Links 4/30/12

Australian billionaire to build Titanic II AFP. “Every bit as luxurious”? Wouldn’t pass muster by today’s standards.

In Hopeful Sign, Health Spending Is Flattening Out New York Times (Aquifer). Flattening of growth, even if that is indeed a durable trend, is far from sufficient.

Obesity-Linked Diabetes in Children Resists Treatment New York Times

Research challenges idea raising aspirations is key to education success PhysOrg. The headline trivializes a serious finding. The conclusion appears to be that there are multiple obstacles to disadvantaged children getting ahead, and that’s why mere ambition is not sufficient.

Contrast stories: Fed Commission report marks Google low Financial Times versus Data Harvesting at Google Not a Rogue Act, Report Finds New York Times

Why I refused to return to fight in Afghanistan’s brutal occupation Guardian (May S)

Member of Afghan elite forces blamed in attack on NATO McClatchy (Chuck L)

U.S. Amasses Stealth-Jet Armada Near Iran Wired (furzy mouse)

Spain in talks over ‘bad bank’ scheme Financial Times

Hollande is start of progressive insurrection Financial Times

The Bundesbank Explains Its Grinder Policies masaccio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

France prepares to integrate Europe MacroBusiness

An L-shaped recovery for China? MacroBusiness

The neocons are back vying for a seat in the White House Ed Luce, Financial Times

Wasting Our Minds Paul Krugman, New York Times

What a great kidder Obama is: He’s still making jokes about killing people! Lambert

The Obama Contradiction Tom Engelhardt

The Economy and the Presidency Martin Feldstein, Project Syndicate

Destruction in 1992 L.A. Upheaval: How law enforcement let the largest urban riot/rebellion rage on Daily Sundial (May S)

10 Big Businesses That Barely Pay Taxes MBA (Aquifer)

Occupy the SEC takes on Big Banks and the London Whale YouTube (Michael C)

West Coast Unions Cave In to Democrats Global Research (Aquifer)

Wal-Mart’s U.S. Expansion Plans Complicated by Bribery Scandal Wall Street Journal

The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives’ Favorite — And Most Dangerous — Fiction Alternet (furzy mouse)

Slowdown points to gloom for industrials Financial Times

Housing Slide Nears End but Faces a Long Bottom Wall Street Journal

Bankers Are Still Wrecking Housing Market Fundamentals Abigail Field, Firedoglake (Carol B)

2030: The world in 5 graphs Finance Addict

A First Lesson in Econometrics Journal of Political Economy (Aquifer, via the Incidental Economist). Yes, you do want to read this.

Antidote du jour (Abigail Field):

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  1. S

    There are two typos in the last formula of “A first lesson in econometrics”. The factorial and the delta power.

  2. CB

    “A First Lesson in Econometrics” is hilarious. And to think, I was taught simplification the other way around. Just shows you how out of date my math courses were.

    1. tom allen

      “Reeling and Writhing of course, to begin with,’ the Mock Turtle replied, ‘and the different branches of arithmetic-ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.”
      ― Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland: Including Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass

      Simplification must have been an advanced course. :-P

      1. CB

        We were required to reduce all test answers to the simplest forms–which, when you’re on the clock, can be a challenge in itself.

  3. ambrit

    Thank you for the “First Lesson in Econometrics.” Now I understand why I ‘hit a brick wall’ when I tried to grasp higher mathematics. I AM the brick wall!

  4. dearieme

    Bah, it’s not complex enough! Just multiply the LHS by exp(i*theta) and the RHS by [cos(theta) + i*sin(theta)] and that’s much more elegant.

  5. ambrit

    “US amasses stealth jet armada..” Oh my, here we go again. Sabre rattling 2.0. I wonder if the shipping volume for the Persian Gulf has suffered? Expect to see new ‘war scare’ gasoline price hikes. (Yes, I know it’s really refinery related.) I wonder if the Iranians are deploying their mobile rocket batteries to the Gulf shoreline? What if the Iraqi government ‘asks’ Iran for advisors to combat ‘terrorism’ in the Shatt al Arab? And then the Iranian Revolutionary Guard extends the ‘protection’ down to the downtrodden masses of Kuwait? Don’t underestimate the Persians.

    1. Procopius

      I think the neocons have already forgotten what happened in Iraq, and have forgotten, or never knew, that Iran has ten times as many people. And then, of course, there’s the problem that they are only concerned with making sure the U.S. fully follows Likud’s policies without regard to our self-interest. Without regard to Israel’s self-interest, for that matter, because it looks to me like Likud is going to end up destroying Israel one way or another. It’s really, really depressing. I think that next January, whether Obama may he suffer from toenail fungus) or Romney wins in November, the SOTU message is going to begin, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

    2. Up the Ante

      “Oh my, here we go again. Sabre rattling 2.0. ”

      And a predictable dimension, at that. Sabre 2.0 has the Air Force offering 3, maybe more, pseudo-concessions to us reasonable people,

      1) They stopped buying the overpriced F-22

      2) They upgraded F-15 radars

      3) They haven’t been in Saudi Arabia in some time.

      Now will those Angel Investors please come back with their investment monies ?


  6. rjs

    re: Wasting Our Minds:
    Krugman finally pens an important post, but he diminishes its impact by turning it into a political screed…go back & read it again without every sentence that included “romney”

    1. Binky Bear

      Economics is politics is warfare by other means. It’s just sad that in a case where our choices are death or bongo bongo so many choose death by bongo bongo, e.g. Romney. Its like switching chemo mid treatment knowing you’re gonna probably check out anyway. O and R share so much policy wise any way I’m not sure people would notice.

    1. Aquifer

      Another book which makes the case for a common inheritance is “Unjust Deserts” by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, put out in ’08.

      If society, especially vis the gifts from the past, is responsible for the vast proportion of wealth we hold, then society is entitled to the benefits …

      Great book, highly recommended …

  7. polistra

    Some good news from Greece.

    Problem: Many young Greeks are unemployed, AND many Greek families have large parcels of farmland that they haven’t used since Greece went onto EU welfare.

    Solution: Some young Greeks are being trained in modern farming methods, and happily returning to their inherited farmland.

    Now, what would it take to get young Americans equally enthused?

    1. Literary Critic


      Legalize pot?

      New Snoop Dog rap tune extolling the virtues of farming?

      Still doubt you could get the Ivy League financial engineering majors excited, tho.

      1. Eureka Springs

        In our system legalizing pot will kill the small growers. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s the only way to end imprisoning so many for the herb… then we must legalize it. But I hear in Colorado the Armenian mafia already controls distribution with a heavy hand… the only thing which will trump the mafia as legalization continues is the corporation.

        Marlboro Marijuana Menthol Ultra Light 420’s coming from a corporate gmo pot farm to a 7-11 near you.

        1. Literary Critic

          I hear if you stray too far off the beaten path in N. CA, you are likely to run into machine gun toting “farmers”.

          But if legalized, I think small farmers will do ok – specialty strains, organic pot (this will be hot, I think) and be sold thru farmers markets and probably even Whole Foods, tho in the case of Whole Foods, at a premium to current drug dealer prices.

          1. Eureka Springs

            In CA what were once small farmers are now much much larger… and the price to the farmer (not retail, not yet) has dropped by half.

            Acapulco Gold has long been replaced by AK 47 and Diesel.

            The sooner people can grow it in the back yard next to their tomatoes without helicopters and drones over their house or prison unions lobbying for job security… the better.

        2. chitown2020

          The result of massive bank fraud turn America into one giant crack house full of prostitutes.

    2. Procopius

      Errr… some inherited farmland, maybe? When my grandfather died, none of my parents’ generation wanted to farm his half section (i.e., 320 acres of prime Iowa corn land, plus 40 acres that had belonged to his sister; all necessary machinery and buildings already in place)). My grandmother sold the land and used the proceeds to pay for her nursing home for the rest of her life. Basically, there isn’t any vacant farm land in the U.S. for young people to go to, even if they were able to master the skills which really couldn’t be done in less than four or five years (contrary to city people’s opinion, farming is a very hard, demanding, highly skilled job). In fact, looking at what happened here in Thailand after 1997, I would bet that there isn’t very much available land in Greece. There certainly isn’t here, as more and more families have moved to urban centers. This sounds like a “survivalist’s” fantasy.

        1. dcblogger

          define farm. Maine’s growing season lasts what?, 20 minutes? You can grow potatoes, carrots, squash, and what else? Dairy? There is a reason that the fortunes in New England were made from shipping, trade, paper and publishing rather than agriculture.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Before the Erie Canal, Maine was the breadbasket of New England. It’s not the soil, and it’s not even season extension, it’s Big Food (that is, petroleum). I’m not saying you can farm and grow rich in Maine; I am saying you can farm and eat and help feed your locality, which a pretty good thing in some not entirely implausible scenarios. New England is, unlike other parts of the country, also water-secure.

        1. Up the Ante

          I see a number of those properties are bordering State forests. Is the state fracking in State forests, too?

    3. Neo-Realist

      So maybe some underemployed/unemployed hipsters living in a small apartment in bushwick brooklyn should consider moving to the adirondacks to grow their own food?

      1. Lambert Strether

        Well, that’s what the hippies did in the late 60s, and out of that came organic food and a whole host of horticultural and agricultural ideas and techniques. So it might not be a bad thing, though not all of them will make it. Farming is very hard work.

        1. evodevo

          I was going to say, been there did that in the ’60’s, but you beat me to it. Farming IS hard and you can’t keep it up for long – very hard on the joints and someone in the family MUST have a paying job (this was true here in Ky even 60 years ago – almost all the farmers I knew had a wife that taught school!) doctors won’t accept a bushel of carrots for an operation any more, and neither will the auto mechanic. that said, I have lived in the country for 40 years and won’t move to town till I have to.

        2. Neo-Realist

          I doubt very few of them will make it as Farmers. For the most part, todays youth grew up on video games and TV rather than the physical labor of past generations. Espresso pulling rather than tractor pulling is more their speed.

          1. Maximilien

            Regrettably true. I worked in a large cherry orchard a few years ago. Not one hire under the age of 25 lasted more than a day. I’m not kidding. They didn’t like the hard work and what’s more, they appeared physically incapable of it.

            True story: One young man was asked to prune trees on his first day. The boss handed him a pair of shears and showed him to the bottom of a 12-foot ladder. Said the young man to the boss: “Sorry, I don’t do heights.”

            That was the end of him, but at least he’d given the boss and me a good laugh.

  8. jim3981

    “France prepares to integrate Europe”

    The internet browser tab in that macrobusiness website article has what appears to be a demon, or a cat. Looks like a demon. Weird!

  9. Eureka Springs

    Unions for more regressive sales taxation.
    Unions for imposed private for profit health insurance.
    Unions for more neoliberal free trade agreements.
    Unions for Democrats, always.
    Many unions refuse to participate in the upcoming general strike.

    American workers need a new path…. I think as an issue /platform… begin with demanding tripling the minimum wage while establishing tri-care for all citizens would be a much better path for far more people, including many who are in Unions now.

    1. Aquifer

      Somewhere i got the impression that many “leaders” in the labor movement have sold out their members for their own “seat at the table” of TPTB – “Here, come and sit down with us, the price of admission is delivering your folks to our pew in the church of the market god. In return we will throw you a few bread crumbs and fish scraps you can take home to your members and tell them they will multiply ….” And, seeing as how the Reps weren’t going to let them have even a stool (except the kind you flush), they saw this as their ticket to “power and influence”

      Meanwhile on the Dems side – they got tired of eating hot dogs with Joe Hardhat at the corner diner, saw the Reps eating pate at the Ritz and wanted some. So they bought themselves a ticket to the feast by selling out Joe Hardhat to the banks, This will work for them as long as they can convince the banks, that they can bring the Joe Hardhats along with them to the polls with the moldy bread and scaley fish dispensed to them through their “leaders”.

      Once labor decides to get some leaders that are willing to eschew pate for hotdogs (preferably organic), maybe they can start making their own bread and catching their own fish (sustainably of course)

      How’s that for a few mixed metaphors (I like stew :))

      1. Up the Ante

        “Meanwhile on the Dems side – .. they bought themselves a ticket to the feast by selling out Joe Hardhat to the banks, ”

        And have now formed an essential alliance w/red state impoverished Reps against ‘dem liberals’.


  10. F. Beard

    re The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives’ Favorite — And Most Dangerous — Fiction:

    I see no mention of the government enforced/backed banking cartel – the means by which the so-called “credit-worthy” steal purchasing power from everyone else.

    Commons stock issuance should be the NORMAL means of consolidating capital for economies of scale. Then the distinction between capital, labor and consumers would disappear over time.

    1. petridish

      It seems to me that the approach advocated in the article was termed “collectivism” by Naomi Klein in “The Shock Doctrine.” It was extraordinarily successful in several South American countries in lifting the general populations out of poverty before the concept was smashed by the corporatist Washington Consensus and the Chicago Boys.

      The presumption seems to be that the result of such collectivist policies is desireable. Flat out UNTRUE.

      We have enough elites, there is only so much prosperity to go around and unleashing optimistic hordes would only increase competition. Better to let that sleeping dog lie.

        1. F. Beard

          I thought any further comment would be unnecessary but then I realized where I am.

          I disagree! Life is not a zero sum game; we can all be prosperous.

          1. petridish

            Forgive me–I did not make myself clear–I was being sarcastic.

            The reason for restricting prosperity is the same reason often given for restricting healthcare. If everyone were to have equal access, there would not be enough to go around. Competition could result in those most “entitled” (again, SARCASTIC) not receiving their “fair” share.

            In its current iteration, capitalism, as practiced in America IS a zero sum game. There are no more frontiers.

          2. F. Beard

            If everyone were to have equal access, there would not be enough to go around. petridish [sarcastically]

            I don’t know if “equal access” is achievable or even desirable. Should I have the same access to a heart transplant as say a young mother of 5? I say no. But the same access as say Skippy? Of course!

            But certainly we should all have “adequate access” to health care with the definition of “adequate” continually increasing as genuine prosperity does.

            But I leave all such matters of fairness in health care to others especially caring doctors and nurses.

      1. tom allen

        Whenever somebody says, “Let the sleeping dog lie,” I wonder — have you ever actually slept with a dog? Cause you know they’ll adjust. If you pet them and hug them enough. Which, obviously, is the case.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      p78, “extort” is the exact term, but the “party line” against corporations is that they are practicing “blackmail.” They are two different crimes. Why do they use the wrong word? Is the punishment for extortion worse than that for blackmail?

    2. Maximilien


      I think the word “privateering” needs to be used more today than it is. It means theft by private parties that has been sanctioned by government leaders in return for a share of the loot.

      Which perfectly describes the looting (at least at the federal level) that is going on now.

  11. F. Beard

    As good a place as any for this very important statement by Bill Mitchell:

    Second, the simple solution to his “debt” paranoia would be for the US government to change its legislation/regulation environment and cease issuing any public debt. The US Federal Reserve could credit any bank account and clear any cheque that the US Treasury desired/issued and government spending would proceed as usual.

    The US government issues its own currency and, in intrinsic terms, never needs to fund its own spending in US dollars. The issuing of public debt is an entirely voluntary act by the US government and provides the bond markets with “corporate welfare”. Just imagine what the uproar would be from the bond markets and investment banks if the US government announced it was cutting off this source of corporate welfare.

    It happened in 2001 in Australia when the Australian government had virtually caused the official bond markets to dry up when it used the surpluses it was running to run down outstanding debt. The Sydney Futures Exchange led the charge and demanded that the Government continue issuing debt, which gave the game way – if debt-issuance was to fund net government spending (deficits) then why would they be issuing debt when they were running surpluses?

    Answer: it was patently obvious that the outstanding debt was private wealth and its risk-free nature allowed the private investment institutions to price other risky assets and maintain a safe haven when uncertainty rose (by holding bonds). from [emphasis added]

    There it is: The National Debt is a gift to the rich and private investment institutions, especially the banks, I would guess.

    1. p78

      What risky assets were the private wealth parties hiding under the guise of buying Australian govt. bonds… Could you elaborate a little? I need a coffee, too. :)

      1. F. Beard

        I need a coffee, too. p78

        One of us does! I don’t see where you pulled that question from.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Question 1: What does the below mean for you?

      The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

      To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

      To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

      To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

      To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

      To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;


      “To pay the Debts…”

      “To borrow money on the credit of the United States:”

      “To coin Money…”

      Question 2: Can the National Debt, which is private wealth, be more fairly distributed, just as we like equality in other money matters, instead of just making it go away? Can widows, widowers, seniors, kids get in on the private wealth, which is the National Debt, sharing game? If we can’t have equality here, what hope do we have with respect to other financial matters?

      1. F. Beard

        Question 1: What does the below mean for you? MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing. Thomas Jefferson from [emphasis added]

        instead of just making it [the National Debt] go away? MLTPB

        Who said anything about “making it go away”? The National Debt should be paid off and no later than as it comes due.

        1. F. Beard

          And paid off with brand new fiat (That is only good for government debts only?).

          Hopefully you disagree, MLTPB, or else I’d worry.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Let me see; you, like Jefferson, would like to take away the power for the government to borrow.

            But unlike Jefferson, you also would do the same to individuals???

            One more question – making debt go away is different from paying it off, how?

          2. F. Beard

            you also would do the same to individuals??? MLTPB

            How do you manage to misunderstand what I say so consistently?

      2. chitown2020

        CONgress are supposed to coin and issue the currency but they broke the law by instituting the FED. The owners of the FED/IMF fraudulently induced America into their unsustainable debt. Follow the peoples money and you will find out that the FED ARE THE DEBTORS TO WE THE PEOPLE. The globalists are a cabal of con artists and a vast criminal enterprise who by secrets, lies, manipulation, misrepresentation, lies, mass deception have been defrauding the 99% for decades. What we are living right now is a result of decades of fraud.

          1. chitown2020

            MyLessThanPrimeBeef.. Imagine if they had to play by the same rules as everyone else…..? We would not be here.

          2. chitown2020

            BTW..Did you hear Costco is getting into the mortgage biz…? They all make me sick. If it were not for us the corps would not be TOO BIG TO FAIL. I want a refund.

  12. Aquifer

    The piece about Hollande leading a “progressive” revolution cracked me up. The author clearly thinks that Hollande may well be “progressive” in the Obama mode – a wolf in sheep’s clothing who will be able to crack down on unions and the social safety net under the guise of being a “lefty”

    Who knows, maybe he’s right, as in correct …

    1. Aquifer

      Uh, oh, and then there is all that talk about “hopes” and “dreams” in the piece on France integrating Europe ….

      Hollande – a French Obama? Let’s “hope” not ….

      1. EmilianoZ

        That’s what Chris Hedges suspects:

        To me, Hollande seems much less of a sleek hypocrite than Obama. In the end, Hollande may have to do what Obama did, but I suspect he will be dragged to it kicking and screaming, while for Obummer it was always the plan.

        We might see a repeat of 1981 Mitterrand (so far the only socialist who managed to be elected president during the French 5th Republic). He first enacted policies that today would be considered extreme left-wing terrorism (like nationalization). Of course the markets punished him (sabotage by the 1%). Then came austerity.

        I see that as one of the main challenge of democracy. How to prevent the 1% to amass so much wealth as to be able to sabotage a whole nation’s economy.

        1. F. Beard

          How to prevent the 1% to amass so much wealth as to be able to sabotage a whole nation’s economy. EmilianoZ

          Abolish the counterfeiting cartel, the banking system. This would force business to issue common stock as money and thus “share” wealth and power with the general population.

  13. Roger Bigod

    This is a series of pics from a local zoo. The bird of paradise might be a little flashy for an antidote, but that’s the whole point of a bird of paradise.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Not a bird of paradise, but a peacock “displaying” his “qual-ity” for the female’s admiration, if not for her “shock and awe.”

    2. Literary Critic

      I think it would make female peacocks feel a little creepy being stared at by all those eyes.

  14. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Today’s LINK to “Bundesbank Explains Its Grinder Policies” by masaccio at Firedoglake has a comment leading to topic of interest to NC:

    “The Painful Reality of Adrenaline Addiction” by Patrick Lencioni, The Table Group, 4 pages, in pdf form. See”
    “Leadership Review, Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College, Vol. 5, Winter 2005”

  15. b.

    Re: “The Economy and the Presidency” by Martin Feldstein.

    Reminds me: reading Hussman’s most recent weeklies made me think of 2002-2003 – at the time it appeared to be obvious that the congressional Democrats, and their presidential candidate, had every incentive – even setting aside their oath, and their responsibilities – to oppose the “Patriot” Act, the GWOT and the illegal war on Iraq at every turn. They would have lost the 2004 election either way, but it would have laid the foundation for 2006 and 2008 and a chance to opbtain majorities for policies-other-than-failed.

    As it is, we got Obama posturing against some of it, and 2006 and 2008 came to pass with Democrit majorities that changed exactly nothing, and for the worse.

    Echoing Ian Welsh, it appears equally obvious now that for any liberal movement to survive Obama – as well as for the roadshow called Democratic Party to survive this administration – it is not only vital and necessary to oppose and drop Obama, but it is also a smart tactical move.

    It is very hard to see how that berg of cans blocking the road somewhere between now and the election will not lead to handing the original inventor of the Preemptive Health Insurance Bailout of 2010 the election. For MoveOn and the other morons to be eagerly doing the minimum wage labor of shuffling the deck chairs on Obama’s Titanic is adding insult to injury. Why average citizens insist on giving money to them, or worse, Obama himself, is a mystery. Some people simply want to be robbed, I suppose.

  16. Maximilien

    Re: Titanic II

    Well, you know what they say about a fool and his money…

    Mr. Palmer’s Titanic redux will be ready in 2016, four years AFTER the 100th anniversary hoopla and 96 years BEFORE the presumptive 200th anniversary. If he was thinking of making a lot of money, it would seem he has missed the boat, so to speak.

    Did I mention something about a fool? From the article: “[Mr. Palmer] added that he had invited the Chinese navy to escort the Titanic II to New York.”

    What’s he trying to do? Start World War III??!!

    1. Up the Ante

      Palmer should install Henry Kissinger on the forecastle.

      Now there’s an image.

      Richard Nixon likeness on the bowsprit ?

  17. Howard L

    Can anyone tell me whose dog that is from the antidote du jour?



  18. Tim Mason

    The headline trivializes a serious finding.

    What would you say to a physicist who wrote a paper informing us that things fall down when you drop them? Educational research has shown time and time again that working class families want their children to succeed, and that their children are more likely to do so if the parents are fully included in the educational process. We also know that the most disadvantaged, the ones that do not learn to read in primary school, have accumulated multiple handicaps before they even arrive at the gate. The irrelevance of raising aspiration without offering parents help and advice in making their children ready for school, and in accompanying them through their school years, has been clear to anyone interested in education for decades – if not since Robert Owen opened the first infants’ school in Britain in 1816. The question is why politicians – and those that elect them – are still loathe to bite that particular bullet.

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