Links 11/6/11

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Fatty Foods Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science Bloomberg. I have members of my family who will attest to that. Now the question is whether there is a memo somewhere like the ones that were unearthed in the tobacco trials, where the manufacturers were clear that they were making a nicotine delivery system.

Iran has nuclear explosive testing facility Financial Times

To Euro or not to Euro? Greek Economists for

Joseph Stiglitz on Iceland’s Crisis and Recovery Ed Harrison

What is Happening in Italy Robert, Angry Bear (hat tip reader Aquifer)

The Denials That Trapped Greece New York Times

Ohio voters look set to dump Republicans’ anti-union law Los Angeles Times

Occupy My Wallet: Moving Money Off Wall Street Bloomberg

MF Global Customers Say Money Safeguards Failed Bloomberg

Open Forum speeches mathbabe. Interesting to see how speeches at the General Assembly wind up a bit poetry when you format it in the way you have to present it to use the open mike (and the extreme streamlining the open mike demands). Andrew here is our Andrew Dittmer.

It’s not how rich we are, it’s how equal we are. Angry Bear (hat tip reader Aquifer)

CA AG Harris Attacks FHFA’s DeMarco on Principal Reductions Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Wanted: Worldly Philosophers New York Times. I don’t agree with the interpretation of the Keynes “dentistry” quote, BTW.

What a piece of work is a man MacroBusiness (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Antidote du jour: Readers went a bit nuts over a picture of a cute puppy last week, and Don P. thought he’d help by sending this shot of his boy Bailey:

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  1. Rex

    Somehow the doggie pic got scaled wrong. It’s displaying with the vertical squished to about half what it should be. I saved it on my PC to see it without the web page distortion. Much better that way. Nice fur.

  2. psychohistorian

    Good luck with your Alternative Banking group.

    So what kind of banking is the Fed, World Bank and IMF? They are not talked about in the four types of banks….trouble maker that I am.

  3. G3

    Israel is supposedly itching to attack Iran. We had a bogus plot fabricated by our government….

    And, US and Israel have nuclear weapons already and they are saber rattling at Iran?

    Now there is a simple way to finish off countries which we don’t like – with zero military budget :

      1. alex

        “Call me a conspiracy theorist …”

        For what, suggesting Israeli politicians are using the oldest political trick in the book? Ignore the guy picking your pocket, look, there’s a foreign enemy!

        If public sentiment keeps swinging the way OWS sympathy says it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if we suddenly find ourselves with some foreign enemy that’s almost as threatening to us as Iraq was.

        1. psychohistorian

          If our illustrious puppet leadership leads us into another war like the Condi Rice on TV is preparing us for then look for more civil unrest.

          They need to understand that doubling down is a known strategy and its fairly late game for that ploy. It may push the military of all groups into the 99% camp….I do believe that there are still some Defense oriented, as opposed to imperialistic, military folks somewhere in the ranks….we can hope.

          Do we have all the marbles on the table and in play yet?

  4. MacCruiskeen

    Occupy my wallet: a start, but clearly does not go far enough (I guess not surprising, given the source). It would be better to take your money completely out of investment funds altogether. Put the money into CDs at the local bank and/or credit union you’ve just joined. Why let investment managers do anything at all with it? Sure, some funds are lower fees, but they still generate fees. And the money still supports the stock and bond markets. UNfortunately, with some of our money (like employer 401K accounts), you might have limited options.

  5. Skippy

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg is talking tough again, darkly hinting that he may have to take action to shut down Occupy Wall Street. He now claims that the community in Lower Manhattan is upset by the occupation of Zuccotti Park and he must heed their wishes.

    The problems: there have been cases of urination and defecation. The drumming is too loud. There is a seeming fear of violence from the street people and homeless the park seems to be attracting.

    So it appears that his honour has found a new pretext to send the police in to clear the park. He has already sent his cops to arrest alleged law breakers in the encampment, accompanied by headlines urging “get tough”. dat da…what did you expect.

    1. craazyman

      I had a neutral opinion of Bloomberg pre-OWS (I’m not very politically engaged), but his OWS rhetoric has been so repugnant that I’ve lost all potential respect for him.

      Matt Taibbi shredded him better than I ever could.

      I can appreciate the conflict between local neighbors’ rights and OWS (and the drumming is indeed miserable, IMO) but the mayor’s condescending and transparently kleptocratic OWS spin is utterly nauseating.

      And former mayor Giuliani is worse — calling OWS “dangerous”.

      It’s guys like these that turned me off on politics long ago, which may be a cop out on my part, but it seems they’re almost all like that, or they’re sell-outs like the Big Zero.

      1. Praedor

        I believe it would help matters a great deal if OWS dropped the drums and went with vuvuzelas. The movement could bring all of Wall Street to their collective knees after a few continuous hours of that.

        1. craazyman

          that’s an absolutely hilarious image.

          I think you’re right.

          Can you imagine the YouTube video of a police raid on 2000 people in Zucotti Park loudly blowing vuvuzelas? Even the New York Post would have to give that some grudging respect. haha ahahah ahgahahahaha hahaahahah ahahahah can’t stop laughing

  6. Patrice

    Want to Watch 107 Minutes of Wall St. Propaganda? Then Go See “Margin Call”:

    “The funniest bit: The film ends with the investment bank’s head of trading (played by Kevin Spacey) blubbering on the front lawn of his ex-wife’s house as he digs a grave for his beloved dog, which croaked from cancer while Spacey’s character was too busy overseeing the sale of massive amounts of worthless mortgage-backed securities to duped clients…..

    “The point is….It hurt them to rip off poor homeowners and pension funds more than it hurt you. Don’t forget that the next time they pour champagne on your head from their New York Stock Exchange balcony.”

    1. Skippy

      Hay…when are they going to have the wall St. parody like airport. I really want to see Bernanke hanging up side down with straws in his nose and a paper bag with chrome in it…over his mouth…saying…man its a bad day to give up this shit…

      Skippy…let it be, let it be…

    2. Anon

      OMG, Paul Bettany’s in it! Nooooooooo, Paul, noooooooooo!

      And to think I once stood next to him on a demo protesting Nato’s about-to-kick off mega-death bombing of Afghanistan. (He is very tall, 6’4″ or more. He was with one of his co-stars.)

      Shame he’s associated himself with something as small-minded as this.

      1. Jon

        I thought the movie was excellent and people here are missing the point. I took that line as an illustration to the audience of how far removed from reality these guys really are. Not to mention the sheer degree of self-absorption one must have after blowing up the economy to feel pity for himself. It reminded me of Jamie Dimon squeeling about Obama calling him a fat cat.

  7. craazyman

    @MF Global — another triumph for the Goldmint Stacks alumni squad. By their fruits ye shall know them. Go OWS!

    @Open Forum Speeches — Well Mr. Dittmer, I hope you’re having fun there with the hippy chicks. I’m a little jealous because there’s some hot stuff down there. ha ha. I walked away from the Big Show too for similar reasons — although in hindsight it all gets complicated. Keep your thumb in a pie someplace that can support you and don’t make yourself a martyr. :) But the system we have now isn’t complicated. God bless you for what you’re doing.

    @Denials that Trapped Greece — Holy Cow! These human zombies are just as bad as the corporate zombies. As below, so above.

    @Not how rich, how equal — As long as we’re not all equal in shanty shacks on muddy hillsides in hurricanes. Could happen.

    @Wanted Wordly Philosophers — Since economists don’t know what money is, how can they make any sense about it. Just as Werner Heisenberg said of quantum theory, the nature of money poses “a serious problem of language.” So if the underlying idea is unclear, everthing built from it — including any economic theory or ideology — will be a castle of clouds. More work for OWS.

    1. aletheia33

      “@Open Forum Speeches — Well Mr. Dittmer, I hope you’re having fun there with the hippy chicks. I’m a little jealous because there’s some hot stuff down there. ha ha. I walked away from the Big Show too for similar reasons — although in hindsight it all gets complicated. Keep your thumb in a pie someplace that can support you and don’t make yourself a martyr. :) But the system we have now isn’t complicated. God bless you for what you’re doing.”

      ah craazyman, you and i think alike in all these areas. (i too have walked away, and been lucky enough to keep my thumb in an obscure little pie.)

      except that i have to add “male and female” to “hot stuff”. i can appreciate both, but the former holds the heady eros for this old girl.

      well, let’s face it, either way you cut it, puppies, kittens, and some of the smart, tough, love-drunk 23-year-old humans at OWS are knee-shaking meltdown makers.

      so may the next meltdown bring out the army of the heart.

      1. craazyman

        how old are you? you sound like you could still be hot!

        ha ha

        Puppies and kittens I can understand, but not guys for me. seems like sleeping with a dog, Jesus, it makes me wince just to think about it. srry just cracking myself up like a Monkey :()

        1. aletheia33

          don’t you like sleeping with a dog?
          most people who have dogs do.

          you’re right, i can be hot, or so i’m told, but that’s only for my partner, so don’t get any ideas…

          as for my age, i’m old enough to wish i was as young again as those sweet tough younguns in zuccotti park and do wish i could move in with them, especially their nightly “slumber party” (naomi klein’s term).

          oh well, a warm cozy bed isn’t so bad either as winter approaches, especially with dog.

  8. Richard Elder

    Hi Yves,

    Is there a proper location that serves as a “suggestion box” in your site without posting to a topic? I can’t locate one, and it seems that it would be useful.

    For example, I just read this article: “The Collapse Of Our Corrupt, Predatory, Pathological Financial System Is Necessary And Positive” at Phil’s Stock World (originated at Zero Hedge) and would like to suggest it be included in LINKS.

        1. aletheia33

          reading smith’s good piece and others lately, i’m beginning to think that all the effort of TPTB right now is being concentrated on one very simple endeavor: persuading and/or forcing whole societies to continue to honor worthless paper.

          surely refusals to do so have already begun, and TPTB are attempting to keep them hidden as long as they can. but i would think they will spread gradually anyway, inevitably, and will keep spreading until the Great Deleveraging has been accomplished, one way or the other.

          and if smith is right, if that blows out the whole financial system that rests on the delusion of zero risk, that will not be the disaster TPTB want everyone to be terrified of but merely the way being cleared for the replacement of the current delusion-based, high-risk destruction of everything of real value with a system that actually works because it is based on reality.

  9. alex

    re: Ohio voters look set to dump Republicans’ anti-union law

    Good news!

    And I say that despite being someone who has, at best, mixed feelings about unions. I’ve never belonged to a union and never wanted to. I think the whole debate about whether public sector workers are over or under compensated is idiotic because their compensation varies wildly from state to state and locality to locality (varying far more than the cost of living). FWIW I live in an area that’s known for very generous public sector compensation, and the taxes that go with it, so I’m prone to not having excessive sympathy. I grew up in a working class neighborhood in the same general area and such sentiments were widely shared.

    For all that, I think that taking away people’s right to bargain collectively is medieval. Why not return to serfdom while we’re at it? Oh wait, that’s the next ballot measure.

  10. Jeff

    Here’s the first and original use of the

    “Is Wall Street Occupying your wallet”

    meme first seen right here on Naked Capitalism:

    Is Wall Street occupying your wallet?
    Are you handing them money every time you make a
    financial Transaction?

    Steps to free yourself from the financial
    parasites on your hip:

    Close your big money center bank account, move
    your money to a credit union.

    A credit union is a non-profit bank that returns
    interest to you in lower fees or free services
    Instead of sending the profits to Wall Street.

    Pay CASH to small merchants. Use checks for large purchases.

    Look for a free checking account at a credit union
    and use checks instead of debit or credit cards.
    Because merchants only get .94 to .96 cents back
    for every dollar you spend with a credit card.

    Banks make up to .40 cents every time you swipe a
    debit card.

    You are of course spending your money in mom and
    pop and small businesses aren’t you?
    Use credit cards to pay your utilities, buy gas
    and deal with big corporations.
    Get rid of credit cards that charge an annual fee.

    ATM/debit swipe fees hand billions of dollars to
    Wall Street and the big parasite banks. You swat
    mosquitoes taking just a little blood, so why
    give up a few dimes every time you use an ATM?

    Make it a hard and fast rule that you never ever
    pay one cent for any financial transaction or
    convenience of spending your own money.

  11. Susan the other

    About fatty foods being addictive: Just some thoughts. Fat is yummy. We are predisposed to eat it with abandon. There is enough science out there to make some preliminary conclusions about why. I’d like to offer one: Vitamin D is usually found in fatty/oily foods. And it is established that we don’t get enough in our northern climates. Now they are saying that adults need 8000 IUs a day. But getting it from cheetos does indeed make you fat. And maybe that fat is really something gross like trans-fats which our brains do not discern in time nor remember the next time. There is probably such a brain glitch with water combined with high fructose corn syrup. If sugar alone doesn’t cause addiction. (was it sugar distilled from high fructose corn syrup which was used in the experiment?) The solution is to be aware, eat healthy and enjoy. I see a new niche for snax. The problem is now that nobody trusts the label.

  12. Susan the other

    The NYT’s Denials that Trapped Greece: Seems like Trichet was unlucky. He rose to prominence in a world of debt justified by growth. Like everyone else in the Western world. I’m wondering if it was “denial.” (It could have been faith, hope, dedication or honest disbelief.) And the sea-change was relatively sudden – the collapse of Western finance. During the last 5 years everyone has expected European and American economies to improve. But finally, Trichet himself came to the obvious conclusion that Europe’s woes were political and proposed a political union, the joining of which precluded any rich country from unjustly ruling the poorer countries into misery. One thing was lucky for Trichet – he got to retire. And if Greece’s debt is forgiven sufficiently (not yet) it will vindicate Trichet because all of his Western counterparts will find it equally objectionable. Greece is the harbinger of state controlled banking.

  13. Hugh

    The Iran nuclear story looks like another plant by our intelligence services. At most the allegation is not that Iran is building a site to test a nuclear weapon but that it may have a metal container at a site that could be used to test explosives to detonate a nuclear device. Anyone remember aluminum pipes and equipment to fill weather balloons that were supposed to be proof positive that Iraq had WMD? Also the FT story gets it wrong about the weapon. The Iranians are supposed to be trying to enrich uranium. For a uranium device you don’t need any fancy geometry or special explosives. All you need is to do is slam one piece of uranium (i.e. shoot it) into another. It is a plutonium device that you need all the fancy explosives, timers, and geometry for. Like I said, this story has plant written all over it.

    1. Praedor

      It’s a LITTLE bit more complicated than that. You need U-235, not common U-238. U-235 must be purified from mined U-238 (that contains small amounts of U-235). Once you have the U-235, THEN it is simply a matter of slamming two subcritical amounts of U-235 together (about a pound total is theoretically enough but in reality it takes quite a bit more to ensure full criticality instead of just a dirty explosion).

      1. Hugh

        Yes, I know about the isotopes. My point is that the basic design for a gun-type uranium weapon has been known for more than 65 years. The technology isn’t difficult. The whole story about Iran since forever has been about uranium enrichment, and how close they supposedly always are to having a nuke. So I’m assuming a uranium weapon because to use the uranium to create plutonium would take even longer and the design is a lot more complicated.

  14. Hugh

    Wanted Worldly Philosophers is a misleading title. All the authors want is a wider discussion of capitalist variations. It reminds me of the calls for more and better Democrats and more and better elites. Such calls inherently reinforce the underlying argument that we need Democrats, or elites, or with regard to this op-ed, capitalism. And they equally distract from what binds all three of these together: kleptocracy.

  15. Susan the other

    The excerpt from the Open Forum was definitely poetry. I would like to hear another poem, the one about how, exactly how, the investment banking industry moved in like an invading army – invading its own country – as it bought up and securitized mortgages; then bought CDSs on all of this “stuff” and then went all out shorting its own market, and in the process brought down the entire national economy and also the European economy. Now there is a poem.

    And the equitable solution?

    It occurs to me now that in their intense focus both poetry and law are similar.

    1. aletheia33

      i would like to hear another
      poem, the one
      about how

      exactly how
      the investment banking
      industry moved in

      like an invading army
      invading its own
      country–as it bought up

      and securitized
      mortgages; then bought CDSs
      on all this “stuff” and then

      went all out
      its own market

      and in the process
      brought down the entire
      national economy

      and also
      the European

      now there is a poem

      1. another


        The voice in my head spontaneously turned into Christopher Walken about a third of the way through.

  16. chogra

    What an asinine title on that “fatty foods” article. It’s not the fat in cupcakes, it is the sugar, and “sugary drinks” have no fat whatsoever.

    The addictive nature of sugar is well documented and well explained. But our society has an irrational fear/hatred of fat, so everything bad about “fatty” foods that are high in sugar is attributed to the fat.

    And make no mistake — part of the problem with health in our society is that health professionals have pushed carbohydrates as an alternative to fat, when the case against carbohydrates (especially simple sugars) is far stronger than any case that can be made against fats. In other words, it isn’t just the corporations that load food with sugar that are to blame, it is the health care professionals (nutritionists in particular) who are to blame.

    1. Travizm

      Chogra I think your comment does not reconcile.

      Nutritionists are a loong way down the health professional pyramid….not too far away from Homeopaths…….in fact many people would not consider them to be health professionals because they will put their name besides sugary breakfast cereals and the like….sell outs.

      I would say that any foodstuff which increased high triglycerides or Low Density Lipoproteins in the blood is very dangerous to health.

      I would also say that high glycaemic index simple sugars are a problem also.

      Most cases I come across in the real world involve people indulging in both classes of problem foods simultaneously and in excess over extended periods with marginal activity…

      There is a massive generation of people out there (baby boomers) who are time rich but do not have the skills to use the internet and educate themselves. Instead they read commercial media as a way of being informed, which, as we know, is problematic due to vested interests.

      BTW Yves….I think OWS needs to encourage people to have their own vegetable garden as a way of both encouraging independence from the system and improving quality of life….UWM….unoccupy wallmart…

  17. 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. F. Beard

      Customer deposits are the cheapest source of reserves for the banks followed by inter-bank lending and finally the Fed discount window or so I have read.

      It’s too bad we can’t completely remove our funds from the banking system without resorting to cash under the mattress but small credit unions are a lot better than empowering the large banks with our low cost reserves.

  18. MichaelC

    EPD may be persona non grata here but this is one of his best pieces: (re Volcker at least)

    (S)he highlights Volcker’s key point once again

    Gov’t backstopped banks must get out of this business. Yesterday! Full stop.

    But if you’re still not convinced and have the patience to think about the implications of wrong way risk as it relates to sovereigns, try this:

  19. Jack Parsons

    Catching up on old links: in re, the magical Corporation of the City of London. Disneyworld has a similar structure. It is its own county. It has no residents. Voting is held by property owners, and there is only one.

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