Links 6/2/13

Far-Right Extremists Chased Through London by Women Dressed as Badgers International Business Times (RS)

How to test Weinstein’s provocative theory of everything New Scientist (RS)

Woolwich murder, the MI6 connection: Younger brother of Michael Adebolajo ‘was paid thousands to spy in Middle East’ Daily Mail

Yet Another Explanation for the Killing of Ibragim Todashev Atlantic

Mass protests rage on in Turkey AlJazeera

What’s Happening In Turkey? Josh Marshall, TPM

Anti-austerity protests: Spain, Germany, Portugal AP

Leading economist flees Russia amid Putin’s growing crackdown Christian Science Monitor (FM)

What Putin learnt from Berlusconi FT

More than 1,000 killed in Iraq violence in May Reuters. Mission accomplished.

Struggling Korean builders tell employees to show loyalty: buy apartments Reuters

Do Japanese companies have banishment rooms? Marginal Revolution

China Net censors more subtle Bangkok Post

Google’s Eric Schmidt Invests in Obama’s Big Data Brains Business Week. Nice to see the revolving door works for IT as well.

Next Battles Over Obamacare Predicted To Be Ugliest Yet Kaiser. From selling hope and change to selling insurance. That is ugly.

Scalia Gives Obamacare a Big Boost Nudge theorist Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg. Docket; contra Sunstein, “Pandora’s Box Stays Closed.”

Fed’s Kocherlakota Sees Greater Concern About Risk in Markets Bloomberg

The U.S. Bond Market May Be Much Different Than You Think It Is Learn Bonds. Handy chart.

College in Sweden is free but students still have a ton of debt. How can that be? Quartz

Questions for MMT v Austrian Debate Modern Money and Public Purpose

‘Virtual’ Currencies Draw State Scrutiny Online WSJ

Why Did Criminals Trust Liberty Reserve? The New Yorker

Detroit Citizens Protect Themselves After Police Force Decimated Bloomberg. Detroit is a neoliberal petri dish.

A Night of Tornado Chaos in Oklahoma City: 9 Killed, 71 Injured Jeff Masters, Weather Underground

Climate change linked to more pollen, allergies, asthma USA Today

Experts unearth concerns over ‘peak soil’  Al Jazeera

Website maps 600,000 spots to pluck produce Oregonian (caseyOR)

Burke & Sons FT

Who Gets the Biggest Tax Breaks? Big Picture. You’ll never guess!

Financial Sector: Bigger and More Profitable Than Ever Jesse’s Café Américain

Inequality Rising — All Thanks To Government Policies David Cay Johnston, The National Memo

What Sequester? Washington Booms as a New Gilded Age Takes Root Online WSJ

Antidote du jour (Harry Shearer):


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Robert Jackson's talking skull

      As the incumbent presidential mafioso, Obama is doing yeoman work burying any semblance of truth about the torture regime he took over from Bush. Here we see the cowardly scumbag wiping his ass with the Convention Against Torture not only by failing to investigate, not just by imprisoning people who report torture, but by trying to hold them incommunicado in solitary confinement, the US government’s default torture. Kiriakou is a hero.

      When the US government loses one too many wars and gets pulled into line with world peremptory norms at an international tribunal, the US will have to give up the death penalty. But at our Nuremberg purgation, the last US person to be hanged should be Obama.

  1. AbyNormal

    H/T to my dear friend RJS for putting together these links

    Friday of this week saw the release of both the Annual Report by the Trustees of Social Security and the Annual Report by the Medicare trustees, covering condition and changes for both trust funds in 2012; for the year, Social Security took in roughly $28 billion more than the fund payed out in benefits, and combined with the interest earned on the Treasury bonds owned by the Fund, the Social Security trust fund reserves increased by $54.4 billion
    …with the economy improving, Social Security is now expected to run a surplus through the end of the decade, with the trust fund expected to increase from $2.76 trillion at the end of this year to a peak of $2.92 trillion in 2020; thereafter, with the majority of the baby boom generation retired, the trust fund is expected to be drawn down as benefits exceed payroll taxes collected and be exhausted twenty years hence, which is essentially the same forecast as last year’s report; thereafter, assuming no changes are made, revenues from the payroll tax would still enable an annual payment of 77% of promised benefits…the obvious solution to that shortfall would be to raise the cap on the payroll tax; currently, incomes over $113,000 are not taxed; raising that cap to just $250,000 would guarantee the program for 75 years; all the rhetoric about social security’s insolvency is obfuscation originating with those upper middle income types who dont want to see that extra 6.2% payroll tax applied to their earnings; there is no need for a stealth benefit cut in the form of chained CPI changes to the cost of living adjustment such as proposed by the president… (update will be posted later today)

    1. diane

      UUUGH: yeah, Abynormal, those Samurai link figures are bull, the top ten percent makes 380k? Let alone their hideous buck up$terism. And there are more than one types of taxes for average us human beings who are being driven into the ground, there are a multitude of them, for example:

      Sales Taxes ….The Poor pay the largest percentage (of their ‘income’) of these, far, far, far, far higher than those with money they don’t have to spend because they ‘make’ (thieve, might be more appropriate for many of them) far more money than they need to have, in order to survive.

      “Sin taxes” …. The Poor pay the largest of these also, by sadistic design of those who determine what those sins are, while leaving glaring gaps of non taxed sins, such as White Gloved Thievery and Sadism .

      Payroll taxes (outside of State, Federal and Local Income Taxes) Social Security, Medicare, State Disability (and other potential State and Local payroll taxes) The Poor pay the multitude of these, as the upper percentiles do not work for wages.

      Utility Taxes

      Phone Taxes

      Gasoline/Transportation taxes ……. Do any Politicians pay any of these?

      State Income taxes (in the majority of states; those states which don’t collect it punish their wee peeps in other, highly inventive ways) Predominately paid (percentage of all ‘income’ wise) by Employees, certainly not the upper echelons who are not employees, or those “Founders” who have loudly proclaimed they only want $1 dollar, or so, of wage income (no small focking wonder, as they don’t need wages).

      Local Income Taxes (in some areas) Generally, only paid by Employees, certainly not the upper echelons who are not employees, or those “Founders” who have loudly proclaimed they only want $1 dollar, or so, of wage income (no small focking wonder, as they don’t need wages).

      Federal Income Taxes Predominately paid (percentage of all ‘income’ wise) by Employees, certainly not the upper echelons who are not employees, or those “Founders” who have loudly proclaimed they only want $1 dollar, or so, of wage income (no small focking wonder, as they don’t need wages).Property Taxes

      I’m sure I’ve missed some, but was just trying to make a point, siiiiigh ……..

      1. diane

        oopsie doopsie, correction, meant to write:

        UUUGH: yeah, Abynormal, those Samurai link figures are bull, the top ONE percent makes 380k?

        (not “ten”, although, that’s certainly true also, just didn’t want to misquote Samurai)

        1. diane

          (And yes dear, the creepiest part of that site Barry Ritholtz linked to as An [Free Market!!!!!!] Authority!!!!!!, was that paragraph which was subtitled:


          I took that as code for, Obey [Your $adistic $ociopath$ Running Things Into Destruction For All Living Beings])

          1. AbyNormal

            Diane, your missing the sark…the first give away is the pic of O an his pooch/Public Domain.

            Maybe you missed this:
            “**Based** on the *Internal Revenue Service’s 2010 database* below, here’s how much the top Americans make:”

            from there Samurai carves up the 1% ‘speak’ and what they expect of their slaves

          2. diane

            sorry, it looks like I did, possibly because I am now on emergency mode, and I am betting that many like myself miss that “sark” which increasingly is only understood by those with their heads a little further up the from that drowning wave as that drownig wave they have little time (I.E. GET TO THE POINT QUICKLY, pleeeease) to READ (SO PERHAPS, THOSE WITH THEIR HEADS STILL ABOVE WATER, NEED TO MAKE THEIR FRICKING POINTS, A TAD BIT QUICKER, THAN BATHING IN THE GLORY OF THEIR SARK!!!!!!!!!!!!) and add comments (depite the fact that their time is literally running out) in an effort towards the common good, yet they want to and do, as opposed to shame facededly drumming up funds from loved ones who cannot afford it in order to stay alive.

            Let alone, the quite significant fact that the sarky intertubes have never heard the majority voices of those elderly and poverty ridden, who never had ‘puters.’ And there are literally millions of them in the Googlefied/Applefied, “U$ofA”

          3. diane

            Further, their sark, and Ritholtz, totally missed highlighting the facts about tax, all in on place (versus countless links that the hounded have no time, and some times the SOFTWARE/BROWSER!!! to access, which I clearly highlighted above, all in one place

          4. diane

            (for a ‘puter access example, most on the cheapest access vehicle (although, ironically, the most secure), “DIAL UP,” (to be “Personally Responsible” and ‘Budget’ their money responsibly) ,can not view video, without near two hours spent, despite how short that video might be.

            The stunning disconnect there by blawgers, who watch all those videos in REAL TIME!, whose computers/software/browser have not yet obsolesced (as they clearly have the money, and PLENTY TIME APPARENTLY, to keep it current), and non profits purporting to work for the poor (whom apparently are expected to spend their days and weekends waiting in line to access (and be tracked via library card pin numbers (if they are allowed into that library when homeless), privacy be damned when they apply for vital needs assistance at the library, as they are not even allowed to erase their tracks) computers for one hour at a time (gawd forbid their vital needs take more than an hour to apply for).

          5. diane

            (Let alone the transportation cost$ to, or one to two to three to four hour walks to that Local Library which one may have to wake up at four in the morning to walk to.

            Those “Public Libraries” are usually, now, not within a ‘short walk’ and the days and hours they are opened, are exponentially disappearing, in many areas they are gone.)

          6. diane

            and, while I am on one, let me just add, that many have no land left, and they are every bit as peace loving as those with land left, on which to plant seeds which provide food, it pains them, more then helps, to hear self sustenance lectures by those who still have land access.

            I am not only referring to countries outside of the U$, I am referring to the U$: Apartment rentals, do not (perhaps a .01% exception), allow the ability to grow ones own food, yet millions did not attempt to buy “homes”/land they could not afford (can not win either way), and Pwogwessives Lector them about growing veggies?

            If there is one united voice with a need to rise, it is those who are subjected to Land Lords…… , the historical and the newly experienced, who hoped they could keep that roof over their heads by attempting to buy a modest property for their loved ones.)

          7. diane

            Lastly, what makes some of that lengthy back patting “sark” so very hideous for those who both: either had little to none ‘puter access to reading, and certainly posting, blawg comments; and/or never bought on to the $ocial Media (FaceFiend? really? and the ACLU has the Cru$t to have a FaceFiend page?, even worse, the EFF? the Electronic Frontier Foundation who dares claim they protect privacy rights, while sporting a FaceFiend Link?) as $aviour theme, is that those disconneccted and those who never quite trusted those ‘web connections’ as ‘the ANSWER’ realized those facts far well before those snarkers who now provide multinudinous (in hopes of making mouse click money?) stunningly time consuming, and privacy invasive (as many require pdf allowance/scripting/and other (“cookies” for instance) , links and unviewable videos, to phrase something which would have only taken a few paragraphs to write.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the ‘Learn Bonds’ article:

    ‘The federal agency market shrunk 41% from the end of 2008 thru 2012, the mortgage market shrunk 14% from the end of 2009 thru 2012, and the municipal market shrunk 10% from the end of 2010 thru 2012.’

    What ever happened to the old simple past ‘shrank’? Maybe it’s a banned verb tense or something.

    This is what happens when peeps learn they English from movie titles (Honey, I shrunk the kids) instead of, you know, books and stuff.

      1. Doubt Wisdom

        Assange’s op-ed is well worth reading.
        I think this paragraph captures Google in a way that is both sweet, accurate, and subtly scary.

        “Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture — a decent, humane and playful culture — has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency.”

        Why does so much that starts out decent and humane throw in its lot with traditional power, Washington or elsewhere? I think this is a crucial question.

        1. aletheia33

          the need to remain part of the group

          the need for $$ to support one’s children

          if you refuse to compromise your decent, humane values when all around you your peers are doing so as they enter the workforce after graduation, you must be willing to become something of a social outcast and to raise your children on a shoestring.

          if you’re a grad student at caltech or mit, your decent, humane values are already compromised and your imagined adherence to them is merely a self-indulgence. you have made chosen your future and cannot ever walk away from your brilliant science career to become something of a social outcast and raise your children on a shoestring.

        2. nobody

          I’ve had a fair bit of exposure to “Californian graduate student culture,” and the zones I’ve observed aren’t generally very “decent, humane [or] playful.” I see a lot more continuities than discontinuities between this milieu and “traditional power.”

          1. Doubt Wisdom

            I thought Assange was being gracious and that he was acknowledging that Google arose within a certain cultural matrix has some genuine appeal. I have seen the process of swooning for corrupt ossified power in cultural settings that definitely were humane and decent, such as among Buddhist meditators. (Some were not at all playful, I will admit.)

            I understand why individuals go along with the current system. The mystery that is driving me is why knowledge workers as an entire social class do so to such a degree. Knowledge workers could be the core of a much more humane and prosperous society yet are content to be servants to the current decaying obsolete elite. And most do not even realize that that is what they are doing.
            Yes, money is nice and when you have a family, quite necessary. But it is also inherently more satisfying to do constructive work than destructive. More satisfying to help people understand better and wake up than to create ever more sophisticated drivel to slip past their ever more cynical intellectual immune systems. More satisfying to create tools for freedom than tools for oppression and control.
            I do not mean this as an attack on career-oriented knowledge workers. I mean it with genuine incredulity. We are better than this. We simply are.
            There has to be a switch on this damn system somewhere, a setting somewhere in some hidden Options menu that would shift the balance from “do what you are told” to “do what is uplifting”.

  3. YankeeFrank

    The Liberty Reserve piece on New Yorker is totally clueless and stupid. He’s like a child that wanders into a room… he seems totally lost as to why people would “trust” Liberty Reserve to launder their money when the businesses they are involved in hold much more risk than losing a bit of money if LR steals it or whatever. Criminals don’t hold “LR” dollars or whatever they are called for long periods of time: they use them to cut off the source of funds from the destination. If the system fails or is taken down whatever is currently in the pipeline is lost, but that is a small price to pay for what amounts to a relatively cheap form of laundering.

    He seems to not even understand how banksters operate these days, which is ridiculous given the history of these past 5-10 years. Banksters let their banks fail because the only thing they cared about was getting their bonuses. By Surowiecki’s logic banksters would never behave so recklessly as to cut off their future income potential for a (massive) short term gain. But that is how all large businesses operate these days: short termism run amock. The waste and destruction that ensues is just the cost of doing business for the thieves that take down the system. The cocoon these mainstream villager-type writer/thinkers are still living in, contrary to all the available evidence, is shockingly myopic and unwilling to learn.

    We live in a new paradigm where the criminal mindset has been mainstreamed and hugely rewarded by our very governments and legal systems. The sooner these dolts catch up the better for all of us.

    And finally, the farce that is the Liberty Reserve prosecution just makes me laugh: a small time launderer is hit with the full force of law while the huge launderers that transacted orders of magnitude larger amounts are still in business and doing fine, thank you; and we are supposed to applaud the DOJ for taking out a small piece of low hanging fruit that was staring them in the face doing its brazen bit of business for 8 years. How these walking boobs manage to look themselves in the mirror every morning is beyond me. It never ceases to amaze me the self-deception some humans are capable of.

    1. YankeeFrank

      And I’d like to add that there should be a differentiation in our minds now between “criminal” and “black market”. Criminal is theft, has a victim and a perpetrator. This is different from black market as a whole, which includes many businesses that don’t steal but deal in contraband goods. Most contraband is designated as such due to puritanical or other subjective or authoritarian moods. The drug trade and associated “war” is such an example. Black market dealings don’t necessarily imply dishonesty or theft. And all criminality isn’t black market, as the criminals that have stolen a generation’s worth of wealth from tens/hundreds of millions of citizens through the housing bubble, selling of fraudulent securities, and subsequent bailouts that have impoverished entire nations can attest. Who is the victim in a black market deal where the buyer gets the product they want and the seller gets the price they want (of course assuming the product itself has not been obtained through theft)? Sure, drug cartels leave death and destruction in their wake, but they only exist because of the artificial scarcity created by bans in the first place. Get rid of the ban and the (direct) violence will end. There is always theft of labor, environmental destruction, theft of resources and land, etc. But we all seem to pretend that behavior is legitimate free market activity. We really need better terms and descriptions to accurately portray the brave new neoliberal world the powerful have created for us.

      1. down2long

        Well said sir. Further, it does appear that “game theory” or just omerta keeps the black market folks being much more fair. Case in point, Chase foreclosed on my current paid up building, lost $550K in the process because they had gotten the loan for free when the FDIC sold them WAMU for hundredths of cents on the dollar. And Slimin’ needed some quick cash to offset a $6.5 Billion Dollar Fortress Balance sheet control accounting error.

        Black market guys have their own skin in the game. Also, why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? In the banks case, the government lets the bankers keeps keep the golden eggs, kill the goose and eat it, and then gives them another goose to lay the golden eggs and some extra golden eggs “just in case” because of “stability in the financial system.”

        My hard money lenders are dolls compared to the banks.

        1. YankeeFrank

          I’m sorry to hear about the theft of your property down2long. That we live in a nation where massive theft and fraud, money laundering and terrorist-financing by the powerful are all enabled and/or given a pass while the relatively honest black marketeer gets a boot in her face is a total breakdown in the rule of law. That supposed intellectuals countenance all of this with nary a squawk is testimony to their hollowness and irrelevance.

  4. Jim Haygood

    From an NYT series on ‘The $2.7 trillion medical bill’:

    Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.

    Americans pay, on average, about four times as much for a hip replacement as patients in Switzerland or France and more than three times as much for a Caesarean section as those in New Zealand or Britain. The average price for Nasonex, a common nasal spray for allergies, is $108 in the United States compared with $21 in Spain. The costs of hospital stays here are about triple those in other developed countries, even though they last no longer, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that studies health policy.

    Larry Chin, a businessman from Hicksville, N.Y. … was billed $8,675 for anesthesia during cardiac surgery. For the same service, the anesthesia group accepted $6,970 from United Healthcare, $5,208.01 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, $1,605.29 from Medicare and $797.50 from Medicaid. A judge ruled that Mr. Chin should pay $4,252.11.

    No surprises here. Every investigation of the U.S. health system finds opaque pricing, gross price discrimination, and costs that are multiples of those in comparable developed economies.

    Merely ascribing this debacle to third-party payers raises a knotty question, though. Why do repair costs for insured auto and residential damage, which also involve third-party payments, remain internationally competitive? Why is health care different?

    One obvious difference in health care is that a quasi-monopsony buyer, Medicare/Medicaid, has exploited its clout to drive reimbursement rates down to near cost (as evidenced by the example quoted above). With the government acting as a large, self-interested participant, antitrust enforcement against abuses such as collusive, discriminatory pricing is nonexistent. Absurdly discriminatory pricing is de facto government policy.

      1. David Lentini

        Baker shows a lot of ignorance about the patent system and its effects on health care.

        First, many drugs are either off-patent (i.e., generic) or will soon be. The problem is that doctors keeep prescribing the versions that are still on-patent, care of pharmaceutical company marketing gimmicks. Similarly for many medical devices, such as colonoscopes.

        Second, what does he mean by “free market alternative”? There is no free market in health care, becuase the factors needed to define a free market just don’t exit. Getting certified as a doctors is hugely selective and expensive; thus the supply of doctors is limited. Drugs, whether or note patented, have to undergo rigorous testing (thalidomide anyone?) which often keeps new types of drugs from reaching the market, again limiting supply. Finally, doctors and patients suffering most diseases and conditions have only one or two effective options.

        And his comment about NIH funding was a howler! Sorry, Dean, NIH funding goes for research programs that ultimately produce patented drugs. And the NIH does quite a lot of patenting itself, which generates licensing revenues from … wait for it … the pharmaceutical industory.

        No, folks. The answer is not removing patent protection from drugs. The answer is single payer care, rigorous review of treatments based on actual treatment data to define the most efficient standard of care treatments, and at least in some cases, compulsory licensing of patented products.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Interesting commentary; thanks. But it’s a little bizarre too. Baker writes:

        While the [NYT] article provides much useful information, it badly errors in telling readers (in a quote from David Blumenthal, the President of the Commonwealth Fund) that the cost problems stem from a free market.

        ‘Errors’ is now a verb? Maybe in the alternative universe inside the beltway.

        Here’s what Blumenthal actually said, and the paragraphs that follow:

        “In the U.S., we like to consider health care a free market,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund and a former adviser to President Obama. ”But it is a very weird market, riddled with market failures.”

        Consider this:

        Consumers, the patients, do not see prices until after a service is provided, if they see them at all. And there is little quality data on hospitals and doctors to help determine good value, aside from surveys conducted by popular Web sites and magazines. Patients with insurance pay a tiny fraction of the bill, providing scant disincentive for spending.

        Even doctors often do not know the costs of the tests and procedures they prescribe. When Dr. Michael Collins, an internist in East Hartford, Conn., called the hospital that he is affiliated with to price lab tests and a colonoscopy, he could not get an answer. “It’s impossible for me to think about cost,” he said. “If you go to the supermarket and there are no prices, how can you make intelligent decisions?”

        Per standard journalistic practice, the NYT writer collected numerous quotes reflecting different opinions. I don’t agree with Blumenthal’s ‘free market’ label any more than Baker does. But in his very next sentence, Blumenthal speaks of ‘market failures.’ The NYT journalist (Elisabeth Rosenthal) picks up that ball and runs with it, citing no less than four examples of such market failures.

        Somehow Baker twists this into ‘telling readers that the cost problems stem from a free market’ — the exact opposite of the article’s plainly delineated theme of market failures. If Baker’s weirdly mottled mind were mounted on a breadboard, I’d get out the ol’ multimeter and start checking for loose connections and failed components. For sure, his syntax processor is busted.

        1. Doubt Wisdom

          About “errors” as a verb
          The elite violates every other rule. We can’t be surprised if they violate the rules of the English language.

  5. rjs

    i found it strange that no one noticed that more than 1/3rd of 1st quarter GDP was a seasonally adjusted increase in farm inventories…

    see table 2:

    you know that didnt come from farmers filling their silos with corn harvested in january; it was just the seasonal comparison to the drought related weak 3rd & 4th quarter inventories that boosted GDP by .84% in the first quarter…

      1. rjs

        were it not for the aberrant jump in winter farm inventories, first quarter GDP would have only increased 1.54% at an annual rate..

    1. AbyNormal

      corn knows no shame
      “Oh Lord Most High, Creator of the Cosmos, Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves, Inhaler and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum, Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Millennia — what could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better? Nothing. What could we do or say that could possibly interest Thee? Nothing. Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last. No longer can a fool point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, ‘Somebody up there likes me.’ And no longer can a tyrant say, ‘God wants this or that to happen, and anyone who doesn’t help this or that to happen is against God.’ O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it, and the claptrap that has so often enslaved us or driven us into the madhouse lies slain!” -The prayer of the Reverend C. Horner Redwine/k.v.

  6. diptherio

    NY State Supreme Court Comes Down Hard on Wells Fargo for Giving Customers the Runaround on HAMP Modifications:

    Accordingly, the court finds that the imposition of an alternative remedy to address the plaintiff’s wanton and flagrant violation of the dictates of CPLR 3408 (f) is in order. While it is apparent that the court cannot compel a party’s good faith behavior, it can certainly impose sanctions for the deliberate disregard of legal mandates, particularly here where it is painfully obvious to the court that the plaintiff [Wells Fargo] has acted wilfully and with express intent to subvert a statutory scheme established for the beneficial purpose of helping mortgagors avoid the loss of their homes [HAMP]. In that vein, to simply impose a monetary penalty on the foreclosing plaintiff mortgagee [Wells] without ever requiring a sincere effort on its part to abide by the statutory scheme would be to merely let the plaintiff mortgagee pay to avoid compliance; i.e., treat the imposition of a primary sanction as simply the “cost of doing business.” This would be a disservice not only to the legislature that saw fit to enact this legislation, but also a disservice to the countless mortgagors who find themselves on the precipice of losing their homes under circumstances not entirely of their making. This court cannot in equity permit such a result without at least affording the defendants an authentic opportunity to avail themselves of the protective measures of CPLR R3408. The plaintiff [Wells], in turn, must know that if it continues its deliberate, convoluted acts of subversion that it may eventually face even more serious sanctions that would not be in their pecuniary interest.</blockquote.

    1. down2long

      Thanks for the news on Wells. Fighting them right now on a property on which they refused my court ordered payments for two years, returning each check. They also sold my worthless and stripped out (in BK court) second they got from Wachovia to Ocwen, I had to sue Ocwen to keep them from trying to collect on the worthless and legally dead loan. Although, since I lost the underlying property to an a**hole I was hoping Ocwen would foreclose on the collateral. Not that lucky, but what a riot that would’ve been!

      Part of the unexpected defense of my case on my first TD are these cases such as the one you posted from NYC, and the really hideous case out of Louisiana where the circuit court backed up BK Judge Elizabeth Megner and she threw the book at Wells (Thanks Yves for keeping on that. Wells’ attorneys in their pleadings basically admitted fraud is the business model. Not so smart, perhaps someone fell ill from nausea and thought “WTF? They don’t pay me enough.”

      Today the Financial Times has Wells’ CEO Stumpf whining about the Fed and new debt restrictions or some nonsense.

      The news there is that the Oligarchs have selected Stumpf to ascend to the bullshit pulpit, in the wake of, shall we say, Slimin’ Dimon’s regulatory “challenges,” and his negative “Q”. Even FT, which is less craven by far than the WSJ, has to acknowledge the banks needed a new public face, and Stumpf is it, God help them.

      I think the oligarchs chose badly. Wells is dirtier at least vis a vis the mortgage/refi mess, and Stumpf’s new post is just going to bring some much-needed attention to the “cess-pit” of Wells.

      Even more interesting, since 40 percent or more of Wells’ profits last year came from refis and screwing Fannie/Freddie on fees/origination scams, and now the refi market is dead, Wells, will not be “making” money like Chase. Wells is fully aware of this and has a road show out there trying to get realtors to bring their purchase money loans to Wells, using some old Notre Dame coach from medieval times as their bait, I mean motivational speaker. Someone did point out that dragging out an old ND coach is a dog whistle to Roman Catholics to step up.

      Wells just has not diversified their scam base they way the other banks have. (I hear money laundering is big in Cali.)

      Americans apparently will forgive anything if you’re making money. Bank whore Dick Bove may even remove his slobbering mouth from Stumpf’s stump. Oh god, that’s a visual!

      1. down2long

        Did want to finish the thought on Wells. Since most of their foreclosures and short are cash purchases (they did carry the first for the buyer on my foreclosure, but he flipped in six months so not so good) but now more than 30 percent of the purchases are all cash. No way to make money there. (Wells I think was counting on that loan on the first to make them money – they refused my offer of $350K, sold the property for $230, and helped themselves to $70K in fees: they accidentally sent me the closing papers.)

        Maybe they’ll go the Deutsche route – provide cash lines for shysters to buy their foreclosures FROM them, and thus keep the deal.

        Also here in Cali there was a big uproar in that our charming money scammers (mostly Russian/Persian immigrants) were rigging the foreclosure auctions, where one person would buy the property paying bottom dollar to the banks, and then moving down the steps to conduct the REAL auction among themselves. Banks VERY UPSET at being scammed. Will post link later, but was in L.A. Times yesterday.

        1. down2long

          It’s an AP story. The most fun sentence is the scammer’s defense lawyers chief defense of the scammer’s less than stellar behavior, basically the Slimin’ Dimon defense: “the amount of money they were making was staggering, and they just couldn’t help themselves.”

          Unlike, Dimon, et. al. the scammers are being told to make restitution and “disgorge” as they say in legal circles. What a concept!

  7. Ned Ludd

    Old media versus new media, in Turkey:

    I tried to strike up conversation with a demonstrator, a young woman in her twenties with a surgical mask around her neck, but I could see I was interrupting her tweeting. In fact, I realized that almost every person there was either typing on a phone or recording the scene on a tablet.

    Back in my apartment, I turned on the television. CNN Turk was broadcasting a food show, featuring the “flavors of Nigde.” Other major Turkish news channels were showing a dance contest and a roundtable on study-abroad programs. It was a classic case of the revolution not being televised. The whole country seemed to be experiencing a cognitive disconnect, with Twitter saying one thing, the government saying another, and the television off on another planet.

    Yesterday afternoon, Benjamin Harvey tweeted: “Seriously, CNN-Turk is airing a show on penguins.” (screenshot) When a bureau chief for Bloomberg mocks CNN on twitter, it illustrates how print media is adapting and understanding how to use social media, whereas TV news still acts as if they set the agenda. This may be true in some countries, like Russia; but fails in well-connected societies with high unemployment and widespread discontent.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Benjamin Harvey, the Turkey Bureau Chief for Bloomberg, just tweeted the following:

      Erdogan: Twitter is a menace to society.

      Harvey also linked to a map from the OpenNet Initiative, which shows countries that ban or filter social media. The ONI website allows people to report if they “have trouble accessing a social media site — or any website — and believe it is being blocked”.

        1. Ned Ludd

          Thanks Aby, and thanks for the link to The Wallflowers song. It is one of those songs I remember from the radio (back before radio stations posted their playlists on their websites), but I never new the song name or the band.

      1. psychohistorian

        The war over control of social media is a major battlefield, IMO.

        Social Media has the ability to further control or empower the public. Battles are being fought over the “use” of social media all over the world. What works in one country/area/situation may not work elsewhere but other usage is gaining power.

        We may be approaching the limits of the Big Lie technique. It can’t be soon enough.

        The 99.9% need to ratchet the rules about inheritance and accumulating private ownership of property down to where none can have enough money/property to effect social policy. This would create a public commons that can be used to insure planet resources are shared more equitably and prudently.

        I don’t know how to get there but the existing plutocratic led neoOrwellian way is taking us to hell in a handbasket…….quickly.

          1. Ned Ludd

            The Koch brothers are terrible, and I was trashing them just last week for manipulating gasoline prices. However, Democrats have latched upon the Koch brothers as the ultimate bad apples in order to shift the focus away from their own greed and corruption. So I think the meme of Koch omniscience helps the Democrats.

            Pox on all their houses.

          1. AbyNormal

            “And I can’t break away from this parade
            But there’s got to be an opening
            Somewhere here in front of me
            Through this maze of ugliness and greed

            This place is always such a mess
            Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn”


  8. diane

    So, …

    So, the movie industry used Jolie’s tits (and ass) to sell theater tickets, now the breast cancer industry is using her tits to raise risk free capital investment–I mean, donation money–I mean, awareness! yet Fowler’s the “misogynist” for calling this out?

    …. It is true …

    …. It is true that St. Clair, like good old Alex, loves this stuff and can more than hold his own. But none of the critics appeared to notice that Jeffrey’s own daughter has cancer or bothered to say that they hoped he and his wife are holding up and that their daughter recovers. Nothing shames the Trots, or the NYC intellectuals. Sectarianism for the first, superiority complex for the second.

    1. diane

      a person doesn’t even want to witness the counter intuitive, let alone counter life, suggestions forced upon those who either do, or don’t, have some sort of “cancer” in the vicinity of their breasts, despite the fact that certain wisdoms, garnered from first hand experience, over and over and over again, have been near totally refuted at this point.

      (as the fockers who run things snicker: heal thyself then BITCH, …. evil does exist)

      1. diane

        most especially, when they have tried as much as they can to stay afloat economically, without breaking the THE LAW [such as, for one example: “TAX EVASION”, Laws written for those teeny handful who break those laws daily, minute by minute, second by second]

    2. diane

      (an extra hug to my homey, from “[William]Penn Sylvania” (“PA” is also known for institutionalizing the “Penal System”), Michael Yates, exists in that second link.

      Thank you so much honey, I love the way your heart beats …)

  9. anon y'mouse

    similar to Yves common gripe about the super-expensive mammogram, here’s an article for women and those who care about them:

    as far as I can tell, this is the SAME kind of test that someone in our western $$$ system will undergo if their first screening (pap test) comes out “positive” for something. the gyno goes in and looks carefully with a light under magnification, and applies a vinegar/dye solution to highlight the specific areas for biopsy.

    why aren’t we requesting this somewhat more labor/skill intensive method rather than the much-more-expensive (and still somewhat unreliable) technological one?

    1. diane

      and, Ladies, and Men (particularily men ‘vets’ with “breast cancer”, especially from toxic hell holes like Camp Lejeune (sp?)), if you do have something which appears deadly (discolored, disformed, pain sensations emanating from), in the brest (hat tip to Mike Smith, …and both my middle fingers to the London Corp.) area, read up as much as you are able, it is truly horrifying what the folks you expect to know what they are talking about, don’t share with you.

      Not only that, but what some of those same people expect you to whimperingly accept (with a thank you note, at that), if you don’t have the unaffordable sum (which only robber baron$ are entitled too) to: ‘heal yourself.’

  10. JGordon

    Detroit is a neoliberal petri dish?

    Well that could be, but then again another way of looking at it is that Detroit is one step ahead of us on path we’re all headed down. Or in other words, they have more time to adjust to reality than the rest of us will have, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. If they use this time to prepare (as many of them are I’ve been reading) then the people of Detroit won’t notice much change to their lifestyle when energy imports are cut off, while people of less well prepared cities will be doing each other in for that last little bit of peanut butter stuck at the bottom of a plastic Great Value jar. All in all, it’s a good deal for Detroit, what’s going on there.

  11. James
    Bashing crises predictions-Lars P Syll –
    2 June, 2013

    Noah Smith has a post up on his blog questioning that people like Dean Baker, Dirk Bezemer, Nouriel Roubini, Barkley Rosser and in particular Steve Keen really – in any essential meaning of the word – “predicted” the latest financial-economic crises, the one that we are still living through (that mainstream economists didn’t, we know). It makes me come to think of (wonder why …) what James K. Galbraith wrote a couple of years ago in The NEA Higher Education Journal:

    “Leading active members of today’s economics profession… have formed themselves into a kind of Politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule—as one might generally expect from a gentleman’s club—this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen. … They oppose the most basic, decent and sensible reforms, while offering placebos instead.

  12. charles sereno

    Off topic breaking news:
    Granted that their fines and promises are greater in % GDP terms than banks (but not banksters or money-launderers or drug kingpins or tax evaders etc, etc), here’s an all-star list of NBA luminaries who have recently been fined and have apologized for “insensitivity” — Kobe Bryant, $100,000; Joakim Noah, $50,000; Amar’e Stoudemire, $50,000; and now Roy Hibbert,$75,000. Hmm, almost enough for a team. Perhaps a more important difference might be that these guys might actually really be sorry.

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