Links 1/7/11

Thin links tonight, yours truly is about to do a face plant.

Japan’s Booming Sex Niche: Elder Porn Time (hat tip reader May S)

Women’s Tears Dampen Men’s Sex Arousal Hormone, Scientists Say Bloomberg (hat tip reader DeusDJ)

WikiLeaks: Secret whaling deal plotted by US and Japan Guardian

The uncomfortable truth about mind control: Is free will simply a myth? Independent (hat tip reader May S)

The Mystery of Tom Miller’s Shifting Comments on Criminal Sanctions for Foreclosure Fraud David Dayen, FireDogLake. I’m a huge fan of Dayen’s work, but this is far too generous to Miller.

The Economics of Economists’ Ethics Annie Lowrey, Slate. Economists have ethics? That’s not rational.

The End of New Deal Liberalism William Greider, Nation (hat tip Joe Costello who sadly announced he is shutting down his blog Archein. Waaah!)

Chris Whalen on Radio Free Dylan. A 30 minute podcast of Chris Whalen and Dylan Ratigan on Bank of America.

William Astore, We’re Number One (in Self-Promotion) Tomgram (hat tip reader May S)

In which I eventually dump on Obama for appointing Bill Daley Lambert Strehter

US considers three-tier prop trading fight Financial Times

ACA Capital files suit against Goldman Sachs over Abacus CDO deal MarketWatch

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-07 at 2.32.31 AM

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  1. fresno dan

    The uncomfortable truth about mind control: Is free will simply a myth?
    “Yet Bill, like 65 per cent of the volunteers, gave an apparently lethal electric shock when told to do so.”

    I find that easy to believe – what would have been more interesting is the characteristics and beliefs of the 35% who told the “boss” to stuff it.

    1. Jim the Skeptic

      fresno dan says: “I find that easy to believe – what would have been more interesting is the characteristics and beliefs of the 35% who told the “boss” to stuff it.”

      I wondered about that myself. My suspicion is that their regular bosses would not rank them as the most cooperative employees.

      At a minimum they would probably tend to ask too many questions. At the maximum they would probably just ‘drag their feet’ on tasks which they disapproved. Either could probably get you fired. :^)

    2. craazyman

      Part of the austere brilliance of Mr. Milgram’s experiment is it’s multi-layered set of meanings.

      It’s not so simple as “we don’t have free will.”

      One question that remains unanswered is why the “learner” doesn’t just tell the experimenter to shove it. This is curious and important, I think. Clearly, it’s an integral part of the drama.

      The willingness to give the shocks is, I think, partly due to the apparent willing participation of the other volunteer, who implicitly gives permission to be shocked. After all, there was a microphone turned on and the “shocker” could easily hear if the “shockee” told the “doctor” — “OK, I’ve had it. No more. This experiment is ridiculous.”

      But the apparent willing participation of the shockee gives a validity to the entire thing. The shocker might partly feel a sense of obligation to continue, as he agreed he would at the outset. Like an actor continuing in a play.

      It’s a fascinating experiment and it reveals alot, but I don’t think it’s so simple as “no free will.” I could go on but don’t have the time. I think it gets into the nature and structure of hive consciousness and the mechanisms by which it forms and operates (as it does across the animal kingdom through instinctive DNA radio) and the tensions between group and individual survival and how these compete for control of the entire energetic structure, which I admit is a common theme of mine here.

      1. craazyman

        as a quick postscript, I understand that the person being shocked is an actor. But his apparent cooperative willingness to be shocked (from the shocker’s perspective) is an important factor, in my view.

      2. emca

        Although I agree specifics of ‘free will’ within the article is lacking, I think you miss the point; its not the behavior of the subjects that’s at issue, but the actions of the administrators of punishment.

        Whether the ‘intellectually challenged’ participants agree to continue or not should not be the basis of your own personal ethical decision (unless of course your a closet sadist, and this experiment provides the means to express your inner most being…but then that’s another story).

        You (one) can’t, shouldn’t displace your own personal responsibility in the matter with your conditional expectations of victims.

        The implications of free will is assumption of responsibility for your actions. To abscond your culpability in the matter is seen as choice, yet paradoxically, when the issue becomes (free)choice, you have lost even the pretense of willful response.

        Your own moral compass has stepped toward “group think”. You push the button.

        1. craazyman

          I do get all that.

          Consider as an analogy what happens every Sunday in the USA. Groups of 12 men go out on playing fields across the country and throw a pigskin around and hit each other as hard as they can.

          Some get very badly injured doing this. Some get carried off the field on stretchers with broken bones and injuries that require surgery.

          But it’s all voluntary and cooperative.

          Each man has a choice. They can walk off the field and refuse to play. But if they chose to play, the game has a certain internal set of rules that all agree to play by, for their greater good as they see it.

          I believe something like that is at work in this experiment. I’m not moralizing, I’m just trying to understand the essential energy of the situation.

          As bizarre as it seems, I think there is an unconscious notion of “the greater good” being served by continuing with the shocks in a circumstance when the actor pretends to be a voluntary participant who doesn’t protest. This is somewhat subtle, but I think it’s less an issue of free will than an issue of the direction of the expression of will and the motives (conscious and unconscious). There is Gnosis and there is Law. These are often in conflict, but Law is always designed with the intent of preserving the health of the tribe, in theory.

          This is what Jesus was all about and why they accused him of “teaching with authority, and not as the Scribes”. It’s Gnosis vs. Law. Or alternatively, the individual vs. tribal mind. This is why in the book of John it says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

          The Word is the method by which individual Gnosis transmutes into collective consciousness, through the ascension through the flesh. When their is no word of protest, then the Logos cannot ascend.

          And your protest is that when the divine Logos is ignored, we are not operating under free will. That is a very Platonic argument with much credibility. However, I think it’s worth exploring what disrupts Logos from ascending through the consciousness. The experiment proves that it does not, in 2 out of 3 people. Why this is so is the topic of my conjectures.

          1. craazyman

            What was I thinking! What a bone head I am!!

            I need a beer and a burger!

            I meant 11 men on the field!

            12 men is a penalty. I’m a big football fan and I know that.

            ha ha ahhaha hahahah!!!

            I guess I was in the Bible zone and thinking in twelves.

          2. emca

            “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill”

            The sport’s analogy, not so good. Better for this forum would be, does cheating (even in ignorance) by the buyer excuse the conduct of seller? Do actions of the victims hold the perpetrators guiltless? Do we need not act ethically or hold others to the standard because the victims are deadbeats (unethical).

            Societal good vs. free choice? the universality of Logos? Need we go there? This issue is morals, but how or why you hold them is not the inherent contradiction of will and choice.

        2. Dirk77

          Don’t forget to read Aristotle. While the article mentions free will, that really is not the question at issue by Milgram’s experiments. “Man as rational has free will” according to Aris. One has the ability to deliberate about the future, and from this make choices based upon them. But depending on one’s reasoning one could go either way in the experiment. But if you are re-reading Plato you probably remember all this.

          Anyways, if a Milgram-type of experiment were conducted on economists what would be the outcome?

          1. emca

            I’ve just begun rereading “The Republic” after many. many years away. Not much good the first time around; I’m doing little better currently, at least enough to be critical.

            Plato, Socrates I don’t believe mention “free” will. This is one of Nietzsche central tenants of course but since I don’t believe he ever rigorously defined it and I’ve speculated enough, I’m not going to ramble on beyond the lines above (outside of saying “free will” is akin to “free gifts” or “true love”, these common phrases are excess of words).

            Aristotle – I think not.

    3. Peter T

      Such experiments have been repeated many times, in different countries and with different groups. The most efficient way to let participants stop doing what they believe is torturing another human is to expose them to additional, disagreeing voices that the participants consider authorities (trusted coworkers, a peer of the boss, a public authority, etc.). When the experiment leader is a physician, the voice of another physician who cautions against continuing gives the participants a choice.

      1. JTFaraday

        Especially considering there’s no real penalty involved in stopping, you would think that more people would have an internal observer that would give them that same permission.

        At some point you have to be your own “authority.”

  2. craazyman

    @women’s tears

    another triumph for science. LOL.

    they need to watch the Star Trek when the Dolman from Elas, who was a Cleopatra hateful spoiled witch of a shrew who ruled over a planet decided she loved Captain Kirk, who found her intolerable, and so she decided to manufacture a few tears. Of course, he touched them, and then fell madly in love with her. It was only through the force of his higher calling — being a Star Fleet alpha male captain of the USS Enterprise — that he slipped the noose.

    Sublimation is always stronger than instinct in the civilized mind. h a ha ha ha.

    on the topic of love and lust, I’ll take the poets over the scientists any day. In fact, on most topics I will. Except Newtonian physics and certain chemical processes.

  3. Richard Kline

    Regarding the Independent article somewhat elusively related to ‘free will,’ most of us don’t fully reckon with how situational most behavior is. Most of us most of the time look at what’s going on around us and let that set the parameter of what we will and won’t do, not just in relation to following authority but in most matters. It’s the exception that we think for ourselves, or relate to an internal value rigidly if others are doing otherwise. It’s comfortable not to have to think about every decision but just stay close to the herd, but this is also how mass delusions propagate. Like “housing only goes up.” And since most of us aren’t used to making a reasoned or valued decision of behavior instance by instance, we often don’t notice when at first, or even for long after, when the old parameters have shifted, gradually, far from what they were; far from who we thought and think we are. We don’t think that we’re the kind who, set down in a particular context for an open-ended period of time, would settle into systematic fraud, public sex, or shiv a guy in the back if he sat in our place without permission, but two out of three of us are by all indications.

    I’ve always found the outcomes of the Zimbardo Experiment and the Third Wave, for all the peripheral criticisms of them, to be far more disturbing even then the Millgram Experiment. In the latter, it was a one-off event, but in the former two the process unfolded _and accelerated_ over several days where participants could simply drop out or change their behavior at any time—but didn’t. Most folks really don’t have hard boundaries to their behavior _which they themselves set and maintain_ but rather let the situation around them modulate their behavior instead. Those that don’t don’t for many reasons: contrary orientation, minor or major sociopathy, a hard moral armature (in Primo Levi’s hard-learned phrase), which sticks at this or will try for that. Different reasons without a centrality to them, which is further explanation for why the mob can swamp even a resistant minority, typically a minority of 35% or less of us.

    As an interesting follow-on to that, you may note that there is a solid 35% in the US opposed to US imperialism and plutocratic fascism—but the rest just drift with the current or scramble to climb on the purported gravy train. It’s the same dynamic, just at the macro-scale. Our reasons for resistance vary, but their reasons are all essentially the same: don’t have the stuff to stand for something. This is also, in my view, part of the explanation for why mass cyclical oscillations propagate so enduringly, that most just bend with the breeze.

    1. Toby

      Interesting observations.

      I would say though that the design of education is a major contributing factor. Tests on ‘free’ will must be performed on adults, or at the youngest late-teens, so the participants must already have passed through the most important stages of their socialization. Socialization is of course inescapable when we have society; it’s what growing up is about. So ,if we want independent-minded, emotionally and psychologically mature citizens, we must make best efforts to raise our young in a manner which encourages them to be so.

      Is that the type of human the elite want under them? Of course not. Hence, the elite are the problem. More fairly; elitism is the problem.

      1. Externality

        That is a good point. The public school system is designed to instill conformity and compliance with even undesirable instructions, i.e., sit still and listen for forty minutes, get students used to being told where to go and when to eat, and use “peer pressure” to eliminate behaviors outside the local social norms.

        Students who question authority are disciplined or diagnosed with a mental illness such as “oppositional-defiance disorder” which symptoms include “arguing with adults;actively defying requests; [and/or] refusing to follow rules.”

        After years of growing up being told over and over that they must follow rules and do things that they do not want to do, most children will blindly follow instructions. After all, when they had disagreed with their teachers or parents, the response was not applause but disciplinary and psychiatric interventions to make them more compliant.

      2. Richard Kline

        So Toby, I wouldn’t necessarily draw the conclusions you mention. At least exclusively. Here are a few reasons why.

        The effects of educational socialization are wildly over estimated just as the fundamental importance of early life modeling is still radically underestimated. By the age of 6 years, or 5 and a half, a human being has a functioning value system. That’s how development works. And that system is powerfully shaped by your immediate caretakers, typically your parents, with substantial input by ‘grown-ups’ who decide what is done and what is right in your immediate environment. There’s nothing remarkable in that observation, this has been well-studied for four generations. Thus, one has or hasn’t a working psychological valuation _before_ one really enters the educational system. (Those that don’t have such a system by them are sociopathic, little or a lot, and seldom acquire such a system later). Now, children that age aren’t very socially competent in the larger sense, don’t have substantial life experience, and aren’t autonomous in their actions, so an educational system can do a lot about getting folks to go with the flow. An educational system does not install a moral armature if it’s lacking, nor radically change it if it is present. We just get the outward forms of social control refined. If we do or don’t want a society of autonomous, moral individuals, how children are parented under six years very much determines the outcome.

        Second, I wouldn’t accuse elites as the real issue here; that’s my view. Elites can be prejudiced and exclusive, sure; they _can_ be a problem. On the other hand, if the elites have a strong value of service and mutual support, even if they may be over-represented in decision-making the societies around them may have a lot of tolerance and expectation of sharing of some or many things. If elites are selfish, and their preference is to secede from society, scapegoat particular groups or behaviors, and shift costs onto those with little political power, than yes, elites are a _horrendous_ problem. Consider too that defensive, parochial minorities can be as bad or worse than elites, insisting on in-group conformity and using severe bias about out-groups as a unifying factor. To me, it is just in such rejectionist minorities that the greatest threats to individuals exist. Such groups may not view themselves as elites particularly, or be so viewed by others, and the insistence on conformity may be more defensive than offensive, but costly either way.

        And one shouldn’t assume that traditional, non-urban societies are better at coping with individualism and pluralism. The evidence often suggests the reverse. Traditional societies place great insistence on conforming to the expectations of elders. This may or may not be enforced in a punitive way, but the expectation is often very evident. This is one reason why change is slower, children are powerfully socialized young not to stray outside the parameters set by their immediate elders. Modern urban societies are most always far more pluralistic and often far more tolerant than traditional societies.

        I’m not certain that the inclination to herd or to venture are primarily set by socialization as opposed to being, at least in their core leaning, matters of more intrinsic psychology. I don’t think there is definitive research on that. What I do think is clear is that people can be socialized to hold to core value positions above and beyond what their personal inclination might be. Even if the two-thirds are inclined to herd, they can be herded toward ‘herding less’ and ‘questioning more’ if you see what I mean. But most of that will be done by how parents incline their children to behave with each other. By the time they get to school, it’s pretty much set what they’ll do in aggregate; they can be shaded in degree after than, but not in kind. That’s my perspective.

        1. Toby

          The parents of the young have been socialized by the school system though. Before children get to secondary school, they have been ‘prepared’ for it via all sorts of cultural cues, parenting is one, advertising and TV is another.

          What I meant to say was not that there would be more ‘Free’ will with less or different formal education, but, in theory at least — though I suspect this is evident in history — children socialized to be independent thinkers in the sense of healthy skepticism, as well as emotionally more mature. I am not conflating this with free will. The attributes would be imparted skills. I agree with John Holt that without exposure to human society, hence without human socialization, children don’t really become ‘fully fledged’ humans. Like feral children for example. So it’s not helpful to ponder how little socialization we need, but what sort.

          The point about elites was actually about elitism, in that status quos want to keep things as they are, and, if a status quo is hierarchical, the elite necessarily need lower portions of the pyramid to be happy with their lot. It was a general systemic point, not an accusation aimed at certain people.

          If we want a more egalitarian system, elitism is indeed the problem, because it is everywhere in the culture, including, and importantly so, the education system. But I would go further than you and say elitism is a negative on balance, because it requires by its nature a vast majority of non-elite, and that is a terrible waste of human potential baked deep into the system’s cake. Currently society seems to need factory workers who are insatiable consumers. We shouldn’t want that any more, because that human-created world is fading fast, and requires perpetual GDP growth to boot! To survive, we need a very different society indeed. Education, the money system, and politics, Law too actually, must all change radically.

          Sorry about slipping onto the soap box there, but this is so important I use every opportunity I can. Mostly at the cost of my ebbing kudos I’m sure. ;-)

    2. Dan Duncan

      Beyond being self-serving tripe, Kline’s observation is just muddled.

      “35% of ‘us’ (your word, not mine) standing firm against blah, blah, blah”

      You can’t talk about behavior modification (rationally, anyways) without first addressing the simple, but mundane matter of definition.

      You use ridiculous, vague phrases like “US Imperialism” and “plutocratic fascism” without recognizing they can mean different things to different people. You assume, arrogantly, that everyone’s definitions match your own….

      And then you wonder about the lack of behavior modification of the majority, while holding yourself up as part of the resolute minority.

      Gimme a freaking break, Kline. 65% of people are not “for plutocratic fascism.” Other than the plutocratic fascists, it’s safe to say everyone is against this pejorative. The rub, of course, is that it means different things to different people. And to add to the confusion, there is often meaningful overlap.

      An obvious example: Tea Partiers and Progressives alike might very well say that the US is becoming a “plutocratic fascist state”. When addressing the reasons why, there would be significant overlap and meaningful differences. Regardless, one’s definition will shape the attitudes and behaviors that follow.

      What you’re doing, though, is attempting to address behavior modification through the prism of infantile solipsism: “I’ve decided that ‘plutocratic fascism’ means X. Therefore, ‘plutocratic fascism’ actually means X. To combat what is the only true definition of plutocratic fascism, I propose Y. Those who don’t agree with me obviously support ‘plutocratic fascism’.”

      I can just hear the Nancy Kerrigan lament seeping from your subconscious: “WHYYYY DOESN’T EVERYONE AGREE WITH ME? WHYYYY???”


      It might have been interesting to question how divergent perceptions lead to dramatic differences in definition and then to address to the behavioral consequences that follow….

      But again, that would mean avoidance of inane, banal phrases that can mean ANYTHING TO ANYONE…you know, like “plutocratic fascism”.

      1. emca

        “…65% of people are not “for plutocratic fascism.”

        I would conjecture 65% of the population wouldn’t even know what ‘plutocratic fascism’ was.

        If as you state ‘plutocratic fascism’ is subjective, but of some importance to the discussion, then maybe you might want to provide your own individual meaning for this term for us to evaluate.

        Otherwise I treat the term as rhetorical flourish and ignore it per previous as anything challenging to remainder of the post or even worth further chatter.

      2. Anonymous Jones

        “Gimme a freaking break, Kline. 65% of people are not ‘for plutocratic fascism.’”

        Where did Kline say that? I can tell you where. No where. He never said that. He never implied that. He very clearly separated people into ‘those opposed’ and ‘those who don’t care one way or another.’ Not those who are opposed and those who are “for” it.

        This just happens all the time with you. It explains why you have these ideas that are at such odds with reality. You have amazingly deficient reading comprehension. You just see something and quickly assume it’s saying or meaning something and never go back and question that assumption. It all has to fit within your pre-existing views, no matter how divergent from reality. It’s embarrassing. It’s like *at least* “65%” of your comments contain this sort of error.

        What so surreal is the juxtaposition of your constant mistakes with your over-the-top denunciations with words like “inane.” Oy…

  4. Ignim Brites

    It is worthwhile asking why the end of New Deal Liberalism shouldn’t be marked by Roosevelt’s failure to rally the nation to war against Hitler after Operation Barbarossa was launched.

    1. aet

      As the Americans would not “rally” for the British, why would they be expected to “rally” for the Soviets?

      America was neutral until attacked by another Nation….

      FDR won that war,and the Admirals and generals he selected led the US and the Allies to Victory.

      But he wasn’t good enough for you, eh?

    2. aet

      It is worthwhile asking why the end of New Deal Liberalism shouldn’t be marked by Roosevelt’s failure to rally the nation to war against Hitler after he attacked Britain..

      There.Fixed that for you.
      FDR’s new deal ended with America’s failure to go to war for Britain in 1940.

      Still makes no sense, and distorts history, to slam Roosevelt, the architect of American victory in WW 2.

      You call yourself an good American?!

      1. Ignim Brites

        First of all Britian declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, an invasion perfectly justified by the laws of the science of historical materialism and ratified in the Molotov – von Ribbentrop treaty. Secondly, the Soviet Union was the acknowledged leader of the progressive forces of the world. It was the duty of all progressive forces to rally to its support when it was attacked. If one is looking of a point at which New Deal Liberalism went off the rails, a good candidate would be exactly this, when Roosevelt failed to rally the nation to support of the Soviet Union. This failure prepared the way for Truman’s launching of the Cold War (aka the Marshall Plan) against the Soviet Union.

        1. Externality

          When it came to mass murder, the USSR was the acknowledged leader. The Soviet NKVD (predecessor to the KGB) even gave the National Socialists a few pointers before WW II. According to Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the NVKD gave the Gestapo the design for mobile gas chambers and tips on disposing of large numbers of bodies.

          Ironically, many of the progressives, Socialists, and Communists who fled to the USSR to escape the capitalist West were murdered on orders from Lenin or Stalin.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘I’m sorry, President Obama. If you wish to address the finest fighting force the world has ever known, you’ll need a time machine, not Air Force One.

    ‘In Afghanistan … most villagers see our troops making common cause with a despised and predatory government. Huge infusions of American dollars, meanwhile, rarely trickle down to the village level, but instead promote the interests of Afghan warlords and foreign businesses. Small wonder that, more than nine years later, a majority of Afghans say they want to be liberated from us.’ — William Astore, Lt. Col. (Ret.) USAF

    Many remember Peace Laureate O’Bomber’s ‘surge’ of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan. Yesterday the WSJ published a rather startling chart, showing that O’Bomber’s surge came on top of an equally large ramp-up during 2009, the first year of his presidency, before the designated surge began in 2010. Just eyeballing the WSJ chart, US troop levels in Afghanistan have nearly TRIPLED from 35,000 to 95,000 during O’Bomber’s term. And now he’s sending 1,400 more Marines for a ‘spring offensive.’

    As Rep. Lynn Woolsey (a member of O’Bomber’s own party) said yesterday on the House floor,

    This war represents an epic failure, a national embarrassment and a moral blight on our nation … So I can’t think of anything more patronizing than to tell [Americans] not to worry their pretty little heads about the war, that us grown-ups in Washington have it all taken care of.

    Like his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, Obama is a one-termer, and it’s thanks to his own personal Vietghanistan. He sold his tiny, unformed proto-soul to the War Party for a mess of pottage, and so electorally, he’s getting what’s coming to him.

    Goodbye, Mr. Peace Laureate, Mr. Drone Messiah!

  6. LeeAnne

    WikiLeaks: Secret whaling deal plotted by US and Japan Guardian

    I love the way US employees of every stripe so willingly pimp for everyone in the world against its own citizens.

    ‘One week later, the Japanese pressed the US to take action against Sea Shepherd again, saying that “violent protests by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) could limit the government of Japan’s flexibility in the negotiations”.’

    ‘It appears from the diplomatic chatter that the US did look into the NGO’s status. In the same cable, Medina [lead US negotiator Monica Medina] is reported as saying that the US government, “can demonstrate the group [Sea Shepherd] does not deserve tax exempt status based on their aggressive and harmful actions”.’

    1. craazyman

      Where’s “the ball”? Is he out making an album with Pink Floyd? Or did Yves kick him off the board for some reason?

  7. RICO

    That Chase trick with the fake loan mods, I hope borrowers’ lawyers are reporting the pretexting to the Feds

    1. KFritz

      @ Diogones:

      Did you need your lamp to make that observation?

      I had no free will in making this comment! (-;

  8. Jim Haygood

    The ForensicAsia report which a helpful reader linked yesterday (the one claiming real return on equity in China is negative) features an alarming chapter titled ‘European PIGS in Denial.’

    It states, ‘To put the problem into the perspective of past crises, our database scores suggest that Greece and Spain are on a par with Scandinavia in 1990 (a bad crisis), while Portugal looks like Thailand in 1996 (a terrible crisis).

    I don’t quite know how markets maintained the illusion of ‘all quiet on the European front’ over the holidays, but it’s rapidly falling to pieces. In regard to the aforementioned Portugal, AP reports:

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s bond yields rose to euro-era record highs on Friday, driven by market fears about the debt-laden country’s economic health and wider concerns about the eurozone’s financial stability.

    Borrowing rates edged up across much of the rest of Europe after a eurozone growth figure was revised down, but traders were by far most worried about Portugal — its 10-year government bond yield spiked above 7.1 percent.

    “While the relatively small size of Portugal’s funding needs suggests that a Portuguese bailout will not exert a huge amount of pressure on the eurozone support fund, it will raise the risk of a speculative attack on the Spanish debt market,” Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank International, wrote in an analysis.

    The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi noted that whereas Ireland’s loan maturity average is seven years at an average cost of 5.8 percent, Portugal’s 7-year bonds are now trading at 6.6 percent.

    Portugal aims to raise euro 1.25 billion next week by auctioning off 3-year and 9-year bonds in a key test of investor confidence.

    The chief economist of Germany’s biggest bank said Portugal won’t manage to regain sufficient trust among investors and should move swiftly to tap Europe’s euro 750 billion rescue fund before the problem worsens.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg says that ‘Swaps on Ireland, which agreed to an 85 billion-euro rescue package last quarter, rose to a record 640 basis points yesterday; swaps on Greece rose 273 basis points to 1,023 in the past three months and Spain increased 120 to 346,’ in an article pointing out that:

    The Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe Index of credit-default swaps insuring the debt of 15 [west European] countries, including Germany, Greece and Portugal, climbed to 7 basis points more than the Markit iTraxx SovX CEEMEA Index linked to Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, according to data provider CMA. The developed nations were 160 basis points more creditworthy than their emerging-market peers as recently as February.

    AH-OO-GAH, AH-OO-GAH! We have an inversion — credit world turned upside down. What’s one to do? Sell now, ask questions later (after the restructuring is announced).

    1. Jim Haygood

      Bloomberg reports:

      Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — The Portuguese government issued 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) of 2.5-year notes through a private placement as the nation seeks to narrow its budget gap.

      Portugal sold zero-coupon debt due July 2012 in a transaction led by Deutsche Bank AG, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Finance Ministry confirmed the medium-term note offering in an e-mail today without providing more details.

      Selling sovereign debt in secret private placements, ‘without providing more details’? Doh! Smells like Greece’s infamous currency swaps with Goldman Sachs.

      Watch Portuguese spreads blow out to new records next week!

  9. ddayen

    Was I being generous to Miller? I didn’t think so. I was being factual. He tried to weasel out of the “we will put people in jail” comment the day after he said it.

    1. attempter

      Like every other hack, you refuse to call a lying criminal a lying criminal.

      No, he’s a clever dialectician, always one step ahead of all of us, and we should really feel ashamed to have let ourselves be manipulated, but also should admire his skill at “fibbing” which fulfills his god-given talents as politician and lawyer (two of the worthless cult priests you hacks admire the most).

      I agree that’s it’s foolish for anyone to still believe a single word anyone from the power system utters, since we know intellectually that they’re all nothing but worthless criminal parasites.

      So why do so many still tremble in awe like superstitious prehistoric slaves before a tribal shaman?

    1. William

      If you don’t buy into the notion of free will then you must look for the reasons of your behavior outside yourself. This is a very useful exercise. Observe yourself and others and then try to find out why you do what you do. Did you ‘choose’ your favorite food? Or does the chemistry and texture simply trigger the pleasure centers in your brain?

      Try it with the topics discussed on this weblog. Why is corruption so rampant among the people which we let run our lives? Why do we let other people run our lives? Are people just naturally evil and stupid? Or does the structure of society and the ideas it puts in our heads have something to do with it?

      I find it very interesting that you won’t even consider the possibility that your consciousness is a mostly programmed (though obviously chaotic) construct. You take it on faith that you are somehow more the sum of your parts without having any real understanding of what those parts are. Matter and it’s structural relationships determine everything in our universe. Before disease was known to be a function of molecular relationships is was thought to be the work of gods and demons. Hopefully the concept of free will can undergo a similar superstition-becomes-structure transformation.

      Other related concepts (fictions?) are ‘creativity’ and ‘human nature’. I’ve been called ‘creative’ and ‘artistic’, but really I just mimic what I see around me.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Free Will – yes, you are free to choose, but the choices are limited and the choice you really like is not on it.

    You don’t get to choose that there be 5 choices instead of the 3 you are given.

  11. bob

    The Whalen interview is excellent. My favorite part was the description of the “showcase jumbo”. The bank does a 50% refi on a jumbo, the owner puts the borrowed money into muni’s. The owner get the mortgage deduction, and interest on the muni, the bank gets to claim it is “extending credit”.

    What effect is this going to have on property taxes? This is a really good way to encourage fiefdoms.

  12. Jack Parsons

    As to the Sea Shepherds, for the win: It’s easy enough for all you hand-wringing pinko Graunites to be self righteous whilst hiding behind the protection of the Japanese fleet. If it were not for their courage and determination you would all be speaking Whale.

  13. 60sradical

    At 70 I still work out every day. I think I need to establish a movie career in the Japanese porn industry and leave all this radical end-of-the-world crap behind me once and for all. Or not.
    You have a keen sense of humor, my dear Yves.
    “the only thing that is constant is change”….the Bhuddha

  14. Doug Terpstra

    Lambert Strether discusses how Obama’s savvy appointment of predatory loan shark Bill Daley of JP Morgan proves that he is not a (traditional) conservative after all. Rather:

    “Obama is a blood sucking corporatist scumbag marking time as the imperial manager, doing the will of our owners, until he can retire and take his place on various boards of directors, go on the speaking circuit, maybe do a little discreet lobbying here and there, etc. You know, make some real money. So what if some little people have to suffer and die as a result of his actions. It’s the way the big boys do business.”

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