Links 11/5/11

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Huge iceberg forms in Antarctica BBC

Megacities Financial Times

The Greek revolt: Good news for Europe Charles Wyplosz, VoxEU

Greece to Form New Government Wall Street Journal

ECB’s Teutonic Mario chills bond rescue hopes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Italy In the Cross Hairs Credit Writedowns. It’s only a matter of time before Unicredit blows up.

Moody’s downgrades Cyprus’s debt rating Financial Times

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means, Hypocrisy Edition Paul Krugman

Moved your money Angry Bear. Those in power don’t seem to be learning from OWS: beating up on little people in public is backfiring.

Occupy The Kochs throws down the class warfare gauntlet in D.C. Raw Story

Hermes to Build Two Leather Factories as Demand Outstrips Supply Bloomberg (hat tip Arthur). In case you had any doubts at to how the 1% was doing these days.

Focus on failure as US budget deadline looms Financial Times

Occupy Wall Street to March Against Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Both ‘Occupy’ Marchers And Dem Politicians Rally Behind Taxing Wall Street Trades National Memo (hat tip MBH). I don’t have much faith in Dem support on this one.

Mike Bloomberg’s Marie Antoinette Moment Matt Taibbi

When offshoring backfires Xiaole Wu and Fuqiang Zhang, VoxEU

On those NFPs Bruce Krasting

Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, To Fannie And Freddie Head: ‘Step Aside’ Over Mortgage Crisis Huffington Post. This is not what it seems to mean. Geithner has been doing everything he can to get DeMarco out because he is not bank friendly enough. Any successor would be a complete toady.

To Fix Housing, See the Data Joe Nocera. A welcome, foursquare piece in favor of principal mods. The point he fails to mention, however, is the mortgage settlement deal is almost certain to produce only shallow mods.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. LucyLulu

    Yves wrote: The point he fails to mention, however, is the mortgage settlement deal is almost certain to produce only shallow mods.

    And unfortunately, 70% of loans are either Fannie or Freddie and De Marco is adamant about not doing principal writedowns for the GSE loans. He sees his job as conservator as being to recover and preserve as much as possible of the GSE assets and can’t fault him one iota for not vigorously pursuing that end. He should win an award for being the first who was willing to aggressively pursue the banks, its just too bad it had to be the conservative of F/F and meant no writedowns for most mortgages. Of course, I’m sure he could be overruled, but politically that would play badly.

    1. LucyLulu

      It’s too bad though, because the principal mods Nocera is proposing are exactly what the economy needs. I believe they included mods for those who were current as well, if they were underwater????

  2. Yearning To Learn

    From links:

    …the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that a whopping 650,000 Americans have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 — the date that Bank of America announced it would start charging a $5 monthly debit fee, a move it backed down on this week.

    To put that in perspective, there were only 600,000 new members for credit unions in all of 2010.

    Few to nobody who reads NakedCaptialism has any excuse using a TBTF bank, as you know better.

    PLEASE move your money elsewhere if you are involved with a TBTF bank. Also tell your friends and family to move as well.

    The Politicos and Financial Oligarchs care only for one thing. Money.
    there is therefore only one way to take them down. That is to take back your money.

    if you leave your money with them it allows them to lever it up to further enable Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction, including speculation in the Food/Energy Commodities that is wreaking havoc on the Earth.
    In other words… you ARE part of the problem if you don’t move your money out.

    moving your money out is a POWERFUL and also NONVIOLENT way to effect change.

    If you have lots of bill pay services etc you just do what I did. Open a Credit Union account… and move stuff over slowly. After 2-3 months close your TBTF account.

    I was a customer of Wells since 1991… 20 years. And it was weird to close that account. But I will tell you the CU is far more responsive to my needs, and the service is FAR superior.


    1. Sock Puppet

      Used to bank with a local bank, which was bought by Fleet, which was bought by B of A. Have closed 3 of 4 accounts, the last by year end. Switched to a local bank in our new location. Better service, no fees.

    2. Phil

      Another painless thing to do is use cash and check when you patronize small merchants. Credit cards cost merchants money and so do using debit cards. Wall Street is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars of the pennies that
      people pay for “convenience”. We’ve also been returning big bank solicitations for credit cards to them in
      their own postage paid envelopes. There are a lot of techniques that citizens can use to thwart the banks and have fun at the same time.

      Google “alternate economy” for more.

  3. Marc

    G-20 announces the global TBTF list aka the 29 global systemically important financial institutions identified by the FSB: Bank of America, Bank of China, Bank of New York Mellon, Banque Populaire, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Dexia, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group, Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho, Morgan Stanley, Nordea, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Société Générale, State Street, Sumitomo Mitsui, UBS, Unicredit Group and Wells Fargo.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBef

      So, when our planet is about to be destroyed by an incoming astorid, these ‘way too important’ bankers and their families get to board the escape spaceship.

      I think I saw that in a movie once.

      1. Skippy

        Just wait till they find the *common stock* in where the fuel is stored aka Catch 22.

        Skippy…at least they will get the joke and have a laugh before impact.

  4. aeolius

    Maybe its really happening!
    Currently I have a ML “Cash management acct” which does everything in banking and brokerage in one fee-less acct.
    I could use some help in finding a SETF (small enough to fail)analogue.

  5. justanotherobserver

    Never have figured out why the people of NYC have kept Bloomberg in office. Pompous, arrogant 1%’er.

    I mean, WTF, NYC ?

      1. Valissa

        Pro-choice is the other component. Support those 2 things like Bloomberg does, and most Dems will give their vote, regardless of the candidates financial and economic positions (which most people are cluess about). I know, I used to be one of those until I got more of a financial/economic education (2007 to now) and that’s where the real power and money games are that effect our lives most directly. That’s why I think it’s so important to educate people in these areas the way NC does.

    1. ginnie nyc

      Well, MOST people in NYC certainly did NOT vote for Our Oligarch last time, in the fake election. Most people stayed home.

      Taibbi’s title “Bloomberg’s M. Antoinette MOMENT”??? It’ll soon be 12 flaming years.

    1. Valissa

      Thanks for the link! I have been wondering when the inevitable power and money clashes (all human tribes have to deal with this challenge) would begin and how OWS would handle them.

      Ms. Holmes also stated at the teach-in that five people in the Finance WG have access to the $500,000 raised by Friends of Liberty Plaza. When Suresh Fernando, the man taking notes, asked who these people are, the leaders of the Structure WG nervously laughed and said that it was hard to keep track of the “constantly fluctuating” heads of the Finance WG. Mr. Fernando made at least four increasingly explicit requests for the names. Each request was turned down by the giggling, equivocating leaders. …

      The main obstacle to the creation of the Spokes Council was that the NYC-GA had already voted against it four times. One audience member observed that no organization would vote to relinquish its power. Some of the strongest proponents of the Spokes Council responded that they had taken this into account, and were planning on creating the Spokes Council regardless of whether the NYC-GA accepted the proposal. …

      The newly formed Spokes Council claims to adhere to the “statement of principles” adopted by the New York City General Assembly, including “direct-democracy, non-hierarchy, participation, and inclusion.” The Spokes Council differs from the NYC-GA, however, in three main respects: the Spokes Council has the power to exclude new groups that don’t receive a 90% majority vote for admission; in the NYC-GA, everybody technically has the right to speak, whereas in the Spokes Council each Working Group has a spokesperson, who can be recalled only by a 90% majority; and the NYC-GA allows one vote per person, whereas the Spokes Council operates more indirectly, granting each Working Group one vote.

      When I pointed out the contradictions these differences present to the Council’s stated principles, the leaders of Sunday’s teach-in insisted that the Spokes Council was the most participatory, democratic organization possible—the same slogan they repeated last month about the General Assembly. I felt like I was watching a local production of Animal Farm. … My advocacy for radical democracy wasn’t particularly popular.

      There’s a rason Animal Farm is a classic (which is why I bolded that bit of text).

      This article is also posted at Global Research.

      A Chill Descends On Occupy Wall Street; “The Leaders of the allegedly Leaderless Movement”

      1. Foppe

        I find it difficult to get a feel for the beliefs of the author of this piece, and the article seems to give off a weird vibe.. The concerns that are being voiced by the author seem legitimate, but it’s hard to figure out what to make of that given that so many people are looking to mislead and disinform. (What to make of the (repressed?) ‘minorities’ discussion, especially? Is the author part of a minority? Does he fear overly powerful minorities? Why does he discuss minority influence, but then talk about the fact that middle aged white men are overrepresented?)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBef

          By the way, I think ‘mutual learning’ is more horizonal than vertical sounding ‘teach-in.’

        2. Externality

          My advocacy for radical democracy wasn’t particularly popular. Ironically, the predominantly middle-class, white men leading the movement claim that their hostility to democracy is in the interest of “protecting minorities,” referring to oppressed genders, races, classes, ages, and nations. Far from being “minorities,” these people make up the majority of the world’s population; the worldwide outcry for democracy vitiates the paternalistic notion that the oppressed need “protection.”


          What he saying is that a small white male elite wants to “protect[] minorities” by eliminating democracy and vesting essentially all power in a small group of unaccountable but ‘enlightened’ white leaders. These ‘enlightened’ white leaders will purportedly consult with minority communities (or at least a few hand-picked minorities) before reaching an final decision away from populist structures that might be racist. Great for the small white elite but bad for democracy. Whenever the elites want to make an unpopular decision, they will redirect popular frustration by claiming that it was requested by or needed to protect one or more minorities.

          Between 1945 and 1980, this reasoning was repeatedly used by American East Coast elites who believed that the best way to ensure a liberal, modern society was to supplant democracy in favor of benign despotism that would protect ‘victimized’ but ‘simple’ minorities and override popular opposition by the ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist’ masses. They believed that you could have liberalism and modernity, or popular democracy, but not both. In large areas of society, direct and representative democracy was replaced with control by democratically unaccountable federal judges and unaccountable, elite-led intergovernmental agencies.

          For example, state and federal officials turned over public housing, urban renewal and urban highway construction projects to unelected technocratic elites who were tasked with creating ‘modern’ cities. A plethora of state, federal, and intergovernmental agencies were created allow the elite technocrats to act without being constrained by the democratic process, ‘ignorance,’ or ‘racism.’ Entire black and ethnic white neighborhoods were summarily torn down over the objections of local communities, their local representatives, and local judges. As history tells us, urban renewal, elevated urban highways, and massive housing projects were disasters for both black and ethnic white communities and cities as a whole. Each and every failure was blamed on white flight, black “criminality,” etc., shifting the blame away from those who planned and implemented the projects.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBef

        I sense we are seeing fractals here (that’s only natural as nature is full of fractals).

        And so, we have the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99% of the 99%…

        At every stage, there is always the 1% separating themselves from the lower 99%.

  6. william

    The right wing’s use of the word “job creator” instead of mega-rich imbues the 1% with a God-like status, as if we are privileged to have them walk amongst us. Are you familiar with any serious research on who really creates jobs? The right wing’s argument against raising taxes on “job creators” (i.e. Tax the rich and you destroy job creation) seems a bit of a stretch. It would be nice to have some hard facts to throw in their face that demonstrates that most jobs are actually “created” by small businesses, the vast majority of which are NOT in the 1%. And what do the 1% actually do withtheir money? how much of their wealth is invested in creating jobs? I suspect not vy much.

    1. Francois T

      The abundance of right wing euphemisms that convert shit into lavender oil deluxe is successful only because the USA is stuck with an establishment media that is beyond corrupt. They never, ever question the conservatard’s euphemisms, never challenge the validity or even meaning of any word, and give them all the free passes possible.

      Of course, the above description does not apply if a sex scandal is involved.

  7. Ron

    Re:Mike Bloomberg’s Marie Antoinette Moment Matt

    The ownership society shares with Wall Street the current housing crisis, something that the left needs to understand but refuses to accept. Its not negative that the government has provided assistance to those with lower incomes in getting a home loan but the path has been corrupted with the ideological bent that everyone needs to buy a house or be left out forever. The relationship between government financial regulation,mortgage industry,RE agents and the investment banks have provided the fuel for this crisis. The ownership society has been pumped with endless tax incentives that still exist today along with all the various elements that make up the financial sector pushing mortgage debt and fees. We have become a society focused on getting rich and the quicker the better. The left has adopted this lifestyle and it needs to understand that it is extreme behavior and needs to be curtailed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBef

      I tend to lean towards the ‘Blames R Us’ perspective.

      It’s like we have met the enemy…he is us.

      So, it’s a lot of things, including the CRA.

  8. aeolius

    For general info.
    To escape Vias/MC check out JCB. Acceptance is spotty but Amazon takes JCB. And I notices a gas station which recently added this card.

      1. aeolius

        I personally do not know if JBC provides that kind of service for anyone. So before you criticised me and them
        you just might have thought that out.

        More interestingly is the response itself. One of the themes on this blog is the takeover of the political process by businesses.
        But you turn around and would dismiss whatever benefits JCB might/ not have if this business DOESN’T participate in a political dispute.
        Fascinating how you think.

        1. Rex

          Yikes! You sure read a lot into a simple question. A direct answer of, “I don’t know”, would have been sufficient.

  9. EH

    To be a little fair to the 1%, Hermes is one of the remaining examples of a guild-like craft house. They have serious leather people making complicated stuff by hand. I don’t know prices enough to know that they’re worth it, but from what I know, if any piece of leather is worth charging more for, Hermes’ is.

      1. craazyman

        or $53 million for a van Gogh.

        Beauty is complicated.

        If that $20,000 gets fairly shared among employees, it might taste better than it smells.

        Having said that, I’d spend the 20G on some penny stock hoping to make 200G and I’d make my own damn handbag, with supplies bought on 3rd Avenue and 103rd street. I can’t sew but staples and duct tape don’t show from the outside.

  10. barrisj

    Charles Hugh Smith says just blow the whole shitepile up:

    Guest Post: The Collapse Of Our Corrupt, Predatory, Pathological Financial System Is Necessary And Positive
    The Collapse of Our Corrupt, Predatory, Pathological Financial System Is Necessary and Positive

    We are being throttled by the Big Lie: we’re told that if the predatory financial system implodes, we’ll all be ruined. The opposite is true: the only way to save our economy is to let the corrupt, pathological and flawed financial system implode.

    A quick primer on the fallacy of “hedging to zero-risk”.

  11. Praedor

    Yeah, the dog-and-pony thing is cute, but it would be very very ugly if the dog’s owner simply placed a doggie coat on the little guy that said “OWS” on it. The cop would have his horse trying to stomp the dog and the rider would be pepper spraying and clubing the owner.

    1. Flying Kiwi

      While the policeperson on the horse might have been trying for some good pr this was a huge risk – pugs can turn aggressive and if they bite they hang on. A panicked horse with a dog attached to its nose and the owner trying to pull it off by its leash could do a lot of damage.

  12. Hugh

    Krugman is an Establishment liberal which may or may not involve hypocrisy but is an oxymoron, not to mention self-serving. The Establishment is made up of the elites who loot us. The Krugmans of this world can criticize aspects of this looting but never condemn the framework, the Establishment to which they belong, which enables it. I would go further. They distract and help keep real dissent from forming by steering us toward partial and pseudo solutions and false political choices. They point fingers at all those crazy Republicans, but seldom if ever point out that the Democrats are just as bad. And of course all their talk leads back to that what we need is more and better elites, you know like them.

      1. Valissa

        Ah yes, the “purity” dismissal. btw, how is what Hugh said fighting anything or anyone? It was simply a statement of the obvious. A little Sociology 101 well explains Krugman’s position and attitudes, and his primary concerns.

        Would like to hear how you think Krugman is trying to help, and who benefits from it. btw, I think he’s a smart guy, and likeable enough, and occasionally he chastises “the system” that he is a part of (which is commendable). But I certainly don’t think of him as someone trying to help the 99%, except perhaps incidentally.

  13. William

    NY Cops Hate Animals! Why else would they put the fattest cops on horses who have to carry them around all day?

  14. megamike

    Felix Salmon argues that the big banks aren’t scared of today’s Bank Transfer Day, a movement urging people to switch from commercial banks to not-for-profit credit unions:

    [T]he big banks don’t particularly want all those retail-deposit funds — they’re getting precious little interest on them, and they come with all manner of expensive obligations to mail out statements and provide smiling service at teller windows and generally do the whole customer-service thing, which as we all know big banks are very bad at. Historically, they’ve done what they have to do on that front because they’ve been able to extract all manner of overdraft fees and interchange fees and the like, but that fee income is shrinking now, thanks to Dodd-Frank, and the fact is that millions of small bank accounts are actually unprofitable now for the big banks, and those banks won’t shed many tears if those customers go off to a credit union instead.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He’s missing the profits they get in the cross selling, namely mortgages and credit cards. They don’t see these as customers on a product basis but a relationship basis. Now if the customer leaves BofA but keeps his BofA credit card, then yes, Felix is right, BofA won, but a lot of people are trying to sever other relationships with the TBTF banks.

    2. ginnie nyc

      F. Salmon is a little off here re: retail banking. When I worked for the formerly largest bank in the world, there was a love-hate relationship w/retail. They hated the required staffing levels and minutiae, but loved, loved, loved the fees. The fees are a reliable revenue stream. And, as Yves says, cross-selling.

  15. Foppe

    Weird (note the neutral and sometimes even slightly cheerful tone of the LATimes) three-part story here about securitization and loansharking in the auto sales industry:

    These dealerships focus on people who need cars to get to work, but can’t qualify for conventional loans. They sell aging, high-mileage vehicles at prices well above Kelley Blue Book value and provide their own financing. As lenders of last resort, they can charge interest at three times or more the going rate for regular used-car loans.
    If buyers default, as about 1 in 4 do, the dealer repossesses the cars and in many cases sells them again.

    The dealerships make an average profit of 38% on each sale, according to the National Alliance of Buy Here Pay Here Dealers. That’s more than double the profit margin of conventional retail car chains like AutoNation Inc.

    “The amount of return from these loans you can’t get on Wall Street. You can’t get it anywhere,” said Michael Diaz, national sales manager for Small Dealers Assistance Inc. in Atlanta, which buys loans originated by Buy Here Pay Here dealers. “It’s the gift that keeps giving.”

    Investor money is pouring into the industry from several sources, helping Buy Here Pay Here dealers expand their reach and raise their profile.

    1. bob

      Not really on thread, but their old saying among car rental agents- The car with the dent on the fender is worth more than the one without it. How many people do you think they end up charging for that dent?

      Back on thread, Car loans are VERY profitable. Used car loans even more so. With a new car loan there it a 1 to 2 year period after the car is driven off the lot where the car is worth less than the loan. After that, take the car. Then the “owner” of the car has two choices, bring the payments back up to date, or the dealer sells the car again.

      With used car loans at such an enormous mark up on the financing, the dealer/financier starts out way ahead and never looks back. No risk at all for the lender.

  16. Jim S

    Something a bit off-the-wall for you: a few years ago someone mentioned Carroll Quigley’s “Tragedy and Hope” in comments here. Recently I got around to looking at it, and I noticed that the version commonly uploaded differs from the pdf found at Specifically, the text’s been edited to better conform to the CFR conspiracy theorists’ point of view. Maybe old news to you, but if not I uploaded a cleaned up version of the pdf at , with the changes listed at the end of the file. Anyway, if you’ve ever run into someone claiming that Quigley proved the CFR staged WW2 (or something to that effect), maybe they’ve read an altered version of the text.

  17. Nica

    This plan has been in place since this country was born. We are being pulled into it with hooks in our jaws while feeding them with our love of money and the material world. We are weak and impressionable. Question why the elite favor this movement and the bank transfer day. It’s all falling into place, friends.

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