Links 4/30/13

The heartbreaking, heartwarming saga of a homeless koala Grist

Mrs. Dalloway in New York City: Documenting How People Talk to Themselves in Their Heads Scientific American. One of the points of meditation is to reduce mental chatter! That voice that talks to us is often very neurotic. But some people instead tell stories for the benefit of the eventual listeners. Martha r recommends “Thomas,” the first voice in the second video.

Heart-Attack Risk Starts Younger Wall Street Journal

Uncertainties remain as FAA integrates drones into American skies McClatchy.

Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant New York Times

Among the Thugs Counterpunch (Carol B)

‘Victory for bees’ as Europe bans neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for destroying global bee populations Independent (Tim F)

Austerity in Europe Pinches Royalty Too Wall Street Journal

EU Social Affairs Commissioner: ‘Wages in Germany Must Increase’ Der Spiegel

Great tax race: Luxembourg set to share companies’ bank details Financial Times. This is a big deal. How much capital leaves Luxembourg banks, and how quickly?

Cyprus and the German elections The spurious notes of Martyr Heineken

Cyprus crisis: Oligarchs escape as crisis hits middle class Russia Beyond the Headlines (Antonis). As predicted

Would a Euro Area Banking Union Have Saved Cyprus? Triple Crisis

Eurozone business sentiment falls further Financial Times. Quelle surprise!

U.K.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now Register (Chuck L)

Catfood watch:

US electricity giant rejects privatisation plan Financial Times

Robert Samuelson Sinks Into The End Of Entitlement Econospeak. Gotta be vigilant about those cat food futures salesmen!

Yet Another Proposal To Raise My Own Taxes James Kwak

“Homeland Security” Spending Overtakes New Deal DSWright, Firedoglake

Obama’s campaign finance reform plans have faded Washington Post. Lambert: “And by ‘faded’ we mean ‘diced up like pineapple meat and tossed in the Potomac.'”

Why Insurance Exchanges Won’t Work: People Don’t Like Choosing Insurance Jon Walker, Firedoglake. There’s another level of complexity: how and where your insurer will try to cheat you. My plan is a perfectly good plan if my insurer would quit scheming to avoid payment (the latest trick is simply throwing out claims, this never never happened until about 5 years ago).

Ricin suspect’s home is ‘uninhabitable’ after FBI search, lawsuit alleges Christian Science Monitor

MoMA: A Needless Act of Destruction New York Review of Books

We Are All Free Traders Now Kevin Drum. I don’t buy this analysis. Lotta reasons but I’ll stop with these: 1. Countries that could be near-autarkies have moved away (US and rare earths dependency, for instance) making people trying to play the protectionist game vulnerable to strategic embargoes of key materials or goods. 2. Everyone knows that protectionism could also lead to competitive devaluations, and no one wind. Look at how pissy the US got with Japan, when Japan has been the victim of Chinese manipulation and does have a case for lowering the yen (but further than 100 to the $ probably is de trop). 3. Politicians in the US, UK and to a lesser degree Europe are in the pockets of multinationals. Their interests count for more than those of citizens.

Debt-to-GDP Ratios and Growth: Country Heterogeneity and Reverse Causation, the Case of Japan (Ultra Wonky) New Economic Perspectives

Unconventional Monetary Policy Effects on the Exchange Rate at the ZLB Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

Payments to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley borrowers covered by foreclosure agreement to begin May 3 Federal Reserve (Deontos)

The Irresponsibles: The Bubble In Financial Assets Paper and Bernanke’s Policy Errors Jesse. More people taking note of the lack of earnings growth. This chart is not consistent, BTW with the reports of actual S&P earnings, which show declining earnings from 1Q 2012.

As Jobs Lag, Fed Is Viewed as Unlikely to Do More New York Times. Um, tell that to Mr. Market

Columbia Economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs speaks candidly on monetary reform YouTube (Chris E). Full version of the recent Sachs speech, this with video, not just audio.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Ben Johannson

    Mental chatter can be enough to drive one to self-destruction.. From roughly fifteen years of age until my early thirties I never knew a night’s uninterrupted sleep that did not involve pharmaceuticals which, while rendering me unconcious, did not grant anything resembling quality rest. Rather they made me lethargic and ambivalent regarding my daily existence. They didn’t treat my problems, they simply made me stop thinking about them so much. Contrary to what some may tell you, the mind can think of more than one thing at a time, and at warp speed too. A tendency toward anxiety and overreaction also accompanied this, which seriously impacted my interactions with others, professional performance and often rational decision-making.

    Mindfulness meditation was enough to finally give me some quality of life and shut down the racing thoughts that had plagued me for nearly two decades, but it must be done with devotion. I’ve noticed I start reverting to the mean if I cease for more than a few weeks. But not a single doctor ever recommended anything other than drugs for my problems.

    1. Yearning to Learn

      Out of curiosity, none of them recommended counseling? It is the good standard therapy for anxiety and ask mental health problems except ADHD.

      1. Ben Johannson

        I did visit a therapist on recommendation of my then doctor. At our second meeting he recommended a mood stabilizer as a sleep aid (I am not making this up). Having witnessed first-hand the effects of such powerful drugs, I decided something was seriously wrong with that prescription.

        1. AbyNormal

          not a bad idea Ben…

          Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has begun monitoring our bodies for 151 potentially dangerous chemicals, detailing the variety of pollutants we store in our bones, muscle, blood, and fat. None of the companies introducing these new chemicals has even bothered to tell us we’re part of their experiment. None of them has asked us to sign consent forms or explained that they have little idea what the long-term side effects of the chemicals they’ve put in our environment — and so our bodies — could be. Nor do they have any clue as to what the synergistic effects of combining so many novel chemicals inside a human body in unknown quantities might produce. (links for stats & drug names in original article)

    2. Juneau

      The literature on counseling is pretty clear-medications appear to have a better impact when some sort of therapy and a therapeutic alliance are implemented. It is an unfortunate thing that you received neither. The alliance (quality of the relationship) is vital.

      I am recommending meditation to my patients and see more integration of mindfulness into various cognitive therapy approaches (like dialectical behavior therapy and CBT for anxiety.) The meditation books of Cheri Huber on anxiety and depression are quite good and compatible with mainstream treatments.

      Still, resistance will continue until the doctors can say that there is research backing up their decision-big pharma puts lots of money into research, buddhist nuns aren’t so well funded. Good for you for finding a better way to care for yourself.

      1. AbyNormal

        H/T Juneau, promoting self-healing techniques empowers your patients.
        Breathing is Priceless…
        3x inhale from the diaphragm in 4 stages…Exhale and keep exhaling until there is no air left (amazing how much air we retain). I was shocked after a week…my stomach muscles were stronger and goodbye lower back pains.

        its still free and once the technique is established you can do it anywhere…

          1. AbyNormal

            i don’t know about that Dolly but something in this quote has always held my attention…

            The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there ~ Yasutani Roshi

            ; )

          1. craazyman

            in and out.

            As simple as it seems, I get light headed from hyperventilation and it makes me feel worse

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I am not sure you’re doing it right.

            3x inhale in 4 stages – that’s what I am interested in.

          3. AbyNormal

            bahahahahaaa if you do it like craazy…your doin it wrong

            begin with posture.
            sit on your arse…not your tail bone
            you need room in your torso to expand.

            take a slow deep breath thru your nose taking notice along the way how much room you have…as you practice you see that dividing the breath into stages gives you optimum relaxation

            the best part is exhaling
            thru your mouth go slow and keep going…when you think your done KEEP GOING until you feel it in the lowest part of your pelvis…which should be pressing on your lower back

            when i was first taught this exercise it was suggested i go to a quiet place…the bathroom works great…close the door an do 3 breaths

            an your done!

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            I am going to try it later.

            Between this and Valissa’s Laugh Yoga, I feel better equipped to, possibly, hike my health insurance deductible limit.

        1. diane

          I’ve found that deep breathing is really helpful; my Momma, who uses it too, suggested it to me.

          I also noticed, totally by accident, that turning up the corners of my mouth into a physical smile (a casual, close mouthed smile I might make when I’m at ease and enjoying something someone I like might have said, or done), eases me greatly. I imagine it triggers, in the subconscious, the comfort of happier times, though I don’t have a clue as to whether that works for many others.

          1. Procopius

            Thirty-five years ago, after I quit drinking alcohol and started to learn how to live like a normal person, I found that advice, and I can’t remember where. I remember it was associated with a circular diagram: the word “Mood” followed by a curving downward arrow, pointing to the word “Action” followed by an upward curving arrow. The idea was that our actions and feelings are intimately connected, so if you became aware of feeling negative thoughts you could take control by choosing to smile, and that would, to some extent, cause you to feel more cheerful. I was skeptical, but it seems to work. Of course, like all good habits I tend to forget it frequently.

    3. Max424

      “meditation … must be done with devotion.”


      What I do, in this chop-chop, double-time paced world, I meditate frequently in short bursts.

      For instance, if I’m driving and some asswipe cuts me off and I feel my road rage welling up, instead of screaming at a driver who can’t hear me or lifting a middle finger which he may or may not see, I start up my mantra.

      Stay with the word. Feel the neck relax. Let the shoulders loosen … what a f*cking dillweed! He coulda killed us both! I’m going to follow him to ends of the Earth! I’m going toooo … stay with the word. Relax. Just one incidence among many … with many to come. Be at peace.

      Stay with the word.

      Another example: when I’m playing pool, under pressure, for money or in tournaments, when my opponent is at the table I sit in my chair, I stare into the middle distance, I repeat my mantra, and I attempt to make limp my shooting arm while emptying my stressed and cluttered mind.

      And when my opponent misses, before I look, before I stand to take my turn, I let go my mantra and think, accept whatever shot you are about receive, whether it is to be easy, brutal, or near impossible.

      I call what I do, blitz meditation. It’s not quite life-altering or transcendental, and I’m never going to achieve levitation, but at the very least, it’s had a very useful purpose in my life for many, many years.

      Note: I never could find the 30 minutes, the two hours, the five nights under the stars, whatever, to meditate properly. I’m not sure if I ever really wanted to. Life is short. With so much to know and so little time, why would I want to waste it meditating?

      Blitz Med is my happy medium, is I guess what I’m saying.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I glad blitz meditation works for you. The idea is creative and original. It will inspire all of us to search for what will for each of us individually.

        I would leave open the possibility, though, that life is not so short. Maybe meditation is life itself. There is, perhaps, learning in it…or maybe not.

        1. AbyNormal

          So True Prime…

          paraphrasing from Breakfast with Buddha:
          ‘i’m so stressed. i know i’m missing out on the best parts of my children’s lives.’

          (monk) ‘let me know when your ready… i can show you how to slow it down’

          Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. Thich Nhat Hanh

          When even one virtue becomes our nature, the mind becomes clean and tranquil. Then there is no need to practice meditation; we will automatically be meditating always. Satchidananda (there’s hope for me yet’ )

          1. Max424

            Hey, Thich Nhat Hanh, author of my favorite book title: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.


            Never moved a muscle, never changed expression.

            I think about Thich Quang Duc all the time. Bring him up in conversation too, as often as I can.

            Usually when I’m with the lads, talking sports or war. Talking toughness, both mental and physical. Talking sacrificing for the team. Or the regiment.

            I say, Forget those overpaid athletic mercenaries boys. And forget those underpaid warriors too –of all the nations and tribes, past or present. If you want to know what real toughness is, and what is truly sacrificing for the team, Google Thich Quang Duc on your iPhones.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Craazyman, neither you nor I have to levitate, as Mother Gaia is levitating for all of us.

        She meditates; ergo she levitates in serene Space.

        1. craazyman

          that’s good because I’m lazy and like to lay around, not levitate.

          levitation sounds like a lot of effort. Look how hard an airplane has to work to get airborne. Can anybody imagine doing that with their body alone?

          Meditation seems to me like hard work too. And I think of all the time it kills, half an hour or more breathing in and out until you hyperventilate, and all the laying around you’re missing — all the Adele youtube videos or Beach Boys videos or even checking out option prices. Holy Cow, it even gets expensive if you think of it like that. Expensive and hard work. Holy Smokes, that sounds like something you should get paid to do with somebody else’s money.

    4. Susan the other

      Mrs. Dalloway was the most narcisstic, nasty, chauvinist woman in all of England until Maggie came along. Who cares that she was so overbearing as to give us every detail of her tiresome thoughts? I don’t.

      I’ve always considered my own anxieties and chatter to be a lack of dedication to my two choices of fighting or fleeing. I’m just never sure what to do. Sarcasm works pretty well… A few decades ago I read a poem by a young woman in Brooklyn whose name I have forgotten whose message was that ‘today I made it home again even though many people tried to kill me.’ Can’t tell you how many days I also made it home that way. All in my own head of course.

      Chomsky, also decades ago, contributed to a monogram “Language and Thought” in which the conclusion of the dialog was that nobody knows where a thought even comes from. It comes from everywhere and always, that’s where. So we should do our best to enjoy the experience. And since thoughts are never actually translated into words we should treat words as children.

      1. AbyNormal

        “And since thoughts are never actually translated into words we should treat words as children.”

        muchas gracias Susan!
        (i will fit your comment on my bathroom mirror’)

    5. F. Beard

      The following put my own thoughts in perspective when they torment me:

      The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath. Psalm 94:11

      He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

      He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. Proverbs 16:20

    6. Roger Bigod

      The chatter, aka the “monkey brain”, is the operation of the brain’s “default mode network”. This includes some areas for sense of self and understanding emotional state of others, with strong connections to long term memory. Adults spend about 50% of waking time running the DMN.

      This makes evolutionary sense. We’re a social species, so it makes sense to devote a huge amount of cognitive resources to reviewing recent social events, figuring out motivations and planning future behavior. With time left over for pondering celebrity mishaps and reality TV complications.

      The irony of meditation is that all alone in a quiet room with no immediate concerns, you can’t get away from other people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If one cuts off, voluntarily, any contact with celebrities and reality TV, then, when one is alone, one is not alone but is in company with birds, crickets, acanthus, tulips, etc.

        Thus the Zen saying, when one is alone, one is not alone.

      2. AbyNormal

        for me…the objective is not to escape but to encompass the non-chatter. sitting with ‘the moment’ there is no judgement, hate or conflict.
        i remember the night i brought my new born home…i could actually see the blood moving thru her fingers. i knelt below her for over an hour…just watching the flow. that was 30yrs ago and its stronger than any picture or video i have of her.
        being in the moment is of course harder to reach when anger and fear are dominating…but i agree with MLTPR in that meditation is a learning journey.

        our brains function nonstop like our hearts and other organs… but our brains function is thought and many of these thoughts are on auto…gets crazy. slowing the brain down relieves stressful distractions (for me anyway).

  2. David Lentini

    Jesse’s story is pretty scary, but also not surprising: The Fed clearly has shown its allegiance to the banksters for a long time now. The corner into which they’ve painted everyone is just getting smaller and smaller … .

    One question I have is about interest rates. On the one hand, I understand that free money from the Fed will hold down interest rates; on the other hand, if there’s no demand, that will keep rates down too. Any comments on the relative magnitides of the effect of each factor?

    And what does the Fed expect to achieve with this insanity, other than providing welfare for their golfing buddies and frat brothers? How in the world can they continue this and still have a shred of intellectual and moral credibiliity?

    Or have we been educating and promoting the wrong people all these years? Perhaps these folks just aren’t as smart as we thought? Maybe SATs and all those standardized tests used to select entrants to the “best” schools are failures, as are the schools themseleves.

    1. craazyman

      I don’t know man, who’s the “we”.

      I didn’t promote any of these jokers or educate any of them. I don’t think any of them even got educated. They got indoctrinated, all in all they’re just another . . . brick in the wall. Their thoughts are being controlled by the pilot wave and they can’t think anything for themselves. It’s what you worry about when you walk among the Azetcs. You thought an “education” would nip this stuff in the bud, but it doesn’t work that way. Each person has to educate themselves and it’s often not a pleasant task.

      The problem is the “we”. Where’s the gold? That’s what’s making me nervous. Maybe “we” leased it all out or lent it out to some billionare to melt down and pour over naked women for party statues. Do they even have it there in the GLD vault? Or is is just empty cardboard boxes with the word “Gold” printed on the front? This is freakin me out.

      If I went over there and asked for “our” gold I bet they’d laugh at me and say “it’s not yours”. And if I said “What have ‘we’ done with it?” I doubt they’d even think they owed me an answer. Maybe it’s really all there! How would anybody even know. It may be so confusing they don’t even know. Complexity usually gets so bad nobody knows what’s even real. Even the “we” isn’t real. It’s always just me+me+me+me when the shit hits the fan.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If God + l = Gold

        and if

        Gold – l = God,

        what, then, is this mysterious ‘l?’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            All that glitters is not gold.

            Gold’s the only problem is that 0.01% own too much of it.

            It’s good the 99.99% can rectify that.

    2. harry

      Do you know, I looked at Jesse’s chart and realised that there was a slight bait and switch. He talks of earnings but the chart appears to be 12 month trailing earnings growth. So earnings are not zero, earnings growth is zero.

      Well of course given global QE why would anyone be surprised that the price of a given cash flow has gone up?

      I agree the system is gamed. Gamed because we have allowed bankers control over the banking system, and then we allowed the banking system control over the economy.

      You reap what you sow.

  3. fresno dan

    “We Are All Free Traders Now Kevin Drum”

    Free trade in what? Pharmaceuticals?
    There is a whole regulatory scheme set up to constrict supply of immigrant doctors, as well as restrict the supply of people who can attend medical schools.
    Copyright? Look at the time the initial constitution allowed copyrights to run and how that has expanded with not a jot of evidence that expanded copyrights help creativity.

    1. sd

      The history of copyright and why it was included in the Constitution is fascinating. Alas, it has now been badly abused by corporate interests trying to protect their revenue streams rather than putting that same energy into new product.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What ever happened to ‘you lend first and borrow later?’

      Did they forget to borrow?

  4. Deb Schultz

    Re choosing insurance on the exchange: I take exception to the way this posting on FDL is headed. It isn’t that people don’t like to choose insurance; it’s that people are very frightened of making the wrong choice. And the fact is that people very frequently do make the wrong choice when presented with many options of coverage. Medicare Part D is a prime example. There, a recent study has shown that people consistently overbuy and lose an average of $328 a year out of their own pockets. Only a fifth of beneficiaries make use of the federal planfinder website — and it’s free and pretty well-done, but if you come to it as a one-time buyer, it’s overwhelming.

    The coming exchanges are going to offer more complicated choices and people will be confronted with an unclear way of getting good information about their choices. There is going to be a national call line, run by Vangent in which you can get CMS-scripted answers to your questions. There will be ‘marketplace’ assisters at the state level in those states with state exchanges. There will be navigators at the federal level; I’m not completely clear how the navigators differ from the call line or from the marketplace assisters.

    I’m wondering how all these various ‘helpers’ are going to be trained. Currently, I work as a volunteer for my state’s insurance office, doing plan searches for people who are trying to figure out what to do for coverage. These are people who have Medicare, either through disability or age. It’s not a straightforward job. I did get training from CMS and through the insurance office, but much more of my training comes on-the-job and through my own interactions with advocacy organizations around the country. I’ve been trying to learn how the marketplace assisters in my own state are being selected and trained. Apparently, the state is accepting bids from organizations to carry out this important task; there’s federal grant money for the contracts, of course. But it still isn’t clear to me who will actually be responsible for the training. Very murky and once again, unneccessarily complicated by contracting out, insisting upon including the private sector, etc etc etc.

    1. Eureka Springs

      You volunteer at a State office to pimp private for profit insurance sales? Seriously?

      Please consider voluntary delegitimization. Stop helping the beasts.

      We need casteless coverage… the same for all. One policy. And we need a system like the Brits who have none of this, not even billing offices. Just, you know, health care.

      1. Deb Schultz

        What I do, most of the time, is show worried people how the private policies are set up and to help them understand how to assess the information so they can choose wisely for themselves. And I help people enroll in Medicaid and federal assistance programs. Sure, I’m pimping, if that’s how you view any effort to help people who need coverage now, not in the never-quite-here-yet perfect future of universal health care funded without demur by a willing Congress and populace.

    2. lambert strether

      “CMS-scripted answers to your questions…” Why do I not find this reassuring?

      The reason ObamaCare seems like an overly complicated and confusing way to force people to buy a defective product is that it is an overly complicated and confusing way to force people to buy a defective product. It’s not universal, never was, and even its proponents now admit it won’t control costs. While I applaud your willingness to help people and learn about the various programs, I also worry that the navigators and the minority they help will also become invested in a system that’s fundamentally unjust and will also be ineffective, even in its own terms.

      ObamaCare’s problems are architectural. They can’t be solved from within ObamaCare.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Humane treatment. It’s what’s for dinner, like it or not:

    Of the 166 detainees left at Guantánamo, almost two-thirds are on hunger-strike. Five of those approved by guards to be subjected to force-feeding are in hospital. By Monday, 100 detainees were refusing food, with 21 having been approved for force-feeding.

    Two weeks ago, guards attempted to break the resolve of those refusing food by moving detainees from communal areas and placing them in single cells, where they could be monitored more closely. That action led to violent clashes in which US troops fired four “less-than-lethal” rounds on inmates.

    “We will not allow a detainee to stave themselves to death and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” a Guantánamo Bay spokesman, Lt Col Samuel House, said.

    He added: “Detainees have the right to peacefully protest, but we have the responsibility to ensure that they conduct their protest safely and humanely.”

    You’ve been approved for force feeding, comrade. Your nutritional experience will begin shortly. For your own safety, please do not tamper with the full-body restraints.

    We look forward to serving you again soon!

    1. down2long

      Reminds me of several years ago when there was a rash of suicides at Gitmo which were soundly denounced by the Bush crime family as “terrorist acts.” And now Obomba. Same sh*t, different day.

    2. Jim S

      Saw the Huffington Post headline: “Why Are We Doing This?”

      I don’t know, Mister President, why are we? From the article itself:

      Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo’s prisons at the beginning of his first term, but the effort was stymied by legislative restrictions and inaction by the executive branch. [emphasis mine]

      Of the top community pundits over there, two think it’s the Republicans, one thinks it’s the Republicans and some Democrats, one thinks the president lacks guts, and only one has the temerity to suggest we shouldn’t trust the what the administration says about the topic.

      Free the prisoners, Mister President–don’t simply transfer them, but free them, every last one, regardless of guilt or innocence. The ones that no one wants, give them US citizenship, give them some land, bring their families here, take care of them for the rest of their natural lives. Some community in this great land will welcome them with open arms. I’ll be their neighbor. You’d be surprised at how many of your fellow Americans would.

  6. jjmacjohnson

    Totally disagree. The Folk Art Museum was not designed to see art but to the architect. Like most new structures for art little is actually made for the proper viewing of the art itself. Selfish by design.

  7. down2long

    I am noticing ominous signs that “someone got to” Jed Rakoff, the former bulwark against the bankster shenanigans.

    Hes had several bank-friendly ruling lately, the last of which involves the Fannie/Freddie case against B of A. – Judge questions fraud statute’s use against Bank of America

    Apparently he’s buying into the argument that the FIRREA law passed by Congress after the S & L scandal, succesful trial run wealth-transfer, woould not apply in this case because it only covers fraud AGAINST the bank, not BT the bank. WTF? Reminds me of that recent Fed. Judge Libor ruling, “of course you can’t sue the banks. You knew they were collaborating crooks, that is common knowledge. So no price fixing. That is the fundamental business plan known to all. Get over it. Next.”

    May I be the first to say, Shame on you, Judge Rakoff. The intent of that law was quite clear after the hundreds of billions of dollars the taxpayers doled out through the giant gift of commercial properties to a lucky few, I mean, Resolution Trust, and the 1,000-plus banksters who actually went to jail. (Eternal thanks, William K. Black) Make the right call here, Mr. Rakoff.

    1. dolleymadison

      We have seen this over and over – each time we find a way to prosecute their malfeasence, they wriggle out of it/get a new “interpretation” of the law. Whether its land recording rules, the UCC, FDCPA, RICO…whatever. As soon as they are caught violating the law the intent/meaning/interpretation of the law majically changes.

        1. down2long

          Thank you Lambert, I missed your very good post the first time. Very insightful, and probably useful since Wells has been refusing my post petition payments for more than two years since they didn’t like the cramdown.

          Although Magner is a very rare bird, perhaps the passenger pigeon of jurists, once she goes, the species is dead.

    1. AbyNormal

      Mark Carney is heading over to BOE?…where have i been?
      who can keep up with the incest??
      and what was with him smiling only when he spoke of housing & pension losses…qué hijoputa de bicho!!

      thanks rich but this should’ve come with a barf warning

      1. Chris Engel

        This has been known for a while — it was a bit scandalous because it’s a Canadian running the british bank, but there’s discussion of him being the one who will finally bring ngdp targeting or price-level targeting to achieve the negative rates necessary to produce a spur of demand absent fiscal action.

        Carney is basically the last hope of many Britons (and despite being from Goldman he’s actually a competent individual who knows what needs to be done right now in the economy)

        1. AbyNormal

          Thanks Chris…its starting to ring a bell. Is it true that going negative interest will be only for the banks?…and unfreezing banks lending hasn’t had the best track record so what would make it different this time?
          Appreciate your time.

          and this…by Dr Ros Altmann

          Contemplating negative interest rates sounds like desperate measures from desperate policymakers.

          We’ve tried low rates and it hasn’t worked. So surely it’s time for new thinking, not more of the same.

          The Bank of England’s whole policy has revolved around lower interest rates: never mind savers or pensioners, we have to help borrowers and banks.

          But hitting savers and OAPs hard has slashed their spending.

          And banks will simply find new places to put their money – and still refuse to lend to small firms.

          We need policies to support growth directly to restore confidence. The sooner the Bank recognises its medicine is not working, the better.

          Doubling the dose would be futile.

  8. patJ

    Great tax race: Luxembourg set to share companies’ bank details Financial Times. This is a big deal. How much capital leaves Luxembourg banks, and how quickly?

    Most of it, very soon. I wonder if Macau, Dubai or Singapore will become the world’s money center?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Austerity in Europe pinches royalty too.

      Um, I am too scared to click on the link.

      Must we serfs be tortured like this?

  9. Valissa

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirms secret US cash ‘help’
    The Afghan president has admitted his office received secret payments from the US, but says the amounts were small and used legitimately. Hamid Karzai was responding to a New York Times report that alleged the CIA sent suitcases stuffed with cash to the president’s office on a regular basis. It said tens of millions of dollars “came in secret” and cash was given on a vaster scale than previously thought. The president said the money was for projects such as helping the sick.

    Bwahahahaha… Just another ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink” on looting and corruption.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With MMT-CIA, and your being a suitcase-bribery-money-sovereign, there is more where that came from.

      1. Susan the other

        Hold on. MMT would be he last system of allocation of wealth to indulge in this crap. What we have now does this with afuckingbandon.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right – allocation of wealth is more important than the ability to create as much money as we desire.

      2. down2long

        Also extremely important to bash the country giving you the money and making it possible to be mayor, I mean, president, of a sovereign. Gives you legitimacy, although even with his $100 bill printing plate given to him by the CIA, and with severely bashing the U.S., this strategy failed with Saddam Husseim. Karzai must plan exit for Dubai carefully and flawlessly lest he turn up as a tree ornament somewhere in green vales of Kabul.

      3. Valissa

        So true… Karzai is a popular subject for cartoonists…

        Hamid Karzai, what a guy!

        He’s an agent of change

        He’s concerned about corruption

        He’s a handyman

        He’s an ingrate

        AND… he’s very accepting

  10. Valissa

    Obama finally rewards his political sugar mama… she was his major funder back when no one knew who he was, and most likely was the one who introduced him to the Wall Street crowd. In addition to being an avid social climber, Obama has always been very savvy about the money side of politics.

    Who Is Penny Pritzker? Billionaire Hotel Heiress To Become Richest Cabinet Member

      1. Valissa

        Yes ma’am! ;) Not sure if those are your cuppa, but they made me laugh…

        Bumper Sticker of the Day

        Also from The Poke, this very silly protest song… “ worst protest song ever”

        Peeping Toms fall through ceiling of women’s bathroom

    1. Synopticist

      Just as I was thinking I “OK, i’m cynical enough about him now”, Obama proves what a naive innocent I still am.

      She’s the 651st richest person in the world, in 2000 she funded Bush, Lieberman AND Mcain, and she once ran a bank which crashed after getting into sub-prime and predatory lending.

      Clearly the best person for the job.

    2. frosty zoom

      her name is ¿penny?

      secretary of ¿commerce?

      change + hope = chope*

      *©2013 fz, inc.

    3. AbyNormal

      my screens too small…i keep getting this woman mixed up with the antidote du jour comments :-/

  11. EmilianoZ

    I don’t usually like Felix Salmon but his latest post on Cooper Union seems worth a read:

    This being Felix Salmon, it’s pretty low on facts and investigative journalism. He just got wind of some transcript of some meeting of some trustees.

    But I think the downfall of Cooper Union could make a good case study of the degeneration of a once great institution. Salmon offers this hint:

    “Campbell’s enablers and cheering squad were a small group of trustees, many of them Cooper-trained engineers gone Wall Street, who had so internalized the ethos of the financial world that it never occurred to them that they shouldn’t be constantly trying to get bigger and better and shinier.”

    The case dovetails nicely with Yves’ recent posts on “devolution”. With a proper investigation (not Salmon’s forte), it could offer a neat, instructive picture of the mechanisms that turned an institution from serving the public to serving a few administrators. Maybe some lessons can be learned. The hijacking of public services is universal.

  12. McWatt

    The Dr. Jeff Sachs talk is really well worth watching. Highly recommended.

    Sachs for President-Bill Black for Vice President. Problem solved!

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

    1. spooz

      Nice to see a mainstream guy talk about the underlying corruption that needs to be addressed.

      As I commented on Ritholtz, for those who would like to listen to other speakers at The 31st Annual Monetary and Trade Conference where Sachs presented this (including Michael Kumhof’s presentation on The Chicago Plan Revisited, which starts at about 1:02, and which I would LOVE to see more economists discuss), here is the link.

      1. Susan the other

        Agree. Thanks for jeffrey Sachs. He is a glowing window in a blizzard of bullshit. I can still see the way out.

        1. Klassy!

          Yes, I liked that he said we need more regulation, but also other measures (parphrasing) and what he meant was prosecute the damn criminals.

    2. Hugh

      Be careful what you wish for. Sachs was one of the prime architects behind the establishment of the neoliberal oligarchy in Russia. His recognition of gambling going on in the casino of Wall Street is late and mostly a curiosity given his prior history. We will know if we are dealing with a new Sachs if he admits to his history and engages in an ongoing and thorough attack on the institutions and economies he did so much to foster.

      1. Klassy!

        Yes, I agree that I would like it better if he renounced his actions in the past but still, I’m glad he is calling out the criminality.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was in Moskva for a few days one summer around that time and I can never forget the babushkas standing all day in the sun trying to sell a few loaves of bread at Kievsky (or any other) station.

          Whatever happened to the MMM ‘pyramid scheme (invest with us and live like rich Americans in Santa Barbara’) brothers ?

  13. optimader

    Re: Tepco/Fuckyoushima..
    I have every confidence this was built into the overall Energy Balance accounting for the GE boiling water reactor design.. Nothing to see here, move along.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Eurozone business sentiment falls further.

    Meanwhile, in the US, consumer confidence rose, in April, to a five-month high.

    Aren’t we in sequestration?

    Do they compute consumer confidence the same way they compute unemployment – if you are long-term diffident, you stop being counted?

    1. lambert strether

      What a good question. I wish I knew the answer. Readers?

      * * *

      Speaking only for myself, this was an awful winter. If it was as awful for everybody else, I’m not surprised a sentiment indicator rose with the advent of spring.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The conspiracy theory has it that we are better at brainwashing our consum…sorry, our leaders are better at inspiring our consumers to feel good about consuming, even as the world slowly cooks in the broiler.

    2. Hugh

      The Consumer Confidence Survey is put out by the Conference Board which is filled with heavy hitters from bankers, insurance, industry, hedge funds, etc. The Conference Board commissions Nielsen to do a randomized survey by mail. The number of questionnaires returned is about 3,000/survey. I did not find how many questionnaires the CB sends out, but who returns the surveys could easily introduce a bias into the survey’s findings.

      Even so if you read the press release on this month’s report:

      It is a lot less optimistic in its details. For one thing, the year 1985 = 100 meaning that consumer confidence is way below what it was nearly 30 years ago. The other is that the page also lists other indicators, and while the subjective ones look positive, the objective ones are negative.

      Bloomberg had an article on this:

      which showed that there are a lot of negative signals coming out of the economy as well.

  15. Susan the other

    The Links were such a Party Mix today I’m thinkin Jeffrey Sachs and Wofgang Schauble should get together and discuss just how “over-banked” the world is. So we don’t get any more Cyprus-ing as a result of being “overbanked”. Italy is so vulnerable. Beppe Grillo just made a knife-blade observation that Italy is on the brink of having its “heart sucked out” by the international banksters. That’s mainly Deutschebank right now. And a “fiscal union” is being delayed. Why?

    1. Brindle

      Sting articulates the “progressive” view of Obama:

      —“In many ways, he’s sent from God,” he said in an interview, “because the world’s a mess.”

      Sting believes that Obama is the best leader to navigate the world’s problems. In an interview on Wednesday, the former Police frontman said that he spent some time with Obama and “found him to be very genuine, very present, clearly super-smart, and exactly what we need in the world.”

      He added: “I can’t think of anyone better qualified because of his background, his education, particularly in regard to Islam.”—

      1. Ms G

        Argh. Sting wins some kind of unctuous-saccharinity price here.

        ”In many ways, he’s sent from God,” he said in an interview, “because the world’s a mess.”

        Yes, Sting, like night follows day. How’s that yoga practice going?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I rather the Canadian government not spend the unaccounted for $3.1 billion (or part of it) on hiring agents to pat down 90 year olds.

      I rather they just take from their 0.01% and give to those would be anti-terror agents or people who need it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More tax dollars at work.

      Bees can’t fly around my house?

      Party time over for the flowers and fruit trees on my 1/6 acre of paradise?

  16. Valissa

    New York fish tales…

    Happy hunting New Yorkers! Invasive predator fish that can live out of water for days to be hunted in Central Park

    Grate catch! Bronx guy’s reel job fishing for riches below city streets

    Post Office Issues Warning After Thieves Begin Fishing From Brooklyn Mailbox

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Fish living out of water for days.

      Was that the ‘Normandy Landing’ or the Neil Armstrong Moment for all land animals?

      I understand plants ashore a little bit later (a little bit, geologically speaking)…maybe I am wrong on which came ashore first.

  17. diane

    Thanks much, Carol B. (and certainly Yves, for the highlighting) for the link to Vijay Prashad’s, Among the Thugs, April 29th piece .

    And this seems so very familiar, symbolically:

    … Rana has been removed from his street corner. Others are ready to take his place. These old capillaries of thuggish power have thus far held in check the radicalisation of the workers, making them line-up behind the local brokers who ease their immediate consumption needs (water and electricity connections, a job for a child, a berth in a hospital) but who are barriers to any challenge to the status quo. Capitalist democracy on the ground requires this alliance of brutality and reform, of fascism and paternalism. It celebrates the Ranas of the world till it doesn’t; and then it simply replaces them.

    So, so many U$ analogies can be made with that excerpt, equating so many In Academia!!! and so many Non Profits!!! , etcetera (we only … selflessly! …..want to help you! entities),….. with the thugs they are, …. or have become.

      1. diane

        Thank you Klassy, Vishay’s sentence (my bolding):

        Capitalist democracy on the ground requires this alliance of brutality and reform, of fascism and paternalism.

        really clarifies U$ anologies, for me. One analogy I was immediately reminded of is a friend who was not only very sick, due to a lack of healthcare (having been shoved under the massive long term unemployment bus), and broke, but also had been thoroughly traumatized, due to the sadistically punitive process involved with applying for SSDI; which “entitlement” that friend believed in and paid for, pouring thousands of dollars into during their ‘work life,’ as have millions of others.

        Apparently, emanating from the Ghastly Cheney/GWB SHRUB years (though I’m sure predecessor, Big Dawg Bill played his part with that, along with his predecessors), SSDI Claims became a Feast Day for a whole new Industry of SSDI Claim Attorneys; as people lost both their shirts and their health care. ‘THE CAPITALIST $TATE’ appears to have approved of that industry, near forcing people to hire an attorney in order to receive what they have paid for, despite their valid disabilities. ‘THE CAPITALIST $TATE’ also allows those Attorneys to keep 25% of recovered claims (don’t know what the cap is, at least I would hope there is a cap) – further economically crippling it’s victims, since SSDI barely pays for the current price of housing (if that), versus THE STATE paying that 25%, for illegally refusing valid claims and making people wait an average years time for an appeal hearing if they have no attorney. What some might call a ‘win win’ for the Predatory ‘Class.’ I’m pretty sure many just end up too beaten down, homeless and sick to even muster the strength to ‘hire’ an attorney. (Oh, and fuck NPR.)

        ‘THE CAPITALIST $TATE’ appears to be corrupted to the bone, pretty gut wrenching.

      2. diane

        Thank you, Klassy. (I wrote a longer response, but it’s been snagged in the filter, hopefully it’ll show up)

  18. diane

    Thanks for this link: UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now – Everyone = Silicon Valley ad platforms tech companies

    I’ve always been simultaneously amazed, horrified and angered, that so many didn’t see that coming; along with the privacy violations it entails for the, many times, unwitting subjects of those photos.

    (That, along with the demise of brick and mortar photography shops – providing jobs, and producing far higher quality analogue photos – and the use of cameras which were finely made (yet affordable) and solely for photography.

    Cameras which weren’t wired to a Telecomm database and which, by virtue of their singular use, size and shape, actually forced a certain civility of letting ‘subjects’ know when, and perhaps why, their picture was being taken.

    I suppose one could argue that surreptitious cameras have allowed photos of the corrupt, but I don’t see that that’s done anything to stem corruption by the powerful and their various thugs. Worse, it seems that teeny camera surveillance – along with its kissing cousin, facial recognition – is working against us far, far more than for us.)

    1. diane

      (sorry, my ‘strike through’ code didn’t work on “ad platforms” (per the referenced piece), and I meant to end the italics after “tech companies.”)

  19. Kim Kaufman

    More Cat Food Commission news. I went to hear Henry Waxman talk today at the National Council of Jewish Women. He does not do live questions, one has to write them on a card first and then hope it gets picked. Surprisingly, my question was picked: “Will you sign onto the Grayson-Takano letter saying you will not vote for anything that makes cuts to SS or Medicare?”

    First he weasel-worded about signing onto the Jan Schakowsky letter (“we don’t like chained cpi,” “we strongly resist those changes”) and then “…but I would not sign onto any letter that says under no circumstances would I vote for a bill that had that in it. It’s like the Republicans pledge they’ll never vote for tax increases. I don’t want to sign onto a pledge that under no circumstances will I ever do something. [Inexplicable applause from the old folks here.] I’ll express my feelings not to do certain things but I don’t want to make that kind of a pledge. I can see possibilities that some things that we don’t like may be in a final budget and that will get us a lot of things we do want. So I’m not going to sign an unequivocal pledge — for a bill maybe, but not against it.”

    So, at the end of the day, Henry Waxman will throw seniors, disabled, etc., under the bus — to get something he really wants. Wonder how wonderful that something might be. And this was after speaking at length in the beginning about understanding how hard it is to live on the present Social Security rates. And, I think we’ll be hearing more of this: “You get more money out of it than you paid into it.” Which I don’t think is true because not everyone lives to 90, most don’t.

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