Links 1/24/11

Researchers find smoking gun of world’s biggest extinction PhysOrg

Holy Fracking Climate Frack!! Brad DeLong

WikiLeaks: the Movie to blow whistle on ‘most dangerous man in the world’ Guardian

Danger: America Is Losing Its Edge In Innovation Forbes. This article is astonishingly lame. Not a single mention of the brain drain to financial services.

Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process Guardian. This is a MAJOR leak.

In praise of … Eric Hobsbawm Guardian. So why is the #1 book in the UK not available on Amazon? Is it because it has the word “Marxism” in the title?

The eurozone’s best solution is the least likely Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times

Have the Media Made the Greek Crisis Worse? [YES] jck

China’s state giants too big to play with Willy Lam, Asia Times

Jeff Immelt’s GE: The Too Biggest To Fail Marcy Wheeler, FireDogLake

The NYT’s Hallucinations of a Business Investment Led Recovery Dean Baker

The State of the Union: What the President Should Say Robert Reich

“Major Swap Participants” — Taking Apart the CFTC’s Proposed Rule Economics of Contempt

Judges to weigh mortgage document destruction Reuters (hat tip reader Foghorn Leghorn)

Mass Hysteria – The Ibanez Decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court Martin Andelman (hat tip April Charney). This is a fine layperson’s summary of Ibanez, if you have friends or colleagues that you’d like to bring up to speed (although the bouquet to NC is over the top)

MERS’ R.K. Abandons Sinking Ship Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Hold $24 Billion in Foreclosed Properties Economic Populist

Inflation is coming – just not yet John Dizard, Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-24 at 12.52.13 AM

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  1. Francois T

    “Not a single mention of the brain drain to financial services.”

    Hey! It’s Forbes we’re talking about here. Fortunately, Paul Kedrosky remedied this faux pas right here.

    You spend your time focusing on the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation and the future of risk capital. From your vantage point, what are the most important trends you see right now to be driving – or threatening – the advancement of our society?

    Paul Kedrosky:The list is endless. High on that list, however, is financialization: the absurd, uneconomic and disastrous distortions introduced into the U.S. economy by its overreliance on the financial sector. We are losing many of our best engineers, scientists, and others to the financial sector at precisely the time that we face some of the most difficult problems in history — precisely the sorts of problems that these people could help us with, were they not too busy creating exotic financial instruments to trade with one another.

    Can it be clearer?

    1. dunkelblau

      And China is losing its best ditch-diggers to factory jobs in the big cities? Give me a break.

    2. anon

      I’m not sure how big of a deal losing our “best engineers” to the financial sector is. It seems like there’s enough engineers bordering on a slight glut of engineers.

      If there was really a shortage of engineers, then there would be rapidly increasing salaries for engineers. Instead, however, engineer salaries have been stagnant for most of this decade.

      1. alex

        That’s the sort of silly conclusion you’re likely to reach when you base your reasoning on facts and data rather than politically convenient assumptions.

        1. john

          That our society does not at present value what engineers do enough to pay for it is the mirror image of what it pays for clever guys to wreck the economy for the rest of us.

      2. Cedric Regula

        China is making lots of engineers for $700/month. It’s cheaper to rent one than be one in the US.

      3. Mighty Booosh

        American engineers want money. Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and other engineers work for peanuts and in Tom Friedman’s flatland, your engineers are competing with people who get paid a pittance in comparison. We are in a spiral to the bottom now at the mercy of multinationals and amoral, anational and ahistoric capitalism.

    3. tyaresun

      I am an ex-engineer working in analytics, mostly for financial services. Most of our hires are PhDs and it breaks my heart to see all the cool research that the applicants are giving up to join me on the dark side.

      The financial troubles of the states are pushing a lot of state funded universities to cut back adding to the exodus. The folks that stay back in academics are being forced to take more money from the industry. I am sure 10 years from today you folks will be complaining about the take over of american academic research institutions by the industry. There will be lots of research to cure the diseases faced by the rich, no research on what ails the poor.

      Welcome to the 21st century.

    4. BondsOfSteel

      Just from casual observance inside the software industry, I think this has slowed down a lot. 3-4 years ago, the elite programmers started moving to hedge funds. Now, it’s facebook (and mobile app start-ups).

      Of course, all my friends who went to hedge funds didn’t come back.

      1. hermanas

        Seems science is inconvenient for half the political spectrum, the half that’s now in charge of funding.

  2. paper mac

    I’m not sure why the layout of the site was changed to require a “read more..” click through on every post, but it would be nice if the “read more” cutoff was a little further along than at present. It’s barely worth skimming the material presented before the break, since it’s difficult to determine from a title and a few lines whether the article is of interest. A word count of the remainder after the break (like might be useful. Keep up the good work.

    1. bevis

      What I like about this site is that the author has not tried to be anonymous. The majority of bloggers seem to insist on being identified only by their ‘handles.’ Yet they also insist that commenters provide their name and email address as a prerequisite to commenting. The double-standard is obviously irritating. I have decided to no longer comment on blogs where this ‘attitude’ prevails. It is nice to know that Yves is REAL and not some shadowy figure hiding behind a keyboard. Thanks Yves for your fine book and blog.

    1. Richard Kline

      Since you are a reliable counter-indicator of value in your comments, le, I’ll take that as an endorsement of the scope and worth of Hobsbawm’s thought. As an historian, he has his facts in order, his intellect is deep, and his bias plain (and one I agree with). I own some of his works, have read others, and recommend him to anyone.

      1. Anon

        I was lucky enough to hear Hobsbawm speak at an event at Jewish Book Week in London a few years back, just after the illegal invasion and occupation Iraq by USUK.

        He is a man with nearly a century’s worth of perspective (he was a schoolboy in Berlin in 1933, and thus observed firsthand the rise of fascism), and as such, was highly, highly pessimistic about the outcome of the current crisis of capital, which he compared to earlier, failed attempts of capital to globalize (eg Napoleonic Wars).

        Optimism of the will, though, as someone once said.

      2. Larry Elasmo

        Eric Hobsbawm is an extremely gifted writer: despite the undeniable brilliance of his intellect he still manages to write in a prose style that is very readable for the layman.

        Currently I’m working on “Socialism and the Avant-Garde, 1880-1914”, Hobsbawm’s account of the relationship between the prewar artistic avant-garde and the workers’ movement of that period, and I find myself constantly making notes, as there is something of interest or some new insight on almost every page.

        In a day and age when so many academic writers rely on jargon to cover up for their lack of any real insight, Hobsbawm’s work is an extraordinary achievement.

  3. a

    “The paper argues that the media contributed to the downward spiral in the level of confidence by investors through its intensified and overly value laden coverage of the Greek case.”

    Exactly. And here it was not just MSM. Naked Capitalism contributed its own little bit, just one more little cog in the whole machine.

    1. Dan Duncan

      “Have the media made the Greek credit crisis worse?”

      The only reason for citing this paper is that it’s a Leftist Primer, laying the foundation for the next claim: “Yeah, and the media is also to blame for making the American Pension Crisis worse.”

      Of this, there is no doubt. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nil. You know it. I know it. And Yves knows it.

      As to the paper itself…it’s a complete joke. It’s nothing more than an ill-conceived opinion dressed in academic pretense.

      Yes, there was an “investor delay” in punishing Greece. Yes, the media accelerated the beat-down. Fine.

      But the media didn’t get on board until the rating agencies started (finally!) to hack away at Greece’s rating. Yes, I know that the rating agencies are a type of “pseudo-media”. But the author doesn’t even reference the dereliction of the rating agencies. Nor does the author include the rating agencies in his definition of media. How could he leave this out?

      The issue in Greece—as in the US with the mortgage crisis and the looming pension crisis is…

      What took the rating agencies so long? Why are they enabling these dysfunctional relationships to persist so long that only tax-payer funded bailouts become the Final Solution?

      But no…according to this academic, the problem lies with the Financial Times, Reuters and Yahoo Finance.
      And the problems with these media outfits…is that they need to show MORE restraint in outlining the depredations of our credit markets. A ridiculous assertion.

      This “academic” paper sucked.

  4. attempter

    I always thought Robert Reich was lame, but I didn’t exactly have him on the police blotter until now.

    It seems the Reich minister is something of a metaphysical and moral philosopher:

    The President should make it clear corporations aren’t to blame. After all, they’re designed to make profits. Nor is it the fault of the rich who have played by the rules. The problem is the rules need fixing.

    Criminals aren’t to blame for committing crimes. After all, they’re designed to commit crimes. And the rules have been “fixed”. They’ve been fixed all too well, by those same criminals. But as Reich would no doubt say, “the rule-fixers aren’t to blame – after all, they’re designed to fix rules.”

    Just how, praytell, does Reich think corporations just happened to come to be “designed” this way? By magic? Does he have any concept of agency? No, it sounds like he’s one of the most mystical of corporatists, and thinks god himself designed corporations as formally enshrined sociopathic profit-seekers. I was wrong; he’s not a philosopher, he’s a theologian. Such corporations were in the Garden of Eden. The Bible just doesn’t mention them. Maybe for Reich’s next book he can discover a new scripture making up for this deficiency. He can be the Joseph Smith of corporatism. Corporate Intelligent Design.

    Re Ibanez:

    Now this is more like it:

    A lot of people say that the homeowners shouldn’t get their homes free and clear under any circumstances. They say that in buying the homes in the first place, they gambled and lost… and therefore should lose their homes that they now can’t refinance and therefore can’t afford. But, according to that way of thinking, why shouldn’t they be able to discharge the debt that’s no longer secured by the mortgage… it would seem that they gambled and won. Gambling, one should remember, cuts both ways, does it not?

    He also argues well that these notes were never “lost” and that the reason the banks don’t produce them is because they don’t want the courts and the world to see how these MBS trusts were never fulfilled.

    As for what happens next, he’s certainly right about how absurdly brazen, even to a childish extent, Congress would have to be to “legalize” all this. Not to mention how the corrupt courts would then have to fraudulently find it constitutional. (But as I’ve argued previously, if Obama’s health racket Stamp can be upheld, then there’s literally nothing to which the commerce clause can’t be applied. That’s part of the point of this Stamp mandate – to legalize every kind of FIRE sector mandate and trampling of federalism.)

    But I’m not so sure the sucker investors are such a hurdle. I doubt Congress cares about them, and they themselves probably don’t want this thing to blow up completely. I expect the usual investor response to quietly seek to be paid off at par or something, but not to try to force the destruction of the whole MBS system in court.

    Yves shouldn’t be abashed by this. The post’s tone is gushing, but the substance is correct. Yves is the primary muckraker of the Land Scandal. This is historical.

  5. M.InTheCity

    Thanks Yves – just bought the Eric Hobsbawm book. Should be interesting. And for fun, I’m having it sent to my work (for some reason I get a kick out of communist books being sent to a fund management company).

  6. Paul Repstock

    –MERS’ R.K. Abandons Sinking Ship–

    Don’t you just hate it when somebody steals yur

  7. rjs

    Re: Holy Fracking Climate Frack!!

    that much of the tundra exposed to thawing temperatures during the winter sets us up for a major permafrost feedback this summer…as the permafrost thaws, it releases copious amounts of frozen methane (in places, ignitable) which is 60 times as potent a greenhouse gas in the short term….

    1. Charlie

      Baby boomers did not run up the deficit, that was done by conservatives, Regean, Bush 1, Bush 2 and Obama and that money was not used for pensions. It was not baby boomers that sent millions of living wage earning jobs offshore it was once again conservatives. It is not baby boomers who benefited most from the run up and subsequent crash of the housing market but conservately controlled banks, lenders, and investors. It is not boomers that want to destroy social security but conservatives (republican and democrat).

  8. Jim

    Eric Cantor said this weekend that anybody 55 and older won’t have to to worry about their social security benefits changing. They want to reduce benefits for all the younger people in the future. This is messed up. The baby boomers are the ones who have had a screeming good economy since world war two, who have run up the deficit to pay for all kinds of pensions they now enjoy, who have profited by sending all the jobs to china and India. They have benefitted from a huge run up in real estate. Now the boomers want to pile the rest of their mess, by reducing social security, on the X and Y generations? Thanks alot Mom and Dad.

    I say cut off the old farts now since they have had such a good run, and LEAVE the benefits in place for the younger crowd. The youngsters have a much more crazy world of debt and problems to deal with and have little to do with screwing it up, or strip mining it.

    1. DownSouth

      You must have had an extremely unhappy childhood. I know of few people who are as explicitly resentful of their parents as you are.

      And when you say “They want to reduce benefits for all the younger people in the future,” who exactly is they?

      Perhaps you should direct your anger against “they” instead of against “the old farts.”

      1. Jim

        Don’t turn it to an attack on me. I have had a great childhood and great parents.

        I’m pissed for the mess the boomers(mostly the politicians, that have been elected by boomers) have left the younger generation to deal with. Just like I said. The boomers since the 1980’s have run up the deficit,while simultaneously sending all the jobs to china. All short term thinking.

        Now just Sunday, Eric Kantor gets on meet the press and says he wants to keep social security for all the people over 55, while raising the retirement age for the younger generations. I think it should be the opposite. Everybody over 55 should have it extended, since they have benefited from all the policies since the 1980’s.

        My point is all the boomers and especially the politicians have had all the cake and want to eat another one, while leaving the younger generations piled with debt and no social security. Lets have capitalism work, where the ones who fucked it up, get to take some accountability.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Jim, I am a firm believer that all Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens are capable of creating all kinds of mess, regardless (or is it, irregardless) of their age.

          If the under-55 ‘youths’ haven’t done it yet, it’s only because they haven’t had their chances.

          For a while, I was too optimistic and thought that a way to a better world was to only allowed under-aged teenagers (i.e. under 18) to run for public office. Anyone over 18 was to be disqualified automatically. These days, I don’t think even that will help.

          1. craazyman

            I think you’re on to something there Prime.

            I figure anyone who wants to run for a high public office is inherently unqualified due to Narcissism and Pathological Ambition. I confess I have thought about it from time to time, but my life circumstances would disqualify me from just about any thing. And my personality would also. So then I start piddling with artistic interests, and employ my power trip fantasies in a medium I control.

            Those who succeed in actually getting elected are doubly unqualified — for obvious reasons. They are skilled Liars as well as pathologically Ambitious Narcissists. LOL.

            It’s really hard to figure what system to use to run things when “two or three are gathered together” as the Good Book says.

            I think it will require a new science of consciousness, maybve a hundred years or so in development. Or maybe 200, considering how fast time moves. Being is like plummeting down a big tube and the scenes rushing by are the things we think are moving through time. No, we’re moving. And the things are still. It makes you wonder whether anything can ever really change.

        2. DownSouth

          Oh, I get it now. When you said “they” you meant the boomers, the “old farts.”

          I thought “they” might be the blacks, or the Jews, or the Gays, or the handicapped, or those with black hair, or left-handed people or the skinny. But no, “they” are “the boomers.”

          And all boomers are equally guilty! Imagine that!

          Where have I heard that concept used before? Ah yes, I remember now. I heard it used in Eichmann’s trial. “You also said that your role in the Final Solution was an accident and that almost anybody could have taken your place, so that potentially almost all Germans are equally guilty,” Hannah Arendt blasted him.

          Ralph Ellison also provides an example of how the concept of all-are-equally-guilty can be put to creative use. In An Extravagance of Laughter he describes a Southern lynch mob:

          It didn’t care whether its victims were guilty or innocent, for guilt lay not in individual acts of wrongdoing but in non-whiteness, in Negro-ness.


          Most Negroes were characterized, in the jargon of sociology, by a “high visibility” of pigmentation which made the group easily distinguishable from other citizens, and therefore easy to keep in line and politically powerless. This powerlessness was justified and reinforced by the stereotypes, which denied blacks individuality and allowed any Negro to be interchangeable with any other. Thus, as far as many whites were concerned, not only were blacks faceless, but this facelessness made the idea of mistaken identity meaningless, and the democratic assumption that Negro citizens should share the individual’s recognized responsibility for the welfare of society was regarded as subversive.

          In this denial of personality (sponsored by both law and custom), anti-Negro stereotypes served as an efficient and easily manipulated instrument of governance.

          Maybe we should make everyone over 65 wear a big grey star on their lapel. That ought to make you happy. We certainly wouldn’t want any crypto-boomers passing as young people, would we?

          1. chad

            the people here certainly have no problem lumping all republicans and conservatives together so why not boomers?

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Chad, in Zen, you live with contradictions.

            So, we are both separate individuals and interconnected.

            The world is both probabalistic and deterministic at the same time.

            That’s why it’s said,

            It’s not yes
            It’s not no
            It’s not both
            And it’s not neither.

            Or something like that.

            In another version, it goes:

            It’s not this
            It’s not that
            It’s not both
            It’s not neither.

          3. DownSouth


            Martin Luther King, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, said “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their chacter.”

            That’s a far cry from saying “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged at all.”

      2. Jim

        I don’t have anything against the old farts and my post is not serious. My point is, the younger generation have gotten stuck with a big pile debt and a culture of short term thinking that has put the younger kids on a path to a third world country. I live in northern california. It’s like living in a third world country already.

        My comment was really in responce to an Eric Kantor’s interview on meet the press this last weekend. His comment was that everybody over 55 gets to keep their social security and all the younger people can have their retirement aged extended. There is no way to make it equitable as the comment below you points out.

        There is plenty of blame to go around. I guess it is mainly the culture of US politics and the lobbyists influence that I have suddenly become painfully aware of that are most frustrating. With the way the mainstream news media reports, it is hard to tell what is right or wrong anymore.

        1. Lyle

          People born between 1937 and 1960 have already had their retirement age increased, Those born 1943-1954 its 66 and for those born in 1960 its 67. With transtions in the intevening years. So he should have put the cutoff at 51 not 55. This was the 1983 social security comprmise. Note that the effect is also to reduce the benefit at 62 as well. Just like to note that 1/2 of medicare is already means tested. It is 95 for those single making under 85k $ 154 up to 107k, 220 up to 160k, 287 up to 214k and 353 above 214k. If as stated the base premium is set at 25 % of the costs if income is above 214k then you pay 100% of the costs of part B if above 214k (double the amounts if married)

      3. Jim

        When I say third world country consider this. I’m looking for a house to buy, or where I can afford to live, I find myself looking for towns with the fewest murders. It is rough out there.

        1. Greg

          I would not be surprised to find that “not serious” language such as you post above is contributory.

    2. JTFaraday

      “The youngsters have a much more crazy world of debt and problems to deal with and have little to do with screwing it up, or strip mining it.”

      The class of boomers that strip mined the economy is the same class with kids who are set up to stip mine it next–and you want to help them.

      Dad, is that you?

        1. Karen

          The real injustice is in the extremely skewed distribution of wealth that has been allowed to develop over the last 30 years or so. 99% of Americans have been shut out of sharing the gains from growth in our GDP. Until the latest crash we were encouraged to borrow to avoid feeling poorer. What we should have done instead was fight for our share.

          The good news is it’s not too late; they still have that money and we can still tax it away. We can still make corporate-governance improvements that have shareholders deciding on the auditing firm and the compensation-study consultants – with no input from management or the directors allowed.

          The bad news is, it’s not going to be easy. As long as the established elites keep presenting us with choices between corrupt politician A and corrupt politician B, we can’t get anywhere just by voting. We have to figure out how to get good candidates onto the ballot.

          The religious right once figured this out, at least in my state, and took over the Republican Party for a while. But they had a stable of people they knew they wanted on the ballot and a “base” of voters already in place (luckily for liberals like me, that “base” turned out to be too small for them to win in the general election).

          As of yet, I think we have neither a large enough constituency that understands just who has been shafting whom (overpaid corporate CEOs and predatory financial-industry hotshots vs. just about everyone else), nor a strong group of willing and trusted candidates, so we have our work cut out.

  9. john personna

    Given “brain drain” or Shirky’s “cognitive surplus,” I think I choose the latter.

    I think we have a “transmission problem,” between that surplus and job growth. Though perhaps “surplus” explains that too.

  10. Richard Kline

    Regarding the leak of Palestinian Authority documents, it is indeed major, and gratifying indeed to have the proof in writing. The Fatah/PA are nothing but a nest of petty Quislings who represent no one but themselves. Occupied Palestine elected freely another party to rule, which Fatah/PA has collaborated with Israel to exclude from any consultation on negotiations, imprison, torture, and drive underground. Even the electoral mandate such as it was of the PA expired _several years ago_. They have no authority to negotiate or discuss anything with anyone. The PA is nothing more than a toe-puppet created by Israel and other foreign powers to dandle in faux ‘negotiations’ with themselves over how much the indigenes are to be robbed of. Looking at the PA, I’m reminded of apartheid ‘paper states’ such as Bophutatswana, or Cuban ‘independent’ governments of the 1930s and 40s on a dogs leash of the US, or the ‘autonomous’ ghetto administrations of Nazi occupied Eastern Europe: all of them odious, treasonous, and busy selling out their own in the guise of ‘protecting them.’ One may hope that this revelation proves justifiably terminal for Fatah and the PA mafia.

    Regarding Wen Jiabao’s pious statements of taking more profits from the massive, state-favored corporate enterprises in China for public purpose, I’ll believe it when I see it. The linked article well-details a major downside of China’s present development schema: they have duplicated the chaebol-zaibatsu concept of Korea and Japan respectively only an order of magnitude larger. Many of these behemoths have a license to wheel-and-deal, being major real estate speculators as the article points out, and as the article implicitly suggests also soaking up much of the government stimulus or the last few years while Chinese private firms have had to actually contract. Not good. One might think that the powers that be in China would see it worth their while to cut some/many of these yangqi off public subsidy and make them stand on their own, both to starve their speculative and malinvestment vectors and to make many of these bloated firms more competitive (and transparent) on a global basis. But of course the Party princelings have embedded themselves very, very profitably in these mega-firms, so I’m not holding my breath. What would I like to see: Yangqi Go Public. Cut off much of the subsidy, and make them actually compete in the marketplace. You know, capitalism. That’s something I’d endorse.

    1. emca

      The odd part about this whole drama is that Israel, despite the groveling and capitulation by Fatah, still failed to negotiate any agreement with such a flabby, pliant and woeful opposition.

      Israeli intransigence in the face of eventual victory?

  11. K. Williams

    “So why is the #1 book in the UK not available on Amazon? Is it because it has the word “Marxism” in the title?”

    It’s not the #1 book in the UK. It’s the #1 book at the Guardian bookstore, which is about as shocking as having “The Fountainhead” be the #1 book at the Reason bookstore.

  12. ex-PFC Chuck

    (although the bouquet to NC is over the top)

    Well, do you drink coffee? And if so what brand? After all, Lincoln was on to something when recommended Grant’s brand to his other generals. Just sayin’.

  13. Tom Whipple

    This sort of non-availability of books at isn’t unusual. Rainbow Pie may become available there next fall. What is nice now is that will let you order the book and ship it for a reasonable price even if you live in the U. S. In 2002, wouldn’t even sell it to my ‘geographical’ region. When I found a smaller online bookstore which would sell it, shipping cost more than the book.

  14. Lil'D

    Yah. It is a shame. I’m a participant in the farce.
    Got a PhD in Electrical Engineering from a top 10 program in 1993. Was the #2 candidate for a couple of faculty positions (departments were not heavily hiring then, unfortunately), which meant I didn’t get those jobs. Was offered a postdoc at a good school for $24K but without any relocation assistance. A co-author, now at Berkeley, passed my name to an investment bank looking to build out the quant team, and looking for someone with my signal processing skills, and poof, got a six figure offer to work on interesting problems. Turns out I’m good at it and have been making ~$2M / year for the past decade. I suppose I could even say I’m “earning” $2M, but I’m doing it by making rich people richer by trading, rather than by adding any noticeable value to the world.
    I’d still rather build real products, but can vicariously help by angel investing and advising startups. Didn’t get the wealth up to the 9 figure level where I could start my own institute or something but perhaps I can convince some colleagues to help fund something rather than buying another house in Southhampton.
    Am not looking for any pity ;-)

    1. Paul Repstock

      Lil’D, your situation cannot be described as a moral dillema. There is no virtue in suffering, and no rationality in staying where you are not wanted.(underpaid)
      I commend your integrity for being so honest in this ‘socialist’ den of vipers. lol

    2. ChrisPacific

      Comments like this make me glad I didn’t take the same path when it was available to me, although I will say that quants don’t have a monopoly on existential career angst (I ended up getting into technology, which I enjoy, but I find that interesting problems in real world jobs tend to be few and far between).

      That said, depending on your lifestyle requirements and how much you have left over at the end of each year, you may be in an enviable position. My lifestyle is modest. Give me a lump sum of $20M, even less tax, and I’m pretty sure I could set it up to cover all my expenses while still providing a moderate income stream to pursue whatever personal projects I found interesting. You have probably earned more in your 10 years than most academics do in a lifetime, so you could spend the rest of your life as an unpaid academic if you wanted and still come out ahead.

      1. Paul Repstock

        Hee hee..If you gave people $20 million or even $5 million outside of their work, 99.999% would be so motivationally destroyed that they would vegatate or turn to drugs.

        Any time you are looking for a problem to work on, realize that few are solved by throwing money at them. Also, if you need a problem to work on, all you need to do is state your expertise in an open forum like this. The ‘problems’ will find you.

        1. Lidia

          Given the premise that you think you know what the problems are, and how to solve them. Me, I’m still trying to pry myself away from this front-row seat to the debacle long enough to learn how to do a few rows of knitting.

        2. craazyman

          I can tell you’ve never been without money. :)

          Believe me, throwing money at someone who doesn’t have any money solves a LOT of problems. But if someone has never been without money, they don’t even know what the problems are — like the daily crushing weight of survival without money. That’s one of the big problems with economists and other financial academics. They think they know about money, but they really don’t know anything about it, except what it’s like to have lots of it.

          I remember reading once about a labor economist who spent some time living with and like the workers. He said he learned more in a month about money than he ever learned in school. He said it changed his entire perspective on economics. This is a true story and I wish I could link it.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Wrong Crazy, I’ve many times been without money. Yes at some times I’ve had decent money, never enough to cross the threshold, but decent.

            I understand what you say on a personal level, but my position is that money alone solves few problems. The structure is much more important. Without the right connections or support, little can ever be accomplished, even if one has millions.

            What I was actually refering to in that post was innovation. Whether people realize it or not, most serious innovation is acheived on a shoestring budget in someones’ garage or basement. The reason we seldom hear that is that our structure inhibits the development of these innovations. They either fad away or are bought out by the corporate world. Money alone cannot buy the MSM exposure necessary for the acceptance of a novel product.

            Did you realize that in the US, after two years, a patent which can be deemed both esential (highly subjective term)and also underutilized, does not afford protection to the original patent holder?

    3. craazyman

      Send me $1 million and I promise I’ll throw a bucket of water on you when you’re toasting in Hades.


      attn: Senor Savanarola, PI, PhD in Demonology
      PO Box 55
      Hope Springs, S. Dakota 8787787-8898988

      PI = Purgatorial Intercessor for those not familiar with intermediating bewtween sinners and the Lord.

      Or if you send me $500G I’ll leave you alone forever. :)

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I am curious. Let’s say we go to Marxism, what’s there to prevent another Deng Xiaoping to ‘reform’ Marxism to Capitalism?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I guess nothing can prevent another Deng from reforming Marxism again.

      The question I have is this: When will Assange leak some secret Chinese documents.

  16. Paul Repstock

    Climate frack

    That appears to be a fightening temperature annomaly. I would like to see some independant verification though.

    A couple of days ago we got this:,news-comment,news-politics,climate-change-brings-sunrise-two-days-early-to-greenland
    Only to find out that the premis of that much ice melt is stupid and beside that the sunrise was above ‘rock’ mountains (unlikely to melt due to climate change). More probably the early sunrise was due to an axilial wobble of the earth.

  17. ChrisTiburon

    My friend John the boat driver came up with a brilliant idea.

    We tell China that they can have Taiwan and we
    will not interfere with them IF they forgive all
    our debt.

    Worth it?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s giving too much.

      Just inform the Chinese that we agree that polyandry should be outlawed in Tibet and we affirm the separation of church and state in Tibet. Furthermore, we can let the Chinese know that we are reluctant to deal with any political leader who is a reincarnation of an earlier political leader.

      1. Paul Repstock

        I have a sad feeling that Taiwan, Tibet, and numerous other little irrelevant chips are already on the poker/bargaining table. In matters of ‘Prestige and the Great Game”, two legged oxygen breathers are worthless pawns.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speaking of the biggest extinction in history, I think it was a nudiustertian Naked Capitalism post (no, I am not talking about nudibranches here) that the Yellowstone super volcano was mentioned. I wonder if we can somehow tie that in with the Permian Extinction. I guess when I stop worrying about the next mega corona mass ejection, I will start thinking about that.

    1. Lyle

      Actually the most recent studies imply that the Siberian Traps (a big volcanic eruption) came up thru coal beds, and burnt a lot of coal producing a natural pollution event of extrem magnitude. If I recall the Siberian traps are like 2 million square kilometers in extent, so thats a lot of coal to burn. I don’t know of any volcanos that erupt near coal beds today for equivalent measures. Yellowstone is east of coal so that perhaps in 20 million years when the hot spot is in eastern Montana it will, but then none of use need to worry about that. (Note that in Wy there are also coal beds that have been set afire by lighting resulting in an interesting clinker.

        1. Lyle

          Correct and I suspect elsewhere, but no where near the scale of the end of permian event. Some reports say that the Siberian traps at one time covered 7 million square KMs. That is potentially a lot of coal, and likley given that so much coal dates from the Pennsylvainian (showing north american orientation, Carboniferous if not North American, the period right before the permian.)

    2. Paul Repstock

      IDK whether so many of us are suffering from a JudeoChristian hangover or just a bad case of Western arrogance. I fully supportliving our lives on a “Best practices/Least damage” basis. However, to suggest that Mankind’s puny efforts will change the course of Earth’s progession in a significant way, suggests a lack of scale comprehension. Mt. St. Helenes was the largest erruption in the brief history of the United States. The erruption launched about one cubic mile of material skyward, spewed millions of tons of ash and toxic gases, and released the energy of about 1600 Hiroshima boms (according to Wikipedia).

      Yet this as only a small volcano, even by modern standards.

      1. Lidia

        But I’d argue that it’s not JUST the emissions, or JUST the pollution of the land and water, or JUST the overfishing, or JUST the paving over of the land with concrete, or JUST the intentional poisoning of birds and the ancillary poisoning of bees, or JUST the deforestation and clear-cutting and erosion, or JUST the impeding of animal movements by creating tiny Cartesian lots of fenced private property, or JUST the exponential human population growth… It’s ALL these pressures combined, along with many more I didn’t mention, that are all human activities with vast scope and vast unintended consequences.

        1. Lyle

          But between the Pill and the liberation of women we may be fixing the problem of humanity all be it slowly as the number of children per woman falls to 1.5 (Which would be true in the US if no immigration) At that point over a couple of generations the population would fall enough to minimize the problem. Perhaps we start a have no children for the good of the planet campaign.

        2. Paul Repstock

          Lidia; I don’t promote or condone any of those practices. But, I condem the money sucking practies of the hysteria mogering psedo science crowd even more. With their shabby Global Warming Ministries, they are drawing money and attention away from legitimate efforts, and at the same time convincing many people we are so near the end that it doesn’t matter any more. At the same time they are providing perfect cover for any political group which wants to further reduce our freedoms.

  19. Karen

    Re John Dizard on inflation:

    He says, “Yes, American politicians would like to cheapen the dollar, and, by extension, raise the cost of imported goods. However, most other politicians in the world have the same idea, and so the trade weighted dollar is unlikely to depreciate by more than 5 per cent.”

    I say, if all the governments of the world create more currency in a race to keep up with each other, doesn’t that mean ALL the currencies will lose value once producers figure out that QE robs them unless they raise their prices? So won’t the price of anything real, like a cheeseburger, go up in ALL currencies?

    And the argument about slack in the economy fails to reassure me that we won’t have a return of stagflation.

    If the unemployed and the extreme poor can’t buy a cheeseburger no matter what the price, and the rich are able and willing to pay higher prices for everything they buy, and the middle class can and will pay higher prices for the things they feel they can’t do without (by buying less other stuff), what’s to prevent inflation in both luxury goods and things people feel they can’t do without (cheeseburgers probably make that list)?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bernanke probably wish he had a lot of cheeseburgers, like he has in gold, in Fort Knox, to sell into the cheeseburger market.

  20. wunsacon


    Sorry, this is a repeat comment. But, it might merit adding to your daily links sometime.

    Volker Pispers’ history of USA and terrorism:

    Hat-tip to hoocoodanode’s “yoringe”:

    (Sorry for the possible/probable double-post. On the one hand, I suspect the default filter is sequestering my post on account of the multiple links. On the other, I just spaced out and forget if I clicked “submit” or not.)

  21. Karen

    Re The Guardian’s “Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process”:

    I wonder if this document release really is on the up-and-up. Those quotes from Erekat and Qureia are unambiguous, and place them both really far out on a limb if it turns out the documents are all truthful and complete. Were they really so angry they spoke without thinking about the impact to their reputations? Or will it turn out that some of these documents ARE forgeries, as Mr. Qureia claims?

    From the article:

    “Last night Erekat said the minutes of the meetings were “a bunch of lies and half truths”. Qureia told AP that “many parts of the documents were fabricated, as part of the incitement against the … Palestinian leadership”.

    “However Palestinian former negotiator, Diana Buttu, called on Erekat to resign following the revelations. “Saeb must step down and if he doesn’t it will only serve to show just how out of touch and unrepresentative the negotiators are,” she said.”

    Did anyone else notice that, as far as we’re told, Ms. Buttu does not actually say whether the documents are accurate or not, and does not challenge what Erekat and Qureia said? Maybe she wasn’t told about their statements.

    A mystery, hopefully to be solved by asking other participants. Especially any who are known for high ethics and impeccable truthfulness.

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