Links 8/25/11

Did Fracking Cause the Virginia Earthquake? OpEd News

Want to Wreck Things and Rake In Millions? Become a Pfizer CEO Hooked (hat tip reader John)

‘Naked rambler’ locked up again after leaving jail Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

USGS boosts natural gas reserve estimate Associated Press v. USGS: Northeast Gas Reserves Smaller than Expected WNYC (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Guess which is PR?

Germany fires cannon shot across Europe’s bows Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Greek cbank activates funding scheme for banks-paper Reuters (hat tip Richard Smith). Another stress sign.

Market crash ‘could hit within weeks’, warn bankers Telegraph

Europe’s Banks in Lending Squeeze Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader Scott)

Wenzou’s secret credit MacroBusiness

Does America Suffer From Solution-ism? CounterPunch (hat tip reader Carol B)

George and the giant investment problem Deus Ex Macchiato (hat tip Richard Smith)

BofA moves to counter more blog rumours FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Hubert). Why don’t they worry about their CDS spreads instead?

CBA trumps BofA MacroBusiness

The Timing of the Schneiderman Attack Marcy Wheeler, FireDogLake

States’ foreclosure talks with big mortgage servicers stall Los Angeles Times

Iowa Community Group Blasts Miller for Removal of Schneiderman from Foreclosure Committee Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Bank of America: time everyone took a long cold shower and sobered up John Hempton. I grumbled at Hempton about this, he missed the ~$50 billion of writedowns that need to be taken on second liens.

Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal Matt Taibbi

Antidote du jour:

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  1. hondje

    Re Fracking, there was also an earthquake outside Trinidad, CO where … you guessed it, they’re fracking.

    1. Freude Bud

      If there is any doubt that fracking causes earthquakes, the following FAQ item from the USGS should put them to rest:

      Q: Can we cause earthquakes? Is there any way to prevent earthquakes?

      A: Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan, and Canada. The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil, and the use of reservoirs for water supplies. Most of these earthquakes were minor. The largest and most widely known resulted from fluid injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, Colorado. In 1967, an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 followed a series of smaller earthquakes. Injection had been discontinued at the site in the previous year once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established. (Nicholson, Craig and Wesson, R.L., 1990, Earthquake Hazard Associated with Deep Well Injection–A Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1951, 74 p.)

      Other human activities, even nuclear detonations, have not been linked to earthquake activity. Energy from nuclear blasts dissipates quickly along the Earth’s surface. Earthquakes are part of a global tectonic process that generally occurs well beyond the influence or control of humans. The focus (point of origin) of earthquakes is typically tens to hundreds of miles underground. The scale and force necessary to produce earthquakes are well beyond our daily lives. We cannot prevent earthquakes; however, we can significantly mitigate their effects by identifying hazards, building safer structures, and providing education on earthquake safety.

      Whether fracking releases pent up energy that would be released later in larger earthquakes is an interesting hypothesis by reader Kevin Smith. Not sure that that is much of a positive, but sounds plausible.

  2. Diego Méndez

    It’s funny how we European made fun of “eurosceptic” AEP some two years ago.

    Apparently, British eurosceptics were more knowledgeable about the German character than Continental Europeans, who throught Germany’s commitment to a European Union was for real…

    I suppose some things are better understood when seen from far away.

  3. Kevin Smith

    If fracking released those earthquakes, maybe that is a good thing, to the extent that it is better to have a series of small quakes than one “big one”.

    The geophysical energy would have been released sooner or later — maybe it was better to release a bit now, a bit earlier, than would have been the case with no fracking?

  4. CB

    And here we all learned the Grant administration was the standard for corruption. Reagan’s administration gave Grant’s a run for the money, literally. But now, ding ding ding, we have a new winner: the man of no discernible principles currently occupying the Oval Office. I voted for him because I thought him somewhat better than McCain-Palin, but it’s hard to overstate the criminal damage Obama has done and allowed done. Only the underclass’ sense of decency and propriety keeps complete lawlessness at bay. Certainly at the national level, and increasingly at the state level, power makes the law whatever it needs to further entrench and enrich itself.

    1. rbm411

      Surely you jest! We have a completely lawless political and financial collapse. Obama “rules us” via Executive Order” and the banks pay fines with money they stole by threatening “tanks in the street. We are a fascist nation in the strongest sense of the word.

  5. aletheia33

    someday it will be known as the long-past age of the battles of the “dinosaurs,” when nuclear power corporations sued mining corporations to recover damages for swathes of nations rendered uninhabitable. this will be the old tale among those who are left, in the next Dark Age.

  6. Yearning to Learn

    First off: The CounterPunch article discusses the book from the 1950’s called “The Ugly American”. It’s one of my FAVORITE books ever and I highly recommend that you all read it.
    of note: it is NOT a dense and boring scathing critique of Americans, it is an easy to read and enjoyable book of loosely connected short stories that discusses what America does RIGHT and WRONG in Foreign Policy… it’s as topical now as it was in the 1950’s.

    Second: I can’t believe the Schneiderman story doesn’t get top billing on NC. Yves? (not that this is a surprise).

    1. Yearning to Learn

      sorry, my wording was unclear.
      it IS a surprise the Schneiderman story doesn’t get top billing on NC.

      it is NOT a surprise that crybaby Miller is throwing a tantrum.

      1. LeeAnne

        …here you are for the company line:

        Prayers at Ground Zero
        Slapping Schneiderman 2M


  7. Jim A

    IANAL, but it’s my understanding that most of the securitizations were done in New York, under New York state law. So unless there’s a “Saturday night massacre,” and Schneiderman resigns or is fired, there’s simply no way to give the banks the immunity that they so desire on securitization issues without him signing on. Ultimately, the robosigning issue IS about what the legal meaning of the “memorilization” of transfers after the fact is. Were they done “correctly” and do the have any legal meaning at all? ISTM that me that means that no robosigning settlement is worth much if he doesn’t sign on.

    1. CP

      To be clear, Schneiderman can’t be “fired” (at least until the next election). He’s an independently elected official. He would have to be impeached. Not happening. I don’t disagree with your fundamental point though.

      1. Jeff

        I wonder if they’ll discover that he, gasp!, has been consorting with pppp…ppp…Prositutes!

        No, not the banking kind, the bedding kind.

        Peter Dale Scott has a great theory, NO ONE, can rise very far in American politics unless he has skeletons or dead bodies, in their closet. This way they have something
        on you that they can spring at any time should it be

        1. KnotRP

          At this point, he could pay Spitzer himself five grand for a blow job in the public square at noon, and I wouldn’t care as long as it was consensual and it didn’t interfere with going after the fraud.

          1. KnotRP

            For that matter, even Spitzer is looking like the nearest thing we’ll ever get to a Boy Scout. Give him his job back….he’s angry now, so maybe the revenge aspect will drive him even harder.

    2. LucyLulu

      Exactly Jim. Schneidermann holds all the power on this one by virtue of the fact that NY law governs the majority of these bad loans. If he doesn’t sign on to grant immunity to illegal transfers into/out of the securitization trusts, the entire deck of cards collapses. Reality is that we have trusts that are empty boxes.

      What a flippin mess the banks have created. I can’t believe the banks are balking at the deal. They should be getting down on their knees in gratitude for the honor to get off with only paying $20B………. instead of serving the hard time which is what I have told my state AG, who remains on the executive panel, I prefer to any monetary settlement.

  8. attempter

    Re solutionism:

    What can the U.S. do to replace the unbridled unilateral solutionism despised by many? While isolationism is certainly not the answer, America needs to explain its motives more clearly. Also, a bit of Father Finian’s advice to “do what we all agree upon” might help.

    IOW the solution to solutionism is Better Solutions! (No doubt enacted by Better Elites.)

    Solutionism is related to and practically synonymous with reformism. It’s the same old astroturfing seeking to perpetuate the status quo.

    The example quoted is typical – “isolationism”, that is a derogatory term for the abolition of command economy corporatism, is “certainly” not the answer.

    Well obviously not, to a system corporatist trying to herd people as sheep. And as we saw with the TARP and see everywhere with austerity, doing “what we all agree upon” is an Orwellianism meaning, “what we criminal elites agree upon, and the exact opposite of what humanity agrees upon.”

  9. Pwelder

    Re: Fracking and the earthquake

    That’s a pretty cheesy link.

    1) Where, exactly, are the fracking operations in the vicinity of Mineral, VA that we are asked to suspect may have caused the earthquake? All I see here is some conjecture about operations 160 miles away.

    2) If the author doesn’t bother to address this most basic question of fact, why do you wave the article at your readers as something that deserves their attention?

    Yves, some of your Macondo coverage had real value added. But you are way too gullible when it comes to anyone who presents themselves as an opponent of fracking.

    1. rjs

      you’re right on one hand, that tying an operation 160 miles away to the quake is a stretch; but on the other hand, the blackpool and arkansas quakes have been tied to fracking…

      & btw, compliments to the links chef; this bunch really did a nice job of tying the foreclosure fraud / BofA story together; i’m mailing that whole set…

    2. Dikaios Logos

      While it is conjecture to tie the earthquakes to fracing, it is also naïve to totally discount the connection. The author points us to a number of surprising quakes that have happend suddenly near major fracing operations. There have been questions about human manipulation of water bodies and geology for years: some tied the big Cairo earthquake of the early 1990s to the Aswan High Dam and Lake Naser.

      The real naïveté is from people involved with fracing who act as if all will be well. A little skepticism in the face of that is a very good thing.

    3. craazyman

      I was just talking about this yesterday. I’m convinced that fracking causes earthquakes just based on the fact it see ms intuitively reasonable. It’s like taking all the oil out of yer car, I mean don’t you think the cylinders will seize up?

      Everything in nature serves a purpose. I bet that liquidy gas is some kind of shock absorber for all those plates in the ground. It’s like fracking your break fluid while you’re barreling down the highway. How is that movie gonna end? Better to just to put up the wind mills and the solar farms and be done with it. already. And energy efficiency too. We don’t need all the power we use. I’d say about half is really needed for the work that’s done.

    4. Daddy Koch

      My compliments on the professional coaching you’ve received as an extractive-industry shill! I note that you’ve taken their good advice to heart with the invariant, “you’re usually good but this story is wrong,” formula. I also admire the facile single detail used to impugn the fracking-earthquake link. Saves time! Keep up the good work, my boy.

    5. rps

      Heck, anyone that believes that the Earth is a living breathing organism that presently supports our lifesystems. However the get rich quick/shortsighted fools believe that money will save them. How did that workout for Fukushima and Chernoybl both manmade disasters? However, Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, lightening storms, and wildfires don’t care what your net worth is. As Richard Branson found out on his tax-free haven hideout island. The Earth will do fine…..without us as it did prior to our existence. It’ll regenerate and exist another 100 billion years.

      It’s the human spieces that’s headed toward self annihilation.

      1. rps

        Edit: Heck, those that understand that the Earth is a living breathing interconnected organism that presently supports our lifesystems are outnumbered by the stagnant human species whose two main characteristics are over-enlarged amygdalas with underdeveloped frontal lobes. Neural brain plasticity and neuro-superhighways are limited.

      2. LeeAnne

        Richard Branson’s island is not a good example -he’s got dozens more.

        Why should we be looking at his disaster?

  10. Jeff

    About Florida,…/florida-bush-lehman-biz-beltway-cx_mb_1130florida.html

    “A government money market debacle unfolding in Florida is raising questions about former governor and presidential brother Jeb Bush’s possible involvement in the mess. Florida froze withdrawals from a state investment fund earlier this week when local governments withdrew billions of dollars out of concern for the fund’s financial stability. In the past few days, municipalities have withdrawn roughly $9 billion, nearly a third of the $28 billion fund (which is similar to a money market fund) controlled by the Florida’s State Board of Administration (SBA). The run on the fund was triggered by worries that a percentage of the portfolio contained debt that had defaulted.” A majority of this paper has The Stink of Bush corruption:

  11. Jeff


    Lest we only blame Obama for anything…

    “George Walker is the kingpin in the newly reincarnated asset management firm that’s emerging from the collapse of Lehman Brothers. When Mr. Walker, the President’s cousin, assumed the role of managing director and global head of the investment management unit of the i-bank late in 2006, an investment banker said: “Everyone in the universe is watching what George Walker will do at Lehman.” The same is true now that Mr. Walker has managed to negotiate a deal to sell the $230 billion asset management division he heads to equity firms Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.”
    sold to SBA by Lehman Brothers”

  12. craazyman

    Well, I asked for bearish links for 8/25 and got them! Thank you! Sometimes if you pray hard enough and put your soul in a righteous place, things happen. Gotta love the Telegraph one about another crisis hitting in “within weeks”. I can see it coming. And that Taibbi takedown was music. Maybe we’ll put on an S&P 500 double or triple short ETF this time. And a GS way out of the money put. Jesse Livermore, you’re the man. Or you were the man.

  13. MIWill

    The pressure and threat on AG Schneiderman must be enormous.

    Seems about time some naughty pictures are ‘discovered’ on his work computer.

  14. Anonymous Jones

    So on the Berkshire investment, should we be apoplectic or should we pretend not to be apoplectic so as to make it seem like no big deal?

  15. lambert strether

    That Taibbi article is the most readable explanation of systemic accounting control fraud that I’ve seen. (Most of the explanations I’ve seen focus on the firm, but there are multiple firms involved, “Looting on the Orient Express”-style.

  16. Hugh

    Looking at the links each day is like watching a slow motion train wreck slide inexorably to the bridge that washed out in the last rain. It all reminds me of 2008. The stock markets off their highs, sliding around. A general climate of malaise punctuated by increasingly frequent point crises. Bad policy, no policy, and an ongoing refusal to take seriously the deteriorating fundamentals.

    In the US, you have BoA on the ropes, reminiscent of Lehman, austerism, and a still unresolved or even addressed mortgage and banking mess. In China you have bubbles and the prospect of collapsing export markets. In Europe, we are witnessing its financial and political unraveling.

    2 1/2 years ago I predicted a crash for this year based on a failed recovery and a failed political process. I think the highest probability for such a crash remains in the September-October period. Right or wrong, at this point, it doesn’t take much to recognize that we are in an extremely dangerous period.

    1. Typing Monkey

      1. I wouldn’t let my political leanings affect my learning, and his blog is absolutely superb for learning about how to evaluate the markets

      2. His comment was sarcastic (go back and read his other posts). Take a look at the sidebar–he’s referring to you:


      I find Americans sometimes do not get a British or Australian sense of humor.

      If something on this blog makes you really angry I suggest you read Swift’s Modest Proposal… you will find the link here.

      1. skippy

        Australia is where yanks with out a sense of irony among other things…go to have their heads inverted.

        Skippy… Caveat I blame not the souls but, their programers.

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