Links 11/30/11

Apologies for a stretch of being light on my own posts. This will probably continue for a bit. I am buried in personal and site related administration.

Cutting their own throats Charlie Stross. On e-books

Eating fish reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease MedicalXpress

Up to two million set for UK strike BBC. This is an anti-austerity protest. And how much play is it getting in the US? Not much. Don’t want to give the natives ideas.

Businesses plan for possible end of euro Financial Times. This is just amazing, and I wish I had time to post on this. Shorter version: “Businesses assume brace position for Eurozone crash landing.”

European Officials Agree to Bolster Bailout Fund New York Times

France and Germany want the stability and growth pact hurdle to move to zero percent by 2016 Ed Harrison

Euro Zone Falls Short on Fund Wall Street Journal. Duh!

More European financial chicanery MacroBusiness

What the IMF should tell Europe Martin Wolf, Financial Times. The IMF is really Wolf’s stand-in for someone smarter and more detached than the Eurocrats. His piece contains a key factoid: the IMF has only $440 million of uncommitted funds, too little to be of much help in Europe now.

Evangelicals Flocking Toward Newt Gingrich Daily Beast (hat tip reader May S)

Will Dr. Goebbels please pick up the white courtesy phone? Lambert Strether

The End of Poverty? Information Clearing House (hat tip reader May S)

New York probes military foreclosures Financial Times

Score A Big One For #OccupyRochester The Albany Project (hat tip reader Timotheus)

Hundreds of officers surround protesters Los Angeles Times

Pepper Spray Developer: It Has Become Fashionable to Use Chemicals on People with Opinions Firedoglake

Chase to Hedge Funds: Drop Dead Barry Ritholtz (hat tip reader Scott)

A New Shot at Mortgage Relief New York Times. This has been pre-debunked widely. See in particular Adam Levitin at Credit Slips. Oh, he is leaving nothing to chance: HARP’s Dirty Little Secret: Most HARP Refis are of Positive Equity Mortgages

BofA, Goldman, Citi Credit Ratings Cut by S&P Bloomberg

Yes, Virginia. The banks really were bailed out Steve Waldman. Please read and circulate to those who still don’t get it. I love the golf buddy analogy.

Antidote du jour:

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    1. jawbone

      Here in Northern NJ (well just north of I-80, center of state-ish), there are very, very few acorns. I usually have to walk carefully in the back yard as the acorns are so think and roll under foot. No such issues this year. Neighbors have also commented on how few nuts there are.

      Cyclical? Hurricanes Irene and Lee? Early pre-Halloween heavy snow storm did not affect the acorns.

      Curiouser and curiouser.

  1. craazyman

    A Bankster World Diorama in 4 Dimensions #39

    “He was beginning to think that death was finally upon them and that they should find some place to hide where they would not be found. There were times when he sat watching the boy sleep that he would begin to sob uncontrollably but it wasnt about death. He wasnt sure what it was about but he thought it was about beauty or about goodness. Things that he’d no longer any way to think about at all. They squatted in a bleak wood and drank ditchwater strained through a rag. He’d seen the boy in a dream laid out upon a coolingboard and woke in horror. What he could bear in the waking world he could not by night and he sat awake for fear the dream would return.”

    -Cormac McCarthy, THE ROAD, pg. 130, Vintage International

  2. Jim3981

    “businesses plan for an end to the Euro”

    Sounds like good news to me!

    I can’t see why the Euro is a good idea for the PEOPLE of those countries. More power in the hands of fewer elites seems like it will lead to more abuse and corruption in at the very top.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Over at Cafe Americain, Jesse, if I understand him correctly, says the collapse of the Euro is a plot to replace the Euro with a host of weak currencies, thereby boosting the value of the dollar and American financial and military rule along with it. Very scary.

      1. propertius

        [T]he collapse of the Euro is a plot to replace the Euro with a host of weak currencies, thereby boosting the value of the dollar and American financial and military rule along with it.

        And thereby destroy whatever is left of the American manufacturing economy, encourage further outsourcing and domestic wage cuts while reducing the price of imported European luxury goods. Plutonomy FTW!

      2. reslez

        Since we basically already have American rule and hegemony I’m not sure what’s supposed to be scary about it. The countries would regain monetary sovereignty, and I don’t see anything bad about that.

      1. F. Beard

        You have to be kidding! Mormonism is considered a non-Christian cult by Christians in the know.

        It would serve the Repugnicans right to nominate Romney and prove how clueless they are.

        1. Procopius

          When I was on active duty and stationed at the Pentagon I shared a room with a National Guardsman who had been called up for a 1 year tour there, a Mormon from Idaho. He turned out to be very devout in his religion and one of the nicest guys I met in twenty years in the Army. No, one of the nicest guys I’ve met in my whole life. I’ve been lucky enough to have met several Christians who really tried to follow what their rabbi taught, but this guy was just as good. On the other hand, I keep thinking of H.R. Haldeman.

    1. Dan

      Just to rub the Republicans’ nose in their hypocrisy and I guess the Democrats’ too, this guy is going to vote for Ron Paul in our California primary.

      I cannot see a better candidate to vote for as far as war and the economy goes can you? The environment and other things like health care? A disaster of course.

    2. alex

      “Ron Paul just Won the Iowa Straw Poll”

      The way the Republicans and the MSM suppress this guy’s popularity is just like the way the Democrats and the MSM suppress any real liberals or progressives.

      I’m not a Ron Paul fan myself, but I know a number of them (not nut jobs by any means) and sympathize with them over the way this guy is “subtly” suppressed. And whether or not I’m a Ron Paul fan I do believe in democracy, and think the voters should have an honest choice without Very Serious People doing their best to dissuade them from wayward candidates.

      Anyone want to make a bet that the MSM arranges a “Howard Dean moment” for Ron Paul?

      1. reslez

        Howard Dean moment? All that’s necessary is to ignore him. He isn’t a “serious” candidate. They decide who’s serious.

      2. Maximilien

        I hope he gets the nomination for one reason only: He’ll make the Presidential debates DAMN interesting:

        PAUL: Why not abolish the Fed?
        OBAMA: (squirm)
        PAUL: Why not bring the troops home?
        OBAMA: (squirm)

        Paul will say the unsayable and ask the unaskable. And Obama will just be able to hem and haw and squirm and lie. Fine entertainment!

  3. Jeff

    Re: Chase.

    This is why I use a Mac.

    Command/Shift/4 is the screen capture.
    You then frame what you want with the mouse and let go.
    Got it now.

    Take it to preview and adjust the contrast and exposure and you can “almost”read the client name five seconds later: I’m guessing that it’s Banana Republic?

    Try doing that on a Windows based system.

    1. chad

      click on the window, alt+printscreen, open gimp, ctrl-v, edit to your hearts content.

      Gimp is open source btw

  4. Dan

    Re Cutting their own throats

    Never will put an electronic leash on my money or my eyes.
    Our shelves groan with wonderful print.

    Tomorrow’s landfill, or e-waste if your ecologically conscious, is a tempting toy, but then so is too much
    alcohol and so are drugs. Decent people do not use them.

    About best sellers. Many political campaigns will send
    you a book or two ghostwritten by the latest candidate
    from the
    Hillbilly Theocracy. Thus, they are “best sellers”.

    Newt Gingrich is one such. Sounds like a combination of “gingivitis and rich”

    We have a great bookstore in Marin County called Book Passage. It’s located in Corte Madera, just across the
    Golden Gate from San Francisco. Marin County is the capital of organic gardening, slow food and ecological consciousness in America. It’s also the wealthiest county west of the Mississippi.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This may not be fair, but when the wealthy have places like Marin County to escape to, there is less to hold them back from polluting the rest of the world.

      There is less ‘let’s share the pain.’

      And that seems to be the trend:

      1) bottled water
      2) private roads
      3) gated communities
      4) private education

      It’s like those beautiful hill towns you see in Tuscany. I think at the end or after the fall, most Romans escaped to hilltowns up and down the Italian penisula – it was everyone for him/herself.

      You see the same pattern developing in cities like Los Angeles where those who can are moving to the hilly parts like Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Rollin Hills, Anaheim Hills, etc – all hills.

      1. Dan


        The tap water off the watershed is so good they wanted to bottle it, there are no ‘private roads’ here like in Orange and Riverside Counties and there are no gated communities.

        Excellent public schools, some of the best in the state, make it a good place for the Middle Class that can afford to live here.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Surprise, surprise! The very morning after S&P slashed the credit ratings of B of A, Goldman, Citi, JPM, and a host of international banks, central banks announce an extension of dollar swap lines … shoving S&P’s bank rating cuts down the memory hole before the US market ever had a chance to react to them.

    Liquidity trumps rating cuts, comrades. At least for today.

    From the official announcement:

    The Federal Open Market Committee has authorized an extension of the existing temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangements with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank through February 1, 2013. The rate on these swap arrangements has been reduced from the U.S. dollar OIS rate plus 100 basis points to the OIS rate plus 50 basis points.

    From some podunk ‘newspaper’ in one of America’s larger towns:

    Under the new terms of the program, the existing interest rate premium of 0.1 percentage points on those loans will be reduced by half, to 0.05 percentage points, effective Dec. 5.

    Obviously, the financially illiterate journo doesn’t know what a basis point is. Nor do his editors. Why would anyone trust this dimwitted Old Grey Lady’s other reporting?

    1. Mel

      This is when being financially illiterate starts to pain me.

      From this it’s clear that somebody is going to be able to borrow money at a tiny fraction over the cost of something else, but who? and of what? Inquiring minds …

      1. aet

        Tiny fractions can count for quite a lot where there are lots of zeros in the numbers being used.

        You’d be surprised, maybe.

      1. aet

        That might have worked out better for the Romans providing that aid, had the Roman border guards not been so eager accept the bribes of the gGths to permit the barbarians to retain their arms for the crossing of the Danube; and especially , had the local Roman pooo-bahs and merchants not insisted on cheating the Gothic refugees of what little they had for in exchange for the worst quality of food and other provisions.

        You cannot justly accuse the charity of the Romans for the ill effects which followed that passage – as better treatment of those refugees could well have provided the Romans an important ally, an additional plank to strengthen their bulwarks, against those approaching Huns which had just driven those Goths out of their homes – it was rather the greed of the Roman border guards, and the mis-treatment of the Gothic refugees by the greedy Roman merchants, which had much the greater role in fomenting the disasters which closely followed.

    1. MacCruiskeen

      DRM and platform are different issues. Even without DRM, if you buy from Amazon, you are still buying into their closed proprietary format. You still need a Kindle or Kindle app to read it. The majority of other reading systems use ePub format, which is an open, XML/HTML5-based format. You can read it on almost anything, even a web browser (with a plug-in).

    2. Dave of Maryland

      Why would anyone mess with e-books? In 50 years they will all have disappeared without a single trace. You might as well write on flash paper and wait for a match.

      50 is middle-aged for a paperback. Young for a hardcover.

      1. MacCruiskeen

        Sadly, the books printed today will not hold up that well. Mainly because the paper and bindings are crap. Most of the commercial publishers have been moving away from acid-free paper because of cost. Hardcovers are getting printed on paper that would have been rejected for paperbacks in the past.

      2. reslez

        Why would anyone mess with e-books?

        I needed two moving trucks for my books and papers last time I found a new apartment. The next Christmas my family wisely bought me a Nook.

      3. aet

        Unlike recorded music and film, books are themselves objects of art, regardless (well, almost regardless) of the specific content or information being conveyed by the volume.

        For more on this:

        As to electronic readers, they seem to be convenient and useful for many; and so, imho, like the cheaply published, pulpy mass-market paperbacks, they too have an important role to play in publishing.

  6. Dirk77

    I dread asking this question, but I must: will the Fed will step in for Europe when the Germans say no?

    1. Max424

      Yes. In fact, my guess is, the Bernank is pressing the button that reads: “lend 500b to Europe at ZIP interest” — even as I write this.

      Turns out the Fed is the lender of last resort to everybody but the United States.

      Now, if I was the United States, I would say, “FUCK THIS,” and I would go out and get myself my own bank, so I wouldn’t be broke anymore. But instead, the United States chooses to be bankless. It chooses, to be broke.

      And that’s the really interesting question: why would the United States choose to be bankless and broke in this harsh, cold, vigilante world? Does the United States wish to known as the DUMBEST COUNTRY human civilization has ever known?

      Apparently so.

        1. Max424

          I think that’s the max button on the panel; 500 billion.

          But you’re right, the Bernank could just keep pressing the thing, send the ECB $2.5 trillion with 5 quick button blasts.

          Or maybe he plays it like a master organist, pressing different buttons and sending different sums to different players.

          Like, here you go, Credit-Suisse, here’s 32 billion, and hey, Bank of England, check your account, I think you’ll find and extra 54.5 billion in it. Now lend some of that free money across the Channel, will ya? That sort of thing.

          But if — God forbid — some broke state within our Great Union should ask for some of that Free Fed Money, the answer is always the same:

          “Fuck off, you worthless piece-of-shit American subdivision. There’s no moolah for you, you broke bastards, now or ever.”

      1. reslez

        why would the United States choose to be bankless and broke in this harsh, cold, vigilante world? Does the United States wish to known as the DUMBEST COUNTRY human civilization has ever known?

        There’s a lot of competition for the title of “DUMBEST” considering every nation in the Eurozone is in the same boat. (Worse actually since they gave up their own currencies for one they don’t control.)

  7. Jeff

    Re media non-coverage of pepper spray and other important issues.

    There is an effective way to voice displeasure over the lapdog lame stream media’s inaction or deliberate

    You list the advertisers on a given broadcast and if, and this matters, if they are local companies you call, email and text them that you will boycott their products and
    tell all your friends to do the same since they are advertising on a repugnant station.

    Another approach is that they are advertising on a station that appeals to a low income demographic and they could do a lot better. Yeah, I know, there is no alternative but it might make them pause before any more media buys.

    Oh, and donate some money to Yves and to Democracy Now via your local Pacifica station.

    1. propertius

      Oh, and donate some money to Yves and to Democracy Now via your local Pacifica station.

      Already donated to Yves, but Amy lost me when she became an Obamashill in 2008.

  8. ambrit

    Just finished going through the L.A.Times coverage of the #Occupy L.A. camp. Do go through all the relevant texts. One thing that popped out at me was the continuous and subtle stressing of the “Dirty Hippie” theme. Some police showed up in hazmat suits, occupiers were stockpiling ‘urine and feces’ to throw at the police, and, police ‘dipped their shoes in a disinfectant’ as they boarded the busses to leave the ‘crime’ scene. A text book case of demonization if I ever saw one.

    1. jawbone

      Flinging poo? That’s a common charge applied to prisoners who get beat up in prison by the guards…. Just sayin’.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speaking of zero percent by 2016, if you own nothing, you are part of the 0%, and as the Fed so inspires us with the ‘Ask not what your bank can do for you. Ask what you can do for your bank’ policy, we can expect the 99% to become the 0% pretty soon.

    Mathematically, I think it’s best expressed as

    99% = 0%.

    1. aet

      The numbers and symbols of bare mathematics just doesn’t catch the nuance. Without using any numbers, that same formula is more accurately stated so:

      “Nothing from nothing is nothing, but if you ain’t got nothing, it means nothing at all.”

  10. eyesoars

    Who is the ‘Alfred Einstein’ that the Firedoglake article mentions? They claim he had something to do with the invention of the atomic bomb.


    1. Hugh

      Alfred was the Mycroft of the Einstein family, that is Albert’s smarter but little known elder brother.

  11. PQS

    Yves – Unfortunately I tuned into the Diane Rehm show this morning on my drive time to hear the show about “Holding Wall Street Accountable, which focused on the SEC case that was just in the news. I was then treated to a couple of reasonable people and an outrageous lying banker apologist – one Peter Wallison, of the American Enterprise Institute (Koch funded?) who proceeded to dissemble repeatedly about the economic meltdown, the role of the banks, and the utter lack of accountability for the crimes of the banksters. (This person actually tried that FoxBoob trope about “low income homeowners” being responsible for the Economic Meltdown….)

    I was so sorry you weren’t on the show to take him down, but perhaps you could listen to the podcast and respond.

    I do think he’s getting flamed in the comments, and I heartily contributed to same.

    That this sort of fantasy is still being so vigorously promulgated in major outlets like NPR and the DR Show just proves to me that there is fire under all the smoke and mirrors.

    1. jawbone

      Did anyone on the program challenge this guy? Sometimes Diane herself will, if she’s hosting; sometimes not.

      And it is so frustrating to listen to the Rehm show…in the afternoon here in NYC metro area. Hearing the Big Lies, with only comments available to try to challenge the Big Liars.

      1. PQS

        Not in the last 15-20 minutes I listened, and not in any serious way.

        Certainly nobody on the program challenged him the way I was challenging him as I yelled in my car.

        I typically avoid the DR show anymore because she’s just too “polite” and frankly, too unquestioning in her outlook. When did vigorous debate become outre? Only in the Village…

        1. EH

          Journalism eschewed independence in favor of becoming conceptual babysitters. You wouldn’t take sides in an argument between children, would you?

  12. avg cityzen

    “Eating fish reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease” – what if the fish are from the gulf of mexico or off the east coast of japan?

      1. Max424

        The fish might be glowing in the dark off the coast of Japan (in fact I’m quite sure they are), but in the Gulf of Mexico, if any fish are glowing, they’re glowing in Fish Heaven.

        The surviving Gulf fish are spending their last, torturous days dying slow in the toxic black gumbo.

        And surprise, America! It’s not over. Macondo 252 is, apparently, a well that is going to keep on giving. Who woulda thunk it?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Well, you still don’ have to worry about Alzheimer’s disease.

      Either way, it is the least of your concerns.

    2. Dan

      Alzheimer’s is a disease of the old. Eat fish from the Gulf or off Fukushima and you won’t grow old therefore you avoid Alzheimer’s.

    1. EH

      It’s bad form to post shortened URLs. Do your fellow Internetters a favor and practice safe computing by only posting the actual URL, since shorteners can be used to hide malicious links.

  13. Brian

    “Eating fish reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease”
    If this was printed to as sarcasm, it should have been noted. The Alzheimer’s association has demonstrated their incompetence on so many occasions that it is a joke. It is a business created by the drug companies that want to sell product that mimic the placebo for effectiveness to patients and families that will not know they do not benefit from it. Perfect suckers for clients no? How do you advertise a worthless product any better than that?
    The issue has always been development of plaque that attacks the neuronal network. Now a distraction has been introduced claiming that gray matter is protected by eating fish, when in reality it is the prevention of the formation of the plaque that is responsible for the health of the impulse path and continued cognitive function.
    I would ask that the funding for the study be revealed. It has the taint of the fishing industry or cod liver (snake oil) salesmen. Perhaps BP trying to limit liability?
    If anyone has had a family member suffer from this, they probably already know of the natural remedies that fight the generation of the plaque that causes gray matter degeneration. They are easy to find. Please investigate. Dying younger from cancer is hardly a solution.
    A medical treatise that ignores the known cause of the disease from plaque buildup and never mentions it is not just suspect, but specious.

  14. Jesse

    I was a little disappointed that Steve does not mention the huge subsidy given to the banks by the bailout of AIG and the full payment of their obligations.

  15. barrisj

    The View from Abroad, via Andrew Sullivan:

    Der Spiegel says what few US outlets are prepared to say:

    “Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.” Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign.

    For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States. They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…

    Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.

    Brilliant, simply brilliant.

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