Links 11/1/11

Since I got to Links really late, I missed some hat tips! Please forgive me.

DARPA Offers Prize For Method to Unshred Shredded Data PopSci (hat tip reader Robert M)

Is Obama Denying Science? The White House Responds to NORML’s ‘We the People’ Petition Alternet (hat tip reader Francois T)

“Deadly Monopolies”: Medical Ethicist Harriet Washington on How Firms are Taking Over Life Itself Democracy Now (hat tip reader Aquifer)

BP Oil Spill Whistleblowers And Experts Continue To Mysteriously Die TheIntelHub (hat tip reader 1SK). Now it could just be random…
Tilburg professor faked data in at least 30 academic publications DutchNews. Per reader Francois T: Meet the biggest fraudster in the field of social psychology.

A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home New York Times

Beijing will not ride to eurozone’s rescue Yu Yongding, Financial Times

Washington Post Discards All Journalistic Standards In Attack on Social Security Dean Baker (hat tip reader Aquifer). Whoops, saw this earlier and forgot to link to it.

Transatlantic threat to Obama Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

European Stocks Sink on Greek Referendum Bloomberg. Reality bites. The China PMI data (see below) did not help. Financial stocks hit hard. Oil is also down over 2%.

Bunds surge as eurozone woes return to haunt investors Financial Times

Credibility is not everything Paolo Manasse, VoxEU

China PMI Drops to Lowest in Almost 3 Years Bloomberg

NAB and Westpac’s Secret Bailout Revealed Morning Money (hat tip reader Skippy)

UNESCO Approves Palestine for Full Membership Dave Dayen, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B)

Startup Visa D.O.A., and Startup America Just a Giant Press Release? TechCrunch. I got into Oz on a similar visa, which has since been eliminated.

ANALYSIS: Legal confusion at heart of Wall Street protests Reuters

Thomas Friedman, Dirty Hippie David Atkins (hat tip reader Carol B)

Canadian Corporation Behind Efforts to Shut Down Occupy Wall Street Has Ties to Big Oil Desmogblog (hat tip reader 1SK)

It’s Lonely Without the Goldman Net Andrew Ross Sorkin. This is particularly glaring in light of comments by readers that MF Global apparently missed that their repos had clauses that they’d be repriced if the market value fell by more than 5%. This is a stunningly oversight.

Corzine Crashes Like It’s 2008 Joe Nocera, New York Times

Mary Schapiro lands in hot seat again Investment News. Not new per se, but a good recap.

Retreat From Debit-Card Fees Continues Wall Street Journal

Home prices heading for triple-dip CNN Money (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Shocker: The More You Pay a Rating Agency, the More They Do Your Bidding! Dave Dayen, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B)

Antidote du jour:

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    1. Jeff

      Used to think the animal pictures were ridiculous but now have come to love them because they are so…so.. grounded
      for want of a better term. They can remind us that
      some things are real and will never change and
      they keep all of the artificial in perspective.

      If you could get a puppy that looked like that and
      weighed 90 pounds, would you still love it and want

      Sort of like certain aspects of our consumer economy.

    1. Jeff

      In defense of the guy, someone has a natural moment
      and suddenly they become unelectable?

      Of course his policies are BONG CUCKOO! BONG CUCKOO!
      But that’s a different issue than his deportment.

      i.e. If everybody sends in that little bitty
      postcard to pay our taxes, does that mean we then
      have National Medical Care and free college tuition?

        1. Jeff

          Actually I think the ramrod stiff Rick Perry is
          unnatural. What we saw yesterday is the Real Rick.

          Question: would you want his finger on the button?


          As he launches the first nuclear cruise missile at

          1. Jesse

            Well it seemed to me like he was a bit drunk, though maybe that is his normal state. Maybe he’s like Bender from Futurama and has to continually drink alcohol to function.

            Oh, and that image of him yelling as he pushes the nuke launch button is now permanently etched into my brain, so thanks… jerk.

      1. EH

        someone has a natural moment
        and suddenly they become unelectable?

        Howard Dean taught us the answer to this question.

    2. Tony

      The problem with Republicans is that there positions are now so ridiculous that no one can say them with a straight face.

      1. Jesse

        I’m not so sure, Paul Ryan managed to control it when delivering his destroy medicare/dramatically cut taxes on the rich “Path to Prosperity” plan. The guy would probably make one hell of a poker player.

        I bet they had a good laugh after that press conference though.

    3. docG

      I’m no fan of Rick Perry or any of the Republican “candidates,” but imo the one who comes out looking silly and incompetent is not Perry but Maddow. Perry just looks like he’s in a really good mood, relaxed and having a good time with an obviously friendly crowd. So what? There are some very good reasons not to like Rick Perry, but that video isn’t one of them. Maddow on the other hand comes across as something of a prude.

      1. F. Beard

        I agree. I would not vote for Rick Perry (GWB has put me off all Texas politicians) but not on this basis of this video. Where’s the beef? It must be a liberal thang.

    4. BondsOfSteel

      I don’t get it. Other than being a bit silly, he wasn’t offensive, crazy, or dumb. I don’t see any big deal here.

      1. Bill

        Neither did I and I’m a lifelong liberal Dem……or was.

        Anyway, the Perry ridicule is way overdone IMHO.

        But I’ve been thinking there’s really no way he’s
        electable anyway. If I’m wrong, we’re in way worse
        shape than I thought, and I might have to seek
        asylum somewhere else… an asylum maybe.

  1. Cilly

    Assassination by Great White? Really?

    I mean, I don’t doubt that these creeps are capable of killing people but, sending a shark? Maybe it had laser beams on it’s head …

    1. ambrit

      Dear Cilly;
      You don’t have to get all high tech about it. There is a hiden assumption in the story; that the man was killed by the shark.
      Recipe for Great White Accidental death:
      Take one victim and restrain. Enter known shark infested waters. Chum water heavily. Wait for shark to arrive. Throw victim into water. Collect ‘gratuity’ from backers.
      Have a nice swim.

      1. Susan the other

        I had that same movie running in my head, Ambrit. And I’m old enough to remember all the mysterious deaths associated with JFK’s assassination, which still continue to this day some think. BP certainly has incentive to kill off all of its detractors because as a corporation it is on the ropes. You have to hope this is overreaction to normal events. But I’m too old and suspicious to believe it. And once again, if we had proper regulation this sort of thing would not happen, would be investigated, and/or would not be credible.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Sto;
          Phyllis and I lived right at the Mouth of the Pearl River, the one in North America, not Asia, during the Gulf Oil Spill. We could occasionally smell the sweet crude when the wind was in the right quarter. One of the main staging boat launches was a mile from our house. The enterprise there was run by the Coast Guard with help from Navy units, (riverine warfare command, sited at Stennis Federal Preserve just up the river.) There are also Navy Seals quartered at Stennis, although what if anything they had to do with it all I do not know. All this activity was not in the least cheap. Who paid for it is still in question. I do know that there was an unholy dogfight over all the ‘charitable contributions’ BP spread around amongst the local powers and dominions. Just about everyone, even down to the most obscure VFD, got some kind of equipment out of the largess. Very clever co-option all around by BP. Note the continuing Public Relations barrage by BP. They still feel ‘naked and exposed’ for some reason. Perhaps it’s because no one yet has determined what those giant plumes of crude oil trapped at depth between temperature layers in the Gulf waters are going to do. This story isn’t over by a long shot.
          As for the Kennedy ‘collateral damage’ toll, well, having lived in New Orleans in the seventies, I heard lots and lots of stories, rumours, and conspiracy theories. Too many of the people involved around the edges of the Kennedy business were also connected to the Underworld scene in Nawlins, and to the Bay of Pigs fiasco. (Did you know that the training base for the Cuban ‘Freedom Fighters’ was north of Lacombe, a little town on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, just north of New Orleans?)
          Oh well, as the good old local character, Dr Morgus used to say; “Welcome to the Higher Order!”

  2. Jim Haygood

    While European stocks sink, its Credit Default Swaps [higher = bad] are lofting like a Saturn V rocket:

    Italy CDS: +45.5 bps to 491
    France CDS: +14 bps to 190
    Spain CDSs: +33.5 bps to 374.5
    Portugal CDS: +57 bps to 1,028

    [quotes courtesy of ZeroHedge]

    Portuguese CDS over 1,000 basis points means that Portuguese sovereign debt is now officially distressed … making it likelier than not that Portugal follows Greece into default next year.

    Also, France’s CDS premium of 190 bps is wholly incompatible with its AAA sovereign bond rating …. as is its sovereign yield spread of 117 bps over German bunds. France’s implied rating is at least a couple of steps lower.

    The ridiculous fiction of France as a triple-A credit will be over soon … as will the vaporware fantasy of the EFSF (European FUBARed State Fund).

    Jimi H. said it best:

    And so castles made of sand
    Slip into the sea
    Eventually …

    1. aet

      Here’s hoping that all those who gamble in order to profit on the misfortunes of others go broke, and quickly!

      Also: good to see that the Greeks en masse are going to get a vote on this…I wonder if they’ll decide to stay and continue with the Euro or not? For isn’t that what this Referendum is really about?

      If the Greeks “vote it down”, the other Euro States can “vote” the Greeks out of the Euro, can’t they? I really don’t know – I suppose the answer to that is somewhere in all those Treaties.

      But it is still good to see some “democracy” in financial matters, with votes and everything…it sometimes seems that money matters are NEVER on the table for actual democratic discussion – that such matters are only decided by those who already have the money instead….which practice, if it does not quite make a mockery of democratic governance, at least significantly neuters or limits the scope of such governance.

      OTOH, people with money DO understand money better than people with no money or experience of handling or accounting for it, and it does makes sense that people with money would know best how to regulate other people with money….that is, it seems right that people of property ought to be making the rules governing property. Ignorance would not be a plus for Regulators and/or Legislators, in matters of finance and property. In fact, when is ignorance ever a plus in governance?

      On the third hand, the skills required to make a lot of money are not necessarily the same skills required to keep a lot of money; and thus, those who have made, or do make, a lot of money, are not simply for that reason alone qualified to make rules for Society as to the handling of money and property – for Society’s goal is not only to increase its total wealth – it also has another goal of equal or greater importance (along with many other, non-financial, goals): to maintain its wealth.

      And ordinary people really ought to get to vote on those rules, once in a while – if we wish to live in a democracy, that is.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Teutonic rage at the perfidious Greeks:

    (Reuters) – Germans expressed fury and frustration at Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s shock decision to call a referendum on the latest aid package, with some saying the gamble would push Greece out of the euro zone.

    “You can’t help thinking that they should be grateful as Europe is trying to help,” said Konstanze Pilge, a 26-year old student, walking near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. “Now it looks like they are going to mess things up.”

    Papandreou dropped his bombshell on Monday evening, less than a week after European leaders agreed the outlines of a second bailout for Athens.

    “It just goes to show once again what a huge mistake it was not to throw Greece out of the euro zone at the start,” said Wolfgang Gerke, a banking professor and president of the Bavarian Financial Centre think tank.

    Rainer Bruederle, parliamentary leader for Free Democrats (FDP) who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, suggested Athens was trying to wriggle out of the 130 billion euro bailout deal, which demands harsh state spending cuts from Greece in exchange for aid.

    “I was irritated (by the news), Bruederle told Deutschlandfunk radio. “That’s a strange way to act.”

    A poll over the weekend showed nearly 60 percent of Greeks have a negative view of the rescue deal, suggesting that voters in the referendum, which is likely to be held early next year, would say no to the rescue package.

    can only do one thing: prepare for the eventuality of a state insolvency in Greece and if it doesn’t fulfill the agreements, then the point will have been reached where the money is turned off,” Bruederle told German radio.

    Some of us said 18 months ago that Greek default was inevitable. Nice that German politicians are finally getting up to speed. Chances are that they were badly advised by overleveraged bankstas who were being economical with the truth.

    1. aet

      Well, the Greeks are the ones paying, so they are the ones to choose.

      “You pays yer money, you makes yer choice.”

      That’s an old American saying.

      If they want to vote their State into bankruptcy, it’s their business. What do I care?

      1. aet

        A few facts supporting the call for a Referendum as being democratic – what Greeks want – and some evidence that it will be approved, in that they know that the Euro is better than a return to the Drachma:

        “Most of the 1,009 people surveyed on Oct. 27, the day the agreement was announced, said the accord should be put to a referendum, according to the results of the Kapa Research SA poll, published in To Vima newspaper. Forty-six percent said they’d oppose the plan at such a referendum. In the same poll, more than seven in 10 favored Greece remaining in the euro.”


        Go democracy! This development is a plus for overall stability, I think – in the long run, it’s better for the folks to be most effected by some proposed measure to agree to them, I think, before they are enacted.

        Rather than to face violent dis-agreement to the measure, after it’s been imposed without asking them to vote on it first.

        Constitutional changes need popular approval. And isn’t this “deal” somewhat “constitutional”, at least in its effects on their governance, as far as the Greeks themselves are concerned?

        Let the pre-vote debating in Greece begin!
        Go democracy!

        … but I DO hope they see fit ratify the proposed Euro-deal.

        1. Jim

          The Germans should also have the right to vote on a referendum on whether or not the ECB can continue to purchase impaired bonds from Italy and Spain.

        2. psychohistorian

          One could take the perspective that the position by the Greeks is a step up in the sophistication of can kicking by the EU.

          It the world economy crashes before the Greeks vote, whooooocouldanode , it won’t be the EU that precipitated it, so to speak.

          Some butterfly somewhere is setting to take off………and the world crashes……………..It has to be all those damn environmentalists who caused this!

      2. Jeff

        Wouldn’t it be nice if we got to vote on
        the national debt right here….

        Hey, the Beach Boys music fits right in

      3. Jim Haygood

        The captains of the Euro-Titanic ‘fully trust’ that its hull is impervious to icebergs. Never mind the pronounced list to starboard … we will substitute sandwiches for soup, and all will be well!

        FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) — European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Tuesday said they “fully trust that Greece will honor the commitments” it made as European leaders last week agreed to a new bailout plan for the country.

        Greece surprised its European partners and investors Monday when Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that the plan would be subject to a referendum expected to take place in January.

        “We take note of the intention of the Greek authorities to hold a referendum. We are convinced that this agreement is the best for Greece,” Barroso and Van Rompuy said in a joint statement. The officials held a telephone conversation with Papandreou and are in contact with euro-zone members, the statement said.

        Polls show that while Greeks oppose the haircut deal, they also want to stay in eurozone. This ‘we want it all’ stance is understandable — the euro gives Greeks strong external purchasing power which they would lose with the drachma.

        But the euro, whose strong exchange rate is effectively set by and for the capital-intensive economies of northern Europe, is an important factor in Greece’s structural uncompetitiveness.

        Watch for banksters to put their muscle behind a campaign telling Greeks that ‘a vote against the debt deal is a vote to leave the euro.

        Which is a partial truth … the fact is that Greece is going to leave the euro with or without the debt deal. And while Greeks will miss their European vacations and affordable Mercedes Benzes, the sooner they leave the eurozone, the earlier their economy can start growing again.

      4. Pat

        A “no” vote in the Greek referendum will, strangely enough, give all parties (or at least the Greeks and Germans) either what they want or what they deserve.

        The Greeks should never have been admitted to the Eurozone and now that will be reversed. The Greeks should have the same standard of living as their agricultural Balkan neighbors like Croatia, Bulgaria and Rumania, and that’s what they will get. When they get the drachma back, prices of food, oil, and commodities will go up 50%. No one will lend money to the Greek government – it will cut salaries deliberately or through money-printing, so that the enormous civil service will have its salaries cut by at least a third. Greek spending will be reduced to what they earn in hard currency, from exports and tourism. The Greeks will have to rethink their military spending. The Greeks hate outsiders telling them what to do, so maybe now ordinary citizens will be forced to take to the streets and demand reform. The Greeks will learn the hard way what happens when you don’t collect taxes. On the other hand, the Greeks will have feel a great sense of pride for telling the rest of Europe to go hell and will be able to blame all their problems on foreigners.

        The Germans hated the idea of debt-forgiveness and endless bailouts for the Greeks or anybody else. Now they won’t have to do either. The terrible consequences of leaving the Eurozone will be clear to the other miscreants in the EU, like Portugal and Ireland, so they will play ball and undergo austerity programs, or else they will be out.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Speaking of the ‘repo repricing’ on Italian bonds which had a role in bring down MF Global (evidently the 8th largest bankruptcy in US history, with assets in the same ballpark as Chrysler when it went down), Ambrose E-P says that margin hikes could affect ALL investors in Italian bonds:

    Yields on 10-year bonds jumped to 6.18pc on Monday, while spreads over German Bunds reached 410 basis points, nearing the critical level where LCH Clearnet raises margin requirements. This, in turn, triggers further selling.

    Intesa Sanpaolo’s Giovanni Bazoli said the spreads are unstainable “not just in the medium run, but in the short run as well”. He warned of a credit crunch in Italy as banks struggle to meet higher capital ratios set by EU leaders.

    The renewed jitters came as the OECD club of rich states slashed its eurozone growth forecast for next year from 2pc to just 0.3pc, implying an outright recession over the winter. The body called on the ECB to cut interest rates and deploy its full lending power to head off debt contagion to Italy and Spain.

    I’ve been claiming that to trump Germany’s reflexive resistance to full-scale bond buying by the ECB, what’s needed is a market smash that will curl your hair (i.e., the 2008 playbook all over again).

    Today’s a good start …

    1. Ignim Brites

      As I recall Goldman was able to extract alot from AIG with collateral calls on the CDS’s AIG had written. Is this happening to the sellers of CDS on European debt?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Presumably. But there’s real drama in the cash sovereign market today.

        While new ECB chief Mario Draghi was being shown where the washroom is located and how to work the coffee machine, his native Italy’s 10-year bond yield blew through the 6.0% Maginot line that the ECB defended all last week.

        Bloomberg now reports the Italian 10-year bond trading at a horrifying 6.23% yield. Its price, which of course falls as yield rises, has dropped below 90 … where par value is 100.

        Welcome to Frankfurt, Mister D! Sorry your first day on the job turned out to be so stressful. Please, no veiled references to the previous ‘Gallic’ administration.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Update: 6.26% (Italian 10-yr, 8:50 US eastern time)

          Looks like the dam has broken … anything is possible now, my brothers!

        2. Ignim Brites

          Well maybe the upfront drama is in the sovereign debt market but who knew in 2008 that AIG was going to crater the world as we know it. So what is the comparable firm today? Anyone know?

    2. Jim

      And what happens to the ECB debt when Spain and Italy ask for and get a Greek-like restructuring?

      Are ECB-held bonds senior to the same bonds held by a hedge fund across the street?

      If so, what happens to the price of those bonds (the ones not held by the ECB) as the ECB buying programme continues?

      A vicious cycle?

  5. dearieme

    “The one thing Goldman really does well — better than everyone else — is the internal accounting and compliance function.” That’s good to know: those who suspected that what they did better than everyone else was suborn politicians were just being ungenerous. Shame on them.

  6. alex

    from “Thomas Friedman, Dirty Hippie”: That Friedman has belatedly woken up this reality some five years or more behind the curve is nice, but typical of the shortsightedness of the Very Serious People.

    Friedman is actually ahead of the curve of Very Serious People, and I’m encouraged by it.

    In general I’m no Friedman fan. Even restricting the discussion to his economic writing, my attitude towards his stuff usually varies between scorn and ridicule. Nevertheless in this case he’s “got it”, and we should give the devil his due. That this recognition should spread amongst Very Serious People is devoutly to be wished for.

    If Thomas Friedman can get it, then anyone who doesn’t is either lying or living in their own reality.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think he’s now for the Separation of Money and Politics, or just the Separation of Money and State.

  7. John Zelnicker

    YVES — I hope you check back here. The link for Dean Baker’s Washington post article does not have the actual link embedded. And I would really like to see it.

  8. xct

    This conceit, signed by the “Spiegel staff”, was published just hours of Greek referendum announcement:,1518,druck-795059,00.html

    …All German governments to date have tried to disguise their own interests and ambitions as European or trans-Atlantic. It was a smart strategy, because Germany’s partners don’t want to see a boastful Germany. They’re afraid of it. But Merkel has paid little attention to such concerns, preferring to protect German coffers than the tempers of others.

    In return, she now has to live with a Europe that doesn’t suit Germany economically at all. In contrast to Germany, the Mediterranean countries — which have a strong presence in the euro zone — have a tendency to favor state-run industrial policy and protectionism. Berlin’s important allies in the fight over free trade and a uniform domestic market, like the British, have now been relegated to the periphery. And in many respects the Germans have more in common with the Poles, Danes and Swedes than with the Greeks, Spaniards and the French. But their voices will not be as important from now on. As a result, Germany will be integrating with countries whose economic culture is particularly foreign to its own.

    Subduing the French
    At the European level, the German government is still moving full-steam ahead. Its next goal is to amend the Lisbon treaties that regulate the structures of the EU.
    (…)reforms (…)include automatic sanctions for euro-zone members that violate budget deficit limits, which the Commission is to impose, and over which the member states would have no veto.

    In addition, the Commission and individual euro countries are to be allowed to file legal action against a country’s budget at the European Court of Justice. A stability commissioner is to be given the power to withhold funds from the Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund if a country violates its obligations, limiting access to coveted EU subsidies.

    The German Foreign Ministry wants to see the ESM transformed into a monetary fund, which could smooth the way for a national bankruptcy. (…)

    Merkel’s Europe amounts to one underlying rule: Those who do not toe the line will be punished. President Sarkozy smiled sardonically when he was asked in a press conference whether he trusted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The smile came from the very top, but Sarkozy hasn’t been there in a long time. He had completely different plans for the euro zone — he didn’t want a drastic debt haircut for Greece, for example. But he was unable to assert himself, because of another principle in Merkel’s Europe: Those who pay make the rules.

    It all sounds like an irony of history: The French wanted the euro to subdue the Germans. Now the euro is helping the Germans to subdue the French.

    1. Susan the other

      Germany is a maximum industrial economy without its own source of oil. I had a dream about Ribbentrop and Molotov last night.

  9. laughingsong

    Yves — I made a JPG for you: ever since I read ECONNED I wanted to Photoshop a “Get Out of Reality FREE” card and send it to you. Well, I did but I don’t know where to post it to get it to you. It’s no biggie, juest a little thing but would still like to share. If you would like it, I think you can ge tmy email address from this site? Let me know.

    Love this site. The knowledge I have gotten from this (and a few other sites) have helped tremendously.

  10. Wallace Stevens

    Antidote du jour:

    While you have toned down the completely biased, unfair attacks on Israel, you are still featuring articles on the Palestinians and their effort at statehood(among other articles).

    But allow me to point out:


    The many other client states of the U.S. with far worse human rights records than Israel, YOU DO NOT CRITICIZE.
    It’s only the Jews that are shown unfavorably.

    Sadly, this anti-Semitism will doom any efforts to re-create a “Left” in the United States. That, and support for “reducing carbon footprints” as the only response to global warming.
    Things truly are hopeless.

    1. waah waah boo hoo

      Hear, hear! Hats off to to Zion! Records are made to be broken, I know, but it’s really inspiring how Israel bounced back from the holocaust and got over it by building Jewshwitz, formerly Palestine, the biggest and bestest concentration camp in history! You have advanced the state of the genocidaires art! Go plucky underogs, spit on those old Arab ladies! Rip their arms off! Shake em till they can’t add two and two! True American heroes!

    2. wunsacon

      You know all that from a (newsworthy?) link to “UNESCO Approves Palestine for Full Membership”? If not, then this is an inopportune time to make your point.

      1. wunsacon

        I just re-read your post and notice:

        >> you are still featuring articles on the Palestinians and their effort at statehood(among other articles).

        You’re objecting to articles (or linking to articles) about Palestinians’ attempts at statehood? There is something very wrong about that.

      2. Wallace Stevens

        You make a valid point.
        What you may not know is there’s a bit of history here. I’ve criticized NC in the past for only attacking Israel, and Yves does seem to have toned down the anti-Israel bias a bit, but still features articles only critical of Israel and, as I’ve said, no one else.

    3. Hugh

      Typical hasbara.

      1. Concern trolling (it pains that…): Check
      2. Charge one-sidedness: Check
      3. Claim everyone does it (there are worse offenders): Check
      4. Finish off with standard anti-semitism charge: Check

    4. Patricia

      Wallace attacks Yves:

      “There are people who are even worse than x, yet you still criticize x. Therefore you hate x and wish all x’s to die. Your personal hate keeps the nation from moving forward. Moreover, it will cause the planet to perish. ”

      Good one! /s

    5. Jim Haygood

      ‘The many other client states of the U.S. with far worse human rights records than Israel, YOU DO NOT CRITICIZE.
      It’s only the Jews that are shown unfavorably.’

      Whoa, check out the rhetorical trick here. The first sentence talks about Israel; the second suddenly shifts to ‘the Jews,’ even though 20% of Israel’s population is not Jewish.

      You hasbara-bots really need to upgrade your game. Your brand of simplistic sophistry is like, so ten years ago!

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Beijing will not ride to Sarkozy’s rescue.

    Too bad.

    During World War I, China sent over 140,000 workers (the Chinese Labour Corps) to France in response to Haig’s request.

    There will be no Chinese Money Corps this time.

  12. bmeisen

    Re: fees on debit cards:

    one of the positive externalities that could emerge as a result of the approaching collapse of the American banking industry would IMHO be the extinction of checking and the exile of credit cards to payment transfer doghouse where they belong.

    the only argument against fee-free debit cards is that banks can’t rape and pillage with them the way they do with checking and credit cards. In the payment transfer world, cash is king. Checking hung around way way way after it’s expiration date because it provided the only argument for the use of credit cards as the prefered alternative to cash. Without the inefficiency of checking – balancing your checkbook, carrying a pen and ID with you, worrying about bounces – credit cards would never have gotten off the ground.

    Payment transfers will be done by debit in the bright shiney future after the scheisters have been tarred and feathered.

    1. PQS

      I think checking is a generational thing that won’t disappear until the users do. Almost everyone I know over 60 still uses checks, many because they don’t have online banking, or don’t trust it, and probably many just out of habit. Look to see who is writing a check at the grocery next time – probably a pensioner. I haven’t written a check in ages, except for one-off things and school functions for my daughter.

      Also, businesses still use checks (even my customer, Very Large TBTF Bank pays we lowly contractors with a check), presumably because it allows them to float.

      Wonder how much money is floating?

      1. bmeisen

        I like your point and admit that there may be a generational issue. It’s hard to imagine however that banks would hold on to checking just to comfort their older customers. McDonald’s doesn’t officially offer table service to old-fashioned folks who find it silly to stand at the counter. And the checking / credit card duopoly predates internet banking by at least 20 years.

        There’s a more compelling argument: IMHO over many years American consumers came to accept that there were only 2 alternatives to cash: write a check or pay by credit card. Of the two the credit card was preferable because when using their credit card consumers didn’t have to worry about balancing a check book, didn’t have to have a pen and ID, didn’t have to worry if there was enough on the account. In addition they could maintain their credit rating and receive nice things like smileys from VISA/MC.

        The credit rating argument was relevant up until banks started handing out mortgages to people who had no credit rating, no income, no job. One of the consequences of bankster greed has been the dismantling of the credit rating argument for consumers to choose credit cards. May be contributing to the move to debit cards.

        I write from Germany where checking was never a common form of payment transfer and where since about 1995 it has virtually disappeared from banking. Simultaneous with the unravelling in fall 2008, European banks began imposing draconian processing fees on foreign checks, typically from the US, because as one bank employee told me, there was too much kiting coming from their American counterparts.

      2. psychohistorian

        I don’t want to be an alarmist but I don’t use any more online banking than I have to. I use cash mostly and credit cards, no debit yet. I pay the credit off each month so no fees. The reason I have not gone totally online is because as a techie since the late 60’s and having CCNP certification, I am not comfortable with the current security. I am waiting for a big online heist to evolve security around all this finance shit more before I try to forget how to make out a check and stuff an envelope….no more stamp licking, Yeah!

        If we could make “retail” banking a public utility with open source code and a bit of history I could maybe build some trust.

        I agree with the debit vs credit points about cash being king and everything else should have clear are reasonable costs associated.

    2. Jeff

      Yeah right, as long as there is no physical commodity like bills and coins, there is a chance for skimming service charges or fees or taxes per transaction.

      Cash is king. Checks, as long as you pay for nothing
      but their printing, are second best.

      Are you referring to some article about feeless cards somewhere? I missed it.

      If you are referring to BofA considering dropping their fee, that is a temporary measure and does not have the force of law.

      Remember that Wall Street would love to eliminate cash as a means of tacking a fee onto every transaction. It would be done as a means to “fight terrorism” and assure “tax fairness”.

      1. Jeff

        Ooops I read that story early this morning.

        Want to reiterate what has been said in so many different ways, you never ever should pay even one cent for the
        right to spend your own money.

        Why do foolish people insist on paying banks to spend their own money? Use cash and quit empowering the bankers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If stores would offer discount (say half what they have to pay to the banks) for using cash, more people would do it.

          1. Lidia

            I think the banks penalized or cut off services to vendors caught doing that, so if you stuck to your guns you’d have to renounce the bank-connected debit/credit customers entirely and rely solely on cash to survive.

          2. Lyle

            Actually its not really clear that cash is cheaper for a merchant. Consider that they have to have additional security because cash can be stolen, they need to count it multiple times to ensure that totals are correct, need to have supplies of change on hand, in large stores need to have folks to bring cash to the cashier etc. How much do you suppose a convience store spends on additional security because so many stick them up. It starts with the safe and goes from there. If you also consider that Wal-Mart for example uses checks as if they are debit cards. That is they scan the check in, and give it back, and then you sign a form that does the transfer, thus no need for a debit card at all.

  13. barrisj

    There was a FAB line spoken by the head-of-firm character played by Jeremy Irons, in the film, “Margin Call”, when its traders were ordered to completely unwind the firm’s positions in one trading-day, to the detriment of its clients and counterparties, in what looked to another company executive as “panic-selling”: “The first one out the door is not panicking”.

  14. Ron

    The equity markets are run via inside information and media leaks so the sudden decision by Greece to let the little people vote on covering the big money mistakes was a big shock to the institutional longs that always get advanced warning.

    1. wunsacon

      Interesting observation. There have been a number of other “big moves” (up and down) though. Superficially, that undercuts your speculation or at least limits the applicability of your idea. But, sure, maybe “leaks” might account for the difference between rounded tops/bottoms and strong reversals.

  15. Maximilien

    Re: MF Global bankruptcy

    A case study in how to loot a company, taught by Jon Corzine. A few valuable things you’ll learn:

    1. Lever up to 40:1
    2. Borrow short, lend long
    3. Pay out 64% of REVENUE in employee compensation.

    Why waste your time and effort trying to build a profitable business? Jon will teach you how to make millions in a few short years—WITHOUT worrying about profits. Sign up now! Space is limited!

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Transatlantic threat to Obama.

    It should be less about this or that person getting elected or re-elected and more about problems and issues.

    Will she be elected?

    Will he be re-elected?

    That just reminds one of the cult of personality thing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s sad that the only time Main Street gets any attention about its sorry state is when Wall Street is not doing well; otherwise, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fake data in 30+ academic publications.

    Instead of reserching why other people/animals do certain things, why don’t researchers research why researchers lie?

    That should be a fertile field.

  18. aletheia33

    can someone from oakland “translate” this letter?

    i know the city has had problems sorting out its policing system, this looks like just another indication of a tangled web.

    at the same time, i’ve read that it was outsider personnel, not oakland city police, who were most likely responsible for the tear gassing, rubber bulleting, etc. the night scott olsen was wounded.

    any light on this much appreciated.

  19. Jim

    Most underreported business story in the US: MF Global is a primary Fed dealer.

    There are only about 20 primary dealers in the US.

    How did MF Global get to be one, and why wasn’t it better regulated by the Fed?

    1. wunsacon

      In practice, the Fed is a self-regulator. It’s staffed with people trained in banker-funded schools and who work day-in/day-out to help the banks blow bubbles without the reserves to back up bets that go bad. (Given that description, it seems then that the Fed isn’t even trying to help the *banks*. It is really just helping bankers score bonuses.)

      1. wunsacon

        …So maybe Geithner is speaking from the heart when he said he’s not a regulator. He’s a banker servant. The Fed does not regulate. It takes orders from people like John Paulson for changes or new exemptions in leverage ratios.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The Fed quit inspecting them in IIRC 1992. No inspection is de facto no supervision. Thank Greenspan for that one.

  20. SR6719

    This is unrelated to any of today’s links, nevertheless some of you might find it interesting.

    Francisco Varela on science, Tibetan Buddhism, and transpersonal consciousness:

    In “The embodied mind: cognitive science and human experience”, Francisco Varela says: “My sense of self exists because it gives me an interface with the world. I’m “me” for interactions, but my “I” doesn’t substantially exist, in the sense that it can’t be localized anywhere…..There is no abstract knower of an experience that is separate from the experience itself……. ”

  21. YY

    TEPCO finds sign of fresh nuclear fission at Fukushima reactor

    I don’t like the alarmist speculative fiction of government/industry conspiracy to hide the disaster. The reality which is reported fairly diligently by the press and announced reasonably honestly by those dealing with the problem is scary enough in and of itself and betrays any bias to speculate things are worse than reported (if only people pay attention to the news).

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