If you are down under, kiss a ‘roo for me!
Nabokov Butterfly Theory Is Vindicated New York Times (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)
Pesticide linked to bee deaths should be suspended, MPs told Independent (hat tip reader May S)
Boy killed by ‘Facebook gang’ in busy station Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)
‘Bug Mac’ and lovely ‘grub’: food of the future Breitbart (hat tip reader furzy mouse)
12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming Rolling Stone (hat tip reader furzy mouse)
A Visual History of Koch Conservatism, from John Birch to Cato Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)
UK output data cast doubt on US figures Financial Times
Markets give thumbs down to Spanish bank recapitalisation Eurointelligence
Why China hates loving the dollar Martin Wolf, Financial Times
WTI/Brent Spread Alea
Why Affordable Housing Matters Joel Kotkin, Forbes. A decent piece, and also goes to show Forbes is not always barmy.
Daughter of Birmingham Plans Revival New York Times. By weird happenstance, I met her on a flight from Portland, Maine to LaGuardia last September. She’s very articulate, passionate about redevelopment, and one of the few pinkos in Birmingham.
Back To Full Employment, Losing the Demand Thing Mike Konczal
Zombie IPO: Is American International Group the “Blood Doll” of Wall Street? Chris Whalen (hat tip reader Hubert. I am in complete agreement with Whalen on AIG insolvency. Two former insurance regulators approached me, each of the opinion AIG was insolvent simply based on the level of intercompany guarantees and reinsurance (including finite reinsurance, there are references to special surplus in the footnotes of regulated subs) and very large number of red flags. I had four people burn a lot of cycles in November with statutory filings (on member was already very familiar with them and even on an 80/20 basis, going after the biggest ops first, it was still a very big task) trying to unwind some of the exposures to see if we could make a convincing case on the P&C side. It was just too overwhelming an exercise to pick apart what Hank Greenberg built over decades, but what we did see convinces me that AIG is a garbage barge.
BofA’s Countrywide sued, accused of massive fraud Reuters (hat tip reader Mark H). Have not yet found a copy of the lawsuit, but the Reuters account mentions “misrepresentation” in the offering documents which makes it sound like a securities law claim, but the statute of limitations on securities actions is generally three years. What makes this case interesting, regardless of the strengths of the claims, is that the plaintiffs include some big name, fairly conservative investors. We may be seeing investors finally deciding that they can’t afford not to rock the boat with Wall Street.
What Obama Really Wanted To Say in the State of the Union Address:) Munknee (hat tip reader John R)
I suppose I must make an obligatory comment on the State of Union address. Consider this remark:
We also cannot pick winners and losers and pit industry sectors against each other in order to achieve our goals. To enhance our competitiveness, businesses cannot continue to be faced with higher energy costs, higher taxes and government overregulation.
There are so many misleading and dishonest threads in this that it is hard to pick them apart. His “green energy” plan has just picked winners and losers, assuming he intends to proceed with his plan. Otherwise, this is tantamount to saying, “I have a plan, but since I am dedicated to remaining neutral, I’m not going to follow up in any concrete manner.” But there is another flaw here, which is that the hidden assumption is that it is possible for government to be neutral. You need taxes to support even a thin-form state (courts, defense, minimal policing, roads). There is no such thing as a neutral tax policy.
And how are we going to move to green energy without higher energy costs? Another oxymoron. And it isn’t clear that high energy costs lead to uncompetitiveness (look at Germany, for starters). High energy costs encourage the development of energy efficient products. Witness how Detroit’s success in fighting fuel efficiency regulations meant the Big Three wound up ceding market share in the rest of the world because its cars were gas guzzlers. And given how big companies have made an art form of booking profits in low tax jurisdictions, the idea that US companies are hampered by high taxes is a canard (just look at their recent profits if you need further proof. They are certainly not hurting for want of cash flow which for the most part they are NOT reinvesting. Here and abroad, large corps. have been net savers for since 2003, in some countries, years before that.)
The New York Times pointed out that the search for ‘overregulation” is likely to turn up little. But the emphasis on regulation is yet another red herring. The hugely costly Deepwater Horizon spill resulted from underregulation. And academic studies have found that regulation is often a spur for innovation.
You can see why I avoid paying much attention to what Obama says. I’d never get anything done if I did.
Antidote du jour: Although there are too many shots of the steering wheel accompanied by giggling, this is still pretty cool: