Links 4/18/13

Apologies for lack of my own posts. Competing responsibilities, including taping a session with Harry Shearer today.

This is by far the cutest baby bat we’ve ever seen Grist

Trees Call for Help—And Now Scientists Can Understand National Geographic

Defense lawyer shows Steele’s links to Prenda Law ars technica (Scott S)

India promises to upgrade its rail network Telegraph. Lambert highly recommends the pix.

More on China’s debt-to-GDP ratio FTAlphaville

Fed and Bank of Japan caused gold crash Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Yen gains on Japanese investor inflows Financial Times

The New “Nazis” Of Spain Wolf Richter. The creepy bit here is the branding: the anti-bank types are being called Nazis.

IMF warns on risks of excessive easing Financial Times

U.S. takes step toward possible military intervention in Syria Los Angeles Times

Shell Shock Lite Jeremiah Goulka, Tom Dispatch

Karl Rove heckled as “terrorist!”, “war criminal!” during college speech AmericaBlog

A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip Gabrielle Gifford, New York Times (Richard Smith)

Jon Stewart eviscerates CNN’s misreporting of Boston Marathon bombing case Raw Story

Police: Five to 15 Killed in Texas Explosion Wall Street Journal

Search For Explosion Victims Will Continue Through The Night In West KWTX. Lambert says best coverage so far. Sad too.

Has Exxon Mobil Tried to Cover Up the Truth at Arkansas Oil Spill? OilPrice

NY voters say corruption is a major problem Politics on the Hudson. Quelle surprise!

Cheap theater Michael Smith

More Reinhardt/Rogoff fallout. I need to write something on this, aargh:

Austerity after Reinhart and Rogoff Robert Pollin and Michael Ash, Financial Times. This was the least the pink paper could do after putting RR’s lame defense on the first page yesterday.

Counterparties: R-squared regression analysis Felix Salmon. Notice dig of Ezra Klein

Reinhart-Rogoff, Continued Paul Krugman. Krugman’s first of three. Noteworthy because the good professor finds it very hard to criticize a seemingly upstanding member of his club

Marathon Angry Bear


Foreclosing On The Life Story In Your Head Credit Slips

A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map Of America NPR (Lambert). This is pretty cool

An Aside To My Readers Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Jim Haygood

    FT’s headline ‘IMF Warns on Risks of Excessive Easing’ is a quite selective cherry-pick from the thrust of the article, which includes this as well:

    José Viñals, IMF head of financial stability, said: “Spring has arrived to global financial markets where after very rainy days and threatening clouds, we are beginning to see some blue skies and more sunny days.”

    The IMF believes unorthodox monetary policies to encourage growth are better than other options, but is concerned that the long-term consequences of such strategies represent a “new risk” to financial stability.

    “When the patient is still under treatment, you should not suspend the medicine, but you should always be vigilant about the side-effects of this medicine,” Mr Viñals said, adding that central banks could not be the “only game in town” to support economic growth.

    Mr Viñals advised central banks to maintain extremely low interest rates and money-printing operations. “Lifting interest rates and exiting from these policies now … would be extraordinarily detrimental, not only for the economy, but also for financial stability”.

    In other words, ‘Lord give us sobriety … but not today!’

    How many times have we seen this simple-minded movie, whose plot never changes?

    Springtime in the stock market in 1999 … springtime in the housing market in 2005 … springtime in the gold market in 2011 … the Bubble hits just keep on comin’.

    Viñals’ warning about liquidity side effects is bit like a whorehouse madam cautioning customers about venereal disease with a smile and a wink, as the piano player strikes up a jaunty tune.

    It’s pretty clear that the global fiat fanatics are just going to keep pumping until we reach the Promised Land of Global Jubilee.

    1. KnotRP


      In other words, ‘Lord give us virginity … but not tonight!’

      The flaw is that they think all processes work the same whether in forward or reverse (and in 15 minutes both
      ways, no less)

  2. dearieme

    Reinhardt/Rogoff: I had reservations about their thesis, in being sceptical about there being a magical threshold point (at whatever %age might be claimed), and about trying to identify causation from correlations involving multivariable systems.

    Oh, and I’m sceptical about macroeconomics anyway; it’s microeconomics that seems to me to have merit.

    I’m not particularly sceptical about generalised warnings against accruing piles of debt, mind, but about the notion that obsessive number-juggling concerning ill-measured quantities is likely to be a source of scientific enlightenment.

    Come to think of it, the thrust of these remarks covers “climate science” pretty well too.

    1. craazyman

      why on earth would you be skeptical about macroeconomics?

      the deficiencies of the R&R study have come as a complete shock. It’s as if gravity itself accelerates differently from mass to mass. No doubt the truth is objective and quantifiable to the 15th decimal place, the profession simply needs to brush up on the Excel skills and find it.

      When you work the spreadsheet, be sure to check the automatic calculation button or when you put new numbers in the totals don’t change. How could they have made Excel like that? It’s like having a button on your car dashboard that says “enable wheel turning”. You’d think most people would want wheels to turn. At first I thought that was the problem, so it might be next time. Anybody can make that mistake in good conscience. Debt = 84.9814747449899. That’s what I get.

    2. skippy

      Name a few models and the differences between them… eh.

      The difference between economic models and climate is… one deals with reality (real stuff: observed back hundreds of thousands of years+) and not arbitrary fleeting reality’s like price, debt, human promises, etc, especially when handled by mental defectives seeking individual wealth – status.

      Skippy… how you conflate the failure of R$R’s ideological criminality with modeling climate is well… a repeat of R$R’s M.O.

      PS. What a tool…

      1. TK421

        Well, think of all those climate scientists who turned out to have fudged their data the same way R-R did, like…uh…hmm…

        1. skippy

          The mainstream media picked up the story as negotiations over climate change mitigation began in Copenhagen on 7 December.[12] Because of the timing, scientists, policy makers, and public relations experts said that the release of emails was a smear campaign intended to undermine the climate conference.[13] In response to the controversy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released statements supporting the scientific consensus that the Earth’s mean surface temperature had been rising for decades, with the AAAS concluding “based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway…it is a growing threat to society.”[14]

          Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct.[15] However, the reports called on the scientists to avoid any such allegations in the future by taking steps to regain public confidence in their work, for example by opening up access to their supporting data, processing methods and software, and by promptly honouring freedom of information requests.[16] The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged throughout the investigations.[17] – snip

          skippy… I wonder if bias is an evolutionary dead end trait…

    3. AbyNormal

      In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. Watterson

  3. Jim Haygood

    Huge protests are planned in Argentina today, as the Black Widow conveniently exits to Peru to shore up Venezuela’s faltering Bolivarian revolution:

    By late afternoon, for the third time in the last seven months, the Government will watch resignedly a popular demonstration against it, with rejection of the controversial “democratization” of justice and “defense of democracy” as the primary protest banners.

    This time, unlike in the two previous marches, the political opposition will unite directly and publicly in the cacerolazo, called 18-A and organized for some time by various organizations through social media and civic groups. Meanwhile, at the same hour of the protest [president] Cristina Kirchner will be in Peru for an emergency UNASUR summit aimed at giving political support to the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.

    The Pro [party] of [Buenos Aires mayor] Mauricio Macri, the UCR, the dissident faction of [the president’s party] PJ, the Civic Coalition of Elisa Carrio, and the Broad Progressive Front of Hermes Binner, are some of the parties or alliances mobilizing their troops and their top leaders from different parts of the city to reach the Plaza de Mayo around 8 pm.

    As occurred in the 13-S[eptember] and 8-N[ovember] protests, there will be no speeches or calls to action, although the national anthem and slogans in favor of judicial independence will be heard. The protest will have counterparts in all provincial capitals and in twenty Argentine embassies abroad.

    As expressed by some of the organizers, among which are groups such as El Anti K, El Cipayo y Argentinos Indignados, the idea is to gather 100,000 people in the Plaza de Mayo around 9 pm and to get a million participants in total.

    1. from Mexico

      It is necessary to understand what is behind, and who is organizing, these demonstrations in Argentina.

      Cristina Kirchner’s party has grown increasingly popular in the elections, garnering 22% of the vote in 2003, 45% en 2007, and 54% in 2011. The oppoisiton parties have suffered major losses, Frente Amplio Progresista garnered only 16%, and la Coalición Cívica, that in 2007 garnered 23% of the vote, received only 1.82% of the vote in 2011.

      Even though it is being denied, these demonstrations are being organized by persons with close links to the losers in the elections, as this article explains:

      With the reassertion of the importance and power of the state, after the great neoliberal experiment between 1976 and 2001, the neoliberal complaint is that the government has become a dictatoriship.

      For instance, the group “La Yrigoyen” asserts that the government of Cristina Kirchner “is a dictatorship which came to power through the elections.”

      The group “Argentina Sin Korrupción” maintains that the government of Cristina “is not a dictatorship because it was democratically elected, but it acts like one.” This even though Cristina remains extremely popular in the polls, with an approval rating in excess of 70%.

      Cristina and her party’s popularity are undoubtedly linked to the enormous economic success of their anti-neoliberal economic polices, which experienced spectacular success from 2002 to 2011. It is unclear now, however, whether Cristina can stay on a roll.

      The United States is doing everything in its power in order to make sure that Argentina’s anti-neoliberal policies fail. Besides the maneurvering in NY court rooms to try to bring Argentina to heel, it is doing its share of sabre rattling by deploying its instruments of state violence — the police and the military — in Paraguay and Chile in order to intimidate Argentina.

      1. AbyNormal

        “The United States is doing everything in its power in order to make sure that Argentina’s anti-neoliberal policies fail”
        EXACTLY and thank you for distinguishing the parties AGAIN

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          It’s pretty standard operating procedure for the US Duopoly Consensus to do all manner of dirty tricks to those who fail to dance to their tune. Why they even admit it, and seem terribly proud of themselves for doing so:

          This is a political culture that works toward monoculture, ultimately as deadly dangerous for civilization as it is in agriculture. But am I surprised? Mercy, no. We’re led by “good politicians” and the received wisdom is that their staying safely bought is what makes them “good” to those who have laid out the money/future promises to effecuate the purchase.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘Cristina remains extremely popular in the polls, with an approval rating in excess of 70%.’

        You provide no source for this statement, probably because it’s a couple of years old. Here’s a poll published yesterday by the respected MORI polling agency:

        A report by the consultancy MBC-MORI Argentina, dedicated to the study of public opinion, found that 47% of Argentines approve of Cristina Fernandez and 46% disapprove, while 7% of the population did not know or did not answer.

        Those who least approve of the president of Argentina are college graduates. Her approval rating falls to 41% among people between 41 and 60. On the other hand, her approval increases in localities of less than 500,000 inhabitants.

        The perception of Argentina’s economy proved to be negative and pessimistic. 38% of Argentines consider that the economic situation is good or very good, while 59% said it was poor or very poor.

        For women, the economic situation is worse than for men: 64% label it as bad or very bad against 54% of men. In addition, 66% of Argentines think that the economy will get worse or stay the same. College-educated citizens are more pessimistic: only 1 in 4 believe the economy will improve.

        Claiming that the U.S. is ‘maneuvering in NY courtrooms’ against Argentina is silly. Argentina CHOSE the U.S. as the judicial venue when it sold the bonds, and the suit was filed by private parties.

        In fact, last year the U.S. Justice Dept. submitted an amicus curae brief supporting Argentina:

        The Justice Department’s new amicus brief … suggests that the Justice Department believes the foreign policy objectives of the executive branch trump the obligations of a foreign sovereign to comply with U.S. court directives.

        That’s an argument the government clearly feels conflicted about, based on the brief. And its support of Argentina, at the expense of the power of the U.S. court system, could roil the vulture-dominated secondary market for distressed sovereign debt in the midst of the Eurozone crisis.

        Usually, the United States wouldn’t get involved in a dispute over contract interpretation, which is at the heart of the cases at the 2nd Circuit. But the Justice Department believes Argentina’s appeal implicates a “cornerstone” foreign economic policy.

        Facts 2, ideological windbaggery 0. Sorry.

        1. from Mexico

          @ Jim Haygood

          I think the kinds of errors you are making are due to the fact that everything you cite comes from the English-speaking press, either that or Argentina’s right-wing neoliberal press, which has all the financial backing in the world and is plenty powerful. You shouldn’t believe everything you read.

          Here, for instance, is a poll from January, 2013 that puts Critina’s approval rating above 70%

          Here’s another from November, 2012 that puts her approval rating at 61.9%

          Furthermore, if the election were held today, she would win again with 53.4% of the vote, while the two leading opposition candidates, Binner would garner 11.1% and Mauricio Macri 10.8%. The election, just like that in 2011, would be a complete wipeout of the neoliberals.

          I’m sitting in La Paz, Bolivia as we speak. Trust me, the view from here is quite different from what it is from New York or London.

    2. ginnie nyc

      La Nacion is not an objective source on anything related to the Kirchner government. Its director is involved with the La Clarin industrial combine, which feels its interests have been attacked by Kirchner with the proposed (but defeated) agro-combine tax, and the loss of its monopoly on soccer television broadcasts, among others events.

  4. AbyNormal

    re Indian MASS transit
    pic #5…i tote a backpac everywhere and imagining a full grown adult hanging onto it while i hang onto the outside of a moving train leaves me gasping for air (at the least)
    pic #9…reminds me of the ole tarzan movies where they tie people to the top of trees that are crossed with rope and hack the rope (fucking ouch)

    wild ride Lambert…they got a bit of work in front of them

  5. Brindle

    Will Obama go to West Texas to show support for community and those who lost loved ones in plant explosion?
    Does not fit the narrative of America being attacked, even though industrial companies figure possible worker deaths into their financial and operating plans, in effect an attack on employees.

    1. Brindle

      John Galt Kills Texans In Massive Fertilizer Plat Explosion

      Check out the Google Maps photo:

      —Who needs pesky safety regulations or zoning laws when there is money to made running a fertilizer plant?

      Sadly, the small Texas town of West, which is just north of Waco, is suffering the consequences of unregulated free enterprise today, as a massive explosion at West Fertilizer has leveled much of the town.

      Perhaps the only remotely fortunate aspect of this tragedy is that it occurred at 8 pm local time and so West Middle School, which burned after the explosion, was not full of children.

      …..Special FREEDOM bonus: Did you notice the name of the street to the west of the middle school? It’s North Reagan Street, because, well, freedom.—

      1. Propertius

        Unfortunately, Google Maps are not yet four-dimensional.

        The plant has been in operation for 55 years (see The two schools in the immediate vicinity are pretty obviously much newer (judging from the photographs at, and the nearby nursing home received its operating certificate in 1986.

        Far more interesting, to my mind, is the plant’s history of safety violations and lax regulation. Weak regulation kills.

    2. Klassy!

      That the police chief saw fit to announce that “Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity” tells you all you need to know about America in 2013.

  6. rur

    cut bat indeed. too bad it’s also a major disease vector (okay, maybe not this cuties, but….)

  7. Kurt Sperry

    Re: Karl Rove being heckled, Robert Rizzuto of The Republican reports that Rove lashed back at the protesters at least once on Tuesday, accusing them of being hypocritical with their criticism on Iraq, considering many Democrats voted for the invasion: “If you object to that, I want you to show up the next time Hillary Clinton comes here and tell her you disagree with her vote,” Rove yelled back as he completely lost his temper on stage. “It’s either that or you’re saying those people were hoodwinked and that’s an insult to those people including Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and others.”

    Rove is exactly right here. The DNC Dems such as Obama are just as guilty. Why does the fake left not get this?

    1. Michael

      He’s committing ridiculous fantasies that grade school children can see through.

      1) Whether Rove is a terrorist and a murder has nothing to do with whether Hillary Clinton is, or whether I call Hillary Clinton one, or whether I recognize that she is one. His being a terrorist is independent of that. I do not have to run around calling every terrorist a terrorist to be correct. He’s pretty much saying, look, maybe I am, but so are a bunch of other people. Wow, what a defense.

      2) I find it unlikely that those calling Rove a terrorist in public are big supporters of Democrats. Maybe this is wrong, since Rove is one of the standard villains for your rank-and-file Democrats. Nonetheless, it just doesn’t matter. Bush and Obama both belong in prison for life. If somebody asks you, “Hey we have an opportunity to punish Bush for what he did, but we can’t do anything about Obama,” what should you say, “Oh, forget it then”?

    2. Andrew Watts

      Because it has nothing to do with principle and everything to do with the pettiness of party politics. The United States’ electoral two party system is it’s cross to bear.

  8. Kim Kaufman

    Please be sure to post a link to where we can hear the Harry Shearer show. I just found out last night he just got dumped by his home station in L.A. where I have been listening to him for years. Sunday mornings without Harry on the radio is going to be sad for me. :(

  9. direction

    The “Whom Do You Hang With” post is excellent and the comments over there are quite amusing. Thanks for finding that.

    1. direction

      Here’s a link to Brockman’s full paper:

      I love how distinct Cascadia is. Everyone in northernmost California drives over the border for groceries in Oregon where there’s no sales tax. I love how Pennsylvania is clearly split in half. (sort of expected part of Connecticut to belong to NYC as well) I love how clearly the Great Lakes region is not part of NYC, most of New York State has nothing to do with planet NYC.

      It’d be really nice to see a breakdown of how these money borders work. How the map overlays with natural features (Appalachia is clearly defined) and non natural features (Mormonism seems to be it’s own state). Much of the lower Mississippi divides people while the upper mississippi unites. Fascinating. It’s a beautiful decription of our country in that it seems to capture the feelings of alliance involved with location.

  10. Hugh

    Re the gun bill, beware of political theater and cosmetic votes. This was all kabuki from start to finish. A chance for politicians to play to various constituencies among us rubes without anything really happening. I was just surprised that Obama put it through this last go round. I thought the issue had been milked out a month ago.

    The thing is too many in this country have a sick obsession with guns. It is all about fear and manipulation, and of course kleptocracy. People are fearful because they are politically and economically disempowered. We have been trained to distrust each other so that we may never stand together against those who rule and loot us. Gun ownership gives a false sense of control and security to lives that have neither. It is all a sick, sad, expensive joke. Gun activists cling to their sacred Constitutional right to “bear arms”, to stand up to tyranny, even as they kiss all their other Constitutional rights goodbye without a whimper, kowtowing in all else to the very tyranny their guns are supposed to oppose. And for this, 30,000 Americans die each year and 70,000 are wounded. For the dead, that’s like ten 9/11s a year. Think of the paroxysms we went through as a country over 9/11. Compare that to the yawns and hackneyed defenses over our ten domestic 9/11s each year. And please do not tell me that 2/3 of those 30,000 were suicides. They are still just as dead, and the indifference to three 9/11s a year would be just as indefensible as to ten.

    Far from being a sign of freedom and responsibility, gun ownership as practised in the United States is damning evidence of failure and weakness.

    Understand the game that is being played against you. Conservatives and liberals don’t give a rat’s ass about you. Conservatives who wrap themselves up in the Second Amendment aren’t doing it to defend your right to “bear arms”. They are defending the right of corporations to sell guns to you. They are doing it to increase your reasons to be afraid so that you will stay isolated, disempowered and alone.

    Liberals are no better. They don’t talk about why you are afraid. They don’t fight for anything. They engage in charades. No one in this country needs an assault rifle. No one needs extended clips. But this is not what this bill was about. Obama could have called Congress back before Christmas to enact real reform. Reid could have threatened to kill the filibuster over it. They could have used public outrage to force the Republican House to go along. They might have succeeded. Instead they allowed the outrage to die down. They gave time for the pro-gun forces and NRA to rally. They waited four months for things to go back to business as usual, and the result was business as usual.

    What we really need to think about is why are we afraid and what we need to understand is owning guns has done and will do nothing to alleviate that fear.

    1. JEHR

      Indeed, fear is the best way to control people. When someone is fearful, she will listen to whatever she is told and will even act against her own interests. Fear is insidious in its effects and sometimes undetectable itself until too late.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Fear and greed.

        When one can master them, one can master the stock market…hopefully.

    2. Michael


      How old are you? If you pass, may I collect your internet posts into a book and profit from them? If no response, I will just go ahead and publish the book. Thanks!

    3. Roland

      I’ve often agreed with you, Hugh, but not at all on the gun issue.

      People in the USA are fully correct to insist on their 2nd amendment rights, and to insist upon those rights being broadly and genrously interpreted.

      You object that many gun owners, in your view, don’t seem to be sufficiently ardent in defense of other rights. But it is understandable that various citizens will esteem certain of their constitutional rights more highly than others. How could that be a reason for anyone to object to any other of those constitutional rights? The problem is not with the rights themselves, still less is it a reason to curtail any of them.

      You claim that no one needs an assault rifle. Nobody’s consitutional rights should be contingent on your determination of which of those rights are necessary. Would you wish others to treat your more cherished rights in like fashion?

      I also disagree with you about the matter of need. Hugh, your country has a government which now openly and quite shamelessly admits to a longstanding policy of torturing people all over the world. I think that any people who find themselves subject to such a government definitely require assault rifles, and plenty else besides.

      Whether gun ownership gives people a false sense of control, or false sense of safety, is also quite irrelevant with regard to the constitutional right to bear arms. One might similarly argue that Americans’ right to vote gives many of people in that country a wholly erroneous sense of control and liberty, and therefore the right to vote can thus be dispensed with, too.

      Finally, you say that the right to bear arms results in high murder and suicide rates. That is correct–widespread gun ownership means more people get shot. The price of the right is high. Is it a fair price? Twenty-five years ago I didn’t think so. Since then I have changed my mind: I would now accept the high murder rate, and keep my assault rifles.

      Hugh, there are ways to reduce the murder rate without infringement of the Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms. Hint: try liberalizing the narcotics laws.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The record shows clearly that guns (and we aren’t even talking manhood toys like assault rifles) result in vastly more deaths (suicides, domestic disputes, accidents) of immediate family members than friends than stopping criminals. Moreover, the widespread presence of guns deters civilians from intervening in crimes. I have twice, once in Oz, once in NYC, and it was because, in both cases, I was pretty confident the aggressor did not have a weapon (here thanks to our tough NYC gun laws).

        1. If you think you can stand up to the government with an assault rifle, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

        2. Police studies show a gun is useless with an assailant within 21 feet. The perp can get to the cop before he can pull out his weapon. And remember, guns in holsters are far more accessible than civilian weapons are (where do you keep your gun in the house? If it is accessible, it is a danger to your entire family too).

  11. AbyNormal


    Three weeks after stepping down as the Chief Executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., Aubrey McClendon has launched a new energy company half a mile from his old office, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.

    McClendon, who co-founded Chesapeake in 1989, left the company April 1. The latter months of his tenure were dogged by intense criticism and accusations he personally benefited from questionable transactions involving the company, including using his stakes in wells drilled by Chesapeake to secure personal loans. In internal investigation found no wrongdoing, and McClendon agreed to retire.

    His new venture is American Energy Partners LP. The former CEO declined to talk about the company, but an e-mail obtained by the newspaper showed he is actively seeking new oil and gas drilling opportunities.

  12. Kevin Egan

    Got to love the prose style of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard! A global crisis in the gold market certainly brings out his finest stylings: watch out for Mrs. Watanabe!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This here from his article is a bit puzzling:

      The central banks of China and the emerging powers bought 535 tonnes last year to escape dollars and euros, the biggest wave of state purchases since 1964. Their strategy is to buy the dips, and they are no fools. The head of China’s reserve manager “SAFE” used to run a US hedge fund

      Uh, buying a portion of that 535 tons last year was not buying the dips…looking back now.

      While not fools, buying last year was not a genius thing to do either.

      I am not sure running a US hedge fund means anything.

      Eventually, they might proven to be right, though a bit premature perhaps. But it’s best to leave out comments about fools and geniuses.

  13. Hugh

    I agree with brindle. Only a free market kleptocrat would allow a fertilizer plant to be located near a school and residences, including a nursing home.

  14. diane

    04/17/13 The Big Nausea: Waking Up With an Obama-Ache

    …reality was subsumed by the mere presence of a Black person in the White House.

    “The awakening will be uneven and, for many, dreadful.”

    It was a narcotic effect so potent in Obama’s first term, African Americans imagined themselves to be better off than five and ten years before – when the truth was exactly the opposite. Black imaginations took flight amid the desolation. Studies by the Pew Research Center – substantially confirmed by other reputable pollsters over the course of Obama’s first term – showed that Blacks were the most optimistic constituency in the country regarding their personal and family prospects and those of African Americans as a group. Moreover, they believed that their condition was improved under the Obama presidency – coterminous with the debacle – when in fact Blacks had been hardest hit of all major U.S. populations. Meanwhile, every other ethnic constituency correctly understood that their economic situation had deteriorated.

  15. Glenn Condell

    ‘Classified American embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks cannot be used as evidence in English and Welsh courts because they breach diplomatic privilege, judges have ruled.
    The decision by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting in the high court will have far-reaching consequences and is a severe setback for the use of material obtained from leaks or whistleblowers.’

    It’s official. Truth is inadmissible if it’s opponent is power. Empire 1, national sovereignty 0.

  16. Glenn Condell

    A rejoinder to the ‘avoid news for your health’ story from the other day – by the estimable Madeleine Bunting:

    Is ignorance bliss? Is knowledge power? Is there a ‘happy medium’?

    You’re on the beach, a mile high tsunami approaching. Best to 1 face the land not knowing what’s to come, 2 face the land knowing what’s to come but pretending not to, or 3 face the water, and the music, eyes wide open?

    I go for 1. Pity that option’s no longer available. So 3 is the default and from that perspective you can hear the siren call of the ‘tune yourself out’ message. Taken to its logical extreme though it might as well be called ‘surrender’.

  17. Claudius

    Testing Some of the first to question Reinhart and Rogoff (RR) was Alexandru Minea and Antoine Parent. Their CERDI paper ‘Is High Public Debt Always Harmful to Economic Growth? Reinhart, Rogoff, and some complex nonlinearities’ (published February 2012).

    Though, initially, they deferred towards agreement (using RR data sets though not the spreadsheet) by stating: “…similarly to RR, average economic growth is lower for countries with debt levels between 90 and 115%, compared to countries with debt levels between 60 and 90%.”

    They lacked the courage of their conviction to call it outright fraud when they discovered from the same data that: “Average economic growth is higher for countries with public debt above 115%, compared to countries with debt levels between 90 and 115%”, and more importantly…. “That average economic growth is not statistically different for the former group compared to countries with debt levels between 60 and 90%.”

    Effectively, they discovered a debt to GDP doughnut- the hole (at the 90-115% range ) right where RR had stipulated the DGP to debt range and the dangerous tipping point – and an almost certain statistical impossibility.

    As such, these brilliant economists provide a perfect example of how, in order not to be establishment (‘R&R’) heterodoxic (a death knell for their career no doubt) they lean, deferentially, towards couching their findings in such terms as: “Although one should reasonably refrain from concluding that governments should adopt loose fiscal policies, leading to high public debt levels, to foster economic growth, this latter result provides a new perspective on the “debt intolerance ratio” emphasized by RR.”

    Emphasizing that: “Additional evidence is needed before suggesting policy recommendations regarding growth effects of fiscal policy in such high debt regimes, which may be subject to complex nonlinearities. Similar to RR, we find that a debt-to-GDP ratio over 90% is reducing average economic growth. However, contrary to RR, the contraction ineconomic (sic) growth is much less obvious”.

    Unable to close the hole in the econometric doughnut (‘shortcomings, including (i) the specification of exogenous thresholds in the public debt-to-GDP ratio, (ii) the absence of econometric tests for the relevance of the régimes, and (iii) the presence of brutal transitions in the debt-growth relation around the debt thresholds’), they attempted to apply a technique called the ‘Panel Smooth Threshold Regression (PSTR) method’ (a statistical fudge factor).

    Notwithstanding, this statistical deference to orthodoxy (as they call it, “In the spirit of RR”) they still find that: “… compared to countries with a debt ratio between 60 and 90%, countries with a debt ratio between 90 and115% experience a decline in their average economic growth rates.” and …

    “Although this decline is statistically significant, (we) notice that the economic growth contraction is much less pronounced than acknowledged by RR. In addition, contrary to RR, we find that countries with a public debt ratio above 115% present an average growth rate which is higher compared to the average growth rate of countries with a public debt ratio between 90 and 115%”. More importantly: “….the growth rate of countries with a debt ratio above 115% is not found to significantly decline compared to the growth rate of countries with a debt ratio between 60 and 90%”, and “In addition, we even show that raising public debt can even increase economic growth, in a context of high debt levels, namely when the public debt-to-GDP ratio is above a threshold level estimated at around 115%.”

    If these two young economists had been less concerned about upsetting the ‘establishment’ (Reinhart and Rogoff in particular), they might now be holding laurels and instead of bupkis; as their conclusions stated only:

    “Consequently, additional evidence is needed before suggesting policy recommendations regarding growth effects of fiscal policy in such high debt regimes, which may be subject to complex nonlinearities.

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