Links 1/9/12

Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses Atlantic Wire (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

And the winners of 2011’s guff awards are… Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times

Social graph analysis reveals criminal conspiracy of slumlords boingboing (hat tip reader Paul T)

Angela Merkel has the whip hand in an orgy of austerity Guardian. Hold that metaphor. The image of Frau Merkel in latex, fishnets, and stilettos is not appetizing.

Europe’s Hunger pangs grow MacroBusiness


Jobs figures may not rescue Obama Financial Times. Why are so few people puncturing the canard of 8.5% unemployment? The BLS keeps disappearing people from the labor pool. U-3 is more like 12.5+%

Men at Work EconomPic Data

My Guantánamo Nightmare New York Times

Will Obama face blowback for not closing Gitmo? Raw Story. I would not hold my breath.

Downs and Ups of Driving in Los Angeles New York Times

America’s Unlevel Field Paul Krugman, New York Times

Earnings growth falters for S&P 500 Financial Times

Secret Reason for Strong December Economy and Employment Global Economic Intersection

US regulators eye new futures rules Financial Times

On Eve of $41 Billion MF Global Bankruptcy Filing, Jon Corzine Was Château Shopping in France Vanity Fair (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Mr. Corzine Is Seeking Some Space Wall Street Journal. Why isn’t he in jail?

How Wall Street Turned a Crisis Into a Cartel William Cohan, Bloomberg

Wall Street Prepares for Sharp Pay Cut Wall Street Journal. Hhhm, NYC is finally going to have as many vacant retail stores as most of the rest of the US.

On Trading Central Tendency Bruce Krasting. This is astute, plus he has some funnies later in the post.

All Of Area Man’s Hard Work Finally Pays Off For Employer The Onion (hat tip Lambert Strether)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse). This cat looks sufficiently pissed off that this might not be Photoshop:

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    1. YankeeFrank

      It looks to me like she’s saying “First I’m gonna eat your eyeballs, then I’m gonna eat your face, and then I’m gonna move south…”

    1. MacCruiskeen

      Maybe the free market solution to Europe’s funding problem is a web site featuring Merkel & Co practicing “explicit austerity procedures” and charges 50 euros a month.

    2. rjs

      if they can merkel, another job awaits:

      ‘If you don’t take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits’ –
      A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year. Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers. Under Germany’s welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

    3. tom allen

      Rule 34 of the Internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.” I think that must include Merkel in latex. In fact, I’m sure of it. :-P

  1. Foppe

    “Tony Blair and the £8million tax ‘mystery'”

    Official accounts show a company set up by Mr Blair to manage his business affairs paid just £315,000 in tax last year on an income of more than £12 million. In that time, he employed 26 staff and paid them total wages of almost £2.3 million.

    The accounts provide the strongest evidence yet of the huge sums generated by Mr Blair through his various activities since quitting Downing Street in June 2007.

    He runs a business consultancy – Tony Blair Associates – which has deals with the governments of Kuwait and Kazakhstan among others and is a paid adviser to JP Morgan, an American investment bank, and to Zurich International, a global insurance company based in Switzerland. Mr Blair makes a further £100,000 a time from speeches and lectures while also presiding over a number of charities including a faith foundation.

    Of those expenses, £2.285 million went on paying 26 employees at an average salary of almost £88,000. Windrush Ventures also pays £550,000 a year to rent Mr Blair’s offices in Grosvenor Square, a stone’s throw from the US embassy in Mayfair in central London and a further sum of about £300,000 on office equipment and furniture. But those costs amount to a little more than £3 million, meaning almost £8 million of “administrative expenditure” is unexplained in the accounts.

    It is not known from the accounts what happened to that huge sum.

    Tax specialists who have studied the accounts have told The Sunday Telegraph that the tax paid in 2010 of £154,000 and £315,000 in 2011 appears low because costs have been offset against the administrative costs, which remain largely unexplained.

    One City accountant, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is very difficult to see what these administrative costs could be. It is a very large amount for a business like this. I am sure it is legitimate but it is certainly surprising.

    Richard Murphy, a charted accountant who runs Tax Research LLP and has studied Mr Blair’s company accounts, said: “There is about £8 million which we don’t know where it goes. That money is unexplained. There is no indication at all why the administration costs are so high. What has happened to about £8 million which is being offset against tax?”

    There is no suggestion that Mr Blair’s tax affairs are anything other than legitimate. His accounts are audited by KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms. Mr Blair presides over 12 different legal entities, handling the millions of pounds he has received since leaving office. Another set of companies, which are run in parallel to Windrush Ventures, are called Firerush Ventures and appear to operate in exactly the same, oblique way.

    1. wunsacon

      If we think of the world’s business and/or political leaders as “gangsters”, everything makes a lot more sense.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would like to know if there is a Uighur connection to the MF scandal.

        More specifically, if MF is connected to Taklamakan Bank, named after the Taklamakan desert, which means, to the natives, You go in and you don’t get out. You assume with Taklamakan Bank, deposits would go in and never go out.

    1. eclair

      “(you can skip the econ notes)”

      So, what you are suggesting is that unemployment (of whatever rate) pales in significance before the prospect of: 1) Constant earthquakes, undrinkable water and flaming faucets and 1) Sea levels rising abruptly, maybe up to 5 meters before the end of this century, thereby flooding most of the planet’s centers of population.

      Pause. Yeah, I could go with that.

      1. rjs

        didnt mean to minimize unemployment…what i meant is that you could get the equivalent of my parroting BLS stats anyplace else…

    1. Lambert Strether

      Last I checked, Paul hadn’t blown any (brown) wedding parties to red mist with a drone strike.

      Racism is as racism does. Does anybody really doubt that the empire is racist?

      1. Abelenkpe

        You’ve used this line too many times not to comment. Are you trying to justify Paul’s past statements and positions as not being racist? Do you honestly think that liberals support every action taken by any administration regarding the wars overseas? Do you remember the protests against the Iraq war buildup? I attended those and the majority of participants were liberals. I remember FOX news pundits lambasting those protests. Yet you continue to act like democrats are the war mongers and Ron Paul a Republican is the answer to peace and every time you do you lose more credibility.
        On an entertainment level most seven year olds figure out that a line wears thin after too much repeating.

        1. BDBlue

          The protests for the Iraqi war build up were when Bush was in office. I’ve seen much less anti-war protest coming from liberals and Democrats since Obama took office. Where was the Libya protest? Surely that tinpot dictator wasn’t any greater threat to the US than Saddam. Other than, of course, that he was threatening to deny Europe Libyan oil so he could sell it to the Russians and Chinese.

          As for racism, I think it’s important to examine Paul’s and hold him accountable for it. But somehow very few Democrats want to do the same to Obama who not only has doubled down on our most racist policies, but also tends to give racist speeches. Of course, when Obama does it white liberals – including those who should know better – cheer and call him “unorthodox” and taking positions that aren’t “politically safe” (as Adolph Reed asks, since when hasn’t it been politically safe to malign poor black people in public?).

          I’m not endorsing Paul and I’m not voting for him. He’s a disaster in many, many ways and he’s certainly no friend to African Americans or women or working people. But neither is Obama. And there is an argument to be made that simply ending the drug war would do more for African Americans, hispanics and poor whites than any other single policy being proposed by any presidential candidate, especially since all of them are going to screw those same people economically (although Paul’s economic policies – if he could enact them – would be harsher, at least in the near term).

          Not that any of this matters because Paul isn’t going to be the nominee. Still, at least he’s a voice in the presidential race who is talking about our endless wars, disastrous drug policy and corrupt bankers. I’d rather there be a voice on the left doing that, but the left – at least as it exists within the Democratic Party – has chosen to sit this one out and not challenge Obama. Apparently, they’d rather win an election than actually challenge the status quo, which is why the left and liberals are largely irrelevant to American politics and nobody listens to them. They don’t back their beliefs with any meaningful political action.

        2. Lambert Strether

          “Yet you continue to act like democrats are the war mongers and Ron Paul a Republican is the answer to peace and every time you do you lose more credibility.”

          1. The set of warmongering parties includes at least two parties: Rs, and Ds. Both worked together to bring about war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and no doubt wars elsewhere we don’t know about.

          2. I don’t recall writing that RP is “the answer to peace.” That bad a writer, I’m not. However, it is clear that the set of legacy party candidates who say they’ll end the wars has one member: Ron Paul. Surely that’s a remarkable fact deserving of mention?

          * * *

          Every time an Obama apologist says lambert loses credibility, a kitten dies. But thanks for your concern.

  2. Lambert Strether

    “People” buy the 8.5% because word has been passed from the dominant 1% factions that The Droner is to be re-elected, and so the necessary narratives are now being constructed.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      That’s right, Lambert. Next we’ll hear Obamoreo addressing us as “You people.”

    1. Ransome

      Loans and drugs are identical. Both must be tailored to the individual for maximum effect although future adverse events can not be ruled out. Both are advertised as one size fits all, and marketing creates reasons to desire both.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Isn’t someone named “Medina” in charge of Obama’s campaign?

      “Medina” is a well-known New Orleans “Italian” name. Makes you think of the late, great Aaron Cohn of the Metropolitan Crime Commission and all of their good work.

      “Medina” from generation to generation. Follow the DNA of The Family.

      1. Francois T

        It’s Joe Messina.
        As bad as this corrupt judge. Read his decision; it is an extraordinary display of DoubleThink and Crimestop.

  3. William

    Gitmo–It’s a big reason I’m not voting for him again. That and his love for drones. . . and his love of an expanded security state. . . and his love of bankers . . .

    Enumployment figures–they never count the SELF-EMPLOYED. Remember the 80s and 90s when the big thing was to become self-employed? Well how did that work out–anybody asking?

    1. CB

      Some people are trying it now–out of desperation. Cleaning, yard services, handyman services, low skills, cash pay, off the books.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        CB, don’t forget prostitution. Recently, the NYT gave “the oldest profession” a plug, showing us the proud testimony, by video, of a 52-year old black woman still working the streets. Her pride of profession? Never having been the kind of chump who sits at a desk or wields a mop, waiting for pay from the Man.

        Check. “Self-employment” is what they want of us; and German is leading the way. This is the full-flowering of “The War Against Women”–as told by Marilyn French. Take your pick, ladies: mater dolorosa or whore.

  4. Susan the other

    Keeping intrest rates at zero for a decade to come isn’t out of the question. Japan made that choice and salvaged its industry and social order. If the US has no other option, then Bernanke is saying TINA in code. Of course the Fed wants asset prices to go up. Its the stealth devaluation of the dollar. So what? Clearly the Fed does not intend to make stocks and bonds more volatile. The last thing the Fed wants is for investors to run away. Stability is the only game in town. The outspoken goal of the US and the Fed is to increase exports, apparently In both the US and the EU. But reality is brutal and trust – thanks to the TBTF banksters – is nonexistent. Everyone who has a brain cell sees global competition looming; everyone knows that our exports will only ever increase in small increments. Where else is there to go for a country (that was once so rich it never bothered with sane politics) when it comes to the end of growth?

  5. Norman

    The Cat. I wonder if it was photo shopped, or if someone actually painted it to look as such? If that’s what was done, then the owner[s] should be made to look the same, in all the naked glory of the moment.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The BLS keeps disappearing people from the labor pool. U-3 is more like 12.5+%


    Disappearing labor pool.

    Numbers can lie if unemployed workers emmigrate like the Irish in the 19th century, to name just one example.

    So, one way to get the national unemployment rate down is to encourage people to move to other countries, like China or India maybe… or into space if possible. Let the Martians (human colonists or otherwise) worry about their unemployment rates.

    I think Fidel did that a few times.

    1. eclair

      Ah, but that’s what’s really scary. There are no more “empty” lands populated only by “savages”, who can be easily eliminated, to which governments can send their unemployed masses. And upper class bureaucrats.

      Our planet is like a petri dish populated with a bacterial culture. We multiply furiously, at an ever increasing rate …. then the medium runs out.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      MyLess, isn’t that what all of those “empty apartment buildings” in China are waiting for? immigrants from USA!USA! at slave wages?

  7. charles sereno

    I’ve mentioned it before but never got a response to “Merkel Marbles” (the Parthenon in the Pergamon).

  8. aesop

    Once upon a time all the Mice met together in Council, and discussed the best means of securing themselves against the attacks of the cat. After several suggestions had been debated, a Mouse of some standing and experience got up and said, “I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our safety in the future, provided you approve and carry it out. It is that we should fasten a bell round the neck of our enemy the cat, which will by its tinkling warn us of her approach.” This proposal was warmly applauded, and it had been already decided to adopt it, when an old Mouse got upon his feet and said, “I agree with you all that the plan before us is an admirable one: but may I ask who is going to bell the cat?”

  9. evodevo

    OOooooo! Eye of Horus Kitteh ! I can’t imagine the cat holding still for a painting session.

    1. Skippy

      Or the fox newbs take, delivered by the one and only, fountain of hair spray, Donald Trump. “bankruptcy is a business tool” and the later blond tranny piping up to add “they will try to make something of this” Dems going after Mitty!

      Skippy… all we need is some good party drugs and electioneering this cycle will be an epic rib splitter… irony, juxtaposition, white is black, dark matter candy bars!

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