Links 12/7/12

Forgive the thin posts. Yours truly is still seriously under the weather and is finally seeing a doctor. I thought this horrible bug was a virus, possibly mono (yes, you can get it twice) but someone with the same symptoms said it’s bacterial and antibiotics fixed her up pronto. Wish me luck.

Baby bust BBC. This was expected for the US in the 1990s. Note that better safety nets = higher fertility rates in advanced economies.

The Gospel of Wealth Fails the Inequity Test in Primates Scientific American (Mark Thoma)

The Latest Trend In Yachts Is A ‘Support Yacht’ To Carry All Your Toys Clusterstock

The next productivity revolution: the ‘Industrial internet’ VoxEU

Someone is in Los Angeles is Trouble, and It’s Not the Dude Who Found $175,000 Worth of Weed in His Backyard Gawker

Get Ready for Ads that Follow You from One Device to the Next MIT Technology Review

Strong Quake Shakes Japan Wall Street Journal

Europe Bank Cuts 2013 GDP Forecast Wall Street Journal

Turning Point?: Light Seen at End of Euro-Crisis Tunnel Der Spiegel

‘Forgotten in Iraq’ New York Times (Robert M)

Fiscal cliff: Obama keeps up pressure Guardian

Raising the Medicare Age Is a Uniquely Terrible Idea Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

A dream SEC chief Matt Stoller, Salon

The ghost of the leveraged super senior FT Alphaville

Regulator sat in on Deutsche audits Financial Times

Bankruptcy means bonus time for many top executives Daily Kos (Carol B)

Apple CEO Tim Cook pledges to shift production of some Macs to US Guardian

Watch out for the second US cliffhanger Gillian Tett, Financial Times


MBS litigation 2.0: BofA sues trustee Wells Fargo over put-back demands Alison Frankel (Lisa Epstein)

Student-Loan Collections Could Be Subject to Drastic Overhaul Nathalie Martin, Credit Slips

Antidote du jour. This is reader MG’s 7 year old bull terrier George:

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  1. Yonatan

    I like the monstrous strike out of every older message from the middle of the “Fiscal Cliff Propaganda Watch” entry.

  2. Goin' South

    Re: Scientific American–

    Kropotkin rides again! Nice article on mutual aid as a factor in natural selection. The old Russian anarchist was right about more than evolution.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For the 0.01%, it’s collusion, sorry, cooperation.

      For the 99.99%, we are educated to compete against each other.

    1. wunsacon

      Cut everything else first.

      I care more about what we get for each dollar spent than how much we spend. Technology research delivers real ROI: It improves living standards. Our entire productive capacity comes from the natural resources around us and the technology someone developed to exploit it.

      We live in relative comfort because prior generations performed basic research someone could leverage to invent stuff (in their time or ours). We stand on the shoulders of our technology giant ancestors. I, for one, would like us to continue reaching ever higher.

      Cut everything else first.

      1. wunsacon

        Well, not everything else should be cut equally or simultaneously. I see some low-hanging fruit, like: reducing troop levels in Germany/Japan and reducing production quantities of manned weapon systems.

      1. Aquifer

        Damn those medical people! Why are they always stickin’ their noses and their hands and … in other people’s business?

        Oh, wait …

  3. diptherio

    From the Scientific American article:

    What this also suggests is that we’ve been swindled. The Andrew Carnegies of the world have led us to believe that they are an exception to the social contract; fairness and equality may be fine for the little people, but for masters of industry it is best to leave such quaint ideas by the wayside. But he was as wrong about this as he was about the way that evolution operates. As we move to regulate financial markets it might be wise to consider Darwin’s understanding of human society and follow the lead of our ape cousins. By emphasizing cooperation and sympathy with other members of our society we stand a better chance of success than each of us working alone. But if the situation is unfair we should refuse to perpetuate it, even if that means giving up a larger share of the pie for ourselves. –Eric Michael Johnson, The Gospel of Wealth Fails the Inequality Test in Primates

    It’s that last sentence that is the real problem. Almost no one in our society is willing to make a real sacrifice in order to make the world a fairer, more just place. There are, of course, the activists; those who do devote their lives to the cause of justice, however they define that, and do make major sacrifices to try to help others;but they are the exception that proves the rule.

    As I’ve probably said here before, I built a small village school in Nepal, and am now funding it (to the best of my abilities) almost entirely by donating my own wages…and I’m a house painter. Not exactly rolling in the dough, here. One of the reasons that I’ve had to fund this project mostly on my own, despite having my 501(c)3 status, is that no one, apparently, besides myself, is actually willing to cut into their lifesytle, or even their bank account, in order to help out some very underserved and deserving folks. Not my parents, not my friends, not my fellow progressives, not even my sweetie. They’ve all given, mind you, but relatively small amounts.

    “Wow, that’s great what you’re doing,” they say, “I’d love to help, but we’re still paying for the remodel/Saab/home-entertainment-system.” Or they say, “That’s great, let me make a contribution,” and then write out a check for $25. And these are people firmly in the top quintile in income; not rich, but not hurting either. I, meanwhile, have broken through the poverty line all of three times my whole working life.

    It’s not just that people don’t want to drastically reduce their consumption to make the world a fairer place, they don’t want to reduce it at all! Thus, I have stopped wasting my time doing fund-raising: the pay-out is just not worth it. This article does give me hope, however, that our greediness is, perhaps, more social inculcation than genetic predisposition.

    1. taunger

      Thanks for this comment. Yesterday I managed to get on NPR whilst they were talking about global warming – Tom’s guests were scared but had the solutions, of course. I mentioned that every one of their solutions requires the adopters to reconsider their values, sometimes fundamental ones. we’re not good at that. But all the experts responded was – “No, we can do it, we have the technology!”

      It’s a shame the basic issues we continue to paper over.

    2. knowbuddhau

      FWIW, diptherio, you’re an inspiration to this house-painter. I bow in your virtual direction.

      I have a BA in psychology, and I’m also a dementia-care certified nursing assistant. But people will pay me way more to paint their houses than to care for their loved ones. WTFIUWT?! So I’ve decided to paint (I actually love it, they call me Sir Preps-A-Lot :P ), and use the money to support Occupy.

      Illegitimi non carborundum!

      1. diptherio

        And virtual bow returned, knowbuddau. Painters of the world unite! I would guess that at least 40% of the construction works in my little burg have bachelors degrees, if not more. Pretty sad that those are the best jobs that we can get (not that I’m complaining, mind you, any work is better than no work). Well, at least painting gives one plenty of time to think…

    3. Ruben

      “It’s that last sentence that is the real problem. Almost no one in our society is willing to make a real sacrifice in order to make the world a fairer, more just place.”

      Recent theoretical and experimental research shows that people are willing to sacrifice themselves to punish defectors in cooperation games. IOW, people are willing to pay a cost with no gain offseting that cost, in order to punish non-cooperative others.

      So we may re-phrase : “Almost every one in our society is willing to make a real sacrifice in order to make the world a fairer, more just place, _by punishing cheaters_.” You see, cooperation is not just compassionate and friendly, it can also be put in ways that will help enroll right-wingers to the cause ;-)

  4. aletheia33

    good luck yves with the antibiotic.

    hope you can also get plenty of rest. in my experience, a whole lot of vitamin C seems to really help too, and when i remember to take a good look at any immediate stressor(s) that may have increased my vulnerability a bit i’m usually rewarded by a speedier recovery. just reminders

    i could deal with no links at all and no posts from yves either, until you are completely well. i want your health to take precedence over your self-chosen *duties*, as i need and want your incredible work to continue over the long haul.

    love and blessings to you as you recover.

    1. ambrit

      The lady speaks the truth. If it really is a bacterial infection, take a vacation. You’ve earned it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree.

        ANd don’t worry about the thin links. Monetary/economic arguments, check that, discussions can easily proceed without any links or, in fact, any catalysts or anything at all.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not only that, but it’s possible to have as many of those as anyone desires, with us all being idle-chitchat sovereigns.

    2. Joel3000

      Yves, former 20+ year vegan/vegetarian here. Hate to say it, but the veg thing doesn’t seem to work in the long run. Especially in cold climates.
      Everyone I know who has stuck with it long term has health problems of one sort or another.

      I’ve been my healthiest ever since going towards a “Nourishing Traditions” type diet. Sickness and allergies gone and higher energy levels.

        1. Ernesto Lion

          Yeah, chicken soup with homemade stock. Raw milk. Fermented foods.

          Homemade bone broths are deeply nourishing. They are a source of gelatin, which is required by the gut for proper functioning. It’s not just soup. Broth is cooked for many more hours than soup.

          Your body can manufacture all sorts of materials from vegetable sources, it’s just much more difficult. Long term vegetarians usually run at a nutritional deficiency unless they are really, really careful or have the right genetic makeup. You can make it for a while on a pure vegie diet, but it only works while you can draw down your body’s store of reserve nutrients.

          Not trying to taunt the vegies here, I was one for years.

          1. kimyo

            seconding ernesto’s experience, former vegetarian here, now a big fan of bone broths, grass-fed meats, pastured chicken.

            vegetarians get no vitamin k2, and only limited amounts of b12.

            lastly, a low fat diet tends to result in deficiencies of critical minerals like calcium, regardless of supplementation (fat is required for proper mineral absorption).

          2. prostratedragon

            Another convert to daily doses of gently simmered 20-hour broths Have a little of the fat with it, supposedly that’s where the immune factors are. Just remember that, healthful as it is, it’s still not a very good complete protein so as you recover you’ll be needing a little something with it.

            Feel better Yves, and anyone else with these things that seem to be going around lately.

          3. Procopius

            I think I’d be scared of that “raw milk.” It can carry lots of seriously bad diseases, not least of which is tuberculosis. My grandfather was a farmer, and when I was five of six he was still milked a couple of cows. Gosh, that was awful tasting stuff.

    3. Lambert Strether

      And if you have to go out in public wear a mask, like the Japanese do. The holiday season is terrible for catching colds of all sorts, because of all the air travel, and Manhattan is of course a hub.

      Also, of course, the joyous holiday season is horribly stressful in and of itself.

      1. neo-realist

        It certainly is. Wearing a mask of faux joy and pleasure of seeing family is very stressful and taxing on the immune system.

    4. Susan the other

      Probably just coincidence but I haven’t had a cold or the flu for almost 5 years – ever since I started drinking lots of red wine. Lots.

          1. kimyo

            vaccine manufacturers should be subject to outside audits. it’s far from clear that some vaccines (flu included) pass the ‘number needed to treat’ threshold.


            Whooping Cough Vaccine Failures Increasing

            New research confirms the whooping cough vaccine is failing at a higher rate than expected, and scientists are considering adding a seventh dose to the national immunization schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two recent studies have found the majority of people getting sick are up to date with their immunizations.

            KPBS and Investigative Newsource foreshadowed these findings in an investigation in 2010 when whooping cough cases had reached epidemic proportions in California, killing 10 babies and sickening some 9,000 people

    5. Aquifer

      I suppose i shouldn’t say this here, but somehow i don’t think NYC is a terribly healthy place to live, for a number of reasons ….

      I remember back in the mid ’70s when i did an internship there (Metropolitan and Flower & 5th) – I would be driving back from a holiday in Upstate, and would know when i was approaching the City, long before there was any hint of a skyline – the horizon would get hazy and as i got closer and closer to the haze i noticed my self leaning more forward over the wheel and my hands gripping it more tightly – preparing me to once again enter the fray …

      i have always preferred a place where the trees are taller than the buildings …

      1. neo-realist

        As a native NY’er now living in the West Coast, it is true on some levels. While there’s more culture than you can ingest in your lifetime, the environmental stress of 24/7 living can take a toll–When you’re riding sardine packed subways and buses from childhood to adulthood, hearing constant noise from the streets morning, noon and night, dealing with more abrasive personalities in a variety of situations, having the cost of living not allow you to take advantage of the cultural resources as much as you want, and possibly contending with family that gets on your last nerve, you can be ripe for burnout.

        That being said, I love NYC…….as a tourist. Cherry picking is so much more fun. Then again, I wouldn’t rule out moving back for a great or very profitable career opportunity, something I’d consider worth paying the environmental price for.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Now for a little detour into fantasyland:

    A decision by the Federal Reserve to expand its bond buying next week is likely to prompt policy makers to rewrite their 18-month old blueprint for an exit from record monetary stimulus.

    Under the exit strategy, the Fed would start selling bonds in mid-2015 in a bid to return its holdings to pre-crisis proportions in two to three years.

    An accelerated buildup of assets would also mean a faster pace of sales when the time comes to exit — increasing the risk that a jump in interest rates would crush the economic recovery.

    Utterly preposterous. It’s analogous to making a New Year’s resolution to stop whoring … but meanwhile to stage daily mass orgies to prepare for a chaste life a few years down the road.

    By the time the hundredth anniversary of this destructive, fraudulent farce rolls around next December, its credibility will be completely gone.

    The scope of Bernanke’s brazen Ponzi scheme makes Bernie Madoff look like a petty shoplifter by comparison.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        They are pretty sharp guys tho, being able to forecast that they have satisfied their charter of full employment and rising inflation exactly in mid 2015. And that Bill Gross will be there scooping up long term treasuries and MBS at low interest rates with both hands once he realizes the Fed has some for sale. The Chinese and Japanese too. Maybe even Europe if we get lucky and they dump the Euro for punts, lira, pesos, drachma, etc…

        Could happen.

    1. Maximilien

      It’s official! The Fed does not know what it’s doing. From the Bloomberg article:

      “The exit is going to take a long time,” said Stephen Oliner, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and former Fed Board senior adviser. He estimates the Fed’s holdings could rise to more than $4 trillion…..”We are deep into experimentation at this point,” Oliner said. “It’s understandable that people are worried.”

      I wasn’t aware the Fed had a mandate to “experiment” with the financial well-being of 300 million people. Alan “The Maestro” Greenspan kept telling us that central banking was a science: a tweak here, a tweak there and presto!—price stability and full employment for all. Until there wasn’t.

      Now we have Bernanke telling us (but trying not to) through his words and actions that central banking is NOT a science, that it is in fact an experiment with no predictable outcome. In other words, that it is a fraud: that he is a fraud, his job is a fraud, the very institution he works for is a fraud, completely superfluous in a normal economy and useless, dangerous, and even destructive in a bad one.

      Well, thanks for at least being honest, Ben. Apres vous, le deluge?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      One of the reasons for preferring MBS was typical 5 year duration. They’d amortize and get repaid when houses are sold. But they bought Treasuries too, and long-ish dated buggers.

  6. diptherio

    We are party to several equity put option and credit default contracts…With limited exception, these contracts contain no collateral posting requirements under any circumstances…–Berkshire Hathaway; from FT Alphaville, The ghost of the leveraged super senior

    Am I right in thinking that this means that BH was basically selling insurance without having to show any finacial backing for it, i.e. money set aside specifically for the purpose of paying claims? If so, wow…I’m definitely in the wrong business. I want to sell un-backed insurance policies too, way easier than working for a living…

  7. Jack Hepler

    I’ve been trying to understand the origins of money, especially debt-free money for a couple of years now. I still feel woefully ignorant but in the interest of a coherent narrative and limiting question marks, I will herebelow posit a number of points and a scenario, many of which may be dubious or inaccurate. I’m hoping for some clarity, perhaps in a series of articles here at NC and surely in the remarks section of links.

    Today, about 4% of the US money supply is issued as “debt-free” money in the form of coins and bills. The rest is created by privately-owned individual banks thru loans (aka debt); and by the Federal Reserve as electrons in schemes such as Quantitative Easing. The Fed represents the cartel of private banks.
    Note that our current currency is “Federal Reserve notes” and redeemable exclusively for…… other Federal Reserve notes, and no other guarantee of value apart from the implied backing of the US Govt (ultimately the taxpayer). This money is all based on debt.

    “Debt-free money”– from the US Treasury/US Mint— is limited by law as to how much can be printed as paper money [I’ve read this many times but do not know to what law this refers]. In any case the Constitution states that the US Congress has the right “to Coin money and regulate the Value thereof”. [This may be important in defusing less relevant nitpickery…. Coin money vs paper].

    Let’s imagine an Awakening in Congress– maybe even the WhiteHouse– proposes a Bank of Infrastructure Spending to coin money without having to issue T-bills (ie borrow to be repaid with interest) for the purpose of funding large public works programs. Obvious targets are nationwide electric transmission lines; bridges; shoreline improvements…. Among many others. Yet even these seemingly win-win situations get us into moral hazard…. One group benefits; another’s ox is gored….

    This bank is NOT made to loan money. Loans/debt is left to the private banking cartel who can presumably continue to create money and interest and fees…. [While the TBTF banks may richly deserve to be crushed like cockroaches, we attempt here to keep our scenario from floating too deeply into Neverneverland.]
    A new Civilian Conservation Corps would be useful but not necessary; most of this Infrastructure work would be hired out to private companies.

    IF indeed the USGovt is limited by law in creating (paper or electron money) anything but Coin, we can work by minting perhaps a number of $10 (or $50) billion dollar platinum coins which would obviously be used only by the USG and the Fed (or the TBTFs) in the following way: either by 1] buying into the vast hoards of cash (electronic) upon which the TBTFs and the Fed itself are now sitting; OR by 2] buying newly created electron-dollars from the Fed. Or 3] US Treasury cranking out the electrons. Seems to me that option #1 is far preferable.

    This may lead to or have the stated purpose of disempowering the Fed by soaking up its assets in the platinum coin exchanges. Clearly the electron money the Fed creates has one great advantage: it can be spent. [It would be most inconvenient to issue a whole run of spendable, lower denomination platinum coins.]

    Apart from this little thought experiment— but related— is the trillion dollar coin. I.e. The Usgovt right to coin money. [I’ve read that Obama could do this without recourse to Congress but have no idea as to why.]
    As I understand it, the Fed holds a considerable amount of UST-bills. It seems to me that the trillion dollar coin could be used to buy T-bills back from the Fed and erase ???? of our national debt. I read that we must actually mint two trillion dollar coins in case the Fed wants to redeem it— it is legal tender and absolutely redeemable for itself. Bwahahahaha. If it works once, lets do it again… It will work only with the Fed, not with, say, the Chinese…. So its only some of the debt but Hey— a trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon we’re talking about real money.

    Looking forward to corrections, critique, opprobrium, etc Jack

    1. b4real

      I have been hearing this trillion dollar coin idea bandied about also.

      A couple of questions and hopefully greater minds will respond.

      Why just a trillion dollar coin? Why not a 20 trillion dollar coin (or two) and not only wipe out the debt, but create a surplus? (lmao)

      Wouldn’t this instantaneously educate the entire world on the fallacy of fiat and cause a flight from the dollar? I mean, who would want a dollar if they did something like that.


      1. Greg Marquez

        You can’t wipe out the “debt” by making more money.

        As Warren Mosler likes to say the debt of the U.S. Government is exactly equal to the dollars held in savings by the private sector.

        To put it another way when the government spends new dollars, i.e. dollars they didn’t get from somewhere else by e.g. taxing, it is counted as a debt. Minting a trillion dollar coin and spending counts as creating a trillion dollar debt on the government’s books.

        This is part of the reason it makes no sense to talk about paying off the debt. In order to pay off the debt the U.S. Government would have to take back every dollar it’s ever printed.

        1. K Ackermann

          The difference is… we wouldn’t have to pay interest on a trillion dollar coin, and it doesn’t go into circulation.

          1. Gmarks

            We don’t have to pay interest on the “debt” we have.

            It’s all about printing presses – no matter how much phoney baloney we are fed.

            The “debt” doesn’t have to be monitized, just erased.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As a follow-up to b4real’s questions, I would ask, is it a good thing to have more private sector savings?

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Scares the crap outta me.

            The Fed prints up however many trillion to “retire debt” and the Treasury hands zero maturity cash to all treasury bond holders, domestic and foreign. Now they have cash burning a hole in their pocket and either spend on goods and services or write more derivatives in the “search for yield”. I assume the Guv is supposed to do more spending too, otherwise this would be no fun.

            Then, just maybe we get inflation – and I get a tax bill somehow – if MMTers are right about using taxes to control inflation – but still have no money to pay the tax bill.

            Course our even more derivative laden financial markets explode like a Buffett WMD and we are all gonna die anyway.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They print money by issuing debt.

            So, that debt and private sector savings identity thing is better state (to avoid newspeak) like this:

            money we print = money you have.


            If you want more money, let me print more.

            The more I print, the more you will have (collectively).

            Now, eveyone wants more money. It works at that individual level. But thanks to the fallacy of composition, if we all have more money, it doesn’t quite work for the whole. worse if that extra money is not distributed fairly and evenly, but goes to the banksters and their 0.01% pals.

            To me, maybe I am wrong here, but it is disingenuous to call it ‘private sector savings’ invoking images of self-restraint, hard work, etc when it is just more money printed by the government.

            How many would like it if someone tells them, let me print money for me to spend (benenovlently, wisely and fairly, you can trust me, the big brother on that) so you can work hard to earn and keep it.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            No, you want HOUSEHOLDS saving and Businesses dis-saving (investing).

            We have both saving. Bad bad bad.

        3. tim8alete

          Public debt can’t be wiped out by making more (debt) money. Public Debt and private savings are in equal balance. Minus amount equal to plus amount. There is another way to balance: Plus equals Plus. A single $16 trillion platinum coin on the government public side = the sum of all the individual single dollars on the private savings side. It is a balance just like $16 debt eqauls $16 asset. $16 coin = $16 single dollars. The whole = the sum of its parts. Let it be and it is.

          But wait, the $16 trillion coin also equals all the dollars due to the holders of the National Debt. But the holders of the ND are due that money over time, plus the interest I guess. In any event over time. Meanwhile the $16 trillion coin equals the present private asset savings upon implementation establishment. Even if done today there would be no change impact on the private asset revolving fund savings side?

          The National Debt is a revolving debt fund. We must pay it off as due over time. If no new debt must be issued because todays private savings (also a revolving fund) has been balanced by the $16 trillion coin then we do not have to sell more debt to replace old debt as it is retired over time. It becomes a self liquidating revolving fund.

          Where does the money come from to retire the existing National Debt revolving debt fund over time if not from selling more debt?

          (insert answer here)

          The paid off ND investors can put their money anywhere they want. Sounds like a boost to free private enterprise investment to me. Would it drive scams or better, safer investments? China (as well as everyone else holding the ND) has to do something with its $1 trillion but only as that trillion is paid off over how many years? They will find another (safe?) place paying something in return? The market maybe? The common public good in some way if it benefits them?

          Any validity to these ideas about the coin?

          The coin: Something about E pluribus unum appeals to me. It sound American. Like many from one or one from many. Quibble about semantics but the idea is the same. The many combine to one. One serves the many. Did we invent that idea or just apply it?

          $16 trillion digital dollars private savings from (but equal to) one $16 trillion public coin. E pluribus unum used to be the defacto motto of the USA until the official one “In God We Trust” was established by law in 1956. The coin has two sides, one for each motto or choice of core value statement by either political party. Or two advertising spaces to the highest bidder.

          If people must cling to the idea that debt must be a part of money then put the word “Debt” on one side of the coin and “Asset” on the other. One day when the National Debt is gone through retirement without replacement then a change can be made on the “Debt” side of the coin.

          Like: “Paid in Full” or: “Its All Our Money Now” Funny thing: It is all ours now. That is why we can make the $16 trillion coin. It is our soveriegn right. Maybe all we need is the will of the people, or some kind of government to express that will.

          We could have a “National Debt Countdown Clock” and in some future year celebrate two “New Years”. Two new beginnings with a clean slate and hope for a better future in the same year.

          There could be a futures market in when that day and time would be.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Let’s see… one E pluribus unum $16 trillion digital dollars private savings from (but equal to) one $16 trillion public coin.

            Many from one – that sounds good.

            Is that many from one, fairly and equally?

            Or is that many from one, unfairly and not equally?

          2. tim8alete

            Who knows? I have savings, you have savings. Everybody has private sector savings of M2 money in bank accounts. Is my savings amount fair? Yours fair? They certainly are not equal and that is about all that can be said about them. What can be said is there is a balance relationship, no matter if it is plus=Minus of asset=debt or alterntive Plus=Plus of one coin=total of all savings.

            In either case the savings are the same in fair/unfair terms whatever that may be.

            Did I miss the point?

          3. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Except you don’t need the magic coin for any of that. Any statue will do. Say, a pyramid or the Statue of Liberty or even a Presidential bust will do.

            But the statue’s goodness must have a way to radiate out to the economy, so why not print pictures of it and distribute these photographs somehow? Could even be done electronically nowadays, seeing that we’ve gone digital.


          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I see that $16 trillion coin is related somehow to the $16 trillion debt which is already spent – and one might add, not equally…a lot went to bailing out the 0.01%.

            If we are intereted in making private sector savings go up by $16 trillion (or whatever trillions we desire), there are at least 2 ways.

            1 – add a few zeroes to everyone’s bank account. Price of everything will have the same number of extra zeroes. Nothing really changes, excpet we are ‘richer’ because we have some trillions extra in private sector savings. Whatever inequality we have today, this maintains the status quo. Just an exericse in math. But we in the private sector are trillions ‘richer.’

            2 – take that $16 trillion coin and convert it to ‘a check for every taxpayer with an amount equal to $16 trilllion divided by the number of taxpayers we have.’ This improves our inequality a little and also increases private sector savings by $16 trillion, although it will impact prices, like 1 above, if only similarly and not excatly identically. In the end, it just be just another exercise in math, or worse, if prices go up unevenly so that the hit some harder than others.

            So, it will be many from one, but not quite fairly in either case.

          5. skippy

            BUT… BUT… BUT… Hymn 43

            Oh Father high in heaven = smile down upon your son
            who’s busy with his money games = his women and his gun.
            And the unsung Western Hero killed an indian or three
            and made his name in Hollywood to set the white man free.
            If Jesus saves = well, He’d better save Himself
            from the gory glory seeker’s who use His name in death.
            I saw Him in the city and on the mountains of the moon =
            his cross was rather bloody=He could hardly roll His stone



            XTC The Smartest Monkeys

            Well man created the cardboard box to sleep in it
            And man converted the newspaper to a blanket
            Well you have to admit that he’s come a long way
            Since swinging about in the trees
            We’re the smartest monkeys
            The smartest monkeys
            The evidence is all around
            Our brains are bigger
            This we’ve found
            The smartest monkeys
            Well man discovered the park bench can make a transition
            And the rubbish tip makes a valid form of nutrition
            With discoveries like these
            Civilization agrees
            To give itself a pat on the back
            We’re the smartest monkeys
            The evolution’s plain to see
            We’re the dominant of the species
            The smartest monkeys
            We brought the caveman from the stoneage
            To the subways of the modern world
            How they pack so many in
            Quick call the Guinness Book of Records
            Well you have to admit…
            We’re the smartest monkeys…


          6. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            I feel that collateralized debt obligations, mortgage backed securities, interest rate swaps and credit default swaps have greatly muddied the waters concerning “money”. It’s like Einstein’s curved space-time continuum compared to old-fashioned Newtonian gravity …

            In the beginning, there were shylocks who lent hard currency provided the lender paid interest in a timely fashion. Today, it’s a system that no single person has good understanding of. Too much shadow banking, OTC derivatives, Cayman Islands corporations, etc. etc.

      2. TK421

        It doesn’t have to be a trillion dollar coin, it could be two or three or whatever. And such money created by the president and the treasury could only be used to pay for spending already approved by Congress.

        When the government created a few trillion dollars and flushed them down the toilet–whoops, I mean gave it to big finance that didn’t cause a flight from the dollar, so I don’t see why this would either.

      1. Lambert Strether

        The ultimate word: Ditch your cell.

        * * *

        Or leave your smart phone at home where it can’t track you, and take your el cheapo contract phone with you when you go anywhere? Strewing tinsel is always a good plan.

        1. Lidia

          Can anyone explain the outrageous system in the US whereby we have to PAY to receive marketing and junk calls (robocalls and robo voicemail and spam advertising text msgs?)

          I put my number on the Do Not Call registry to little effect: I’m bombarded with bizarre calls from unrecognizable area codes nonetheless. Many are hangups or “blank” messages (which I have to pay to check); others ask for intentionally garbled names: “Can I speak to Mishell Snerzifratz?” I don’t know what their game is! I get several calls each week with a different human asking for a different intentionally-mangled name: Tad Hrangsman, Flirence Grisret, etc.

          In Italy and probably all of Europe—just as with any landline or physical mail worldwide—the person who initiates the contact pays the fee.

          This is really getting on my last nerve. Yes, I can afford people STEALING 10 or 20 cents from me here and there, but my heart hurts when I think about a single mom who’s on her last bit of credit, keeping her phone for some emergency having to do with the kids, but then having it eaten up by crap nonsense calls that are beyond her control.

          I hate cell phones and can do without them, but for many they are a lifeline. What I can’t figure out is why this lifeline is allowed to be randomly decimated. Wasn’t there legislation to stop junk faxes, because—unlike junk mail—they consumed people’s resources?? Why isn’t there legislation to put the burden of the calling costs onto the caller??

          1. Aquifer

            “junk faxes, ……unlike junk mail …..consumed people’s resources??”

            Yeah but, junk mail, unlike junk faxes, consumes Nature’s resources …

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            I have a prepaid. Got it when I was traveling to and from Australia and so was here only 6-8 weeks a year. Kept it because I hadn’t given my SSN when I signed up (not that they can’t figure that out, but I like having them have to do more work to connect all the pieces).

            I don’t get those junk calls.

  8. K Ackermann

    Regarding ads that follow you around… little Janey clicks on a link for Furbies at the age of five.

    By the age of six, her parents try and do the right thing by limiting her use of the iPad to 7 hours a day only to find Janey a miserable wreck because all her virtual Furbies are dying from neglect.

    By seven, Janey’s imagination has developed to the point where she can make up stories on the spot, and they usually begin with “Once upon a time there was a Furbie… and it was very sick…”

  9. kevinearick

    Capital Formation Multiplier Effects

    Here we go again; Twitter creates 3 non-tech jobs per. OK, so show me the capital formation. I see the monetary expansion through this employment distribution channel, but where is the capital formation on the leading edge? Oh, that’s right, the market is a forward indicator…of past replication, more monkeys on a computer, stepping on each other’s heads on the way up to the bow on the Titanic…Twitter is the preacher.

    So, if you are one of these folks who fell for the company line, that money, gold, whatever is an end in of itself, and you want to get out, here is the key: whether you know it or not, you are in line in each middle class event horizon. If you don’t know it, people are cutting in front of you as you stand relatively still, with demographics. You want to move in each horizon simultaneously, with different entry points. You might enter one with a part-time job, another by going to school, and another by joining some group, for example. As you traverse the queues, you watch for an exit gate in each, until you have completed your ladder, your key.

    Each event horizon has its lottery winners, which induces local participation at the exclusion of others, but the winners are all robots. If they fail to adhere to the program, it’s over the cliff, along with all the robot followers. The winners ignore all else to cut in line with each iteration, until they become the warden, the guy in the Zoot suit, I got mine, you get yours. I’m at the Hilton, smoking a Camel, what else, and kid asks me for a smoke, before wanting to run off. I tell him to stick around awhile. He says not in front of the Apocalypse. Crack me up.

    If you are the policeman that has been collecting rental properties, in bumb-f-Egypt, like Fireball or something, you have a red X on your forehead, which gets bigger every time the gun hoarders watch you evict somebody, or send another innocent kid to see the Beast. You might want to choose a different course of action. If things go perfectly well, all will be well, but the probability of that occurrence is very close to nil, and do to the implicit nature of empire TV, there will be nowhere to hide when the time comes.

  10. J Sterling

    Re: the “baby bust” article, where’s Kate Dailey’s evidence for the supposed crippling of Japan through low birth rate? It’s not in the Pew report, or in anything her source, Bronars, says. Japan is in economic trouble at this moment, but so are we all, it’s a global depression.

  11. First Amendment

    Get Ready for Ads that Follow You…

    Screw that! I use Firefox as my browser. It’s free.
    It has a great free ad-on called Ad Block Plus.
    Every time you open most websites, various other ad servers then connect to your browswer. Ad Block Plus has a constantly updated list of these ad servers and prevents them from loading, thus the site you are visiting opens much quicker and fewer cookies are planted on your hard drive. Also, when you shut down the browser, it flushes all the cookies. Also, you can control all manner of other things the way you want to. You can also get an ad on that blocks popup ads in Gmail.

    Open a second or third or fourth free email for commercial inquiries so that spam ends up there. Abandon them periodically and open a fresh one.

    If you want to go beyond mere privacy and screw with the system for First Amendment reasons, try this. If your identity is already compromised, look up people with the same name as yours. Get their address. Load their address into Google maps, or other mapping services. Plot a route from their house to some other place.

    Never ever put your real zip code or any other identifying information into any webpage. Still buying online? You are a sucker and are helping to destroy the real American economy. At least call the 800 number and keep an American employed answering the phone. Overseas? Hang up and buy from someone else.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I still think vampire ads are more dangerous.

      You can never kill them. They never die but continue to suck the blood out of your brain.

  12. Aquifer

    With regard to the primate/fairness study;

    Interesting how the presence of unfairness in free reward (“gift”) per se, didn’t trigger a response, but unfairness in reward for effort (“wages”) did – really does look like folks do make a connection between what they put in and what they get out – you should get what you worked for and, if you didn’t work, you will accept what’s given, whether “fair” or not …

    Another part which was interesting, but not surprising, was that level of expectation was a significant factor in perception of fairness – which is why, of course, there is the big effort to get us to reduce our expectations – catfood turns out to be quite OK if that is all you expect ..

    And the finding that some chimps will refuse a grape when their partner only gets a carrot should put many of us Hs to shame …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think cats, not lower than primiates, also can sense ineqaulity among cats themsleves, and also in relationship to primates (here, we are talking about humans).

    2. Susan the other

      They will probably discover that the fairness gene is the thing that makes us social creatures.

  13. Susan the other

    VoxEu. The Next Productivity Revolution. Shallow analysis and simplistic. We have been dealing with this revolution for 2 decades. A profusion of the same kind of productivity, cost effectiveness, does nothing to stimulate growth. It does the opposite. It would be nice to cut energy costs, however it will not create a flood of new engineering jobs. That’s pure PR. And he left out the most interesting aspect of an “industrial internet revolution.” We can set up in our garages all across the land to manufacture everything we need using an industrial printer and some downloaded software. Mmmmm…. I guess that definitely doesn’t count as “growth” for all the corporations still hoping to capitalize on all these “revolutionary” efficiencies.

    1. Lambert Strether

      But the garages are the interesting part! And even more interesting the open source data that drives the printers, themselves open source.

      Low rent/no rent needs to be the new theory…

    2. Aquifer

      “Reaping the full benefits of the industrial internet will require a set of key enablers and catalysts:
      * Investment to rapidly incorporate the new technologies into the capital stock” (read – incorporate a gazillion sensors which always go haywire – error codes up the ying-yang – and produce lots of e-junk) “* Strengthening cyber security to manage the new vulnerabilities of a more internet-heavy industrial system.” (read – install spyware everywhere) “* Development of a strong talent pool, which will include new professional roles combining mechanical, industrial and software engineering expertise.” (read – make one person do the work of 3)

      As for making stuff in the garage – out of what? Plastic? Sorry, can’t get excited about that … In fact it seems to me that will a) increase production of waste b) increase fossil fuel use. I make stuff in my garage all the time, “don’t need no stinkin’ computer to do that”. Would it make it easier? Very much doubt it – it is the 4D interplay of materials with hands and eyes that, IMO is the combination of “software” and “hardware” that produces the best results, but hey, what the heck do i know, I’m a tech turkey – so all the techies out there, dazzle us with all those bells and whistles ….

      I had to rent a car the other day – my ’93 was in the fix-it shop (again : – I’m a “fix it ’til it can’t be fixed anymore” type) and i had to rent one for a trip – sooo glad to find one with actual handles to role down the windows with … IME, the more electronic gadgets the less likely someone is to be able to FIX something in their garage …

      And i suppose having one’s head in the Cloud “opens up whole new vistas” – Thanx but this Cloud rains on my parade more often than not … yeah, it enables me to converse, here, but is that really useful for anyone?

      (PS – my computer didn’t like typing this – it has given me all sorts of “No, I won’t do that!” BS in the process…)

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          I just printed out a 3D lemon on my printer and dropped it in the blender hoping to get a glass of lemonade. Didn’t work. Makes me think I may be technically incompetent too.

          But I get the idea that things would be much more productive in the virtual word – no more dead weight real stuff to mess around with.

          So then I realized it’s not printers we need. It’s the replicator thingy they have on Star Trek that just re-arranges useless atoms and pops out something useful like food or even a phasor.

          Course there is the other direction to go – just upload all our conciousnessi into memory chips and skip computer peripherals althogether. Then we just write our own world in software. No problem with that!

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Well, almost no problem. I’m certain we will get “The Attack of the Giant Cockroaches” that Micheal Crichton feared in the biotech space.

            But then we can write the giant roach motel program and safely go back to whatever we were doing.

          2. Aquifer

            I had a short story that i have been trying to peddle – but nobody seems interested – It’s about a bunch of aliens who land on this planet and find it rich in critters and plants and also a lot of what appear to have been dwellings with skeletons inside – the skeletons are all connected to some weird helmets.

            The aliens are puzzled and decide to do some research; they discover that this species defined “progress” as the increasing hegemony of “virtual reality” and had “progressed” to the point where it was so powerful that folks forgot to eat and all starved to death …

            Shucks, where’s Rod Serling when you need him …

          3. Aquifer

            I’ll bet it made a mess of your blender – hmm, why not print out the blender with the lemon already inside and then and then … Oh dear my imagination fails me at this critical juncture …

          4. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Sounds like the plugged in civilization should have invented some rechargeable battery operated machines to take care of their real world needs?

          5. Aquifer

            You mean like feeding tubes? But then ya gotta think of the other end – and bed sores and all that. Naw, this “virtual reality” thing is a bit too messy for me ..

  14. Susan the other

    About that 60Tr platinum coin to give us a fresh start. In a zero interest MMT world. It won’t work unless we decommission all the private bank charters and kill the big banksters; preventing them from creating any more credit or any more derivatives in the name of our sovereign coinage. Right now the TBTFs are like households, they have to balance their books (hence off-record accounting and money offshore, etc.) And their plan is to take it out of our pockets, not theirs. We also have to put an electric collar on the Fed and make it a utility for the Treasury. This means we will have to have functioning politics and policies because Congress will make the spending decisions. I think we should send the TBTFs off to Africa with our blessing if they promise never to return. Most loans could best be handled by the retirement funds anyway. And there will always be investment houses and private capital – they just won’t be able to “securitize” debt to loot the rest of us anymore.

    1. Jack Hepler

      Forgive me but the 60 trillion dollar coin is taking my original attempt at something plausible to realm of ridiculous.

      “It won’t work unless we decommission all the private bank charters and kill the big banksters”

      Of course it would be fine to decommission the banks and kill the banksters. But dont tell me “It won’t work unless……”
      I may be way off base here but still hoping for some light on this topic– more of the economics of debt-free money– and how to get there– than the sexy but possibly useful trillion dollar coins.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        The trillion dollar coin thing was proposed by MMTers a way around the Budget Ceiling “deadlock” a year ago (note that we are still here). But now both Obama/Geithner and the deficit hawk duo of Boehner/McConnell have proposed doing away with the debt ceiling – so no more coin tricks necessary.

        You can get more than your fill of new money paradigms at either New Economic Perspectives or their theoretical rival American Monetary Institute.

        You sound like a newbie at NC – we’ve been doing it for a few years already here and rehashing it all is getting kinda old. [hint: it all has to do with wonderful things you can do with a printing press]

    2. Aquifer

      See, that’s the problem – the “developed” world has been dumping its trash in Africa for waaay too long already – why add insult to injury … We have to clean up our own mess and stop offshoring that as well as everything else ….

  15. Benoit Essiambre

    I’ve been so sick all week and I’m vaccinated for the flu. Could the solution be as simple as antibiotics? My wife is a doctor but she assumed it was a virus. I’ll mention it to her.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The flu shot has about 60%-70% success rate in anticipating what the winter flu will be, but you could have the flu.

      I’ll be able to report next week (I did get the antibiotics). The symptoms of this nasty bug that a lot of people have is that it’s like mono. Dunno about others, but the first day, I thought I might have either food poisoning (but the symptoms kicked in too late after eating for it to be that). Nausea and felt generally rotten, and just could not get out of bed.

      Since then, I’ve gone from being somewhat to very tired and have had notably swollen glands. Many days have needed 12-15 hours in bed, simply unable to get up. Some days too tired to leave the apt (and I have a serious gym habit, for me not to be able to work out is close to unheard of….except when I had mono….).

      1. Aquifer

        Well, when they endorsed him, they couldn’t possibly have known …. Known what, you ask? Known he was pro-austerity? Known austerity doesn’t work? Well, once again, a day late and a coupla trillion short … so what else is new in the Big GMO Apple? That’s what virtual reality will do for ya every time …

  16. gordon

    Well, that’s it. I thought I was up there with the best in the yacht department, but this is ridiculous. I’m going to hire some guy to go on yacht trips for me, and save me the hassle.

    1. gordon

      They tell me Slurms MacKenzie isn’t around any more. Pity, he would have been perfect. Is Lord Lucan interested?

  17. Hugh

    Both the Fed and government can create money ex nihilo. The Fed can do it by creating paper money and crediting bank accounts. The federal government can do it by coin seigniorage.

    The proof platinum coin is unusual because Congress did not ascribe any set value to it. As per 31 USC 5112(k):

    “(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

    That’s why it’s platinum and why the original proposals by people like Joe Firestone were for a $60 trillion coin. The federal government would make it and deposit it at the Fed. The Fed then would create an account with $60 trillion ex nihilo in it. The federal government could use this money to pay for any deficits it incurred without creating any new debt. It could also pay down the national debt as Treasuries reached their maturities.

    It would not suddenly insert $60 trillion into the economy. It would eliminate any need for a debt limit because it reduces and will eventually eliminate the national debt. It would similarly eliminate over time all the billions wasted on interest on the national debt.

    The real question is whether it would be inflationary. In the financial world, money and Treasuries are largely interchangeable. So it is hard to see why a swap like retiring Treasuries would suddenly create inflation. Treasury holders might take their cash which used to earn interest in Treasuries and invest it elsewhere and that might drive up prices, but it might not. I mean look at all the rounds of QE involving other swaps for cash. They have yet to produce any real inflation.

    If the proof platinum founders anywhere it is on the deeper level that we live in a kleptocracy and so not just it but any solution if it is taken up at all will be taken up only if it can be subverted and looted.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With respect to any possible inflation, it would be worthwhile to compare the different groups involved – with QEs, are they mostly banks whereas in paying off all Treasury holders, are they are individuals, pensions funds, etc?

    2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Personally, I think the price of tulip bulbs will go way up, but since tulip bulbs aren’t in the CPI we will never know we are having inflation.

      And Janet Yellen, in congressional testimony, will say “What’s a tulip bulb?”

      The tulip bulb market will of course crash eventually and be bailed out by Congress and an incredulus Janet Yellen (I never thought the tulip bulb market would screw itself like that??!!).

      There will be screams for reform – so that the tulip bulb market can never again threaten the global economy (eloquent speech from TSec Dimon) – but then everyone decides it’s too late for reform, the tulip market is here already and the basterds bought Congress.

      But I’m gonna buy low and sell high – so I’m taking my ZIRP money to Home Depot right now!

  18. Ep3

    Yves, nothing about Michigan becoming a right to work state?
    Please note the governor repeatedly stated he was not interested in addressing the right to work issue. So he let his thug buddies in the legislature do it for him.
    Also note, much of michigans govt budget problems have been the result of the republican legislature. They resisted any attempt by granholm to make changes that didn’t involve significant govt services cuts. As soon as Snyder took over, he passed a 1.5 billion business tax cut and instituted taxes on pensions.
    I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. Somehow ppl love destroying their society. So let them.

  19. Schofield

    Please could there be a bit of re-organization on this site so that comments on the links are grouped under the individual links?

  20. Seal


    Watch out for the anti-biotics!!!!!

    NYT article on Cipro toxicity

    “More often than not, the sudden onset of bizarre symptoms in a healthy person will lead a doctor to diagnose a designer “mystery” disease. In fact, there is suspicion that the fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics may actually be responsible for the sudden and prolific rise in NEW illnesses, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Crohns Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome and others. How many people do you know who were normal and healthy one minute, and irreversibly crippled with one of these “mysterious” diseases the next? I wonder: how many of those people had taken a fluoroquinolone antibiotic prior to the onset of their auto-immune disease? Perhaps someday, someone will figure this all out and actually do something about it. Until then, it is up to us; to be informed, educated and responsible for our own consumption. It’s a little thing called consumerism.”

  21. prostratedragon

    Random sighting on the horizon of new trend in the naming of daughters of the overprivileged overwealthy:


  22. Kaz Augustin

    Thanks for having a bull terrier as the day’s Antidote. They may not be graceful or sophisticated, but if you want to throw yourself into Life, you couldn’t ask for a better doggy companion.

    Have a great Christmas, MG & George!

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