Links 6/16/11

Russia’s ‘Crime Of The Century’ Highlights Importance Of Anonymous, Public Whistleblowing TechDirt (hat tip furzy mouse)

Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Individualism a Stronger Predictor of Well-Being Than Wealth, Says New Study Science Daily. So they are basically saying the Japanese are less happy, if you believe this research. I have a sneaking suspicion there is big time cultural bias in the study design.

Why Isn’t Wikileaks Getting the Attention It Deserves in U.S. Media? AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Watching Too Much TV Can Kill You Gawker

NOAA expects largest ever dead zone in Gulf of Mexico McClatchy (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Pakistan-U.S. security relationship at lowest point since 2001, officials say Washington Post

Militia set up within Iraqi ministry, Maliki says McClatchy (hat tip reader Buzz Potmakin)

The chances of a euro zone breakup are now increasing Ed Harrison

Private Insurers Fail at Keeping Prices Down in Massachusetts Jon Walker, FireDogLake

Wall Street’s Latest Manufactured Outrage Kevin Drum, Mother Jones (hat tip reader furzy mouse). We linked weeks ago to Dean Baker pegging the costs even lower, at 13 basis points.

The SEC Just Refused To Hand Over Details Of SAC’s Trades To Senator Grassley And He’s Pissed Clusterstock (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Consumer Spending Remains Weak: Small Business Optimism Dips Lower in May NFIB (hat tip reader Carol B)

The US economy flirts with its stall speed Gayvn Davies, Financial Times

Sell On The Rallies- Don’t Buy On the Dips Robert Lenzner, Forbes. A most un-Forbes-like headline…

US inflation rise ties Fed’s hands on further easing Financial Times. This quote towards the end was almost comical

The National Association of Home Builders’ sentiment index unexpectedly fell to 13 in June from 16 in May, the lowest level in nine months, heightening concerns over the struggling real estate sector. Readings below 50 indicate that most builders judge the market as poor. Economists had expected the index to hold at 16 for another month; the reading has not come in above 50 in five years.

“Unexpected”? To whom?

Paulson Funds Struggle as Big Bets Backfire; Gold Works Wall Street Journal. I’m not surprised. His returns had been so high that he had to be taking concentrated bets. And having such non-existent due diligence as to invest in Sino Forest? OMG, read John Hempton on that one (and a funny update).

How Big Banks Displace Families Who Rent Progress Illinois (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

America for Sale Dylan Ratigan, Huffington Post

Basel, Tomato, And Mozzarella Simon Johnson

Here We Go Again, Shanghai Pummeled, Greek Stocks Down Big Again, Everything Off Clusterstock

Plus an AM update from reader Hubert, who is probably in Munich. Any comments?

Something is going on in the money markets.

I do not know, if it is a blip to be corrected with the next bailout money.
Or a US ruse with the downgrade of the French banks to get attention away from the US.
Or real trouble coming up.

But Eurodollar funding is getting more expensive here. We are only talking 10 basis points for DEZ 11 ED so far but it blips up on the screens.

Antidote du jourL

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. attempter

    Re dead zone in Gulf:

    The Deepwater oil eruption was more sexy and therefore drew the attention of more than the usual number of gawkers.

    But the fact is that industrial agriculture inflicts such a blow on the Gulf every year, and the disaster just gets worse and worse.

    1. bigag

      And is another indicator of the disproportionate influence that big ag has on policy.

      Turning the planet into a toilet by growing “food” is not a good sign.

      Some of this can be directly attributed to ethanol production and it’s ridiculous subsidization.

  2. Another Gordon

    Re How big banks displace families who rent.

    Another sordid tale of banksters preying on tenants who don’t know their rights in Chicago.

    Sounds like there’s a need for a community organiser to stand up to the banks. Sadly, no such person exists.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      In London back in the 1970’s there was an organized squatter movement. Organized squatting would quickly take care of the problem. Get evicted on Tuesday, move out on Wednesday, move back in on Thursday. People power, local empowerment, all that stuff. Me, I wouldn’t even turn off the utilities.

      Stop wringing your hands !!!! Do the George W. Bush: Create facts on the ground, wait for everyone else to catch up.

      In English common law, squatting is legal – though hugely frowned upon. Someone should look into just how much English common law applies here in the states.

      1. every case on its own merit

        how much English common law applies here in the states.

        49 states leave the Napoleonic State. Remember the Louisiana Purchase?

        Problem is, “You don’t know what the law is until you go to court.”

  3. Jim

    Re Money Can’t Buy Happiness

    Did you even RTFA?

    In more traditional and collectivistic societies, increases in individualism can be associated with anxiety and lower well-being. In more individualistic European countries, in contrast, greater individualism leads to more well-being.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It takes work, even if you’re rich.

      First, you must be rich, then you can buy individualism with your money.

      Voila! You are happier.

      Middle class? Tough luck. You must comform. Get group coverage. No personal chef for you. No Frank Lloyd Wright designed house for you. No private jet, just coach seating. No individualism for you.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I did read it, that sentence does not diverge with their higher-level conclusion, that collectivist societies were less happy. It’s a subordinate point.

      These happiness surveys rely on self-reported metrics. There are other studies that claimed to have reported that self-reports are valid, but I have serous doubts. I know Japan reasonably, and modesty is a very big cultural value in Japan. Moreover, the Buddhist overlay is that suffering is part of the human experience. So I can imagine given Japanese norms, they’d be less inclined to claim they are happy, when Americans think being happy is really important and not naive.

      1. Valissa

        While it’s true that Buddhism accepts suffering as a natural human state, much of Buddhist practice and teaching is about letting go of suffering (letting go of the attachment to suffering) and seeking happiness instead. Also, Christian and Buddhist viewpoints on the meaning and handling of suffering are quite different.

        Perhaps these quotes will give a flavor of that bether than I can verbalize:

        It is in everybody’s interest to seek those [actions] that lead to happiness and avoid those which lead to suffering. And because our interests are inextricably linked, we are compelled to accept ethics as the indispensable interface between my desire to be happy and yours.
        -His Holiness the Dalai Lama

        There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that leads to more suffering and the suffering that leads to the end of suffering. If you are not willing to face the second kind of suffering, you will surely continue to experience the first.
        -Ajahn Chah, “Still Forest Pool”,

        Whether we sit with our arms folded this way and our legs crossed that way is of little consequence. But it is extremely important to check and see if whatever meditation we do is an actual remedy for our suffering.
        -Lama Thubten Yeshe, “Wisdom Energy”

        There is a difference between watching the mind and controlling the mind. Watching the mind with a gentle, open attitude allows the mind to settle down and come to rest. Trying to control the mind, or trying to control the way one’s spiritual practice will unfold, just stirs up more agitation and suffering.
        -Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Happier individuals are not necessarily the same as happier societies.

        One society with 60% happy individuals doesn’t mean it’s happier, as a whole, than a society with only 50% happy individuals. Maybe those happy 60% exact too much unhappiness from the other 40%.

      3. Yves Smith Post author


        I find that first quote from the Dalai Lama a bit sus as I wonder whether he is talking/pandering to a Western audience. I see Buddhism as very much about trying to act in good integrity (the importance of “right living”) and giving up attachment to outcomes. While suffering is inevitable (if nothing else, people you are attached to die), some of our unhappiness is due to an attachment to the idea of being happy and limited ideas about how to attain it. Getting rid of needing to be happy is a better route to attain some measure of contentment.

        1. dalai mama

          I think that Yves, you potentially have a point. Someone would need to verify your hypothesis that Japanese out of modesty and awareness of their own suffering would underreport their own happiness. It certainly seems plausible and likely to me based on my own experiences with Japanese from Japan.

          And Valisa also has a point. All of her quotations are perfect summaries of key points in Buddhist thought. However, most Japanese I know while striving to Right Living, tend to put off for retirement the other Right ____ parts of the eightfold path that might lead them out of suffering.

          The last remark the Yves made is correct: one does want to let go of feeling the need to be happy. However, the idea is to use this feeling as a sort of motivator, and then let go of it last.

        2. wb

          Happiness ? Isn’t ‘happiness’ a rather bland, sloppy, wishy-washy concept ? Merely the opposite of un-happiness and dis-contentment ?
          There is the Buddha’s bliss, the Buddha’s serenity, which sits, potentially, in the heart of each moment, a place to be found, where one can choose to be, be here now, in the instant, bliss and serenity, which, surprisingly, can be sustained even in the midst of great pain and distress. At the very centre, the exact axial point, of the spinning, turning wheel, there is absolute stillness, nothing moves… pure bliss… beyond words, beyond opposites.

  4. LeeAnne

    I’m glad that little piggy is being treated so well and hope the smile is real -not just for the camera- and that the slaughter is humane.

    1. ambrit

      Having interacted with my wifes parents when they still had a small farm, I must sadly agree. What a rotton bunch of hypocritical sods we are. From cute piggy to bangers and mash, eech. (Full disclosure: I’m no angel in this regard. Have done my share in ‘food processing’ tasks on said farm years ago.) BTW, pigs are VERY smart. If you want to get more into the question, try looking up some interviews with Dr Christian Barnard about why he gave up experimental chimp to human heart transplants.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For nature sake, we need to stop taming animals!

        Instead, we should tame bankers and vampire squids.

        1. ambrit

          Heavens to Murgatroyd Good Sir! Are you proposing Cannibal Cuisine? (I believe one of the Rockefellers ran afoul of that back in the Dream Time.)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I had this little problem a while back –

            A cannibal couple just moved in next door.

            I invited them over for dinner.

            What should I serve them – I asked myself?

      1. propertius

        Well, at least he’s adhering to Forbes’s usual standards of accuracy and fact-checking.

    1. Moopheus

      And on top of that stops posting irresponsible medical quackery from Cheepak Dopra & Co.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you, I’m not sympathetic. I have written for publication for nearly 20 years. If you want to get paid, you sign a contract which specifies how you get paid and what copyright they have v. you.

      This is a bread and butter skill if you are a writer. These people cannot say they did not understand what they were doing. And it was ALSO well known that Arianna had venture capital money, so it was really clear she intended to or would be pressured to sell HuffPo to produce an exit for her investors.

  5. grassleyisajerk

    Just remember that Grassley is the “pull the plug on grandma” man. He is also a republican corporatocrat, the only kind there is.

    Grassley asking the SEC for information and then complaining about it very likely means one thing, he’s trying to interfere with an investigation of some sort on behalf of his true constituents.

    he would be happy as a pig in sh*t, if the SEC were NOT doing it’s job.

  6. Cynthia

    If Carson Block, who founded the hedge-fund research firm, Muddy Waters, is right (listen to link below), then the Chinese economy isn’t as fraud-free as many like to think it is. The irony in this is that he is betting big time against Sino-Forest, the Chinese-based company that the billionaire hedge-funder John Paulson is heavily invested in. I’m not one to engage in schadenfreude, but I would take great pleasure in seeing the man, who was able to amass more wealth than anyone else by betting big time against the subprime market, take a nontrivial haircut for a change.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but I doubt that Carson Block is doing anything illegal by shorting Sino-Forest. And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing illegal about him making claims that this Chinese-based company is engaging in a Ponzi scheme of sorts. Just think, if we had an outspoken short seller like Carson Block around to inform us that many players in the mortgage market were engaging in a Ponzi scheme, the housing bubble wouldn’t have grown to the size that it did, nor would the fallout from it been as great.

    Let me close by saying that the Chinese are known for being brilliant at copycatting America. But if they are trying to copycat the great American Ponzi scheme, masterminded by the likes of Goldman Sachs, then look to see the entire global economy crash and burn in the not-so-distant future.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Chinese copycatting us?

      But the US is turning Japanese, per Roach.

      It’s probably quicker if they just copycat the Japanese.

          1. ambrit

            Who are we to throw stones? Just who invented pizza in the first place anyway?

  7. TV Watcher

    Can too much TV kill you? Find out at 8 only on KXYZ Super 9 News with Jeff Wacker and Maria Bertinelli.

    1. TV Watcher

      TVs. They’re everywhere. In our living rooms, in our bedrooms, in the kitchen, even in the bathroom! But some people are saying that TV might not be all good. In fact, some scientists claim that just 2 hours of TV a day can kill you.

      Fat woman off the street: There’s nothing about that in the Bible, so the scientists must be wrong.

      Fat man off the street: If TV was going to kill me, I’d be dead a long time ago.

      What you don’t know can kill you. Watch as NBC In Depth goes deeper into how TV can kill you.

      Cut to commercial. Big mac commercial. Whopper commercial. KFC commercial. Large SUV commercial. Another Big Mac commercial.

      We have here Dr. Hu.

      “Dr. Hu welcome.”

      “Thank you Maria.”

      plays clip of Hu speaking in front of a medical meeting,
      “The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality.”

      [laughing] “Dr. Hu, you say here that watching TV just 2 hours a day can kill you. How can that be?”


      [interrupting] “If you are correct, shouldn’t everyone already be dead?”


      [interrupting]”I mean it seems incredible right? This is why people are calling science bankrupt and turning to the bible for answers, don’t you agree?”


      [interrupting] “We need to break for a message from our sponsors, but when we come back, we’ll have Dr. K. T. Fritz who calls himself God’s scientist to explain why watching T.V. could save your life. Stay tuned.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maria sounded really sharp there.

        What channel is she on? I have to make sure I watch her show.

    2. Moopheus

      This just in: sitting around on your butt all day and just moving enough to get to the car or the fridge isn’t really conducive to good health.

  8. Davy Byrne's Pub

    “Would the departed never nowhere nohow reappear? Ever he would wander, selfcompelled, to the extreme limit of his cometary orbit, beyond the fixed stars and variable suns and telescopic planets, astronomical waifs and strays, to the extreme boundary of space, passing from land to land, among peoples, amid events. Somewhere imperceptibly he would hear and somehow reluctantly, suncompelled, obey the summons of recall. Whence, disappearing from the constellation of the Northern Crown he would somehow reappear reborn above delta in the constellation of Cassiopeia and after incalculable eons of peregrination return an estranged avenger, a wreaker of justice on malefactors, a dark crusader, a sleeper awakened, with financial resources (by supposition) surpassing those of Rothschild or the silver king.” – James Joyce (Ulysses)

    Bloomsday, June 16, 2011

    “No one who has any self-respect stays in Ireland, but flees afar as though from a country that has undergone the visitation of an angered Jove. ” – James Joyce

    (From a public lecture delivered at the Universita Popolare, an adult education center in Trieste in 1907)

    1. HCE

      Thanks for reminding me of Bloomsday.

      James Joyce, altar-boy turned altar-snatcher. Joyce who wore his eyes out looking at Europe and seeing nothing. And of Irish history, he said: “Two bloody Irishmen in a bloody fight over bloody nothing.”

      We’ll never see the likes of him again.

  9. Hugh

    Pakistan is well on its way to being the world’s first nuclear armed failed state. That is certainly a security concern for us, but even more of one for the Indians.

    On the US side, it shows how far the US kleptocrats will go to wage their imperial wars. The Pakistanis along with the Saudis are the biggest supporters of terrorism going. That the US would ally themselves with these countries to “fight” terrorism is farcical.

    On the Pakistani side, similarly, the hypocrisy goes all the way to the bone. On the one hand, they express outrage at drone attacks in the tribal areas, areas over which the central government itself exercises no real control. On the other, their intelligence service the ISI actively supports groups in these areas in efforts to subvert and destroy Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

    Nor is it clear that the Pakistani military and ISI have problems with drone attacks per se. They would just like to use them to their own ends.

    Anti-Americanism is pervasive in Pakistan. A lot of that has to do with American policies, its wars in the Moslem world, support for Israel, ties with India, but a lot too is displaced anger at their own failed and failing institutions.

    You will often hear about “elements” within the Pakistani government, military, and intelligence services. This is supposed to be an explanation but it is really a description of the failing of the Pakistani state. The idea being that no one can be blamed because no one is in charge.

Comments are closed.