Links 12/29/12

“Kitten Therapy” Arrives in Newtown, CT Care2

Delhi gang-rape victim dies in hospital in Singapore BBC :-(

Apple boss Tim Cook sees pay package shrink by 99% Guardian

Pharma firms tested drugs on East Germans: report Agence France-Presse

Wood-burning sets off pollution alarm bells in Athens PhysOrg

Escaping the Crisis: Greek Kindergarten Teachers Find Work in Germany Der Spiegel

National Rifle Association moves to block UN treaty on gun control Amy Goodman, Guardian

Number of Homeless Iraq, Afghan Veterans Doubles DSWright, Firedoglake

Hobby Lobby Willing to Pay a Million Dollars a Day to Avoid Providing Employees with Coverage for Emergency Contraception Gawker

Catfood watch:

A Double Shot of Misunderstanding Paul Krugman

‘Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff ‘ Mark Thoma. Summarizes a useful analysis by a Dallas Fed economist.

Metrics for the “Ever Expanding Government” Menzie Cbinn, Econbrowser

My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids Onion (Lambert)

Chuck Schumer says lawmakers should “support production of semiautomatic assault-style weapons” Syracuse

Brain-Injured in Nursing Homes Without Care Giffords Had Bloomberg

Foreclosures and the Police State Counterpunch (1 SK)

BOMBSHELL! Florida Judge Finds US Bank in Contempt of Court! (US Bank v. Jansen) Matt Weidner. The judge got so disgusted he ordered the appearance of the president of US Bank. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

For Grieving Father Struggling With Dead Son’s Student Debt, Resolution Comes Four Years Late coprs ‘r’ people (dcblogger)

Children face cruelties of the adult world Simon Schama, Financial Times. Peculiarly fails to acknowledge that the sort of childhood he celebrates is a modern construct.

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg Blames Uptick In Crime On Thieves Coveting All Those iPhones Consumerist

Colleges’ Bureaucracy Expands Costs Wall Street Journal. Better late than never to notice this.

The Mississippi River’s Water Levels Are Dropping, And Could Shut Down Trade Next Week Clusterstock

America’s Cars and Appliances Are Getting Old Barry Ritholtz. Barry thinks all this stuff has to be replaced. Well, eventually, but what if America is starting to act like frugal Yankees, keeping and maintaining and selectively upgrading stuff until it falls apart?

The S.E.C. at a Turning Point Simon Johnson, New York Times

Antidote du jour:

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  1. DP

    What kind of fantasy world does Simon Johnson live in to keep promoting Neil Barofsky for head of the SEC, as if Obama, the President who appointed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary and apparently has been happy with him, wants an SEC head who would be willing to go after banksters? Does he seriously think Barofsky could be approved by Congress over the opposition of the banksters who make enormous campaign contributions to the members of Congress in both parties?

    1. emptyfull

      Well, somehow Elizabeth Warren got on the banking committee, which I thought would never happen. . .

      Ok, yes, Johnson’s delusional, but in a “I’m going to pretend D.C. cares more about the well-being of the United States than Wall Street” kind of way. We need more like him.

  2. Max424

    Who could have predicted this!

    Giggle (easily the most predictable happening in the long, protracted history of happenings).

    Dick Cheney should be put on trial. Right? Ha, no, not for treason ( Gothca. Can’t, as all in Washington –including our watch puppy media– are complicit in the treachery), but for stupidity.

    Dick the Numbskull thought western oil companies, and western oilfield service providers (like Dick’s powerful Halliburton. Wink!) were going to divvy up Iraq’s bountiful petroleum loot. But Dick thought wrong.

    China was always going to get the oil, because China is a sovereign nation, while the United States is anything but, and a sovereign nation will always win the bid –or the fair/unfair competition, or the slow, torturous struggle to the pain– over a non-sovereign nation. Every single time.

    How can it not? The sovereign nation could, should, does quite often have a purpose, while the non-sovereign nation, by definition, can’t possibly muster up even unplanned aimless floundering.

    Because it does not exist.

    And stupid Dick, better than anyone else, should have known this. After all, who worked harder than Dick –spent a lifetime!– to ensure that democratic America would be a non-sovereign, non-entity that would not, repeat, not have to be drowned in a bathtub, because it was already dead?

    So let’s try the man, just not for treason –as technically, I suppose you can’t commit treason against something that no longer long endures.

    But for stupidity, for surely, on that charge, dumb Dick is as guilty as they get.

    1. John Merryman

      He already has a plan. He is going to die peacefully first. W, on the other hand, may find himself dangling from a metaphorical lamp post.

    2. Susan the other

      Aren’t those the same oil fields Iran claims? This might have stg to do with the South China Sea oil going via pipeline to Myanmar and thence in British tankers (?) to India. A tradeoff? It makes transportation the bargaining chip; easier route for the British tankers; more difficult for the Chinese. And why is the news on Iran so muted these days? …I’d still like to know why Timmy and Ben took an emergency trip to India to talk with those banksters just as the Asian summit on trade (and oil) was held and why China got so miffed they up and walked out. None of this makes much sense. Maybe China has agreed to shut down its coal-based energy facilities.

    3. TiresiasAGW

      Might this not be just another chess move in ExxonMobils 50 year plan? Give something away today for something tomorrow? Human lives lost, democratic decision-making, climate change? None of that matters. It’s as if they never even existed.

  3. riao

    ” Barry thinks all this stuff has to be replaced. Well, eventually, but what if America is starting to act like frugal Yankees, keeping and maintaining and selectively upgrading stuff until it falls apart?”

    Ask Cubans how long cars can go with some elbow grease. My mom still uses a refrigerator from the 80’s, whose only flaw is that its compressor is louder than modern frigs.

    In the past the biggest issue with cars was exterior rust and transmissions. Now with advances every car made after 2000 can easily go 200,000 miles/15 years+ with maintenance and conservative driving—-just avoid gimmicky electronics like factory-installed sat nav.

    1. Aquifer

      I am old enough to remember when a selling point for a product was that it would last “forever” (i.e. a good long time) – they were well made of good materials and could be repaired – pride in craft, and all that. Now, with planned obsolescence, longevity is a dirty word …

      But with the economy as it is, and resources as they are, i am hoping longevity will return as a value – and instead of trying to have the “newest” gadgets on the block, the status symbol will be to have the oldest …

      So with my old gadgets and auto, I am supporting my local “fixit” guys/gals instead of multinationals working slave labor – as a matter of fact i am sitting here right now waiting for a guy to pick up my 30 year old snow blower – THAT is a bit of a problem – old stuff gets as temperamental as its owners :)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          This should not be the great debate of our time, but unfortunately, it seems to be:

          With respect to Nature, do you prefer

          A. Less Consuming


          B. Great Waste?

          Great Waster!

          No, Less Consuming!

          No, Great Waste!

          Less Consuming!

          And so it goes, endlessly.

          1. different clue

            Well . . . if your stuff lasts twice as long, isn’t that equivalent to using “half as much stuff”? And that’s conservy, right there.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        So, all of you who think it used to be better, tell me the age of the oldest thing in your house that is still in daily use. Clothing counts. Me? Very likely a kitchen knife I bought 30 years ago.

          1. Susan

            I bought my dishes (one and only set I have ever owned) and cookware (ditto) over 36 years ago. And my bowls come from my grandmother.

            All made in the USA too. I have replaced the utensils.

          2. JEHR

            I have a bed, dresser, kitchen table and chairs that are 50 years old–the same age as our marriage. We also have a refurbished dining room set that is older than those, maybe about 75-100 years old.

            It always amazed me when people redid their homes by throwing out everything they had in them and replacing with all new things.

        1. tomk

          Cast iron skillet c.1870. Four drawer birch dresser from about 1800, with further thought, cost $100 needed just a little repair.

        2. Propertius

          My kitchen knives were originally purchased by my mother when she was a graduate student. They’re at least 60.

          My grandfather’s Leicas are both “black dial” IIIfs, which I believe went out of production in 1952 and are therefore also at least 60. I use them occasionally but I’m primarily a medium and large format photographer. I think the Linhof is of mid-1950s vintage (as am I ;-) ). The Hasselblads are of comparitively recent vintage.

          The oldest thing in the house is the cavalry sword wielded by an umpety-great grandfather in the Revolutionary War, but I don’t use it much ;-)

        3. psychohistorian

          I have a 1928 toaster that my uncle gave to my grandparents long ago and it still works regularly.

          I have a 1986 Volvo wagon with 308000 miles on it.

          My coffee table cost me $6 in 1970

          My stereo equipment support is bricks and boards that I put together for a friend going to college in 1967

          I refuse to list some of my fathers hand tools that I use regularly

          The sauna in my basement is used from a remodel job and cost me $600 and some work.

          Some of us try to walk our talk….I’m not perfect by a long shot by try.

        4. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Bound books 150-200 years old, worth value of instruction: priceless. Still wearing and using linen and woolen goods over 60 years old, pots and utensils over 80 years old; and so on. Excellent for USE. Global Reich “goods” are crap.

        5. different clue

          I am using a Le Berthoud sprayer I got from Smith and Hawken about thirty years ago . . . before they went yuppie and then went functionally extinct. My bicycle is thirty-some years old ( though most of its serially-replaced parts are younger). My clothes are mostly gift or hand me down or Value World. Many of my household furniture pieces are old or side-of-the-road or Treasure Mart. I have my parents’ old rotary dial phone for when my princess phone breaks down. Etc. etc. etc.

          I recently discovered that local seamstresses can fix holes in socks to where the socks are wearable again. I knew I hung onto all those holey socks for a reason. And that’s money going to an American seamstress in America rather than going to semi-slave labor in China (with the labor in China getting a penny of it perhaps . . . and the cost-differential arbitrage-racketeers getting the rest).

        6. Yves Smith Post author

          I have a Meiji era Japanese screen and some furniture from the 1920s.

          I have speakers and a tuner from the 1980s that work just fine.

          I have several coats and some jackets and skirts from the early 1980s I still wear. Also an overnight bag and a good leather backpack. All sorts of good linens, some of which come from an estate and are at least 50 years old.

          One of my air conditioners is 20 years old. My stove is God only knows how old, it was old when I got the apt and still functions like a champ. Ditto the fridge.

          I used my NeXT computer for 10.5 years, and my Apple TiBook for 8.5 years. That’s like using a washing machine for 30 years.

          My keychain is 20 years old and has a silver 2 franc French coin from 1918.

        7. direction

          My house was built in 1902, and the exposed framing in the attic gleams like new. The redwood used back then for lumber was virgin oldgrowth and is super strong because the age rings are so tight. You can’t sink a nail into it. (I guess nails were stronger back then as well) Redwood these days is fluffy in comparison because it grows up in full sun, rather than growing up in the shade. (clearcuts) Modern redwood lumber rots easily; it has completely lost the one characteristic that made it so valuable.

          My highboy dresser is the one thing I inherited from my grandfather, and he bought it as part of a wedding set. hardly a scratch on it.

          My vacuum cleaner is from the 70s and is on it’s on its last legs. I am trying to find a replacement, but nothing’s nearly as powerful as that old Hoover.

          The gas stove is probably about 70 years old. rugs, furniture, dishes = old.

    2. diptherio

      I’ve got a 98 Honda Accord with 222,000+ miles. Runs like a dream, all four cylinders have full compression and the tranny is still solid. Buy Jap or buy crap, as a mechanic friend once told me.

      1. citalopram

        The wife had to have a BMW and now we have thousands of dollars in repairs. I tried telling her, but she wouldn’t listen to me.

        I wouldn’t buy new Honda. They’ve taken a dive ever since 2000.

      2. Gareth

        If everyone spent like I do the country would be in permanent depression. I drove an ’86 Honda Civic for twenty years. In it’s prime it go 45 MPG highway and even in old age it got 38 MPG. I had to finally give it up when a mechanic who inspected it declared it a “death trap”. Road salt was the culprit.

        Likewise I bought a Sony Trinatron TV in 1980 and finally replaced it last year with the cheapest 26″ house-brand flat-screen I could find. The upgrade was stupendous. I would like to spend more to stimulate the economy–I really would–but I was raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression, all of it, and whose motto was: “You don’t need that”. And they were right, I don’t.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Gareth, it’s possible to consume less, shrink the economy and still help to better the 99.99%, by eliminating wealth inequality.

        2. different clue

          If one has a set amount of money to spend, one can spend it forever replacing cheap new shit, or one can spend it maintaining expensive old shinola. If one spends the money maintaining the shinola one already has, the jobs lost through not supporting the replace new cheap shit sector may well be made up for by supporting the repair old expensive shinola sector.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      My Honda Accord 4-cylinder 5-speed carried me over 340,000 miles in safety, and swiftly out of danger on highways and Katrina’s byways; and she now has married up to a man in construction, who enjoys her dependability and thrift.

      I decided to walk. Getting ready.

    4. Susan the other

      We’ve always made our cars last at least 300k. Driving around looking like the Joads. My juicer is 45 years old; my pressure cooker the same. We superglued the coffee maker back together (plastic part), it’s going on 10 years, we always buy furniture at garage sales and my favorite place to shop is the thrift store.

    5. Tiresias

      Your mum’s ‘fridge compressor might be louder than the compressor on modern ‘fridges because it’s having to work harder due to the leakage of the refrigerant from the system, adding to global warming gasses, adding to your power-bill (and the environmental burden of generating it)and increasing the risk of the ‘fridge not getting down to safe temperatures for the storage of food.

  4. Can't Help It

    Regarding the gang-rape victim, I am not sure what they were thinking when they flew her into Singapore? Perhaps they should have flown her in right after the incident if the situation was deemed as being extremely critical. Singapore has some of the best doctors around (although Mount Elizabeth does charge an arm and a leg) but I don’t think the best Indian doctors are so very far behind. After all fatal accidents, etc are far more common in India.

    1. direction

      A collection of brief vignettes with which to illustrate a point:

      The second night I was in India, I was taking an evening stroll with a German I’d met. Suddenly, he gave a shout and turned to tell me to stay where I was. I watched as he ran across the street toward a small crowd of people standing under the streetlight in front of a row of shops. At the center was a large man who was lifting a smaller man dressed in white. The smaller man was not struggling as the he lifted him to head height and then slammed him down into the sidewalk. My friend arrived shouting as the large guy repeated this brutal move.

      The German succeeded in getting the large man to stop (though in retrospect, I think he was just finished), and I came cautiously across the street as the German was scolding the crowd for standing around and watching instead of intervening. He was outraged. A young man danced about and snidely challenged him: “You want police? there is policeman on the corner, you talk to him.” The German headed off with him as I looked at the huge bloodsplatter on the cement. The small broken man was now being tended to by an old woman, and the fat man had taken his women and was starting to leave. I could see the German explaining the situation to the officer at the end of the block. The officer lifted his hand and gave him a dismissive gesture before turning his back and walking away.

      I was later raped in Bombay and met a Swiss woman who had been gang raped there when she was younger. Do you think the police would have helped us?

      My experiences in a hospital were eyeopening as well. I went to get a blood test on a ward where there was a patient wrapped in thin blankets sitting listlessly on the floor in the hall near the woman who was sweeping dirt around with a brush broom. Being a young westerner, I pointed to the blood coming out of my arm where the needle had just been removed. The doctor looked at me as if I were bothering him, and then reached down for a used cottonball that was lying on the dirty floor to wipe my arm. (I pulled my arm away)

      An Aussie friend with a respiratory infection was put on a gurney and rolled into a cholera ward.

      The moral of the story: just because India has some excellent doctors, don’t assume the level of care there is similar to the western world. and don’t assume the police have any interest in helping anyone anywhere ever.

      1. craazyman

        it was probably karmic retribution for something they all did in past lives. :0 What a poisoned garden that all is. What weeds grow from it. What horror. Where is the absolute that everyone knows to be true?

        Just reading right now about India. On page 252-257 of Dr. Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

        Flying like a jet through this book, but watching every single word.

        This is oddly confirms all of Profeser Delerious Tremens, NFL, GED theories about money. It’s incredible. Even a space alien can figure out this stuff if you can channel him on the bus, but you won’t find it anywhere in the textbooks. Dr. Graeber has written it all down, although he hasn’t come right out and said it yet, and a lot more. I don’t get the feeling he channels space aliens, he seems to do most of his research reading either source material or obscure scholars, but I understand that, because that allows him to be taken seriously.

        I should be done with this book tomorrow, right before the big game at 8:30.

        Some people might think this book is some sort of liberation theology statement. So far, on nearly page 275, it’s very much an encyclopedic scholarly but vibrantly intelligent review of historical forces and ideas. It’s not some kind of revolutionary screed. Maybe that will come tomorrow. I don’t know, I’m not there yet.

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          Sometimes I turn to the last page of a book when I get curious about the ending, but you seem like the patient type, so I don’t mind waiting for your book report tomorrow.

          p.s. Space aliens have been here a long time, and there are many more of them than just Dr. Tremens. Tho like you mentioned, only one channels to any human at a time – to avoid obvious confusion.

          1. Fíréan

            Having turned to the back of a book and read the end, i then went back and read the book through cpmpletely, in chronological order. The second time the ending of the book was different,though the words were the same my understanding had changed.

        2. psychohistorian

          When I saw and talked to Graeber in person his only solution was to continue to delegitimize the current system until it collapses….the book espouses debt jubilee for all.

          No magic, just ongoing hard work…..keep on keeping on.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        But, but, isn’t India “enlightened” – the Global Reich model for the NWO Global Religion as humans are “transformed” into “We Are The World” lovers/grinners?

        I mean, isn’t India a “democracy” of the ages, an “open society” for emulation?

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      They flew her to Singapore for “multiple organ transplants” – too late. But isn’t she better off dead? How about those “Indian” dicks? Have they been removed from the bodies of the malefactors?

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Literally: their Viagra phalli were lethal weapons, Q.E.D. Remove lethal weapons from murderers, right?

  5. Hugh

    Chuck Schumer doesn’t have the morals of a maggot. The one thing that you can say about him is that once he is bought he stays bought (at least as long as the money keeps coming).

    Re Krugman, he makes some good points but as always he reverts to his standard Democratic tribalism. And Howard Schultz is not a good guy. He’s just another corporate autocrat who thinks his employees must toe his political line.

    Re college bureaucracies, I remember years ago reading that the University of Illinois had 34 vice chancellors, each making $300,000+. Of these, there were only 3-4 that anyone could figure out what they did. The other 30 were just out there quietly drawing their salaries without performing any real vice chancellory services at all.

    The Wall Street Journal misses some important points. It doesn’t get into the fact that the majority of teaching at many universities is done by poorly paid graduate students and non-tenured instructors. Professors who are listed on the teaching side, in fact, don’t do that much of the university’s teaching.

    While universities have been doing a lot of construction, I have to say I have generally been appalled at the results. Design seems to be independent of function. It’s like no one ever got the users of a building together with the architects for it. In most cases, the spaces are inefficiently or stupidly laid out. You know it is possible to have great design and functionality at the same time.

    Another sore point for me is the ridiculous salaries paid to coaches at the big sport schools and the amount of money that goes to their sports programs. Some are making more than $5 million a year, and that’s before outside endorsements and bonuses. And except for a handful of programs that show up a lot on television, none of them cover their costs. Their total costs are just spread around the rest of the university until a spurious surplus is manufactured.

    The shorter form of this is that we live in a kleptocracy and universities are in no way immune from this. It is just that the looting there has its own peculiar characteristics.

    1. craazyman

      I think somebody around here writing link headlines (maybe a few somebodies) needs a 20 mg does of Pacifex (TM). Pacifex neutralizes the psychosis wave produced when the brain gets “on politics”.

      This is a common problem and people should not be embarrased to seek help from their doctor for outbursts of political psychosis.

      Political psychosis is a semi-contagious mental condition that can be successfully treated with a daily 20 mg Pacifex tablet. Pacifex can be taken with food, alcohol, marijuana and many other common recreational drugs, allowing people to socialize and resume rational discourse with friends and family about the issues of import affecting the nation and their local communities.

      Since I don’t watch TV or follow politics hardly, I don’t know anything about Chuck Schumer or his morals except he’s a New York politician who seems to have been around a long time. But the news story actually says:

      “A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said he has consistently said that he believes it’s appropriate for lawmakers to support production of semiautomatic assault-style weapons for military and law enforcement use, but that the guns don’t belong in the hands of civilians.”

      I always like to check out “buts”. Sometimes you check out a but and you say “whoa!”. haha

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re: … “I remember years ago reading that the University of Illinois had 34 vice chancellors, each making $300,000+. Of these, there were only 3-4 that anyone could figure out what they did. The other 30 were just out there quietly drawing their salaries without performing any real vice chancellory services at all.”
      These things are never done for only one reason. Besides wealth concentration and specific defunding objectives, there are the surveillance and control functions. Universities historically have been places where dissent regarding the status quo arises.

      In the case of the particular university you cited, I believe the majority of that public university’s funding is now also derived from large corporations and other private sources.

    3. Matthew G.Saroff

      Actually, what Schumer said was that the Remington factory should stay open to produce assault weapons FOR MILITARY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY.

      Not a big deal.

      1. Hugh

        Schumer is just another politician talking his book. As Stoller’s recent piece illustrated, politicians in the Northeast want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they raise the issue of gun regulation and on the other they back tax sudsidies for gun manufacturers in their states. No law that anyone is contemplating would restrict manufacturers that supply our armed forces. Or even our police forces although I do not support the militarization of the police.

        But the essential point is that the Remington plant in Ilion, New York is where the Bushmaster assault rifle is now made. It has not been reported if the Bushmaster used in the Newtown attack was manufactured there or at the plant in Maine where the Bushmaster was previously made. But yes, Virginia, Remington was selling the Bushmaster to the general public and not just manufacturing guns in Ilion for the police and military.

        The escape clause is that the state subsidy was supposedly not used specifically to bring Bushmaster production to Ilion. I guess you could call that a bonus for the state’s subsidy. I do not see how that lets the state of New York off the hook for preaching gun control on the one hand even as a plant in the state receiving state subsidies was producing the same model of assault rifle used in Newtown to massacre first graders.

    4. different clue

      When professor-wannabes are punished, denied tenure, etc. for not publishing enough and for not harvesting enough grant money; how does one really expect professors to teach? When teaching by professors is actively punished or even persecuted by their University?


    When I saw the link to “Foreclosures and the Police State” I knew, in my gut, that The Bank of New York Mellon was behind it.

    Don’t ask me how.

      1. DANNYBOY

        Dearest LeonovaBallet Russe

        Now, don’t get me started on Magic Wands. I could write a explosive tell-all.

        explosive…get it?

  7. fresno dan

    Unfortunatley, for some reason the link to the actual disposition isn’t working. Apparently in our courts, if a witness is asked if they murdered someone, can continually answer, “I don’t know what that is”
    It also shows that capitalism and the market is not working as advertized, as the entire management of the firm was engaged in an obvious scheme to enrich themselves, and the boards of directors are useless. Of course, where are the government prosecutors???

      1. diptherio

        Read about half his deposition. If Glenn Hubbard can’t recognize BS, it’s only because he is totally submerged in it.

        Uh, yeah, I ran a couple regressions to test for fraud, but…uh…no, I didn’t control for fraud in my control group. I didn’t think that was important.

        Personally, I would require much more than $1200/hr to sling that sh*t.

        Ooh, ooh, my favorite part is when Hubbard uses the word true with “scare quotes.” Classic.

        Q: Let’s go to paragraph 11 of your report. Here in your initial report you say “If the ‘true’ characteristics, for example, credit scores and combined loan-to-value ratios of the loans underlying the securitizations had been inferior to the characteristics actually disclosed to MBIA at the time…”

        Really, what is ‘true’ anyway?

      1. DANNYBOY

        Follow the money. He gins up the WS thugs for donations. The latest scheme is the expansion of Columbia campus up to Harlem. It’s like funding a war. I remember the previous try, and riots that resulted.

        Just follow the money…

  8. diptherio

    Messing around with FRED some more…

    Can someone here offer an explanation as to why volatility in the amount of Reserve balances held at the Fed has increased so dramatically since the GFC? Check out this graph. Left hand scale is total reserve balances, right hand scale is change in balances.

    Obviously, we live in a VERY different world now, as concerns Fed reserve account balances anyhow, than we did pre-2008.

    Any thoughts as to why Reserve balances are taking such drastic and massive swings now? Something to do with ZIRP and open market operations by the Fed? What’s going on here?

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Zee Stabilitee!

      Actually, the blue line is jagged because it’s the “change in reserves”. It varies in amount over time depending on how fast the banks are adding to reserves, but it shows as a positive number on the graph. The red line is the cumulative amount of what are certainly now excess reserves.

      So this just means that we’ve not liquidated our common stock in an orderly way, and the banks haven’t been selling their Treasuries and MBS to the Fed(QE)at a constant rate.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        ‘Course you can see the “wholesale bank run” and credit crunch on he graph too. Banks clamed up and stopped doing repos with each other, and called in loans early to biz, cut off revolving credit lines to biz…clearly increasing the money supply.

      2. diptherio

        Yeah…I made the graph, so I know what the blue line is. My question is why we’re having such massive swings up and down in reserve balances now, even as the reserve total climbs ever higher.

        Before the crisis, even during the dot-com bust, swings in reserve balances were only in the tens of billions, plus or minus; now reserve balances swell by hundreds of billions, only to have hundreds of billions disappear again off the Fed balance sheet the next quarter.

        Thinking about it some more, it could just be that the greater amplitudes seen post-2008 are simply the reflection of the greatly increased reserve balances that now exist, and may actually be proportional to pre-crisis levels. I’ll have to check that out.

        At any rate, unprecedented sums of money seem to be moving in and out of the reserve system, which means someone is making a killing on fees. Am I wrong?

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          First of all, I’ll preface things by saying that I’ve long wished that FRED would provide footnotes or maybe a link to somewhere that describes and defines the data series, explains what the graph is, and maybe their analysis of the current data trends.

          But we don’t get that, so I did stare at the chart for a few minutes to try and make heads or tails of it and the best I can come up with is this:

          When you say “have hundreds of billions disappear again off the Fed balance sheet the next quarter”

          The blue line, altho volitile, is still a positive number on the graph. That means they are adding to reserves, just not at a constant rate.

          Why so large? QE has been on the order of $100B a month, so that could explain much of it.

          It’s also useful to remind yourself that reserves here are much more than “required reserves”. (8% of deposits in fractional banking land)

          As far as fees go, Ben pays .25% on reserve balances. And when the primary dealers flip treasuries to the Fed, they don’t charge fees per se, but they generally seem to make a small “capital gain” somehow in the workings of that little micro market. Then a lot of people think maybe the Fed pays too much for MBS somehow.

          1. diptherio

            No, look again at the chart. The right hand y-axis (change in reserve balances) starts in negative territory at it’s intersection with the x (time) axis. The zero point on the right hand side (no change) is about a third of the way up. We’re mainly increasing balances, but every now and then 20 billion just up and vanish, apparently.

            Also, looking again I see that the most violent swings in reserve balances, the hundreds of billions I referenced, only happened through 2009. We’re still way above normal though.

            Yeah, I’m finding FRED is a pretty weak tool…easy to use though!

          2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Ya. This is where it would be handy to have a FRED definition of “Change in reserves”…’cause when I integrate by eyeball, I don’t see how the “changes” (net area under the curve) add up to the total cumulative reserves, which look to be about $1.5 trillion.

            But back in 2008-2009 I recall converting my broker account to M1, so that part of the bouncy blue line makes sense to me.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      d – “I think he’s got it!” — the latest BIS-IMF-FED soft coup d’etat was in 2008.

  9. George Phillies

    I looked at the graph on items getting old. If you believe the data Ritholz presents on cars and appliances, my household furnishings are supposed to average five years old. If I lived like that, I would go broke, and so would almost anyone else…of course, that may be what happened. It is beyond me why, for example, a good kitchen or dining room table would not be a lifetime investment, but that is what is being claimed here.

  10. PQS

    From the ProPublica story about the undischargable student loans (which I recall reading when it first came out):

    “the other set of loans — the larger portion of Reynoso’s debt — took an even stranger path. Originated by a company later accused of paying schools to steer students toward its loans products, his loans passed through Swiss bank UBS and landed in a portfolio of assets that were acquired by the Swiss central bank to stabilize UBS during the financial crisis.

    That fund, known as the StabFund, has reached a settlement agreement with Reynoso’s attorney…”

    Finally, some truth in advertising from Big Finance: a “StabFund”

    Right through the heart, friends, right through the heart.

  11. PQS

    Oh, and I’m one of those “savers and fixers”. I have no intention of getting rid of my Mazda with 160K miles on it anytime soon. And I happily support my local mechanic and oil change industry, which I would imagine is in a growth curve as everyone else does the same thing.

    To the guy with the BMW, I remember once the “Car Talk” guys told a woman with one to “just fill the trunk up with money” because you’re going to need it to get it fixed….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe this was from a daydream or movie, but in a foreign country where English was often lost in translation, there was a brand of car called Burning Money Wagen.

      Perhaps they meant to say, in the native language, with this car, it’s better than burning money to placate the gods, or something like that.

  12. Frank

    If the Second Amendment is up for discussion, then by all means, so is the Fourteenth. Why should we give automatic
    citizenship to the children of illegal aliens that sneak
    across the border to drop their baby on the U.S. side?

    We need to have a conversation about birthright citizenship.

    1. wunsacon

      That conversation is over, I believe.

      Who runs our government? Rich businessmen finance campaigns. And immigration — of any kind (legal, illegal, anchor babies) — is good for big business revenue, good for profits (keeping salaries low by forcing locals to compete with more supply of labor), and credit growth (taking loans to buy cars, houses). That’s why Republican leaders hardly did anything (other than pay lip service) to reduce immigration, legal or illegal.

      And changing demographics raise the question whether Republicans — in order to win more Latino votes outright (rather than steal elections electronically) — will, in order to win Latino votes, start adopting a more immigrant-friendly platform.

      So, like I said, I think that conversation is over.

    2. Frank

      Being born white in America was my lifetime pinnacle of achievement. In this meritocratic, competitive society it was all downhill from there, so I am very concerned about people from other countries. If another one comes here and makes something of himself, then I’m a bigger loser than 300 million people +1! At this point my American birthright citizenship is worth maybe ten per cent more than a Liberian birthright citizenship. Why, just the other day I peered furtively into a classy restaurant that I can’t afford and saw white people sitting eating with some of those trilingual, Ivy-educated mud people who can buy and sell me. Their suits are iridescent. Their women are eternally out of my league despite my racial superiority! Send them back to their own country so I don’t have to yearn pathetically for them like a pubescent mongoloid when they flick that benign, self-assured gaze over me.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Instead of issuing visas to brilliant technical people who can write programs, design GM foods or invent new derivatives, I would like to see we issue wisdom visas to wise people from around the world.

        We have wise people here and we welcome more wise people from everywhere, even if they are from Mars.

        1. Frank

          I’ll tell you when it will matter. It will matter when the Zetas take over my shitty neighborhood and sew my face to a soccer ball and kick it around and cheer.

      2. craazyman

        No, we need to take their money and enslave them — especially if they program complex trading algorithms for too-big-too-fail financial institutions. Then their women will look up to us and want to bear our children, who’ll come out sort of tan-looking. When everybody’s sort of tan all the time, not just during the summer, the problem will be solved. Everyone benefits this way.

      3. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        I’ve been hoping the mud people will be nice and buy us casinos to run, but that might just be the eternal optimist in me.

    3. reslez

      Most countries do this. Like Germany for example. They have 3rd and 4th generation decendents of immigrants in their cities. These people and their parents have never lived in another country but have no citizenship. Permanently ghettoized, an army of slave class labor. What’s not to love?

      The next thing you hear something on Fox maybe stop and think about who would actually benefit. You know, instead of just mindlessly hating on command.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Children face cruelties of the adult world.

    Equally sad, adults face the cruelties of the teenage world.

    That happens when, inspired by the an-eye-for-an-eye tactic, adultx exchange a ‘made-a-fool-of’ for a ‘made-a-fool-of,’ and pretty soon, we are all fools.


      ok, i’ll tell you why.

      The mayor and his creepy police commissioner are so focused on crimes against rich people, while they think murders of poor people don’t count (or, at best, are just less important than the loss of an iPhone from his class). HE EVEN SAYS SO.

      Murders of poor people are up in NYC, but he figures it’s the f…ng loss of an iPhone that counts. How demented is he!

      I’ll tell you.

      When he’d come in to the restaurant I ate at lunchtime WITH HIS GOON BODYGUARDS, I just got up EVERYTIME, and let the entire bunch of goons know that I lost my appetite BECAUSE OF THEM.

      I’ll bet he’d of liked one of his bodyguard goons to rough me up, but didn’t know if he could.

      Mr mayor…YOU COULDN’T

  14. snff? snf.

    At Chicago they tried and failed to teach developmentally-retarded célibataire Frank Easterbrook how not to smell like an animal. Needless to say, nobody can get him to stop acting like one: . Torture’s human nature, Did you know that? Ask Easterbrook, another pig-ignorant hack who thinks that CAT is what it says on your gimme cap. Bork taught him all about integrity. Sometimes the disgrace is so bad you can actually smell it.

  15. Propertius

    Barry thinks all this stuff has to be replaced. Well, eventually, but what if America is starting to act like frugal Yankees, keeping and maintaining and selectively upgrading stuff until it falls apart?

    Since the Federal government apparently now has the power to require individuals to buy products (e.g., health insurance) from private entities (e.g., insurance companies), it ought to be within its power to remedy this frightful situation by requiring individuals to purchase new automobiles and appliances at regular intervals.

    Is this a great country or what?

    1. different clue

      Isn’t that part of what motivated the US govermandated switch from analog TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting? The hope of forcing a hundred million TV owners to have to buy new digital reception-ready TVs? And only when they realized that no one was going to buy new digital reception-ready TVs did they grudgingly make available “converter boxes” so you could converterize the new digital signal into your old analog TV? (I realize part of it was to sell spectrum for a song to the rising Yeltsinoid elite).

      Anyway, the government can’t force us to buy insurance. They can force us to choose between buying insurance or paying a “penalty” or a “fine” or whatever they called it.
      Chief Justice Roberts said it was a “tax”. That’s how he pretzeled his logic into upholding it. If the cost of the “penaltax” plus the cost of health-maintaining doctor visits is less than the cost of Forced Mandate Insurance, then it isn’t even a loss of money to pay the penal-finetax
      and pay for basic health doctor visits. It all depends on what doctor visits cost. And one must live a painfully boring accident-avoiding life until one ages into the Medicare one has spent one’s whole life working for. That is still the safe harbor awaiting us if we can stop Barry McCatfood from destroying it and voucherising the wreckage into his Baucus-Obama Romneycare plan.

      1. different clue

        That would mean no recreational biking, no skydiving, no nothing fun of any sort . . . until one has aged into Medicare.

  16. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Do you like this .01% Reich “Globalist” Top-Dog-Down Plan of the “British”?
    “World Banker Makes Stunning Confession”
    Uploaded on May 31, 2011 – by PremierLegend
    Did you catch the “British Elite” accent? Are Americans his *sacrifices” on his “democratic” altars of High Priests of Mammon in London/China/India?

  17. different clue

    Anyway, back to long-lasting non-obsolescing tools . . .
    I suspect there is no such thing in the digital realm. Computers are made to break, programs are made to obsolesce,
    if you want to compute, that is the hamster wheel you are forced onto. Don’t like it? Don’t compute. The best one can do is a foot dragging rearguard action I suppose, and I don’t know enough about computers and programs to know how one would do that.

    The world of garden tools still offers last-a-lifetime choices at high prices for high quality.

    Earth Tools. some of them are walk-behind tractors and implements for same. And some of them are hand tools for garden,etc. use.

    And Bulldog Tools from Clarington Forge . . . what Smith and Hawken used to sell before they went preppie-yuppie.
    I don’t know if it is possible to get them into the USA anymore now. I only know that they still exist.

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