Links 2/22/11

New Zealand earthquake: 65 dead in Christchurch BBC

Physicists Build Bigger ‘Bottles’ of Antimatter to Unlock Nature’s Secrets UC San Diego

‘We’re not attacking Westboro Baptist Church’ – Anonymous Silicon Republic. We were snookered!

Millions of high blood pressure patients are wrongly diagnosed Telegraph

Andy Haldane outlines proposals for breaking the ‘doom loop’ Ian Fraser

Facing Paxman – and why this corporation tax reform is so important Tax Research UK (hat tip reader Richard Smith)

Hard-working Germans are about to discover what it feels like to be mugged by the EMU project Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Oil groups prepare to close down in Libya Financial Times

West’s policy exposed as ‘mad dog’ finds bite Financial Times

What the renminbi means for US inflation VoxEU

David Brooks on Wisconsin: Flaunting Ignorance of Economics Dean Baker

Madison Area AFL CIO Votes to Prepare For General Strike Mike Elk

Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray New York Times. This reveals the power of propagandizing. The unions have said they’ll accept the level of cuts Walker wants but will not budge on collective bargaining. Yet all the critical comment presuppose that the unions are not making meaningful economic sacrifices.

Corporate Taxes from the AEI perspective–the AEI report gets an F Linda Beale

Farmers Fail to Meet Demand as Corn Stockpiles Drop to 1974 Low Bloomberg

Is The Semiconductor Market Flashing A Big Warning For The Economy? Clusterstock

Of Lehman and Goats Sarah Woo, Credit Slips

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin):


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    1. Cedric Regula

      Plus we have a one for one swap with input energy, much of it oil, with the output energy produced.

      Plus, plus, much of the corn used is feed corn for real food, so this is frightening to more of us than just the veggie crowd.

      Plus, plus, plus….it doesn’t sound like it’s a good idea for us to do that usual economic substitution thing we are wont to do and eat fish and shellfish….

      Plus, plus, plus, plus….expiring tax credits were extended in the year end tax cut extension extravaganza.

      Another item in the Bush legacy that just keeps on giving….

  1. D. Mathews

    Two notes…
    1) Here is another take on the Walker/Koch nexus –

    2) On the HBP article, a halter is definitely a better diagnosis tool. It furthermore highlights the fact that most patients tend to experience ups and downs throughout the day with perhaps the most critical period being that right after waking up in the morning (when pressure tends to be high). Nevertheless, there appear to be two “tendencies” among doctors. Some doctors pursue an aggressive treatment of HBP, putting even borderline patients on HBP medication while others prefer to wait until the pressure is notably high. My experience is that a simple non-strenuous exercise routine like trotting 45 minutes every day can go a long way towards ameliorating a borderline HBP.

    1. Anon

      Re: HBP, exercise, yes, and also diet viz. eating regular amounts of celery, oily fish especially mackerel (available reasonably cheaply in tins), baked potato, freshly made combi juices such as carrot and spinach, and avoiding the processed (high salt ‘n’ sugar) stuff.

      Two books, Raw Juice Therapy by John B Lust, and Food Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, contain interesting titbits about HBP and diet.

      1. Mighty Booosh

        Juices and potatoes have too many carbohydrates. Mackerel may have mercury and persistent organic pollutants.
        Eat a normal diet in small but reasonable portions and get a walk in. There are no magic beans.

        1. Anon

          “Too many carbohydrates” – compared to what?

          “Persistent organic pollutants” – DDT went out of style a long while back. Eat/juice organically-certified veg if you’re that scared.

          What is a “normal” diet where you’re from? You seem to live in a place afflicted with high levels of very toxic foods.

          It ain’t like that round my way (Eurrrrooop), we have lovely fresh fish, and tasty fruit & veg, and we all live to a ripe old age consuming them.

          Hell, some folk think a diet of fresh foodstuffs (excluding ready meals, processed dreck like Big Macs and Kentucky Fried) is an aid to health – preventative even, which as the man said, is always preferable to cure.

          HBP medications in all their variety come with a serious amount of side-effects. Trying to find a way of living without them might be considered good husbandry of one’s own body.

  2. Ignim Brites

    The money quote in the Ian Fisher piece is that Andy Haldane reminds us of the “…the severity of the crisis and why another one is literally unaffordable.” It is too bad that elites in this country don’t have that sense. It may be that they are just too traumatized to contemplate it. However, if there is another financial crisis, major institutions in America’s financial, industrial and political landscape are just going to disappear.

    1. Cedric Regula

      Haldane’s CoCos idea sounds interesting. Looks to me like it works almost like a fast acting prepackaged “Bankruptcy Lite”. Not a cure all, of course, but may have some use as a circuit breaker, and maybe after popping it gets shareholders pissed at management enough to toss them out without first making all the usual noise for cutting interest rates and central bank/government bailouts.

  3. ballyfager

    Re the blood pressure link – this is news? I think anyone with a three digit IQ has known this for a long time. A doctor friend of mine once told me that the only way to get a realistic reading on someone’s blood pressure would be to sneak up on them at about 3 a.m. and take it while they slept.

    1. Rex

      HBP. Something just occurred to me.

      Doctors are the ones who figured out links between HBP and health issues. Doctors, no doubt, used their normal methods to measure blood pressure and lots of these readings over many years was number crunched to decide what is good or bad in BP.

      Some people may show higher readings than others due to stronger reaction to the doctor environment, but if everyone gets checked surreptitiously the whole known data set changes. Doesn’t that somewhat invalidate all the years of gathering data?

  4. a

    Re: “Hard-working Germans are about to discover what it feels like to be mugged by the EMU project”

    So this week, rather than the Germans being the evil bogeymen as in weeks and months past, they are the hard workers about to suffer. The only constant in AEP’s articles about Europe is that he doesn’t like the euro. Doesn’t know why really, but he’s just ag’in it. The rest he fashions as needed (Good Germans! Bad Germans!).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And next week, he will have a story about the Germans and fighting in Libya.

      I hope all’s quite in El Alamein.

  5. Eastside

    re: David Brooks on Wisconsin …

    Come on – more education does not entitle you to more pay – ask your local auto mechanic or plumber, or else get your local economics professor to fix your car.

    All teachers have to keep taking classes to keep their certification, so they end up with Master’s degrees. They’re more “educated”, but they’re still teaching the same number of students at arguably the same quality.

  6. ep3

    yves, regarding that ny times article about the unions. here in Michigan while our GM manufacturing base was disappearing, teachers and public employees were bashing union workers for making too much money and getting lavish benefits. There was no support while those benefits were decimated and the jobs were moved to Mexico. So it’s unfortunate but reality that a GM worker would not support the public unions. Nobody cared while his job and pension and health care were being eliminated. Thank Reagan for his divide and conquer regarding the unions.

  7. john


    I agree with you almost all of the time. But, I think you may want to look more closely at public sector pay and benefits. In my home state of California public sector pay and benefits have increased rather dramatically in the last 15 years. This is particularly true for safety personnel. Safety pensions are of the 3% at 50 variety and are commonly above 100K per year, inflation protected, with survivor benefits for life. This is similar to an inflation protected annuity that would cost me over around 3 Million dollars according to the salesperson I talked to at Vanguard. Of course I could never put away that much money in retirement accounts due to annual caps on IRA and 401K contributions. These are restrictions that public sector workers do not have to face in regards to financing their pensions.

    This is not a make believe problem. Safety pay and pensions are causing severe distress in my little town and many other similar towns throughout California. It is by far the largest portion of city budgets and it is growing much faster than any other budget item. It is beginning to crowd out many other budget items. I know some of the problem has to do with revenue being down because of the recession, but even when you look at budget projections going out to 2016 (with assumptions of a return to “normal” revenue levels) the problem gets much worse.

    I admire the work that my local police and fireman do. But, why exactly do they deserve not just an adequate retirement, but one befitting a multi-millionaire? And why do they need to retire at age 50? Maybe they cannot chase hoodlums in the street after that age, but I imagine their are other jobs they could do within the city.

    1. KFritz

      What you say is a fact. It is interesting to talk to public employees one on one. Many of them don’t GROK what’s happened to the private sector. It’s interesting to be an underemployed construction worker in the house of very nice folk fr/ the public sector. It’s even more interesting to consider what it must be like in public/private couple households. I know of two and don’t ask about it!

      Vallejo laid off about 50% of its police. Oakland just laid off at least 10%, so some public sector workers ARE feeling the pinch. And the cities are probably feeling less secure.

      The US is, very naturally and logically, becoming less wealthy compared to other nations. Our strong position after WWII is not so strong today. But simultaneously, our uebertheorists and ueberpracticioners of unfettered capitalism/greed have eviscerated the middle class. The public sector is the last to experience this, so it’s easy for the architects of the evisceration to play them off against the rest of us. Most of us haven’t the sense to see this pattern.

      1. wunsacon

        I agree with you, John and KFritz.

        >> It is interesting to talk to public employees one on one. Many of them don’t GROK what’s happened to the private sector.

        Compleeetely agree.

        And do you know who else is out of touch? Federal *contractors*.

        A couple of friends are federal “contractors”. But, judging by the way you hear them bemoan the benefits given to “government” workers, you’d think they’re actually in a competitive industry in the “private” sector. These spoiled people don’t realize that their whole ecosystem benefits from the deficit spending and non-competitive business environment. If there are ever any cuts to the government budget funding their industry, I wonder if they’ll view themselves in a different light and realize how lucky they’ve been so far.

        (Probably not!)

  8. Hugh

    Two points. First, public union contracts and pension plans did not drop from the sky. They were negotiated and accepted by state government. If you want to point fingers or ask questions, a good place to start is with your state legislators. They are ultimately responsible both for these deals and finding the funding for them. Second, remember the massive wealth inequality in the country. Unions used to buoy up everyone’s wages, not just that of their members, by raising the baseline. Then unions were decimated and wages have been flat for 30 years. So is the problem really with the few unions that are left or is it that we have far too few unions and far too much concentrated wealth?

  9. Doug Terpstra

    Physicists ‘bottling’ antimatter is a reminder of the astonishing infinity of our quantum universe. Opportunities for for wealth and life creation are really unlimited — new frontiers in energy and medicine — and/or its dark opposites like the sinister-sounding “annihilation gamma ray laser”. What powerful potential we possess, depending entirely on our vision and intent.

  10. acontra

    Couple of things:
    The scale and breadth of this is really just amazing. Slashing taxes on the rich, slashing spending on the poor and middle class at the worst possible time, all in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’.
    Interesting and comprehensive piece on how we got to this point. It seems like unions made some mistakes during the political realignments of the 60s and 70s, leading to their gradual decline. Is this basically right?

    1. Francois T

      GOP governors faithfully serve the monies classes only. There is no perceived risk for them, isn’t it? They totally wrecked the economy, yet won the House in a landslide two years later…must be because they’re right and the population approve, no? Just look at how they “interpret” their “mandate”.

      Unions: I think Kevin Drum was essentially correct in his depiction of unions salient mistakes. However, several events made it much easier for big businesses to take the high ground:

      1) Buckley v Valeo SCOTUS 1976 where the august idiots of the Supine Court decided that money = speech. It never dawned on these first class brainiacs that, in such an environment, absence of money = absence of speech; which is exactly what we have today. Senators do not want to know nor care about those with modest incomes. The losers are on their own. They’re double losers because they haven’t awaken to this fact yet, preferring to succumb to the manipulations of the politics of envy.

      2) The constant erosion of the standards of justice. We now have a hyper-politicized, multi-tiered system of justice in this country; a system much more akin to Paraguay under Stroessner and Brazil under Color de Mello than the USA under JFK. Granted, we are not yet similar to Argentina under the Colonels, but at the rate we’re going now, it won’t take long. For choices examples of what I’m talking about, see Arar v Ashcroft or Padilla v Rumsfeld.

      There are plenty of other events that could be brought to the fore, but that is way beyond the scope of a posting.

  11. Francois T

    If the Koch et al. win the Wisconsin battle, get ready for another ugly chapter of American history. This time, there will be no WWIII to take us out of the next econ depression these bastards will most surely create.

    Since creating a 3rd party has been made pretty much impossible, a peaceful revolution is hardly possible anymore. Hence, before the political situation comes back to a fairer balance of powers, what will be needed?

    This is what really is at stake here.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Actually Francois, I think more parties make change less likly. I think the larger aggregate amount of people feeling that they have a vested interest in some political agenda will reduce the recognition of being disenfranchised.

      That may be a case for it being easier to get rid of a dictator than any other form of government.

  12. Firean

    I have been learning and following the mortgage foreclosure stories and events through this blog for sometime ( reading everything !) and yet suddenly there is no more coverage here. What happened ?

    1. Paul Tioxon

      I do not control the editorial direction, but as an event driven blog, you have to understand that things change. The political revolution sweeping the entire Arab world and the fact that these countries control the overwhelming percentage of oil reserves and is where the fuel for the entire industrialized world economy comes from and the petro chemical inputs, the fertilizers for agricultural production, all of these consequences have flowed out the Arab revolution. In comparison, the foreclosures will be the least of our problems if this does not settle down in our favor. And the republican power coups being rolled out in state and Federal legislatures are threatening to shut down governments during a time of war, economic collapse and world wide political instability. Other than that happening, perhaps you need to wait until more significant events unfold related to your topic of interest.

      1. Firean

        Thank You for the reply and answer to my question.
        The most of the topical subjects in the media being covered extensively across the blog-o-sphere,one can read about them all over. yet the mortgage foreclosure topic was the most and best coverage on Naked Capitalism.I had thought that this blog was more specialised.Great blog.
        thank You again

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      There have not been any big judicial decisions lately, nor big Congressional hearings.

      I can only write on so many topics in one day. This blog is a full time job and I have no more bandwidth.

    1. Zoom

      I don’t know why more people don’t go to DailyKos for balanced and informative news and analysis. It has to be the best blog out there. Kos is clearly what Barack was referring to when he spoke of civility.

  13. Zoom

    Got to love those Dean Baker errr I mean Arianna Huffington or maybe I do mean Dean Baker, whatever … those political economists who spew their bias with a tenured safety net at their feet and progressive umbrella for cover.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s an ad hominem attack, and I must note you have not disproven his argument, merely made it clear you don’t like it. Not impressive and not permitted here.

      And Baker isn’t tenured, either, so you can’t even get your facts right.

  14. Sundog

    You might be tempted here to say that democracy is messy, and that the Americans should just be left to muddle along as best they can, and learn their lessons without our interference. Unfortunately, North America is a vital source of uranium, soybeans, situation comedies, inspirational speakers and other resources without which the global economy would collapse. Moreover, the country possesses a sizable cache of weapons of mass destruction. For both those reasons we and the other peace-loving nations of the world cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. If Americans are incapable of electing a sane and responsible government, the whole world will feel the consequences.

    Perhaps someday Americans could be permitted a limited measure of democracy, but in the writer’s view this could well be a multi-generational challenge.

    David Berreby, “Are Americans Ready for Democracy?”

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