Links 1/17/12

I over 1000 words vanish when I put it up a post and therefore unpublished it. I am very upset since it is now 5 AM, and I don’t have the energy to redo it. I am sorry you are getting thin links as a result.

La Nina ‘may abet’ flu pandemics BBC

Killer flu doctors: US censorship is a danger to science Independent (hat tip reader May S)

Statisticians Uncover the Mathematics of a Serial Killer Slashdot

UAE waives $5.8 billion of Iraq debt GulfNews (hat tip reader 1 SK)

Saudi Arabia targets $100 crude price Financial Times

S&P versus ECB MacroBusiness

Ever Since France Lots Its AAA Rating… Clusterstock

The Massendowngrade Effect Edward Hugh, Credit Writedowns

UniCredit: double trouble Financial Times

Euro Officials Say EFSF Has Enough Funds Bloomberg

For too many African-Americans, prison is a legacy passed from father to son Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Morgan Stanley caps cash bonus at $125,000 Financial Times

American Capitalism: Profit, But Fairly Adam Levitin

One Way to Look at Private Equity Andrew Ross Sorkin. I am now being punished for saying that Andrew Ross Sorkin is a more palatable propagandist than Adam Davidson. Message: “We only fire people if we have to.” No mention of the role that acquisition debt and aggressive return targets plays in the “have to.”

Why expect S&P, Moody’s, or Fitch to know it’s junk when expert musicians can’t tell a Stradivarius from a fiddle? VoxEu

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Vikas Saini

    Tho I’m sorry for the lost labour, I must say your usual cornucopia makes it hard to keep up, so I welcome the chance to be more leisurely!

    Thanks for your consistent and consistently superb effort!

    1. Bill C

      I agree, but Yves, to avoid losing material, can’t
      you compose in a word processor like NotePad, then just
      copy when it’s complete to the online WP

      1. Procopius

        I’d recommend an editor like EMACS or vi. There are versions of both for Window$ if that’s what you have to use, but they’re both incredible powerful and have features like special modes for editing HTML or plain text. Of course there’s a learning curve, which may be too inconvenient for Yves, but my memory is that vi isn’t that hard to get started in (I started using it about 25 years ago, so don’t really remember). For people using one of the Linuxes or BSDs there are other good editors available, and even Window$ has a bunch of better editors than Notepad or Wordpad. You wouldn’t want a word processor like Word or Writer, because they stick formatting codes in the middle of the text.

    1. M.InTheCity

      It’s interesting to me, after reading that interview, how much I detested Mr. Biancheri. A man who says that the EU is not beholden to banks? Exactly who put the “technocratic” (i.e. banker controlled & non-democratic) governments into place in Greece and Italy? He reminds me of Madeline Albright – it seems it is “worth it” for Greece to have skyrocketing suicide rates and wide swaths of people possibly permanently unemployed to get that Euro-superstate that he dreams will be the end of history.

      There is also the odd notion that somehow only the UK is doing austerity?? I guess he doesn’t count Ireland or Spain or Greece or… But for him it’s “worth it” – it’s brought more integration! Yea! You have to break some eggs to make an omelette, etc.

      I am the first person to go and say the US and UK represent bankster interests and have plunged the world into terrible economic turmoil, but seriously, Mr. Biancheri is allowing his bigotry against the US & UK to come through in that article. He doesn’t care for democracy and he doesn’t care for the high price people are paying for his dreams.

      1. Praedor

        Yes, you have to break some eggs (people who WORK for a living) to make an omelette (for a posh breakfast for the 1%).

        What’s a few thousand suicides amongst the prols when the Gucci Crowd is happy? At least they are getting a firesale deal on OTHER people’s national treasures and land!

      2. René

        “I am the first person to go and say the US and UK represent bankster interests and have plunged the world into terrible economic turmoil,” … and they were behind WW2 (financing the Nazis before and during the War), Korea, Vietnam, 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. Who is next? Iran?

        Funny video underneath. To get the spirits up :-)

  2. swedish lex

    Get some rest. The post is on your neural hard drive and will only improve while you are in the embrace of Morpheus..

  3. KFritz

    Re: Stradavaris, Guarneris and ‘sound’ perception

    For a long time the violins of Cremona HAVE sounded better than others because they were most often in the hands of the best violinists, who could make a piece of junk sound good.

    1. craazyman

      so true. I buy the $5 bottle of wine from the cheapo basket by the cash register and it gets me every bit as drunk as the good stuff. the label is every bit as fancy, and sometimes it even tastes better too.

        1. craazyman

          sounds like it’s a form of price deflation.

          I wonder if this is a “hedonics” issue at the BEA.

    2. F. Beard

      who could make a piece of junk sound good. KFritz

      “Tis a poor craftsman who blames his tools.”

      A turning point in my life was when I learned about feedback control systems.

  4. Fraud Guy

    Having been in the a few companies on the receiving end of M&A, let’s just say that it’s not always about fewer people needed to make shoes. Almost without fail, there’s a rush to move to one size fits all management which costs more to implement and maintain than the previous schema, is less productive, and leads to inevitable RIFs to help offset higher costs than were expected.

    Thank you Mr. Sorkin

    1. not my usual handle

      I work for a utility that, let’s say the demand doesn’t go away in a recession. That means there’s as much work to do, as much revenue coming in, as at any other time of the business cycle. Perhaps it should be a public service, but for political reasons it was privatized and is now owned by overseas shareholders.

      Despite the company being in no danger of lost work or lost revenue, the layoffs started happening immediately following the Global Financial Crisis, simply because the shareholders wanted more dividends, and they could get away with it. But the management spun it as “having to” lay off workers and work the remaining ones harder.

      1. Cassie

        I expect that you are talking about Pacific Gas and Electric? PG&E? The veteran linemen were layed off in droves before they were able to collect their pensions.
        As a result, every time there is a big storm they need to import linemen from all the way back as far as the Midwest. The tree trimmers also. Big fires and blackouts caused by trees touching power lines. The bonuses for the CEO’s continue apace however.

        A massive effort to install the “smart grid” on every home
        with over 80,000 people refusing the little microwave cell towers mesh net on the house. Details

        In addition, the utility’s high pressure gas pipelines have killed dozens of people and destroyed a couple of neighborhoods. They have little idea what’s buried since the records have in some cases been lost.

        That utility?

  5. skippy

    JENNIFER LAVERS, RESEARCHER: We’re just going to open up the stomach completely now and start taking some of the pieces out.

    So we can see right away there’s a very significant quantity of plastic inside of this poor bird.

    TRACY BOWDEN: When researcher Jennifer Lavers dissected this bird she found more than 200 pieces of plastic in its stomach.

    JENNIFER LAVERS: This kind of speaks for itself. This is shocking.

    IAN HUTTON: We did find a bird with 274 pieces of plastic in its stomach and it was the equivalent of a human carrying 12 kilograms of plastic in their stomach. So it was 15 per cent of the body weight of that chick.


    What good will money be, some day? Its getting worse, a lot worse and accelerating, every where, all at once.

    Skippy… run to the mall – gated community, call in sick to work, drink, invest in – short the markets, vote on the next DC monkey?

  6. Michael Vaughn

    Yves, you’ve probably been tipped to this already, but just in case: William Cohan in the Washington Post January 13 ” When Mitt Romney was at Bain, his word was not his bond”. Also picked up by DeLong. We’re not only being given the looters, but the most dishonest ones, despised by their fellow thieves – a la your Hotel Jerome Goldman Sachs link.

    Thanks for your indispensable work

      1. Percy

        I was troubled by the headline followed by a story that did not seem to support it. In it, the author complains, “Then, when all other competitors had been essentially vanquished and the purchase contract was under negotiation, Bain would suddenly begin finding all sorts of warts, bruises and faults with the company being sold. Soon enough, that near-final Bain bid — the one that got the firm into its exclusive negotiating position — would begin to fall, often significantly.” This is the essence of the “not keeping his word” part. But what about those “warts, bruises, and faults”? Were they real? Were they important? Why did they have to be “found” instead of being disclosed up front? And what on earth was unfair — or, worse, dishonest, as the headlines implies — about lowering the price once they were found and evaluated? One is expected to just go right on and overpay for goods that were not as represented? What am I missing here?

  7. craazyman

    well to be fair to Mr. Sorkin his article is called “one way” to look at private equity. god himself must feel the pain when he smites them by the thousands. it makes you glad you’re only a little man and don’t have that on your conscience. hahahah. Mistah Kurtz will see you now Mr. Marlowe.

  8. Optimader

    1st rule of internetz rhetoric… Compose on msword(or equivalent) then cut and paste and it wont get vaporised– plus you get spellcheck looking over your shoulder. More of a challenge when hunting and pecking on an iphone, ( you can use a surrogate email)

  9. Stepph

    Yves, pardon such a simple question: Are you composing your posts directly into the web interface of your site?

    If you are, I’d advise doing the bulk of the work in a text editor application with automatic saving, then copying & pasting into your web interface. You can even tighten up the interval at which Auto Recover operates, assuming you are using Microsoft Word. See for example

    1. Winston Smith

      In lieu of copying and pasting, you can use a browser add-on like It’s All Text!. It lets you edit a web page text-area in the editor of your choice and automatically inserts the result into the text-area. If the browser crashes or you un-publish, what’s in your editor still survives.

    2. Justina

      Thanks for the link to the procedures for using the Word Automatic Save options. I knew it existed, but did not know you could save docs as often as every 1 minute. I re-set my save options to every 1 minute by going to the Main Word Menur, then to “Word Options” and changed the save timing.

      I also re-named the files in which the “saves” are stored, changing the name to something more easily remembered than the default file name.

      Again my thanks for the reminder.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Word is TERRIBLE for exporting text to WP. I tell people submitting posts to me not to use it. The paragraph breaks do not come over, so I have to put them all in manually, plus extracting the hyperlinks is Godawful. It is the MOST cumbersome way to go.

  10. aesop

    THE MISER (as told by THE SQUIRREL to Aesop)

    A Miser sold everything he had, and melted down his hoard of gold into a single lump, which he buried secretly in a field. Every day he went to look at it, and would sometimes spend long hours gloating over his treasure. One of his men noticed his frequent visits to the spot, and one day watched him and discovered his secret. Waiting his opportunity, he went one night and dug up the gold and stole it. Next day the Miser visited the place as usual, and, finding his treasure gone, fell to tearing his hair and groaning over his loss. In this condition he was seen by one of his neighbours, who asked him what his trouble was. The Miser told him of his misfortune; but the other replied, “Don’t take it so much to heart, my friend; put a brick into the hole, and take a look at it every day: you won’t be any worse off than before, for even when you had your gold it was of no earthly use to you.”

    1. Susan the other

      Too good. Is this one really Aesop? Were the others? This could be a treasure trove of stories.

  11. b.

    How about this one?

    The “conservative estimate”– that is, the one that won’t get you laughed at by Very Reasonable People– is that 500,000 Indonesians were slaughtered, all under the considerable support of the United States. Half a million people, stuff underground or thrown into the sea. Lined up and shot in the back of the head, or hacked to death with machetes, after having been forced to dig their own graves and those of their families. You’ve heard it before. You’ve likely even heard that we supported it in every way conceivable, providing intelligence, arms, and funding to the new junta, including a literal hit list. [T]he declassified CIA documentation is, as always, terribly frank.
    If you think that 1965 is ancient history, and that you are thus free from the burden of responsibility, I would remind you that the Clinton administration backed the Indonesian government in its atrocities against East Timor, where perhaps a third of the population was murdered; that Dennis Blair, former Obama intelligence official, had direct authority in our support of those war crimes; and that today, the Indonesian military is doing this to the people of West New Guinea… I hardly need to tell you that our support of Indonesia and its military is ongoing. We are up to our elbows in the current regime, just like we were with the Suharto regime.

    From Greenwald. You will note that there is no mention at all of “Big Guv” and the tyranny of liberal intentions. Personally I think that Obama, not Paul, has been the litmus test, and I also think that no matter how detestable Obama, his crimes are – just like Bush’s – not unprecedented. From 2000 onwards, it took a lot to stomach all the Clinton and Carter hagiography, and even the crash of 2008 and the blowback of 2011 have not changed that. Indonesia is one example of many of a reality that has been out there to be known for decades, and there is a bipartisan tradition of strenuously “looking forward” in the rank and file that is multigenerational now. Faux “liberals” are like what pases as christians around here, those disciples that would consider the words from the Mount last, if ever.

    MLK made this connection more and more forcefully in his last years. No wonder they murdered him, too.

    1. Susan the other

      What would Aesop say? There once was a country run by very ruthless people. No one living in this country had any power to control them. One day…

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Great link! Great story. I totally relate.

      But I followed the link to LGM and boy was that a mistake! I don’t know why Freddie found the objections there “powerful.” It was the standard argument one sees from progressives about Ron Paul (and Kucinich too): the messenger is so polluted that we can’t use him, even if he is saying some of the right things.

      It’s simply a high-minded version of Digby’s place.

      Although LGM apparently has attracted the smarter and more clever Obama apologists to dress up this basic apologia as tactical progressiveness.

      How many of those people on LGM (like commentator Joe from Lowell) are going to be voting for Obama? Same thing with the LGM posters themselves, like Farley. They can’t stand Ron Paul but they seem to be okay with supporting (or at least countenancing) Obama as the lessor evil. How does that make sense?

      Some of us are trying to point out Paul is the lesser evil to Obama–not the other way around. I don’t think I can vote for either three of the evils (Romney, Obama, Paul), but it doesn’t make sense for a supposed anti-war “progressive” to hate Ron Paul but to reluctantly support Obama.

  12. Peter Pan

    Over 1,000 words lost? That’s our future and I guess we’re all supposed to get use to it.

    Why wait for it to be published on the internet when it can be censored by an undocumented feature in the source code of the program you’re using to compose. TPTB strike again!

  13. Pat

    ABC Nightly News had a disturbing report last night. They claimed that gas prices were going to go up sharply soon (and certainly by this summer), right back to their previous highs (mid $4 area) or higher.
    Now, this sort of “report” contradicts several other accounts in the news recently (at least in alt-news sites) that commodities prices including oil were going to collapse. See Phil Pilk’s recent post, or this one:
    “Why Oil Prices Are About to Collapse”,

    ABC News is often used as a “plant” for forces within the System that want to psychologically manipulate the general population and precondition them for unpopular developments.
    What I suspect is going on is that the oil traders are going to go for one last hurrah in the next several months and blow out all the short-sellers and launch gas prices in another hockey-stick chart formation that double-tops at previous highs. After that, oil prices will plummet.
    I was somewhat shocked several years ago when oil went all the way to $147 a barrel for absolutely no reason, in a very short period of time, before collapsing to $35 a barrel. Not only was the price rise completely unjustified and outrageous, there was almost no public reaction against the obvious criminal manipulation (probably by the usual suspects like JPM, GS buying oil futures, just because they can, but also probably to make up for their securitized mortgage losses).
    The Big Houses are preparing to repeat their crime. But this time they want to get the public ready beforehand, in order to head off any outcry, and using (or possibly inventing) stories about an imminent attack on Iran.
    It really is amazing how brazen the Big Players are. They do this stuff time after time and the public never catches on, or at least never does anything.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are very few areas to speculate in these days.

      If you have a lot of near zero interest money, you have to find ways to deploy them.

  14. Anonymous Comment

    Q: “Why expect S&P, Moody’s, or Fitch to know it’s junk when expert musicians can’t tell a Stradivarius from a fiddle?”

    A: Because musicians are payed to ‘play’ instruments, not rate them. Ratings agencies are paid to rate investments not play them.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This post about the exploding homemade canon/gunpowder, brought to you by the Pony Express, a little foretaste of the coming Horse Age, may be a day late, but hopefully is worth the delay:

    Courtesy of Wiki

    Saltpeter was known to the Chinese by the mid-1st century AD and there is strong evidence of the use of saltpeter and sulfur in various largely medicinal combinations.[14

    The Chinese word for “gunpowder” is Chinese: 火药/火藥; pinyin: huŏ yào /xuou yɑʊ/, which literally means “Fire Medicine”;[18] however this name was only came into use some centuries after the mixture’s discovery.[19]


    Imagine that. Gunpowder as medicine.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Again, another Pony Express comment to yesterday’s Links.


    I think you are bilingual if you also communicate with body language. Most people do. So, I say, we are all at least bilingual.

  17. Susan the other

    I’m relieved when you lose a post because NC takes me 4 hours as it is. But I admonish you to get your sleep.

    About private equity and fair play. There is a huge black hole at the center of capitalism and analysts fluff it off by saying capitalism is just too successful, too efficient!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have not completely kept up with the current paradigm, but is it correct, according to the best scientific explanation we have now, that financial black holes can lead to different financial universes, that we (or for those who are really smart and know how to manipulate financial black holes) can get rich faster than light can travel using a financial black hole – you don’t labor…you don’t move; you let money move, bascially you manipulate money as you would with space-time?

      Bizarre, you say?

      Well, that’s the best explanation we have.

  18. kevinearick

    The Traveling Salesman: Common Sense

    You might assume that the empire majority, false assumers all, would know that organic growth may only come from lawful non-conformers, or that their authorities could change direction of their own volition, but you would assume incorrectly. In that world, a “false assumption” of false assumptions is required to escape. That has substantial implications for the black hole side of your program.

    Because it cannot see lawfully conforming social non-conformers, the empire cannot realize that further subsidy of conformers, to identify and liquidate the non-conformers, in a downturn accelerates the black hole. Momentum accelerates the monetary expansion train up the decelerating population tax base incline, and past the threshold cliff, to activation energy on the other side.

    Wyle E Coyote finds himself relatively stranded in mid-air, orbiting, due to division by 0, like spinning a building around its elevator to get to the rooms. Which is spinning, the building or the elevator. Quantum entanglement in the neutral zone is adjusted at the centrifuge with conditional bridges to the event horizons.

    The New Deal is the same as the old deal. Food stamps are designed as inelastic price control to the end of corporate welfare, for Safeway and BigAg. Drastically cutting the price of essentials by eliminating agency, increasing organic growth by suspending Family Law, and re-installing constitutional elasticity to open the NPV window is required to reverse the necessary multiplier effects and reestablish the middle class. Meanwhile, the global economy burns up in the short.

    Corporate cannot impede intellectual mobility unless the individual grants it domain. That is the solution to prisoners dilemma, which is also the traveling salesman solution. You can float with a currency into the black hole, but you must have adaptive skill to get out, which is the whole point of protecting privacy and its result, lawful elasticity, which is why the empire links private and public behavior in its credit system, reinforced by peer pressure, to dissolve nonconforming marriages and reward conforming civil marriage.

    Children must find themselves. Everything else is derivative. Parents are helpers / shepherds, not self-serving “friends,” on the integral side. The derivative side is an incremental stepper motor; the integral side is quantum backlash distillation. No disrespect intended, but who the f*** cares who the next US President will be when the currency is worthless as a performance indicator/meter. Politicians talk; you must do, as an example, regardless. Never allow the empire into your marriage.

    So, you have positive feedback incrementally building gravity, resulting in quantum negative feedback backlash. That sounds familiar to programmers; it’s recursion. For nonprogrammers, recursion is a process calling itself until it reaches a concluding value, with conditionals altering (sub)variable values along the way.

    In quantum physics, the value to be returned is the key to the lock, the activation threshold. You don’t know where the event horizon is so you distill the unknown key, the false assumption of false assumptions. Impulse, compulsive/obsessive, until backlash.

    Under empire proprietary control, the traveling salesman pursues false assumptions, seeking efficiency in an agency controlled win/lose bipolar contest (concentration), favoring agency/legacy gravity. Under nonproprietary win/win cooperation (distribution), the false assumption of agency need is reversed to individual responsibility.

    The objective of the traveling salesman of traveling salesmen is to grow territory most effective. Under the close proprietary system, the salesmen are walled off from each other by imprinted anxiety psychology. The program is a recursive procedure drilling a pilot hole, followed by greater event horizons. You have bit size, speed, direction, and pressure.

    With an open mind, the system opens because it creates and destroys implicit temporary modules/variables/values that appear nowhere in the explicit code. If one loop/circle is growing, another must be contracting, but not necessarily in the same dimension. Recursion is by nature self-exiting / executing. Program as if you are designing circuits, and design circuits as if you are programming, to build your ladder and eliminate the insulator at the root.

    You don’t have to worry about initiating the reactor; it’s already done for you. All you have to do is tap into a convenient circuit already in operation. The circuit breaker doesn’t blow because of inadequate supply; it blows because of inadequate return, extension of the relativity circuit.

    Don’t go to a leading corporation, or the Fed, expecting to roll out the leading event horizon. They tap the spoil, at increasing cost and decreasing profit. Create a flux path to the churn pool, with a unique gate system. At $10/hr, you can afford to bend conduit. At $40/hr, you need the correct elbow at the correct time.

    For example, if have all the other elements, build a search engine to the required freeware. Both Yahoo and Google hide freeware, Yahoo more so because of its corporate age, but Google will catch up, like Apple, which is behaving like Microsoft just before the dotcom crash.

    Next up: why you don’t blame the captain or the navigator-in-training for the DC control crash.

  19. Sundog

    File this one under panglobal surveilance/sousveillance.

    Satellite photos used to be for military eyes only, but Google Earth changed all that. Now something similar is happening to the ocean depths, with any web user able to listen in and “surf the sea floor” – and the US Navy is not happy.

    Rhitu Chatterjee & Rob Hugh-Jones [PRI’s The World]
    Sounds of the sea: Listening online to the ocean floor

  20. Sundog

    Via a post by Bruce Stirling from the annual “State of the World” free-for-all on The Well featuring Bruce Stirling and Jon Lebkowsky.

    The most troubling aspect of organized crime in Italy however is the degree of integration between the mafias and the otherwise largely legal economy, both formal and informal.

    [I’ll just note that Italy’s Berlusconi, Russia’s Putin and Mexico’s Calderon were all granted the significant while informal honor of being hosted in Crawford by BushII.]

    Prospects for Structural Reform in Italy: Evasori, ‘ndrine, and the Culture of Non-Compliance

    BTW Bleichröder links to a Der Spiegel piece on ‘Ndrangheta which is required reading, not sure if NC linked it.

    Andreas Ulrich
    Encounters with the Calabrian Mafia,1518,806233-2,00.html

    PS My sympathies Yves BTDT with comments here.

  21. Sundog

    Arab Spring?

    Power is becoming too formidable and cruel. It is out of control, and without limits. It has kidnapped society and strangled reform. Facing this, finding a solution is a matter of vital importance. In a situation where special interest groups have choked off the possibility of various types of progress, building a just society and enacting reform is difficult. Moreover, there is not a ready-made civil society waiting to settle into the void.

    We need to realize several things. The impetus for reform comes from society, not from authority, and reform within the system is produced under the force of social strength. Fair and just rules are formed by interaction between various forces. Civil society is produced by the participation of citizens. Extrication from stagnation and the restoration of social vitality can only come from the start of civil consciousness and civil action. Only by empowering society and enlightening citizens can the strength to reform be developed.

    Guo Yuhua
    China: A Country Where No One is Secure

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