Links 10/6/12

It’s Friday – need some help concentrating at work? Have a look at this picture… Independent (Catperson). Hah!

A Spy-Gear Arms Race Transforms Modern Divorce Wall Street Journal

Black mamba venom is ‘better painkiller’ than morphine BBC

Foxconn workers on strike over iPhone 5 production, labor group says IT World

Cybercrime Gang Recruiting Botmasters for Large-Scale MiTM Attacks on American Banks ThreatPost

World food prices near crisis levels Reuters

The IMF -Inadvertently- Condemns The Eurozone Illargi

Moody’s warns on Portugal’s bailout plan Financial Times

Greek Prime Minister Warns of Societal Collapse Like Weimar Germany; Citizens Storm Defense Ministry; Merkel Takes Gamble on Visiting Greece Michael Shedlock

The Delusion of Limited Intervention in Syria Bloomberg

Repo Man Envy, Argentina-Elliott Edition Anna Gelpern, Credit Slips

Obama’s Debate: What the Fuck Did You Expect? Gawker (Ep3)

The Peril of Obama’s “Man Crush” on Geithner is exposed by the Debate Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

The painful lessons of the Central Park Five and the jogger rape case Guardian. An important read if you care about criminal justice. This case was front page news for months.

Why California’s Gas Price Nightmare Could Last For Weeks Clusterstock

Back to $chool Andy Kroll, Tom Engelhardt (1 SK)

Schneiderman Signed Tolling Agreements With MBS Issuers to Extend Statute of Limitations Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

Treasury Report Reveals Performance of Largest Servicers DSNews (Lisa Epstein). Yes, all is now officially fine in loan mod land.

Foreclosure mills in the clear, state closes cases with no findings Palm Beach Post

Unemployment Falls Below 8.0 Percent for the First Time Since January 2009 Dean Baker

Prescription for Addiction Wall Street Journal

Also, we are working towards getting our tech issues addressed. Our tech guy will be working on the configuration this weekend, which hopefully will remedy some of the problems you have been experiencing. We are also looking at other types of solutions in parallel, but they will probably take longer to implement.

Finally, it would help me if you’d tell me what you like about Naked Capitalism because I’m trying to structure my work for next year. One conundrum I continue to wrestle with is how large the range of possible NC topics has become and how to choose which ones to pursue. In a perverse way, the crisis was much easier. The major stories seemed to have two week to three month cycles, with beginning, middles and endings. In the wake of the crisis, it’s as if someone threw a very large rock into a pond, and the impact, the concentric circles, just keep widening and widening. Any input here would be very much appreciated.

* * *

lambert here:

Mission elapsed time: T + 28 and counting*

That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. –Ecclesiastes 1:15

Readers, I’m a little over capacity this evening, what with trying to put a stake in the heart of a project. So I thought do a recap on the Social Security flap from last week’s debate between Obama and Romney. Spoiler alert: There’s nothing new here, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I actually had a lead written: “Long, long ago, in a primary far away, there was a candidate who needed an issue. His name was Barack Obama.” I thought that was pretty funny, because I started to pay close attention to Obama when he put Social Security “in play” in the 2008 Iowa primaries (and as a “character issue,” too, to add insult to injury). As Atrios remarked (October 27, 2007) at the time (citing Drum): “I appreciate that Obama needs an issue, but please don’t put social security into the Washington water. Once it gets in there all the serious pundits spend their days figuring out how best to starve granny.” (Readers: Notice that “zombie-eyed granny starver” has a pedigree, and it’s bipartisan.) I say “in play” because Democrats, with perhaps an assist from what we then thought of as the left blogosphere, had just finished beating George W. Bush like a gong for trying to privatize Social Security, and we thought Social Security was off the table. Atrios — he’s a professional economist! — explained (October 29, 2007): “So, anyway, having someone suggest that Social Security is a problem which needs to be dealt with by any serious candidate is like the bat signal for people like me. There is no problem with Social Security. None at all” (italics mine. Well, every reason, if you want to dogwhistle Republicans, but that’s a thread for another day.) Anyhow, I parsed Obama’s words carefully from then on, and ultimately left the Party, but that’s another thread for another day, too. “Class of” 2008. I know, way too late!)

Anyhow, that lead didn’t work out, because here’s Obama on on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos on May 13, 2007, well before Iowa. Which I missed, because I was too busy beating up on Republicans to pay attention to the good guys (hollow laughter):

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said that with Social Security, everything should be on the table. OBAMA: Yes. STEPHANOPOULOS: Raising the retirement age? OBAMA: Everything should be on the table. STEPHANOPOULOS: Raising payroll taxes? OBAMA: Everything should be on the table.

So Obama’s been willing to gut Social Security for some time. Aren’t they all? Fast forward to last week’s Presidential debates. October 3, 2012:

OBAMA: “You know, I suspect that on Social Security, we’ve got a somewhat similar position.”

Remarkably, or not, Obama agreed with Romney on Social Security before Romney had taken a position in the debate (although by this point Romney had dragged Big Bird to the chopping block by his scrawny neck, which might have been a clue). What could possibly have been the basis for Obama’s suspicion? Rather than take my blogger’s tin shovel to the ginormous pile of impacted yet steaming dung and leachate that is our legacy party discourse, let me just take the Republican platform (undated, and, in the proprietary PDF format, unlinkable, so classy) as a proxy for Romney’s views:

“While no changes should adversely affect any current or near-retiree, comprehensive reform should address our society’s remarkable medical advances in longevity and allow younger workers the option of creating their own personal investment accounts as supplements to the system.”

Well, that’s clear enough: A two-tier benefit system, with a measure of privatization. It’s also similar to the White House position (“check the web site!”), which is presumably a reasonable proxy for Obama’s position:

Seniors and Social Security

He [Obama] believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic [meaning?] benefits reduced and he will not accept an approach that slashes [reduces OK, then?] benefits for future generations. The President also stands firmly opposed to privatization and rejects the notion that the future of hard-working Americans should be left to the fluctuations of financial markets.

So, Obama, the Republican Platform, and the White House are all agreed that the future of Social Security will be a two-tier system. In the debate, what did Romney have to say?

ROMNEY: “[N]either the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare. So if you’re 60 or around 60 or older, you don’t need to listen any further. But for younger people, we need to talk [dread words!] about what changes are going to be occurring.”

Romney too. So, that to me is what the debate boils down to, and it’s not news: A two-tier system of Social Security, with the battle to be fought out over privatization. (And you can bet that the battle, despite the White House’s brave deceptive words, won’t be about whether, but about when, how, and how much. After all, when you’ve mandated that people go on the market for a health exchange, why not mandate they go on the market for a retirement exchange? (Heck, a body organ exchange, but that might be carrying the good thing of a market state too far.))

How the young are going to handle both privatized retirement and massive debt is an open question, but no doubt the confidence fairy or the magicians of the marketplace have a ready answer.

One could wish that the entire debate was not framed as “I’ve got mine” — as Romney gracefully puts, “you don’t need to listen any further” — “now you get yours,” since, after all, what the legacy parties are doing, by advocating a two-tier system, is encouraging elders to betray their own children and grandchildren to age without dignity when their time comes. What a degraded, debased, vile, repellent, and let’s-just-go-ahead-and-call-it-evil political class we have today, to be sure. And yet, they think they know us so well, trying to work this con. Let’s hope they’re wrong.

* Slogan of the day: Forward to Shared Sacrifice With The Obama!

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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  1. GeorgeK

    As for future post, I want to know what is/maybe/could be happening over the horizon. Forcasing is more of an art than science, however reading about past events is why traditional news is dying.

  2. PhilK

    The “What did you expect” post was fun and interesting, but either hopelessly confused or intentionally misleading. Whenever people say “the left” when they mean “the Democratic party”, I refuse to take them seriously – they have a right-wing agenda, and/or they’re mucking forons.

    1. citalopram

      Yeah, there seems to be plenty of real leftists who hate Obummer. No leadership in sight, however.

    2. gordon

      To me, Obama just looks like a black guy who made it big, and is very proud of the fact. And maybe he should be. At any rate, it’s the American Dream, isn’t it, especially for a guy from a non-privileged background? People who are surprised that Obama isn’t very interested in any lefty agenda shouldn’t be. His agenda isn’t to attack the 1%, it’s to join them. And he’s doing really well.

  3. JTFaraday

    re: Readers: Notice that “zombie-eyed granny starver” has a pedigree, and it’s bipartisan.

    “No, your dialysis won’t be covered there, Gramps. So, again with the notion that “freedom” consists of the 72-year-old wife of a 75-year-old Alzheimer’s patient going out into the insurance market to determine which of the dozens of companies who will be scrambling for her business offers her the best deal.”

    Well, whose fault is that? Obviously, he should have gone out on the market and gotten himself a newer model.

  4. wbgonne

    “What a degraded, debased, vile, repellent, and let’s-just-go-ahead-and-call-it-evil political class we have today”

    Indeed. A large part of the problem, IMO, is that the evil political class never thinks itself evil because it never hears anyone say so. As a society we must begin restoring core values like integrity, modesty and self-sacrifice to places of honor. It will require a sea change in the cultural zeitgeist before the greedy pigs and their fawning acolytes feel condemnation and then shame. It is ironic that a blog on economics stands at the forefront of condemning insatiable greed, but these are strange times.

    1. citalopram

      Maybe an evil, apathetic public gave rise to that aforementioned political class. Maybe it’s their failure to mobilize, their failure to care which was caused this mess?

      You see, I think it’s the American People who are the problem, not the political class. The political class is just a symptom of US.

      1. PQS

        You may be right, but I would only give the blame to the American People in far less share than the evilness of the Political Class…..which lives in a KochPeterson Bubble of insanity WRT to Regular Americans and their incomes.

        Survey aftr Survey shows that The American People (myself included) are shocked – shocked – to hear that there is anything wrong with Social Security, and further, when polled they are typically appalled to consider any major tinkering with it. We went through this already with GWB, and I personally have spent countless hours on the phone with my so called Congressional representatives explaining to them than effing with my SS is a death sentence for their political careers.

        1. ZygmuntFraud

          Alan Greenspan, a follower of Ayn Rand, was Chairman of the Fed Board for a very long time. He is/was anti-regulation to a high degree.

          The Grenspan-speak was almost impenetrable to me. Anyway, did he believe in the so-called “efficient market hypothesis?”

          Maybe. If someone puts a rather dull, ultra-self-confident ideologue at a key position of influence and authority, that can be a “useful fool”.

      2. wbgonne

        “Maybe an evil, apathetic public gave rise to that aforementioned political class. Maybe it’s their failure to mobilize, their failure to care which was caused this mess?”

        I agree with you. It is the American People who must effectuate the cultural changes I am advocating. Clearly, the political class and the other plutocrats are not going to condemn themselves. Each of us must individually initiate the reform process by rejecting the existing system, which is predicated upon avarice, over-consumption and grotesque accumulation of wealth. Once that cultural change takes root, the plutocrats will stand naked.

        To amplify one point: the American People are ultimately responsible because, in a democracy we, by definition, get the government we deserve. However, there is no doubt that the political system has been hijacked by the plutocrats who now fully control both major parties. The first step toward undoing that is to reject both mainstream parties and vote third party. Even that small measure, however, seems a bridge too far for most people. Much as I wish it were otherwise, I fear that the American People will not change and control the future but will instead be changed by events. That is very dangerous course.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You need to read up on the history of propaganda. Start with Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, or the four part BBC series, the Century of the Self (on Google Video). The elites have worked really really hard to reshape American values and Pavlovian reflexes for 100 years. I’m not sure it’s fair to blame ordinary citizens in the face of a barrage like that.

          1. wbgonne

            The change must still originate within the American People. Change is always hard. That’s no excuse. One may be sympathetic to our plight (I am) and find villains everywhere (I do) but that doesn’t alter what must be done.

    2. Lambert Strether

      “They know us so well” expresses this idea differently.

      * * *

      I have the image that the 1% thinks of the rest of us almost literally as animals (“human resources”) to be herded into the appropriate, er, processing facility. All they have to do is keep us from seeing what’s ahead, so we don’t panic going into the chutes.

      1. wbgonne

        You bet. We are transforming from a civil society that uses capitalism for economic exchange into a Dickensian world where human beings are either economic assets or –more probably — economic liabilities whose value (or lack thereof) is determined solely by economic contribution to the corporate machinery. We have elevated crony capitalism and corporatism into a philosophy of governance. It is perverse and it simply doesn’t work. Judged against its theoretical purpose of collectively solving common problems, the American political system has collapsed completely.

        1. Ned Ludd

          I agree but have a different understanding of capitalism. Capitalism does not refer to the market exchange of goods and services. Capitalism refers to the ownership model of organizations. When the people who provide the capital own the corporations, then you have capitalism. When the people who provide the labor own the organizations, then you have worker-owned cooperatives, which are a form of social ownership and socialism. Of course, you can also have both capitalism and socialism without markets. The former includes fascism and the latter includes state-planned economies.

          1. wbgonne

            Further to your point, is appears we have taken capitalism and done to it what the USSR did to socialism. It both cases, the country elevated the economic system to a primal place and subjugated the people to the economic system. State socialism failed and so is our state capitalism, probably for similar reasons, namely that economic systems of whatever sort must be subservient to the people. That is the natural order. China, of course, appears to defy this rule, but the game is very early in China and it is likely that China will fall too unless it adapts and conforms to the natural order. Human beings form polities and enter into social contracts to better their conditions, not to become slaves.

  5. David Lentini

    “. . . what the legacy parties are doing, by advocating a two-tier system, is encouraging elders to betray their own children and grandchildren to age without dignity when their time comes.”

    Welcome to the war of all against all, courtesy of our finest institutions of education that have produced the intellectual zombie technocrats who run our nation.

    1. Aquifer

      There is the other side – by pointing out the discrepancies in “wealth” between the older generation and the younger (without pointing out that it is always thus – takes time to accumulate “wealth”) together with the debt the younger has accrued for education and their lousy economic prospects, all under the “watch” of their elders – the suggestion that these “greedy geezers” are stealing from the younger generation – “This deficit is placing an enormous burden on our children and grand children!” is so well planted by the duopoly that the idea that the “greedy geezers” need to sacrifice on “entitlements” becomes not only plausible but a downright moral imperative!

      Unless the younger generation comes to understand that this war on “entitlements” will hurt them as much as, if not more than, it will their elders aka “greedy geezers” – the jig is up folks ….

      Methinks that if the stock market hadn’t so recently demonstrated what a lousy “guarantor” it is of a decent retirement future – the game might have been up by now …

      And those elders had better start paying attention to the plight of the younger generation re their debt and lousy jobs – for the sake of their kids and grandkids and for their own as well.

      As soon as we completely reject the idea we are, indeed, all in this together – the 1% wins ….

      I keep pushing this 3rd party thing, in this case Stein, not because I am a groupy in love with a “savior” (I’m a registered Indy) but because i have looked around and Stein/Greens seem to be the only ones really talking to all generations “where they live” so to speak. If we fail to renew the old New Deal that spoke to this inter-generational social contract, we will go further down the path toward Hobbes view of life.

      Movements are great, they are the life blood, the heart, the soul, of “progress” in any real sense, but they need, IMO, the arms and legs that politics provides to make the wheels turn – this “politics” stuff IS important, it is they way by which movement incarnates into policy and program – it is what, in the end, decides whether the check, indeed, is in the mail ….

    2. jessica

      And in 25 years or so, when most of the legacy recipients have passed on and the majority of recipients and soon-to-be recipients are on the new reduced benefit scale, it will be ridiculously easy to cut the benefits for the remaining legacy recipients too. Happy 90th Birthday.
      I may be just under the wire (to receive the current benefits) but want no part of this two-tier nonsense.

  6. financial matters

    Naked Capitalism is the best blog on the internet. You’ve nurtured a great set of contributors and commenters. It takes a solid look at economics which also necessarily brings in political and social issues. Your financial savvy and great book Econned give the site credence.

    In addition to documenting the crisis and pushing for transparency I like discussions of what a better economic environment would look like. Michael Hudson is my favorite here and a discussion of Randy Wray’s new book could be interesting. Other people who I think would make great contributions to what a better future would look like would be Naomi Klein, Nicholas Shaxson, and Ellen Brown.

    I also like the way things seem to be framing up as the 99% against the 1% rather than pitting countries against each other..

    Again kudos on your hard work and great site!

    1. JEHR

      I agree. This site has introduced me to many important writers that I would otherwise never have read.

      The person I most admire for his persistence, perseverance and consistent message is William K. Black. I am also in great admiration of all the MMT people. I feel as though I am taking an extensive course in finance and the economy and I am madly studying like the devil!

    2. Susan the other

      I agree with what financial matters above just said, but I’d like to rave on a tad more: For starters: 1) Re the concentric and widening circles of evolution: My number one cause is the environment – So that is the coverage I want. I’d like to see the environment as a broad theme that encompasses all health concepts – human, wildlife, soil, atmosphere, water, whatever, and you name it (i.e. the poisons foisted on us by Monsant, DuPont et. al… And please not to leave out Single Payer coverage. And under each of these subtopics I would like to see the pertinent economic analysis in as honest a presentation as possible, with the goal of promoting health worldwide and planet wide.

      I want the oceans cleaned up. I want the rivers cleaned up. I want the estuaries cleaned up – and I would love real time reporting on it.

      I’d like to see Black Mamba extract legalized and over the counter soon.

      2). I want extractive finance exposed in future posts as it is today. And in this context I’d like to see exposes on corporate rights v. individual rights v. national rights. And all the conflict and contradiction engendered in globalization and old assumptions v. new assumptions.

      3). Articles on our seriously inadequate system of justice, both criminal and civil, and examples of how to actually make it work in a just manner.

      4. I’m very interested in the connection between the “banks” and the military industrial complex.

      1. Aquifer

        Yo, Suse, re the Black Mamba extract – you will not see that on the market unless/until someone has figured out a way to patent it ….

        I found a place that sells an herb, Phyllanthus niruri, “Chanca Piedra” (stone breaker) in the native parlance, that studies, outside the US of course, have indicated does what a prescription drug does and considerably more with indications it might be useful in a number of other areas, as well. But the last time i tried to order it through the company i was told the FDA is holding up their shipment from Peru, apparently over some website issue – what the real reason is who knows, but the end result is these folks can’t get their herbs and may well go out of business … I found another place to get it, for now …

        The issue is – this “stone breaker” is not patentable and so there is no impetus to do the studies that would demonstrate, in strict Western scientific parlance, what it can do and what the problems are sufficient to get an FDA stamp of approval. But to the extent folks are buying and using it, it is cutting into Big Pharma. So, IMO, the FDA, in this case, instead of exploring the plant for its medicinal value, is being used by Pharma as its big stick to keep it from being sold …

        i mean shucks, what do you think would have happened not all that long ago if folks were selling the bark of the willow tree as an analgesic ….

          1. Aquifer

            That is another interesting part of the story – i asked why they didn’t just grow it locally and the explanation was that it was what it was because of the soil it was grown in – the whole local ecology bit …. If i recall, i have heard that native medicine folk felt that herbs had to be harvested at specific times, even times of the day, for example –

            The point being of course that other living beings are like humans as well in not being perpetually exchangeable, transportable, that they are rooted in time and place and that the obscenity of Big Pharma is not just the claim to a right to profit from “proprietary” knowledge stolen from indigenous culture, but the whole idea that the inventions of Nature can be reproduced in or spit out of a test tube – almost as ridiculous as the concept that humans economic activities can be modeled by a computer program …. :)

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      YVES, “financial matters” has given you great feedback. The answer to your question: whither now? has been offered above.

  7. David Lentini


    1. Really appreciate the stories about Europe, especially Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Our mainstream news seems to have lost their maps.

    2. Really appreciate the analysis of economics as a discipline (religion) and the banking crisis.

    3. Don’t really care for the pop-science stories. The science is generally unreliable; so I find them a waste of time.

    1. PQS


      I would only add that I appreciate coverage of major events that fall off the radar: Fukushima, for example.

    1. Carla

      Thirding Ron and Aquifer. Naked Capitalism is my go-to place on the web. You are doing a phenomenal job, Yves. (Yes, the contribution is on the donate tab. Wish it could be more.)

  8. jsmith

    Regarding Syria:

    It is a disgrace to even after to read such putrid propaganda trash as Haggerty’s piece.

    Some of the highlights:

    “This would enable the creation of a safe zone in that area where humanitarian aid could be delivered to civilians fleeing the Syrian military’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign, an operation that has included the use of indiscriminate shelling.”

    Humanitarian aid?!! Why don’t we ask the sub-Saharan Libyans about the “humanitarian aid” they received you murderous piece of graduate school garbage?

    Another highlight in this quote was the link to Amnesty International’s website. Gee, do you think AI has jumped the neoliberal shark or is it just sucking it off?

    Hey, why is the P@ssy Riot slide only on the AI U.S. site?

    Nah, they don’t have an agenda do they?

    (NPR Liberal warning: Amy Goodman not looking too “leftish” in the above piece what with sharing the stage with the man responsible for death squads in Iraq and Syria. Oops.)


    “Even in this era of highly accurate munitions, some coalition bombs inevitably would fall on civilians.”

    The “era of highly accurate munitions”, eh? Seriously, Mr. Haggerty, someone needs to rub your smug neoliberal face into the remains of the innocent people annihilated by our “highly accurate munitions”, you detestable moron.

    “But for outside powers seeking to end Syria’s civil war, there is no limited option.”

    Civil war?!! Are you f*cking kidding me? So, when foreign troops – e.g., Libyans, Turks, Qataris, etc etc – are deployed inside another country with outside monetary and military backing that’s a “civil war”, you over-educated MIT piece of neoliberal shite?

    Go read the rest of this waste of life’s offal at the MIT website where we are regaled by the rest of Mr. Haggerty’s wonderful insights as to how we can invade, topple and crush yet another sovereign nation in the US empire’s push to yoke the world.

    Oh, but he’s just being objective, huh?

    Mr. Haggerty and his murderous academic ilk may even be worse than the scum who carry out said plans and they for damn sure are aiding/abetting in the commission of war crimes.

    For any of believers in the charade that is being carried out in Syria please read the following and learn something:

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      But jsmith, what else can you expect from MIT? They want more butter yet for their “leading edge” M-I bread.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Mr. Haggerty’s piece is indeed pro war propaganda. And cocky propaganda at that.

      Haggerty admits the strong unlimited approach he seems to advocate entails a big initial effort:

      Blowing down Syrian air defenses is just the start. A no- fly zone would also require destroying enough of Syria’s most capable combat aircraft on the ground to deter Syrian pilots from challenging the zone.

      Air Campaign

      My study found that initial strikes would require destroying more than 450 targets, including at least 22 early warning radar sites and command-and-control facilities, 150 surface-to-air missile batteries, 27 surface-to-surface missile batteries, 12 anti-ship missile batteries, 32 airfield targets and more than 200 hardened aircraft shelters. This could require dropping more than 1,600 munitions over hundreds of sorties in the opening days of strikes, and could drag on much longer should mobile targets prove difficult to find, which is all but guaranteed.

      But Syria is not just going to sit there and get attacked.

      In fact, here’s what I imagine an aggressive Syrian adviser advocating right now:

      Syria should seize the initiative and attack before it inevitably gets fully attacked. Might as well have war on Syria’s terms. Syria can do some damage.

      Syria should immediately attack Turkey with all Syria has and try to occupy it [the aggressive adviser says]. Go on the total offensive. Send all available planes on sortie after sortie into Turkey until they are all gone (they’re going to be gone anyway once the war starts, right?). Even if all Turkey and NATO planes engage Syria will be able to do some damage and force NATO to focus on this rather than their planned targetting.

      Send all available tanks and attack troops into Turkey. Knock out all the dams on the Tigris and Euphrates. Knock out critical bridges, gas lines, and power plants. Destabilize the border with Greece. Send a couple of missiles to the “command and control” centers of Turkey’s government. Might as well bomb the politicians’ homes–what is good for the goose is good for the gander and why should Erdogan’s children and grandchildren be spared when Ghadafi’s family isn’t spared? Turkey is sponsoring terrorist attacks on families of Syrian officials.

      Cut off Instanbul like Syrian cities are being cut off. Work with the Kurds to attack.

      This would bring the war to the aggressors. NATO would be forced to retaliate largely within Turkey. Turkey may bear more of the damage than Syria.

      The Syrian invasion would eventually be repelled, but the troops could be encouraged to make an irregular retreat back to Syria to battle the FSA terrorists again underground.

      Syria could also [still imaging the aggressive Syrian adviser here], move a smaller group of forces into Lebanon and hunker down for the final war and then the following resistance.

      Iran would probably be brought in along with Israel.

      I would imagine it would then be full scale war pretty quickly and Syria and Iran would have to blow their wads and then go into resistance fighting and sabotage, etc.

  9. Ned Ludd

    A symbolic blockade? What is the point of a symbolic blockade?

    The Independent Greeks party, also vehemently anti-bailout, has said it will make war reparations a major part of its own protest when it stages a “symbolic blockade” outside the German embassy in Athens during Merkel’s visit.

    If you want to get the oligarchs’ attention, you need a real blockade. Despite the media disinformation about the Seattle WTO protests, it was not the Black Bloc that disrupted the WTO; these tools were blocks away from the convention center, completely unmolested by the police as they went about smashing windows and turning over newspaper boxes. The WTO was shut down by non-violent civil disobedience; thousands of protesters occupied the intersections next to the entrances to the convention center and refused to get out of the way. The police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

    At the intersection where I started, the organizers parked a van in the intersection and played music from a sound system to keep our spirits up. They let us know when a nearby intersection was being cleared, encouraging people to go there as reinforcements. At that intersection, people filled the intersection with their bodies, sitting so close to one another that there was no room to step between them. There they waited for the next police assault, holding the intersection as tear gas choked the air, not leaving until they were in significant duress. Then they would immediately reoccupy the intersection as soon as the air was breathable again.

    Greece needs well organized and well coordinated massive civil disobedience that disrupts the powers that be. They need real blockades that create real disruption. The people looting their country are not going to be deterred by symbolism.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, in Toronto for the G20 Summit, a similar riot with the Black Block broke out a few blocks away from the peaceful marchers. Police cars were intentionlly left unattended in the area and became targets and eventually were burned. This was a pretext for more violent actions by police on day 2. May peaceful protesters were “kettled” and incarcerated for hours for no reason.

      I saw an ordinary citizen grab someone breaking windows and drag him in front of a police officer and asked the officer to take care of him. The officer turned away and did nothing! I expect there were a lot of “agents provocateurs” amongst the violent protesters. So much of what happened appeared to be staged by the police. They went way over their mandate. And all this cost the Canadian taxpayers $1 billion!!! All the police forces that took part in the “security” got a lot of extra money and equipment for themselves. Talk about bribery.

      The Toronto police made up new laws that allowed them to arrest anyone that approached the barricades. The whole thing was such a farce and outrage that just about matches what we have for a government that now runs our fair country.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Ned, yes, Greece needs to put those “sanitation” drivers in charge. They know how to obstruct the Smart Set vividly. (Spain & Greece heavies need to huddle.)

  10. JohnL

    NC is the first thing I read every morning. I particularly like the links section as here we get to see the bigger picture, which is how corporations, aided and abetted by government, are fracking not just our rock for the last drops of oil, but our healthcare, housing, education, our food and water supplies, “security”, retirement plans, our social security, and even each other to extract our last drops of wealth. And not just here, but around the world. Please keep your eye on this big picture. I’d like to see more links on efforts to build alternative structures. What to leave out? I guess rely on the readership to supply links, continue your own excellent in depth posts. Be careful with guest posts, especially those outside your own area of expertise, such as Fukushima.

    1. wbgonne

      Me too. I now get my news primarily from NC, the links at Zero Hedge and the news portion (David Dayen primarily) of FDL. Otherwise I just scan Google News headlines and try to piece the truth together by filtering out the bullshit.

  11. Lona

    I agree that Naked Capitalism is the best blog on the internet. It’s not only the only blog I read with regularity, it the only news I read as well. I like the diversity of topics and I like reading the comments. Thanks for all you do!!

  12. juneau

    regarding prescription pain addiction

    This is an obvious public health emergency. What irritates me about the high handed and superior attitude of the feds on this issue is that, unbeknownst to the general public, the JCAHO “mandated” pain management as a patient right in 2001:

    This mandate, added to the patient bill of rights in 2001, which is posted in every medical facility in the country, changed the face of pain management overnight. Subsequently, patients were asked repeatedly, with responses documented, what their pain levels were and what the intervention would be. As an unintended consequence, I believe prescribing of opiates subsequently increased.

    They never comment on this but anyone working in healthcare at that time may recall this initiative which still stands.

    In addition, there are safer opiates than methadone (which has replaced oxycontin as one of the most abused pain killers and is more lethal due to its long duration of action) that are not allowed. Buprenorphine is a mild opiate used to treat addiction, rarely causes overdose deaths, and is by far the most overregulated opiate on the market, and DEA discourages its use for pain management.

    Go figure.

  13. avg John

    I enjoy your site very much and thank you for the tireless efforts you and the others put into it. Also, I throw out a thanks to my fellow commenters and readers for caring about what’s happening to our country. I can’t help but believe that NC, serving as a popular outlet for “expression of the people”, has served notice to those in power that people are righteously angry and indignant, mad as hello, and are not going to silently take it anymore.

    I would like to see a “Corrupt politician-bureaucrat of the month” article that show cases particularly egregious acts of greed and corruption in the military-technological complex. Complete with photos of the rascals to add to a linked gallery that is archived and linked to the site.

    Maybe if we shame the biggest offenders it will serve as a deterrent to other politicians and bureaucrats thinking of engaging in the same. Over time, we would build a history of these characters and it would be interesting to follow up from time to time, to see if they ever get their just due. I think the American public has a short memory an this would serve to avoid the “outta site – outta mind” syndrome the public suffers under.

    1. Carla

      “Maybe if we shame the biggest offenders it will serve as a deterrent to other politicians and bureaucrats thinking of engaging in the same. Over time, we would build a history of these characters and it would be interesting to follow up from time to time, to see if they ever get their just due.”

      John, this is not an average idea at all — it’s a great idea! Out them, shame them, put their mugs on the site, and then have a little “catalog” section for all of this where follow-ups can be posted.

  14. Aquifer

    Older Critter – “Don’t you dare stick your tongue out at me, young man, or I’ll see that you don’t have ANY SS!”

    Younger Critter – “Oh yeah, Gramps! Well I’m gonna whack your Medicare – death panels, here we come!”

  15. ZygmuntFraud

    I watched the economy and deficit segments of the debate once more. Romeney’s argument for lowering tax rates was that small businesses can then create more jobs, that they will, that a job surplus will accrue with attendant increase in tax revenue.

    I think the details need to be hashed-out and supported by an argument that there will be a demand (from where) for these services/products.

    If a new firm (local pizzeria) were simply to undercut an existing firm (old pizzeria), would the aggregate local demand for pizzas rise? It’s not obvious.

    Jill Stein is clear on the priority being a jobs “for all” as item #1 or #2 on the agenda of things to be done.

    Obama is a bit nebulous on social security. There was a limited stimulus (census, other stuff) 2009-2012. Is PBS a signifant employer? I sort of doubt it in number of jobs. Many states, counties and cities have been left to “fend for themselves”. Obama sort of praised the “Race-to-the top” program. Obama said something about extra spending money (per family) for the middle class under his watch.
    Such numbers can be obtained in various ways. Without the explicit formula for $3600 per family, little can be said. I wish they switched to algebra. It’s more sophisticated for relating known quantities to computed ones.

  16. kj1313

    Yves I love this blog. The depth of your reporting outshines every other news sites and the topics are well rounded. Of course when economic & foreign crisis balloons that should be your primary focus but it is nice to read other topics so we don’t become utterly depressed as we head to oblivion.

  17. Eureka Springs

    I miss the original Bill Black who took on the entire system in early writing styles and taught us much by speaking to us rather than by picking on someone who is wrong on the internet as a way to write a post. When he picks on one guy, one bad article, he both loses me in econ wonk and he leaves a false impression, imo, that our problems are not systemic.

    But I am a econ sub-novice to put it mildly, eager to learn enough to be able to tell others about alternative ideas (MMT etc.) coming out of the KC arena. Perhaps that’s why I find the pick a fight with an intentional idiot posts least helpful. He used to be among my favorites here, now I am tempted to skip over his posts altogether.

    Of course I love NC overall, Yves… Can’t thank you your contributors and many commenters enough for what you have here. Adding Lambert, Matt, who has really grown over the last few years, and Hugh to the top has been terrific as well.

    1. Susan the other

      I dunno – Bill Black is my all-time favorite cop. I’d raise my own taxes for him.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    I hope you continue covering a wide range of topics as you currently do. It is easy enough to ignore what does not interest me. Like other readers of your blog I start my day scanning your web-page and reading through the Links to gather a notion of what is really happening in the world. You’ve lead me to some many interesting and important topics that I hadn’t been aware of and their websites. PLEASE DO NOT reduce the scope of your coverage of events.

    I also appreciate the high quality and depth of thought of shown in comments from your readers. I am worried for the direction of the future for my children and the world that they will inherit. Your blog and those who comment here are helping me slowly assemble a larger truer picture of the current world and where things seem to be heading.


    Different subject: I would like to contribute but I am very wary of using my credit card for that purpose or anything that leaves too much footprint. I am paranoid about the level of government and non-government monitoring and tracking of all our activities. Do you have a snail mail address preferably a PO Box where I could mail a contribution? Most people choose the easiest most convenient way to do things including those who watch us. I believe that they share my beliefs of how people act and for that reason they might spend less time monitoring details of small bank transactions. Please respond via my email if you have a place where you are confortable receiving snail mail. I will not use it for any other purpose than to make contributions from time to time as I can.

    1. Aquifer

      JG – i agree, i use snail mail to make monthly donations – there used to be an address posted on the site that one could use – that is where i have been sending checks – SOMEBODY is cashing them! LOL, I hope it’s Yves …

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    I see a small problem in my request for a PO Box. The reply button allows replies from the world. I couldn’t know what was real. I’ll try to figure out some other way to do things, sorry.

  20. Very, Very Angry

    What’s this talk of raising the age for Social Security benefits? It’s been done, my friend, by this President.

    The first president in history to do so. Espeicially since there was NO DEFICIT in the retirement portion of the FICA program. None at all. We babyboomers bought our retirement benefit fully in advance.

    Thanks to Obama, if I want to get a benefit at age 65, I only get 90% of what I was entitled to when I started working and contributing to the system. And I’m lucky. Check out and see what your benefits are.

    Why isn’t this BIG NEWS?? Why do news stories suggest that this is yet to happen? Why isn’t every worker in the system in an absolute fury? T And what does Romney mean, that his government will steal even more of my retirement than Obama already did?

    This is the BIG LIE writ large, and if we can’t organize to throw these bums onto dust heap of history, we are doomed.

    1. Aquifer

      Actually, VVA, this incremental raise in age for full benefit predated Obama – i am an elder boomer and have known for some time I couldn’t retire at “full” benefit at 65 –

      You are correct – folks should have seen the writing on the wall, or on the check, as the case may be, before now …

      But now there is a full court press and the rhetoric has changed to the point where it has become clear to more of us that “tweaking” as far as the duopoly goes, means dismantling. They keep assuring those over 55 that this is OK, ’cause they won’t be touched. But a couple of things about that 1)if that works it will be because us elders don’t really give a damn about the younger generations who will lose the whole shebang and 2)if 1) is true, then the elders will still get whacked, because once there is acceptance by them of this 2 tier BS, the whole system, based on an inter-generational social contract, will collapse – Payback is a bitch ….

    2. Carla

      The age to receive full SS retirement benefits was raised on Reagan’s watch, in, I believe, 1983.

  21. Lambert Strether

    The Obama’s campaign emits another steaming load on Social Security; see David Dayen here. Dayen doesn’t mention “two tier,” and of course I could be reading the tea leaves wrong. But I think “two tier” is supported by evidence (see the post) and since it’s a divide-and-conquer union-busting strategy, the 1% will be familiar with it, and enjoy it, too. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (in partial answer to one reader’s request for stories from the future, too).

      1. Aquifer

        If my younger sibs are any guide, it’s because they have already been convinced that SS won’t be there for them – they don’t seem to have the idea that whether it is or not is a CHOICE that we make – me being the “crazy lefty” (LOL), I, of course don’t know what i am talking about. They say it’s “common knowledge” that we “can’t afford” it, that “the worker/retiree ratio has shrunk so much there isn’t enough money going into the system”, that there is no “lock box of funds because it’s all been taken out to spend on other stuff”, etc. etc – And i am not talking about Rep sibs here, but about Dems, who might well qualify as “lefties” in many other other areas: with regard to SS/Medicare they have drunk the Kool-Aid –

        Once you become convinced that the system CANNOT survive intact (another wrinkle in the TINA theme) then the “logical discussion” is about how to unwind it ….

        That is why I really would like to find some way of understanding and explaining this “printing money is OK for a sovereign” thing in ways that would make as much sense to them as “the household budget” analogy that currently has captured the public’s mind does ….

          1. Aquifer

            The one problem with that image, IMO, is that methinks reflecting such an image of themselves back to them is not terribly conducive to productive dialogue, but i could be wrong …. :)

        1. Bert_S

          You might try understanding that SS does work.

          The “problem” is the guv doesn’t want to pay back the $2.5T trust fund that boomers built up, and it likes having those ongoing payroll taxes become a surplus again that it can “divert” elsewhere.

          1. Ms G

            Yes, Bert. What is it with people not knowing about Greenspan’s SSI reform in the mid-1980s? I’m going to find a link and post a summary capsule of that important little Factual episode in the Real history of SSI solvency (and in contrast with the bl**dy tales that have been spun to keep diverting payroll taxes into the .01%’s bl**dy pockets).

          2. Bert_S

            Good. I get tired of typing. But I did spend about a year reading the Angry Bear site, so I’ve got all the info I personally need.

          3. Aquifer

            Bert, i understand quite well that it works and can easily continue to do so, but methinks you and i are in the minority – and that is a big problem because it is this majority that thinks it’s doomed that keeps voting for the folks that steer the conversation away from the fact that it’s in pretty good shape and into how best to “reform” (gut) it …. Rather like banging nails into a coffin having stuffed a healthy person inside it ….

            As Twain(?) might have said – Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated ..

  22. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Lambert Links: “that Social Security is a problem which needs to be dealt with”

    Lambert, isn’t this the flip “Issue” of the *debt*/conflated with “deficit*?

    Two sides of the same “Neocapitalist” propaganda coin, set into the mouths of the BoRomney Janus Trojan Horse.

  23. Mary J

    Your daily links post is the highlight of my day. Please don’t stop it. If you are crimped for time, you can drop the state-by-state articles. They are a nice to have for me.

    The next thing that interests me is the mortgage coverage you provide. Reading your posts has been a real education.

    1. ZygmuntFraud

      I also enjoy the daily links a lot. That, and the comments that give readers the opportunity to interact and learn. The state-by-state run-down is like the un-reported pulse (battles, scandal, good deeds), because the US is so diverse.

      Alternate history: very good; I was unaware of the real Timosoara 1990.

      The “page one” stories are in-depth. Often, they re-cap things I’ve read before, in part. That’s Ok. I’ve been reading about the GFC crisis since 07-08, often here at NC. The “page one” stories are good as refreshers or for newer readers.

      I’ve read some of the suggestions, such as show-casing greedy ones. NC has evolved with the readership or something like that. I have no suggestions of my own for new things or change right now.

      As for editorial oversight, I accept it as it is. Not all my posts passed, but that’s Ok.

    2. Carla

      Gosh, I love Lambert’s state-by-state reports. It’s one of the very few places that my state of Ohio is ever mentioned on a national/international web site. Some of us get really tired of living in fly-over country, which is actually MOST of the country.

  24. Paul Walker

    Every citizen of every city or town in America has a law enforcement apparatus that has been off “wilding” for action for decades with a compliant bar and journalism along for the ride. The facts of life surrounding police gangs off “wilding” fall into the same general category as mortgage problems are just paperwork issues and NDAA is sound jurisprudence properly giving way to the supremacy of unitary executive privilege. Micro-macro the song remains the same.

  25. Jill

    Gawker is absolutely wrong about this: ” They rely on the fact that women and homosexuals have no other choice—then act stunned that they neither group is used as important leverage in a domestic policy debate.”

    We have the Green party, we could even go Libertarian if we wanted to. The national Democratic party is no more of a choice to LBGT and women than Republicans. Congress and the president currently support death squads killing LBGT in Hondorus. They support a president in Uganda who wants to kill gay people. They support DU which has really messed up fertility among women. They support wars, drone and otherwise, which profoundly effect women’s lives. Obama denied access to the most poor and sick women to even buy insurance coverage for abortion. And that’s who women and LBGT should trust? I think not!

    1. Aquifer

      Knowing some LGBT folk and sympathizers – all that stuff you talk about is irrelevant – Reps are still the “greater evil” and must be defeated at all cost ….

  26. The Heretic

    Naked Capitalism is my favorite blog because it touches on such a wide variety of topics. I really enjoy the discussions on the culture, phillosophy, social issues, the environment and science. You have a very sharp and keen mind, and I appreciate your insights and observations, especially when you expose the errors or mendacity of mainstream thinking and paradigms.

    Thank you for your excellent work!


    The Heretic

  27. The Heretic

    I would add one thing. I love this blog, but it sometimes puts me into a sad mood, to realize so much wickedness in the world. Although it is very important to know about this, it would also be very good to know of authentically positive developments, especially those that you have investigated through your sharp eyes.

    Of course, if there are no positive developments to report of, then there is none to report of….


    The Heretic

    1. Aquifer

      Methinks that is what the daily antidote is supposed to be about – sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words … (unless it is photo shopped … ;)

    2. Lambert Strether

      That is actually one of my personal goals in state and local coverage — strikes, work against resource extraction, and so forth. Please consider that every single example of wickedness documented there appears because somebody called bullsh*t and managed to get a light shown on it. I believe there is tremendous ferment at the state and local levels — for good and ill — and that one of the functions of the biennial, quadrennial, and sextennial horse races is to divert our attention from that ferment.

      1. Carla

        Thank you, Lambert. As an Ohioan, I very much appreciate your state and local coverage. You recognize that not everyone lives on the Left or Right Coast of the Continent. Some of us–actually quite a lot of us– are simmering in the middle.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      The H, re: “authentically positive developments” — these you see every day and night at NC. They are more and more REALLY “free speech” comments presented in REAL “freedom of the press” on the fly, by REAL practitioners of open democratic practice in displays of REAL courage and pertinent audacity, really really fighting for our lives and the restoration of our rights by the Constitution of the United States.

      1. ZygmuntFraud

        What I’d like to suggest is having a synopsis, say for every half-year period. So, January to June 2012 synopsis:
        the idea might be to tweak the daily format; if well done, it could be quicker than digging the archives.

        I realize a good synosis or overview takes a lot of time to do. I also appreciate the regular contributors are working very very hard.

    1. Aquifer

      Fascinating – FDA pulls off cheaper generic because it isn’t “bioequivalent” but continually allows GMOs with little to no screening because they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GE counterparts ….

      So when is someone gonna take THIS BS to court ….

      Oh, Yves, I hope you do a post ripping this one – allowing lousy drugs and lousy plants on the market is bad enough, but keeping cheaper, maybe better, ones off using the SAME rationale is a subject just begging for a great riff …..

      1. Aquifer

        Methinks i need to clarify the point a bit – what is the difference between “bioequivalent” and “substantially equivalent”? The GMOs are clearly not “bioequivalent” – they are designed NOT to be, so why the different criterion for drugs we put in our bods and food we put in?

      2. Howard Beale IV

        The bupropion generic Teva sells sell isn’t the only extended formulation of antidepressants they sell-they also have their own extended release clone of venlafaxine-but I believe that’s a different delivery mechanism than the one they use for bupropion.

        1. Aquifer

          From the article:
          “The FDA is not infallible,” write Joe and Terry Graedon, who publish the column “The People’s Pharmacy,” and run an online forum by the same name. “Just because the agency says all generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts does not make it so.”

          In recent years, a number of pharmacologists have raised concerns about the FDA’s standards for approving a range of generic medications — concerns that the agency has turned away with the unbending assertion that all generics on the market are “the same as those brand-name drugs in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.”

          So when will that same logic be applied to GMOs?

          I really do think that GMOs are to the food system what CDSs, e.g., are to the financial system – weapons of mass destruction, but they are bring given a regulatory pass for the same reasons – they are making money, lots of money, for the folks that produce them ….

          These generics may well not “equivalent” and if so i applaud the FDA for paying attention – all i am asking is for the same degree of scrutiny to be applied to our food stuffs. The irony being that these modified foodstuffs might just be affecting the “bioequivalency” the FDA has newfound concern for – hey, who knows? And apparently they don’t care ….

          1. Howard Beale IV

            Ah yes, the Golden Rule applied to business: “He who has the most gold sets the rules.” As King Crimson stated in their eponymeous first album “In the Court of the Crimson King” in the track “Epithath”:

            “Knowledge is a deadly friend of one one sets the rules / The fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools.”

  28. Brizie

    What do we like about NC?

    When I compare NC to other high quality blogs that focus on economic issues, such as Roubini’s EconoMonitor, Ritholtz’s Big Picture, Harrison’s Credit Writedowns, Baker’s Beat the Press, Mitchell’s Billy Blog, and a bunch of others, I view NC as having a specific niche that I treasure.

    The single most important characteristic, among many that I treasure about NC, is it’s willingness or insistence on providing a clear-eyed critical examination of what is really happening. Roubini has many excellent analyses. But his business model makes it necessary for him to smooth the edges or pull his punches. It’s kind of fun to watch Michael Pettis cajole China’s leaders without giving offense. But, with NC, you don’t have to hold back.

    The other key characteristic of this niche is you don’t dumb down the information to make it more accessible or easier to digest. There are other blogs that cover your topics that don’t dumb it down, but they do pull their punches for various reasons.

    I appreciate your editing sense of how much information and analysis is needed to cover a topic. Some bloggers don’t pull their punches, like Baker or Mitchell, but they lack what I’ll describe as your Just Right amount of information.

    NC has other characteristics I treasure, such as the high quality of many comments, but I’ll skip over those.

    We are living during the birth of an information culture. The net allows us to get high quality information that gatekeepers previously prevented us from seeing. NC is exactly the type of information source an educated culture will need and crave. We need more sources of information that try to get at what is important with unblinking honesty.

    Unfortunately, you are faced with birthing pains of two big problems you confess are taxing the limits of your resources. What topics do you include and how do you support this labor of love?

    Today you ask about topics. As long as this is your blog, cover whatever you want. We trust you. We appreciate you very much. Since this is a labor of love, go wherever your gut leads you.

    I appreciate you bringing in others, like Matt and Lambert, who have your dedication to explaining what is really going on. They broaden your reach without compromising your values.

    So, what I’m saying is, when it comes to selecting which topics to include, it ain’t broke, so don’t try to fix it. You’re doing great; keep it up.

    1. Carla

      Hear, hear! “…cover whatever you want. We trust you. We appreciate you very much. Since this is a labor of love, go wherever your gut leads you.”

    2. veekay

      I would echo most of Brizie’ views. The biggest attraction of NC to me is its fearlessness of analyses. Whether one agrees or not – most views are distinctly left-of-centre – is a different matter; NC makes one think. However I do have one suggestion. Perhaps you may not be acutely aware of this, but you are reaching readers all over the world, since you are using a global platform. But NCs content still remains very US-centric.

      Having lived many years in the US, I can relate to it, but as I now live in Asia, I cannot help noticing a dearth of commentary on this part of the world, where so much is happening and changing. No doubt, readers on other continents (barring perhaps Europe, which receives a reasonable amount of coverage) feel the same. I feel some geographical diversification is important because the world is not so US-centric any more and will become even less so. To be relevant, any great blog site like yours must reflect this reality.

      I am not sure how you can remedy this. You (Yves) live in the US after all, and the issues uppermost in your mind are understandably “locally” focused. Probably the majority of your readers are also US-based (though this is a chicken and egg issue). Perhaps you need more contributors from other places. Maybe you would also need to re-design your site if it were to cover more topics relating to different geographies – as Roubini does for example. You would be the best judge of how far you can go with this, given your constraints and the nature of the networks you have built. You would also obviously not want to alienate your “local” readers.
      But you are doing a great job. Even if you keep it up and change nothing, you would still have a terrific blog.

  29. Hugh

    Re Obama and Social Security, it just needs repeating over and over until it sticks. Obama is not cautious, a compromiser, or an 11-dimensional chess player. He is someone who has governed to the right of George Bush and much further to the right than either Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon. As lambert documents so well, he’s been telling us how conservative he is for years. It’s just that almost no one bothered to listen to him. They were all into envisioning him as the Obama they wanted him to be, not the one he was. Obama has never given up on his conservative, corporatist agenda. If he meets a block, he simply reloads and tries again. This is what is going to happen with Social Security. He is going to keep attacking it and until he succeeds in gutting it. And of course to add insult to injury, he will tell us how he is really, really saving it even as he destroys it.

    1. Aquifer

      Hugh, I agree that folks need to understand this, but i might demur a bit at the idea that the way to get it across is by simply repeating it in just that way. With so many folks in the “Dems, good, Reps, bad” mode, as soon as you offer a critique of Obama that falls outside that paradigm folks just turn off and don’t even hear what you have to say …. It has just occurred to me that perhaps (to give the benefit of the doubt …) that is why so many otherwise intelligent bloggers use the “we must push him” mode – just to get their noses under the tent long enough to make their points …

      I realize Lakoff is considered just a Dem shill, but he makes a lot of interesting observations about framing that i think the Left REALLY needs to listen to ….

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’ve read the less rigorous Lakoff book, and am really not sure I buy it. This “nurturant mother” imaging turns me off completely. Look, the cohort that sounds most progressive now, amazingly, is the last 10 moderate Republicans left in the US, like David Stockman and Sheila Bair. The understand you need rules for markets and societies to work, and they actually understand that a society with a healthy middle class is more stable and better for business than other arrangements.

        I think there are varying ways to frame the message, and it’s a powerful one, look at how Romney was pretending to be a friend of the middle class. I think the progressives kept talking to themselves, assuming their position was so obviously logical and correct there was no need to sell or defend it, and now not only are they losing, they don’t even seem to have the tools to fight back.

        1. Aquifer

          I’m not referring to the “nurturant mother, strict father” routine – that is in there somewhere but not, IMO, the linchpin ….

          More what I think you are alluding to in your second paragraph – progs do seem to have a bit of a superior attitude toward the “rubes” and, ISTM, often seem to disdain appeals to things like “morals” and “values”. They like graphs and charts and “reason” and “logic” and and all those Enlightenment norms,and seem to think that they just have to keep “explaining” everything in those terms – Obama was the epitome of that in the debate.

          But, as Lambert said in response to one of Stein’s appearances – where are the stories? People need stories and they hunger for “values” and they believe in “morality” of some kind and if the left will not provide it the Right knows how to at least counterfeit it quite well …

          The Left does a pretty good job of speaking to the head – it just needs to do a better job of speaking to the heart and the gut – for, when all is said and done, ISTM, the truths that we actually live from are the ones we know in our gut …. i may need to know the facts but i yearn to be inspired by a “vision” and at the end of the day, when i am weary and trodden down, what will keep me going is not that set of facts, no matter how impressive, but a conviction that I am part of something bigger and better than myself that somehow nonetheless depends on me …

          That is the kind of framing i think the Right has understood the power of and twisted to its purpose and i really do believe that until the Left learns how to consistently tap into this – honestly and sincerely, not cynically as Obama did in ’08, we will continue to wind up behind the 8 ball, scratching our heads in perplexity as to why,and being frustrated because, our “truth” didn’t win the day ,,,

          1. JohnL

            Well said. And while I’m at it, thanks for all your comments, and for your interest in water and other resource and environmental issues.

          2. Aquifer

            Thank you, John, I appreciate your comment ….

            I got my activist “awakening” while living atop, and drawing water from, a 10,000 year old aquifer, threatened by over development.

            Though I often simultaneously feel like a fish out of water and in over my head when trying to interact here – i do because i think the folks here are/can be a big part of the change we need to see ….

  30. Eureka Springs

    I would like to read more posts on and hear all NCers thoughts on free trade. And hope NC will monitor the super secret Trans Pacific negotiations as best you can.

      1. avg John

        And I’ll tip my hat. Trade policy belongs to the nation’s people. As such it should be formulated to benefit the nation’s people, with opportunity for commerce to engage in win-win negotiated trade transactions with foreign countries. Trade policy that benefits the few at the expense of the many has got to be stopped at all costs.

        To me, that’s plain old common sense.

    1. Susan the other

      Yes. And in that context an analysis of just what sort of justice the trade agreement is promoting. So far none.

  31. SR6719

    Re: NC

    I wish I had time to read all of the articles and comments, but I don’t, so I limit myself to reading one or, at most, two articles a day by Yves (or Lambert) then searching for comments by Hugh, jsmith, Walter Wit Man and a few others.

    As for corporate media, I don’t have time to waste sorting through all the BS and pathetic falsified information, so I’ve stopped reading corporate media, never watch TV news or listen to NPR, and never buy newspapers or magazines.

    I find I can learn more about what’s really going on by reading one article by Yves, followed by reading the commenters listed above.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        WWM, the Rogan Reality clip is extremely well done. It’s a shame that the F-word is his only means of expressing his amazement: so “America, Fuck Yeah!”

      2. SR6719

        Thanks WWM,

        I just found your comment and haven’t watched the video yet, but I’ll check it out.

  32. Dikaios Logos

    For the future of NC, I would like to point posts more proximate to the crisis as some of the best and most unique. To me, the greatest value of NC has been to expose many of the nitty-gritty details of financial transactions. These posts are usually, but not always, written by Yves and are full of factual details that are seldom available elsewhere. How many of us would have know about allonges if not for NC? Or robosigning details? Ditto details of the Magnetar CDO transactions? Or how about Yves sharing the Amar Bhide video about “hot money” and the JP Morgan CIO (“London Whale”) loses? These posts really aren’t available any where else. To put my MBA hat on, this really is NC’s competitive advantage.

    On the other hand, posts that are larger in scope and try to convey a grand narrative often distract from more proximate issues. These posts are often, but not always, the work of guest posters. While these narratives about say, the U.S. political economy converging towards that of an extractive second world state, are very interesting (I loved that guest post about the U.S. as second world petroleum extractor), I think these types of posts are more commonly found elsewhere than the more detail-oriented, transaction-focused posts. I’m not advocating eliminating these large narrative posts, but rather emphasizing the posts aimed at particular types of financial transactions over them. And the much-loved links posts are great ways to share some of these larger-theme pieces, as they do appear more widely.

    To frame this another way, I have long thought and even commented here, that if 5% of the U.S. population knew about the issues discussed here that the political, and subsequently the economic, center of the U.S., and probably the world, would shift enormously for the better. I think items that highlight serious, particular defects in finance and economics, especially if the specifics shared are not found elsewhere, should be the base material for the blog.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      DL, quite right. NC has gone where angels feared to tread. If we get into the New Real Economy in C.21 without a Hot War/Revolution and many a rolling head, it will be with thanks to Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism: the Clearest Window on the Real World. For this, she should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

  33. Aquifer

    If there is one thing i would like to see, it is a way of being notified if someone has responded to one’s post – this is especially useful if one has asked a question that might be answered in a response. I guess this would only be useful if the blog is conceived as a way of having a conversation. If not, then i guess it doesn’t matter …

      1. Aquifer

        LBR, I do, routinely – but it is pretty “inefficient” especially when i can’t remember exactly which article, and where in the comments, i have to keep checking … also, would save me a LOT of time spent looking for something that isn’t there! LOL

        I suspect this won’t happen, but I figured it “wooden hoit” to ask …

  34. Jim S

    What do I like about NC? I read it because it illuminates how our modern society is organized, both domestically to the US and–to a lesser extent–internationally. It focuses on the crux of issues; but further, it shows how the issues are placed to society as a whole. NC exposes the instruments of social control. I’m certainly reading more into it than intended by NC’s “mission statement”, if it has one, but that’s what I get out of it.

    … And as craazyman reminded me a couple days ago, one should take care in interpreting the information provided.

    I do enjoy all the side jaunts that NC takes. Variety is spice. But if it’s a question of focus, I hope that NC will continue to concentrate on issues that show the true shape of things.

  35. Rob

    More educational posts, examples like private equity or the modern monetary theory, but not solely on finance.

  36. Timothy Y. Fong

    Regarding social security, I think the plan is divide and conquer, just like with any union contract. The idea is to pit the younger workers against the older workers by appearing to separate their interests, and then buying off the older workers. There are law firms dedicated to developing strategies for management to weaken unions, and this is right out of their playbook.

    It strikes me that our political leaders, whether Democrat or Republican, are acting like management. They are treating the rest of us like labor. We ostensibly elect our leadership to serve us, and to govern for the common good. However, they treat us like an opponent on whose backs they can make a profit. This is the “MBA mentality” applied to public life. Every time some idiot talks about wanting to run government “like a business,” what he’s really saying is “I want to be treated like a disposable part and a line item on someone’s balance sheet.” Anyone who says that is either naive or a shill, and should be dealt with as such.

    1. Hugh

      Extremely well put. I like that image of they are management and they treat the rest of us like labor, and that is really perceptive about the dangers of wanting government run like a business.

  37. Kurt Sperry

    I just discovered NC a few months back and I am hooked. The quality of the subjects, their treatment, the ensuing comment strings are all of a high level I am sadly unaccustomed to. The econ wonkage leaves me bewildered at times but that’s entirely my fault.

    Best thing on the internet? Maybe.

    Sorry for the lack of suggestions with any useful specificity, I’ll be thrilled if you just keep on keeping on the same way. Reading NC has become a beloved daily ritual– like reading the newspaper was 20 years ago for me but 1000 times better.

  38. skippy

    Naked Capitalism promotes critical thinking in a participatory manner, with a – no sacred cow[s – disclaimer.

    skippy… I.E. thinking – out side – the BOX… Methinks myself does not ***exist*** – with in – a BOX… A BOX is built by someone or group to place ***objects*** – inside it – …. Critical thinking eliminates BOXES… Living – outside – BOXES is the purest form of ***free association***… or something like that… defectively yours, a small marsupial.

    PS. As nice as the blogs ho[s]tess physical form is… the mental is down right knee weakening… and as – always – don’t forget the sunscreen…

      1. skippy

        Cough… field[s… fertile fields…

        skippy… Anywho, Ptolemaic empire infused with Serapium, seems to be, a never ending story… sigh…

  39. guydetrop

    I have been a regular reader of your blog since 2008.

    I am not an economist and am a small-fry financial contributor ( $30/month ) to nc. I’ve read “Econned”.

    I like your writing — especially when you’re at your most unrestrained. My favorite recent entry of your was the one where you roamed freely from quants to the Iks of Northern Uganda. Heady stuff.

    I like Matt Stoller’s contributions.

    Your links are the best.

  40. gordon

    I like the continuing theme of “how capitalism really works”, and I think that should remain central, but the hard part is how to maintain that orientation without degenerating into a scandal sheet. Maybe the answer is looking at particular instances in context, showing how they exemplify specific failings of the system as a whole (if you can call it a system) and also giving some space to non-mainstream thinking.

    Best of luck, anyway.

  41. Marc


    Next year would love to see NC go deeper to peel the mythical onion on the soon to be bipartisan “policy of austerity” is America’s only solution to job creation and economic recovery. We need everything from a stakeholder map detailing the winners and losers from this solution and the tools (front groups) and tactics that will be used to drive this myth into the hearts and minds of Americans.

  42. charles sereno

    I like that NC takes its commentariat seriously. Perhaps an informal assessment of the quantity and quality of comments on posts (including Links) would provide guidance. But I imagine you do that already. NC is wholesomely addictive. I hope it sticks around.

  43. Bet Mulligan

    Hi Yves,

    I have been a regular reader for several years and recommend your book often. I especially like the writings and links because they are geared toward folks who’ve been around the markets and banks for a while.

    I would like to see more linear/operational explanations of the behind the scenes, the same way you did in your book. For example, I would love for someone to do an “Econned” book for the Eurozone or on the goings on in dark pools, or the technicals behind the London Whale (I’m still trying to wrap my head around those trades). A few weeks ago, Zerohedge’s technical experts gave a minute by minute close-up of exactly what happened with Knight’s software meltdown. I love this stuff!

    Keep fighting the good fight, Yves. We need you more than ever.

  44. TK21

    I would say Naked Capitalism should keep doing what it’s been doing.

    Not helpful? For instance, keep exposing the president’s lies (whoever he turns out to be) regarding administraion programs like HAMP and the Schneiderman task force. Also, keep having general economics discussions like the multi-part series on libertarianism.

    And if an article drawss a lot of identical cookie-cutter complaining, that’s probably a good type of article to run.

  45. Bert_S

    Yves and Lambert

    Since we seem to be approaching D-Day for the Big Social Security Snow Job, and I would hate to see the gubmint steal another $2.5 trillion of “our” money, how about teaming up with Angry Bear and start broadcasting some blogposts out there about the real facts. I know Yves knows Robert over there, but the ones to get a hold of are Bruce Webb and Dale Coberly. They have spent a few years analyzing things (Bruce Webb has some SS contacts) and have already debunked the myths (40 years of brainwashing – SS was going broke when I was in college and I now hear that incredible medical advances have added 2-3 years to our longevity – tho I’ll believe that when it happens). Coberly has worked out a simple fix for the dreaded shortfall that happens 75 years from now – a small increase in payroll taxes.

    I would hope they’ve got all that condensed down to something ready for informed public consumption, and it will save everyone here a lot of time and effort if we can just get it ready made and researched.

  46. tiebie66

    Yves, thanks for a great site! The quality and integrity of this blog are superb. I am happy (challenged, horrified, dumbfounded, excited) with NC just as it is. It has a great structure – like a tree with a trunk rooted in an area of specific expertise while flexible branches link to and sweep a wider space.

    In the spirit of your question, though, I would like to mention some of the things of particular interest to me. First, principles and paradigms of social justice, jurisprudence, and economics. Second, praxes of these, especially how to safeguard them against gaming. For example, can the jury system be adapted for political representation to provide better representation, a wider array of opinions, better legislation, and effective shielding from undue influences by special interest groups?

    If we look to the future, and given the myriad of things we’re unhappy with now, what do we want instead? Do we change things one at a time or do we have to redesign tout ensemble? Has the Constitution failed us or have we failed the Constitution? How do we redesign it so it can go on autopilot error-free? How many steps ahead do we need to plan (ignoring those who say “it cannot be done” and others who say “it’s not necessary – it will never happen”)?

    Just some thoughts, but I don’t want to close with them. Rather, I want to close by expressing my heartfelt appreciation for what you do and its deft execution.

    1. Aquifer

      I know i should leave your great comment alone :), but i cannot help noting old Chinese proverb (tweaked a bit): Man who says it cannot be done should get out of way of woman doing it …

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