Links 10/24/13

The men who prefer virtual girls to sex BBC

British Gas made heart patient redundant as he lay in hospital bed Daily Mail

Osteoporosis Drugs Might Carry Risk of Atrial Fibrillation Patient Safety Blog. Another one of my pet peeves. The medical profession is big on having people take meds and generally prefers that to lifestyle changes. Weight training not only strengthens bones, but even in people in their 80s, produces big improvements in all their age-related markers.

Irish Austerity Exodus Continues Angry Bear

Paper by EU Economist Backs Austerity’s Critics Wall Street Journal

How Europe Can Save Its Banks Bloomberg

Bank says Spain out of recession BBC. No, this is not from the Onion.

Liquidity shrinks as China renews tightening Financial Times

China’s Insatiable Hunger for Energy Resources OilPrice

The REAL Reason for Saudi Shift Away from U.S. George Washington

Why Iran’s Influence May Decide Pakistan’s Energy Fate OilPrice

Syria: After CW Removal, Obama May Again Go For Regime Change Moon of Alabama

Secret memos reveal explicit nature of U.S., Pakistan agreement on drones Washington Post

Reasons behind the sell-off in crude oil Sober Look

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Laura Donohue’s Comprehensive Case Against Bulk Metadata Collection Just Security

Under Keith Alexander’s Guard, America Can Be Plundered Like a Colony Marcy Wheeler

NSA leaks face Mexico test Financial Times

Anger Growing Among Allies Over U.S. Surveillance New York Times

The Cybersecurity Industry Is Hiring, But Young People Aren’t Interested MotherBoard

Obamacare Launch

Administration changes deadline for marketplaces Washington Post

Health Law Fails to Keep Prices Low in Rural Areas New York Times

Guide to health care reform Consumer Reports (Lambert)

Union and third party leaders not fighting, not present Pruning Shears (Carol B)

JPMorgan negotiates through the revolving door Eyes on the Ties

US task force probes nine banks on mortgage-backed securities Financial Times. Wow, Obama must really need a distraction from the botched Obamacare rollout.

Fans shrug off extra World Series security Boston Globe. Bunk McNulty: “Docility training proceeds apace.”

JPMorgan Faces Possible Penalty in Madoff Case New York Times

Diebold Charged With Bribery, Falsifying Docs, ‘Worldwide Pattern of Criminal Conduct’ Brad Blog (Lambert)

The razing of 1101 Carter Road: The rest of the story… Land “covenant” in deed forbids “human habitation” Shale Gas Blog (Lambert)

How Much is QE Driving Equity Markets? (Hint: Not 100%) Barry Ritholtz. But one driver has been the stealth bailout to the mortgage-industrial complex: the mortgage settlements, QE helping PE firms hoover up distressed properties, which has in turn helped homebuilders…And of course, the direct effort to help the banks helped bank stocks, which are a significant part of stock indexes. So when you widen the frame to include other government actions aimed directly at goosing asset prices, it’s hard not to conclude that they are very significant.

Repo, Baby, Repo Counterpunch (Carol B)

Blackstone to sell bonds backed by lease payments Housing Wire. A sucker born every minute…

McDonald’s helps workers get food stamps CNN (Lambert)

Was Keynesianism Discredited in the 1970s? Pieria. I want to grind my teeth over this essay. It provides excellent historical detail, but then treats Keynesians as being true disciples of Keynes! Repeat after me, they aren’t, they are selling a variant of neoclassical economics that treats Keynes as a special case. Samuelson, the leader of American Keynesianism, called it a “neoclassical synthesis.” As we discussed in ECONNED, Keynes saw it as a major distortion of his work (it started in England, before Samuelson took it up, with an economist John Hick, who later repudiated it).

Workforce, Population, Jobs by Age-Group Michael Shedlock. Ugly.

Americans spend less now than in ’73, report says McClatchy

Religious more likely to lie for financial gain Salon (Carol B)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. ambrit

    The link to Mish Shedlocks site leaves you with an “article not found” message. Not to worry. Click on the same article header at the top of the left hand column and presto changeo.
    Being in the 55+ age group leaves me feeling sort of nauseous after reading those charts. “Work (till you drop) makes you free!”
    Ja. Ist der seig!

    1. Ned Ludd

      If you read the post (which seems to be a letter from Wallace to Mish), Wallace gets the numbers of some of the graphs he is referring to wrong. Here is how the graphs are currently numbered in the post.

      1. Change in the Number of Jobs Since 1970
      2. Civilian Non-Institution Population Since 1970
      3. Workforce Since 1970
      4. Percent of Population in Workforce Since 1970
      5. Number in Age Group Employed
      6. Percent of Age Group Employed Since 1970

      1. Ned Ludd

        “If you read the post” is a colloquialism that I probably should not use. I meant to draw attention to the post; not to accuse ambrit of not reading the post.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Ludd;
          All to the good, friend. No offense taken. The comment is internally consistent, and not in the least derogatory.

  2. Jim Haygood

    “Just fix [], so we can go forward,” [Pelosi] added. “Fix the technology, and let’s not get too bogged down in what happens if they’re not able to fix it.”

    Right, let’s not get all ‘bogged down’ in whether it actually (you know) works or not. After all, we passed a law, and then we found out what’s in it!

    It’s a growth opportunity for all of us. Kathleen Syphilis, queen of HHS, gets to learn about IT and websites. Meanwhile our Dear Leader has reinvented hisself as the Crazy Eddie of online health coverage (his prices are in-saaannnne!!!).

    Ol’ ‘One Click Jeff’ Bezos is green with envy, as Webmastah Barky’s innovative ‘99 clicks and you’re covered (maybe)‘ takes the nation by storm.

    How disrespectful that the evil repugnicans, parroting an old Everly Brothers song, now mock our president as ‘Kathy’s Clown.’

  3. randall

    The spiritual syphilis of consumerism no doubt contributed to reducing many Japanese males to this undignified condition. The price of subordinating all human and cultural values to economics isn’t just monetary. Most people need a vision beyond seeing yourself as a sack of guts with no purpose other than consumption, wage slavery, and dropping the genetic payload. Many Japanese males seem to be foregoing the latter.

    1. anon y'mouse

      fleeting, digitized pleasure where you are the Eternal Object and the Eternal Subject, and the Other is just an extension of your desires.

      the exact opposite of the “syphilis of consumerism”?

      you are dead-on.

  4. AbyNormal

    New Antibiotics Genetically Modify YOU! (me don’t feel so good)

    “They are “a synthetic analog of DNA or RNA that has the ability to silence the expression of specific genes.” The way that PPMO antibiotics will work is to, “specifically target the underlying genes of a bacterium.” In plain English, PPMOs will genetically modify bacteria.

    Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, more popularly known as Cipro (Ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (Levofloxacin), Avelox (Moxifloxacin), Floxin (Ofloxacin) and a few other less commonly used ones, are topoisomerase interrupters. They unravel bacterial DNA and lead to apoptosis, programmed cell death.”

    “If it’s safe, then prove it.”…still works for me!
    Editorial headline on genetically engineered foods, New Scientist 4th
    January 1997
    Media cover up on gmo cancer threat

    1. diptherio

      Don’t be so quick to judge Aby. Maybe this is how we’ll finally end up with mutant super-heroes (since everyone knows that inadvertent gene manipulation generally leads to super speed or the ability to shoot lasers out yer eyeballs).

      I just hope I don’t get one of them lame super powers (like the ability to make ice cream melt faster than normal).

      1. craazyboy

        Don’t worry. They test all this stuff on lab rats first. So the only risk is if we develop a strain of telepathic lab rats, they get loose, and then we have to listen to what rats think. Nothing that unusual, really.

        Or we could end up with killer bees that look and act like John Belushi. That would be fun.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Then the Mayans would have to re-make all their bee god (Ah Muzen Cab) images to look like Belushi.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Lifestyle changes should be preferred as often as possible, instead of medication or resorting to technology.

      It’s not a cure but it helps to be away from the crowded urban areas, even with all their shining, hip distractions, like restaurants, cafes, clubs, theaters, sports stadiums, galleries, etc.

      Maybe we should listen to Wendell Berry and resettle the countryside, away from ‘urban civilization,’ leaving that to the ‘civilized people’ of Rome. Perhaps we can then preserver ‘countryside civilization,’ with lifestyle changes that do not need more solar panels, windmills nor hybrid cars.

  5. eeyores enigma

    About China.

    Pumping money into an economy has a very limited/narrow effect.

    Pumping relatively cheap energy resources into an economy has very positive (I use that term loosely) broad effects across the entire economy.

    Expensive energy resources (diesel still around $4.00) has the opposite effect.

    Pumping money into resource extraction (fracking) has a very limited and short lived effect on the economy and will eventually leave us worse off for it.

  6. diptherio

    Re: Diebold Charged With Bribery, Falsifying Docs, ‘Worldwide Pattern of Criminal Conduct’

    Glad to know that our electronic voting machines are being made by reputable people…

    1. neo-realist

      I wonder if Jeb’s candidacy for the President of the United States will depend on whether Diebold beats the raps or not.

  7. diptherio

    Local Sprouts Cooperative is looking for worker-owners in other cooperatives to share their perspectives on a virtual panel. The intention of the panel: to connect Local Sprouts to a broader cooperative community, philosophy, and history. It can be pretty isolating up here sometimes (we are one of the only worker co-ops in Maine)! We often express a feeling of “reinventing the wheel” with regard to decisions about cooperative structure and business organization and our work can sometimes feel exceptional or excessive. The opportunity to identify elements of our business and ourselves in other cooperatives and cooperative members will be refreshing and inspiring—even integral to further conversations about worker-ownership at Local Sprouts.

  8. real

    I don’t understand why Germans complain?US is headed by greatest liberal – Nobel Prize winner president.Obama is constitutional law professor,a great manager,a great orator.He has been elected twice.This alone would neutralize any argument against spying.Didn’t Germans went to listen his speech in germany after he won election in 2008?You just can’t please germans.
    And the evil repubs are not heading govt..dems are kind hearted,humane,compassionate people who love social justice,liberty,equality.If their president allows spying on merkel,it means terrorists are surely trying to attack her.
    What happens if Germans catch chinese firms spying on Merkel? Will they be able to complain ?
    Germans will get used to it,just like every other country in world is getting used to it.

  9. Massinissa

    “Men who prefer virtual girls to sex”

    Sex is overrated anyway. Culture focuses too much on it.

    And all this boohooing about Japans birthrate… What does it matter? They can always just attract immigrants. Its not like the world doesnt have enough poor people. Its not like Japan actually needs Japanese people to be a functioning country. Just get boatloads of africans or mexicans and suddenly there will no longer be a population problem. Besides enough breeding with attractive japanese women and there will be japanese folk again within a few generations. Its not a big deal.

    What these men do in their own time is THEIR OWN BUSINESS. If they dont like real women, that is noones business but their own. Whether they have sex or not, or like the opposite sex or not, is nobodies business.

    The BBC would probably be doing the same boohooohoo BUT WUT ABOUT TEH POPULATIONZ if 36% of the 16-19 male demographic turned out to be gay.

    Anyway why is this at the top of the links? This hardly matters

    Anyway arnt the PTB always complaining about global overpopulation anyway? Virtual women are probably a much better way of solving a malthusian crisis than denying old people health care, which seems to be the preferred antidote du jour for population pressures for the 1%.

    1. just_kate

      I had similar thoughts about that story. Also too, Japan is hosed re Fukushima so not sure why this would be a priority at all.

      1. jrs

        So you go the procreation route in Japan are you sure those kids are going to live out a healthy livespan being that they will spend their gestation and childhood in radiation central? That’s if they are born without 3 toes and 2 brains. Oh it’s so horrible, more people aren’t reproducing.

    2. anon y'mouse

      not trying to rebut you. I think they don’t need to worry about the population de-growth. they import 50% of their food, implying they could decrease by half and that would be a good thing.

      but–>virtual girlfriend means psychological infantilism. growth occurs within relationships with real people, and having to accommodate them. what kind of culture is going to be produced when everyone is running around in an ego-bubble produced by techno-mirage? not to mention, irrational propaganda-driven expectations about what IS attractive warping one’s view and being imposed on the world. when someone goes out and meets ‘real’ people, who don’t reflect and respond to your every want-fancy-need-preference, inevitably they come up short.

      this is the phenomena we already have with advertising and celebrities feted for imposing a certain image as the standard by which all of us are to believe we should be held (just give it 5 different ethnic-friendly flavours, like the Spice Girls). I agree that it is entirely these individual’s business what they like and so on, but please do think of the consequences.

      would you really prefer a world where everyone would rather they interact with their computer screen, which coddles their every desire, than one in which real people meet and learn to accommodate each other? the technosingularity is being sold based on the way one can tune it to their individual preferences. it still imposes a kind of psychological hegemony. I don’t see how this will not degrade the quality (or at least, make it much more confusing and difficult to navigate) of real human interactions.

        1. anon y'mouse

          Huxley and Orwell and quite a bit of “Do Androids…” are what we are looking at as the -present-.

          how much worse will it get?

          1. jrs

            Historically there have always been celebates, many quite famous (Tesla, Thoreau, etc.) but I don’t think there was much interest there in virtual gfs.

            1. anon y'mouse

              well, yes. and if one prefers celibacy then that is what one prefers.

              I don’t necessarily ‘buy’ that what these men prefer is celibacy. what it appears like is that the image is preferred to the real, because the image is responsive to what the viewer wants. an illusion of 2 way communication when really, you’re having a relationship with yourself. and only partially done because real life is such a drag. how much of these individual’s preferences is being shaped by this consumerist activity, and how does it impact the rest of their interactions with real people?

              we have no idea about the interior sex lives of the famous individuals you mention. perhaps they had none. perhaps they had an internal muse of some sort, and the real world didn’t match up, and this Japanese techno-phenomenon is just a modern expression.

              if video games can desensitize one to violence in general, what is this stuff doing? how much of this “shaping my perfect girlfriend” is really “being shaped by what the corporation thinks is/should be the ideal girlfriend”.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Do women prefer virtual men?

                If not, why the discrepancy?

                If yes, maybe there is something in the human psyche.

                Do cats prefer virtual human-houseslaves?

              2. Paul Niemi

                This seems wrong. What the kids are actually doing is creating virtual personas for themselves and meeting each other in virtual on-line rooms to have simulated sex. The virtual girlfriend or boyfriend is actually a real person somewhere, with a computer, living out a parallel fantasy with a partner doing the same.

          2. Walter Map

            The world is changing. It is changing for the worse, much worse. People can sense it, even if they don’t talk about it, especially people over forty, who remember what it was like to have optimism and innocence. People will hope things don’t get too much worse, but they will, and then they will get worse still, until many people wonder how much more they can take.

            You’re watching it happen in real time. It’s not exactly a secret.

            It’s like that already for people who have fallen hard out of the middle class. Their numbers are increasing.

            TPTB expect people will get used to it, and if they don’t, well, so what? The lives of thousands of people are cratering every day, and TPTB knows it, and they really do not care.

            For most people, everyday life will come to have a dark, hopeless surreality to it, with a fearful malevolence not quite palpable. Life will have an unreal feeling to it, like a bad, bad dream that lasts all night. Poverty will become normal, petty crime will become normal, paranoia and depression will become normal, and suicide will become common.

            At that point I’ll mention that things have gotten ugly, and warn again that things are about to get weird ugly. Ecological and economic collapse are expected to be in stages and coincident, societies will break down, piece by piece, and humanity will start dying off. The numbers will seem large at first, and then they will get larger.

            Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
            Old Time is still a-flying;
            And this same flower that smiles today
            Tomorrow will be dying.

    3. craazyboy

      Well, my first thought was “what does sex have to do with making babies?” Then I remembered. haha

      But it occurs to me that a lot of countries could use virtual girls. India, for instance.

      But they probably wouldn’t go for it.

    4. ambrit

      Dear Massinissa;
      What I’m pondering, (are you pondering what I’m pondering?) is, are we being set up for a REAL dystopia when direct stimulation of brain regions is perfected? (Check out Lary Nivens’ “Known Space” stories where ‘Wireheading’ is a scourge like Heroin.) This technology is developing. I worry about the uses it can be put to by those pesky ol elites.

  10. rich

    Beyond, Genoa 1 December, V3day #OLTREv3day

    In the last few months, Italy’s problem has become the M5S’s populism. We are the guilty ones. But we are guilty of honesty standing up to scoundrels. We have no choice. We need to go further. We need to get into government and get rid of these incompetent predators that have fleeced Italy for the last twenty years. No one is exempt: politicians, big industrialists, journalists, bureaucrats, and bankers. These people have brought the country to bankruptcy and yet they still flaunt themselves in public. We need to go further. Beyond finance. Beyond the parties. Beyond the sick institutions. Beyond a disgusting journalistic system. As well as this Europe without rhyme or reason. We have to imagine a new frontier. We have to see reality with new eyes, we have to open up the route to the future. We will never give up. It’s as well that they know that. We want to win the next elections, starting with the European elections. The next time, if they want to stop us getting into government, they’ll have to send in the tanks.Lift up your hearts. To Genoa!

    156 mothers left to cope

    “What’s happening in Italy is that 156 disabled high school students have not been able to get to school since the beginning of this academic year because the province doesn’t have the funds to provide the transport facilities needed. This disastrous situation is happening in the Province of Ragusa and the mothers have been having an all-out protest for about a week. They have chained themselves together and two of them are on hunger strike. They feel that President Crocetta has acted incorrectly by failing to provide the transport facilities. These facilities cost 265 thousand euro a month but there are funds for just 2 weeks. This is the case since the special commissioner for the Province, Giovanni Scarso, has fixed the predicted budget at 120 thousand euro. And that’s not enough. What’s needed is a long term solution.
    The mothers are insisting that the right to study should be guaranteed, as laid down in the Constitution. They are insisting that there should be a policy of service and sacrifice. Not just sacrifices on the part of the citizens.” M5S Ragusa

    Seems every country has the same problems…the weakest get sacrificed first.

    1. James Levy

      I have a question about the Repo markets that are discussed in the Counterpunch article. It says that these loans are short-term cash infusions that banks use for arbitrage purposes, and they are trillions of dollars.

      My question is: who is in possession of trillions of dollars to lend to banks? Where does that money come from? I understand that the banks are using tiny amounts of collateral over and over again to secure the loans, but who is originating those loans? Who is sitting on that much cash?

      1. Carla

        “Who is sitting on that much cash?”

        There really IS no cash. We have to get over thinking of money as a thing.

        As far as I can tell, money is more of an idea.

        Certainly, fiat money is a creation of law, which is disturbing when we think about the condition of “the rule of law” in this country and elsewhere.

      2. craazyboy

        In it’s pure and innocent form, repo is the way that the banking system lends it’s excess reserves to other banks. The Fed encourages that because at the end of the day, banks need to meet reserve requirements at the Fed, and the Fed wants banks to smooth out liquidity in the system between themselves, rather than using the Fed. They want the Fed to be lender of last resort.

        So the “cash” is checking, savings and money market accounts.

        But instead of thinking of this in terms of how much money it is, remember that banks only need something like 8% liquid cash (of deposits only – not total biz volume of all their lines of biz) to meet their reserve requirement at the Fed. Then “bank capital” is the other measure of solvency and they only need 3% of assets there, and I read somewhere that only needs to hold true once a month on accounting day.

        This is what is called leverage, so if either or both of two things happen – a “run” by people with cash or bank assets are found to be mispriced due to fraud or sudden change in the perceived value of these assets – then it’s “Houston, er Washington, we gotta problem.” Or Janet, we are not in Kansas anymore!

      3. Foy (Fan of Yves)

        The trillions of dollars comes from governments, pension funds, mutual funds, money market accounts, wealth funds and companies who have spare cash sitting idle short term. Here’s a simple example:

        A bank has a need for cash for whatever reason and needs it for say 6 months. It goes to a Securities Dealer and says I need to borrow $100m and I have these securities (treasury bonds, corporate bonds, RMBS) which I will sell to you and buy back in six months time. This is called a reverse repo (from the view of the dealer).

        The securities dealer will fund the loan of $100m to the bank by taking the securities and selling them to a Mutual Fund or Pension Fund with an repurchase agreement to buy them back in one day or 2 days, week, month etc. This is called a repo. The dealer will keep rolling this over with the current Mutual Fund or another Mutual Fund until the six month lending term to the bank is up.

        The Mutual Fund wants to do this as they might earn a slightly better return than in a deposit account and also they have a form of insurance which they don’t have with a standard bank deposit. FDIC insurance doesn’t cover bank deposits over $250K and they are managing $millions/billions. With the repo the Mutual Fund has a security matching the value of the loan which protects them.
        But the Mutual Fund has to deal with redemptions at short notice so wants access to its funds at short notice, hence the short term rollover.

        So the Securities Dealer is borrowing short term and lending long term, continually rolling over his and matching his book and making money on the difference between short and longer term rates.

        It all works until there is a hiccup like the Mutual Fund(s) get nervous about the true underlying value of the securities being offered eg AAA rated RMBS securities suddenly becoming CCC and the Securities Dealer, even with the backing of a big bank, can’t roll over his book…oops.

    1. PQS

      Every time I see that guy, I’m totally impressed.
      And simultaneously astonished that I’m impressed. Is there a word for that condition?

  11. Butch In Waukegan

    Nancy Salgado, the young woman in the McDonalds welfare story, was interviewed by the Real News a few weeks ago.

    The article shows McDonalds’ commitment to a healthy workforce, suggesting employees walk more and cut back on eating.

    Earlier this year, McDonald’s came under fire for releasing a budget planning guide for its employees. The sample budget it provided didn’t account for either food or gasoline, a big expense for low income workers. The budget also left room for an income from a second job, which many called an admission by the fast food giant that its workers can’t live on wages from one job at McDonald’s.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Dear customers, we want you to be healthy and so please eat less and walk more.

      Please stop by our stores less often.

      Yes, we care about your health.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I hope they spend many millions of dollars on TV ads, maybe even some airtime during the Super Bowl, promoting that healthy message.

          1. Walter Map

            What McDonalds sells meets the legal definition of “food” in the same way Jamie Dimon meets the legal definition of “human”.

          2. anon y'mouse

            their real spokes’person’ should’ve been the Hamburglar.

            he’s the id/shadow side of Ron mcDon.

            believe they banished him recently to oblivion. too telling?

    2. optimader

      The government subsidized non-living wage vs non-subsidized, non-living wage is a paradox.

      Will there always be someone (other than say a highschool student living at home) to step up to the latter, or is there an endpoint to the labor pool that forces a wage correction?

      1. craazyboy

        If MacDs would just hire people with trust funds, none of this would be a problem at all. Don’t know why they didn’t think of that at MacDonalds University. The place is supposed to be a think tank.

        But I don’t really care if they pay workers $100/hr. I already make my own burgers and am very proud of them.

    3. jrs

      When you don’t earn enough to buy back the product, even when the product is a big mac, we’ve got problems. Budget doesn’t include food indeed.

  12. rich

    The Age of Bullshit Investments Is Back!

    There was a time, not too long ago, when a fool who wandered into the world of investments could very well be separated from his money with the help of any number of dumb, overpriced, or downright fraudulent schemes. Then, in 2008, the economy went into freefall, and everyone who had money left held onto their checkbooks a little more tightly. Fear bred caution, and some of the worst offenders in the dumb-money chase were forced to close up shop, or at least become a little more discreet about their advantage-taking.

    Now, with five years of air between Lehman Brothers and the present, the seal has been lifted. Athletes and virtual currencies are being traded alongside Ford and General Electric. Venture capitalists are pitching start-up stocks to the unwashed masses. And later today, the SEC is expected to propose new rules that will make it even easier for companies to fleece the unsuspecting public.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the age of bullshit investments is back.

    I’m not the only one noticing that things are getting dangerous. Felix Salmon says that years of near-zero interest rates and the JOBS Act gold rush mean that “even the smart money has started funding companies at utterly bonkers valuations.” Josh Brown, a financial advisor and CNBC regular, told me in an e-mail that the “ludicrous” investing climate “is a byproduct of the giddiness we’re seeing amongst the owners of financial assets. We’ve eclipsed the 2007 peak of household net worth but the makeup is very different. More has accrued to the upper echelon and the lesson that group has learned about the nature of investing is that even if we blow up, the Fed and Congress will ensure that come out of it in even better shape.” And the SEC has been busting record numbers of petty thefts and boiler-room schemes — many of which reflect the intersection of well-intentioned but underinformed investors with slick profiteers claiming to have access to the next big thing.

    The truly scary part of what’s happening now is that it’s not a particular asset bubble, nor the sketchy practices of a coterie of bankers, that’s endangering the investment portfolios of normal people. It’s the deregulated system itself that poses the threat. Unlike in 2008, this exuberance won’t end in a sudden crash, brought on by shady practices at large investment firms. It will be a slow flow of assets from the information-deprived to the information-rich, in the form of fees and other completely legal wealth transfers.

  13. Garrett Pace

    Lying religious

    It is always thus: what the headline giveth, the content taketh away. Their conclusions are more nuanced.

    “We find that sex, age, grade point average, student debt, size of return, socioeconomic status, and average time spent in religious observation are not related to the decision to lie”

    Apparently considering one’s self religious is more of an indicator of dishonesty than is those who actively take part in a religious community.

    Presumably? A pity they don’t define “religious observation” very specifically. Is that praying? Going to church? Participating in a community with cult practices and service projects?

    1. Jim S

      Those of us with coming from traditions with long “Thou shalt not” lists start out with more to lie about, by definition. ;)

    1. anon y'mouse

      if he’s telling the truth about himself, then no wonder I find that we are on the same wavelength.

      his conclusion re: voting was mine as well.

      I would say that the main problem with this perspective (mine, possibly his) is lack of patience. the long game seems ridiculous, when people and planet are suffering more all of the time.

  14. Hugh

    The correct link for the Mish post is:

    We have known for a while that teen employment got really hit by the recession. Another issue is that those in the 20-24 and 25-34 age groups are not on career paths to achieve the income and wealth of those in the older peak earning groups. As for the 55+, Mish seems to have discovered the baby boom, or at least the first half of it.

    As for Ritholtz, I agree QE is not the only con driving the markets, (there is also ZIRP) but injecting a trillion dollars a year into them via QE is a pretty important factor.

    As for China and oil, they are projecting that Chinese oil imports will go from 6 million to 9 million barrels a day by 2020. What these projections never include is where that oil is going to come from.

  15. Lambert Strether

    NC, 2013-10-20

    The question to ask: “How many uncorrupted, valid, unique 834s per day over the last week?”

    Ezra Klein (!), 2013-10-24:

    Ezra Klein: We last talked about 10 days ago. So in the interim, what are your insurance industry sources saying has changed on
    Bob Laszewski: Really nothing. There are two sides to this coin. The numbers of people enrolling and then the problems in processing enrollment information between federal government and insurance companies. If I were spinning for the White House I would say enrollment is up 50 percent! But that’s because it’s up from like 10 a day to 15 a day. I haven’t talked to large insurers seeing more than 100 enrollments a day.

    On the backdoor, the 834 connections, I had one client tell me they saw some improvement in the error rate, so I checked with three other clients, and they said they hadn’t seen any improvement.

    The 834 is the format for data being passed to the insurance companies, for approval, from the backend. And that data is corrupt, which is why the insurance companies are fixing it manually (!). So either the front end is passing the backend bad data, and the backend is passing it through via the 834s, which is bad enough, or the back end is corrupting the data all on its own, which is worse.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Patient made redundant while in hospital bed.

    That can only be outdone by something like, man suffered heart attack from government health insurance exchange log in frustration. First, he let out a loud cry, Then he slammed the keyboard. The next thing you knew, they were rushing him to an emergency room.

  17. ScottS

    Re: Osteoporosis Drugs Might Carry Risk of Atrial Fibrillation Patient Safety Blog

    “Here, take this Ablixa pen.”

  18. Matthew

    Regarding your note on the osteoporosis article, I remember hearing somewhere (I think it was Alan Watts) that the difference between a doctor and a priest is that a doctor wants his/her patients to go away (because they’re cured), while a priest wants to keep them for life. I wonder when that stopped being true

  19. anon y'mouse

    Must Work for Food–the new SNAP program.

    just received this exact form in the mail with my annual renewal packet. please note that this is all of the disclosure you are given. meaning, they do not explain what the OFSET program is or what it is for, but from the form that they require you to fill out and the rights/responsibilities page, it is clearly that the intention is to make you work for the food assistance that you are given, if you are able.

    i’m not making any comment about this program aside from this. don’t know what to think, really.

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to Barry Ritholtz post about QE not being the sole determinant of a rising stock market. Although he and others have made some strong arguments, including the role other forms of FED and government support and suspension of mark-to-market reporting requirements at the banks have had historically, my opinion is that we are beyond the time period when those variables were primary factors elevating stock prices.

    QE is also a key component of ZIRP in that the funds are used to purchase US Treasuries and MBS and thereby suppress the interest rates which drive borrowing costs, prices of securities, and other assets including housing.

    For those who maintain that QE is not the sole determinant of rising stock prices, I suggest the FED go cold turkey on them by suspending QE immediately and without advance notice (Not really. I believe such a failed policy acknowledgment and sudden repudiation would likely damage a lot of innocent people and be highly irresponsible). IMO we need true Keynesian solutions coupled with related policy initiatives to end the morass in which the real economy finds itself. And the Treasury should tax those who have benefitted from a deeply flawed money transmission mechanism to help pay for those initiatives.

  21. Dr Duh

    “The medical profession is big on having people take meds and generally prefers that to lifestyle changes.”

    Patently untrue. From the very beginning of clinical training in medical school they drum into you that the first intervention is always lifestyle changes.

    Why do so many people get medicated?
    1. They’re difficult for patients. For example, the body actively defends your base weight, by adjusting energy expenditure and nutrient uptake.
    2. They’re often unpleasant or require giving up pleasurable activities.
    3. They are not reimbursed commensurately with the time it takes to get people to do them. While some progress on this front has been made, the realities of the 15 minute appointment make this very difficult. It’s unclear how Obamacare will affect this. On the one hand increasing the role of midlevel providers might help if they have more time to do this, on the other the flood of new patients means the remaining doctors will probably be working much much harder, with even less time. Will the health incentives work or will it lead to cursory box checking? Hard to tell.
    4. Prescribing a med is easier for both patient and physician.
    5. Meds are more effective in severe cases.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m sorry, but that’s theory. I have datapoints, my own and from friends and family (across dozens of doctors in total) that say strongly the reverse.

      I know lots of people who were immediately told to take statins upon getting a cholesterol reading the doctor didn’t like, no effort or discussion of lifestyle modification. I also know about a half-dozen women who were told to take Fosimax, again no discussion of weight training as an option (and I’m dubious of the studies that claim Fosimax is more effective, given as mathbabe has discussed ad naseum, how bad drug-related studies are, plus the fact that most women don’t lift heavy enough weights. The latter alone would guarantee insufficient results. And Fosimax messes with your liver). I have more examples, but they are spread across a range of medical conditions, so it would take more space than it is worth to continue.

      Doctors hand out painkillers and anti depressants like candy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to refuse them when I’ve had minor procedures (painkillers) and complained of fatigue (antidepressants or Adderall). Basically if you have something subclinical, they want to hand you a pill.

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