Links 4/2/11


  1. Ignim Brites

    Inflation threatens the totemic power of the FED, so naturally the Times rolls out a shaman to conjure away the threat. The primitivism of these people is laughable.

  2. river

    I was curious as to what the peanut gallery thought of Bill Gross’s April Letter “Skunked” found here:

    I don’t pretend to be as knowledgable or smart as people like Yves, Paul Krugman or Bill Gross. Now lots of smart people say that Social Security isn’t in that bad of shape, but here is another smart guy lumping Social Security in with the health entitlements.

    1. Mark

      The problem with Bill Gross is that he is a (very big) money manager and one has to ask the question – cui bono? – with regard to his pronouncements. Smart – yes. Unconflicted – no.

    2. Cedric Regula

      I’ll propose the possibilities, even tho I’m somewhat sympathetic to Bill, and am not one of the people that believes Bill and PIMCO are part of the Devil Incarnate Crowd that plagues us.

      1)He’s subconsciously picked up on the “Entitlements are the problem” meme that has been carefully framed over the decades. It’s Newspeak to intended control the speech patterns of the peanut gallery.

      2)He thinks defaulting on the $2.5 trillion SS trust fund obligation is ok, but defaulting on other government debt obligation is heinous. (this I actually doubt.)

      3) He buys the line that the US can be a failed third world country and a Military Superpower at the same time. (again, I doubt that Bill thinks this.)

      4) He wasn’t on the distribution list for the charts that broke down medicare spending into Medicare Part B (The Bush drug entitlement) and everything else. These show the explosive growth of medicare to be largely due to Part B. On the nearly 100% chance he has the chart, he believes that US drug companies charging double what they get in the ROW with the Medicare drug billings passed back to the USG is NOT corporate welfare. (again,I doubt it) He is quite confident that Obamacare will fix all problems while leaving Medicare Part B as is.(again,I doubt it)

      5)He thinks this country is so messed up he can no longer say anything intelligible about it. (Bingo)

      1. Cedric Regula

        Almost forgot.

        He believes tax cuts improve a sovereign government’s credit rating, and with all the tax cuts we’ve had this millennium, along with continued progress, the US will quickly grow it’s way to solvency and the coveted AAAA sovereign credit rating. (Nope.)

  3. Mark

    I think Floyd Norris’ point is an important one. People often say that in the US, the home is the typical person’s largest investment. What is often unsaid (at least elsewhere) is the the home is the typical American’s largest debt. With home prices deflating (again) and real income stagnant the real interest rate on those mortgages is rising quite strongly. Under these circumstances, it is hard to see how a real recovery (sans fiscal and monetary steroid injections) can take hold.

    1. flatTax Cut

      1983, the Consumer Price Index included housing costs. But then the index


      This inflation discussion begs the question of, “Whose inflation?”. We now obviously need two measures of inflation.

      0. Price of median-man’s expenses
      1. Price of average-man’s expenses

      Median man doesn’t have near the amount of disposable cash as the average man. To obtain a true picture of what is happening every expense needs to be included. You can’t flagrantly say, “excluding fuel, food, and other data that we would like to hide.”

  4. Jojo

    Government seems good at making plausible sounding arguments that allow them to eliminate things they don’t want count from statistics.

    – Housing prices changed to “rent equivalent” to mask inflation.

    This worked so well that they they broke inflation reporting into “core” and “non-core” versions. The primary measure (“core”) eliminates “volatile” food & energy costs.

    Then we have unemployment, where people who have not actively searched for work in the prior 4 weeks are not counted as unemployed.

    I am sure there are other examples.

    How does one challenge the items that the government chooses to eliminate? How do we get them to start counting them again in the primary number?

  5. Sufferin' Succotash

    “The primary measure (”core”) eliminates “volatile” food & energy costs.”

    Those costs apply only to the tiny minority of Americans who (a.) eat
    (b.)drive motor vehicles.

  6. scraping_by

    RE: The BBA

    The MSM is fond of calling the more outrageous actions and proposals of the right wing “mischief.” No real harm, just youthful japes of the high-spirited eternal adolescents. Boyish fun instead of intentional obstacles. Bottle rockets instead of sand in the gears.

    “Sabotage” sounds too military, too consequential, too grown-up. Ideas too stupid to live but too loud to be ignored will occupy center stage to the exclusion of workable solutions. The balanced budget nonsense is a gift-wrapped black hole,

    The only bright spot is that someone can take them at their word and begin raising taxes on the rich to balance the budget. And ending tax havens. And taxing corporations.

    Heck, let the maximum earnings taxed for Social Security rise until it’s, say, on a part with the 1970’s when the program worked. And negotiate down the price of pharma. You’d still be taxing the middle class.

  7. ang

    Hey, did you see this one about how Wachovia got away with laundering $378.4bn in drug money?

    ‘”Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement.’

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