Links 8/19/20

We are hosting the Book Salon for Gretchen Morgenson’s and Josh Rosner’s Reckless Endangerment on Saturday at FireDogLake from 5-7 PM EDT. Be there or be square!

Giant lobster avoids becoming lunch and finds home on Coney Island Daily News (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). The idea that aliens or anyone cares is a bit narcissistic. And if I recall correctly, at one of the big species loss boundaries (forgive me for looking up which one, the Permian-Triassic or KT), the Earth was pretty close to barren for nearly 100,000 years. So more complex life forms have come back from some pretty serious reversals.

Critters Moving Away from Global Warming Faster Common Dreams (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Ecstasy could treat cancer: researchers PhysOrg

This Is the Giant Dust Storm That Just Engulfed Phoenix [Video] Gawker

BP’s Gulf Oil Well May Be Leaking AGAIN: “The Oil May Be Coming From Cracks And Fissures In The Seafloor Caused By The Work BP Did During Its Failed Attempts To Cap The Runaway Macondo Well – And That Type Of Leakage Can’t Be Stopped, Ever” George Washington (hat tip reader Bruno)

New York Subpoenas Energy Companies Over Plans for Gas Wells New York Times

A Society on the Verge of a Meltdown Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Francois T)

The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom Telegraph (hat tip reader May S)

Right-Wing Populists Stoke Anti-Southern Rage Der Spiegel (hat tip reader May S)

The Texas “Miracle” Barry Ritholtz

Texans bridle at Perry miracle claims Financial Times. Looks like the miracle he meant was his investing: Perry Made More Than a Million on Real Estate While in Office Bloomberg (hat tip reader Robert M)

Only One in Four Approve of Obama on the Economy Jon Walker, FireDogLake

This is looking more like Hoover every day Ed Harrison

Goldman Sachs VP Changed Name, Now a Top Congressional Staffer TruthOut (hat tip readers Chris McC and Aquifer). This goes in the “You really cannot make this stuff up” category. And what is a guy this seasoned (even forgetting his time at Goldman) doing as a Congressional staffer?

Moody’s, S&P Mortgage Ratings Face Probe Bloomberg. So it is both big agencies, not jus S&P, as first reported by the NY Times, and the DOJ, which means it could be criminal charges.

Manufacturing gauge drops to 2-1/2 year low Reuters. In case you managed to miss this stunner.

Markets suffer global turmoil Financial Times. More market porn: Treasury yields lowest in 60 years.

How the mining boom is shared (or not) MacroBusiness

Medical Debt Cited More Often in Bankruptcies New York Times

Last Straw or Time to Buy? Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Paul S):

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  1. Barry Ritholtz


    Texas Miracle was written by one Invictus, a bulge bracket firm employee who cannot publish his economic/market work under his own name lest he gets fired.

      1. Just Tired

        Would it be asking too much to share the wealth? WTF is a “bulge bracket”? To this old timer, it sounds like a demographic group around my age.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          “Bulge bracket” is a term used to describe a cohort of securities firms that have enough distribution power to (collectively) get a big chunk of a securities underwriting (a new offering of stocks or bonds) and be featured at the top of the tombstone advertisement.

          There are multiple tiers in underwritings, the bulge bracket is the firms just below the co-managers. Not all bulge bracket firms appear in every deal, the lead manager is the one that organizes the underwriting syndicate.

          When in doubt, you could try Google:

    1. Westcoastliberal

      I know you’re right, Victor. I’m guessing there are some who are passing for Human and at present they’re pulling strings in the background.
      As far as why they’re here/what they want, I think they’ve always been here and are a much bigger part of Human evolution than we could suspect. I admire the work of Zecharia Sitchin in this regard; don’t know if he’s 100% correct, but it’s worthwhile to ponder an alternative viewpoint.

  2. TulsaTime

    That VP as a staffer is no mystery. After all, somebody has to deliver the script instructions to the republican drones. They have demonstrated no capacity for independent thought.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Dave;
        I believe that “Talk Radio” is the alien parasites’ preferred means of cerebrial consumption. “Reality Television” comes in a close second in their ‘Consciousness Cuisine.’

    1. curlydan

      The name change was the only unique and possibly Republican aspect to this story.

      It was a senior staffer to Max Baucus who wrote the majority of the ACA bill (Obamacare) and had been a VP at Wellpoint previously.

  3. Foppe

    Have Italians had enough of Silvio Berlusconi — and the culture he embodies?

    Technically, these were local broadcasts; effectively, as Berlusconi made clear to advertisers, he had a national market, which he glutted with American programs like “Dallas,” “Dynasty,” and “Falcon Crest”—stories of sex and money that promoted values at odds with those of the ruling political class, both the rigidly Catholic Christian Democrats and the anti-materialist Communists. On RAI, the state-controlled network, “you couldn’t advertise pet food, because it was somehow considered immoral in a world where children were starving,” Giulio Malgara, an Italian advertising mogul, told the journalist Alexander Stille for his book “The Sack of Rome.” “Italy had a culture of austerity,” he said. “ ‘Rich’ was a dirty word; they didn’t want to create incentives for consumption.” Berlusconi, however, believed that appetites existed to be stoked and sated, and he imported both American entertainment and the advertising environment that supported it. “I’m in favor of everything American before even knowing what it is,” he once told the Times.
    But even the most permissive American audience might be unsettled by the vision of female sexuality that Berlusconi has communicated through his television monopoly over the years. On “Colpo Grosso,” a game show that aired in the late eighties and early nineties, contestants had to strip if they got an answer wrong, and the inevitable conclusion was a showcase of topless women, blushing and trying to cover themselves with their hands. (The show also featured the Cin Cin girls, notoriously unskilled dancers in skimpy costumes and high heels, singing tunelessly, their faces blank.) “Buona Domenica,” which is on the air now, features young women in tight dresses being prodded into a clear shower stall to get soaked in front of a live audience. On one episode, the host explains to a guest, “I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for all Italian men—you get the shower.” On most episodes of “Libero,” a woman is trapped under a Perspex table, like a caged animal. If your only information about female people came from Berlusconi’s channels, you would likely conclude that they exist specifically to be sexually humiliated in public. On “Scherzi a Parte,” a woman in her underpants hangs from a meat hook alongside hundreds of hams as a man in a butcher’s costume stamps a sell-by date on her behind.

      1. ambrit

        Dear crazyman;
        It sounded like a good idea to me too, sort of like Japaneese ‘Sex Comix’ for randy rowdies. Then I compared the concept with the ubiquitous ‘Porn’ cluttering up the internet. Like all pornography, this ‘tittilation theatre’ is basically boring. Once you get the premise, the ‘thrill is gone.’ I think that’s why writers like Terry Southern and the ilk do so well with the genre. They treat the subject with the proper mix of humour and embarresment that we all feel when ‘in the prescence.’ It’s juvenile, and so is Berlusconi it seems.

        1. craazyman

          Honestly, I agree with you. It’s a crashing bore after the first few “Holy Shit!” laughs. It’s like Howard Stern on the radio. He’s very talented and very funny, to a point, but that style of humor gets old very quickly. Truthfully, I think I’d end up cancelling my subscription, as I have my US TV cable. But still, I think it’s hilarious, briefly anyway. :)

          1. ambrit

            Dear crazyman;
            Absolutely. Stern is a wonderful example. Also, like my inability to admit to the wife that I find Benny Hill funny once in awhile. (I get “that Look” whenever that name comes up, don’t know why. Nudge nudge, wink wink.)

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Last time I checked, Italy was a “democracy”.

      The voters selected the guy who matches their ideals.

      Same as happens in the US and the rest of the “democracies”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Votes make mistakes all the time, but they are always right, like customers.

        Voters never apologize.

        I don’t know why, but that’s what I have been told.

        1. ambrit

          hey youse guys;
          Politics is just like used car sales, ‘Bait and Switch’ is da name of da game.

  4. Ep3

    Yves, I just want to vent a tiny bit. It’s about Obama. I know I probably sound like a scorned lover. But that’s how a lot of people feel these days.
    I guess my thing is is how he will strategically play both sides of an issue, the cfpb being a prime example. He will talk all this support for it in public and then bash it behind closed doors. So say it’s a success, then he can say “I worked hard for this and it’s successful because of me”. But if it fails, he can go hide and say “well, congress passed this rule, it’s my job to enforce the law”.
    Maybe all politicians do this. But when he does it, I feel lied and betrayed. I don’t want a president who won’t take a stand on an issue trying to claim he was the reason for success.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Ep3;
      Don’t feel so lonesome friend. There are a lot of us out here who feel betrayed by the “Meretricious Minority Meritocrat” in the White House. I reluctantly admit to having voted for him in ’08. I first considered Nader, because at least he was standing up for something. Then I thought long and hard on the claims that Nader ‘lost’ the Buch Gore election for the Democrats by siphoning off ‘progressive’ voters from Gore. (Is there any hard evidence backing up this contention? States Gore would have carried instead of Bush if Nader hadn’t run?) I won’t make that mistake again. Talk about ‘Shock Doctrine!’ Watch the Democratic Party scramble if it loses a large percentage of its’ ‘core constituency.’
      I’m with Mercutio; “A plague on both your houses!”

        1. aet

          Actually, I’d settle for them just cleaning out whatever trash junks up their houses once in a while – better for our local property values, and it would help to keep down the rats.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Don’t worry, next election there will be somebody else that the owners of the country will select for the nice people to vote for.

        Always gotta have one nice guy and one mean guy or the TV show wouldn’t be as good.

        1. Just Tired

          I’ve heard so much of this compromise shit from Obama and his crew that I think we need a constitutional amendment that allows for the compromise candidate. I know that we already have a committee who actually “elects” the president, but difficult times call for out of the box solutions. How about a ballot item for a “compromise committee” which would compromise an a presidential candidate, not otherwise on the ballot, who would then submit their recommendation to the Electoral College for further compromise. My sense is that we just aren’t getting enough compromise and that’s where the problem lies.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      Don’t feel bad about it. If anyone has not (at one point in his or her life) trusted someone and been burned, that person would be awfully lonely (or some sort of sociopath).

      Now, of course, donating your trust to trustworthy people in your community is a little more sensible that trusting a politician groomed and marketed precisely for the task of fooling you. I would humbly suggest (as one burned often before) that it should be only the most outlier of all politicians that should be worthy of gaining your trust ever again.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      You have plenty of company in misery. Obama positively revels in his briar patch thicket, which he single-handedly wove when he first resurrected the zombie GOP in ’09, first appointing many of them to his cabinet and through a badly-mangled health-racket bailout abortion, and then restored them to power by disempowering his own betrayed base in 2010. In perception management, Trojan Horse Obama has veritably trounced his idol Reagan.

      As you note his MO, time and time again, has been to break every single promise while speechify with bogus pap for his base and then stand aloof as conciliator-facilitator while the GOP rapes and pillages the last vestiges of the New Deal and the rule of law in broad daylight. Comparing him to Hoover is an insult to poor Herbert, who never evinced such a galling level of deceit and malice.

      1. ambrit

        You are so right about poor Hoover. He did indeed do a lot of good when properly tasked. Just ask the old line Russians, or any plumbing pro.

  5. rps

    From Yahoo: Foreign students walk off Hershey’s factory job in protest

    “Hundreds of foreign students on a State Department cultural exchange visa program walked off their factory jobs in protest on Wednesday.

    The J-1 visa program brings foreign students to the country to work for two months and learn English, and was designed in part to fill seasonal tourism jobs at resorts and seaside towns. The 400 students employed at a Pennsylvania factory that makes Hershey’s candies told The New York Times that even though they make $8.35 an hour, their rent and program fees are deducted from their paychecks, leaving them with less money than they spent to get the visas and travel to the country in the first place….”

    Today’s a fine day to partake in my civic obligations and boycott Hershey products. Many Americans are unemployed and US companies are hiring visa workers. The brave foreign exchange students have opened American eyes to the corporate deceit and the false indoctrination of productivity; work until you drop. No life. Just work.

    1. MikeJake

      I was at Cedar Point a month ago, and I’d say at least half the workers were foreign (they had their country of origin listed on their nametags). Apparently, the little bit of payroll taxes they have to pay is just too onerous.

      I’m thrilled that they’ll go back home at the end of the summer with fond memories of America as the place you go to get ripped off and berated by customers.

      1. Just Tired

        Hey — don’t you understand a free market when you see it? If we can’t export jobs, the free market solution is to import workers. Reason being that countries have to do what they do best, economically theoretically speaking of course. You either import or export jobs and theoretically everyone is better off. Here in the good old USA, we are best at making real rich folks even more every more richer. Now just let the free market do its job…theoretically.

  6. Clive

    Re Aliens…the ultimate narcissism; imagining
    that an advanced alien civilization has crossed
    thousands of light years of outer space to
    come to Earth to kidnap you out of the billions of humans and to stick a probe up your butt.

    That’s right up there with Scientology–at least
    there’s a greed and profit motive in that–and astrology.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      What’s with the space aliens today?

      Did Krugman’s Space Alien Defense Program get funded?

      1. ambrit

        Dear NOT REAL;
        Hey, didn’t you see the post about “Krugthulu?” HE was prophecized about almost a hundred years ago by the “Curious Young Man from Providence.”
        For macro intervention you chant: “Ia, Ia! Krugthulu fghatn!” Seing as HE comes from the “Starry Wastes” where amprphous beings play eldritch tunes upon unholy instrumrnts, it is plain to see that HE was called upon, and has answered! Chaos and unreason rule the markets, HIS sign. Mock not, lest HE loose upon the world the dreaded QE3!

      2. Frank

        Jesus, could you be any more tiresome and pedantic? I bet you’re one of the idiots who loved to shout about how Al Gore said he invented the Internet.

    2. craazyman

      nah they come from other dimensions and just pop into our reality wherever the magnetic rays are favorable. not sure which is worse, a probe up the butt or one up the nose into the brain. both would scare the sh-t out of me, that’s for sure. that’s why I sleep under a tinfoil tent because the foil blocks the abduction beams. and I keep files of iron around the bed too. they don’t like iron. for some reason. once I thought one grabbed me by the leg and started to pull, but I realized fortunately that I just got my sock stuck on the bed post.

    3. Lidia

      Well, Mormons do think they’re all going to be gods of their own planets. Kinda hard to beat that…

  7. Jim Haygood

    ‘[Peter] Haller, as he is now known, went by the name Peter Simonyi until three years ago. Simonyi adopted his mother’s maiden name Haller in 2008 just as he was leaving Goldman Sachs as a vice president of the bank’s commodity compliance group.’ — TruthOut

    Poor dude obviously has oedipal issues. With his name change, he symbolically murdered his father and married his mother.

    Prolly lives in her basement … LOL!

    You can just hear her calls down the stairs: “Petey … oh, Peteeeeyyyyyyy!’

    1. aet

      What’s in a name?

      A rose by any other name would smell as sweetly.

      By the same token, a dog by any other name would bite as painfully, too.

    2. Just Tired

      That’s old news. It was aired long ago by an investigative reporter named Gerry Rivers not long before he exposed Al Capone’s secret hiding place.

  8. Valissa

    Obama’s Unhelpful Advice

    Please note, this is NOT an anti-Obama article, it’s about the total ineptness of the USDA (which Obama told a farmer was there to help… hahahahaha). The reporter’s experience trying to get some very basic info from the USDA is a great example of how much waste there is in the gov’t bureaucracy. While there are many hard working gov’t employees there are many that are hardly working at all, in the traditional sense of that word (the article reminded me of the Terry Gilliam movie “Brazil”). I think a major reorganization and modernization of the gov’t bureaucracy and related appropriate job cuts would be very helpful to the US budget overall. But there are so many long term and deeply embedded fiefdoms in all the branches and depts of the gov’t I can see why no one has seriously tried to do this. A labor of Hercules, for sure!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In general, with them hardly working, the same task would require more workers and a bigger budget, leading eventually to a large budget deficit and more private sector savings.

      I would these guys are angels.

        1. Valissa

          A Harvard economist had a summer house in the Maine woods. Each summer he’d invite a different friend (no, that’s not the punch line) to spend a week or two. On one occasion, he invited a Czechoslovakian to stay with him. They had a splendid time in the country – rising early and living in the great outdoors. Early one morning they went out to pick berries for their morning breakfast. As they went around the berry patch along came two huge bears.

          The economist dashed for cover. His friend wasn’t so lucky and the male bear reached him and swallowed him whole. The economist ran back to his car, drove to town as fast has he could, and got the sheriff. The sheriff grabbed his rifle and dashed back to the berry patch with the economist. Sure enough, both bears were still there. “He’s in THAT one!” cried the economist, pointing to the male. The sheriff looked at the bears, and without batting an eye, leveled his gun, took careful aim, and SHOT THE FEMALE. “Whatd’ya do that for?!” exclaimed the economist, “I said he was in the other!” “Yep,” said the sheriff, “and would YOU believe a economist who told you that the Czech was in the Male?”

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I can see the argument that building bridges are more useful than pyramids, although I would say putting more stimulus more towards graduating more politicians (increasing suppyl so that we pay less for our politicians) would be even better.

          As those free trade economists like to say, making things and people cheaper is good for everyone. So, we demand cheaper politicians.

          1. Valissa

            At the last Mayday parade in the Soviet Union. After the tanks and the troops and the planes and the missiles rolled by there came ten men dressed in black.

            “Are they Spies?” Asked Gorby?

            “They are economists,” replies the KGB director, “imagine the havoc they will wreak when we set them loose on the Americans” **

    2. reslez

      [T]his is NOT an anti-Obama article

      You say that as though it makes the article more credible, rather than less.

  9. Susan the other

    Since “minimum wage” is utterly meaningless we should have a minimum standard of living. The hard core cappies should all go for this because then they could never devour their own demand. This would be an easy way for us citizens to put a cork on their fork. It is so embarrassing to have to sit at the table with them, isn’t it? And it would liberate them. We need a new political movement to liberate the cappies! And while we are at it we need to compile a list of all the things they need to do to move us all forward. I mean, they’ve been coasting for 50 years. So… what should be included in the Minimum American Standard of Living?

    1. doom

      Good, if impermissible, question. There is one, as it happens, and to merit sovereignty our government has to meet its standards. We are signatories to this treaty but you will never ever hear a word about it from our kleptocrats because they exist to lie about the duties of the state.

  10. Tertium Squid

    So the aliens travel long distances and carry out unprovoked attacks on populations that they theorize might in the future cause them harm?

    Didn’t know they were Americans…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As long as they pay taxes and contribute to the economy, we should invite more them here.

  11. Susan the other

    And Ritholtz on Perry: With scores like that there is a good chance Perry himself has had a brush with syphilis. Why is another governor from Texas putting himself forward? Lets look some more at Texas. Perry says he doesn’t believe in global warming…. but Texas is dying by drought. Relentlessly. Texas agriculture and cattle industries will be gone. And their oil is pretty much tapped out. So, my guess is it is because Perry wants to send lots of our money to Texas to help out all those billionaires now going under. Maybe they can find new industries to replace what they have lost at a cost of hundreds on the dollar to us. Fuck Perry. He makes me love and adore Ben Bernanke.

    1. barrisj

      Is not the Rickster’s recent call for “Three days of prayer” to ease the protracted Tejano drought his answer to global warming? Along with his warm embrace of dominionism it surely is obvious that Perry will work closely with God in order to achieve the new Millenium on Earth. Oh, yes, you can also include a robust and “muscular” (how I adore that adjective!) neocon foreign policy to reinvigorate American Exceptionalism on the world stage. Swoon, swoon!

  12. Jasper

    Re Morality of the elite:

    The truly wealthy have no obligation to any one society except their own. They are merely tourists traveling
    through whatever country they are living in. While they take advantage of the local laws, infrastructure and good will of the people, they are a stateless people with no obligations to anyone but them self.

  13. Tertium Squid

    Lookie here for various SecDef Panetta commentaries:

    1. Iraq is thrilled to have US troop presence after Dec 31 withdrawal deadline.
    2. He is still mulling whether to stop giving pensions to careerists and switch instead to 401k’s (then who cares how long they live!).
    3. ” Panetta said he has seen no new intelligence indicating an immediate threat to the United States on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.” – I thought he wasn’t in the CIA anymore. Why are they asking him that?
    4. ““If the Arab Spring has told us anything, it’s that we’re dealing with a lot of turmoil in a very complicated part of the world. … I think we’ll have to continue to maintain that presence that we have there.””
    5. No boots on the ground in Libya if Ghadaffi falls, however: “Panetta said that effort would fall to the larger diplomatic governance effort, which he sees as a function for the State Department and other NATO governments.” – So the State Dept has troops?

  14. Foppe

    Nice eXile rerun from 2003: “Serfin USA

    WARRINGTON, PA — The last thing you want to hear from a 21-year-old from Mariupol is that, really, there’s not much of a difference between Ukraine and the States.

    Mariupol is one of those featureless Ukrainian rustbelt cities that came of age under the Soviets; its only distinction is that its port is reputedly one of the main conduits through which Central Asian smack makes its way to Western Europe. That Mariupol has the highest per capita number of junkies in Ukraine lends credibility to that rumor.

    But worldly Max, having tasted life in cosmopolitan capitals Mariupol and Warrington, Pennsylvania, decided that the two countries were quite alike. My initial, kneejerk reaction was, of course, that Max is totally insane. How could he — a kid with a pinched face who didn’t speak English and whose American experience was limited to a month working at a suburban Burger King — delude himself like that? What was this ignorant punk thinking?
    But after spending a couple of days with Max and a crew of temporary workers in America on J-1 visas, observing their imprisoned life in this far-flung Philly suburb, I concluded that Max’s understanding of America was much deeper than I originally gave him credit for.

    Everyone’s got strategies for avoiding the most hateful aspects of American life. Since I moved back six months ago I’ve walled myself off from white America, living in a Dominican ghetto and chilling with a group of Nigerian hustlers. Compared to me, Max was a regular Margaret Mead; he’d gone native, studying Americans in their natural habitat. And what he saw from his vantage point washing dishes in the back of Burger King was the true face of modern America — provincial, obese, and entirely joyless.

  15. EveryMan

    The Telegraph piece “The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom” is perhaps significant not in what it says but in who said it and where – not for nothing is the Telegraph widely called the ‘Torygraph’ in the UK.

  16. BetaSheep

    I always thought aliens would come down to do us in because we were so stupidly destroying our fresh water supplies by melting our glaciers and ice caps. After all, almost 70% of earth’s fresh water is stored as polar ice. Fresh water seems to come at a premium in the universe.

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