Links 5/10/13

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Heart Patient Risk From iPad2 Found by 14-Year-Old Bloomberg

DNA Reveals That Most Europeans Are Closely Related Clusterstock

Prenda: Georgia court should ignore Wright ruling because of gay marriage ars technica (ScottS)

Seven cyber hackers ‘caught stealing $45 million in 10 hours in the second biggest bank robbery in the history of New York Daily Mail (May S)

Dollar hits four-year high against yen Financial Times

Cries for Relief from the Hungarian Financial Crisis Jason Kilborn, Credit Slips

FBI Spiked Chechen Jihadi Investigation TruthOut (May S)

Middle East Oil Markets Contracting OilPrice

The U.S. has Spent $8 Trillion Protecting the Strait of Hormuz OilPrice

Egypt’s powerful street art packs a punch BBC (Lambert). Some are gorgeous.

Pakistan Court Decision Finds US Drone Strikes Are ‘War Crimes,’ Which Are ‘Absolutely Illegal’ Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Stephen Hawking, transparency, Plan B and the news Glenn Greenwald

Shrinking Budget Forces Army Into New Battlefield Wall Street Journal

Bernanke, Blower of Bubbles? Paul Krugman, New York Times

The Ghetto Is Public Policy Ta-Nehisi Coates, Atlantic

Graphs of the Day: Your Economy on Austerity Jared Bernstein (readerOfTeaLeaves)

Falling Deficit Alters Debate Wall Street Journal

“The Pool” Doesn’t Exist, That Is the Real Problem Jon Walker, Firedoglake

Advocates Say N.Y. Managed-Care Plans Shun the Most Disabled Seniors New York Times (ginnie nyc)

Challenge to Dogma on Owning a Home Floyd Norris, New York Times. Finally! However, the cynic in me wonders if this is becoming a news item now to encourage us to welcome our new private equity landlords.

Paulson Real Estate Unit Flees Resort Suit For Bankruptcy Bloomberg

Fifteen farm workers SACKED for leaving the field because Californian wildfires made it hard for them to breathe Daily Mail (May S)

3-D oddly reduces Gatsby to one dimension Lynn Parramore, Reuters. I can’t watch 3-D (no binocular vision) so I hate this trend.

Alan Abelson: 1925 to 2013 Barron’s (Scott) :-(

THE FINANCIALISATION OF LABOUR Frances Coppola, Pieria (diptherio). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (martha r):


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    1. AbyNormal

      Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. sun tzu
      (someone needs to do a reread)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thus, in China, when a guess says he’s full, he is really hungry.

        And in America, when a bankster says he’s doing God’s work, he’s doing it for himself…or herself.

      2. JGordon

        Well, the site asked me to register before I could read the article, so I skipped it without a second thought.

        With that said, wasn’t it amusing how Japanese bond trading had to be halted today? Hah, I wonder how stuff like that could happen, I mean, when the government is printing up all the “money” it needs to fund itself and supress interest rates and all. It’s almost like there’s some kind of a limit to how much a government can print before things start going wrong.

        1. Chris Engel

          This has been a rather regular occurrence in the past month, the Japanese have been halting trading constantly in their bond market (you’ve got a lot of scumbags like Kyle Bass who think they can manipulate the market, but the Japanese ain’t that dumb, despite having made a major SNAFU decades ago when opening their own derivatives exchange).

          It’s just a simple way to regulate the market and it actually works just fine. They don’t want any round-eyes manipulating their markets and they make damn sure that they can’t :)

  1. David Lentini

    Krugman Reverting to VSP Form?

    Krugman’s latest seem to be revsions to the VSP mean–His soft apologetics for the very VSP he so often scorns (sort of). After his excellent savaging of R&R, his latest on them has been with the kid gloves put back on.

    Now, today’s opinion defends Princeton brother Ben (Bubbles II) Bernanke by defending QE and its effects on the stock market. As usual with financial and economic apologetics, Kruguman takes the technically narrow view of discussing the color of the bark on the trees while ignoring the forest. Stock prices may be technically “reasonable” in the view of current earnings, but Krugman ignores the source of those earnings and how the basis for them is collapsing becuase of the very games management is using to pump up those earnings. But this was also the argument for the huge valuations during the dot-com bubble. The point, which strangely Krguman makes in the dot-com case, isn’t that the prices look reasonable today; it’s that the basis for those prices isn’t roubust, and it’s certainly not sustainable.

    So, when the “Wile E. Coyote” moment (as Krugman himself is known to write) breaks on the market, what then? Oh, yeah! We’ll recognize the bubble!

    1. dearieme

      “DNA Reveals That Most Europeans Are Closely Related”: how can that be when race is just a social construct?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Here is another one about two closely related, controversially, groups – the Japanese and ancient Valdivians.

        From Wiki:

        The Valdivia Culture is one of the oldest settled cultures recorded in the Americas. It emerged from the earlier Las Vegas culture and thrived on the Santa Elena peninsula near the modern-day town of Valdivia, Ecuador between 3500 BC and 1800 BC.

        Based on comparison of archeological remains and pottery styles (specifically, the similarity between the Valdivian pottery and the ancient Jōmon culture on the island of Kyūshū, Japan) Estrada, along with the American archaeologist Betty Meggers suggested that a relationship between the people of Ecuador and the people of Japan existed in ancient times. Since then, it has been discovered that people living in the area, and in SW Japan yet uncovered, both have a low rate of a virus not known in other populations, HTLV-1. Part of the theory was that the Japanese had conducted trans-Pacific trade

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Which is why I think they should look for the closely-relatedness between indigenous Brazilians and ancient Africans (as in over 100,000 years ago, and not just a few hundred years back) via the Luzia Woman link.

          1. ambrit

            Dear MLTPB;
            Yep, good catch. Most ‘reputable’ scientists admit that human cultures traveled much, much farther than anyone imagined, and a lot farther back in time too. If the ‘revisionist’ theory of sophisticated cultures existing ten to twenty thousand years ago, and then being drowned out by rising sea levels after the glaciation maximum has merit, it’s surprising to see such a large amount of variation between human populations today.

      2. Yonatan

        It’s nothing to do with race. All humans are closely related genetically and we originated in Africa. No wonder the GOP hates science.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think you will be surprised that they don’t hate science.

          They (and many Democrats in government) believe science can give them better and more powerful drones.

          They (and many Democrats in government) believe science can deliver for them a more comprehensive surveillance of posters here.

      3. Procopius

        “How can that be when race is just a social construct?” What is your question? in the late 19th and early 20th centuries physical anthropologists were trying to differentiate the populations of Southern Europe, Northern Europe, and Eastern Europe and call them races. There were also “races” like the French Race, the German Race, which was supposed to be a branch of the Aryan Race, etc. So DAN showing that all these different groups are actually closely related means there isn’t any reality behind the term “race.” By the way, Theodore Roosevelt spoke of an American “race,” which to me seems like an impossibility.

    2. Roland

      Worst I’ve ever read from Krugman. Doesn’t seem to understand that a bubble is only widely recognized after it bursts.

      Hard for the bond bubble to burst, when the CB’s are always available as purchasers of last resort. Remove the CB’s as buyers of bonds, then we might get a fair test of whether bonds are in a bubble.

      n.b. Delong suffers from same fallacy: he keeps saying low bond yields are a fair market indicator that gov’ts should keep borrowing massively, while wilfully ignoring that the Fed is one of the biggest purchasers of the bonds, artificially driving down the yields. Maybe the markets would be okay with massive borrowing, maybe not, but we could only know if there wasn’t unlimited arbitrary intervention by a uniquely privileged market participant.

      1. J Sterling

        Who’s going to remove the CBs as buyers of last resort, limit the arbitrary intervention, and remove the privileges? Aliens from Alpha Centauri?

      2. Ben Johannson

        The Fed doesn’t act as a buyer of last resort for government securities. What you think of as a bond “market” is simply a vehicle for Fed/Treasury operations and a corporate welfare program.

        The primary dealers are required to bid on all Treasury auctions. The Treasury and Fed ensure the primary dealers have the necessary reserves to purchase those Securities. The Fed then purchases those securities on the secondary market, not to depress yields but to maintain excess liquidity. Whenever the Fed chooses to exit QE it will swap those securities back on to bank balance sheets so as to artificially raise interest rates from their natural level of zero.

        It’s always about reserves management, and reserves management is always about price.

      3. Procopius

        You forgot to mention Dean Baker and The Economist as having called the bubble in real time. In fact, IIRC, the Economist was writing monthly about the housing bubble from 2004 onwards. They kept pointing out the difference between house prices and rents, and the sudden variance in housing prices growing so much faster than inflation. Sure, they called it too early and people like the WSJ editorial board laughed at them, but there were people who recognized the bubble before it burst. Hell, Greenspan knew it but didn’t dare take the punch bowl away while the party was so much fun.

        Yeah, and you and Bill Gross and John Paulson can continue having fun shorting Treasuries. I feel real pleasure every time I read a report about how much those guys have lost over the last four years.

  2. Skeptic

    DNA Reveals That Most Europeans Are Closely Related

    So, we’re all Europeans and Cypriots now. A little investigation would probably prove this “news” was generated by the EURO NOSTRA, and their propaganda factory in Brussels. Makes me want to Eurobarf or Eurohurl, if you’re like me, still Irish.

    1. Garrett Pace

      I wouldn’t be so, uh, skeptical. It doesn’t take all that many generations for this sort of thing to happen.

      It has long been suspected that all of Western Europe is descended from Charlemagne, for example – a thesis that will be difficult to prove but is nonetheless rather compelling, since Europe went through long periods where the wealthy had a considerable advantage over the poor for arrogating resources and passing on their genes.

      Also in the US, it used to be pretty special to have descended from a US Revolutionary Soldier. Not anymore, last I heard it is something like one out of every three Americans, and the Daughters of the American Revolution have had to creatively modify their membership requirements so they can still feel special.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I thought it was due to a common diet like sausage-eating.

        In any case, my bet is on all European banking crises being all closely related. They all look like one another.

      2. Roger Bigod

        Surety Barons of Magna Carta, from whence my nom du blog. There were 24, of which only 17 lines survived. But they intermarried so much that if you’re desceded from one, you’re descended from all. Within a few generations, they’d married into all the gentry families and conservative math suggests that most the inhabitants of the British Isles are progeny. Proving it is difficult, because during the Middle Ages only those with property left a written record. Even so, there’s the matter of non-patenity events. Maternity is a matter of fact; paternity a matter of conjecture.

        I’d never looked at the DAR site before, but I was sorry to learn that the guy in my male line at the time of the Revolution has been the basis for membership. He signed an oath of allegiance, true. But he had refused to sign a few months previously, as would be expected of the son of a British soldier (Steady, the Buffs) who grew up in London. The alternative to signing was having his property confiscated. A sunshine patriot, if that.

        1. Garrett Pace

          Hmm – more like a sunshine tory. The Revolutionary conflict was like a civil war in a lot of ways, terribly disruptive to communities, and as it resolved, lots of loyalists had to come around and wave the stars & stripes, or go off to Canada or England (90,000 did just that).

          1. ambrit

            Let’s not forget the Bahamas. Lots of Chonchy Joes still around. The Out Islands could almost be considered a separate country.

    2. optimader

      European nobility often had first crack at the genetic pool that persisted to breeding age. Call it selective breeding. rewind the tape on ethnic Jews the premise for a homeland” should put most of them somewhere in the russian caucus region

      why so many Irish are Gingers.
      …If you are Irish, then lift up your pint of stout to Niall of the Nine Hostages. There’s more than a 10 percent chance he’s your forefather, as he is for 3 million men, and approximately one in 12 Irishmen. Niall was a warlord in 5th century Ireland, a chaotic time when Roman rule collapsed in the West and chieftains such as himself took control. He and his descendants filled in the power vacuum, and Niall established a dynasty of rulers that controlled much of Ireland for six hundred years. His line was also prolific with the ladies. A member of his dynasty, who died in 1423, had 18 sons. Thanks to nineteenth-century Irish immigration to the U.S., many Americans also carry his blood, such as 2% of all New Yorkers…

        1. BondsOfSteel

          I went and read the original. What they were trying to say is that people from Ireland has less ancestors than people from Great Britton, and therefore more common ancestors. This is an effect of a smaller population.

          Many people from Great Britton have Irish roots. Therefore, people in Great Britton are more likely to have common Irish ancestors than common non-Irish ancestors.

          BTW, the article doesn’t say anything about all Europeans having a common ancestor from 1000 years ago.

    3. reslez

      IMO most of the commenters here are overinterpreting the results and drawing unwarranted conclusions.

      1000 years ago Europe had a population of around 40 million people. Yet at 30 years per generation each person of European descent has 8.5 billion potential ancestors. Clearly there’s a tremendous amount of “overlap”, just as we’d expect from ordinary inbreeding. (Inbreeding over this scale of time is not people routinely marrying their cousins, but people marrying 3rd and 5th and 26th cousins.)

      Which means to saythe entire population of Europe 1000 years ago, who have any descendents, are your ancestors. As fun as it is to marvel over your descent from Charlemagne or William the Conqueror, the same would also be true of Jacques Q. Peasant, your great-x grandfather, equally the ancestor of every living European.

      1. Garrett Pace

        No doubt, excepting the distressing tendency for poor lines to die out and wealthy ones to thrive. Jock Q. Peasant usually had to have more than a couple of acres available to get a good enough living for a wife and healthy children.

        Notwithstanding, I am with you. The prospect of tracing my lineage to an aristocratic sociopath from a thousand years ago is nowhere near as exciting as proving a connection to a mere nobody forgotten by history.

      2. Garrett Pace

        Barbara Hanawalt referenced a study describing the replacement-rate outcomes by wealth class:

        …between 1270 and 1349 the average number of a couple’s offspring over twelve years of age was 2.8, with the rich having 5.1 children, middling peasants 2.9, and the poor 1.8…

        Of course, that was a rough patch in European history and times were better before and after. But large poor families is a rather modern phenomenon.–VtuOE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=o3SNUbuIBcaiiQLP3IHoAw&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22He%20found%20that%20male%20replacement%20rate%20for%20poorer%20peasants%22&f=false

  3. down2long

    To whom it may concern
    Debevoise and Plimpton, New York City

    We at Covington and Burling have been hired to defend what we shall refer to as the “New York Seven” who have recently been victimized by zealous over reach in a matter involving some $45 million. While we admit our defendants were someone immodest in their use of various cameras, we are seeking input from other firms in the financial services industry as to the various defense strategies that could be deployed against the orgy of overreach and overreaction by various law enforcement agencies against our innocent clients.

    1. Obviously, we will use the LIBOR defense that had recent success in court,i.e. et seq “Listen, the banks knew full well that were cels of thiefs collaborating on electronically moving from banks to certain specified accounts not associated with said banks, or, in some cases, some actual cash was moved into the possession of other entities. Knowing this, and not taking precautions to prevent it, makes the banks guilty of fatal errors in preparation for such fund diversion. They are sophisticated investors who knew the risks they were taking. In any case, money is fungible.” Our clients did nothing wrong and, frankly, nothing that is not done electronically every millisecond on Wall Street, millions of times a day.

    2. $45 million is a large sum of money, which puts the our innocent clients in the “too big to fail” category. It is common knowledge, and thus has become a trope and is settled common law theory that transactions of this magnitude are not the purview of law enforcement. Further, any pursuit against our clients in a case of this magnitude will result in financial instability. While we understand TBTF is a dirty word, and has its detractors, it is still, nonetheless, the law of the land.

    3. Final;ly, $45 million is very close to the $40 million that was recently in the news regarding the illegally and horrifying convicted former CEO of Enron, Jeffrey K. Skilling, and the catumnous miscarriage of justice that was his long sentence.

    Our clients have suffered deep personal calumny from this tragic misunderstanding. Therefore, if the prosecuting attorney requests, our innocent clients will return the money without admitting or denying guilt. provided their sentences are reduced to time served, provided their sentences are reduced to time served. The two days our clients languished in the Rikers Island detention facility are a travesty of injustice, but we will agree not to seek damages of wrongful arrest. Further, our clients retain all future rights to television, publication, and other dissemination of their story. This will also help serve as a warning against the invidious nature of prosecuting financial innovators of so-called crimes by less seasoned officials.

    Further, nothing must be done to cast a chilling effect on the financial sector, which is after all, the engine in this economy.

    We understand that you at Debevoise have a special relationship with one Mary Jo White. Perhaps in preparation for this case we could impose on you to seek he opinion. It has come to our attention that Ms. White is very good in pre-trial situations.

    We know that you appreciate the gravity of this situation in the deeply disturbing media spectacle that has become the “New York Seven” and we also understand that you appreciate how important it is that we put this matter to bed quickly, lest its ardor spread to other sectors of the financial industry, which is the backbone of America.

    Sincerely, Lanny Breuer, Vice President and Chief Counsel
    Covington and Burling LLC, Washington DC

    1. mad as hell.

      I always root for the bank robbers in the movies and in real life. Regrettably I will no longer be able to cheer on the “New York Seven” because of their defense.

      Hopefully the next time an ATM heist occurs and if the heroes do get caught they won’t stoop to such a disgusting defense.

      Besides robbers in the movies are always better looking than the doughnut smeared police.

    2. Zog

      I saw this hilarious little journo whore from the NY Times on BBC World talking about this robbery. His comment was (to the best of my memory),

      “people have been plotting to steal and cheat people out of money for as long as it has existed but to think that somebody was able to hack the money system itself, is very disturbing.”

      Yes, to think. That would truly be disturbing.

      1. Maude

        “people have been plotting to steal and cheat people out of money for as long as it has existed but to think that somebody was able to hack the money system itself, is very disturbing.”

        Bad news, the money system had already been hacked. See 2008…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This was what I was told, and I am just passing on, so don’t shoot the messenger: Your call is being recorded to ensure quality.

        Quality? Quality of Big Brotherhood?

    1. Roland

      But it could also be a planted propaganda story, to make people think the gov’t has the real ability to store all their communications. If people think they’re bing watched, they might act like they are being watched.

      Nevertheless, the trend in information and communication technology seems to be running strongly in favour of the secret police.

  4. craazyman

    Uh Oh

    I’ll see Gatsby for sure, but Ms. Parramore has the novel wrong.

    I will remind her of Mr. Fitzergald’s critique of Gatbsby, the man, found on the 2nd page of the book, “[Gatsby’s] responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of “creative temperment — it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”

    There’s more in the book. :)

    If they’ve reduced him, somehow, to just a bankster lusting for prestige, they will have created nothing and destroyed everything.

    1. anon y'mouse

      to me, he is the embodiment of the “American Dream” and what happens to him is how the aristocracy deals with upstarts who ridiculously believe that normal mortals are capable of becoming like them.

      always say that to understand the American mindset (apologies to all of the ethnic distinctions that are necessary to be totally inclusive, but that list would probably never end) all you need to read are Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and probably Grapes of Wrath.

  5. Jennifer Hill

    I just had such a good laugh I had to share. Roger C. Altman from Evercore partners was on CNBC stating that Austerity is not a political policy being promoted by the Germans, but rather a market driven event. According to Altman, ….after 2008 the credit markets closed to Greece and they had to pursue a policy of tightening because of these events. It would have happened anyway, so it is a natually occuring event. Ha ha ha ha, I had no idea this guy was so funny.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Glenn Greenwald writes of Stephen Hawking in the Guardian:

    As any writer well knows, nothing guarantees more vicious, personalized, or sustained attacks than criticizing the Israeli government: it’s one of the reasons so many people refrain from doing so.

    Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston this morning references just a few of the despicable attacks on Hawking (he notes that Israeli professor Steven Plaut wrote of the wheelchair-bound physicist: “I suggest that the people of Israel send Hawking for a free trip on the Achille Lauro!!”) and calls on everyone to stand up to these sorts of bullying campaigns and smear tactics.

    On a daily basis, the chauvinism on display in the reader comments in Israeli newspapers is ghastly. It reminds me of the letters column in the Arkansas Gazette in 1957, where readers vented their rage over the attempt to integrate the schools by the Little Rock Nine. ‘Let’s all just fire our colored maids and starve them out,’ one woman suggested.

    Now Americans pat themselves on the back for the Civil Rights Act and Rosa Parks and MLK day. We’re so enlightened! But still we send $3 billion a year to prop up Israel’s ‘Jim Crowitz’ apartheid state, where religious minorities are defined by law as second-class citizens, live in segregated housing, and attend segregated schools.

    It’s not easy resisting Israel’s institutionalized bigotry, especially in a town like New York where such a stance certainly will alienate some friends. But it’s the right thing to do.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Wow, that quote from Israeli Professor Steven Plaut caught my eye too. That quote, including the redundant punctuation, shall live in infamy as a clear window into the mind of racist Israeli academia:

      “I suggest that the people of Israel send Hawking for a free trip on the Achille Lauro!!” (Israeli Professor Steven Plaut, 2013)

      Recently, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Steven Hawking’s “Into the Universe” on TV (H2HD). Truly mind-expanding, awe-inspiring stuff. His consciousness is clearly light years beyond the narrow, bigoted mentality of Plaut.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This kind of emotional, spiritual and intellectual violence should be condemned.

        It often leads to physical violence.

        1. ScottS

          I had to look it up. Per Wiki:

          On October 7, 1985, four members of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons. After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed disabled Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw his body overboard.[2]

          So Steven Plaut is saying Stephen Hawking should be killed for boycotting. That might be a bit of an over-reaction.

    1. Jessica

      The insight might be that we are in the decaying phase of capitalism. In this phase, capitalists inflict suffering on everyone else, not to build up the economy, but to prevent it from changing into something better. But something better that might not have a place in it for oligarchs.
      In short, the suffering in this phase mostly has no redeeming social value (unlike the US in the late 1800s/early 1900s or places like China now).
      Exactly what comes next we will have to work out together. In that process, we will develop much greater capacity to work together and to run society ourselves (dispersion of power). But whatever it is that is coming, the system will be built around the needs of people rather than people being twisted into the shapes needed by the system (or thrown out altogether).

      1. craazyman

        that’s awfully optimistic. It could be something like Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, a final apotheotic and irreversible plunge into “civilization’s” carnal underworld where even slavery and gladitorial contests require too much energy and contemplation to be organized let alone sustained and human life consists only of murder and fornication. It may be that small groups of hunter/gatherers could recluse themselves hidden for a period of time — in the remnants of national parks where fish and game could be hunted — and attempt to resurrect a semblance of virtue, before discovery by roving bands of madmen or the onslaught of wild nature and disease brings the inevitable massacre. The notion that times ahead can only be better seems an illusion similar to the messiah archetype. Imagine a world where 25 is old age and humans compete with coyotes and wolves for meat, where music and literature have been erased from human memory and where even the remains of cities and all technology are ground to dust, lost forever to eternity and to whatever curiosity, a million million years hence, seeks them out and finds nothing but rocks and dirt. We never were. That’s the final reality.

  7. AbyNormal

    This Is The World’s First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun (Photos)
    The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.

    Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.

    (After the monkeys came down from the trees and learned to hurl sharp objects, they had had to move into caves for protection–not only from the big predatory cats but, as they began to lose their monkey fur, from the elements. Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the form of pictures, first as an attempt at practical magic and later for the strange, unexpected pleasure they discovered in artistic creation.
    Time passed. Art came off the walls and turned into ritual. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present mindless, voracious trajectory, could land those of us lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again.-t.robbins)

  8. Garrett Pace

    Egyptian Street Art

    I’m amazed at how strongly they appear influenced by hieroglyphics. Could the ancients have known that they would affect how people look at the world for more than three thousand years?

  9. MikeW_CA

    Back when I used to subscribe to Barrons, if I read nothing else in the rag, I read Alan Abelson’s column.
    May he rest in peace.

    1. charles sereno

      Barron’s lost many bucks putting Abelson’s column up front. I know I wasn’t alone reading it while pretending to browse at my supermarket’s newsstand.

    2. spooz

      After I stopped my Barrons subscription, I still googled Alan Abelson every Saturday and read his column. I wondered what was going on when, after many weeks without an Abelson column, Barrons announced in April that he was on leave. I had no idea he was 87. I guess the only time I’ll read Barrons now is when somebody posts a link that looks interesting.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    $8 trillion to protect the strait of Hormuz…

    There is another solution palatable to the corporations: move your customers closer to your factory.

    1. Antifa

      It’s fun to think what progress in alternative energy generation systems we humans could have accomplished with those 8 gigantic mountains of money.

  11. scraping_by

    RE: House Dogma

    Some poster, I think here in NC, wondered aloud how financial companies would do in the management of real assets. Off the top of my head, here are some possible financialization strategies for the hedgies.

    The first is the obvious CDO resurrection. The derivatives market has been the best time in history for throwing around artificially large numbers to justify artificially large bonuses. With a real asset and a real return (rents) it can be ginned up just like the first time around.

    The next is subsidy sucking. Walk into the offices of local, county, or state officials and start bragging about the large presence in the community. Threaten to sell out if the property taxes aren’t refunding in cash, or arrange some sort of improvement program, energy or appearance. Cash to headquarters.

    Another possibility is insurance. Homeowners insurance will pay off if the tenant trashes the place, or it falls apart more quickly than planned. Given the fragility of most American frame houses, this process is going to happen, it’s just a matter of what is done with it. Going beyond decay to mysterious fires doesn’t seem likely. Though, we’ve underestimated the venality of the American financial industry and been wrong before. Many times.

    So, there are ways for financialization of real assets, otherwise known as parasitism, to keep hedgies from having to soil their little fingers in the real economy.

    1. Kokuanani

      In the “house dogma” article, I noticed that it relied on

      ***the study, released by the Peterson Institute of International Economics,***

      Would that in any way be related to our Dear Friend Pete Peterson?

    1. Ms G

      Incessant buzzing of helicopters over downtown manhattan last night and this morning. No way to know whether it’s related to the Cooper Union events. That said, the clutter of local news channel helicopters that mass over the brooklyn bridge if there’s been a car accident at rush hour (“MUST COVER!!”) does not usually last more than an hour or so. These past 2 days the annoying and loud buzzing has been long and sustained.

      1. craazyman

        they probly hired those as part of the overall performance. god knows what that costs but it couldn’t have been cheap.

        I don’t know why they couldn’t get toy helicopters and project the shadows on the sides and roofs with rented theater lights. You can get sound effects of chopper engines and blades on a CD for next to nothing, and put those on the video sound track.

        This is an art school, they should be able to do stuff like that, but I guess the administrators want to spare nothing for versimilitude and ego. They run the risk of losing themselves in the performance and becoming their characters. If that’s the overall artistic vision, then why not just ride a barrel over Niagra Falls.

        Versimilitude is the enemy of art. Art is metaphor, artfully constructed, a distillation of reality yet with a nearly superhuman insight into reality’s essential energetic structure. If all you do is package and present reality as a spectacle you have nothing. And then if you throw a huge price tag on it, you have less than nothing.

        This is an art school?

        To hire NYPD choppers just to make it all real — so they all can feel like they’re living in some cinematic artistic project — is an abomination. So is the glass high rise and all the money. WTF is that all about? We’re living in an age of ignorance and decadence. That sounds like the age old protest of a luddite, but sometimes the luddite is correct.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Deep at the root chakra of the financialization of labour is the one big math error we don’t talk about enough – infinity is not finite.

  12. MLS

    Like you Yves, I too am optimistic that views are changing on home ownership. Certainly it makes sense for a lot of people, but for others it does not. Unfortunately, people are told that comparing rent vs.the mortgage is the way to judge the costs, conveniently leaving out property taxes and the cost of maintenence from the equation. In many cases that tips the balance towards renting.

    You’ll never hear from a RE agent tell you it’s a bad time to buy a house (interestingly, this is not unlike the position monoline insurers are in, except we don’t have the government forcing us to rely on the analysis of a RE agent! Yet we don’t excoriate agents the way we do monoline insurers. But I digress….). And you certainly won’t hear from them that if/when interest rates rise, the value of that 30-year bond you just bought in the form of a house will go down in value.

    IMO, too many people (still) look at housing as an investment rather than a durabale good. It should appreciate in price commensurate with inflation, and I understand the premium for desirable areas near coasts and in good shcool districts, etc. But the inherent leverage involved makes the whole system more tenuous, and I for one would like to see larger down payments and the elimination of the mortgage deduction. Then you can have a true market where housing gets a lot more affordable and people are more likely to buy homes for the right reasons.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Until we do away with private property, I still believe in homeownership.

      True, the superstructure maintenance is not cheap (though one can minimize it by being careful when choosing a cave), there is only so much land.

      As for taxes, we need to band together to resist this imperial urge to fund its over-extended war on inflation via taxes by preventing the war from happening in the first place.

    2. jrs

      I think housing is just in many ways utterly imcompatible with the modern job market.
      If you can lose your job at any time …
      If you don’t know where you will get your next job …
      If you wish to avoid horrendous commutes despite such job uncertainty -> renting, it makes sense.

      1. Denise B

        Right, who needs stable communities with extended families and old friends nearby?

        Don’t bother to unpack. You’ll be moving again soon as your employer seeks greener pastures.

  13. MLS

    re: Japan

    This is a situation that is likely to end in tears. We are already seeing some of the harmful effects of the ultra-aggressive printing Abenomics has brought. Japan’s neighbors in the region are essentially forced to cut rates (Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam last night) in order to remain competitive on exports and limit capital flows into their respective countries. The JCB has sold off US Treasury holdings and begun buying Greek, Spanish, and Italian paper, and interest rates have jumped signficantly, possibly a sign of capital leaving the country as inflation takes root. Longer term, the government will try to roll over short-term debt at the new, higher coupon and find themsleves a much worse budget situation as a result, and the weaker currency hits imports especially hard. Did I mention that Japan imports virtually all of it’s oil, and it just got 30% more expensive in the last 6 months? Oh there’s still that whole nuclear power plant issue…

    Sadly, I feel bad for the Japanese people who are no doubt enjoying the wild market ride to this point but will want off as the botom drops out. Unfortunately, the savers that hold JGBs are staring at principal losses and accepting a below-market coupon to do so. Sounds like a lose-lose to me.

    1. ScottS

      Because decades of debt-deflation, layoffs, and disaffected youth have been a picnic?

      1. MLS

        Not sure where I made that argument, nor am I sure what point you’re trying to make.

        All I said is that their current course of action appears headed for a multitude of problems, pain and suffering. If you disagree, feel free to share why, I’m certainly open to he discussion. Otherwise, don’t put words in my mouth.

        1. ScottS

          The Japanese real estate and investment bubble burst after the Plaza Accord. Maybe it was destined to burst eventually, but either way, it did.

          To save face and the social order, the banks were given unlimited money to try to earn their way back to black (sound familiar?).

          With nothing but non-performing loans on their books, banks didn’t make any new productive investments. Companies in the real economy suffered from a lack of investment. The super-low interest rates have starved savers. This has double-squeezed average workers, who were laid off en-masse for the first time, breaking the old employment-for-life social arrangement. The broken agreement has led youth to give up on future that meets or beats their parents’.

          To prevent outright riots, massive amounts of pork-barrel jobs have been created to cover hillsides in concrete and construct bridges to no-where. You’ll see ten guys with flags waving traffic around construction when all you need is a few cones.

          Japan has been suffering deflation for decades — things will be cheaper in the future than they are now. So why buy anything? The firm nudge that inflation gives to spend or invest your money is gone. You might as well bury your money in the back yard.

          Japan has handled their down-turn with a ton more civility and humanity than we have managed ours, so it’s hard to criticize. But at some point, we just need to write off bad debt and invest in productive endeavors. That was the true break-through in the Great Depression.

          1. lolcar

            massive amounts of pork-barrel jobs have been created to cover hillsides in concrete and construct bridges to no-where

            There’s a key point right there. Though calling them pork-barrel jobs is prejudicial. They improve the lives of ordinary people, if not the investor class. Every tiny fishing village has its concrete breakwall. Every little town has its spotless modern school slash evacuation centre. Every flood-prone river has been re-engineered. Every mountain road of any importance has been redirected through a tunnel. 130 million people live in a country the size of Texas, much of it mountainous. Every significant piece of flat land is already in use. I honestly believe capitalist growth is over in Japan for geographical and demographic regions. The engines of domestic growth in a country like America – second cars and McMansions are just physically impossible in the majority of Japan. There’s no reason to interpret this as a disaster waiting to happen.

          2. ScottS

            Appreciate your comment, lolcar. I hesitated calling such work “pork-barrel” but a lot of it is silly and wasteful. I don’t mind the government spending money, especially counter-cyclically, but not if it spoils the environment or wastes resources.

            As I said, can we just write off the bad debt? Someone will have to catch this hot potato, and one way or another it will be the rich. This seems like the most humane way.

            And what’s so wrong with paying people to stay home? Isn’t that the Star Trek future we’ve all been waiting for? 7 billion artists, writers, scientists, architects, chefs, fashion designers, and couch potatoes — we could have a worse future than that.

    2. lolcar

      A jump of 10 basis points to 0.67% on a ten year bond and 5 basis points to 1.75% on a 30 year bond is supposed to be a precursor of disaster is it? The whole point of the exercise is to raise people’s expectations of inflation and lower the real interest rate. In practical terms success then success is going to mean starting a sell-off of bonds. People spending their new cash in hand then leads to real inflation. I don’t think it will work, more fizzle out – but that’s a different issue.
      Japan imports all their oil and they just recorded their ninth straight trade deficit. Nonetheless, the current account surplus remains. Japan’s net international asset position is the largest in the world and the BOJ has enormous foreign reserves so they’re in a position to defend the yen if they need to. So far the slide of the yen has led to earnings on overseas investments increasing by more than enough to counteract the increase in the trade deficit – hence the current account surplus has actually increased rather than decreased. Toyota has also forecast its biggest profit in 6 years on the back of increased exports. Only time will tell how the nuclear issue, oil, and the lower yen interact to improve or worsen the trade deficit. Either way Japan has plenty of time to work it out.

  14. Roland

    “The U.S. has Spent $8 Trillion Protecting the Strait of Hormuz”

    That’s okay. The MMT’ers won’t mind, since they keep telling us that a government that controls its own currency can create as much of it as they want, and spend it all as they like.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Chicken in every pot.

        Gold bars under every mattress.

        Don’t let the 0.01% believe only they can have them.

        1. jrs

          I tried putting a gold bar under my matress but it disturbed my sleep, along with that pea that had fallen under the matress.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I can see that is a problem.

            That’s why I think silver spoons are a good alternative. The 99.99% should share with the 0.01% some of their silver spoons. We can then all have some to put in our pantries..

        2. ScottS

          They can have all the gold bars they want if I can have all the granola bars I want. As long as they don’t hit anyone over the head with them.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What is funny is that some people think we are not masters of gold, but we should worship it as something so precious that only the ‘charity’-giving 0.01% can have it.

    1. J Sterling

      The Straits weren’t protected with dollar bills, they were protected with effort. The 8 trillion figure is just to give you a rough idea how much effort.

      You have unwittingly made the MMTers’ point for them: just as printing money doesn’t increase the amount of effort available, nor does it decrease it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Nor does printing money increase or decrease wealth.

        It could re-distribute wealth.

        So far, all the printed money goes to the 0.01%, thus increasing their share of the total wealth of the society.

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Thanks, Prime. Lost in the detritus of the financial collapse and related carnage and looting are the enormous, open-ended, indirect Oil industry subsidies. What is the all-in marginal cost per barrel?… $50, $100… more? Are they even quantifiable?

          Sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror objectively.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            Let’s remind ourselves again that they do exclude food and energy from the core CPI.

            No inflation, they assure you.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That may or may not come later.

        And when it comes, it may or may not be caused by money printing.

        One thing is sure though, 8/9 > 7/8.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would suspect the mainstream boys now believe it’s useful to them in their ‘education’ of the 99.99%.

      1. lambert strether

        Well it all depends on how you define public purose, doesn’t it?

        There is not one thing, good or evil, that these guys will not seek to twist to their purposes. So what’s your point?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The point is, and this goes for good guys and bad guys, when they like you, be careful.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps you’re right.

            We all know that all that glitters in the mainstream media is not gold and no one gets excited over that. No one is seduced by that.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            OK, that’s it for the day

            y’all have a nice weekend, you hear.

            My place is home.

  15. Hugh

    Always important to remember is that while Krugman caters to a liberal audience, he is still just another charlatan economist. Krugman artifully ignores the $85 billion the Fed is dumping into Wall Street every month. He then throws in that everyman wheeze that “Nobel” prize winning economist that he is he doesn’t rightly know what a bubble is. Well, in such a case, how can he even pretend to talk about them intelligently?

    Look, a bubble to be a bubble has got to be big enough to cause a major dislocation in the economy. That means they aren’t just large. They’re huge, as in they can be seen a couple years out. And, of course, the math doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work in a way that would be readily perceivable by a 4th grader. So when Krugman goes, golly gee, I don’t knows what a bubble is and I don’t knows if I see one, he is lying.

    Stock price is not just about earnings. It is about the underlying strength of the company and the economy. Ponzi schemes have great earnings before they go splat. Bubbles have great earnings before they collapse. So what Krugman is using as evidence against a bubble is, in fact, completely consistent with bubble formation. I can only think he thought no one would notice.

    Krugman’s dishonest defense of Bernanke appears aimed at conservatives. I assume this because he says that Bernanke critics want him to abandon QE and raise rates, and that looks like the conservative position. Of course, progressives would also like to see Bernanke abandon the QE welfare for Wall Street and engage in something that actually benefited ordinary Americans and not the banks, but that is not touched on in his post.

    As for hating Bernanke, what’s not to hate? He is a financial terrorist and top level servant of the kleptocrats. He has been a prime mover in the greatest looting the country has ever known. The damage he has done, the lives he has ruined and ended make him one of the great villains of our times. The real question we should be asking is why Krugman is defending such a man.

    1. TK421

      He’s defending Helicopter Ben because Republicans are attacking him. Since all evil is concentrated in the R party, their enemy is a friend, and defending him will hurt the evil enemy and thus help the good…

      I need to lie down.

      1. AbyNormal

        TK, i shouldn’t but that gave me a foot-stompin-laff!
        recently, i’ve taken to shovin my head in the freezer…boost me for a few more rounds.

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        I don’t think this matter is related to tribal politics. Rather, I consider it more likely driven by some factors identified in this possibly prescient clip from the film “The Network” (1976):

        So my question is: Why their attack on Mr B?… or at least Why Now?…

        Is it an effort to limit responsibility and blame for what has occurred?… set the stage for the TransPacific Partnership?… another “unforseen problem” stemming from derivatives speculation?… or some other as yet publicly unknown issue(s)?

        Maybe it’s even engineering the bubbles themselves, together with the lack of an exit strategy?

    2. Doug Terpstra

      “So when Krugman goes, golly gee, I don’t knows what a bubble is and I don’t knows if I see one, he is lying.”

      With the Criminal Reserve buying stocks and fronting banks and hedge funds at well over $100 million an hour (an unprecedented gambling stake!) this current mega-bubble is the mother of all bubbles. If Krugman can’t see it, Charles Hugh Smith has eye-popping charts for him that put recent bubbles in stark relief. On the current, most ominous one in history:

      The current bull market move is among the strongest, most persistent in US history, rivaling the increases into the 1929 and 1937 highs.

      The SPX is 65-85% above implied fair value based on the 6-year change of reported earnings and the avg. P/E of 13-15.

      The central banks have yet again created a stock market bubble rivaling or surpassing the most overvalued secular bull market peaks in history, and this time they REALLY mean it.

  16. Hugh

    On to Jared Berenstein, another liberal economist. His charts are based on a NYT story: Deficit reduction is seen by economists as impeding recovery. Here the con is that there has not been a recovery, or more precisely there has been a recovery for the 1% but the 99% remain in recession. There is also a con in the unemployment projections without austerity. The chart indicates that without austerity current unemployment would be at 6%. First, it is hard to tell what is meant by austerity in the context since the charts show it beginning in mid-2011. Second, projections are notoriously inaccurate so why should we believe this one? And third, a “projected” 6% unemployment rate without austerity is based on the same dodgy definitions as the currently reported 7.5% rate, which is to say that even a 6% rate under current definitions translates into an 11% real unemployment rate. So even without austerity per the graphs, the job crisis would be far from over. Fourth, deficit spending that was just looted by the rich and corporations would not help the economy either, and we need to bear that in mind with the projections of what the economy would look like without austerity.

    1. TK421

      Jared Bernstein, who used to work for a team that predicted the measly Obama stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%, so lets trust his projections.

  17. Hugh

    Re the financialization of labor, companies don’t invest in labor because the whole point of the exercise is to loot labor. All of this comes about through a fundamental piece of propaganda that has become a capitalist article of faith, that the primary purpose of a corporation is to maximize profits (for investors in theory, and for managers in practice). But a corporation is a legal entity sanctioned by society, that is it is permitted because it is seen as fulfilling a useful social purpose. So its primary purpose is not the unrestricted pursuit of maximum profit but rather the pursuit of profit only in so far as it performs a social purpose and this pursuit does not conflict with other social goods.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      We should be masters of corporations; corporations are not masters of people.

  18. ScottS

    Re: Challenge to Dogma on Owning a Home Floyd Norris, New York Times. Finally! However, the cynic in me wonders if this is becoming a news item now to encourage us to welcome our new private equity landlords.

    To your comment, I’ve noticed that all the houses I had my eye on went from Active to Pending and back to Active with a price drop. The PE housing bubble seems to have burst already, at least from the point of view of my perch.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Prevention is often the best medicine.

      They should not have printed and given all that money to those PE guys in the first place.

      Shame on those money printers.

      None of the 99.99% people I know have received that new money. They don’t social network with our masters.

      1. ScottS

        Here is one of my faves:

        Questionable workmanship on flooring with noticeable unevenness in certain parts, however, most of the home has been renovated. Bedrooms and storage are on the small side.

        And note the history:

        Apr 29, 2013 Price Changed $448,900

        Apr 26, 2013 Relisted (Active)

        Apr 04, 2013 Pending (Backup Offers Accepted)

        Mar 28, 2013 Relisted (Active)

        Mar 23, 2013 Pending (Backup Offers Accepted)

        Mar 18, 2013 Price Changed $449,000
        Mar 06, 2013 Relisted (Active)

        Mar 06, 2013 Delisted (Hold)

        Mar 02, 2013 Price Changed $474,900

        Feb 18, 2013 Listed (Active) $499,900
        Nov 02, 2012 Sold (Public Records) $315,000

        What could go wrong?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Nothing can go wrong with that as long as they keep funding those zero down, negative amortization loans.

  19. mlh

    No doubt you posted Palast’s article for target practice. Classic modified limited hangout.

    “career-destroying blow-back for intelligence officials,” Whose career did it destroy when Lee Harvey Oswald slipped the leash and misbehaved? Whose career did it destroy when Tim McVeigh slipped the leash and misbehaved? Whose career did it destroy when Ramzi Yousef and his clown car full of maniacs slipped the leash and misbehaved? Whose career did it destroy when Osama bin Laden slipped the leash and misbehaved? You’d think the Oops ploy would be wearing thin by now.

    “utterly unlikely” to be on the CIA payroll – as Lee Harvey Oswald was. But then, Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t do it. And “payroll” is quite a deft specifier, When you think about it. Friends and mentors help each other out. Especially when they’re expats. Anyway, how did Tamurlan wind up at that event at the Jamestown Institute? How did he manage to meet with Makhmud Nidal, a fugitive hiding from the Russian security services? What else are the Russians sitting on that we haven’t heard? Mr. Palast needs some Russian sources giving him a peek at Секретно.

    “zero — and I mean zero — evidence” Note the adamant wording for the persnickety word evidence. And note how Palast becomes the omniscient narrator here. A tour de force of bullshit. Jon Banks is going to tuck another medal in the vault for this.

    +Trouble posting seems to coincide with slow response times for the many addons, particulary sitemeter, blogger, gravatar, or paypal.

  20. skippy

    Carbon Dioxide at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory reaches new milestone: Tops 400 ppm

    On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been approaching this level during the past week. It marks an important milestone because Mauna Loa, as the oldest continuous carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas.

    Carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities is the most significant greenhouse gas (GHG) contributing to climate change. Its concentration has increased every year since scientists started making measurements on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano more than five decades ago. The rate of increase has accelerated since the measurements started, from about 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last 10 years.

    “That increase is not a surprise to scientists,” said NOAA senior scientist Pieter Tans, with the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. “The evidence is conclusive that the strong growth of global CO2 emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas is driving the acceleration.”

    Before the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, global average CO2 was about 280 ppm. During the last 800,000 years, CO2 fluctuated between about 180 ppm during ice ages and 280 ppm during interglacial warm periods. Today’s rate of increase is more than 100 times faster than the increase that occurred when the last ice age ended.

    Bonus video for all the AGW cranks:

    Time history of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January, 2012.

    skippy… motors have been used for various purposes… now why did some hold off on buying a Benz after WWII… ummm… oh boy… the irony of it all~…

    PS… Calgon take me way… so I can lose myself in luxury[!!!]…

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