Links 8/5/11

I apologize if I missed some hat tips today; I’m a bit more distracted than usual.

Ice ‘tipping point’ may not occur BBC

The Schmidle Muddle of the Osama Bin Laden Take Down Registan (hat tip Tom Adams). A sighting of propaganda at the New Yorker.

Facebook Comes Before Tap Water as India’s Poor Get Smartphones Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

French court orders probe of IMF chief Lagarde Associated Press

The Full Backstory On The New Investigation Into Christine Lagarde Clusterstock (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Italy bank valuations sink to Lehman crisis lows Reuters

Could There Really Be A Recession Risk In Germany? Edward Hugh

UK’s secret policy on torture revealed Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Beefed-up burgernomics Economist (hat tip reader freude bud)

Washington’s appetite for self-destruction Jacob Weisberg, Financial Times

New Fee to Bank Cash Wall Street Journal. Negative yields were a staple in deflationary Japan. A step in that direction?

This is a classic liquidity crisis Ed Harrison

America’s city of broken dreams: 50 jobless and destitute people set up forest community on New York’s doorstep Daily Mail (hat tip reader Bruno)

Big Money Gets Into Landlord Game Wall Street Journal

SJC expands right to challenge bank seizures Boston Globe (hat tip reader Deontos)

Standing to Invoke PSAs as a Foreclosure Defense Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Citigroup Said to Get California Subpoena Over Mortgage Deals Bloomberg (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

This Astronomical Recession New York Times (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Foppe

    I don’t recall seeing that economist article before, so not sure what went wrong there :)

    Re: “UK’s secret policy on torture revealed”
    Let’s see if this even gets noticed over in the US..

  2. Foppe

    I’m unfamiliar with the source, so no idea whether it’s dependable, but this article (german) suggests that an Athenian newspaper has published letters have been found that show that the previous PM of Greece (Karamanlis) “knew” back in 2008 already that Greece was heading for bankruptcy, but did nothing about it, and kept it hidden from other Eurozone governments. Not that this is news per se, as anyone could’ve predicted that this would happen when they were admitted into the Euro, but anyway, it makes for a nice scandal.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Sir; (I’m assuming gender here.)
      Technically, the binLaden killing was a Premeditated Murder. Most civilized societies forswear such behaviours, indeed, Proscribe them.

      1. Externality

        From the El Paso Times:

        U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court.


        The court documents also allege that the U.S. government is using a “divide and conquer” strategy, “using one drug organization to help against others.”

        The article also discusses how, in 2008, the government voided the 1995 drug trafficking conviction of a senior Mexico cartel leader who had worked, simultaneously, for the US and the cartels.

  3. Jim Haygood

    The Daily Mail story about a tent city in Ocean County N.J. shows a solid grey Mercedes-Benz parked in front of a tarp-covered campsite.

    Strange priorities — why not sell the Benz for cheaper transport, and rent a place to live?

    1. aet

      Everybody leases their cars now, so maybe they don’t really ‘own” it. Maybe it’s a shared expense….

    2. a former poor person

      I’m no Benz enthusiast but that looks like an early 90s model.

      If so, that’s the kind of car you keep when you’re poor… resale value is less than $2k and it can be VERY reliable transportation. Better to be homeless with a car like that than have 2-3 months rent and be stranded when the money runs out.

    3. Just Tired

      “parked in front of a tarp-covered campsite”

      You’re the first person who explained the meaning of the Tarp plan. Thanks for that!

  4. Foppe

    This is from 2009, but still sort of amusing. Independent:

    If driving in Italy was not already exasperating enough, what was hailed as the introduction of the world’s first smart traffic lights has, in fact, made life even more miserable for more than million of the nation’s drivers.

    Pioneering technology that could automatically detect motorists who jumped red lights and committed other violations, including speeding and illegal turns, was rigged, it is claimed, to trap the innocent and in the process rake in fines of €150 (£130) a time.
    Stefano Arrighetti, 45, an engineering graduate from Genoa, who created the “T-Redspeed” system is under house arrest, and 108 other people are under investigation after it was alleged that his intelligent lights were programmed to turn from amber to red in half the regulation time. The technology, which was adopted all over Italy, employs three cameras designed to assess the three-dimensional placement of vehicles passing a red light and store their number plates on a connected computer system.

    It is said more than one million Italian drivers were unjustly snared on red and landed with flat fines after the lights did not stay on amber for the regulation five or six seconds.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why don’t we just outlaw cars and allow only horses if we want to save lives at any cost?

        Why not just reduce speed across the board by 10MPH or 15MPH? Why the excuse for Big Brother?

        Then there is the incentive to rig. Why tempt the beast? It’s not like the government will collect those fines, deduct the administrative expenses and refund the loot equally back to all taxpayers. That would be a not-for-profit government. Unfortunately, we have a profit government.

          1. wunsacon

            No, please do not reduce speed limits. They’re too low for us drivers that actually focus on driving, don’t talk on the cell phone, and obey (all other) traffic signals. Please do not slow me down to the lowest common denominator of the idiots talking on their cell phones and running red lights. Instead, ticket those jerks.

          2. KFritz


            Most of all, traffic laws and ESPECIALLY SPEED LAWS, protect the rest of us from overconfident folk.

            Many moons ago, I clawed my way to the equivalent of AA-baseball-hanger-on status in my sport of ‘choice.’ I have good reflexes, better hand-eye coordination, and even better hand speed. So I’m out on a leg of the bell-curve, though nowhere near the ‘cutting edge.’ And I drive w/ caution about 99.99% of the time. I never cease to be awed by the intrepid bravery, er foolhardiness, of the ‘exciting’ drivers on our roads. Some are qualified, but many are just lucky….until they stop being lucky. Best of luck to the unfortunates in their vicinity when the ‘exciters’ luck expires.

            Long live the speed limits that protect us fr/ ‘above-average’ drivers!

          3. rps

            Bingo. It’s about revenue not lives. City revenues depend on taxing, fining, impounding, and ticketing cars. They arbitrarily double, triple, and quadruple the fine if a day late in payment. Boot the car after the third ticket demanding extortion fees within 24hrs. or have the car impounded at quadruple the fine; better known as the hostage& ransom govgame.FU. The cameras single minded purpose is make money, not prevent the illegal turns or red light runs.

    1. aet

      Well the NYT has always been good on obits, so it might make for a good read.

      Perhaps they could expand into China. After all,

      “China is the world’s largest newspaper circulations market. Earlier, Press Association Working Committee on the part of the printing press after printing survey estimated that in 2008 the total print run of the newspaper appeared for the first time in 1993 to negative growth in 2009 continued to fall. ”


    2. Jim Haygood

      This just in, from an MSM peer of the Times-Titanic:

      08:38 Washington Post Co.’s Q2 revenue $1.07B, down 10%
      08:37 Washington Post Co. Q2 net EPS $5.74/shr v $10/shr

      Yes, we have no subscribers! And our last advertiser just moved to Craigslist and Google …

  5. Jim Tarrant

    Marvelous antidote du jour. First thing I thought when I saw it was that the owl is the Second Recession coming straight in to destroy the U.S. public. Boy, I guess I’ve been reading too many blogs…

      1. ambrit

        You will be pun-ished for that one. Oh, how the mighty are fallen! (An Arch comment, part of my cunning plan.)

      2. Reed Hammans

        aet, those puns are so bad that it must be some kind of genetic condition. I would say rather than part of your cunning plan, it’s actually more part of your punning clan. I might be confusing this all with the Rev. Spooner, however.

        1. ambrit

          Brother Hammans;
          Minerva culpa! Don’t blame poor aet. His pun was a wonderful semantic construct, miles ahead of my poor linguistic attempts. As for your genetic theory, Uncle Baldrick says that no one in our kinship group is really sure of their paternity. If you’re ever in our neigbhourhood, keep your ears cocked for the pater familias of little feats.

  6. Foppe

    So, given that the subsequent revisions always lower the NFP numbers, is there anyone who believes the current numbers to be meaningful?

  7. justanobserver

    re that driftwood article:

    “I think we can say that with the loss of 50% of the current ice, the tipping point wasn’t reached.”

    uh, I think they’re missing the point. At that time mankind was dumping about 4ppm of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.

    Maybe the article is incomplete in someway, but they’ve essentially argued that it didn’t happen a long time ago so it can’t happen now. That’s idiotic.

  8. xct

    “Hate has become a part of the everyday culture of American politics.[…] By any definition, America is no longer a Western nation.[…]
    The US is a country where the system of government has fallen firmly into the hands of the elite. An unruly and aggressive militarism set in motion two costly wars in the past 10 years. […]
    Something has become routine in American political culture that has been absent in Germany since Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik policies of rapprochement with East Germany and the Soviet Bloc (in the 1960s and ’70s): hate. At the same time, reason has been replaced by delusion. The notion of tax cuts has taken on a cult-like status, and the limited role of the state a leading ideology.[…]
    There’s no deliverance in sight. One can no longer depend on politics in America. […]”,1518,778396,00.html

  9. craazyman

    Get Rich with Penny Stocks

    That would be pretty funny. A female tout named “Penny Stocks” with her own website, maybe even in a bikini. Not surprising most penny stocks website are targeted at beer-drinking frat boy dudes in their late 20s/early 30s (like I was). I recall losing money once on a $2 stock that franchised portable ice cream shops shaped like softee cones. I think they might even have been inflatable. It just made sense to me right away, but my girlfiend laughed out loud when I showed her the company’s brochure. She proved correct.

    So TC, what happened to that market crash today? You were looking good late morning, but it’s a bit iffy right now. I don’t know. I hear all the doom and gloom but it’s hard to be against the kind of imagination that invents inflatable ice cream shops shaped like softee cones. Only in America friends. You know it’ll hit a winner eventually and you don’t want to miss out.

    1. Externality

      Senator Lieberman (I-CT) shares the Obama administration’s view that perpetual war against Islam is somehow more important than caring for elderly and disabled Americans:

      So, bottom line, we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense we need to protect us in a dangerous world while we’re at war with Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come.

  10. niat holder

    Ausgezeichnet, Herr Augstein! I read the Stiglitz article last month and thought it’s our own damn fault. The Republicans tradition of turning to toadies to stir up the “agenga”.The delusion of the Big business party worked well. But with evidence mounting to fascism…it is heard, time to move forward, investigations and charges “off the table”,whistleblower/witnesses pop up dead, surveillance used for compliance, union busting for denial of individual rights and habeas corpus is nonexistant. The Patriot Act and is taking us all to Hell in a handbasket.

  11. scraping_by

    Re: Bank Fees

    Already happening in private contexts. Years ago, the company managing my 401K chased me into a pure cash position by making me eat market losses while taking market gains in management fees. A few years ago, they started charging management fees for the cash account, too. Even with that, it’s a better yield than stock or bond funds.

    Re: Mega house managers

    I assume they have use for large-scale depreciation write-offs. Unless they’re pouring nation sized amounts of cash into housing, it’s still going to be a falling market. It might cause some local inflation in house prices, maybe. And, of course, rental property gets beat up beyond an absentee landlord’s ability to keep up. So we’re talking pure income with little salvage recovery. Good luck on that.

  12. doom

    Congrats on filling in for Greenwald, and good on him for picking people at his empyrean level.

  13. fcc

    “But Kevin F. Kiley, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Bankers Association in Boston, said the ruling is going to further delay foreclosures, which already can take years to process. He said the court’s decision doesn’t change the fact that Bailey was not paying his mortgage. The challenge to the validity of the foreclosure was purely technical, he said.”

    I love this stuff. Next time I get bagged for a expired inspection sticker this is the play I’ll run.

    Magistrate, this violation is a simple technical violation; and preventing me from driving my perfectly serviceable car is a further burden on our economic recovery. Here’s my offer: 10 bucks in exchange for past and future indemnity for sticker violations, and I agree to go to the shop every day in selfless service to our economy.

    Yeah, that’ll work.

    1. Jumpjet

      Maybe I’m being a moron here… but what real power do the ratings agencies have, when we get right down to it?

      Fuck, if the S&P pisses us off- pisses any sovereign nation off- why not just bomb their headquarters to dust and lock their chief executives in the dungeon?

      That’s real power. Nation-states have it. Ratings agencies do not.

      1. scraping_by

        In theory, lower credit rating is higher risk. Higher risk is higher interest rate on the bond. Higher interest rate on the bond is more taxpayer money to the bondholders. The big bondholders right now are the zombie TPTF banks.

        So, S&P has arranged from more taxpayer money to be shoveled directly to the zombie banks, who are important S&P clients. If you believe paranoid rantings.

    2. rps

      S&P is a United States-based financial services company. Quite simply this is an act of terrorism directly perpetrated to create catastrophic financial burdens upon the citizens. As I see it Obama has two choices; invoke the Patriot Act as the S&P had planned and carried out its’ mission of causing enormous injury to the US Government and its’ citizens. And/or revoke S&P’s charter, seize their assets as they no longer service the public good.

      To paraphrase Grover Norquist, “I don’t want to abolish corporations. I simply want to reduce them to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown them in the bathtub.”

    3. auskalo

      It seems that for first time since the last crisis, the try to be slightly coherent with the rest of the world, but I think that a B+ should be more coherent.

      When the Dow goes to 5,000 we’ll start talking about reality, and not phantom values.

      Anyway, O’bomber could get anxious and lay-down S&P, at night, Osama style, and broadcast on TV next day. It’s his choice.

      In the long rung, there is too much shit to remove from the earth.

  14. auskalo

    “When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease … But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.”

    John Maynard Keynes

    1. psychohistorian

      Thanks for the quote, I especially liked:

      “The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease …”

      This should be printed on every denomination of fiat money

  15. aukalo

    OK, even Paul Krugman is outraged with S&P.

    Don’t talk about endless wars, but puke on Europe’s problems and recommend income-deflation to Spain as the solution to the bad design of European Union.

    On what ground does he think that USA in better situation that Europe, fake valuations apart?

    The last great action of La Clinton (he was voting for her), was to bring a ship full of weapons to Cyprus, “because it was a russian ship with iranian flag, carrying weapons from Iran to Syria”, and then leave all the containers in a naval base in Cyprus. The problem is that this naval base is adjacent to the new electricity central station they were building in Cyprus with euro-money. At 40º celsius under the sun, on open air, the weapons explode and naval base and main electric station went to hell (12 military young dead and about 30 very injured), Cyprus with black-outs, the minister saying a “biblical disaster” (17% of GDP), and he goes on like a warrior of keynesian economics in a land of 40+ million people on food-stamps and the most expensive health service of Orion.

    It’s good to save your country at the expense of others, but don’t worry for a AA+.

    Don’t play with other people money.

    It sounds imbecile!

  16. auskalo

    The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence.

    1. hermanas

      you should credit “Larry Elliot, writer for the UK Guardian, recently described the rot that has destroyed every..” as reported at Burning Platform

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