Links 11/10/11

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The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety Gawker (hat tip furzy mouse). Richard Smith had already sent the picture of the rhino as one of his un-antidotes.

Why Is the State Department Using Our Money to Pimp for Monsanto? Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Rugby player ‘woke up gay’ after stroke Irish Times (hat tip reader Ed M)

Women still get a raw deal in business and finance Financial Times

Predicting the Euro’s Demise: To Those Who Got it Right, We Salute You! New Economic Perspectives (hat tip Philip Pilkington)

Deal on new Greek PM falls through Financial Times

Merkel’s CDU May Adopt Euro Exit Clause in Party Platform Bloomberg (hat tip Arthur)

Stocks lower as Italy debt fears grow Financial Times

Largest Municipal Bankruptcy Filed Wall Street Journal. My 83 year old mother, who lives in Jefferson County and is letting her shrubs die because it costs too much in sewer charges to water them, said the county should BK from the get go. Why it took the officialdom so long to come around is beyond me. I assume it is a combo of believing the banker nonsense re “”no one will ever lend to you again” (in fact, lenders LOVE cleaned-up balance sheets) and fear of exposure of corruption (the former mayor, Larry Langford, is in prison after being convicted on 60 counts of include brib­ery, fraud, money laun­dering and conspiracy for his time as head of the Jefferson County Commission). Reader Justica points out the moralizing in related coverage: Jefferson County’s Path From Scandal to U.S. Bankruptcy Filing: Timeline Bloomberg

Protesters block Westwood intersection, snarl traffic Los Angeles Times (hat tip reader 1 SK)

Police Bludgeon Peaceful Occupy UC Berkeley Protesters with Batons George Washington

“Capital Offense: Occupying Washington” Michael Hirsh, Facebook. A “why they are right to be angry” news compilation with brief commentary.

Bill Black’s Address To #OccupyLA New Economic Perspectives

Demonstrators briefly occupy Bank of America in downtown L.A. LA Times (hat tip reader 1 SK)

The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen George Monbiot, Guardian (hat tip reader Peter J)

Nightmare For MF Global Customers: They Really Might Not Get Their Money Back Clusterstock (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Keynes vs. Hayek: An Economics Debate Reuters

Financial Reform: Unfinished Business Paul Volcker, New York Review of Books (hat tip reader freude bud)

Judge attacks SEC’s Citi settlement Financial Times

Foreclosures jump 7% in October from September MarketWatch

The Multistate Foreclosure Settlement Adam Levitin. Levitin is loaded for bear. If you have any interest in the mortgage mess, this is a must read.

Antidote du jour: Ann M’s Tribeca cat Emmett, on a break from trying to hunt pigeons and doves through the window.

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  1. psychohistorian

    The article about Monsanto and our State Department underscores a comment I made on the Dean Baker interview posting about how blind the economics profession is to the history of American imperialism when it stares them in the face every day.

    If it isn’t the state Department it is the US military providing critical supply chain support and security. But do those costs ever make it into those fancy models of our “reality”?

    I want to start laughing. Tell me its time soon.

    1. Jeff

      An economist knows a hundred techniques to make
      love with a woman but doesn’t know any women.

      When units of the U.S. military “liberated” Iraq
      they handed out packets of Monsanto GMO wheat to
      the bemused Iraqi farmers in the countryside around

      Iraq was the cradle of civilization and the source
      of much of the germplasm for wheat, that is, there
      are strains of wheat being grown there that are the
      only source for plant genes that might help avoid a
      worldwide famine should some new disease wipe out
      the few strains of wheat that feed the majority of
      people in the world.

      1. Procopius

        Iraq was also the birthplace of Hammurabi, who inherited a legal code from his forbears of Ur, that included regulation of the market, to include pure food (beer) and honest weights (checked by inspectors). I feel confident those guys learned from thousands of years of historical experience what our libertarians refuse to accept — that one reason governments exist is to keep the rich from cheating even more.

        As far as the State Department spending money to help Monsanto, that’s been our Standard Operating Procedure ever since they helped Dole overthrow the monarchy in Hawaii.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the Business Insider article about MF Global:

    The search for the missing $600 million from MF Global continues.
    The latest development shows that finding the location of the missing customer money might begin with Chicago-based Harris Bank, Reuters reported.

    A Harris Bank branch office in downtown Chicago was the main repository for money from many of MF Global’s 150,000 customers, according to customers and representatives with smaller investment firms that introduced clients to the New York-based brokerage.

    Harris Bank, a division of the Bank of Montreal, is emerging as a starting point in the investigation by federal authorities, who are trying to determine what happened to more than $600 million in MF Global customer money that remains unaccounted for eight days after the firm collapsed in bankruptcy.

    DOH! They are just figuring this out? In Nov. 2005, I inadvertently became a customer of MF when it bought Refco’s futures brokerage after an accounting scandal at Refco. My original futures broker, an independent called Lind-Waldock, had been acquired by Refco in 2000.

    From 1986 when I opened my Lind-Waldock account to 2007 when I closed the now MF-badged account, all funds transfers to and from the account were done via Harris Bank in Chicago. This ain’t forensic rocket science, folks!

    Like stock brokerage accounts, futures accounts are supposed to have half a million of SIPC protection — a rather modest level which hasn’t been updated for awhile. Not only does Canada’s CIPF offer up to C$1 million in protection, it sounds a lot more categorical aboot protecting MF customers, without all the US-style lawyerly circumlocution:

    MF Global Canada Co. Information

    Investment dealer insolvency doesn’t happen very often, but if it does, the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) is here to ensure your cash and securities are returned to you, within defined limits.

    If you have an account with a CIPF Member you have CIPF protection – coverage is automatic for all eligible customers. For more information, go directly to our Coverage Policy.

    1. Wendy

      Well, isnt that a delightful protection of the 1% by Canada. Bank accounts are only insured up to $100,000, but if you are wealthy enough to have hundreds of thousands to trade futures – why, Canada will protect THAT, up to $1 million!

      How is this fair or equitable, to protect traders but not average Joe’s who just want to hang on to their cash without wagering it?

      Canada’s tax laws too are also very skewed in favor of the wealthy. The common view of Canada as a socialist paradise is way off – there is extraordinary wealth there, and strong favors and protections in place for that wealth.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Another rather striking difference across the 49th parallel is that Canada lacks the death (inheritance) tax which the US federal gov’t (plus the usual tax ‘n grab states such as NY and NJ) impose.

        Hardly what one would expect, given Canada’s more redistributionist bent in other areas such as health care.

        1. Wendy

          WORD. also, no tax on lottery or gambling/casino winnings – so professional poker players for example pay no income taxes.

        2. Praedor

          Gods I hate the term “death tax”. That is merely mealymouthed wording that is used to try and defend the idea that Paris Hilton should not have to pay ANY taxes ever.

          Here’s what inheritance REALLY is: a lottery winning. There is no skill or effort involved in being born from a rich vagina. EVERYONE alive today came from a vagina. The ONLY difference between those without an inheritance and those with is the latter won the lottery. They didn’t EARN the wealth. They didn’t struggle and work diligently to gain an inheritance, someone else did (but they did so in a system that is designed to steal from the lower classes and pass it all up to the wealthy – unfairly and improperly).

          We tax lottery winnings, as we should and we tax inheritance (a lottery winning) too, as we should. There must be NO inherited aristocracy allowed or supported by tax or any other policy. Unearned lottery winnings (inheritance) MUST be taxed.

      1. Tom

        What’s with the built in nipples? Why does a man
        of such education and bearing make himself look
        ridiculous with rags like that?

  3. dearieme

    “Predicting the Euro’s Demise: To Those Who Got it Right, We Salute You!” I’ll consider myself saluted, then. You in the US might not realise just how loopy the euro-enthusiasts were. At the time I tried to explain to a German colleague why it couldn’t work. When I reached “exchange rates” he stopped me with an imperious hand and said – I kid you not – “In the modern world exchange rates do not matter!” These people were determined to be stupid, reckless so-and-sos. I suppose I am lucky not to have been burned as a heretic.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Not only do exchange rates not matter, debt doesn’t matter either, the experts tell us! ‘We owe it to ourselves,’ as Frank Roosevelt jauntily quipped. Currency sovereignty just bulldozes through these minor obstacles like a mighty armoured stegosaurus, leaving a welt of snapped trees and small flattened mammals in its lumbering wake.

      Back in our nightmarish ‘real world’ where this stuff does seem to matter, markets temporarily are celebrating that Italy’s bond yields have fallen back below 7 percent, after today’s fairly successful auction of 1-year debt.

      All well and good. But as I write, Bloomberg reports that French OATs [treasury debt] trade at a yield 154 basis points higher than German bunds.

      I regret to inform our continental cousins that such a risk premium on French debt is wholly incompatible with its anachronistic triple-A rating. In the ever-entertaining game of Euro-Whack-a-Mole, no sooner is the fire extinguished in Italy than France pops its beret-clad pointy head out of the next gopher hole.

      Surely it must end in bitter tears, comrades!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Late morning update: the French-German sovereign bond spread has gone as wide as 165 basis points.

        Perhaps more importantly, the AAA-rated bonds of EFSF — you know, the European rescue fund which so far has raised a few billion euros in bond offerings, but ultimately is to reach hundreds of billions — are trading at a 176 basis point premium to bunds [chart from Bloomberg, via ZeroHedge]:

        Regardless of the EFSF’s AAA rating (which is looking to be a sick joke), the mathematics of bailing out the PIIGS with funds whose interest cost is even higher than that of its weakest AAA members (such as France) simply do not work.

        Should EFSF actually attempt to auction hundreds of billions in bonds (which I don’t believe will ever happen), that gaping spread will go wider still. Plus, EFSF could lose one or two of its six AAA-rated backers within weeks, via downgrades.

        EFSF = *EPIC FAIL*

    2. Anonymous Jones

      Yeah, some people are broken clocks, right twice a day, and some people are thoughtful and humble about assessing complicated matters in brilliant ways.

      Not surprising that you’ve confused these two things.

  4. Anon

    “Woke up gay” – best ever!

    Although I can see exactly how a life-threatening injury might make one re-evaluate one’s whole life trajectory.

    Way to go.

    1. Jeff

      Yeah, makes you want more rectitude in your life.
      Some people wake up speaking in tongues or barking like dogs. Guess this is better than that.

    1. Bill

      “Yves, your mom should get some rain barrels. Free water!”

      I lived in Germany for 12 years…EVERYONE who had a house had rain barrels, some multiple. When I suggested using a hose, the lady next door thought I was joking. Water is too
      expensive to use for gardens, and besides, there is always rain…..

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      She has one, but there has also been a really bad drought in Alabama for quite a while.

  5. Abelenkpe

    I keep wondering what’s up with occupy LA. The city is so spread out it’s difficult to locate an area that will demand people’s attention.. Personally I’d occupy Beverly Hills. That’s where the one percent are busy ignoring the rest.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      You occupy the 405/10 interchange and the city grinds to a halt in 10 minutes. It’s LA, it’s Car Town.

  6. justanotherobserver

    Monsanto is truly a threat to us all.

    At some point direction action is going to be needed because
    the government supports and enforces Monsanto’s whims at every turn.

    1. Jeff

      That’s sort of an exaggeration don’t you think?

      I mean they only have two Supreme Corps in their pocket that I know of…

      Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice
      As President Obama’s Solicitor General, Kagan took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case.

      In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, Monsanto tried to get the Supreme Court to force genetically engineered alfalfa onto the market without an evaluation of the crop’s environmental impact. Geertson Seed Farms made the case that the USDA should have considered the fact that GE alfalfa would permanently contaminate their GE-free alfalfa seed.

      As Solicitor General, Kagan was supposed to represent the interests of the American people in matters that came before the Supreme Court. Instead, she went to bat for Monsanto.

      Kagan joined a Supreme Court that includes a former Monsanto lawyer, Clarence Thomas.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am curious what they serve at Monsanto board meetings.

        Do they serve GE or organic alfalfa to their kids?

        1. Jeff

          Not likely, there are two large corporate farmers that I know of that have organic patches for their own
          family’s use.

          Also, the children of some of Silicon Valley’s
          biggest and richest digital billionaires attend a
          Waldorf school where there are no computers or screens of any kind allowed.

      2. Susan the other

        They have traced bee colony collapse to “systemic” pesticides in France and the US. The evidence is pretty clear. So it was interesting to hear the speculation, yet to be sufficiently proven, that genetically modified seed, the plants of which manufacture their own systemic pesticide, is also a prime suspect in the demise of the bees. How do you bring a corporation which manufactures poison to heel?

        1. Jeff

          Oh and there’s this little tidbit:

          “scientists who do manage to conduct independent research have tended to find disturbing results, FWW shows: A 2009 International Journal of Biological Sciences study found that rats that consumed GE corn for 90 days developed a deterioration of liver and kidney functioning. Another study found irregularities in the livers of rats, suggesting higher metabolic rates resulting from a GE diet. And a 2007 study found significant liver and kidney impairment of rats that were fed insect-resistant Bt corn, concluding that, “with the present data it cannot be concluded that GE corn MON863 is a safe product.” Research on mouse embryos showed that mice that were fed GE soybeans had impaired embryonic development. Even GE livestock feed may have some impact on consumers of animal products: Italian researchers found biotech genes in the milk from dairy cows that were fed a GE diet, suggesting the ability of transgenes to survive pasteurization.” [Note: there are footnotes to each study mentioned in the FWW report.]

  7. Tom

    Demonstrators need to carry “walking sticks”
    or “canes”. Bet there’s far less poking from the
    cops when they can be poked back.
    Squirt guns filled with harmless water cut 50/50 with latex paint make face
    masks useless.

  8. Susan the other

    Adam Levitin’s Settlement piece and the one before on Policy. Clearly we have no government. We seem to have politics without policy. We also have no law enforcement save 3 brave AGs and some smart state judges. We have no CEO. But then (newsflash) we really aren’t a corporation. (We are however a pretend corporation.) We have no intention of solving the housing crisis. And we have no way of saving the banks.

    1. aet

      “And we have no way of saving the banks.”

      So true: it’s always difficult – if it’s not impossible – to save somebody from themselves.

      Just like you cannot free a fish from water.

  9. Susan the other

    NEP on Godley’s forecast on demise of the EU/Euro. So the EU was policy without politics? Lots of people knew it from the outset. And we are politics without policy, by design. Our Fed really doesn’t have a mandate to do what it is doing. Right? Godley describes what genuine sovereign, democratic government would look like. Pretty sure we don’t have it either.

  10. Jeff


    Also she should mulch under her bushes. That is a layer of dried leaves or wood chips that keeps soil cool adn prevents evaporation.

    Doesn’t it always rain in the summer in Alabama?

    Also, an infrequent deep slow watering that forces the roots to chase the water down deep is better than just splashing a little on the surface every couple of days.

  11. KC

    I used to think the riot gear was for personal protection. Now, I’m thinking its for anonymity. Anyone wearing riot gear should be required to wear a number, just like a football player.

    1. M.InThecity

      It absolutely is for anonymity. I was next to (yes right next to) the riot police on Wednesday near Moorgate in the City of London. I was taking pictures of the riot police and their faces. They all were very shy. But in particular, several of them had balaclavas on in order to hide their face when their face shield was up. I saw the face of authoritarianism in those young police officers.

      They also wanted us to be frightened of the horses they had. Since I’m not really a city slicker, I have no fear of horses. Horses don’t want to hurt a person. It’s the dick on the top of the horse that does. You just need to go up to the horse and pet it. Of course, the humans might try to bludgeon you to death, but it’s certainly not the horse’s fault.

      The undercovers were actually the most interesting bit. They, of course, weren’t covered up, but also didn’t like their picture taken. They dragged out a kid and abused him, whilst we were taking pictures of them. They dragged him along the road and pushed him up against a wall. Only two of the five would identify themselves as police officers and even then we couldn’t get details. They went into a small side street (this is a very very old city, so it was tiny) and bared us from trying to talk to the kid. One of the men pushed a woman half his size and then yelled at her that she pushed him.

      I was happy to see that the police on this side of the pond are just as well trained as on the other side. Oy.

    1. Skippy

      Make sure to read comments see:

      Don’t WANT them here, either. No need to go home if you don’t even arrive. Uncle Sugar has been quietly in the background, stoking our fears of the “yellow peril” ever since the end of WWII. Offering to be our protection. Yeah, but I am sure of one thing: should we need protecting, Uncle Sugar is going to be too occupied elsewhere to do much, and is rapidly becoming a paper tiger with the best weapons. But the Chinese are building new weapons that effectively counter the American navy. These days, US ships within 2000 km of the Chinese coastline are there with the permission of the Chinese.

      Reply Alert moderator

      Allan Aitchison:

      11 Nov 2011 10:03:16am

      It’s not stoking fears of a yellow peril,have you any idea where the missile bases are in the Pacific and where they are likely to be pointed? It’s common knowledge what is going on and for any so called analyst to gurgle anti American sentiment is mad hatter tea party material.Uncle sugar the paper tiger may be our only option as boat arrivals demonstrate our real defense capabilities.

      Reply Alert moderator

      11 Nov 2011 11:07:36am

      What absolute waffle and humbug!

      Currently there may not be too many missiles pointing at Darwin, but if there is an official American presence there, there soon will be.

      And do not be fooled for a moment. If there is the slightest whiff of security threats from “boat arrivals” (what xenophobic rubbish), rest assured you really will find the full capabilities of our Australian Defence Forces.

      Be also assured that an American presence on Australian territory has absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, nix, to do with the security of this nation. It is 101% to do with maintenance of American regional interests.

      Were Australia unlucky enough to be threatened with some form of military aggression, do not believe for a moment that the American presence would evaporate before your very eyes.

      We do not need them here. Australians generally do not want them here. They have absolutely no business even wanting to be here.

      Just say NO.

      Reply Alert moderator
      John H:

      11 Nov 2011 11:09:50am

      What a load of nonsense! our defence force is at war with boat people now?

      Reply Alert moderator

    2. Sock Puppet

      As they said in UK during WWII, only 3 things wrong with Yanks – oversexed, overpaid, and over here.

      1. Skippy

        Arrogance is another term that comes to mind. But to be fair, Aussie blokes don’t fair so bad in the US. That said why does everyone have to pick a team to *root* for LOL.

        Skippy…what say you hostess with the most’ess

  12. Jeff

    RE: Alabama county bankruptcy,

    Here’s a model for states to finance their

    Public Banks are …
    • Viable solutions to the present economic crises in US states.
    • Potentially available to any-sized government or community
    able to meet the requirements for setting up a bank.
    • Owned by the people of a state or community.
    • Economically sustainable, because they operate transparently according to applicable banking regulations
    • Able to offset pressures for tax increases with returned credit income to
    the community.
    • Ready sources of affordable credit for local governments, eliminating the need for large “rainy day” funds.
    • Required to promote the public interest, as defined in their
    • Constitutional, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court
    … and are not
    • Operated by politicians; rather, they are run by professional

Comments are closed.