Links 5/20/12

Lambert Strether (Yves being on vacation).

Rapid Climate Changes Turn North Woods into Moose Graveyard Scientific American

Supervolcano Drilling Plan Gets Go-Ahead Science. What could go wrong?

“Is Insider Trading Part of the Fabric?” Gretchen Morgenson

Sell-side research isn’t inside information Felix Salmon

“Discord at Key JPMorgan Unit Is Faulted in Loss” Times

The Need For An Independent Investigation Into JP Morgan Chase Simon Johnson

BBC Interview with Nassim Taleb on JPMorgan Jesse: “The more I look into this and think about it, the more that Barack Obama’s ‘favorite banker’ looks like Enron in their heyday.”

Obama: “Unless you run a financial institution whose business model is built on cheating consumers or making risky bets that could damage the whole economy, you have nothing to fear from Wall Street reform.” I swear I’m not making this up!

Waters Challenges Khuzami on Securitization Fraud Task Force, Gets Revealing Answers David Dayen

Syndicate: If You Can Get It, Run The Other Way Big Picture. FaceBorg post mortem.

Chicago protests on eve of NATO summit raucous, peaceful Reuters

CPD: Terror suspects had planned firebomb attacks Local ABC. Helpful undercover policeman: “Hey, I just happen to have a source of jellied gasoline! And jelly jars, too!” Timothy McVeigh these guys ain’t.

NATO Summit: 3 Protesters Arrested, Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism National ABC. Nuance: Local says arrestees to attend black bloc demo; national says arrestees “proclaimed themselves to be” black block. Going with local, sensing oncoming and ugly moral panic. Honestly, it’s like watching an elephant panic at the sight of a mouse. Man up, global oligarchs!

“Student Strike” main page Montreal Gazette

Quebec student protesters find creative ways around controversial new law Toronto Star

“PLQ + Mafia = QC” (pictures); “Monsieur Trois Pour Cent”. Ouille!

The Trade Agreement You Never Heard About – TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Economic Populist

So Warren Buffett likes newspapers again? Jack Shafer

“A Little Secret Denmark Shares with Canada about Social Mobility that Americans and Brits Should Know” Economist’s View. Moral is at the end.

Housing Analysis Biased Toward Removing People From Homes By Any Means Necessary David Dayen

Inflation, Credibility, and Expectations: Again Some More Angry Bear

The Pirate Party fits the political gap Guardian

Italy deploys 20,000 to protect sensitive targets AP

Ending NATO’s double standard Reuters

A Victory for All of Us Chris Hedges

Drone filmmaker denied visa to accept his film festival award Greenwald. The Obama administration is mind-bogglingly petty and thin-skinned.

Channels and channels and channels.

It’s safer to poke fun at airlines than take on a whole country FT.  Tyler Brûlé.

Psychiatrist who championed ‘gay cure’ admits he was wrong Guardian

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I’m not covering the horse-race today so I can get up early and watch the Sunday morning talk shows. Not. –lambert

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Antidote du jour (hat tip SV):

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. josep

      It is a huge shame to prey on the poorest, who are defenseless in the game of power and money.The poor are easy to control and steal from – very sad reality of our current society.

      1. Jim

        And I would argue that any politician, Dem or GOP, who promotes gambling is preying on the poor.

  1. Jim Haygood

    From ‘Ending NATO’s Double Standard’:

    Outside the U.S. and Europe, there is a growing sense of a two-tiered system of international justice. The West puts others on trial for war crimes, the argument goes, while exempting its own forces from scrutiny.

    The best course for the United States – and its NATO allies – is to pledge this weekend in Chicago to more strictly abide by the laws of war they have created.

    This is sadly typical of the dumbed-down, soft-militarism mush which the MSM spoonfeeds to the American sheeple.

    NATO’s raison d’etre ENDED in 1991 when the Warsaw Pact disbanded. Mission accomplished!

    So-called out-of-area operations are plainly illegal under the NATO charter, which purely sanctions common defense from attack, not NATO attacks on non-members.

    Shut down this wretched rogue organization and send its criminal leaders — including Hussein O’Bomber — to The Hague for judgment.

    1. dSquib

      Or the thousands of articles that list 5 ways NATO can stay “relevant in the 21st century”. Of course, the idea that NATO need no longer exist is “off the table”.

      For the out of area problem it seems some people’s solution is enlargement including some countries that actually have a relatively high likelihood of being involved in local conflict at some point in the coming decades.

  2. randomino

    The story on the ground, and that the NLG seems to be going with, is that the “terrorists” were caught with beer-making equipment.

    The anticapitalist march repeatedly humiliated the police all day, breaking through at least six kettles by shoving through police lines. At one point a group of horse cops were surrounded to prevent them from wading into the crowd. Several people were injured by police baton attacks and in one incident a police van crashed into the crowd and one person was hospitalized. All this and around 6 arrests. We are winning.

  3. lambert strether

    On Dimon and “discord,” Izvestia misses the point. Via MC in mail, on Ina Drew’s Lyme disease:

    This is known as key man risk. If Dimon failed to see that having his key person working from home wasn’t a problem, he deserves every penny of the losses those chuckleheads incurred. He looks like more of an ass at each attempt by the NYT to place blame elsewhere. Blame it on the Lyme disease lady, not her boss.

    1. Susan the other

      What a gossipy little story. The Times outdid themselves. Ina Drew entrusted her agents Achilles and Iskil to do her bidding. Really, the survival of any big bank, let alone the entire economy of the world does not hinge on Lymes Disease. Achilles or not.

      Bill Black interviewed by Amy Goodman said he though it looked like JPM just doubled down. There was no hedge (except a verbal one) involved. It was flat-out gambling. In that a hedge of a hedge is actually a speculative “investment” in the very thing they pretended to “hedge.” EU debt.

      Maybe Deutsche Bank knew how it would unfold and informed JPM to just hold on till June. Deutsche Bank clearly appreciates the German word Gegenwart. That against which we wait. Risk is temporary and all too soon we are going to have new “regulations.” Who can even understand this garbage? So did JPM buy or sell CDS? Who even cares at this point. It’s all so damned disgusting.

  4. MontanaMaven

    Reality Bites has some great details on the “A Little Secret Denmark Shares with Canada…” link on the cost of education in California. Of course, it also falls under the “duh” category that the bulk of tuition increases seem to be needed to pay for everything other than the direct teaching of students i.e. administrative costs.

    Time to rethink education or “school” altogether. How did the Romans build those aqueducts and the Appian Way that are still standing today? How did George Washington become powerful? He learned how to survey (2 yrs of school) and then bought up a lot of land. Apprenticing is how workers learn how to build houses and movie sets. Education is a life long journey and not a “race to the top” or anywhere else. Education occurs when people have leisure time from their work whether it is consists of growing things, gathering things, or making things. How to do it? I don’t know. But it won’t be worked out in Washington or in teachers colleges.

    1. Susan the other

      Agree. But first we should decide the direction we will take as a society. If we choose environmentally clean and sustainable we can organize ourselves rationally and equitably forever.

      1. Dan B

        I agree with you except that the “decision” about sustainability you speak of implies we have a choice. We do not. One way or another nature is forcing human cultures to live within the limits (resources, wastes, ecosystem degradation, etc.) of a finite planet.

  5. Marley

    RE: Insider Trading.
    I believe it IS part of the fabric. But I don’t think it’s something you can readily police inside the trading houses. There has to be a rethink as to the “how” and “why” of information flows from companies to investment institutions.

  6. Susan the other

    My thanks to Maxine Waters and her hard questioning of Khuzami’s compliance with the SEC’s practice of settling with financial firms. Her questions on the RMBS/Securitization Fraud Task Force were to the point – it’s amazing they even hit the headlines. Her point that it isn’t a task force at all, but just the PR arm of the DOJ was right on.

  7. Susan the other

    Moose extinction. Why can’t it be studied? One experiment would be to take a small herd from Minnesota up into the higher latitudes of Canada and then observe them in comparison to their counterparts in Minnesota. A lot could be learned and it would not be that expensive. In fact many of the Minnesota Moose could be rescued and only a certain amount left to be the control group would be necessary. Why can’t anything be done? That’s nonsense.

      1. Lidia

        “Mammals are a target…”?

        Do you mean large mammals are an understudy for the extinction of the human species? Canaries in the coal mine? Because that’s the way I see it.

        If earthworms can’t live in my yard (they apparently can’t) and moose can’t live in the forest, this does not bode well for human survival. Those who spit on tree-huggers do not understand humanity’s debt to trees.

  8. François Morin

    Thanks for putting up links about the Quebec student strikes. The situation is continuing to deteriorate and the government has declared a new law to break the student unions, forbid protests throughout the protests and undermine free speech. Martial law could very well be next, with protests turning into riots every night in Montreal.

    This is not a OWS-type aimless movement. It has real demands and is now seen as threatening the neoliberal establishment in the province. This is the first real challenge to the neoliberal order in North America. Americans should pay attention to it, Montreal is just 45 minutes North of the US border.

    1. lambert strether

      François, yes, it sure is odd this story isn’t being covered at all in our famously free press. From your handle, I’d infer that you’re from La Belle Province (not the hot dog chain, but the political entity), so do feel free to send me links from sources I wouldn’t otherwise find (i.e., not the main papers). lambert_strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.

      1. François Morin

        Sure, I’d be glad to feed you some links, although the better coverage is in French. I’ll keep an eye open for quality English-language links.

  9. Susan the other

    Canada doesn’t want the Student Union to gain political strength. No challenges to shale oil production will be tolerated. Or the trade of it. Or some inhumane investments in Africa? Whatever. What are the student’s issues? If they were as shrewd as bankers they would make their strategic moves proprietary. So maybe being a union gets in their way. They should just incorporate; maybe become a non-profit. Capitalism does not specify your gains must be in monetary units. I mean, banks have a social charter, why can’t social organizations incorporate for the sake of their gains?

  10. Up the Ante

    Obama: “Unless you run a financial institution whose business model is built on cheating consumers or making risky bets that could damage the whole economy, you have nothing to fear from Wall Street reform.”

    It’s called the SEC.

  11. financial matters

    The Need For An Independent Investigation Into JP Morgan Chase Simon Johnson

    “”The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is working on a mechanism that could conceivably allow that agency to handle the “failure” of a bank-holding company while protecting the creditors of operating subsidiaries – limiting the potential contagion effect.

    But this mechanism is not yet in place, it does not currently apply to cross-border banking (remember that JPMorgan Chase’s losses are in London)””

    We’re 4 year into the financial crisis. This could be resolved if there was really the desire to do so…

    1. Procopius

      Why, it’s just like filibuster reform in the U.S. Senate.

      “Listen, this reform will work, and if we don’t do it now our administration will fail in shameful ignominy.”

      “Wait… What if we want to use that ourselves next year?”

  12. barrisj

    Well, I see that Dr Drone, the Nobel Laureate, has proposed fitting out Nato with some of his Predator playthings, in order for Nato “peacemakers” to rain missiles upon a helpless population whenever “humanitarian intervention” or “Responsibility to Protect” impulses seize the fancy of the generals. No longer will Nato forces be dependent upon the good graces of the US military if Nato planners deem it necessary to “take out” seats of “unfriendly” government or wedding parties, schools, or indeed, anti-government insurgents anywhere trying to dislodge a pro-Western autocratic client government. A true victory for democracy!

    United States to Unveil Plans to Bolster NATO Alliance
    WASHINGTON — President Obama on Sunday will unveil a new package of NATO initiatives that includes the alliance purchasing a fleet of surveillance drones, sharing weapons and training facilities, and sustaining nuclear deterrence in Europe even as disarmament efforts continue with an often belligerent Russia, according to senior administration officials.

    “…an often belligerent Russia…”. Well, maybe the ludicrous Reagan-era “missile defense” systems the US is pushing onto Nato may have something to do with her “belligerence”, what do you reckon?

  13. Seal

    How’s this for a take? Zero-bama in cahoots w/Israel begins war w/Iran and CANCELS the ’12 election which he stands to lose – the detention camps are ready now – Ft. Irwin on the West Coast

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