Links 9/19/11

Australia’s Kevin Rudd fights to get Vegemite on plane BBC (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). I never even tried Vegemite when I lived down under. I’m sure the only way one can like it is by being forced to develop a taste for it at a vulnerable age.

Gamers solve AIDS puzzle where scientists fail TG Daily (hat tip reader Skippy)

Dino-Killing Cosmic Impact Wiped Out Ancient Birds, Too LiveScience (hat tip reader May S)

9/11 Conspiracy Theories ‘Ridiculous,’ Al Qaeda Says The Onion (hat tip Lambert Strether)

Euro Bulls Capitulate After Trichet Comments Bloomberg

Merkel and euroskeptic allies beaten in Berlin Reuters (hat tip Richard Kline)

Ray Dalio on the D-Process in Europe Ed Harrison

UBS says trader hid loss with fake deals Financial Times.

‘It was a moral mistake and I’m not proud of it’: Strauss-Kahn breaks his silence in TV interview over allegations he sexually assaulted a maid Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S). Apparently his position is that he misread the maid’s intentions. Lordie.

Is the GOP/Media Complex Using Silly Sex Smears to Scare Schneiderman, Other AGs from Probing Bank Crimes? Phoenix Woman, FireDogLake

Dear Alisha Smith: Thank You for Your Work Abigail Field

Hillary Clinton Popularity Prompts Some Obama Buyer’s Remorse Bloomberg

Obama’s Economic Quagmire: Frank Rich and Adam Moss Talk About What’s Really in Ron Suskind’s Revealing New Book About the White House New York Magazine

Rick Perry is for sale, but he’s not cheap Daily Kos (hat tip reader May S)

Protest Closes Off Wall Street Roads Wall Street Journal and Media Blackout – Thousands peacefully protest Wall Street, No media coverage You Tube (hat tip reader Tim S). Well, there was not “no coverage” but the party line is that it was a small protest (true, but not as small as claimed, and the city apparently made it hard to assemble)

Fears over exemptions to Volcker rule Financial Times

Rearranging the Deck Chairs Tim Duy

Global recovery in danger of skidding off course Financial Times

Not Too Big to Fail. Be prepared to enter an alternative universe.

New York Appellate Court rejects validity of loan assignments by MERS Lexology (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

The theft of the American pension Salon (hat tip reader May S)

A Little Inflation Can Be a Dangerous Thing Paul Volcker, New York Times. OMG, he is still fighting the last war. In the abstract, he isn’t wrong, but this is like worrying about obesity when trying to get someone with anorexia to eat more.

Another View: Why wage war against the working poor? Flint Journal (hat tip reader May S)

Inside the Trillion-Dollar Underground Economy Keeping Many Americans (Barely) Afloat in Desperate Times Alternet (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Poverty In America: A Special Report Economic Collapse (hat tip reader Carol B)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. dearieme

    Perhaps gamers have been self-selected as being good at solving scientific puzzles and scientists at winning research grants?

    1. aet


      You mean like what Dick Cheney did? Or other politicians, who consider only “their own people”, when they make decisions?

      Tell me, in what field of endeavour, other than religious preachment or the publishing of political “commentary”, does anybody’s “self selection” carry any weight with others, whatsoever? It certainly does NOT carry any when it comes to science!

      Are you just “anti-science” when its conclusions differ from your prejudices? Or are you criticizing the scientific method itself? Or only the way that x science is done “nowadays”?

      Or have you personally failed in attempts to gain funding for your researches?

      Do you think self-funded scientists are for that reason alone more ‘believable’ than their publicly-or-privately funded-after-competition colleagues?

      What evidence do you have of that? That the “need” to secure funding has ANY influence on the results of research?

      Or are you just prone to suspect the motives of others? If so, why? And why ought we, too, to suspect the motives of others – simply on your say-so?

      I think your content-free “criticism” of science, and thus indirectly all it has achieved, in fact says more about you, than about the science.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Hello aet,

        You are somewhat ignorant of what passes for science. It is a college of true believers. Many of whom are mediocre – just as with any other group of human beings. Which is why their Rube Goldberg automated gizmo failed to piece the puzzle together.

        It was yesterday, I think, where Naked Capitalism’s links featured a story in which dark matter, so beloved by astronomers, was shown to be impossible. I gave up on the pseudo-science of astronomy some years ago. Dark matter is one of a number of unintended consequences of the famous Red Shift, which should have been thrown out 50 years ago.

        Go back and read 20, 40, 100 year old copies of Scientific American if you want more scientific guesswork. Stop making excuses for them. They’re a bunch of bunglers. Just like any other profession. And just like everyone else, every now and then, they’re actually right.

        1. skippy

          Roll them bones…eh…interpretations playground…all those lovely unprotected minds…follow me children and *I* will show you the truth!

          Skippy…see below comment

        2. Lidia17

          Exactly, it IS about guesswork. When you’re wrong, you guess again. There’s no science without “guessing” first.

          1. aet

            Not just guesswork, but guesswork checked by carefully noted observations; in the case at hand, the crowdsource model of the protein was validated by observations obtained by x-ray crystallography.

            In science, observation, not personalty, rules.

            That’s why cataloguing nature counts as science, as well as what is done in the lab.

            In contrast to politics, economics, religious studies…which ar all about WHO, not what, you know.

            And people wish to categorize science as a “who you know not what you know” endeavour as well! IMHO such people don’t know science – they simply s don’t know what they are talking about , and think it is like what they already know, from politics, religious studies, economic theories, etc….in other words, stuff NOT grounded upon the observations of nature, as science is, but of human nature, as they conceive it to be.

          2. Dave of Maryland

            When priests were the arbiters of reality, we believed every word they spoke was the Word of God.

            Thank God! we were smart enough to see through that charade.

            Only to replace it by the science charade. We compulsively believe every word that comes from a scientist to be the truth. Why? Did he take an oath before God? Did he take a vow of poverty? Dedication to an ideal of some sort? Sure.

            Sorry, but guessing isn’t good enough. Guessing, by definition, is not science, but that seems to be what science has been reduced to. Before there was modern science, there were organized systems of knowledge into which new events could be rapidly placed. Those systems are making a comeback. As modern science sinks beneath the waves, the Aristotelian world is rising from the ashes.

          3. JTFaraday

            Actually, I think grant seeking behavior is pretty much what science has been reduced to.

            Which puts it on the same level with US Congress (and Scott Walker, my personal favorite amongst the funding trolls!).

          4. aet

            IMHO scientists are neither the money-grubbing beggars , nor the ‘arbiters of reality’, which the stereotypical thinking of some would make them out to be.

          5. alex


            Thank you for your defense of science and the scientific method.

            Those who criticize it simply point out the obvious: scientists are mere humans, institutional opposition to (career damaging) change exists in scientific bodies as elsewhere, and there are lots of idiots running around in white lab coats. To make it worse, the MSM treats every unproven scientific assertion as though it were a breakthrough.

            Nevertheless history shows that disproven scientific theories die. They may have slow painful deaths (see Max Planck’s frustration for example), but they do die. The luminiferous aether theory, for example, was not devised by idiots, but died because it was empirically disproven. That’s how it works folks.

          6. skippy


            Best wishes with your endeavor, although I would use caution on data that originated when the world was flat, center of the solar system – universe, sickness bad vapors, gods shook the ground, negative environmental events a judgement from above. And the naked eye was all one could use to determine the sky’s. Yet I concede that it did spark a journey that we still travel.

            Hay Dave, what would be great is to go back and relearn all the wood – stone craft, rope and pulley knowledge we lost. Were having a rough time replicating a lot of machines – construction techniques from that era, it could actuality be useful.

            Skippy…why must some selectively pick out antiquity’s thoughts yet not weight them on their collective defects IDK. Like why not integrate all forms of astrology regardless of point of origin or time line, why just pick out one or is that like trying to integrate religions. The Catholic church was partially successful in that regard see pagan rituals allowed in new cultures assimilation.

            PS…historically, in time of social uncertainty, there is a tendency to reach back in time for meaning see Victorian era. We repeat when we can least afford it.

        3. aet

          Science isn’t religion. You seem to be asserting their identity, or that they have a similar value for the resolution of problems.

          Experience OTOH proves that they are not identical – by their fruits, one can tell them apart.

          Science leaves us better off than religion does – we have had two and half centuries of experience of the former, and millenia of experiences of the latter, which PROVES that that is so.

          Or are you asserting that we are NOT materially better off than our ancestors?

          For that too, is false.

          1. skippy

            Beef may I suggest trying a change from *the rich* to *profit*, it seems to be the culprit. But I would agree the the former is its driver.

            Skippy..when the driver for knowledge is someones back pocket, well we already know about that, it should be just curiosity…methinks.

    2. skippy

      More to your tastes dearie:

      A couple of weeks ago I wrote about it, after a paper published in Nature suggested that human Foldit players could outwit Rosetta, a state-of-the-art protein-folding algorithm.

      Some scientifically-minded folk may be attracted by another nifty trick Mr Cooper and his colleagues pulled. They managed to get “Foldit players” featured as co-authors of the Nature paper. In academic terms, this is as close as it gets to stardom. Did the journal’s editors take much convincing?

      We did have some discussion with them about that, but in the end the Foldit players were included. It’s quite appropriate because the results in the paper would not have been possible without the players.

      Skippy…its called Crowdsourcing, examples of it seen here, including you…lol…welcome to the task friend…would you like to play another game?

    3. Ethax

      Perhaps you should read the actual article instead of commenting on a headline that confirms an existing bias

  2. dearieme

    “could someone else have done better? Not the out-of-it McCain, not Hillary (an equivocator in her own right and one who would have embraced the same Clinton administration alumni and Wall Street crowd that Obama did). I still believe Obama was our best hope”: alas, I suspect as much too. You vote for the least bad candidate and wait to see what happens.

    1. aet

      If they could have done better, they would have done better.

      That never changes…kinda like the past itself.

      But how one thinks and feels about the past changes all the time.

      That’s life. The present reflects the past – and like all changing reflective surfaces, its own shape, its ripples, swells, and eddies, have an influence on the appearance of reflection.

      Wise people advise those who wish to think… to be still.

        1. ambrit

          Dear MLTPB;
          May I suggest not so much “still” as “without distraction?” All ‘serious’ religions practice some sort of ‘centreing’ process. Take the Rosary for instance; the practice bought back from the Orient by Catholic religious to induce ‘inner centerdness’ through a trance inducing self hypnosis. I believe the Sufi refer to the worlds’ distractions as “ghafla.”

    2. propertius

      Obviously no one could have done better with the economy than a 47 year-old man who not only had no prior decision-making experience but had apparently never held a full-time job until he became the (mostly) absentee Senator from Illinois (and promptly decided to run for President).

      1. ulrich

        You don’t need experience to know that giving money to crooks after they have already stolen from you is not a sound economic plan.

        You pay Obama a compliment by pretending that he is acting and thinking independently. No, he is working for the crooks.

        1. ambrit

          Dear ulrich;
          If the DOJ was on the job, what Obama is doing would be called fraud, and the banksters craft would be prosecuted as extortion.

    3. mk

      too bad for us Obama didn’t listen to Volcker, Bair, Warren, Black and the likes… how can it be that an insignificant, unconnected nobody like me knew the difference between the folks I just named and the Obama/Rubin picks of Geithner, Summers, etc.?…. Obama does know, he is responsible, I will never forgive him. I have no doubt Hilary Clinton would have done the same.

  3. Norman

    Vegemite, yes! My first exposure was when I turned 70. What an eye opener that was. True, it’s probably not for everybody, but it sure hits the spot on crackers as well as any other bread source. Of course, I’ve been accused of having worn out taste buds, therefore the reason I like it. I think it’s one of the great eats one has available. Spread thin, very satisfying.

      1. ambrit

        Oh yes indeed folks! Along with Marmite I also developed a taste for, (as long as my taste buds lasted that is,) Umeboshi. If nothing else, Umiboshi are the perfect explanation for the development of Zen.

          1. ambrit

            Dear bhikku MLTPB;
            It’s basically a variant of the Kalidassa story, (as Arthur C Clarke told it in “Fountains of Paradise.”)
            One day a begging monk is walking through the countryside and decides to stop at a prosperous looking farmstead. “Surely these wealthy people will feed me well,” he thinks. The farmwife, seeing the monk walking up the road, turns to her daughter and cries out, “What have we done to deserve this? Every no account wanderer comes into our farmyard and expects to be fed, and well too!” The daughter thinks for a minute, and replies, “Mother, it must be because we do feed them so well. Let us change our ways and feed these locusts like the pests they really are!” So, the mother and daughter go back into the kitchen and survey their food pantry. The daughter calls out in glee, “Mother! Here is our salvation! Give that wandering fool a little rice, and instead of some savoury sauce, some of these wrinkled tree fruits Uncle Ume loves so much. If that doesn’t send him on his way quickly, he’s a better man than he looks!” So, when the holy traveller comes up to the house, the two women are waiting for him with a bowl of food already waiting. “My, my, these humble women must be storing up much good karma,” he thinks. The bhikku sits on the doorstep and proceeds to eat his rice. He is gratified to see the happy, even expectant looks on the ladies faces. All is well with the world, until he bites into one of the curious fruits accompanying the rice. All the fiends of the Underworld are dancing in his mouth! These aren’t women, they must be evil kami! Seeing his mission clearly, to defeat these forces of Maya, he picks up the bowl and breaks it across the mothers head. Suddenly, a huge smile breaks out on the mothers face. Wordlessly, for words merely interfere with knowledge, she turns and slaps her daughter, hard. The daughter starts to cry, but suddenly laughs. “Oh, Mother, you are so right!” The two women turn to the rapidly fleeing monk and call out, “Thank you so much stranger! Come back any time!” This has caused much linguistic confusion in later generations of Gaijin. You see, the proper name of the blessed fruit, in honour of both the Uncle and the Monk, is Umi Bashi. End of Story.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I like umeboshi but have never developed a taste for natto (it’s OK only if diluted with enough maguro, but now we are not supposed to eat bluefin, so that’s out).

          1. SH

            I have a good kiwi friend and I think he’s transported vegemite multiple times on a plan and every time, we wonder why?

          2. ambrit

            I believe that the vapours from Vegemite contain enough esters and assorted by-products to set off the ‘automatic’ explosives scanner at the airport. You must admit, eating the stuff is like having an explosion in your mouth!

  4. Jim Haygood

    Paul Volcker writes:

    Once inflation becomes anticipated and ingrained — as it eventually would — then the stimulating effects are lost. Once an independent central bank does not simply tolerate a low level of inflation as consistent with “stability,” but invokes inflation as a policy, it becomes very difficult to eliminate.

    As if in response (or perhaps in an orchestrated media campaign), a Bloomberg article this morning reinforces the simplistic ‘unemployment BAD, inflation GOOD’ message:

    Inflation flashing red may be less of a green light for higher interest rates as global growth falters.

    Some Federal Reserve policy makers favor keeping their benchmark rate close to zero until price increases reach a level Vincent Reinhart, a former top official, says could be 3 percent.

    If adopted, the strategy might be called “Generate Inflation Now,” or GIN, Reinhart said, a reversal of the Ford Administration’s “Whip Inflation Now,” or WIN, program in the 1970s.

    Uh-huh. We can presume that ‘GIN’ will be followed not by responsible sobriety, but by increasingly sloppy, shaky-handed shots of vodka, scotch and whatever dusty old bottles of distilled spirits are left in the drinks wagon.

    With CPI stuck at 3.8% and the U-rate at 9.1%, the U.S. misery index (the sum of both) at 12.9% is the highest since 1983.

    Meanwhile the Fed’s money-supply M’s are in a hockey-stick curve runaway, with short term annualized growth rates as high as 36.7%.

    There’s already plenty of inflation. It’s just that the PhD Morons of the Federal Reserve can’t control where it goes. Instead of boosting residential house prices as they might like, it’s raising the cost of food and fuel for the disappearing middle class, as well as popping asset prices for the hedge fund set.

    Bernanke is a reckless fool from the Arthur Burns / G. William Miller school of slapstick acting. Volcker — the sole Fed chairman of the last fifty years who was worth a sh*t — has got his number.

    1. citalopram

      What’s so bad about deflation? In a dead economy such as ours, wouldn’t a little deflation be a good thing, or are we f*cked either way?

      Inflation = higher costs of goods and services putting more pressure on the middle and lower classes who are out of work or dealing with stagnant wages.

      Deflation = dropping prices which means more people getting laid off. The economy is essentially shrinking.

      Someone educate me, because I’m an economic neophyte.

      1. alex

        The problem with deflation is that it makes old debts harder to pay off, as incomes tend to drop with deflation while debt payments stay the same. And these days there are lots of old debts to pay off.

        I’m not thrilled with inflation as a fix, but the theory is if incomes rise with inflation it makes old debts easier to pay off. Of course that assumes that incomes will rise with inflation, and with labor in the position it is these days, I don’t think that’s a good bet.

    1. bmeisen

      Thanks for the tip. I’m fascinated by Graeber’s analysis of money and debt and I am appalled by his claim that parties have failed across Europe. His anachist ideology has led him astray.

      Proportional voting in Germany allowed the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen to emerge and successfully challenge the SPD, CDU, and FDP. Green policies have become law. Recently for example Merkel ended nuclear energy’s prominent role in national energy policy. German companies are among world leaders in renewable energy technologies. Germans are leaders in passive housing design: Frankfurt, where control of city hall is shared by Greens and CDU, is a world leader in passive construction in publicly subsidized housing.

      Yesterday in Berlin the SPD won a plurality in the city election and will probably cooperate with the GReens to form the next government. The once-significant FDP received less than 2% of the vote and will not be present in the City government. In contrast, the Piraten Partei, a virtually new party whose single issue, privacy rights, flirts dangerously with libertarianism, received almost 10% and will send a handfull of representatives.

      These are examples of functioning government. A lot of what I do not like about Germany is not a result of an elite forcing policy down our throats. It is what the majority wants. In some cases this is because corporate messaging has succeeded but it is also often simply a case of what the people want, i.e. democracy at work.

      Does Graeber have a partner and kids? I don’t know how a responsible parent can advocate anarchy. Functioning families are the model for the funcitioning state. There are examples of states without governments that fail. Graeber argues that there are regions that funtion without government but I can’t think of a state without a government that succeeds.

      1. ulrich

        You don’t have to agree with his politics which come from his gut to be persuaded by his anthropological research, which is astute and based on observation and careful historical inquiry.

        I’m persuaded that what is known as “anarchy” is not going to work in countries with hundreds of millions of people. If anything, we need more government and not less to protect us from the people who want less government for their own devious ends.

        1. bmeisen

          I agree by and large. I wonder if his politics come indeed from his gut – by his own admission he has accepted apparently by acclaim a leadership role in recent direct actions. I support these actions and I would support him as a leader while working to establish an organization that guarantees democratic transitions in the leadership, among other issues.

          Direct democracy is a red herring. Parties per se are not the problem. It’s the electoral system that is crucial to democracy. In a failed democracy like the US anarchy may be attractive as a temporary solution, a transition to a more highly evolved system, which will be characterized by an explicit constitutional role for parties (a 5% threshold for example) and proportional representation (1 man/2 votes).

  5. TulsaTime

    Greece is beginning to seem like the arch-duke, once the collapse happens there is nothing that will stop the cascade to darkness. None of the efforts so far seem capable of stopping the progression, if anything can. Growth is not a force that can save the day anymore, and that seems to be dawning on a few intellects. Time to figure out how to deal with life in contraction.

  6. Moopheus

    “In the abstract, he isn’t wrong, but this is like worrying about obesity when trying to get someone with anorexia to eat more.”

    Of course, our economy is not an anorexic. Our economy is more like Mr. Creosote after the last wafer. Volcker is right; pushing inflation expectations is not going to increase wages or employment. “Stagflation” will return.

  7. Billions for me, None for you

    My plan for waging war on the poor is to lock them all up in prisons but make them pay for everything including their food. Give them a chance to earn their keep at ten cents an hour. But be sure to charge 10x the cost of everything on the outside. Then set up payday loan centers in the prisons where they can borrow the money they need to survive at 10,000% interest.

    I want to bring back the lashing and whipping from Roman times (Yes, I am a conservative and proud of it!) for those who don’t meet their holy debt obligations.

    This ought to thin out those overpopulating varmints and make me a little money too. It’s win, win, I say.

      1. Billions for me, None for you

        Costs money? No problem. We can just the Social Security trust fund, which is just sitting there waiting for us to use it for prisons NOT pensions.

    1. JimS

      What kind of landlord are you? You never want to thin out the populating tenants; the more of them there are, the more rent you can charge them. You can keep your private estate free of them as far as the eye can see, but you want them teeming in the millions for your benefit, just over the horizon.

      Think like a landlord: population=rent. Think like an employer: population=labor. It’s all in Malthus.

  8. justanotherobserver

    Would Hillary have been better than Obama.

    Looking at Bill Clinton’s record it’s hard to think that she would have been.

    She’s a neoliberal through and through. A free trade zealot. Is happy to let Israel do whatever they want. Has rich friends to protect.

    She would have fought harder I think but for who ? And the republican insanity might have been even more intense with Hillary as president.

    So no buyer’s remorse – just wish Obama hadn’t been lying.

    1. Moopheus

      I have to basically agree. As disappointing as Obama has been, I don’t think the alternatives we were offered would have been any better; I’m certain McCain would have been much worse. I don’t see any better alternatives being offered for next year either. Our choices are going to be a) bad or b) double-bad.

      I’m normally inclined to pessimistic cynicism, but I haven’t felt this bad about the future in quite a while.

        1. propertius

          To put it a little more bluntly:

          If you expected Obama to be anything other than a corporate shill, then you obviously didn’t look very closely at what passed for his record in Illinois and you weren’t paying attention to his actions during the campaign. If you thought he was going to roll back the Security State, then you obviously missed his reversal on telecom immunity.

          Next time, think before you vote.

          1. ulrich

            It didn’t matter what he said. People projected onto him whatever they wanted. Being around Obama supporters made you feel like you were in a cult.

          2. ambrit

            Dear prop;
            You were, and are. A cult of personality, involving someone who seems to have spent his entire life trying to find one, even if it’s someone elses’.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        My gut is the disgust level with Hillary would be comparable, but the list of horrors would have been shorter. She would have gone for a bigger stimulus in early 2009 and would not be out to “reform” Social Security and Medicare. And I am most decidedly not a Hillary fan.

        1. ulrich

          If you recall, the “reform” of welfare took place during Clinton’s presidency.

          The Clinton’s have never shyed away from major corporate backers, Chinese backers, and bankster backers. I can’t see how they would have acted differently with respect to the economy, and in putting it in a place where social security “reform” seemed all but inevitable.

          I don’t have the same confidence you do that when pressed, a president Hillary wouldn’t touch Social Security just because her husband said he’d put it in a “lock box.”

  9. Jeff

    The Underground Economy

    “Of course documented workers also can end up
    choosing to work in the underground economy but
    that choice, like the choice for the undocumented,
    has the same basic driver–the inability to find
    formal paid employment that meets a worker’s

    Illegals have one more choice not mentioned here.
    They can stay home in their own countries and work
    to better them economically or through revolution.
    Americans workers don’t have that choice, we have
    no where else to go.

  10. Jeff

    A subtle and not so unobvious thing about the quoted article is that it is shilling for the credit card, payroll
    deduction and pay day loan industry.

    If I choose to pay cash to small merchants to help them
    avoid the 3 to 6% they have to give to the credit card
    companies, am I part of the ‘underground economy’?

    Am I supposed to give my cleaning lady a check so that she then has to open a bank account and deposit a couple thousand dollars at zero interest in order to deposit it without a charge?

    Good people pay others in cash.

  11. john newman

    With regard to the Wall Street protest on Saturday, the protest when I joined it was down on the steps of the old US Customs House at the bottom of Broadway. For the hour I was there the crowd probably ranged from one to two thousand. Police presence was moderate compared to the frequent and always unreported protests that occur outside my office across the street from City Hall.

  12. Externality

    From the UK Telegraph:

    Tony Blair ‘visited Libya to lobby for JP Morgan’

    A senior executive with the Libyan Investment Authority, the $70 billion fund used to invest the country’s oil money abroad, said Mr Blair was one of three prominent western businessmen who regularly dealt with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former leader.


    The executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials were told the “ideas” they were ordered to pursue came from Mr Blair as well as one other British businessman and a former American diplomat.

    “Tony Blair’s visits were purely lobby visits for banking deals with JP Morgan,” he said.

  13. Hugh

    The euro bulls story explains why the stock market is down today. It would have been more useful last week though. Otherwise the tendency is a happy news story that is used to pump markets up for a couple of days, until people start noticing that nothing fundamental to the problem has been addressed. Others can correct me but I have noticed that down Fridays seem to wrong foot US markets which tend to push to the upside for almost any reason no matter how thin and transitory. It leaves them playing catchup the following Monday against usually continuing negativity in Asia and Europe, and it takes them another day or two to reverse the negative trend. I say this as a spectator realizing that US markets are completely rigged.

    Ray Dalio’s d-[debt] process states the obvious. There is a mountain of debt out there and it does resemble the 1930s but describing it as a process in this way depersonalizes it, and by removing agency eliminates the fundamental malevolence, criminality, and kleptocracy of it.

    Is it just me or did others find Frank Rich and Adam Moss gossiping about Ron Suskind’s gossip laden book incredibly silly. They recycle all the standard dodges. Obama was inexperienced. He was this. He was that. That he did what he actually intended to do from the outset doesn’t seem to occur to them. They trot out revolving heroes and villains. If Summers is bad the also neoliberal Romer must be good. And then there is that whole playing up of Alan Krueger by Rich, another revolving hero to save the day, except he’s not. He’s just another neoliberal in an Administration full of them.

    Read it for amusement purposes only. Two Establishment liberals blathering away, they seem to miss the point on everything.

    1. ulrich

      There was a very telling incident during Obama’s campaign where he was promising more American jobs and limits on free trade, but at the same time reassuring the Canadians through Ghoulsbee that it was all a lie. He denied reassuring the Canadians that it was all a lie. People resolved this contradiction in his favor overlooking the most probable scenario, and continue to give him their suspension of disbelief no matter how outrageous the lie. Seeing how well this has worked, it has become a paradigm for how Obama operates.

      Anyone who thinks he did not deliberately trash the economy for the benefit of the international banking cartel is living in a fairy tale of their delusions.

  14. Anonymous Comment

    Regarding the Volcker article… Yves, inflation is not the last battle. It’s part of the current battle that has been put on the back burner.

    We all know the official inflation math does not equal people’s actual consumption. So right off the bat, we are starting at higher actual inflation that the talking heads are willing to acknowledge. Second, right now people are making basically zero on bonds, etc. For that reason there is a massive dislocation both into and out of certain strategic investments. At some point to stabilize those misallocations which will cause their own debilitating forms of inflation if left unchecked, the interest rates will have to – absolutely have to – rise.

    If we have already piled on 4-5% percent of not completely representative inflation, there will be a pendulum swing that knocks many struggling families off the board, so to speak. The way they have it rigged right now – a little inflation equals a lot. Volcker has it right, but of course – he learned this lesson once before.

    Think of it as making spaghetti. You get the water boiling in the back, and start working on the sauce up front. Pretty soon you get the sauce going good and switch it to the back burner and put a lid on it. To get the noodles in the boiling water, you pull that pot up front and get the noodles on a rolling boil. The problem comes when you boil the front pot too long, the sauce in the back bubbles over and maybe even pops its lid.

    It’s the sauce pot in the back that people are forgetting about when they suggest turning up the heat with intentional inflation. Just sayin.

    1. ulrich

      To put it more simply: when you spend more (here we are talking about trillions or even tens of trillions), there are two ways to pay for it, 1.) by taxation or 2.) through inflation.

      In this environment there will be no increase in taxes for that would claw back the government money misspent, defeating the purpose of the corrupt misspending.

      Trade policy can offset inflation somewhat, but never perfectly. Hence, there will be at least some inflation in the U.S., and plenty of inflation elsewhere.

  15. Jessica

    About “Merkel and euroskeptic allies beaten in Berlin”
    More accurate would be:
    Merkel’s slight gains overwhelmed by annihilation of euroskeptic allies and rise of Pirate Party

    “The Pirate Party, running on a campaign for reform of copyright and better privacy in the Internet age, came out of nowhere to win a stunning 9.0 percent.”

    A rejection of the rentier elite and their politics?

  16. Ep3

    Re: Hillary.

    I don’t see how Hillary would have been better. Her and bill built that third way bunch of criminals. So it didn’t matter who was the nominee; we were voting for the DLC party platform, not the candidate.

    1. propertius

      If Hillary would have been exactly like Bill, does that mean we would have seen a 12% increase in inflation-adjusted median household income under her administration (like we did under Bill’s)?

      Just curious.

    2. ulrich

      Under Bill, Greenspan was lobbying for deregulating derivatives and he got it, Summers was repealing Glass-Stegal, and a giant tech bubble was being blown.

      Like Obama, Hilary put up no opposition to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, and was fairly gung-ho about the Patriot Act.

      There is an underlying thrust to U.S. policy that gets enacted no matter who is in office. The people who buy the politicans don’t care about parties or personalities.

      The pressing issues of the day: whether gays should marry, when is the last time during a pregnancy a person can seek an abortion, whether gas mileage for SUV’s should increase 2mpg, whether children should be taught things that are untrue and unproven and the like are the things that people get to debate. These things will never be resolved however.

  17. Lollardy

    Hi Ladies and Gents,

    I just wanted to forward links to a good stream of the protest activities currently happening near Wall Street. The stream may be found at :

    The website, including chats, forums, etc for the protest is

    And, you can follow the story on twitter under the #occupywallstreet , #takewallstreet , #ourwallstreet tags, among others.

    So many of the people there are young(and ignorant)like me and could use input from more experienced and knowledgeable people in formulating demands, principles, strategies, etc.

    Love your blog Yves!

  18. Jim

    Eccles (President Roosevelt’s first Fed Chief) on income inequality.

    “As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption; mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth — not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced — to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation’s economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

    That is what happened to us in the twenties….

    1. ulrich

      There is a famous saying to the effect of “he who has not learned from the past is condemned to repeat it.”

      There is a corrollary to that that is less well known: “he who has learned from the past, will repeat it to his advantage as often as desirable.”

      Many of the bankers responsible then and now were history majors or are history buffs.

  19. scraping_by

    Re: Suskind and New York Mag

    While it’s dangerous to comment on a book from a book review, it’s not unlikely the much ballyhooed “insider” information goes to reinforce the marketing slant of Barry as a well-meaning, but completely hapless coward.

    I’ve never understood why being stupid is less blamable than being corrupt, if the results are the same. And indeed, the elite grow richer and more powerful, the rest of us grow poorer and more marginalized, and the money keeps flowing in to Team Obama.

    I wonder if the book will note the daily phone calls from Blankfein at GS to both Barry and Timmy. Or is that off message?

    1. ulrich

      Bush was also a master of the stupidity that made you and your friends filthy stinking rich.

      It’s much better to enrich yourself through stupidity since to enrich yourself through smarts would entail some culpability.

      1. scraping_by

        First, gainfully employed is not stinking rich. Or at least, only relative to third world peasants and American/European neo-peasants. I’ve been part of the Bush flat line, and God willing, won’t become part of the Obama downslope.

        Second, I was noting this book sounded, from the review, like an exercise in branding. Brand Obama has been damaged by his performance as a bootlicking, grovelling lackey of the banking elite. And, later, the oil elite, and the pharma elite, and insurance elite, and…

        But this sounds like brand repair, trying to project brand core values that are less repellent than the observed reality. And the reviewers stuck their noses in the proper orifice and were pulled along.

        That said, it’s not likely I’ll spend the breathtaking price of a brand new book, if it’s a rework of the hope and change con.

        1. ulrich

          My apologies for my poor English. I did not mean you personally, but one in general, in this case “him” and “his friends”, but generalized if you know what I mean.

  20. Bernard

    to watch Hillary beg Mellon for money when she was running was all the proof to show she was part of the Elites. She was obviously no better or worse than any of the rest.

    Obama turned out to be the “Front Man” for the Elites. just another member in the Club the rest of us are not part of.

    Hillary and Obama and McCain, et al, all the rest, all the same, just different degrees of doing the Elites’s business of sucking America of its’ last dollar.

    and to see such worshipping of Hillary. The Propaganda machine really works.

    1. ulrich

      Lest you forget, Hillary is Secretary of State. Last time I checked, the U.S. is embroiled in at least 6 international wars, only some of which have been authorized by Congress to any degree.

      If Hillary were a Republican like Condoleeza Rice, the Democrats wouldn’t be able to shut up about how horrible Hillary is for her warmongering.

  21. MichaelC

    Despite the teaser headline, this NYT Deal Book piece drove me mad, (even though it ends up shooting the last “Market Making is not prop trading ” man standing straight between the eyes, if you actually read it with an objective eye).

    UBS Scandal Is a Reminder About Why Dodd-Frank Came to Be

    Early on it makes a superficially reasonable observation:

    ‘While the industry has been lobbying aggressively to temper those regulations, the rogue trading case could give proponents of the so-called Volcker Rule, which would prohibit proprietary trading, more ammunition. UBS, which stands to lose $2.3 billion on the unauthorized trades, said in its initial four-sentence announcement on the incident that “no client positions were affected. The implication was that the trader was using company money to place his bets.”

    Then it reverts to the tired canard ‘ But what is prop trading?’ :

    “As fodder for advocates of tough regulation, the UBS case is a SOMEWHAT AMBIGUOUS EXAMPLE (emphasis mine). The London police have charged the trader at the center of the scandal, Kweku M. Adoboli, with fraud and false accounting.

    If the accusations prove to be true, the Volcker Rule — named after Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman — would not necessarily prevent the same situation from happening at an American bank. The regulations are intended to curtail speculative bets by a company, rather than stop the criminal acts of a single person.”

    It concludes with on the despairing, industry stenographic “Oh Dear. But who can define prop trading?” note .

    Lovely BS and artfully conflated nonsense.

    First : Who can define…? Well, I can, and beg your patience while I repeat it (but this time with an assist from the UBS CEO)

    A prop position occurs when the residual position of a customer trade is offset with the hedge to that trade. Full Stop.

    Prop trading, as I’ve argued ad nauseaum here is a supremely simple thing to measure and ban. This particular prop trade would never have been put on in a properly functioning Volcker rule world.

    Thanks to UBS we can take this definition of a proprietary position to the bank (apologies: lame pun intended)

    UBS confirm that the residual position on a client facing desk is a (unauthorized- hmm) proprietary position.

    The fact that the UBS ‘hedge’ was bogus highlights THE fundamental control breakdown that will inevitably occur on any desk that touts itself as purely market making or client serving.

    This is the control risk the Volcker rule resolves.

    The systems and controls required to support the fantastic argument that reasonable net market making/client servicing residual position alone are tolerable has been proven, once again, to be pure fantasy.

    Don’t take it from me. UBS CEO explicitly confirmed that no system exists that can protect against clever lads who understand very well what a prop trade is. No matter what desk they’re sitting on. (especially if they clawed their way out of the back office, more so if from social obscurity)

    So despite the Sorkin team’s characterization, this is NOT an ambiguous example at all. In fact, it’s a perfect and timely example of why the Volcker (and Vicker’s proposal) will reduce this kind of catastrophic and potentially systemic risk.

    I laughed my ass off (ruefully) at this loony bit:

    “The regulations are intended to curtail speculative bets by a company,” (by prohibiting speculative bets at govt backstopped ‘companies’)

    “rather than stop the criminal acts of a single person.” (which single person would not be employed by said institution, precluding the institutional speculation at his employer).

    Maybe it’s just me but restraining companies that reward criminally inclined employees (till they lose), even on the theory that it takes a crook to catch a crook, isn’t such a radical idea. At the least it’s not too radical to suggest these don’t qualify as gov’t (backstopped) jobs.

    End of rant.

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