Links 12/24/13

Speak, Butterfly Nautilus. Nabokov now seen as serious scientist.

MONSTER PORN: Amazon Cracks Down On America’s Latest Sex Fantasy Business Insider

Lagarde cheers ‘much stronger outlook’ for US in 2014 FT

Mosler Barnard Tour 2013 The Center of the Universe. “I’ve learned to keep it very simple, because I’ve had to explain this to central bankers.”

‘You didn’t even need the money’: $360,000-a-year Tiffany VP in tears as she is jailed for a year and a day for stealing $1.2m of jewellery from Manhattan store Daily Mail

The Shape of Things to Come Foreign Affairs

The Interrupted Power Law and The Size of Shadow Banking (RS)

PBS Drops a Bombshell on the Federal Reserve’s 100th Birthday Party Wall Street on Parade

Secret Handshakes Greet Frat Brothers on Wall Street Bloomberg

Networking into the Abyss The Baffler. SXSW.

Labor Force Participation Rates Revisited Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Holiday sales down for 3rd week AP

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished WaPo

Snowden will help Germany investigate NSA spying if granted asylum – report RT

The Civil Liberties Celebration Hangover Wears Off emptywheel

Retired cops, activist pensioners, and the economic blowback over Snowden Pando Daily

A Reset for U.S. Surveillance Law? CFR

Susan Rice: NSA Officials Didn’t Lie, They ‘Inadvertently Made False Representations’ Mediaite  (transcript).

Former CIA Deputy Director: NSA “is not spying on Americans” CBS

Durham police surround Huerta protesters; gas used to disperse group Charlotte News Observer. Huerta, 17, died of a gunshot wound to the head while handcuffed in the back of a police car last month.

Trojan Horse: Chuck Schumer Talks About Talking About Inequality FDL

De Blasio Hires Goldman Sachs Exec To Make City More Affordable Gawker. The “liberal” surge continues.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Introduces Bill To Stop Credit Reports For Job Applications Crooks & Liars

Leaning on the party Corrente

ObamaCare Launch

ACA deadline extended Susie Madrak. Great graphic.

Weak-Kneed on the Health Care Mandate Times

Obamacare-critic Heller joins health exchange that uses subsidy Las Vegas Review-Journal. I have never understood why Republicans don’t advocate massive tax resistance to the penalties, given that the IRS cannot enforce them with liens.

Democratic senator says Obamacare could have ‘meltdown,’ hurt party Reuters. Rats, ship.

Government sees Pacific trade pact talks taking time Reuters

Max Baucus move to China raises US doubts over trade negotiations FT

Airpocalypse: China’s 4-year pollution plan Asian Correspondent

Firms linked to municipal assembly members received nuclear facility contracts Asahi Shimbun

Japan experts voice alarm over “surge in cancers among young in Fukushima” — Gov’t told to “implement measures now” and be prepared for surge to increase further ENE News

Haiyan’s Storm Surge: A Detailed Look Weather Underground

Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Drexel Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort Drexel Now

Dead AK-47 Inventor To Be Buried In Mud For A Week, Cleaned Off, Then Put Back To Work Duffel Bag

Alan Turing gets his royal pardon for ‘gross indecency’ – 61 years after he poisoned himself Independent

Being right or being happy: pilot study BMJ (TC). “The results of this trial show that the availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end.”

Antidote du jour:


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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. Ned Ludd

    Snowden has done the surveillance state a huge favor: “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA… I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”

    Snowden put his freedom in jeopardy as part of his own personal limited hangout operation. “A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details.

    “It takes the form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or ‘mea culpa’ type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be ‘coming clean’ and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones.”

    The former spook has pulled a fast one on all of us. A year from now, there will be more drones, more spying, and more repression. But I am not sure that Snowden is a friend of the NSA. The biggest beneficiaries of his leaks are Snowden’s previous employer, the CIA. With the NSA in the public eye, the government will need another intelligence agency, one with better operational security, to conduct mass surveillance. The CIA has militarized drones and human assets. Why not give it responsibility for mass surveillance, as well?

    1. craazyman

      It makes me wonder who Santa Claus works for. He’ll be in everybody’s house tonight with a perfect alibi and costume that puts him above suspicion.

    2. diptherio

      “Their grip on Washington is still pretty precarious. They’ve been able to socialize the economy. But if they showed their hand now and went totalitarian all the way, there would be a revolution. Middle-roaders would rise up with right-wingers, and left-libertarians, and the Illuminati aren’t powerful enough to withstand that kind of massive revolution. But they can rule by fraud, and by fraud eventually acquire access to the tools they need to finish the job of killing off the Constitution.”

      “What sort of tools?”

      More stringent security measures. Universal electronic surveillance. No-knock laws. Stop-and-frisk laws. Government inspection of first-class mail. Automatic fingerprinting, photographing, blood tests, and urinalysis of any person arrested before he is charged with a crime. A law making it unlawful to resist even unlawful arrest. Laws establishing detention camps for potential subversives. Gun control laws. Restrictions on travel. The assassinations, you see, establish the need for such laws in the public mind. Instead of realizing that there is a conspiracy, conducted by a handful of men, the people reason–or are manipulated into reasoning–that the entire populace must have its freedom restricted in order to protect the leaders. The people agree that they themselves can’t be trusted…”
      ~from The Eye in the Triangle, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson…published in 1975

      Sound familiar?

      1. neo-realist

        An Aleister Crowley bio getting into deep politics? His oeuvre was primarily occult, and spiritual….and barely understandable at that. Surprising.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…whole truth…’

      ‘Whole’ vs. ‘partial.’

      That sounds like basic income, more money printing, stimulating the economy, job guarantee, MMT, debt jubilee, building more roads, etc…

      Doing everything but focusing the gaze on the 0.01%, that is.

  2. David Lentini

    Agreeing to Capitulate Has Noting to Do With Being Right

    I’ve often wondered how many psychologists are literate, as in can understand and use the Queen’s English. Capitulation by one party doesn’t mean the other party is right, either factually or morally; it is nothing but a default. So, how can the authors call a study in which husbands simply “agree”, i.e., capitulate, to their wives’ opinions and demands a test of “being right vs. being happy”?

    Even the authors themselves admit their study has nothing to do with factual or moral “right” by stating : “The intervention was for the male to agree with his wife’s every opinion and request without complaint. Even if he believed the female participant was wrong, the male was to bow and scrape.”

    What the study shows is that those who “go along to get along” with a dominant party eventually become miserable while the dominant party becomes a monster.

    The answer: Grow a Pair.

    1. Antifa

      Just as corrosive to a marriage, the habitual capitulator often sneaks off and gets what they wanted anyway, on their own, without telling their partner. This can be anything from fattening donuts to recreational drug use to illicit sex or even secretly playing the accordion.

      Honest communication and compromise is hard, but it’s the ground where all the rewards of marriage grow.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks to the double submit due to a lack even the most minimal patience, we now have two separate threads on an identical comment, which makes the blog look bad. Well played.

      Adding, lending irony to “grow a pair,” eh?

      1. David Lentini

        My apologies, Lambert. The duplicate was certainly unintentional. My WiFi connection was unreliable, and I thought it was down when I sent the first reply. Please forgive my ruining the ‘blog.

        1. Paul Niemi

          One January, as I was riding in a friend’s Cadillac on Lake Shore Drive, the windshield washer froze solid in mid-squirt. About a month later the thing thawed, suddenly sprung to life, and it finished its squirts. We were amazed. It was like pressing a Submit button sometimes. But I do like blogs that allow you to edit your posts, or withdraw a duplicate post, so long as there is a little notice that the new post has been edited. Unfortunately I have never figured out how to quickly navigate back to my last post after leaving a site.

  3. David Lentini

    Agreeing to Capitulate Has Noting to Do With Being Right

    I’ve often wondered how many psychologists are literate, as in can they understand and use the Queen’s English. Capitulation by one party doesn’t mean the other party is right, either factually or morally; it is nothing but a default. So, how can the authors call a study in which husbands simply “agree”, i.e., capitulate, to their wives’ opinions and demands a test of “being right vs. being happy”?

    Even the authors themselves admit their study has nothing to do with factual or moral “right” by stating : “The intervention was for the male to agree with his wife’s every opinion and request without complaint. Even if he believed the female participant was wrong, the male was to bow and scrape.”

    What the study shows is that those who “go along to get along” with a dominant party eventually become miserable while the dominant party becomes a monster.

    The answer: Grow a Pair.

    1. Paul Niemi

      So when one partner employed an affected obsequiousness, the other partner invariably responded with contempt and condescension. It was fun and games with passive-aggression. What did the study prove? Perhaps that the Machiavellian dynamic in a relationship, or the slave/master model is inherently unstable. We still don’t know if relationships which are inherently unstable, like boss/employee, are better if the weaker party exhibits spunk. It’s probably safe to say that disagreement does not alter the polarity, if it is expected. What promotes discord is unexpected or affected nonsense. Someone will get a thesis out of that, and it will sit on a shelf.

    2. Working Class Nero

      Grow a Pair?

      You clearly misunderstand the study. These were stable and relatively happy couples and the man was asked to voluntarily remove his pair. To use some evolutionary psychology jargon, men can be placed on an Alpha –Beta scale where Alphas are strong and dominant men whereas Betas at the extreme are weak supplicating manginas. Women generally prefer men towards the Alpha end of the scale but to what extreme depends on various factors among which are social class, age, hotness, and intelligence. Typically if a man is too Beta a women will either totally blow him off, or worse, put him firmly in a purgatory called the friend-zone.

      So these were couples where the man’s degree of Alphaness was more or less appropriate for his wife. The study asked him to slide way down to masculinity scale to pure Beta. In other words: self castration.

      In order to judge a man’s level of Alphaness women, especially early in a relationship, will throw out many congruency tests, subconsciously testing where a man falls on a dominance / compliance scale. If a man is too apologetic or too eager to please he will get friend-zoned in a hurry.

      Since these were successful couples, the men were in the correct place for their respective women in terms of the Alpha – Beta scale, although the researchers said the men tended towards passivity. This fact leads to the possibility that these men could have been borderline Betas and by intentionally becoming even more compliant, these men were at risk of seriously upsetting the uneasy dominance / compliance balance of their relationships. While women test less in a steady relationship; much like bat a bat using echolocation, they are still constantly sending out some tests in an unconscious form of autopilot. This may be even more so if these men may have been already somewhat suspect in the masculinity department. So as the test began, what is interesting is that for the first six days the woman’s happiness score went slightly up. But for the next six days we have nothing? It was at this point that the alarm bells would have started ringing and the congruence tests would have been ramped up into almost constant barrage of nagging. And as the men responded with even more compliance the women would have been in a serious crisis. Their formally acceptable (albeit slightly weak) man was melting into silly putty before their eyes. What would have been interesting to record is if any of these couples had sex during the final six days. I seriously doubt it. Most if not all of these men would have relegated themselves to the friend-zone by the halfway point of the test. To their woman’s eyes they would have had all the masculinity of Obama’s pajama boy sipping a steamy cup of hot chocolate.

      Another interesting aspect is that in these days of supposed gender equality the researchers refused to test in the other direction; asking the women to become more compliant. Perhaps they would have been run out of their universities if the results showed that women actually became more happy the more compliant they were (obviously the men would have been more happy). Worse, the amount of sex in the last six days may have dangerously skyrocketed. Something tells me this version of the test will never happen.

      1. JTFaraday

        I didn’t read the article–and I probably won’t because I just don’t feel like it–but it strikes me that no one of any gender, or of any other description, wants to have to deal with someone who is effectively like “whatever,” “whatever you want,” “whatever you say,” “it’s up to you,” etc all the time. It’s really annoying and way too much work.

        Nevertheless, I am relieved to know that NC has a resident expert in gender difference and marital relations.

      2. Paul Niemi

        Now that would be a real test: telling your wife she’s being “a bat using echolocation.” You might get a beta-shift you won’t soon forget.

      3. Yves Smith

        I confess to not reading the study but I call it total bullshit.

        The men are asked to act in an artificial manner, as in:

        1. Make a quick judgment as to what they’d normally do in a situation and then

        2 Enough of the time to make a difference, respond differently, as in act more compliant

        The study found the women were happier the first few days, Then they got unhappy and started nagging. This is attributed to a shift in the dominance balance.

        I say you can’t conclude that and this is just typical crap research.

        The men STARTED BEHAVING OUT OF CHARACTER. If you have a stable relationship, you notice that. Maybe the first few times (in those first six days) the women didn’t see it as a pattern and/or thought it might be delayed reciprocation (“oh he’s embarrassed for not recognizing X so he’s trying to make up”).

        If someone started acting differently towards me, I’d start wondering if they had done something bad and were currying favor or trying to cover for their guilt. Like maybe they were having an AFFAIR or hiding something they were afraid to tell me.

  4. Yonatan

    $360,000-a-year Tiffany VP in tears as she is jailed for a year and a day for stealing $1.2m of jewellery”

    That’s unfair, she was just exhibiting her inner plutocrat.

    “Being right or being happy: pilot study” … yet another classic BMJ spoof study for Christmas!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you make $360K/yr, you are only thinking about those making $1 million/yr.

      If you make $1M/yr, you are only thinking how much happier you would be making $10M/yr.

      If you make $10M/yr, you are only thinking about how to make $100M/yr.

      At the end, no one is really happy.

  5. Dean

    Will Greenwald stop publishing Articles now that Snowden’s “mission accomplished” victory lap is underway?

    In other words, what is Snowden really saying here?

    1. XO

      Snowden, in a fairly clear and straightforward way, explains what he means by having accomplished his mission.

      Time to separate the man from his revelation.

      He is saying what he has been saying all along:

      1) There is a secret government, and;

      2) it is operating outside the law.

      Like all cancers, it will grow, unless aggressively treated. What more do you need to know?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is that the year-end thing, like what they are doing in China now, or is it all-year-round?

  6. from Mexico

    @ “PBS Drops a Bombshell on the Federal Reserve’s 100th Birthday Party”

    That’s a fairly devastating critique of the Fed, but these guys are still finance industry apologists who pull thier punches.

    For instance, I just about threw up when in the introduction it said J.P. Morgan saved the banking system twice. The reality is, of course, something very different. It was the taxpayers who saved the banking system, not J.P. Morgan, as John Kenneth Galbraith noted:

    “In 1907, J. P. Morgan, who is celebrated by all historians for saving the Trust Company of America after declaring that the panic might as well be stopped right there, appealed to Secretary of the Treasury George B. Cortelyou for deposits to save the Trust Company. Resources subscribed for the rescue by other New York bankers, including Morgan’s, were insufficient. Cortelyou was not authorized to deposit public funds with a trust company. This was a detail; $35 million was promptly deposited in the national banks and just as promptly reloaned to the Trust Company of America. It was thus provided with the funds that persuaded its depositors that it was safe.”

    Another time I almost threw up was when Sylla called Volcker an “American hero” for taming inflation. Heaven help us from the central bankers and the paid liars like Sylla who run interference for them. And then James Grant intones he just can’t figure out why the Fed has become so dysfunctional. He operates in true bankster apologist form, where attributing malicious intent to the perps is the ultimate taboo.

    The other PBS program the post links, The Retirement Gamble, is much more hard-hitting and does not have the frequent forays into unreality. What comes through is that the entire U.S. government — the Fed, the Congress, the judiciary, the executive — have one purpose and one purpose only in life, and that is to screw over working people. One cannot help but be gobsmacked by not only the depth of the rot, but the broadness of it too. It is deep, and it is ubiquitous.

      1. fresno dan

        One other thing
        “Lew stood to receive $250,001 to $500,000 worth of accelerated restricted Citigroup stock when he left the company, according to a disclosure report he filed in January 2009. The same document listed $1.1 million of “salary and discretionary cash comp” from Citigroup. Lew said at last week’s hearing that his salary for 2008 was $350,000.

        Lew was named a deputy secretary of State in 2009, Office of Management and Budget director again in 2010, and then became President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in 2012. Now he’s up for Treasury secretary, where he would play a critical role in overseeing the U.S.’s financial industry and rescuing it should another crisis ensue. Citigroup couldn’t have planned this better if it tried, which raises the natural question: Did it try?

        Government Work

        When I asked Citigroup what its rationale was for including the government-service exception, a spokeswoman, Danielle Romero-Apsilos, said: “Citi routinely accommodates individuals who wish to leave the firm to pursue a position in government or nonprofit sector.” I pointed out that the contract terms I was asking about didn’t mention anything about a nonprofit, but she declined to elaborate on her statement. ”

        The corruption is so all pervasive, that a person can be appointed and confirmed to be Treasury secretary when it is obvious that protecting their former (and future) employer is uppermost in their minds. It reminds me of “chaff” the small metallic particles dispensed to make radar ineffective – that is, the system is blinded by so many signals. When so much of this happens, can it be long before we dispense with the charade of congress and the president and just straight forwardly have the CEO of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs directly running the government. Of course, they are already doing that. I guess we keep the president like the British keep the monarchy….

        1. susan the other

          Interesting piece last nite on RT about the “Fed Up” movement doing demonstrations at the Fed in Sanfrancisco and NYC today; they are advocating the federalization of the Fed, gradually, and a restoration of the issuance of moneyby and for the public. Sounds good so far. Not surprising that there is no coverage on msm.

    1. susan the other

      Grant, all his eloquence notwithstanding, is the world’s biggest gold bug. Sylla has compromised a stance between “Yay Fed” and goldbuggery which is agit prop (combining a tiny bit of propaganda with an accepted truth). Neither one of them wants to acknowledge the kind of rational, verifiable economic information we were linked to today (Mosler above). They are both sycophants for a theory of a lost age (lost c. 100 years ago or more) based on growth for prosperity wherein the growth is allowed to be controlled by the corporatists and only the corporatists. Both S&G are in denial so as to preserve their own positions and those of their entire social class. What they are performing for PBS is similar to the pre-emptive confession of Snowden above (if that is the case with Snowden which I think it is).

      1. from Mexico

        The Mosler talk is quite enlightening.

        It helps explain why MMT runs into such a brick wall with much of the NC commetariat.

  7. XO

    From the WaPo Snowden article (attributed to a “four-star military officer known for his even keel . . .” :

    “We didn’t have another 9/11,” he said angrily, because intelligence enabled warfighters to find the enemy first. “Until you’ve got to pull the trigger, until you’ve had to bury your people, you don’t have a clue.”

    Anyone using the term “warfighter” is almost certainly getting wealthy off of this scam. Use of the term should immediately render the user unfit for service in the security sector. Someone should be tapping this dude’s communications.

    . . . sigh . . .

    1. diptherio

      “Warfighter”? Sounds like Strong Bad’s faux-GIJoe character from Homestarrunner–Gun-Haver (you all know Homestarrunner, right?…right?)

      And this four-star general “known for his even keel” apparently didn’t get the memo that the NSA’s surveillance program, by their own accounting, has NOT been instrumental in foiling any “terrorist” plots. But hey, I’ve never killed the enemy (unless deer and antelope count as the enemy) or buried my own people (well, excepting my grandparents) so I probably don’t have a clue.

  8. diptherio

    Re: Monster Porn.

    So who wants to start up an all crypto-zoological erotica self-publishing site with me? Sounds like there is a lucrative niche there.

    The first and last “Monster Porn” I read was in junior high. It was the Harry Harrison book West of Eden, whose central conceit is that dinosaurs continued to evolve and a race of super-intelligent lizard people rise to the top of our planetary species hierarchy (think Planet of the Apes meets V)…and then they decide to sexually experiment with some human males.

    It was creepy and yet strangely arousing at the same time…I guess that was the point. Perhaps a little too perverse for a twelve year old, but I was a precocious youth with a love of paleontology…

    If you ever have the desire to read yourself some monster-porn, but you don’t want to be seen with Moan for Bigfoot sticking out of your crochet-bag, give West of Eden a try. The prose were pretty decent, from what I remember, and to cover will have people thinking that you’re engaged in one of those Jean Auel books, instead of devouring a story of weird lizard-on-man S&M action.

    1. fresno dan

      “I guess that was the point”
      so your saying there was lots and lots and lots of triceratops people…who were all tops?

      1. diptherio

        Actually, they’re more like bi-pedal iguanas…at least in my childish mind’s eye, they were. And the ladies are the dominant ones. Males are kept isolated in harems and made to mate with the lady dino-leaders from time to time. Our human hero ends up being captured and thrown into the harem…where upon the real fun begins.

        The best part of the book (besides sex with lizard-people, of course) was the description of the evolved-dino technology. Unlike us, they were into bioengineering everything they needed for their civilization. They don’t build anything, they grow it. Pretty cool, actually…at least it was when I was a kid.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Harry Harrison — one of the greats. The Deathworld Trilogy is an early lesson in the futility of fighting nature, a profound and surprising story.

    3. PQS

      God, that was my first thought as well. $30K a month writing crap about having sex with Bigfoot? Where do I sign up? Then, of course, how do I get an even lazier piece of that action….by being a web publisher/host?

      The tapeworm of capitalism/rentier classism is truly a powerful beast!

    1. fresno dan

      I always thought Santa had some survivalist in him – living isolated in the wilderness, with only reindeer to keep him company – pretty easy to imagine him going bonkers…

      Have a gay Christmas and a merry festivus….

  9. fresno dan

    The Shape of Things to Come Foreign Affairs
    “The United States has surprised skeptics by making a slow but steady recovery, led by energy and manufacturing. And a whole new crop of green shoots is springing up.”

    Let us hope so….but I think I would have used a phrase other than “green shoots”

  10. Jim Haygood

    ‘The Fed … is trying to push the stock market up. The more it props up the stock market and Wall Street, the more it is undermining Main Street and exacerbating wealth inequality in America.’ — Prof. Richard Sylla, quoted in PBS Drops a Bombshell link

    True enough. But the most acute ill effect of Federal Reserve bubble blowing is what happens when they pop. After the Internet Bubble, levitated by the charlatan Greenspan’s clueless incompetence, plenty of victims rode the Nasdaq down to a near 80 percent loss.

    Now Bubble III is billowing precariously over our heads, as ‘S&P2K by springtime’ appears to be the unwritten goal. The bigger it gets, the harder it falls. Don’t let the FOMC’s Flying Yellendas claim they didn’t see it coming. We’re putting them on notice right here, right now:

    And the cruel, cruel mornings
    Have turned to days of swim or sink
    If living right is easy, what goes wrong
    You’re causing it to drown

    Son Volt, Drown

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And let me tell you something.

        I knew your grand father well.

        You are no Bubble.

        Bubble actually made me believe science/technology/internet was the answer for a moment.

  11. Eureka Springs

    From the Durham article where protesters gathered in response to the head gunshot death of a handcuffed human being.
    “Thursday’s march, however, ended with several more arrests. Firecrackers and at least one bottle was ***thrown by protesters.*** Then several canisters of gas discharged by police before the crowd finally dispersed around 9 p.m.”

    I’m willing to bet Lamberts farm that it wasn’t “protesters” who threw bottles and firecrackers.

    1. different clue

      Since every protest will have provocateurs in it, and some will have out-of-uniform blac bloccers as well; should protesters all have tasers, tire irons, etc. to immediately immobilize anyone seen with a firecracker, brick, etc.?

  12. scraping_by

    A few random thoughts about the PBS bombshell.

    This whole weird interweb thingy is actually having some effect on the real world. Pre-blog, how many conspiracy theories ever became conspiracy fact? Dern few, as we oldsters can attest. Now the list is growing daily, everything from Area 51 to

    Granted, much of this voluntarism is nothing more that rescuing fact from obscurity (academic journals, self-published memoirs, small town newspapers, etc) but even that is new in the world. The gatekeepers used to be able to watch all gates. Now, the number is too great.

    And careful reading and thinking through what was said? IF Stone had a career in the print and ink days, now we can all do it electronically.

    As part of that, think of Prof. Sylla’s shock at discovering the Fed pushing up stock prices. He’s old enough to remember the Crash of 87, so unless he was busy in Tibet or something, we know that’s playacting.

    And a little bit of lying with numbers at the end. The myth of regular returns from stock speculation has conned many an honest citizen. By positing a regular return, even in a model building exercise, the truth is shuffled off. Any rate of return on stocks is built on cherry-picking and survival bias, since the real rate reverts to the mean and comes out zero.

    The best bet, a whole market index fund, could be used to compare apples to apples, but what are you doing with a 2% charge on an index fund. Bookkeepers can’t be that expensive.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One of these days, my mutual fund return might exceed my salary.

      That makes me either 1) a rentier or 2) some guy with a poorly paying job, or no job at all.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Any rate of return on stocks is built on cherry-picking and survival bias, since the real rate reverts to the mean and comes out zero.’

      Not so. When Fisher and Lorie first examined this question in 1964, they calculated the return on all NYSE stocks, including those that were merged, delisted or liquidated. Their paper (link below) found a total return of 9 percent from holding ‘the market,’ without cherry picking or survival bias:

      Extending this analysis, Jeremy Siegel found a compounded annual total return of 7.6% from 1802 to 1990:

      The equity premium is a foundation of finance. If the rate of return on equities were zero, everyone would invest in fixed income, and stock markets wouldn’t exist.

      1. Yves Smith

        Why should the premium be stable over time? For most of the 2000s, the real return to stocks was nada. And there is evidence that the equity premium has declined due to overallocation to stocks.

        Equity is a residual claim. The value of that claim (in general) depends on the rights of senior claimants and how well managers act in the long-term best interest of shareholders. We’ve had huge behavioral changes, big changes ni market structure (the rise of dark pools and HFT), and change in laws (for instance, derivatives counterparties are de facto the most senior creditors).

    3. Ed

      John Crudele in the New York Post pointed out, when discussing the PBS piece, that he has been writing that the federal government has been propping up the stock market for years. And he things this is done directly via dummy firms buying up securities.

  13. kevinearick

    Property Taxes & Education

    Protecting other people’s children from life, making them economic slaves to the false assumption of the majority, that life is a threat to be insured against, is pretty f-ed up. Look at the data.

    Trying to teach a group the same thing at the same time, placing all individuals in the same time, is like sending everyone to the same elevator at the same time to go to the same floor, resulting in artificial scarcity, and it’s no accident.

    Scale economies are about stopping time, until they can’t. Legacy labor, capital, employs the middle class to stop time, its own natural replacement. That’s what all those artificial borders employed and “free” trade agreements to marginalize labor are all about, insulating the old families from new family formation. Capital amplifies its insecurity with the middle class, which has never effectively transformed capital, because it operates on the assumption that a job is work.

    The middle class argues for more make-work accordingly, but doesn’t see the irony, because it is paid to chase capital, the past, with ever-more efficiency, always surprised to find itself further behind, and calling for more money, taxation on the price inflation of inert or misused real estate, to feed a school system that reinforces the process.

    Naturally, capital’s gravitational education system teaches that work, economic slavery, is to be avoided, with education, group compliance, the competitive advantage of numbers. Economies, and computers, lock up because the participants are in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing, in fear of moving lest they fall further behind in the queue, to labor, heaven forbid.

    Then the graduates get all upset when they discover that I am making six figures to sit in a coffee shop, having a double, in case their latest and greatest, most efficient, elevator breaks down. And they blow up when I make them walk the stairs, the point of which is to see who walks up and how they navigate the process, with timing.

    It costs me to show up to a make-work job, relative to much better things I can do with my time. Adjusted for monetary and fiscal policy, my wages are less than minimum wage. The US dollar is worth 2 cents. The same morons that bankrupted Detroit are buying it from China, with laundered dollars.

    An economy is always being dismantled and an economy is always being built. How much materials costs depends upon what you are building. The old-timers can eliminate all the middle men for you at will, but they are not going to tell you what to build; that’s not their job.

    From the perspective of the middle class, throwing my children into the black hole after only a year of training was crazy, as was giving away my property, money and jobs. What it doesn’t get is that I can walk across any town and be offered a piece of property, which no external income can support, before I get to other side, and my kids are better than me.

    Government by deferred responsibility is in the business of ignorance proliferation, with increasingly complex misdirection in the form of securities, the fixed lottery of entitlement ponzi. Government preemption over individual responsibility is a complete and utter fraud.

    If you leave everything you touch a little better than you found it, the majority government is dependent upon you, because all it can do is slow down time, temporarily. Merkel isn’t a rocket scientist. What else can she do but form a coalition to “save” the pensions? There have always been individuals shirking responsibility. Put that gravity, off-sheet liabilities magically accounted as assets, to work.

    Capital can collect all it wants, but it can’t do anything with its collection without you. The hedge fund managers were offering me property back in the 90s, for lack of private income generation, and look at them today, wards of the government. You can go along with the sh-show, or rebel against it, but don’t bother complaining to an old-timer that you have no opportunity.

    Accepting stereotypes, like “the boomers,” in a divide and conquer system of reduction to nothing, is self destructive. I didn’t have to spend my time, and as you have seen, the majority not only cannot comprehend what I am talking about, but also feels the need to respond with opposition, with an irrational expectation of the Fed to prevail, while it pretends to rail against the Fed, which is feeding it manufactured food, beginning with a self serving definition of labor.

    Educate your self, by learning to set your distance, to navigate. Only capital is going to give you a car, knowing that you will drive it off a cliff, to sell you on another, and tell you that you are energy restricted. The Fed printed, keeping its controlled labor constricted, and prices to its labor inflated, big surprise.

    The data tells you that 24 hours is more than sufficient, and you have much better things to do with your time, like build a better world for your children. Assuming the universe is nothing more than stupid gravity isn’t going to get you off this rock.

    Happy New Year

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s 4 year pollution plan.

    Finally, something China did not invent – urban air pollution.

    In this case, they are like the Japanese; they copied and have became the world leader.

  15. RanDomino

    “Leaning on the Party” makes an excellent point on an expansive topic which has been largely ignored, probably because the only people who seem to be into revolutionary theory are middle-class dilettantes who don’t have any real skin in the game.
    Those who actually carry out revolutions want economic stability and security NOW, not pie-in-the-sky ideals or complicated organization. Therefore the organizational structure has to exist BEFORE the rupture. But that’s hard work, and those who are really distressed don’t have the time and those who have the time are either too privileged or lack any resources.

  16. affinis

    re: “Speak, Butterfly Nautilus. Nabokov now seen as serious scientist.”

    I used to do research on the genus of butterflies Nabokov especially focused on (i.e. genus Lycaeides – little blue butterflies).

    A group of us were once doing field work in Colorado (in the Rockies), looking for a subspecies that had been described by Nabokov, but that lepidopterists hadn’t seen since the 1950’s. We looked high and low, without success. Then we went back to Nabokov’s writings – he described having found them along a particular highway, a certain distance from a particular inn. We followed his directions to the letter….found the little inn, drove a little way up the road….and there they were! We were thrilled.

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