalisms. In this labyrinthine world of rules and regulations, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr: Hyde.

      So while the BPs and Goldman Sachs of the world get to deal with Dr. Jekyll, the rest of us get stuck with Mr. Hyde. There are a lot of people out there unhappy with Mr. Hyde, and Obama makes them believe he’s going to do something about that. Of course that’s not what’s going to happen at all. Obama is cynically exploiting the discontent of the majority, those who have had the experience of dealing with Mr. Hyde. But Obama will continue to turn a blind eye to Mr. Hyde. Obama’s real goal is to make Dr. Jekyll even more magnanimous than he already is.

    3. Tertium Squid

      It’s not “the poor” that are dumped on popularly, that’s Johnson’s own conclusion.

      It’s those that are irresponsible, frivolous or unlucky. Always someone other than us, the stalwart backbones of society.

      Ever wonder why some women are so eager to paint rape victims as tarts who had it coming? We put as much psychological distance as we can between us and that Great Awful Thing.

    4. tenletters

      These days net producers ARE a different looking and sounding novel minority and so qualify as national scapegoats.

    5. Anonymous Jones

      “Did the medieval nobility blame the peasants for their failures?”

      They must have. What evidence do we have that they acted differently? Their own apologia?

  3. hondje

    Yves, I think the daily links/antidote shouldn’t be rolled up like the other posts. Just my $0.02

  4. john bougearel


    This “Read the Rest” application is silly and annoying. In order to scan your links today, I had to click through the “read the rest” app.

    There is a redundancy too to the app because under Recent Items, if I want to read beyond the headline, I can just click to open the links under Recent Items. For now, that is going to be the solution to my end.

    1. lambert strether

      Very much agreed on the “read mores” for both links and the articles.

      One of the distinctive pleasures of NC has always been that the long form stuff was right up front, and readers could get a lot of goodness just from the front page. I far prefer that layout, and don’t think a thing is lost on the clickthroughs, if that’s a concern.

      If the concern is that stories fall off the front page too fast, then a “Recent posts” box would solve that.

    2. carol

      The last days I come across a lot of comments AGAINST the new format.

      Perhaps — due to that new format — I missed it, but has there been presented an explanation re the change in format of this until now #1 blog?

      I only come across ‘unhappy’ readers of this blog who used to be VERY satisfied with all the excellent work and thinking expressed by Yves et al. and with the way it was presented.

      Why ‘modernize’ the format?

        1. carol

          Thanks for the link with the full rationale for the change!
          I do now understand that you have to do something practical against site scrapers.

          As Ed Harrison is quoted in that link: “…. Summary RSS feed only (just temporary)”, I hope that this site will only need truncated posts temporarily too.

          P.S. Yes, the number of complaints is small compared to the huge readership, but larger than the number of hoorays. Damn those evil site scrapers.

  5. john bougearel

    AS per Andrew Leonard’s “Obama’s unforced regulatory fumble” we find Obama blaming regulation for his failure to save or create jobs. Tsk, Tsk, Mr. President.

    1. Wendy

      ditto. I too prefer to not have the posts truncated and have to click “read the rest” to see more than a few lines.

      1. nowhereman

        Who gives a rats ass about what you prefer. The whiners here remind me of the privileged classes who disdain having to make any effort to educate themselves.
        No, “you do it for me” is the mantra. ISN’T IT TIME YOU GREW UP!

        1. Wendy

          Don’t tell me, let me guess: you also get road rage… or rather inflict it on those around you?
          Lighten up, nowhere. Plenty of proprietors don’t just loathe feedback, like you seem to think, they actually welcome it. That’s the spirit in which the comments are offered. Cheers, and have a great weekend.

    2. Francois T

      “Obama blaming regulation for his failure to save or create jobs.”

      Obama is telling the business world he is willing to do what it takes to collect the cool and non-negligible billion dollars he shall need for his re-election.

      Obama has a very strong belief in his own importnace.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.’ — NYT article

    I wouldn’t say the U.S. states have much actual sovereignty left after decades of federal encroachment (and the loss 150 years ago of the sine qua non of sovereignty, the right to secede). But if one buys into the hoary myth of state sovereignty, the implications are interesting.

    The long history of sovereign defaults by nation-states shows that a negotiation process with creditors ensues, in which the defaulted debtor holds most of the cards. Each case proceeds on its own rules and schedule (sometimes multi-decades) and reaches a different result, since there is no internationally-sanctioned procedure for sovereign bankruptcy.

    Ultimately, when push comes to shove, sovereignty doesn’t inhibit a badly-managed government from defaulting. At the U.S. state level, it’s a question of whether creditors prefer an established procedure with an experienced third-party referee (i.e., U.S. bankruptcy court), or a de novo legal adventure where the only precedent is the long-ago Arkansas default in 1933, which dragged on into the late 1940s before finally being resolved by a refunding.

    Bankruptcy, I’d think, would produce more predictable, consistent results — and might even lower borrowing costs. After all, there’s a huge corporate bond market, all of which is subject to bankruptcy jurisdiction in case of default. Would closing the U.S. bankruptcy courts lower corporate borrowing costs? I should think not! And likewise for the states.

    Understandably public employees, depending on their political influence, will prefer to take their chances with the prevailing, wholly discretionary approach. If this remains the standard, I would expect a considerable polarization, with failed states such as Illinois being denied all but secured credit at any price, while fiscally strong states (e.g. North Dakota) may not even need to borrow at all. Under continued economic strain, labor mobility (i.e., wholesale migration from places such as Michigan, Illinois and California) will actually accelerate the collapse of the most mismanaged states, in a reverse replay of the Arkies and Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl for Big Cali in the 1930s.

    Y’all come back now, ya hear?!

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Mass migration out of the industrial heartland is a nice idea that won’t happen.

      Despite what you’ve heard about the Bank of North Dakota, the state it lives in has been depopulating for several decades. All through the Great Plains, little farm towns have been drying up & blowing away. I grew up in southern Kansas, it’s pretty much the same everywhere.

      For the most part, population is going to stay right where it is because that’s where the infrastructure is. Texas might swap population with California, but nobody’s going north. Migration out of the plains will continue regardless.

      If the states want to be treated like states, there is a solution: A state-led Constitutional Convention. And while that’s said to be a Pandora’s box of uncertainty, closer examination hints of two emerging trends:

      One, NIMBY. Which is to say, the end of hated federal mandates, which might just be the end of federalism as we’ve known it.

      The second: The empowerment of state governors. Right now, 40+ of them are figureheads. If 34 of them can do an end-run around the entire Washington mess, then it’s certain they will want a stake in whatever new system emerges. In the original Constitution the states had real power at the federal level, as states, not individual voters, selected the President, the Vice-President & the Senate.

      I see no possibility that Congress, the President, or Federal courts can resolve the current mess. The forces working against them – Bankers, the Pentagon, industrialists, lobbyists, big money in general, are far too powerful. Bloggers are deluded if they think they can change this. So far as the forces currently available, the only hope is with state courts, but these courts cannot run on without consequences elsewhere, and they are limited to the land registry. They cannot address the deeper problems.

      Why should insolvent states keep sending their money to Wall Street & Afghanistan? Why?

      1. Jim Haygood

        One of the best correlations with internal migration is state income taxes. Four of the states gaining Congressional seats (Florida, Texas, Nevada and Washington) have no state income tax … while every state losing Congressional seats does. Since only eight states lack income taxes, this result is FAR from being random chance.

        You’re quite right that Amendment XVII destroyed the republic, as did the preceding Amendment XVI and the Federal Reserve Act, all enacted in the plutocratic coup of the annus horribilis 1913. And they had the nerve (laughing up their diamond-cufflinked silk sleeves) to call it ‘progressive’ — AH HA HA HA! The joke was on us … :-(

    2. hermanas

      Thanks Jim for opening this window. What’s bothering me is the idea that pensions and munis are going belly up while the masters of finance reap million dollar bonuses. Is there a connection, or question as to where the money is going?

  7. MIchaelC

    Comments on the new format.

    I like it. Previously, in order to read the comments I had to click on the individual post anyway, so the new format is a better use of the real estate IMHO.

    Since the Recent post section is limited to five entries, and Links are a standard feature, is it possible to create a “Links” button to free up the slot in the recent items section?

    Substance trumps form here so I wouldn’t fuss too much over the form but it would be nice to extend the recent items sections to capture older posts .

  8. dingusansich

    I disagree about the new format. I much prefer the old style. Now the main page loses its pictures. Boring!

    Yves, if you still want to roll up posts because of a preference for more stories on the front page, how about a compromise: abbreviate stories (not the links) over a day old, but leave the others fully revealed.

    That’s how FDL manages its front page. Readers must click-through to comments. That’s all right by me, since I read comments only occasionally.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speaking of formats, the color scheme here (persimmon red/black) reminds me a little of a Japanese miso-soup bowl.

  10. Skippy

    I got my tail wet and set it out to dry, only to find a few economists gnawing upon it, Universe or elitist’s, only one chooses how it acts and hence should be judged…the Universe frequently wares a black head piece…whom will it fix it’s gaze upon…the humble grazing marsupial or the endless hungering financial sophisticate.

    Skippy…let me check the Universes record of past judgments aka the fossil record…ummm…those that diminish their environment fare badly…oh well.

    PS. two days of sun and comfortable temps after seemingly endless rain, methinks the mob will grow soon, flood children!

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