Links 3/11/11

Big Data mining: Who owns your social network data? InfoWorld

Calm Man Successfully Buys TV And Denies Walmart Receipt Checkers Consumerist (hat tip reader Skippy). I have to confess that (aside from the shopping at WalMart part) this is the sort of thing I would do, except perhaps with less sangfroid.

Japan’s earthquake Financial Times. Updated frequently, liveblog style

Watch NHK in English for more earthquake news (hat tip Clusterstock)

US offical says Libya ‘regime will prevail’ Financial Times and U.S. Escalates Pressure on Libya Amid Mixed Signals New York Times. Let’s see…two weeks ago, the story was no one knew what was happening in Libya because Gaddafi had done a pretty good job of an information blackout and Western assumptions about that part of the world were looking very dated. Then the story was he only had a few thousand of troops that were loyal to him, he had lost major cities in the east and was in the process of losing Tripoli. Gaddafi then starts blowing up oil infrastructure and gets Tripoli back and the US starts sounding less committed to supporting the rebels (unlike France, it has not recognized the rebel government). Do I have the trajectory roughly right?

What will Saudi Arabia do? Jim Hamilton

A crisis mechanism for the euro: The European Stability Mechanism VoxEU

Share the sacrifice Heather Digby Parton The Hill

Americans in Poll Show Scant Confidence as Plurality See Decline Bloomberg. Notice the number of quotes where the experts basically say the economic data showing recovery are right, the stupid people are just too damned moody. And the analysts seem puzzled at the gloom juxtaposed with the resumption of an old habit, retail therapy. Haven’t they heard of hyperbolic discounting?

Battle Of The Banking Policy Heavyweights Simon Johnson

AOL cuts 20% of workforce Financial Times

BofA under fire over staff home-loss subsidies Financial Times. Readers should know by now I am no fan of BofA, but this furore seems misplaced. This sort of subsidy has been part of corporate life since the 1960s, if not earlier, and was not limited to executives. If it has now been curtailed at most companies to the C-level types, that’s a different matter.

Families Slice Debt to Lowest in 6 Years Wall Street Journal. The Journal uses this to argue they can spend more. Have they forgotten what the asset side the balance sheet of homeowners looks like? While it does get to that in the piece, it airbrushes out that most experts see the trajectory for housing prices in most markets as down, at least for 2011.

Carrington and the Problems of Mortgage Debt Servicing Mike Konczal

The Folks Who Run Our Economy Believe in the Easter Bunny Marcy Wheeler

Lehman Failed Lending to Itself in Alchemy Eluding Dodd-Frank Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-11 at 6.45.59 AM

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. russell1200

    The receipt check is not to check to check on their cashiers, not on the customer. They have a lot of problem with cashiers de-magnitzing the security strips, but (intentionally) not ringing up purchases.

    Walmart is one of the worst places to actually shoplift from. Because they have so many high dollar items, security is pretty tight.

    The only other item that I can think they would check on a customer with a box (TV box would probably not be applicable here) is that the customer did not open the large box and either sway out our place within a higher dollar item.

    1. Alex

      According to the article the law implying that he doesn’t need to prove ownership is state-level. Is there similar law in NYS? How would I go about finding it?

    2. KFritz

      Here’s an alternate scenario to deal with an unwanted demand for receipt or request to inspect. Step out of line and advise the requester that if the store suspects you of shoplifting, you’ll be happy to wait for the police, who will only subject you to inspection/search if the store makes a request, possibly in writing. Be sure to guard your person and merchandise as if your freedom depends on it. It may. If you’re clean, the store can explain itself to the court of your choice. I would only attempt this if it was pretty darn likely that the local police didn’t work with local retailers. Do any attorneys have an opinion on this?

  2. Ignim Brites

    In the Simon Johnson piece the phrase “too big supervise” enters the financial lexicon. The massive major international banks are probably too big to effectively regulate. If we want the debate to move forward, people will need to concentrate on the idea that TBTF means “too big to save”. So the next crisis will sweep away these institutions and many of the nations in which they operate. Will there always be a Britian? Doubtful.

  3. DownSouth

    Carroll Quigley, writing in The Evolution of Civilizations, observes that when the vested interests reject reform or circumvention and instead choose a reactionary stance, they:

    encourage the growth of imperialist wars and irrationality because both serve to divert the discontent of the masses away from their vested interests (the uninvested surplus). Accordingly, some of the defenders of vested interests divert a certain part of their surplus to create instruments of…irrationality…. [T]he institution of irrationality controls much of the intellectual life of the society.

    There were three great examples of the vested interests “encouraging irrationality” in today’s Links, plus indications that the masses may not be buying into it.

    • “Americans in Poll Show Scant Confidence as Plurality See Decline”

    [E]conomic data show[s] an economy on the mend, including six quarters of economic growth, a 95 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index over the past two years and job growth last month of 192,000. The National Bureau of Economic Research officially dated the end of the recession to June 2009.


    The poll shows the public isn’t sympathetic as financial industry executives and Republican members of Congress say that new banking regulations are hampering lending and interfering with the recovery.

    Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans say stricter regulation is preventing banks from lending to businesses and homebuyers. They are twice as likely to believe banks aren’t regulated enough and endangering the economy with risky acts.

    Antipathy toward Wall Street hasn’t changed since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. Only 30 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Wall Street, compared with 31 percent who said so in September 2009.

    • “The Folks Who Run Our Economy Believe in the Easter Bunny”

    The folks at the Fed who run our economy apparently believe in the Easter Bunny. And Casper the Friendly Ghost. And Santa Claus.

    I mean, I can only conclude the folks over there are completely unhinged from reality given their claim that no people–not a single homeowner–was wrongly foreclosed.
    “A months-long investigation into abusive mortgage practices by the Federal Reserve found no wrongful foreclosures, members of the Fed’s Consumer Advisory Council said Thursday.”

    • “Share the sacrifice”

    [A]lmost the entire political conversation in the U.S. takes place among this small group of people [Beltway insiders] — and…these alleged champions of the middle class inevitably convey the impression that Americans across the land are obsessed with deficit reduction and low taxes, which require deep cuts to 

    Yet out here in the real world, poll after poll shows that, in fact, Americans are far more concerned with unemployment and favor surtaxes on the wealthy to close the deficit. And so, from time to time, these gilded Regular Joes are forced to regretfully admit that sometimes the people are like dotty old relatives who “just don’t get it” or that they just want a “free lunch” — after which they promptly forget those findings and go back to pretending that the American people see things exactly the way they do.

    1. ScottS

      I think the media is actually stupid enough to believe their own propaganda. I think they are genuinely surprised that the public thinks there is still a recession. Nevermind the 9.9999% unemployment (or 20% underemployment).

      I think it’s actual ignorance, not malice.

  4. chad

    A read a story a while back about a guy who just hands the receipt checker his lawyer’s card instead of the receipt and keeps on walking.

    1. IF

      There are a few Walmarts in the Bay Area and all Electronic Fry’s that do the checks. Nobody else I know of. I always walk out ignoring the checkers. Nobody ever tried stopping me. Maybe one day. But I can see how picking an argument when the option to leave is available can be seen as prickish.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        In this case, the checker moved between the customer and the door and pushed on the TV box. So just walking past him was not an option.

  5. bmeisen

    Add Bill Gates’ latest TED appearance to the links. He’s talking about state budgets and refers to GAAP as the “gold standard” in accouting, smears California’s treasury as being worse than Enron, and on one slide compares the expenditures of the State of California, Microsoft, and Google, trying to show (I think) that California is spending way too much money.

    1. reslez

      Interesting that Gates finds it natural to compare California, which has a state’s coercive power to tax, with the monopolies Microsoft and Google. Similarly that he thinks it appropriate to compare profit-maximising corporations to state government, which has no shareholders and is supposed to put the best interests of its citizens foremost.

      1. bmeisen

        Well said. I was gobsmacked watching him. How does he get to comparing the 3 on the same slide? Why didn’t anyone in the audience boo and hiss? The CA treasury may be staffed by slimebags and/or dodos but as you noted they have a task that is far different than for-profit corporations. And what Califonia spends better be more than what Microsoft spends.

        Why does he see government as the enemy? Because in the wrong hands it can prosecute Microsoft for monolopolistic practicces?

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    About Daffy Spirit, which one is more urgent for you?

    1) ‘No fly zone’ in Libya

    2) ‘No mosquito zone’ in Texas

    3) ‘No vampire squid zone’ in Manhanttan

  7. Greg

    I don’t understand why the right to not show a recipt exists or is so important. How is Walmart supposed to catch shop lifters? I suppose the answer is to make everyone check out in a secure corral at the door. Seems like allowing you to check out in the elctronics department might be a convenience for us, the shoppers, but certain people exercising their “rights” will probably do away with that.

    1. Cedric Regula

      The simple solution is to close the checkout counters way back in the electronics dept. and make buyers of a big box item stand in the lines in the main checkout along with the people buying 20-200 grocery items. Then have these checkout people put the big box in a great big plastic bag (something more for our landfills) so the Hello Person can ascertain that the the product was properly purchased, and consequently owned, by the ShopperButNotLifter leaving the front exit. They then can lay off the checker person, the electronics checkout person and boost the bottom line a bit. And the Law will be served and our Rights protected.

      Thank You “protesters”.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            …simpler not to go shopping there.

            I don’t mean to say ‘not to go there’ as in ‘not to discuss the topic at hand,’ but not to go shopping there.

          2. Paul Repstock

            100% , Exactly right! This story has a point but it diverges from the focus of the NC blog.

            People are always asking: “What can a little ‘insignificant’ person like me do in the face of corporate might?”

            Well…Your shopping practices might be a good place to start looking.

            The roots of the middle class have always been in the local merchant and manufacturing population. Because of ignorance there has always been a bias against this group. Consumers having no understanding of money or business, automatically equate the money they pay with ‘profits’ to the store keeper. This is exerbated if there is also an ethnic issue, but that is not the main problem. The main problem is that consumers/working people do not comprehend their own place in the equation. I suspect that 90% of working people never see themselves as business people selling their services?? I digess.

            The point I would make: If you want to hurt the corporations, put your money where your mouth is. Even if it costs you 5% more, shop local. That money stays in your comunity far better than any money spent at Walmart/Costco/Target/Home Depot…..

          3. Paul Repstock

            And, if you cannot afford the extra 5%, ask yourself, “Do I need to buy this item, or am I just another brainwashed consumerist sucker?”

  8. RebelEconomist

    I was curious about the link about denying receipt checkers so I had to follow it up. I find it hard to understand why people resent doing something so trivial – it’s not like they are asking for your fingerprints. If Walmart has a problem with theft, why not do a little to help them? Besides being benevolent, that should help Walmart keep prices down for their honest customers. I thought Americans were supposed to have a positive view of private enterprise.

    1. Joseph Browning

      I find it hard to understand why so many customers don’t mind being openly treated as potential criminals. I don’t appreciate being accosted to prove I am not a thief as I exit a store.

      1. attempter

        It’s the sign of having been born a snivelling little coward who sides with bullies. They’re the same who say, regarding any assault on civil liberties, “if you don’t have anything to hide, you have nothing to worry about”.

        They’re incapable of comprehending things like liberty and simple human dignity. Examples like this are a litmus test.

    2. bob

      Following on the earlier post about who they are actually checking.

      They aren’t accusing you of shoplifting, they are accusing you of being part of a conspiracy to defraud. The other party would be the cashier.

      1. IF

        I came to this impression as well. There is no reason to check the customers if the cashiers are honest.

      2. Greg

        They are not accusing you of being part of a conspiracy. That previous post was pure conjecture. They want to make sure you didn’t just grab a box off the shelf and are trying to walk out the door. Seems reasonable to me.

        1. Joseph Browning

          Even if his conjecture is true, I’m still being treated as a criminal, regardless if its shoplifting or conspiracy to defraud. Treating all customers like criminals is odious, IMO.

          1. Cedric Regula

            I imagine you avoid anywhere that uses security cameras?

            And shouldn’t we really be demanding security cameras in bank CEO office suites?

          2. Joseph Browning

            Were a security camera demanding that I place my receipt in front of it, than yes, I’ll avoid those places as well. One method is passively invasive, the other actively invasive.

            They can watch me all they want, the moment they demand I do something actively for them because they assume I am a criminal is when I become offended. I am not required to prove my innocence, they are required to prove my guilt. Checking receipts is requiring every customer to actively prove their innocence.

        2. bob

          It is not conjecture. Retail stores lose more money to employees than they do to shoplifters. This is fact. All of those cameras and security are for the employees first.

          1. Joseph Browning

            Your conjecture was “They aren’t accusing you of shoplifting, they are accusing you of being part of a conspiracy to defraud. The other party would be the cashier.”

            I disagree. They are most definitely accusing me of shoplifting. However, as you state, they are *also* accusing me of being part of a conspiracy to defraud.

            In other words, I agree with part of what you said, but not the other, hence, that’s why I said “Even if your conjecture is true.” I don’t believe it is entirely the truth, only partially.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think they assume you are shoplifting.

            I also think they assume you are not you when they ask for your ID.

            Trust nothing. Verify everything. (I think this got someone not very happy the last time I wrote it.)

          3. attempter

            Retail stores lose more money to employees than they do to shoplifters. This is fact.

            Then tell them to pay their employees a living wage.

            What on earth is it with this thread? Bizarre. Are these the Walker trolls, giving the boss a freebie by sticking up for Walmart as well?

  9. mistah charley, ph.d.

    I shop at Costco, not Walmart, and it is their procedure that you give your receipt to a person at the exit door, who has an opportunity to compare it with the contents of your cart (I suppose they bother only when you have a tv or something like that in the cart), mark the receipt, and give it back to you.

    It seemed normal to me. Why get all huffy about it?

    Being groped in order to get on a plane IS offensive, however.

    1. bob

      Rather than paying enough to attract honest cashiers/workers, they are pushing the cost back onto the consumer. Time is money. This is just another tax added to the bill after you have already paid.

      Even the police have to have some sort of “reasonable suspicion” before they could attempt this, not that it stops them either.

      We can’t trust our people, so we are asking for your time, it’s only a minute.

    2. DeniseB

      I don’t mind doing it either. But I do mind the store attempting to detain someone when it has no right to do so. As long as the process is legally voluntary stores shouldn’t try to intimidate people into thinking otherwise.

  10. ScottS

    Re: What will Saudi Arabia do?

    Why would Saudi Arabia up production? They get more money for the same work.

    It’s entirely possible they’ve hit peak. At the same time, they could be hoarding by simply keeping it in the ground, and making more money by selling the same amount (costing the same to produce). The Saudi royal family isn’t exactly broke. What’s the rush?

    They could also send signals like they have hit peak to drive up speculation, getting even more money for the same effort.

    The scuttlebutt is that they haven’t had a major find since the 80’s. Is it known they are even looking? Or are they simply taking advantage of a near-monopoly position?

    They have either hit peak or they are good poker players. I give both equal weight.

  11. Paul Repstock

    Is there some avoidance on the Libya issue. Where the intelligence expert caused a crack in the Administration justification of doing nothing to upset the status quo in Libya?

    Mr. Obama and all the rest were busy assuring everyone that the protestors/revolutionaries had everything under control, so they didn’t need to interfere. Even Canada and Britain for all their earlier bleating about human rights abuses and massacres got on board, or at least were told to shut up and stay home.

    If Gadhafi wins as it now appears he might, how in the hell are they going to justify the resulting bloodbath? I suspect it will be ignored or simply termed as cleaning up pockets of “Al Quida terrorist cells”. Soon there after half the posters on Naked Capitalism will be identified as subversives.

  12. lev ridge

    on the house hold debt issue , I was talking with a retired banker the other day and he claimed on most of the short sales out there that if you read the documents closely that while the bank is accepting the lower price on the property they still are holding the difference on their books as owed them by sellers , this debt they will sell to collection firms in the future and many who short sold with out making sure the bank was forgiving the difference between purchase and sale ,may get a very nasty call when they get on their feet again .
    I can’t comment on the accuracy of this statement but the fellow making it had many years running a local bank .

  13. skippy

    RE: The Consumerist Link.

    Firstly thanks to all that took the time to comment.

    That aside it is curious the polemic attitude present, pro corporate vs. consumer, corporate policy considerations out side the law of the state + federal vs. the citizen + client – consumer dichotomy. Especially in the light of what has brought us all here to NC, the failure to live, apply, respect and honor the *Laws on the Books* at any given time.

    I’m with Yves on the *less sangfroid* (nice choice of words;) approach, when confronted with POLICY. I make it a point to drop a few lines of educated prospective, starting with POLICY is not Law, so lets ground the ensuing conversation in Law, not May Pole arguments to ware you down. The rights as a citizen grounded in constitutional law trump any business / corporate policy full stop!

    So if you want to build consumerist prisons…cough Wall-mart, Koch enterprises et al and then complain about abuse of Law, undue influence in your governments, stop feeding the beast, every dollar you save is really a dollar more they have to further enslave you and yours.

    Skippy…like watching cattle…blinded by preconceived discounts (today/shortism), color combination’s in decor, music and architecture…abattoirs of the spirit and toil. Americans are the most professional consumers on the planet…what a epitaph.

    1. attempter

      stop feeding the beast, every dollar you save is really a dollar more they have to further enslave you and yours.

      I didn’t offer an opinion on whether or not the guy was “huffy”* (as one of the pro-corporatists above put it), because if I were going to pass judgement, I wouldn’t be asking that question. I’d be asking why he was buying a TV in the first place. People who are wising up are getting rid of the TVs they have, not buying new ones.

      I got rid of mine several years ago. One of the most life-enhancing steps I’ve taken.

      While I wouldn’t criticize anyone who feels economically coerced into a place like Walmart for necessities, everyone should cut out the consumerist luxuries completely. Buying a TV of all things is definitely being complicit.

      *He clearly said his hands were full with the box and that he didn’t feel like kneeling, putting the box on the ground, fetching the receipt in obedience to a “policy”, then kneeling again, picking the box back up, etc.

      1. Paul Repstock

        How much do you think people really save by shopping at Walmart? I don’t think it is very much. I suspect that with smart shopping the differences could be narrowed to insignificant. Further more, if people rejected the throw away mentality of our modern world, the gains would be substantial over time.

        My personal knowlege is that discount imports of iron structures like gazebo’s and greenhouses can be purchased for a bit more than 1/2 of what I charge to build them. However, they cannot be expected to last more than a few years, where mine will last 20+. Given the uncertainty in the world, can we fault people for buying the cheap item? IDK. I do know that a domestic manufacturer could not build a $350 greenhouse, because the consumer who wanted cheap goods would sue when it collapsed. They don’t sue Walmart??

        1. attempter

          I suppose a harried worker may not have time and fuel to seek out the best purchases for basic food and clothing once the big box store drove most local businesses out of existence. Which is exactly the state of dependency government policy seeks. (Walmart is not technically a capitalist phenomenon, but pure command economy welfare corporatism.)

          That’s interesting about the greenhouses. Our relocalization group has been talking a lot lately about seeking greenhouse capacity, but I don’t know much about it myself. You’re saying a good one costs c. $700 to build yourself?

          1. Paul Repstock

            If you strip out labor costs it is possible to build a 10 x 20 or 200 sq. ft. greenhouse for under $400.

            The green house frame will withstand 50 mph wind and 2 feet of snow load Expected life 30+ years in any climate. Annual maintainance cost @$50

            Email me

          2. Paul Repstock

            The only tools required are a 1/2 drill, a pipewrench, and a hacksaw. A vice would be nice but not essential. Since I can’t ship to you I won’t even charge commision,,unless you build for sale…:)


      2. skippy

        @attempter…personally I have no issue with technology, it is a tool, how one uses it is another question. The legacy attached to its creation is another thing toxicity, dust to dust issues, energy et al. When making these purchases I try my damness to limit my footprint and buy from those that best support the local community, and try to use it as a tool that benefits my tribe. IE: programing that educates, broadens, informs, and betters my small fire…I tend.

        For instance I use my PC to run 3D models on a large LCD TV with the help of a hacked xbox kinets IR scanner to illustrate complex mathematical theorem or display digitally down loaded video of the cosmos from my telescope or display images that with out transportation (footprint) my tribe the graphic nature of our domicile…cough planet.

        That said…we must, as a community, local and international, find a way to over come the invasion of our common discussion, from those that would enslave us, for their benefit over every other. consideration.

        Skippy…done time, with out, but, mental filters are a better tool, than abstinence…methinks.

        1. attempter

          Sounds like a good plan. It’s always the difference between active use (and that use for a good purpose) vs. passive subjection, which is always in fact destructive.

  14. ScottS

    Re:Lehman Failed Lending to Itself in Alchemy Eluding Dodd-Frank

    I always wondered why, if banks simply make money out of nowhere for lines of credit, they don’t simply lend to themselves infinitely.

    Now I understand. Banks don’t lend to themselves because they don’t see themselves as a good credit risk.

Comments are closed.