Links 3/12/11

Polar ice loss quickens, raising seas BBC

With hacking, music can take control of your car ITWorld

Minister: China pollution remains ‘very serious’ PhysOrg

Twitter ordered to give WikiLeaks data to US AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse). Be sure to read to the end for yet another example of craven Obama behavior.

A Message Received From a Friend In Japan Jesse

Hidden energy crisis in the Middle East Asia Times

French intelligence on Libya John Hempton. Score one for Hempton. I was grumbling yesterday that the US was shifting its position based on no to crap intelligence yet the French were recognizing the rebels. He has the missing link.

How Icelandic bank’s clients filled Tory coffers Guardian

Bond king’s Lear-like Treasuries renunciation Financial Times

Why mortgage lending slumped by a quarter and house prices may fall by a fifth Telegraph

Awesome: Wisconsin Firefighters Shut Down Bank That Funded Walker AlterNer (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

States Test Mortgage Principal Write-Downs BusinessWeek

What Does Anonymous Have on Bank of America? Gawker. The leak is supposedly Monday at

Republicans Parrot Big Banks: Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Is Just A ‘Shakedown’ Pat Garofalo, ThinkProgress (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Proposed Servicer Settlement Met With Resistance DS News. Look at all the clever excuses!

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-12 at 1.20.09 AM

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  1. Ina Deaver

    Bank run: frankly, it’s brilliant. So long as they then go and put the money in the credit union, instead of some other enterprise whose goals are contrary to the firefighters’ own.

    But did I understand the article to say that the bank is now owned out of Toronto? Were they one of the forced mergers from the failed bank files, where the FDIC kicked in money? Perhaps I should go do a little research and see what info there is on this bank.

    1. Hu Flung Pu

      There’s something fishy about this story. M&I – now part of BMO Financial – has over $20 billion in deposits in Wisconsin. So, $600K, even for a single branch in Madison or Milwaukee, is insignificant in the whole scheme of things. But, let’s say that the branch didn’t have enough CASH on hand to meet the depositors’ withdrawals. They’re just going to call Brinks (or some other security company that’s on contract) to go get cash from another branch and transport it over. So, it’s not a big deal from an operating standpoint.

      Also, let’s assume that for whatever reason the branch needed to wait until the next day to have the actual cash on hand to meet the redemptions, the BANK didn’t get closed down. One single BRANCH of the bank shut its doors because it didn’t have enough cash on hand. They could have sent the Firefighters to another M&I branch to get the balance of the cash they wanted.

      So, bottom line, this story doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Ina Deaver

        Of course it does. I’ve seen this in action: the branch closes early because it can’t meet the cash demands of customers. It’s the single-branch equivalent of a “bank holiday.”

        Depending on the location, some banks keep a surprisingly small amount of cash on hand. They have more on certain days of the month/week when they expect to cash checks. However, since the advent of direct deposit, banks have kept less and less real cash on hand. This pronounced trend (and the new limits on leverage) conflict with the old rules regarding the nature of demand deposit accounts.

        Yes, you can call Brinks for a top off. IF the amount you need is on hand. If the depositors were demanding cashiers checks in very large amounts, it is possible that no particular account that the bank could authorize had enough to continue writing the checks. It kind of matters how their branches are organized for business purposes.

        I’ve dealt with many small banks over the years. It is completely believable to me that they did not have the amount demanded on hand, and couldn’t get it transferred on demand. What I really expect is that we’ll see further moves to make “demand deposits” unavailable without a certain amount of warning to the bank before withdrawal.

        1. Ina Deaver

          I should add that banks’ internal rules are incredibly inflexible, especially at the branch manager level. It is not unusual to have to put off a customer who wants something unusual for several days to have to get your authorizations in order. Once they hit the limit of what they can approve, regardless of how much money is actually in the bank, they can’t move until they get approval. Sometimes you need dual approval from someone at the VP/SVP level and from legal.

          1. Hu Flung Pu

            I agree with everything you’re saying here, but here’s the headline: “Wisconsin Firefighters Shut Down Bank That Funded Walker.” Operative word being “Bank”. They did no such thing. At most, they forced a single BRANCH of the bank to close early one day. And, as I pointed out, if the firefighters really wanted their cash they could’ve gone to another branch. I’m betting the primary downtown Madison branch could have met their request (as they likely keep a lot more cash on hand than the average branch). While quite unusual, as you suggest, it’s not entirely unheard of… although it’s never happened to either of the (relatively) small banks of which I’m a long-tenured director (we have VERY occasionally needed to do a top off). In fact, I’d bet this happens to the typical bank branch in the U.S. less than once every ten years (which is why it sounds fishy to me). Again, it’s not entirely unheard of, but it’s extremely unusual. But, more importantly… it’s largely irrelevant. The bank didn’t close… a single branch did. And if it closed as a result of the Firefighters’ deposit requests, I’m surprised that M&I doesn’t have a better operations solution to such situations.

        2. Hu Flung Pu

          The Madison newspaper notes that the branch that closed down is on Capitol Square and that the police suggested they close down due to the chaos with all of the demonstrators. I’m not saying that this is correct – I don’t know – but it makes a lot more sense than the notion that they couldn’t find enough cash to meet withdrawals. Although, admittedly, perhaps withdrawals were ALSO an issue and the bank didn’t want a Brinks truck driving into Capitol Square given the situation with the demonstrators. Nevertheless, the implication that this represents some sort of meaningful run on M&I as a whole (“The Bank is closing down”) is pretty ridiculous, in my view. And, for the record, I think M&I is a pretty marginal bank, so I’ve got no dog in this fight. Anyhow, we’ll know more next week I’m sure.

          1. Ina Deaver

            Exaggerated headlines? I have to be honest with you – I have almost quit reading them, LOL. I think that several well-known aggregators probably trained me to start skipping them. . . .

            I understand exactly what you are saying and I agree – they definitely couldn’t shut down the bank. Heck, at this juncture, I’m not even sure how much traditional banking functions contribute to the bottom line at banks any longer. But I think it is absolutely the right move on the part of the firefighters. The beauty of all showing up together isn’t so much to get their money as it creates press (apparently with inflamed headlines). As someone else mentioned, “move your money” is the bottom-line right move. And letting the bank know — along with the public — that this is why you are doing it is excellent.

      2. lambert strether

        True on the bank story. But “Move your money” is still the right thing to do, at least until there’s a State Bank of WI to handle boring banking, and we can let the rich p*ss away their OWN money playing the ponies.

        Then again, you write $20 billion in deposits, but that assumes the bank is solvent, right? Could be true, but why assume it?

    2. Hu Flung Pu

      As it turns out, this was a non-event. Apparently the police “suggested” – although did not “demand” – that this branch close early due to the demonstrations, and the branch manager did so. Cash availability was not an issue.

      The branch both opened and closed at the normal times today.

  2. Viator

    “There’s some blogospheric carping about his statement in the JPL press release below regarding Greenland’s ice sheets:“… their cumulative loss could raise sea level by 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) by 2050.”

    Well sure, it could be, but as this recent surprise study from GISS’s neighbors at Columbia illustrates, even though we’ve had the GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) satellite looking at Antarctica, and concluding there’s been ice mass loss there, we have this new study that shows ice being added from underneath due to meltwater refreeze, concluding the models to be wrong.

    It goes to demonstrate that we really don’t understand ice sheet mechanics well enough yet to make accurate forecasts, though some people think we can.

    Add to that, GRACE has it’s own set of problems. And at least one model conlcusion has been revised post facto because the melt data is overestimated:

    The melting of the ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica is about twice as slow as previously thought. The study, conducted by TU Delft, SRON and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The scientists published their findings in the September issue of Nature Geoscience.

    We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted.’ The average rise in sea levels as a result of the melting ice caps is also lower.

    In fact, errors from GRACE may be quite large. So take this new release from JPL and the squawking about the forecasted sea level rise with a grain of salt.”

    “The smaller trend of the recent half of the record is statistically different from the larger trend of the first half. Will this reduction continue into the future? Who knows? I’m just talking about the past, and pointing out that we sure haven’t seen any sign of the threatened acceleration in the satellite record. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled warnings of global inundation from accelerating sea level rise”

    1. Dave of Maryland

      I was curious about nuclear test explosions. From the late 1940’s to the early 1980’s, there were literally hundreds of nuclear tests, some above ground, some below ground, some in the air, with yields up to 50 megatons – the famous Russian test, which, critically, was in the air and in the Arctic. Radiation went downwind into Siberia (which is why it wasn’t 100 megatons), but the heat went everywhere.

      Each & every one of the nuclear tests producing an awful lot of heat. Equal to more than a few Chinese motorcars.

      What happened to all that heat? Was it all radiated away into space? None of it stuck around? Why didn’t these tests blow away the earth’s protective layer of ozone, aka atmosphere in general? (Or did they?)

      Why, in the early 1970’s did all the Very Respectable Scientists think the earth was cooling ? The net result of all that heat was cold? Was that what was meant by “Nuclear winter”? The more bombs, the colder it gets?

      “Science” is a consensus game. I don’t think they’re a better a set of lemmings than any of the others. The ones on Wall Street, for example, or in DC.

      Every group has their rationalizations. The things they all agree on. The other things they’re happy to ignore. (And so should you!) Think for yourselves. Be empowered. Agree with global warming, or not, not because of the scare stories you were told, but because of the conclusions which you yourself have made.

      1. wunsacon

        >> Why, in the early 1970’s did all the Very Respectable Scientists think the earth was cooling ?

        “All” the “very respectable scientists” think the earth was cooling?

        Jesus, Dave. Do some research.

    2. DownSouth

      It’s unfortunate that Steven Goddard has publicly speculated on why Antarctic sea ice is increasing without fully investigating what observations and research have found. The result is that many readers at Watts Up With That have been misled on the true and fascinating nature of Antarctic sea ice.
      Watts Up With That’s ignorance regarding Antarctic sea ice

      Also this, Climate Denial: Crock of the Week, does a good job of shedding a light on the pseudoscience propangadized by the website “What’s Up With That?”.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We could have Global Not Warming and Global Not Cooling and still be wiped out.

      If the northern hemisphere goes up by 5 degrees and is offset by the southern hemisphere going down by 5, it’s Global Not Changing. But life won’t be the same.

      One can change one’s way of life without knowing anything about Global Warming. In fact, one can deny Global Warming and still for consuming less.

      Wind, nuclear, solar, wave or hydro energy will have to reconcile wiht Jevon’s paradox.

      Love is the only clean energy.

      Consuming less and remembering we are not just humans, but we are animals too (and part of nature) is the only way to go.

      Remember, we are not just Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens, but we are animals too!

      And one more time, LOVE is the only clean energy.

      1. Cedric Regula

        You’ve given me an idea. The Butt Yo-Yo Generator. I’m still working out the details…it’s probably going to need pulleys…but I plan to file for a patent on it as soon as I get it all worked out.

    4. Ignim Brites

      You have to wonder whether or not the melting of ice, particularly in Greenland isn’t affecting plate tectonics and causing earthquakes of greater intensity. Where will this end? With the earth disintegrating sometime in the next hundred years? Of course, you have to balance that with the fact that greater plate movement will increase volcanic eruptions which will contribute to cooling, declining food production, declining population and declining world GDP; and hence declining greenhouse gases. It’s a race. What will win?

    5. emca

      The skinny on Willis Eschenbach:

      “Construction Manager at Taunovo Bay Resort in Fiji/Sport Fishing guide in Alaska”

      and part-time self-appointed pseudo-scientist.

  3. financial matters

    The FT article (Bond king’s Lear-like Treasuries renunciation) should also be viewed in the light of their taking on a huge MBS position which may not bear fruit if it doesn’t get future Fed bailouts.. and future Fed QE seems to be running into significant headwinds esp food price increases in MENA countries…

    Bill Gross Telegraphs QE2 Green Light: Buys MBS On Margin

    “””Is Gross saying that Bernanke will once again be forced to come out and buy MBS in addition to USTs? or 2) did Gross just get screwed on his doubling down MBS? With fraudclosure forcing such reputable MBS managers as Gundlach to claim that it will have no impact on their business model, we are also certain that the entire Fashion Island campus is sweating bullets currently. If the entire MBS model is indeed unwound as some speculate, this could well be the end of PIMCO”””

  4. LeeAnne

    Thanks again Yves. This from Jesse’s blog titled A Message Received From a Friend In Japan

    “These are not aftershocks. The secondary quakes are magnitude 4, 5, 6 and are happening so frequently, say every 5 to 10 minutes, that the newscasters can’t speak fast enough. No sooner does the alert go off and they describe a quake, then the next one happens somewhere else. I can feel all these quakes even though they occur hundreds of miles from Tokyo.”

  5. RN

    “Once the Fed is no longer a big buyer of Treasuries, and thus artificially pumping up risk assets, investors will book their profits and park their money back in government bonds.”

    This is the single most stupid thing I’ve ever read in the FT.

    What the Fed pumps up more than anything by buying Treasuries is, um…Treasuries.

    1. financial matters

      seems like a strange catch-22. the fed went into QE 2 to buy long-term treasuries hoping to keep down interest rates on similar long term products such as home mortgages. it backfired and caused those interest rates to rise probably due to concerns over us monetizing the debt. but the fed claimed success and said since interest rates were rising the economy must be improving…

      some of this money probably did leak out into riskier investments that will return to treasuries once that carry trade is not seen as so viable.

      PIMCO made huge investments in MBS while it was selling treasuries.. I think betting on further fed bailouts which may not be forthcoming quite possibly because these interventions seem to be causing rising oil and food prices…

  6. Dirk77

    Re Twitter/WIkileaks: “Obama told reporters he had inquired about the treatment of prisoners at Kolyma and that the KGB assured him it was ‘appropriate.'”

  7. EmilianoZ

    Let us not set too much store by French “intelligence”. They were supposed to be very knowledgeable about Tunisia. Yet, they were strong Ben Ali supporters and fail to predict his demise. Then they sent a new ambassador there who turned out to be so arrogant that Tunisian protesters soon called for his resignation. French foreign policy under Sarko is inept at best. I still remember his speech in Senegal where he told his audience that Africa had never “entered History”. LOL!

    1. wunsacon

      It’s probably as difficult to predict a dictator’s demise as it is to predict when Ponzi markets finally correct.

    1. YankeeFrank

      For once Lambert I must disagree with you. Obama is craven. If all the sudden the American people rose up en masse to declare an end to the torture of Bradley Manning Obama would turn on a dime and throw the Pentagon under the proverbial bus. He has no true principals — he loves coddling up to power, especially the brutal and arrogant kind… but if his reelection were threatened, he’d turn back into the dude we saw on the campaign trail. Actually, that is part of what I think might sink him in 2012: the stark contrast between the way he campaigned in 2008 and how he will campaign next year. He can’t go back to that guy we met in 2008 because his tenure in office is so completely different from that — and everyone clearly remembers how he was in ’08, so he’s caught in a bind of his own making and… anyway, it’s gonna be fun to watch him squirm next year, the craven fascist.

      1. Paul Repstock

        Well Frank. if the American voter finally has a president that is responsive to the will of the people, you had better look at the clock. It is now 11:59 and ticking.

        Bradley Manning may be a visible symptom. But he is hardly the most important issue out there.

        Rise up. Rise up now!

        In 2012 they may put in somebody ‘really nasty’, who is not influenced by public presure.

    2. scraping_by

      You’re right that Obama is way right, but right wing is not necessarily exclusive of being a lickspittle. A lot of conservatives build their politics around a personal dependence on the power and money class. Think of the feudal system of fealty.

      All in all, I think he’s not as timid as he would have us believe, just as Bush wasn’t as stupid as he wanted everyone to believe. While both are essentially lackeys to the powerful, passive nothings who front for those with interests, assume they choose whose boots they lick. The answer is all the above.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Here is a frightening definative report from the Washington Post.

      The Washington Post very scary climate report!

      “The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in
      some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a
      report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul, at
      Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers
      all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto
      unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions
      report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees
      29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf
      stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by
      moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many
      points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

      Very few seals and no white fish are found in the Eastern Arctic,
      while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before
      ventured so far North, are being encountered in the old seal fishing
      grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt
      the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”

      .Oops! Never mind. This report was from November 2, 1922, as
      reported by the Associated Press and published in the Washington Post
      – 88 YEARS AGO!!!!!!….

      “If you put the federal government
      in charge of the Sahara Desert,
      in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
      ~ Milton Friedman

  8. kevinearick

    Intimacy: Conditioning the Proton

    The universe is not going to sacrifice a solar system to accommodate a human virus driven by consumption. Those asteroids feed the sun, which is a variable black hole.

    So, the feds “created” $250 billion in February, which they are willing to admit. Between all corporate units in the nexus – private, public, nonprofit, and church, they are going to add $10 trillion NPV in phantom computer money this year to pretend that the American enterprise system remains viable, on the assumption of continued viral consumption demographics.

    The adaptive capability of children determines confidence in the future, the NPV multiplier of present income that values wealth and connects the human circuit to the environmental circuit. With no effective examples of change, the reptiles simply short circuit into replication.

    A 5-yr-old can see the difference between what they say and what they do, but they can’t, because they can only act impulsively within the groupthink track, with no connection to higher brain functions. They read books that are compilations of books, which are compilations of groupthink, the black hole.

    The economic profit-makers are not going backwards; they never do. To tow the legacy system forward, they must mate, become quantumly entangled, with the external proton cleats. The formerly neutral middle class capacitor / substrate is removed and the electron pulls the proton through the looking glass from different tracks, until the proton can act as an electron temporarily, and vice versa. As the example is followed, the energy of catalysis is reached and a new neutral capacitor crystal forms.

    Generally, the American population is largely a bunch w****s, but which population isn’t. There is no point in arguing over the spilt milk; that behavior is a function of History. For the proton, love is simply a behavior that gets it from point A to point B, and point B becomes the next point A, in a circle. It has no idea why the circle grows (monogamy) or contracts (substitution).

    The problem is that the proton seeks “attention” only from those in the inner core, which uses it to attract additional electrons and then throws it away, creating the efficient exploitation feedback loop, which was replicated from previous generations that knew no better themselves. No one is responsible; it just is, quantum physics.

    The capacitor crystal set is neutral in conjunction with electron behavior and the dc tracks cannot know who the enterprise architects are, so, the instant voltage appears in the neutral line, there is trouble. Do not short across the delay mechanism and expect the economy to function. Attempting to fix symptoms in time is a waste; they are sunk costs. A change of heart is required, which requires a spiritual awakening.

    It’s about breeding rights; it’s always about breeding rights, which balance group consumption with individual investment, resulting from contrived and real anxiety. Do you want nature doing the job or do want the religious fanatics doing the job? Do you want the $1 million/unit cost of masons, or do you want the $100k/unit cost of independent workers brought back into the system?

    The job will cost $2 trillion and the dissolution of Family Law. Prove me wrong. The enterprise architects could care less who survives and who does not; there is no shortage of black holes. 2 + 2 = 4 is a probability distribution.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Your monologue is a bit above my toehold. But, I think I agree. As I understand it, you are saying it is them or us?
      Since I consider myself part of ‘us’, that is the group I ould prefer to prevail. I never did fancy being reconstituted as Soylent Green. Worm food in due course is acceptable.

  9. Paul Repstock

    OT, but I would appreciate a bit of input from legal and military types. I’ve just been reading through some of the Wiki Leaks stuff, and I find it more disturbing than usual.
    Would it be possible for the government/pentagon to immediatly execute Mr. Manning as soon as they ‘obtain’ a “confession” from him? I’m projecting that such an action would clear any possible obstructions to apprehending Julian Assange for extradition to the United States or some other venue for interogation.

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