Links 3/20/14

Dear readers,

First, thanks for all the help with prep for the conference in DC! Even though I thought I only did a B+ job (I didn’t have a working mike, which meant I had to shout until the folks in charge dragged one over, which threw me off), I got a round of applause and had a lot of people come over and say they appreciated what I said (My opening line, which produced an outburst of laughter, was, “I’m from New York, and every time I come to Washington for events like this, it feels like Versailles circa 1780”). Perhaps more important, Jared Bernstein, who was also on my panel, asked for my card afterwards.

Second, the meetup was terrific. I think we had 30 people in attendance over the course of three hours, a good mix of people who were currently involved in policy-making, people who’d left the dark side but are still keenly interested, and people who were trying to figure out what the hell happened in the financial crisis and found NC to their most informative source. But the day took a lot out of me and I was hacking and losing my voice towards the end of the evening. So I hope you forgive the lack of my own original posts, but you’ll see we have very good original material from other very talented writers for your delectation.

Robert Strauss dies at 95 Associated Press

San Francisco Is Now Using Firefighting Goats Huffington Post (furzy mouse)

Would you like some synthetic protein with that? Nikkei. Better than Soylent Green, I suppose….

Overgrazing by deer is changing the face of U.S. forests EarthSky (furzy mouse

Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History Atlantic

Hacker Andrew ‘Weev’ Auernheimer attempts to overturn conviction Guardian (Chuck L)

Australia Says Satellites Identified Objects Possibly Related to Missing Flight 370 Wall Street Journal

Morgan Stanley: China’s Minksy moment is here MacroBusiness. This is an even bigger deal than you might think. The Chinese government isn’t shy about putting banks that trash-talk its economy into the penalty box as far as official business is concerned. So Morgan Stanley has to be even more confident of its view than one might ordinarily expect to be willing to incur the ire of the Chinese officialdom.

As credit tightens at home, Chinese sell Hong Kong luxury real estate Reuters

WTO panel to rule against China’s limits on rare-earth exports Nikkei

US warns Asia it risks Crimea moment Financial Times. Oof, is this a Freudian slip?

Why has the Eurozone Bond Market stabilised? Yanis Varoufakis

Fast-food workers get new ally Guardian

Britain’s false recovery is a credit mirage, unlike real recovery in the US Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. Wow, if Evans-Pritchard is holding up the US “recovery” as a shining contrast to the UK version, you know it’s bad.


Ukraine prepares to evacuate its troops in Crimea Washington Post

Violent video: Ukraine TV boss beaten up, forced to resign EuroNews (1 SK)

EU Struggles for Common Russia Front Amid Crimea Tensions Bloomberg

How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation Truthdig

Chancellor Merkel outlines German position ahead of EU summit on Crimea DW

What the Loss of Crimea Means for Ukrainian Energy: Interview with Robert Bensh OilPrice

Putin’s folly: Crimea is a money pit Fortune Finance. Lordie. A lot of strategically important outposts are money pits. This reads like the new propaganda theme, sour grapes.

Ukraine Between “Popular Uprising for Democracy” and “Fascist Putsch” David Mandel, Monthly Press Review (Paul Tioxon). A rare beast on the Ukraine front: a nuanced analysis.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

America’s Internet Surrender Wall Street Journal (Chuck L)

NSA Lawyer: Major Tech Companies Knew About Data Gathering Newsmax (Deontos)

Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly Exaggerated The Intercept (Deontos)

Edward Snowden on TED: More Revelations to Come; Here’s How We Take Back the Internet Michael Shedlock

Reset the Net. FYI, I don’t know the organizations behind this, and the site is a preview. But what they do say so far hits the right notes.

Advice Too Secret to Ignore, Col. Manners Answers Your Questions on CIA Practices, Proper Cyberwar Behavior, and Invasion Etiquette Tom Engelhardt

Obamacare Launch

Democrats Are In For a World of Hurt If They Keep Running From Obamacare Kevin Drum. Never occurs to him that the Democrats might have trouble mustering up enough positive stories that would stand up to scrutiny (as in the premium might be lower that what the person had before, but including the deductible in the analysis changes the picture).

Administration Plays to Young in Health Push New York Times

14 Ways To Avoid The Obamacare Tax Forbes

Health law concerns for cancer centers Associated Press

O-Care premiums to skyrocket The Hill

Two States Win Court Approval on Voter Rules New York Times

California drought deepens fire risk Guardian

Take Action: Disclose the Big Money Please sign this petition by Jeff Merkeley!

Taper Tantrum

Fed Cuts Bond Buying by Another $10 Billion New York Times

Confused delivery muddies Fed’s message Financial Times

The Fed and Return to Ad Hocery Marc Chandler

The Bank of England Lights A Fuse Under the Field of Economics Ilargi. We’ve posted on this topic, but this is a good writeup.

Mercuria buys JPMorgan commodities unit Financial Times. Finally….

Pay it forward: Plan would allow Michigan students to attend college for ‘free’ Detroit Free Press. Adam Levitin on a variant of this idea:

Enforceable? Probably not. Most likely not specifically enforceable (13th Amendment!). Damages, surely yes, unless a court finds the contract unconscionable or the like. But those damages are likely dischargeable in bankruptcy….

It’s actually not indentured servitude lite, however. It’s quite the opposite. Indentured servitude was a debt contract, not an equity investment. It typically involved the servant being fronted the cost of trans-Atlantic passage by the ship’s captain. The servant could either call the debt (redeem) within a very limited window or would have to work as a servant for a limited term of years. As the servant rarely had the funds to redeem, the captain would simply assign the contract to whoever bid for it. The key points are that indentured servitude was a limited term debt contract. A few hellish months or years, but then one was free. It was not commitment of a lifetime of labor or of a percentage of earnings beyond a few years. Upstart and Pave seem to be seeking a percentage for a much longer time. Do they have employment restrictions?

Antidote du jour:


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  1. diptherio

    Re: Pay it forward: Plan would allow Michigan students to attend college for ‘free’

    Michigan’s plan would require students to agree to pay a fixed percentage of their post-collegiate income — 2% for community college students and 4% for university students — to the fund for five years for each year they attended school under the program. So, a student who went to the University of Michigan and graduated in four years would have to pay 4% of their income back every year for the first 20 years after college.

    …hence the scare-quotes around “free.” Two decades of wage-garnishment is hardly free.

    Do words actually mean things anymore? I sometimes lie awake nights and wonder….

    1. run75441


      Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice Org. has said that the cost of going to college outstrips the increasing cost of healthcare. Having written on the farce called student loans several times now (Yves was kind enough to sponsor one of my Angry Bear posts on Naked Capitalism), this just sounds like a capped version of a student loan from the federal government. The over riding factor in the “free-version” is whether the tuition and room/board are capped for the ~4 years is in college. So far there is no incentive for colleges and universities to limit the cost as the Gov always comes through with its loans and mom and dad always dip into retirement savings or home equity to fund the venture. I have not read this version yet; but I am willing to bet, a student can not default on this loan either.

      In the end, the student ends up with a load of debt (refraining from using a descriptor in front of load) which slows their entry in the consumption economy of homes, cars, etc. The average debt load of someone leading college is ~$26,000. Get married to another college grad, double it. Fast forward 40 or so years and your accumulation of wealth is less than if you did not go to college and income too. Demos and PEW both have articles on the costs of college and the impact of them on graduating adults. Good reads:
      Rohit Chopra remarks on the impact of student loans to the St. Louis Fed:

      Student Loan Debt is expected to double by 2025.

      1. Banger

        I don’t think student loans will be as big a factor in the future as it is now. Non-traditional learning will gradually eat into the need for a university education. Right now, going to college is more of a class-marker that tell employers that you a) either had enough money in your family to attend college; or b) you are seriously in debt and will tend to be very compliant and dedicated. However, at some point, the need for expertise and skill will fuel an interest in people who have found a way to acquire those skills. There has been a lot of evidence about how little people actually learn in college that those who pursue non-traditional courses will gradually get the upper hand.

        Still, as a matter of public policy, our “leaders” clearly prefer a highly compliant worker who is perpetually in debt either through student loans or home loans. Order and maintaining power is at the top of the oligarch’s agenda outstripping economic growth.

        1. optimader

          “However, at some point, the need for expertise and skill will fuel an interest in people who have found a way to acquire those skills.”

          I think you are spot on.

          1. EmilianoZ

            Edward Snowden is an example of that. He didn’t go to college, seems to have acquired his extraordinary computer skills by himself, had a salary of 200K at some point I think.

        2. run75441


          Maybe you missed it; “Student Loan Debt is expected to double by 2025.”

          You can fall back on those platitudes about a formal education not being needed and non-traditional “learin;” but, the rest of the world is investing in educating those who can help their countries overtake the US. Overspending on the military by exceeding the growth in GDP at the expense of domestic investments (not to include derivatives) coupled to a failure to provide for the education of its citizens is one sure path to becoming a tier 2 or 3 country. A college education is not going to go away; but, we must find away to bring its cost more in line.

          1. Banger

            College, particularly elite colleges will alway exist as places to vet young candidates to join the ruling class but the truth about what actually goes on in most colleges will eventually filter down to the general population. I refer to the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses if you want to find a place to start on the subject.

            Universities, in my view, have like all major institutions in our society become yet another hustle. No major institutions in the U.S. is escaping this movement.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And colleges are also very good at extracting confessions out of naïve youngsters about unselfish acquisitions of knowledge to help the world.

                Then, they are let loose into the ‘free market’ economy, either serve as serfs to help their masters accumulate, or, if they are ruthless enough, to hoard for themselves..

          2. optimader

            “but, the rest of the world is investing in educating those who can help their countries overtake the US.”

            Our “economic competitors” have a more enlightened approach?


            “..But he will not consider applying for a full-time factory job because Mr. Wang, as a college graduate, thinks that is beneath him. Instead, he searches every day for an office job, which would initially pay as little as a third of factory wages.

            “I have never and will never consider a factory job — what’s the point of sitting there hour after hour, doing repetitive work?” he asked.

            Millions of recent college graduates in China like Mr. Wang are asking the same question. A result is an anomaly: Jobs go begging in factories while many educated young workers are unemployed or underemployed. A national survey of urban residents, released this winter by a Chinese university, showed that among people in their early 20s, those with a college degree were four times as likely to be unemployed as those with only an elementary school education.

            It is a problem that Chinese officials are acutely aware of.

            “There is a structural mismatch —…”

            It’s a financial inevitability that the BULK of advanced degree educations will become more narrowly focused toward supporting relevant economically skill sets, wise or not, like it or not. The status quo is not sustainable.

            There will always be the niche for more esoteric educations ala the ruling class of Great Britian but there is no future to grinding out also ran degrees that are little real preparation for employment beyond retail service jobs.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              That’s a glimpse into the question, who will shine shoes at a train station/collect trash/flip burgers when everyone is a college graduate?

              1. different clue

                Under that scenario, some people will do shoeshine/trash/burger work when it pays more than much of college-degree work pays. Or otherwise prisoners can be sent to such workplaces to do it for free. In that case, the legal enforcement complex would have to imprison enough millions of people to collect all the garbage and flip all the burgers without pay. And I think the legal enforcement complex is creative enough to do that, with the relevant legislative assistance.
                I believe the anti-slavery Ammendment contains an exception for “convicted prisoners”. Convicted prisoners may be enslaved for the entire term of their sentence, I believe. Perfectly constitutional. So why not find a way to convict and imprison twenty or thirty or fifty million people to work without pay in the burger mines, if that is what it takes?

        3. Paul Niemi

          It used to be going to college was intended to help you find a job. However, the trend I see is the reverse: having a job already helps you to go to college. Walk through a community college now, and it seems half the students already have a job, and they are going to college to get pay increases or promotions. I don’t think it farfetched that eventually having a job first may become a requirement for qualifying for student loans.

          1. optimader

            “..they are going to college to get pay increases or promotions…”

            Or to collect a skill set as the only viable way to change careers.

            OJT (on the job training)is no longer supported as it was in the past when an employer would invest in training employees with the mutual expectation of a long term relationship.

            My perception is the mutual expectation of loyalty for the most does not go beyond the end of the present pay cycle.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Learning should be about enlightenment and not about getting a job, in a decent (I was going to say ‘an ideal’) world.

            So, one can hope that we separate the two. If you want learning, go to step 1. If you want to get job qualification certification, go to step 2 (here, teaching and certificate granting should hopefully be done by two independent parties to avoid conflict of interest – unlike today’s system of certification).

            But…there is always a but, but if learning is not enlightenment, it still does not have to be for getting a job.

            Getting a job is just a nice way of saying ‘finding a lord to serve under.’

            If you want learning for something other than enlightenment, you can want it to make money for yourself, and not for a boss. An example would be going to school to learn how to play Lotto (successfully) or win at Las Vegas.

            1. optimader

              Your laudable philosophical perspective on the reasons for learning are best offered, as the old saying goes, to someone w/ a full stomach.

              The Firesign Theatre’s vision of The Future Fair included this:

              Well, Mr. President, it’s the bees and spiders again! They stole my food stamps, and sold ‘em to the rats. And I tried to get down to my car, for to honk the horn for help, but the snakes has gotten it for the cockroaches. I go back upstairs, but the spiders has jammed the police lock! I ain’t been inside for a week, and I know that my wife is sleepin’ with the bees!

              Could you state that as a question, please?

              Well sure, Mr. President! Where can I get a job?!

              From I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus, 1971.

              1. optimader

                here’s Mr. President’s response:
                Many busy executives ask me: What about the job displacement market in the city of the future? Well, count on us—”Jim!”—to be there! Because if we’re successful tomorrow—we won’t have to answer questions like yours, ever again.

                As long as I’m on it:
                “If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.”
                —Fudd’s First Law of Opposition

                “Sure, understanding today’s complex world of the future is a little like having bees live in your head. But, there they are.”

                —The Honorable Chester Cadaver

                Never pick a fight with a man who buys pixels by the terabyte.
                Kudos for advancing the work of FST

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Opti, all I am saying is that a rich man’s stomach is fuller than full and there is a place, or should be a place for those aspiring to be rich, apart from those living in the clouds.

                1. optimader

                  “there is a place, or should be a place for those aspiring to be rich”

                  That should be the only way it works.

                  You should have a fair opportunity to achieve “richness” in the form you seek as long as you’re not jazzing someone else in that pursuit.
                  Major societal CNTRL-ALT-DEL to get there unfortunately.

                  We’re on the same page actually on the ultimate value of learning (enlightenment), but there is certainly practical application as well.
                  After needs are met, personal and altruistic, the only real value money has IMO is buying discretionary time to satisfy curiosity.

                  Chasing wealth for the sole purpose of wealth aggregation seems a rather uninspired way to fritter away one’s time. For me at least, I recognize I have been fortunate that it has always been a consequence of doing what I happen to enjoy doing, not my motivation perse.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    And I agree with you on the practical value.

                    I do want people to know finding a job is not the only way (as in working for someone else). It could be for oneself. In that perspective, the practical application is to 1) find a job or 2) start a business. Either way, do it because you like it (ideally).

            2. Paul Niemi

              Or we could say, if you want learning, go to a college; if you want job credentials, go to an academy. I agree learning should be about enlightenment, gaining knowledge for its own sake, and as a source of enrichment for a life of the mind making living tolerable. At the same time, student loans are intended to facilitate job acquisition, and as the default rate on them goes up, that is bound to be challenged. Now we have companies creating part-time jobs, as if to lower the entry-level qualifications, with the expectation that employees may continue their educations later, in their spare time, without expense to the company.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Regardless of what you think of NAR, here is some food for thought:

        NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors® in Dayton, Ohio, said student debt appears to be a factor in the weak level of first-time buyers. “The biggest problems for first-time buyers are tight credit and limited inventory in the lower price ranges,” he said. “However, 20 percent of buyers under the age of 33, the prime group of first-time buyers, delayed their purchase because of outstanding debt. In our recent consumer survey, 56 percent of younger buyers who took longer to save for a downpayment identified student debt as the biggest obstacle.”

        The law of uninteded consequences refuses to be denied.

    2. neo-realist

      The garnishment could be very pricey for those graduates waiting tables and slaving at fast food restaurants.

      1. different clue

        Under this scenario some graduates might choose to earn as little as possible for subsistence to give their garnishers X % of as little as possible for the term of servitude.

  2. run75441


    Very important to hit the crowds and shake those hands and converse. It sounds like it was fun. We used to do similar with Slates The Fray and occasionally pull in an editor. People begin to associate monikers with faces.

    I wish I could have attended and maybe I will one of these days. Please continue to announce these meetings. Glad to hear it was a success.

    1. sufferin succotash

      Same here. I live in suburban DC but I couldn’t make it on account of all those pesky midterm exams. :(
      Dienst ist dienst.

    1. ambrit

      “The belling of the brachs resounded among the arborial boles.” Ah, a dog and his boy!

  3. dearieme

    “Overgrazing by deer is changing the face of U.S. forests”: yeah, in GB too. Eat Bambi!!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to confess, but Bambi is tasty too if you know how to cook the various cuts properly….

      1. Optimader

        Bambi is local, sustainable, organic, free range, lean and tasty. Bad for Bambi but a better life than being Daisy the cow force-fed gmo corn and antibiotic.

    2. bob

      With the snow cover, and cold this year in the NE, it’s going to be worse. The population will probably fall.

      I also wonder if some of the deer population is due to what is planted for landscaping in the burbs. Cedar trees are a favorite for cover, but they’re also deer favorites.

      Last summer, at a cemetery near me, in an area I would call urban, there was a family of deer living within the confines of the fence for the whole season. 3 fawns and 2 larger deer. I guessed that mom had gotten inside the fence over the winter, then had the babies. But, then, they couldn’t leave. Mom could have hopped the fence, but the kids were not able.

      They would have been tasty. A steady diet of grass and flowers.

      I’d run through the cemetery (great places to run) and see them scattering. They got used to me, but still would always have one of the bigger ones between me and the kids.

    3. different clue

      I remember reading somewhere that the pre-Conquest Indian Nations used to manage huge land areas for huntable game with controlled burning and other approaches. If modern suburbia and exurbia is becoming a “neo-Indian” maintained-habitat deer garden then perhaps the deer should be sustainably rounded up and harvested every year and the meat distributed to everyone in whichever jurisdictions adopt that approach. I doubt suburbanites and exurbanites will ever permit enough wolves and bobcats and mountain lions to return to do the job.
      But those jurisdictions which love Bambi more than they love eco-sustainability can let their deerherd keep growing and they can harvest more Lyme Disease instead, if such be their pleasure.

  4. Brindle

    Re: “Overgrazing By Deer…..”

    I’ve noticed over the years in Southern Ohio the reduced numbers of Trillium in spring—deer find the quite tasty.

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: US/EU economic sanctions

    “In response to America’s economic sanctions Moscow send two brightest agents after Moose and Squirrel.”

    Freedom-loving Americans are advised to be on the lookout for two suspicious tourists searching for the location of Frostbite Falls. This is getting serious ya’ll.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Funny stuff!!!

      Now that I think about it, why did it take so long to bring back Moose and Squirrel?

      1. Andrew Watts

        Presumably those no-goodnik spies were never trying to keeeel Bullwinkle and Rocky. They were attempting to brainwash them into loyal communist spies for Mother Russia.

        The Cold War never ended and neither did the Bullwinkle show. Coincidence?

        1. Brian

          moose and squirrel turned boris and natasha, extracted all the information they had in one afternoon and it was over. No need for spooks.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’ve been laughing hard from the start. Russian intelligence has been involved in some epic trolling of their western counterparts ever since the alleged picture of Snowden leaked online.

        It’s gotten so overtly bad for them that after a few prominent phone conversations concerning Ukraine were leaked online several US officials were caught complaining about Russian tradecraft in public.

        1. Whine Country

          “Russian intelligence”? Since someone raised the idea of humor being important when discussing contemporary affairs, I am reminded of George Carlin’s famous list of oxymorons. The two that come closest to the one you cite are Military intelligence and Government works, although I’m fairly certain that Carlin thought he had the Russian’s covered with one or both. Two of my favorites for current times are: Political science and Microsoft works.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: O-care Premiums to Skyrocket

    No hyperbole here:

    “In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market, according to a recent article in the Business Record.”

    100 PERCENT!!!!!

    And Kevin Drum in Mother Jones is advising them not to run away????

    My advice is to decide that you like your family and you really, REALLY want to spend more time with them.

    1. bobh

      I love my family. They are kind and decent people, but we argue about Obama. Or they tell me to be quiet. I can see that the disintegration of his profiteer-friendly healthcare plan, his support for financial industry wealth extraction and his acquiesence to neo-con foreign misadventures will soon produce an electoral disaster for Democrats and that the fact that the right wing clowns who will take over will make things worse won’t prevent this from happening. The Obama loyalists in my family think we should go down with the ship, and they are ready to blame people like me who criticized and abandoned him for the coming disaster. I will argue that if more people like us had criticized and abandoned Obama, he might have altered course. The truth is that there is nothing anyone of us can do or could have done. The health-profiteers, bankers, multinational corporations and defense contractors who control our politicians and our media will have their way, and we will be sitting around our kitchen table arguing about Obama during the hard times that are coming.

      1. different clue

        If EVeryone like you had criticized louder Obama for Ocare, it would not have changed a thing. Ocare is exactly what Obama engineered to get what Obama wanted . . . the forced enshrinement of for profit health insurance and the forced mandate captive premium-slave base. That is what part of what Obama will be paid for after he leaves office. If the Rs sweep the field, they will Ocare into OHeritage care, keeping the forced mandate. And that, too, is part of what Obama will be paid for after he leaves office.

  7. Banger

    The Mandel story on Ukraine is very good but he failed to mention the NED funding of the demonstrations and the general use of the color revolutions, the Arab “spring” and other movements by the USG create disorder throughout the world. Nuland is not a fascist or Kerry is not a terrorist–yet they both want to fund fascists and Islamic extremists in order to create a strategy of tensions and/or chaos in various regions of the world.

    I’m less interested in Ukraine–which I believe is on the way of resolving itself. Russia has clearly stated that it will pursue its interests and if the USG and the EU want to make trouble, so be it. Ukraine will have to be effectively partitioned–there is no way that the fascists of the West will impose their will on the East–the status quo will soon be established. But for Washington and who has power there this matter is critical. There is a clear domination emerging of a re-tooled neoconservative movement made up of opportunists and fanatics who want the U.S. to continue to pursue the full-spectrum dominance policies of pre-2006 Bush, meaning solidifying and strengthening the Empire. Some believe that the U.S. power is waning and in some ways it is–but the U.S. still controls the major shipping lanes and is the guarantor of stability both through its use of the military and its related use of dollar hegemony to impose order in the world–which is why the EU slavishly follows U.S. dictats in the area of foreign affairs and macroeconomic policies.

    Right now the struggle between the neocons and the realists (the only major forces other than neoliberals who are divided between the two sides) is raging in the bureaucracies. I think the realists will win in the end because a strategy of tension only helps the national security state and may harm Wall Street, we’ll see.

    1. sufferin succotash

      It’s possible that neither Kerry (“the haircut in search of a head”) nor Obama had no hand in this initially and their subsequent bluster is an attempt to conceal the fact that Nuland and her neocon NGOs have been operating what is essentially a parallel foreign policy. Its aim would be to sabotage any cooperation between Obama and Putin over such issues as Syria and especially Iran. Remember that Nuland’s associates still want to march on Tehran and that requires a confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          With silicon brain implant, finding a brain has never been more affordable.

          I expect his haircut to have a brain very soon.

          Is brain augmentation vain?

          Is it superficial to want a big brain?

          Maybe, but who are we to judge?

          1. ambrit

            Dear MLTPB;
            “who are we to judge?”
            True, but those who fund the big brain movement will want to be the judges, for various reasons: control of the resulting “Big Brain” technological breakthroughs, (The Museum of Suppressed Inventions,) control of those who find themselves suddenly dependent on the good will of the “Big Brains,” control of the inevitable backlash against the “Dangerous Big Brains,” pure ego, (they’re smarter than us, but they do our bidding, bwahahaha!)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Perhaps bigger means smarter, if done with silicon implant.

              But with silicone brain implant, bigger doesn’t mean smarter, much less wiser.

              1. optimader

                “But with silicone brain implant…”

                I think you have a different anatomical implant on your brain there Beef

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Think of it as a fashion item, like a wig.

                  “I am attracted to big-headed women.”

                  1. MikeNY

                    That sh*t looks like a wig.

                    The best argument that it’s NOT a wig is that some NeoCon in Washington would have leaked it when Lurch ran for Prez.

      1. Eureka Springs

        “It’s possible that neither Kerry (“the haircut in search of a head”) nor Obama had no hand in this initially”

        It doesn’t take an IQ higher than a three watt flicker bulb to FIRE the Nulands in the department of State and so forth. In fact the hiring practices alone of the entire O admin suggest it’s impossible they (O Biden Kerry Clinton) wanted precisely what they have wrought… if not much much worse!

        1. sufferin' succotash

          Nuland’s a career Foreign Service officer who’s closely connected to the neoconistas. Firing her would be easier said than done. On what grounds could she be legitimately canned without a lot of political fallout? In principle you’re absolutely right. But if you look at it from the standpoint of a “post-partisan” centrist Democrat always ready to tiptoe around the reactionary forces in this country it can’t be done.
          If Congress had any cojones at all the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be holding hearings into this Ukraine shambles right now. But it won’t happen; The Democrats wouldn’t want to humiliate Obama any more than he’s been humiliated already while the Republicans wouldn’t want to risk a disclosure of all the neocon shenanigans masquerading as US foreign policy.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Yeah … or more likely Nuland (Kagan-‘Nudelman’) will fire Obama if he gets too uppity. Obama’s self-appointed apologist Robert Parry consistently implies that Obama serves at the pleasure of the Neocons and Israel. That’s why, despite herculean effort and failing to fulfill a single substantive campaign pledge in over five years, he’s never ultimately responsible for any policy, foreign or domestic … nor for any putsch, coup, regime change or war crime; it’s always the fault of the Neocons he was forced to appoint or retain, who tricked or outmaneuvered him time after time after time. Albeit a well-intentioned pillar of integrity, he is in the end, merely an invertebrate eunuch. Please remember when decorating revolutionary lampposts.

          1. Synopticist

            Obama thinks his job is to talk, and make cutesy appearances on TV. He does the MESSAGING, the actual policy making is someone else’s responsibilty.

    2. Jackrabbit

      It seems to me that the neocons have already gained the upper hand. Snowden may have played a part in that as the deep state/security establishment was apoplectic over Putin’s refusal to send him back (as demonstrated by such things as downing the plane of the Ecuadorian President). Then came Putin’s blocking of the Syrian take-down. But it seems that they were already ascendant before that (e.g. bombing of Libya and support for Syrian ‘rebels’).

      MAYBE the Ukraine debacle will push them back a bit, but the Obama Administration appears to be working overtime to limit blow-back by demonizing Putin. Unfortunately, what comes to mind is Lambert’s observation about the gun lobby: “why is the answer to guns always more guns?. The neocon ‘answer’ to western reluctance for adventurism is apparently a new cold war (as described in How Cold War Hungry Neocons Stage Managed Liz Wahls Resignation)

      Neocons are dangerous ideologues. And Realists have little support from neolibs who are pliable opportunists that naturally lean toward self-serving exercise of power (“Never let a crisis go waste” encapsulates the neolib attitude very well.)

    3. Synopticist

      “Right now the struggle between the neocons and the realists (…) is raging…”

      The neocons have a vital new ally in the “soft power” Responsibility To Protect crowd. They’re instinctively anti-realist, having deluded themselves that they’re somehow “better” than that. They also dislike the UN if it prevents their ambitions, find the idea of national sovereignty contemptible and see no contradiction between lecturing Putin over gay rights while backing jihadis in Syria. The soft power people also acknowledge the overwhelming importance of good PR, while the realists still depend on hard, concrete thinking.
      For Obama, the former is probably more important and impressive.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    And in other “healthcare” news, if you are a man over 60 and think you are “healthy,” not so fast.

    New guidelines will make you “sicker” and you didn’t even have to do one thing differently. Except blow out a few more candles on your birthday cake.

    Because Obamacare?????

    ” Among older men who were not currently taking statins and did not have cardiovascular disease, just more than 87% would be candidates for statin therapy compared to about 30% under the previous guidelines, the report found.”

    Or because “capitalism”?????

    The new guidelines, “essentially declared, in one fell swoop, that millions of healthy Americans should immediately start taking pills—namely statins—for undefined health ‘benefits,’ ” she wrote in an New York Times op-ed. “This may sound like good news for patients, and it would be—if statins actually offered meaningful protection from our No. 1 killer, heart disease; if they helped people live longer or better; and if they had minimal adverse side effects. However, none of these are the case,” she said.

    Overtreatment has, apparently, become the new economic stimulus.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This comment from davidgmills last year needs to be circulated far and wide:

      I was talking to my brother (PhD in biochemistry as was my father) not too long ago about another PhD in biochemistry, Dr. Ray Peat. Peat did his dissertation on progesterone and had spent 40 years researching it. Progesterone is made from cholesterol and is the precursor of the hormones testosterone, estrogen and hydrocortisone. In other words, four of the body’s six major hormones are derived from cholesterol.

      Peat did some extensive research on the deaths of women, to find out what was the optimal cholesterol level for longevity. His conclusion was the number women needed for longevity was 270 (very high according to the AMA which wants it under 200). Peat found that low cholesterol did in fact decrease a woman’s chances of dying from a heart attack but caused a woman to die sooner from something else.

      My brother couldn’t believe what I was telling him about Peat’s research, but after checking out Peat’s articles and references, he concluded Peat was right. In fact, one of the things my brother found in his research was that LDL is very good at killing bacteria. My brother jokingly commented to me that in lowering one’s LDL that you don’t die of heart disease, you die of MRSA much sooner.

      So both my brother and I who were on statins got off of them. Plus my brother found a new meta study of 62,000 people showing they did no good for those who didn’t have cardiovascular disease, making the decision even easier.

      My dad, who taught medical students biochemstry for 40 years, found very few MD’s that knew enough biochemistry to give him any confidence in their ability to decide whether medications were justified. So I have always been very skeptical of what they recommend.

      As for your Atkins comment, I have been an Atkins dieter for about 18 years. My dad thought Atkins’ ideas made sense from a metabolic point of view which is why I started doing it and still do. Atkins was a cardiologist and he wasn’t nearling as concerned about cholesterol as he was about triglicerides and blood pressure.

      The other thing that is getting attention as a possible marker for heart disease is C reactive protein, which measures inflamation. Progesterone is great at reducing inflamation (remember it is the precursor of hydrocortisone) which is why I take it and I am a man.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I find that helpful as well.

          Probably have to reduce my oatmeal intake a bit.

          Need more information on triglycerides though. Can one reduce them without statin?

      1. psychohistorian

        You are a man????

        Is that what you really meant to say in your last sentence?

        What closet are you coming out of?….grin

        1. psychohsitorian

          Ok, I reread your comment and apologize for not knowing the davidgmills quote never stopped.

          I get confused about that sort of thing without quotes everywhere, sorry.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry, I usually italicize quotes.

            I can edit my own comments so I’ll go fix that.

    2. Cynthia

      What is so criminal about this, thanks in part to ObamaCare, physicians and hospitals will be penalized if they don’t follow the statin guidelines set up by the FDA, who’s clearly in the back pockets of the greedy drug industry.

      1. different clue

        That’s another part of Ocare which the Rs will keep in their new improved O’heritagecare. Forced mandate for premium-slaves and forcible forced-overtreatment
        for hospitals and such.

  9. Cynthia

    No doubt that hospital costs are the reason why overall health care costs are so outrageously high. This is largely because hospitals can: 1) tack on a so-call “facility fee” to each and every hospital bill, and 2) charge Medicare and other insurers for test and procedures at rates that are four to five times higher than what non-hospital affiliated clinics and surgicenters can charge for them. Take way hospital facility fees and make hospital charges for test and procedure more in line with what non-hospital providers can charge for tests and procedures and then you’ll see hospital costs drop significantly. Most of these hospital facility fees and extra charges aren’t even used to provide better or more care at the bedside anyway; they are instead used to pay for a fat and bloated management structure and for too many worthless ivory-tower jobs in nursing education.

    Unfortunately, hospital “facility fees” are going away anytime soon. In fact, these fees are now being tacked onto outpatient bills (see link below) as well. Outpatient clinics with financial ties to a particular hospital chain or hospital system can reclassify themselves as ” hospital-based” outpatient clinics, enabling them to tack on a facility fee to each and ever outpatient bill. They are allowed to do this as long as they abide by the same costly and convoluted rules and regulations that hospitals abide by. “Hospital-based” outpatient clinics claim they can justify these added costs on the grounds that patients being seen at one of their outpatient clinics will receive the same level of high quality care that they would receive as if they were admitted to a full-service hospital. Don’t be fooled by this nonsense. Outpatient clinics will simply use these fees to hire more dead weights in management and nursing education.

    1. financial matters

      Yes, this clearly demonstrates the need for single payer. Providers, management and facilities are all important but need to be transparent. Now they can hide behind insurance companies and this also produces agency problems with administrations and powerful providers. The insurance extraction needs to be eliminated and this will help clarify the situation.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “Had she known about the facility fee in advance, Drake said, she would have shopped around.”

      Like it or not, THIS IS THE KEY. Until every person who seeks treatment demands to know the cost BEFORE they accept treatment and “shops around” if they don’t like what they hear, these rip-offs will continue.

      The fees will be gone only after patients refuse to pay them and take their business elsewhere.

      “Insurance” notwithstanding, nothing is free–one way or another, some one always pays.

      If patients agree to be treated as “consumers,” it’s time they started acting like consumers. No one would buy a dress without looking at the price tag. And no one should buy “healthcare” without doing the same.

      1. financial matters

        That’s true but healthcare has never fit well into a true market based philosophy. I think it’s more of a social issue. It’s how we want to spend our money as a nation. We know we have it if we need to fight a war or bailout a bank.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          You know, up until recently I would have agreed with you. Now I’m not so sure.

          So here’s a thought experiment. To repeat, THIS IS JUST A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.

          So what if we gave every American $8000 every year to spend on their own routine healthcare and drugs. $8000 is just about what we spend annually per capita in the US. And whatever money remained unspent at the end of the year, the individual could KEEP.

          Big, catastophic “healthcare” expenditures would be covered by TRUE catastrophic health insurance–like home or car insurance. In any one year, these incidents are experienced by only 5-10% of the population, so that would be doable.

          Now, imagine the possibilities. Providers would be forced to compete for patients on both price and quality. Word would get around about schlock, mistake-prone overchargers.

          Patients may decide to educate themselves about “recommended” treatments or tests before just submitting to them because they’re “paid for.”

          Expensive, “me-too” drugs might be shunned for less expensive but just as effective generics.

          Obese/diabetic patients might decide that it would be more beneficial to correct their problems than to spend their money on pharmaceutical maintenance.

          An 80-year-old woman may realize that a mammogram will not really tell her anything valuable about her health and forgo it. And, in reference to an article I posted above, a 60+ year-old man may decide to ignore a recommendation to start taking statins.

          OK, there are some thoughts to get you started “outside the box.”

          To be fair, this is not really my idea. It’s a very simplified version of one presented by David Goldhill in his book “Catastrophic Care,” a book I highly recommend.

          But it illustrates one very important point. Unless INCENTIVES are applied at “the point of purchase” so to speak, all attempts to rein in the cost of “healthcare” will fail as they have in the past. And one thing’s for sure, unless the costs are controlled, the system will implode with “catastrophic” results.

          To reiterate, in case anyone is tempted to attack, this is Just. A. Thought.

          1. Banger

            Your ideas are very solid. I would add that if doctors did not have extra-legal powers and “old-wives” could get back their former status then we ‘d get somewhere, btw, many nurses have gone into alternative health and healing.

          2. psychohistorian

            I like your idea because I am spending $10K/year OUTSIDE of Kaiser for healing my body from being hit by a SUV riding my bicycle. Kaiser offered me morphine or oxycontin/codone and while I use those meds infrequently I am paying out of pocket for osteopathic PTs and such that Kaiser doesn’t provide. And I can’t even get Kaiser to give me a referral so I can get $1900 of Medicare money that my PT’s get from other Medicare folk to supplement my outflow.

      2. DolleyMadison

        Yes, as someone who is “opting out” of insurnance for the first time in my adult life, I set out to find how to get healthcare for the family – every single doctor’s office I called was perplexed that I asked the price of a visit, and many HAD NO IDEA…I had to “call the office manager” who did not want to divulge that – most would only give me a range for a sick visit – 92.00 – 432.00 – depending on the illness. When I asked which types of illness were more expensive they had no idea. I did find out vaccinations are free at the health department. Was dreading having to take my daughter for her shots last week – I felt like such a failure. But was surprised to note we were not the only seemingly middle class folks in the waiting area. Tip: since most insurance plans no longer cover meds…I found that has a great tool for shopping around for lowest price and even offers coupons. A prescription that was going to be 68.00 at DR. office pharmacy ended up being 17.00 with coupon at CVS.

  10. Massinissa

    So, on the Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes HIstory article, there was this damn stupid comment I feel like I had to share here by a user who calls himself Economics Institute.

    “Another article trying to fan the flames of class warfare.
    The harsh reality is that the economy doesn’t need you(the middle class) to thrive. But nonetheless, the economy is still booming due to tireless consumer spending, exports, and productivity. Corporations shouldn’t feel forced to waste money hiring overpaid employees if they don’t want to. We’re becoming a temp nation, and this is good because temp workers provide more economic value than overpaid regular employees. Oh, and then you have Obamacare casting pall of uncertainty for businesses that would otherwise want hire.”

    Temp Employees PROVIDING MORE ECONOMIC VALUE THAN REGULAR EMPLOYEES?!! I guess this is true in the narrowest since of walmart profit margins…

    My GOD, ive never heard anyone try to convince anyone that becoming a ‘temp nation’ is a GOOD THING before. Even the 80% of Republicans would probably agree that becoming a ‘temp nation’ would be a ‘bad thing’.

    He got one thing right though: “The harsh reality is that the economy doesnt need you (the middle class) to thrive”. Hes right, but I wonder, what class does that make him? Proletarian I assume, since he cant be in the 1%. Or hes one of those jumped up economics professors who thinks hes upper class but really isnt.

    Other than a couple disgruntled working class socialists (And who can blame them? the middle class historically through the working class under the bus), ive never heard anyone try to argue that the demise of the middle class is a good thing.

    Good news about this comment was that there were like 10 comments making fun of him, and not one in agreement.

    1. Massinissa

      That should be, even 80% of republicans. I was not suggesting that 80% of the nation is republicans.

      1. Massinissa

        Absolutely no clue what he was talking about either. Well actually, we do export weapons more than anyone else, even Russia, but other than that and Corn, I dont know what else we export. And whatever we export, its a fact we are a net importer.

        Not sure what that man was talking about.

        1. Vatch

          U.S. exports are trivial compared to imports. One of the few things that the U.S. exports is movies. Also computer software, although much of the work is performed by non-U.S. workers, so that really doesn’t benefit the U.S. much.

          His complaint about fanning the flames of class warfare is laughable. Class war exists, whether it is acknowledged or not. It’s being waged by the 0.1% to preserve and expand their privileges.

    2. Whine Country

      Well I wrote above about George Carlin and his very funny list of common oxymorons. I’m not sure that Economics institute qualifies as one but I’m damn certain that the person using that non de plume is an oxymoron less the “oxy” part.

    3. psychohistorian

      Being a Temp Nation would be ok if we had a social safety net that provided the basics to survive on (food, shelter, health care, education, transportation, etc.) …then the employees would be in the drivers seat and only do work that made sense to their situation.

      Otherwise this person is full of it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The elites have first access to both money and information.

      With their privileged insider information on the coming collapse in their possession for a while now, the only sane strategy has been to gather and hoard as much as possible in one’s own fiefdom. So far, the execution of that has been fairly smooth.

      That was how the barons survived the last major collapse of the imperial core about 1,500 years ago and should work this time as well.

      The only hope for the Little People, I believe, is to enshrine GPD sharing in the Constitution before the collapse, so when power devolves to the local levels, it will be the Little People of each area, and not the baron, who will be in charge of surviving the collapse.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thank you. It should be “GDP.”

            “I have been tormented by typos all my life.”

            1. neo-realist

              If power devolves to the local level and we have to start growing our own food and selling and sharing it with our neighbors, wouldn’t GDP really end up as Gross Domestic Produce?

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    San Francisco Firefighting Goats….

    So non-techie.

    Should have deployed firefighting goat-clones.

    Speaking of clones, can a human clone vote?

    Can neoliberals clone more neoliberals in order to capture the House?

    If clones can’t vote, can the ‘natural children’ of two clones (a clone and a natural) vote?

    Just some thoughts on the dark side of science.

    1. heresy101

      It seems like San Francisco is always behind the times (except when giving the store away to tech companies). The Eastbay has been using goats to remove brush and fire hazard for decades. Twenty years ago, the park district was using goats on the land around the Oakland Zoo.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other question is, if an American has his/her clone cloned in, say, Malaysia, is the clone American or Malaysian? Can the clone run for the Presidency?

  12. Mel

    U.S. Exports? Wars, lawsuits and bad financial advice.

    Seriously, the plan for the new American economy is to become the Executive Suite for the entire world. That’s what’s being worked out now.

  13. diptherio

    Well, there may be a silver-lining to the JOBS Act [ducks].

    Crowd Financing Worker Cooperatives ~Grassroots Economic Organizing

    Jenny Kassan of Cutting-Edge Capital apparently had something to do with the crowdfinancing parts of the bill, and Jenny is good people. Although the authors do come to the conclusion that Direct Public Offerings (DPOs) are perhaps not the best equity raising tool for under-financed worker co-op startups, they do have some potential. From the article:

    In detail, the Workers Diner team set out four years ago to use the existing framework of the SEC’s “Small Company Offering Registration.” We partnered with Jenny Kassan—an engaging and brilliant lawyer from Northern California—who took on the project as a learning experience. (She called us her “guinea pig.”) In the time since, Jenny has developed an entire firm around the practice of crowdfinancing. Cutting Edge Capital (CEC) is now the most highly reputed expert in the field, and has managed the successful offerings of People’s Community Market ($630,000 and counting) in the Bay Area, Quimper Mercantile ($500,000) in Washington, and Real Pickles worker cooperative ($500,000) in Massachusetts. At the same time, Jenny leveraged her role as Director and Co-Founder of the Sustainable Economies Law Center to draft a legislative proposal that later became the above-mentioned crowdfinancing provisions of the JOBS Act.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Reset the Net…

    That’s just one small battle of a larger war…a battle that is not even the pivotal one either.

    There have been enough technological weapons invented in the last few decades to totally control the masses by a few elites, who have the seed money now and, with a government that can print as much money as it desires, more money, it’s a matter of time to get the recalcitrant 99.99% to accept the new world order, unless we redirect the focus to fight the war, the war on wealth (not income) inequality, and not just this or that battle.

    1. psychohistorian

      Let me beat my drum again.

      I posit that if “we” were able to neuter inheritance, seriously, then that one change would totally reset the narratives around which we form personal,community and government relations as well as all economic interactions.

      Think about it, please and thank you.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I do think about it and agree.

        You call it inheritance and I say wealth inequality. We are not that far off.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Indeed. A hard cap on inheritance would–or could–make income inequalities much more difficult to sustain. So would a hard cap on earnings, like ’50s US progressive income tax rates. Obviously the accretion of codes as they exist were written by rich people for rich people so there’s a lot of brush clearing to do there because the nominal rate doesn’t mean a lot if it can be significantly gamed.

          Imagine the resistance that would be thrown up if such proposals became part of a populist asymmetric political push that began gaining traction. I’m sorry, going after the .1% isn’t that hard a sell to the guy on the street right now. Granted s/he’s been trained and indoctrinated (as have we all) not to see the obvious, but the obvious is obviously becoming too obvious of late. Everyone that can read knows that the wealth distribution in the US is both widely skewed beyond it being plausibly meritocratic and at the same time the gap is rapidly widening. I can generally make even cons acknowledge this with numbers it’s so irrefutably true.

          The competing narrative put forth by the full weight of the “establishment*” to snuff out any such push would be given all the resources, media time and space it wanted– but people really do resent being lied to. And once you can no longer pretend what they are saying is true–or simply right, the resentment begins building. There’s been popular pushback against internet deregulation and of course Syria. If the media are ordered to do a “shock and awe” on populism, carpet bombing the country with propaganda with all the gloss money can buy applied, and *that* somehow fails, the political dynamic is changed, control is weakened. Opportunities present that didn’t exist–both good and bad. You can only push public opinion so far with money. It works great, yes. Better than less or no money, for sure. But if you don’t know it has limits or can’t see them I don’t like your chances of managing blowback, the blowback literally won’t make sense to you and you’ll just keep do what you were doing harder.

          *why did this term fall into disuse? It was a good one.

  15. rich

    Questions Over Goldman Deal as Investors Sit in the Dark

    The fight raises such a cornucopia of financial issues that it could shoulder an entire business school course. The holders of preferred stock in the company have taken to commenting to the Securities and Exchange Commission in outrage. Professor Angel accuses Goldman of multiple securities law violations. In essence, the question is: In these post-financial crisis days, what constitutes improper conflicts of interest?

    In 2007, a Goldman private equity fund called Whitehall took a company that runs franchised motels, like Residence Inn, private in a $2.2 billion transaction. It renamed the company W2007 Grace Acquisition. A Goldman entity, Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company, was the main lender for the leveraged buyout. Grace is run by current Goldman employees.

    Goldman did not buy the publicly traded preferred shares, however. Instead, Grace went “dark,” as Floyd Norris explained last year. That meant it no longer filed financials with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a move allowed for companies with fewer than 300 shareholders. Grace delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and stopped paying dividends. It took other steps to make it difficult for anyone, including the preferred holders, to get any information about the company. Shareholders had to request the financials from the company and, at one point, had to pay 10 cents a page for the privilege of finding out how their investment was doing. They also had to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

    In 2012 and 2013, a mysterious entity named PFD Holdings started buying those battered-down preferred shares. In 2012, PFD was paying $3 to a little more than $5 a share. Soon after, the preferred doubled in price, and now the shares trade at about $12. As of its last announcement, PFD owns 58 percent of the preferred shares. Nice trade!

    So, what is PFD Holdings? Few outsiders really know because there’s little information out there about PFD. In Grace’s news releases, the company calls it a “sister company.” In other words, Goldman is ultimately behind PFD. I asked a former Goldman executive. He hadn’t heard of it but jokingly suggested the initials stood for Pretty Fishy and Dodgy. Well, in truth he used another “F” word, but you get the idea.

    When deals like this go down, I feel like we are nation of Jake Gitteses, watching big bank deals with incomprehension. In “Chinatown,” the private detective asks the wealthy baron Noah Cross: “Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?”

    The scary thing about this Grace deal is that the money is so small (well, relative to Goldman, at least). The preferred shares amounted to about $146 million initially. It’s almost as if Goldman does it because it can.

    1. psychohistorian

      When you build a “civilization” around the God of Mammon, this is what you get.

      Thanks for the link to the underbelly of our dark side.

    2. Synopticist

      What marks this era out for me is the ability and total willingness of the true elite to screw over the upper-middle class, or the lower-upper class if you like. Those are the people you would normally expect the law and government to protect. Goldman fu*king over wealthy American investors is sawing off the branch late period capitalism is sitting on.

      The rich screwing the poor is ubiquitous. The very rich screwing the middle is less common, and can lead to revolutions. The very rich screwing the rich though, that’s rare, and seems to mark a society in terminal decay.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Confused delivery muddies Fed’s message.

    The education of Janet – hopefully she is a quicker learner. Our Styrofoam Potemkin Village is quite fragile and can’t afford more shockers like this.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      WTF??? After DECADES of Greenspan and Bernanke, someone FINALLY discovers the words “confused” and “muddled” when a woman takes the helm????

      I guess it REALLY WAS all Eve’s fault. it certainly could not have been Adam’s.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sad, isn’t it?

        And they probably set this female up to take the blame when the inevitable happens.

        1. psychohsitorian


          Patriarchy must be maintained at any cost, including the end of humanity if necessary.

          That is another reason the coming anointment of Ms. Clinton presages the end times, IMO.

          I will keep voting for real women like Jill Stein in hopes that society can survive for the children and grandchildren I don’t have.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Today a Bloomberg article says that Argentina’s new inflation series, unveiled last month, is already being questioned. Official inflation over the past month was 3.4%, but private economists claim it was 4.3%.

    Meanwhile, PriceStats (an outgrowth of Google’s Billion Prices project) shows Argentina’s inflation accelerating to a disastrous 35.9% annually, second-worst in the western hemisphere after Venezuela’s 56%.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s OK, if it’s just food inflation…volatile always and must be excluded.

        It’s another story if we are talking about wage inflation at those rates. My God, that would be…that would the end of the world.

        1. nobody

          If I’m not misremembering, something was said, awhile back — several months ago or maybe a year or so — about Dave Dayan planning to organize a meetup in LA.

          At any rate, it would be cool if there were a mechanism for readers here to find other readers who live nearby.

  18. Murky

    Today’s best quality links about Ukraine below. Notably not inflammatory opinions from journalists screaming: Fascists! Freedom fighters! Hitler! Neocons! Instead these are rather sober analyses from: 1) Jack Matlock, a former US ambassodor to Russia, 2) Alexei Navalny, currently the most important dissident in Russia, and 3) Simon Johnson, MIT economist & former chief economist of the International Monetary fund.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      It’s interesting that the TIME article recommends what Putin proposes almost verbatim:

      The fact is, like it or not, Ukraine is almost certainly better off without Crimea than with it. Nothing weakens a nation more than holding territory whose residents prefer to belong to another country.

      Though they may be difficult for all relevant parties to accept, the premises of a solution to the Ukrainian mess are clear: 1) The new constitution should provide for a federal structure of government giving at least as many rights to its provinces as American states have; 2) The Russian language must be given equal status with Ukrainian; and 3) There must be guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO, or any other military alliance that excludes Russia.

      Sounds like diplomacy may prevail if the Neocons are excluded and meanwhile no one on either side creates a pretext for conflict. (Big ifs)

    2. Synopticist

      If those views genuinely represent Washington thinking, I welcome the outbreak of sanity.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      Murky, how apropos:

      1. Time Magazine link to former USSR Ambassador is an example of the what is popularly known as appeasement. This hardly qualifies as “non-inflamatory”, but it is Time magazine, the bromide dispensing channel of Establishment positions only surpassed by Readers Digest. Let them take Crimea? This is consistent with the arrogant assessment of just retired Sec of Defense Gates: Crimea is Gone, Baby, Baby! Gone, who took it, where was it taken? Has anybody seen Crimea, helloooo? As a piece of territory, already populated by 10,000s of Russian military on Russian Air Force bases and Naval bases, just how Ukrainian would you or anyone consider it to be? The historical background is everything, perhaps Time magazine should explain things clearly to its American readership: Crimea is weighed down with Russian baggage, best measured with the term, tonnage, to convey tightly knotted ties that bind this piece of territory to Russia, currently the mutual Ukrainian-Russian treaties allowing Russian military full access and troop movements with limits, without further consultation with the Ukrainian government. Does that sound like the sovereignty of a nation comparable to what we think of as Americans when we think of America? Crimea is then implicitly understood to be gone from our grasp and that of USA hegemon selected proxy in Kiev. Simple solution, appeasement, recognize the obvious RealPolitik and move on to what matters more than the McCain in Ukraine who is mainly on the plain, by George!

      2. NY Times piece by Russian dissident, currently under some sort of arrest, but not the kind that prevents you from writing for the NY Times. Apparently the bloody thirsty Putin the terrible is so feared, that full page agit-prop pieces prominently displayed in the main channel of Establishment conformity announcements is the only freedom left this poor anti-corruption crusader in Moscow. No doubt, this writing was smuggled out under the Aegis of the Mission Impossible Force with help from the Man From U.N.C.L.E. Glad we got this public service announcement, or else I would remain pathetically deluded and keep my Putin wall poster next to my Led Zeppelin Rules All shrine. Thanks crusader for the precious rule of law in Moscow, next year, we toast to Democracy in the Kremlin where you sit with the decent Russians who come to power, next year! And please, don’t do anything to rash, if you wind up dead like Vince Foster, I don’t want Congressman Issa dragging me before his special committee to measure just how much blood I have on my hands.

      3. I can see why this piece from 2 economists is not all inflammatory. One economist with the Petersen Institute and one who used to be chief soothsayer of the IMF would never lower themselves with name calling such as fascists, or even Hitler. This sober piece clearly shows the futility of throwing good aid after bad unless we take the bull by the horns first, namely, corruption! Without dealing with corruption, what ever money goes to the Ukraine will come out the other side in offshore bank accounts, mostly in NYC. So, as economists, the problem, all things being equal, Russia is too rich and powerful to stop from doing what it wants and what’s left of the Ukraine after that whole sordid business is done with should not be given a penny until all of the very good people all get together in national unity and throw out all of the bad people, not Russians for god’s sake, they kill you, just, you know the really bad crony, pocket lining corrupt thieving politicians who should all go to jail or be given immunity and then sent packing in disgrace, and then, the Ukraine will bloom like the beautiful flower that we all know it potentially is. Richard Gere played by John McCain, dressed in his US Navy Whites, can metaphorically, pick up Ukraine into his strong arms and carry it safely into the West. The End.

  19. psychohistorian

    How do folks find out what transpired at the conference you were part of?


    Please and thank you!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ll let you know if the Atlantic posts them, but last year they didn’t.

  20. Banger

    Matlock’s and Johnston’s articles are very good and sensible and it’s nice to see the realists fighting back against the neocons who realists have been fighting since “Team B” in the late seventies. Navalny’s comments are beside the point for me and very self-serving. To put it simply, I don’t see Putin as a danger to me at all but the neocon fanatics are definitely my enemies since I’m an anti-imperialist.

    Your implicit put down of those of us who see the Ukraine crisis as engineered by neocons I don’t understand. The fact is that, at present the fascist/nativists parties are the power in Kiev and the freely elected government was overthrown by a violent mob who threatened and continue to threaten legislators. They did not even try to impeach the President as prescribed by the dead as a doornail Ukrainian Constitution.

    Fortunately, I believe the realists will ultimately win this one despite the slightly unenthusiastic cheerleading by the mainstream.

  21. David Petraitis

    Sorry I get to read NC only late in the evening and my comments are probably two cents too late.
    But…. O-care premiums set to soar….
    My conspiracy theory antenna are aquiver.
    My bet is that within 90 days we will hear of the GOP plan to replace Obama care because of this and other failing. Just in time for 2014. And the president designate of 2016 will have to run in OPPOSITION to O-care due to the pernicious lobbying of the medical insurance establishment who want “something better” than what THEY already wrote into O-care.

    Oh, and guess what? Patients and doctors won’t matter to this massive medical vampire squid sucking more Mammon out of the sick and dying.

    Ohh… and a postscript in homage to skippy: I post under my real name because… believe me, the NSA KNOWS how to find me….

  22. BN

    “Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History” has this optimistic conclusion:

    So, 30 years after the contamination was discovered in July 1983, it’s probable that what remains of the plume of chemicals is unlikely to contaminate groundwater. A victory for our age.

    Not so fast. Just over a year before this article was published, reports emerged of higher incidence of cancer in the area around a superfund site near NASA Ames’ Moffett Field, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Giant plumes of trichloroethylene (TCE) continue to contaminate ground water and release toxic vapors into homes. TCE levels of up to 110,000 parts per billion have been reported. (EPA designated safe limit is 5 parts per billion.) Last November, EPA held a meeting with Mountain View residents in an attempt to address their concerns. And just last month, TCE was reported in residential neighborhoods, likely carried there from the superfund sites over sewer lines and storm drains.

    To paraphrase Faulkner, Silicon Valley’s past is not even past.

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