Links 1/14/15

“Totally Urbanized” Dog Takes Bus to the Park All by Herself Gawker (martha r)

Hamster Wheel Standing Desk Inscrutables (margarita).

Study Suggests Wi-Fi Exposure More Dangerous To Kids Than Previously Thought Forbes (martha r)

30 shockingly amazing linkbait phrases Buzzfeed uses to get you to click on stuff Boing Boing

How Amazon Tricks You Into Thinking It Always Has the Lowest Prices Re/code (martha r)

Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (martha r). I have not read the paper, only the summary, but the summary raises big red flags. Um, even though Facebook users are a big sample, and this summary does not show any consideration of sample bias. And the judgement is v. Facebook friends, many of whom aren’t real friends and have no real world relationship, and are too self interested to look at any one FB friend all that closely for the purpose of answering a survey. Honestly, this looks like garbage in, garbage out.

Coming soon to a workplace near you: ‘wellness or else’ Reuters (EM)

Despite Oil Price Drop, World Bank Cuts Global Economic Forecast MarketPulse

TTIP: European commission faces huge scepticism towards free trade deal Guardian (blub)

Europas Bürger bremsen Investorenschutz aus Der Zeit (blub)

Steen Jakobsen Warns “Euro is Not a Good Idea and ECB About to Make Biggest Mistake in History” Michael Shedlock

Thomas Piketty: Strong Anti-Austerity Parties Are Just What Europe Needs Common Dreams (margarita)


World Bank expects Russia’s economy to contract by -2.9 pct in 2015 Reuters

EU Explores Russia Sanctions Options, Better Ties Wall Street Journal

Hebdo Fallout

The “hybrid” terror cell behind the Paris Attacks (part 1) Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

French Man’s Path to Terror Wall Street Journal. Hostility to police played a significant role in his conversion to radical Islam.

Lessons for politicians from the Sage of Omaha John Kay, Financial Times (David L). Better than the headline.


Rory Fanning, Unpacking the War on Terror TomGram

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

An Internet of Treacherous Things MIT Technology Review (David L)

Elizabeth Warren: I’m not running for president Fortune


Advocate says ACA will make single payer more attractive VTDigger (martha r)

Intuit gets greedy, nearly doubles price of TurboTax Network World. So is this the reason the comments section has been infested by newbie pushing the virtues of computer programs in dealing with Obamacare IRS reporting?

Obama calls for broadband competition Financial Times. Awfully late for that.

Requiring kindergartners to read — as Common Core does — may harm some Washington Post. Martha r: “Not to worry, the ones who are harmed are the born losers, they are expendable.”

The March of Legal Settlements Continues into 2015 – Daiichi Sankyo Settles Charges of Kickbacks to Doctors for $39 Million Health Care Renewal


A New Ceiling for Oil Prices Project Syndicate

US oil production to rise Financial Times

Oil Collapse of 1986 Shows Rebound Could Be Years Away Bloomberg

A view on oil, courtesy of the subprime securitisation sector FT Alphaville

Nerves Rattled in U.S. Equities as S&P 500 Volatility Turns Ugly Bloomberg

NY Fed data confirm revolving door with banks Financial Times (Adrien)

Yes, the Federal Reserve has enormous power over who is president Washington Post

MetLife to Fight ‘Too Big to Fail’ Status in Court New York Times. This is a big deal, since it challenges the authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Cooked up by none other than Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell.

California seeking to suspend Ocwen Financial’s mortgage license Los Angeles Times

Corporate Recidivism? Ocwen’s Charter Problems Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

What America’s Public School Teachers Want You to Know Gawker (MJL)

Class Warfare

How Higher Wages Can Be Boon Rather Than Cost to Business WSJ Economics

Why Wages Won’t Rise Robert Reich. Never forget that he supported Nafta.

35 maps that explain how America is a nation of immigrants Vox (martha r)

Antidote du jour. From the Tacoma Zoo (melody):

tiger triplets tacoma zoo links

And a video antidote (Lambert). See a crocodile gallop!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. rich

    Potential Candidate Jeb: Calling for Dough

    Jeb’s team approached several private equity underwriters (PEU’s) for donations:

    Bush visited with financial backers from KKR and Bridgewater Associates, a pair of New York-based investment firms, and held a fundraiser Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn.

    Republican Ken Mehlman works for Henry Kravis’ KKR, where his bio states:

    Mr. Mehlman spent a dozen years in national politics and government service, including as 62nd Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Campaign Manager of President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign as well as in high level positions in Congress and the White House.

    Jeb resigned from his board positions when he announced he would explore running for the Presidency. Bush served on the boards of Tenet Healthcare, Rayonier Inc., Empower Software Solutions and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc. The article did not mention Bush’s board positions with CNL Bankshares or Angelica Corporation. Are they in the past like his board slot with Swisher Corporation?

    The timing of his resignation is interesting. Will Bush’s board compensation be reported later this year in corporate proxy statements?

    It remains to be seen if Jeb’s 2014 board haul will become public information. If not, that leaves 2013 as the last year such information would be available.

    While the orchestration has begun Jeb hasn’t decided what to do with his other ventures:

  2. Jim Haygood

    Dr. Copper, comrades. He’s taken sick, along with his buddy Crude Earl (chart):

    Geert Rouwenhorst, the guru of total return commodity funds (he advises one called USCI), told Bloomberg on Dec. 1st:

    Price fluctuations of the metal [copper] have done a better job predicting economic growth in the following year than oil, gold or an index of commodities, according to K. Geert Rouwenhorst, a finance professor at Yale University’s School of Management.

    Rouwenhorst, who is also a partner at SummerHaven Investment Management LLC, looked at correlations between commodity prices and economic growth from 1871 to 2011.

    Bloomberg’s reporter told me this statement came from an interview with Rouwenhorst. His paper doesn’t seem to have been published yet. But copper’s validity as a leading economic indicator is practically folk wisdom. It sure worked in 1907, as ol’ J.P. Morgan would tell you, if he were still around.

    1. ambrit

      You’re preaching to the choir here Jim. Copper falls another 4.5% this morning. The copper mining sector is looking weak too. Expect manufacturing to fall off the cliff in a few months.
      Exciting days ahead!

      1. ambrit

        I noticed that it was trading at the bottom of the 52 week average. Nowhere to go but down? (I’d love to get a look at some -reliable- inventory figures. I’ll wager there is some hefty inventorying going on right now.)
        On an related note, did you notice yesterday that a big rental *management* company fell about 3% after it announced plans to go public? (The smart money knows, even if it won’t let on.)
        I wish I had a link to a video of rats leaving a ship! Say, the opening from “Panic in the Streets.” (That would be a good lead for an article; “Panic on The Street!”)
        The end game is in sight.

    1. flora

      I’d guess the Whitehouse hated the TPP draft documents leaks that were published on Oct 16, 2014 by Wikileaks. So Obama’s trying to plug all leaks with this govt/private “sharing data” CISPA legislation.
      It passed the House two years ago. Now there’s a GOP Senate and renewed hoped for TPP fast track authority.
      Just a guess.

  3. Banger

    I think the criticism of Reich support of NAFTA is a little tacky. That was 20 years ago. My impression of Reich’s journey is that his eyes have been opened. He believed, at the time, that Clinton was genuinely interested in the welfare of the American people and that in exchange for undermining labor by signing NAFTA that Clinton would work towards upgrading America’s labor force through training and education. The fact is he was betrayed. It

    Reich is close enough to the power elite to not viciously attack them like we do here because he knows many of them personally and understands the complicated lives they and all of us lead–nothing is ever quite black and white. However, he does accurately represent the situation in his article. There is no economic or political force that would raise wages other than the small changes in minimum wages which still has a lot of opposition. For example, I heard a man in a call-in show oppsose raising the minimum wage because his wife, a schoolteacher, had seen nothing but cuts in her pay and, therefore the man reasoned, raising the wage of some person working in retail or fast food would somehow make matters worse by making their level of pay closer to his wife’s. My observation and study of social science has instructed me that status is way more important than material benefits/money (if basic needs are met) and that the man was really upset because the pay of his wife and the pay of retail workers being closer together would lower his wife’s status and therefore his. This dynamic is one that makes it very simple to mine middle-class fears to attack the lower-class–it seems that it did not occur to the man that upper management compensation has risen dramatically in recent years because their status is so far above his that it is not a “threat” to his status whereas those below him and the threat their incomes may rise is a threat to his status. This dynamic is one of the reasons the left’s rhetoric and policies have no effect on those it should–the hard working middle-class particularly lower-middle class. The right is always able to use class-hatred or the lower classes who threaten to take their status even though they are unskilled and undeserving.

    At any rate, as Reich says, the oligarchs are firmly in control and my guess is that he believes our situation is hopeless and may be moving towards the positions Chris Hedges and Morris Berman at least in his own mind. It’s up to TPTB to “do” something for the rest of us–it seems we are helpless.

    1. ambrit

      If all our fondest hopes of “that which dare not speak its’ name” are to come true, some triggering mechanism is needed. (Are we the generation which will see U.N. troops garrisoning Manhattan?)

      1. Banger

        Any battle to unseat TPTB who grow ever more noxious must be multi-faceted. I am upset with the left for being so fucking naive and stupid about power. First, most of the left (not the DP left) refuses to see deeper political patterns and the actual power structure–they still thing its about debating “issues” it’s not–it is about the fist and the gun mainly. At any rate, everyone turns up their noses at potential allies like E. Warren or others who are within the system. Or we are upset with anti-authoritarian libertarians because they don’t share our social vision yet are more numerous and have at least some consideration for our welfare so we refuse to make alliances with them and so on–we tend to, on the contrary, have too much loyalties to minority issues, women, gays, African-Americans and Hispanics by ignoring their faults and supporting all their issues without thinking how they fit in–not that we should reject them but we have to understand that they have major differences with many of us who post here. We even have major arguments here about trivialities (within the context of the big picture) and have difficulty with going beyond expressing ourselves.

        I deal a lot with “everyday people” and see no way that the current leftist approach can have any attraction for most of them yet they are suffering more than most of us from the system.

        1. Jagger

          ——–At any rate, everyone turns up their noses at potential allies like E. Warren or others who are within the system. ——

          The problem is Warren is a Neocon. Which is worse a Neocon or a Neoliberal? How does supporting or putting a neocon into power improve anything? And since when do we expect principled action on anything from a Neocon? Regardless of her anti-neoliberal words, Warren seems like more of the same.

          1. Banger

            She is not a neocon–she mainly follows the Washington Consensus which all pols MUST follow. Neocons are a clique pushing for chaos and war–she’s not one of those.

        2. ambrit

          I personally see some hope in the more enlightened church groups. Religion has a way of focusing the attention and galvanizing the fervor of the religious. One direction ends up in ‘jihadis’ and ‘crusaders.’ Another direction ends you up with Abolitionists and Christian Democrats. As you mentioned above, there are more than just two ‘flavours’ of political belief. Religion, with its’ inherent political dimension, should be the lesson to study.
          The management of competing goals and desires is, if my memory serves me aright, called Politics.
          United Front anyone?

        3. Left in Wisconsin

          I used to complain that no one on the left knew or was interested in knowing anything about war and geopolitics so we were always screwed when it came time to put forth real foreign policy or provide a coherent response to geopolitical events or when the right played the war card. That seems to have changed at least a little bit – maybe?

          But what is clear is that the left (greens, anarchists, the handful of left trade unionists that are left, etc.) know almost nothing about how the real capitalist economy works or for that matter how businesses actually work. There is no coherent left economic policy because no one has any idea how anything runs. (Neither does the MSNBC “left”, but they are smart enough to find a way to slot themselves into the apparatus – via public sector or academic jobs until those run out – and stay true to the “movement” /sarc.

          I have said before that getting low and mid-level management out of US unions via Taft Hartley was disastrous to the US left. It prevented the unions from developing any business competence and turned all management instinctively against the unions, who more often than we like to admit turned to feather-bedding as their preferred workplace labor strategy.

          Anyway, getting to the point, we are so far away from a strategy to take power it’s sad. Presumably our economic strategy involves taking power from Wall Street and bringing it back to main street. But talk to any main street banker or business person and they 1) hate the Dems and 2) think the notion of someone(s) further to the left than the Dems having actual power both scary and patently ridiculous.

          1. Banger

            Good points! Generally speaking all parts of the political spectrum are in denial, i.e., prefer to live in self-justifying fantasies. To actually look at how things work and, just as importantly, how they got that way is essential to making changes in the power structure. The left, on balance, seems to have dropped out intellectually and we all prefer to just shake our fists at the oligarchs–which makes those guys smile.

            1. Jack

              What you defining as the left here? I’m assuming not the Democratic base, MSNBC crowd. But beyond them there seem to be at least two broad categories, the first being the Code Pink types that have actual principles and values but time and again ally themselves with the Democrats in the hopes that ‘this time things will be different’ and are inevitably used and then discarded. The second group exists on the fringe of public discourse, or beyond it, and includes people like Paul Jay and Chris Hedges. And that second group is the only part of the American political landscape (well, I say part of the landscape, of course they have no voice whatsoever in real politics) that I’ve seen genuinely discussing structural matters like who owns stuff or the fundamental reason we even have large police forces. You say the left has dropped out, but I find it’s only the ‘extreme’ elements of the left that are having any kind of real discussions about or taking real action to change on a basic level how society and power operate.

        4. NoFreeWill

          Yes, let’s ally with libertarians who are largely funded by right-wing think tanks because they are “anti-authoritarian”. They are good on one issue, so that excuses them from being worthless on all the others. Oh and we should give up on our traditional power base of minorities who actually have something to gain from redistributive economic policies and focus on who, the white working man who generally votes Republican?? While it’s true the left lacks organization and a coherent strategy, partly due to government supression in the 70s (COINTELPRO, etc.), your solutions are ignorant of history and present reality.

          1. Vatch

            Politics makes strange bedfellows. There’s nothing wrong with building an alliance with a particular group on certain issues, but not on others.

          2. Banger

            Nonsense–you make a simplistic association between Koch brothers “libertarians” and people like Stefan Molyneux who is not so easily categorized.

            1. Massinissa

              You think we can ally with MOLYNEUX? He HATES the left and anything approaching it.

              He supports weirdass thing like privatizing all the roads. Hes far to the right of most modern libertarians, and HE is the one you point to as a possible ally?

            2. skippy

              I don’t engage with people that want to bring back slavery and make the Sciencetologists look rational.

              Skippy… what else have you been hiding in the closet

        5. gordon

          A really simple approach: if the fundamental neocon agenda is deregulation, privatisation, tax cuts for the rich, union-busting, warfare and anti-welfare, a Left agenda is just the opposite. So it’s re-regulation, maintaining and expanding Govt. enterprise and employment, tax increases for the rich, protection of union organising and activity, welfare maintenance and expansion and, of course, World Peace.

    2. diptherio

      If Reich actually believed that about NAFTA he is a gawd-damned moron. Hell, as but an undergrad econ student even I understood that NAFTA was all about transferring wages into profits, trying to break the back of organized labor (even more than it already was). Honestly, anyone who can remain that dumb and blinkered while being involved in high levels of government is NOT someone I’m going to look to a font of wisdom…or anything really.

      Has Reich apologized for supporting NAFTA? Any rending of garments and/or gnashing of teeth from the man? Any mea culpa for being such a naive buffoon, or does he just blame bad old Clinton for “betraying” him?

      1. Banger

        Clinton had a way of seducing people both men and women, I’m told by those who knew him. I’m sure Reich was one of those. Are all members of all administrations to be forced to make apologies about every policy? I don’t think so–it make no difference to me. He did sort-of apologize for not pushing for more environmental and labor “side-agreements” in an article here. The point is that TODAY he opposes the current trade agreements and thus deserves our support. The left has so few allies it ought not dismiss everyone who isn’t “pure.”

        1. Eureka Springs

          Seduction is no excuse, even if true. By the time the man reached cabinet level..whether his embrace of NAFTA/Clinton was sycophantic or just plain stupidity… it’s no excuse. Especially since he has changed little if at all in so many years hence.

          Just as Warren’s constant alignment with the war-mongers is no excuse. Neither of these people are “left”. Both have a record of utilizing their positions of power to allow if not outright encourage far more destruction – from health care to war to police state… all sorts of continued looting to name a very few important issues.

          This is not a time for appeasement and excuse making… we are way too far down the rabbit hole, mired in lawlessness and looting on systemic levels to play nice with the “centrists” like Reich and Warren.

          I’m not inclined to criticize Warren for her tiny success this week, but the temptation of so many to place her on a much higher pedestal is simply crazy considering all we face and her failings on so many of the big issues. If we have to excuse all our war criminal policy in order to defeat a nomination of a third ranking Treasury official… then whatever your thoughts on power are… they need to be thrown out.

          How about you learn to leave the very few to nonexistent lefties alone. It’s the loser centrists who wont shut up and admit they have been mistaken across the board for decades on end who are a much larger problem. The system is broken and you remind me of the anti-Nader brigades on 2000… Not listening at all whilst blaming a miniscule number of principled lefties for not following your feckless attempt to lead to the middle – middle of nowhere…. constantly making excuses for the existing power structures thinking we just need to alter it around the edges a little.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Reich was, and as far as I know still is, a true free trader. Same with Krugman.

            I would argue one way you can see that Reich is still a not trustworthy conventional very smart dumb economist is the crap about robots in the linked article. Seriously? At least he could have said “the internet”.

          2. Banger

            So how is change going to happen if you exclude everyone you don’t agree with? I suspect you have no alternative. But I want to address something more noxious in your remarks and that’s the term “there is no excuse” — well, excuse me then, but who are you to make these judgements of human beings? Are you so perfect in your actions and in your life? I know I’m not–I’ve done a lot of fucked up things in my life–so should I be executed in your ideal state along with everyone and anyone who ever came close to power?

        2. diptherio

          It’s easy to deceive people when it’s in their interest to let you deceive them. I still want an outright apology. Making the class war slightly more palatable to the losers isn’t my idea of good policy.

          But what bugs me more is that the Left, just like the Right, seems to be all too willing to forgive and forget misleadership. I’m not talking about holding personal grudges, but holding up Reich as a spokesperson for Labor, with his history, is the same as holding up Krugman as the voice of “progressive” economics. The problem isn’t with them (Reich, Krugman), it’s with us that keeps putting them up on pedestals, no matter how many times they get it exactly wrong and betray those people they claim to defend. Reich may be on the right side now, but what about tomorrow or next year? What if Obama offers to add some “labor-friendly” side deals to TTP and Reich goes along? Obama has some charm of his own, you know…I’d much rather that if we’re going to give someone a podium, it be someone who has at least been right on important issues in the recent past.

          The appointment of Stephanie Kelton is a step in the right direction. She should have Kruggy’s spot in the Times as well. There are lots of people out there with better track records than Reich, and I really wish they got more airtime and mainstream exposure. But no, we just keep looking to the same old talking heads…we need some new blood, a changing of the guard, I’m tired of listening to all these old white dudes.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I can see where banger is coming from, because I do think Reich has had a come to allah moment and regrets much of his past life. But he is symptomatic of krugman delong and the rest who, first, win the really smart meritocracy race even though they don’t know anything about how the world actually works, and then lecture us relentlessly about how wrong WE are about everything, and, much later then, ultimately learn that things are NOT how they presumed and move grudgingly our way while still holding onto all of the trappings they “earned” from their previous existence, including hogging the microphone.

      2. Ed

        Its really in the same category of all the important people who supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002-3, but came later to see it was a mistake. We know how much they helped us subsequently in getting a less aggressive or just saner US foreign policy.

      3. flora

        “… I understood that NAFTA was all about transferring wages into profits, trying to break the back of organized labor (even more than it already was)…”

        Yes. Everyone I knew then who was in business thought the same thing.

    3. tswkr

      That’s the reason my mother has given for not supporting a given wage hike. She sees herself as having better skills than the deadbeats and wouldn’t be able to stand someone perceived to be inferior making close to what she does.

      1. hunkerdown

        Then your mother, like most Americans, needs to get the f— over herself. They only fluff themselves so because they think other people like it, and perhaps some sharp-tongued displays of exclusion would turn their arrogant habit down a notch or two.

      2. gordon

        Isn’t that how the US ruling class maintains the black/white divide and prevents poor people acting as a single class? As long as the poor whites can beat up the blacks they won’t attack the rich.

    4. JTFaraday

      “I think the criticism of Reich support of NAFTA is a little tacky. That was 20 years ago. My impression of Reich’s journey is that his eyes have been opened.”

      But the Other Bob, the more substantive of the two (if lower profile), didn’t support NAFTA 20 years ago.

      Didn’t they talk to each other?

  4. Banger

    I highly recommend the Sheila Blair interview with E. Warren. Check it out. At the beginning Blair claims to not understand why people consider Blair a radical–but when you read what she says it’s quite radical. She is radical because she wants the system to work for the people and that is very radical. Just wanting to make the TBTF financial institutions accountable is radical enough–it would change almost everything in our lives. because we have set up a game that only those who cheat can win–everyone else must pay for those winnings whether you are a worker, an owner of a small business (like me) or a even a non-financial corporation you, essentially, pay tax to Wall Street because they control Washington. This does not just have domestic consequences but effects the entire world’s political economy.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers

      Is this the same Sheila Blair who when approached by me to share a speakers podium with well known peers demanded US$100,000 in speakers fees?

      I’ll speak bluntly, anyone who demands speakers fees to speak on important subject areas they believe in, or supposedly believes in, has no fucking beliefs whatsoever. Heck, I don’t get paid and I spend 100s of hours on these projects, so please less of the “she’s one of us” and on our side. Bloody rubbish the same applies to Krugman and the bloody rest of them.

      Let me tell you someone who is actually on our side, has tried to make a difference and does not demand cash for speaking out on matters they believe in: Step forward Neil Barofsky. I’ll add Prof. Steve Keen, Prof. Yanis Varoufakis, Prof. David Graeber, Jo Stiglitz and many others to the list. No one is worth US$100,000 for 1 hours speaking, even if they do have to give up two entire days to travel if necessary – its more money than 90% of you chaps earn in a year, hence my ire at this rapacious greed all around us, and particularly by those who believe they are our betters.

      However, I’m sick to death of middle class alleged former public servants trying to mint it, particularly when many are now actually trying to make an effort to influence policy-makers to change course before its too late. In my not so humble opinion the like’s of the former UK PM, Tony Blair, and his money grabbing wife should be hung, drawn and quartered.

      I don’t care what any of these supposed leaders and intellects say in print, in a book or at a social gathering, if its money they are after, then forget it, they are the bloody enemy.

      Sorry for the rant, but after 10 years of dealing with such people, I actually know who’s a good one and who’s a dud, and believe me you have many duds in the States, far more than we do in the UK and it’s a fact.

      1. Carolinian

        Tell it CDR. Bair probably figures her market price will drop if she starts giving it away for free. The whole lecture industry could just be a non subtle form of co-optation by those who have the cash to burn.

          1. Christopher D. Rogers

            No, a typo on my behalf I’m afraid, its Ms. Bair one is referencing, however a FDIC whistleblower paints a rather different picture of Ms. Bair and her Washington travails, rather than she does in her autobiography. She bloody knew full well what was going on, was warned internally by her staff, ignored warnings and the rest is history, or “REVISIONISM” in her case. Far better to read Neil Barofsky’s account of the bullshite in Washington after the Lehman’s collapse rather than Bair’s, which is self promotion in my humble opinion.

      2. Banger

        Again, all this talk of enemies and judging people! The world is not black and white. Anyway, why attack people who want to make money? That’s what our culture values–do we get mad at Lebron James of asking for big money? Do we refuse to see movies that feature actors who make a ton of money making commercials? Mind you,mi find it disgusting but I still admire their talents. Mind you, I’m personally broke at the moment and have never been interested in making money but I avoid judging others because I’m aware of my own very sinful nature (part of Buddhist training).

        Anyone and everyone that is involved in the Washington power game is deeply tainted because you have to have a buccaneer mentality to just stay in the game.

        1. Carolinian

          I wasn’t attacking Bair, at least not much, but I believe his complaint is valid. You might compare it to physicians who certainly do save lives and at times could be called heroic. But when it comes to money……

          My idea of a true public citizen would be Ralph Nader. Quite the ascetic. General Motors put detectives on his tail, trying to tarnish his image.

        2. brooklynese

          What a bunch of neoliberal crap. Lebron James makes big money because he is the BEST at what he does, and what he does is rare and in demand. Sheila Bair is not the best at what she does and is easily replaceable. 100k for a single speech is obscene, and is essentially a legal kickback. You should take your neoliberal apologies elsewhere, schmuck.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Might help if you get your facts remotely right before you rant.

            1. Shiela Bair was notoriously serious on regulation and wanted to put Citigroup in FDIC resolution. Tell me how she did anything that merits a kickback. You are totally off base here.

            She was sufficient hard on banks that she only got one board seat, at Santander, a foreign bank. By contrast, the #2 at the DoJ, Lanny Breuer, went to Covington & Burling and got a $4 million payday. Tim Geithner got a book advance that was way larger than Bair’s for a book that didn’t sell at all.

            2. $100,000 is chump change in the speaking world. Krugman gets $250,000 as do a lot of other people.

            1. Christopher D. Rogers

              Dwight Hastins, a former employee of the FDIC in the lead up to the crisis paints an entirely different picture than you or Ms. Bair herself are/have painted, and he got dismissed for his troubles.

              So please, lets not hold candles up to people – the FDIC is a regulatory agency and did its pennies worth to contribute to the crisis, although nowhere as reckless in its duty as the OCC.

              For the record, I’m glad Thomas Hoenig as at the FDIC now, and he certainly is airing his opinion, however, I relies as Banger correctly refers too that many are up against it shall I say – it’s an uphill struggle.

              For everyones instruction, please follow the link just increase we are of the opinion i’ve got a bugbear, which is true, but its with the entire corrupted system – I don’t like greed full stop, its one thing making a living, and quite another minting it. Or, if we wish to mint it, then at least raise income taxes to their pre-1970’s figure, namely a 90% hit, in which case I’d encourage all of our public servant’s to request millions for talking out.

              Here’s the link and the context makes uncomfortable reading:

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                I suggest you bother checking some facts.

                Bair was appointed to the FDIC in June 2006.

                The allegations that Haskins makes, which are about discrimination and low morale, which was implemented in 2005.

                Bair is widely credited with improving morale at the agency. She also gets very high marks from bank regulation experts and organizations that have been critical of the conduct that led to the crisis and the weak regulatory response thereafter, such as Simon Johnson and Better Markets. She worked hard to make Basel III less weak than it otherwise would have been and for a regulator in office, has been pretty blunt in her remarks about the Fed’s failings.

            2. Christopher D. Rogers


              The last “speaker” demands I have on record from Monteiro & Company in relation to Krugman are from February 2010, at the time the quoted figure was US$120,000, so basically we have had a more than doubling in speakers fees in five years – nice if you can get it!

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                I have heard from someone who speaks for the same bureau that Krugman is at and is one of the people who gets the call when the organization who wants Krugman can’t afford his price tag that Krugman’s rate is $200,000 to $250,000. The higher prices may be for gigs outside the US.

                The incomes of the 0.1% have risen smartly in the last few years and the conference business is doing much better then than now, so both would argue that rates of top speakers would rise much faster than prices in the general economy. Look at other goods and services prized by the rich, like “world city” apartments and art.

                Now this guy could be exaggerating to puff up what people will think he gets to speak, but I don’t find the numbers implausible.

        3. Christopher Dale Rogers


          We have had more than six years since the onset of the GFC to make some amends and none have been forthcoming from Washington, quite the reverse, the greed/gravy train continues whilst many millions of lives are destroyed. And that’s just on one focus area, namely finance.

          Unlike many others, I’ve always worn my colours on my sleeve and fought for my corner and for my class interest. Despite a wonderful middle-class education, I remain resolutely working class and would never sell my class interests out for coin – I’ve seen too many do it and now they are just pitiful cogs in the system afraid to speak out for fearing of losing their job or not getting that promotion.

          In many of your posts you speak of a “deep state”, referred to in the UK as the “hidden state” or “old boys” network, and I’m at one with you on that, and perhaps its time for the forces of radical change to have their “hidden” networks and mimic our enemies, and to have an enemy you require a clear understanding of who you are and where you stand to begin with, which is why I’m want to discuss issues in class terms, rather than power-play turns that you usually refer too. The fact is it’s not a bloody game and those who think it’s a game require lining up against the wall with all other enemies of the state, most of whom in the USA are found in DC, the Beltway and NY City.

        4. Christopher D. Rogers


          In mitigation, I’m suffering from extreme toothache, which means I’m a little “bearish” to say the least presently. Regrettably, Dentistry is not covered under Hong Kong’s NHS service, much like the UK, and dental charges here are astronomical, about US$1,000 to get a “cap” fitted, that’s if I had a spare US$1,000 hanging around. In a nutshell, I shall be a miserable bugger until I get back to the UK in the early part of Feb. and get to my Dentist of nearly 28 years standing – at which time treatment charges will be about US$400.

          Another reason I support a single payer comprehensive health service, and comprehensive social security system. And to say nations cannot afford it is pure nonsense, just means people paying fair taxes.

    2. GuyFawkesLives

      I hold Bair accountable for the SHIT that was WaMu to JPMorgan Chase sale. Her team oversaw it and it is the biggest clusterfuck ever. In addition, there is supposedly a unreleased Purchase and Sale that exposes JPMorgan to the liabilities, yet no one has seen that in the public.

      Once Bair walked away from the FDIC, she gained courage to speak out…..well, if she REALLY had courage she would pony up on all the shenanigans that went on with the sale of WaMu to Chase. As it stands right now, that is phony courage, Ms. Bair.

      1. Banger

        I don’t want to defend Blair here but just want you to understand that people in public positions are subject to pretty intense pressure by some very scary people.

        1. Chief Bromden

          Boom. You just nailed it. The machine is designed to be stronger than the moving parts. Some individuals in power positions are “less evil” than others, but not one single individual comes through unpolluted. This is why ‘reformism’ is not only impossible, it’s undesirable.

          Everywhere you look, the entire system in all its aspects – including both criminal parties and the entire mainstream media – is bent on a zero-compromise, scorched earth, unconditional surrender, neoliberal onslaught which is veritably totalitarian. There is literally no policy proposal anywhere which is not corporatist and kleptocratic. (And all public interest policies and programs which still do inertially exist are under attack, with the intent to destroy.)

          The system itself is illegitimate. Why are we still trying to figure out how to legitimize it?

          1. Ulysses

            “The system itself is illegitimate. Why are we still trying to figure out how to legitimize it?”

            Excellent question!! I think many people simply can’t believe their own lying eyes. Like Charlie Brown they keep telling themselves: “This time Lucy won’t pull the ball away– I just know it!”

            There’s a whole “non-profit” industry devoted to keeping gullible people clinging desperately to tiny shreds of hope. Washington D.C. fauxgressive insiders gain pathetically small “victories” every day to feed the false hopes of the rubes who send checks to their foundations.

            “Great news! While we didn’t manage to keep any of the few programs left that serve the poor from being drastically slashed, we did keep quite a few of them from being eliminated entirely!! Even more importantly, I increased the salary I paid myself from this scam (er, prestigious non-profit foundation) and managed to appear in this cheesy photo-op at the Oval Office!! Just imagine how much more we can accomplish in the New Year if you just send enough money so I can buy a bigger townhouse in Georgetown!”

        2. MotherLode

          I agree with GuyF.
          I am one of those WaMu homeowners who would benefit from Bair’s honesty. Courage is not something you gain in hindsight. I could have very easily walked away and let these *uckers take my house. Instead, I have shown incredibly courage when my life has been threatened by legislators, real estate goons at the auctions, and people who didn’t want me protesting at their gated community (yes, that would be your paid goons, Kerry Killinger, you goddamn criminal.) So, here’s a big *UCK YOU to Bair and to all those who won’t stand up to the purported “scary people.” I have fought these “scary people” now for five years and through three threats to my life. Sometimes you have to stand up. Too bad more supposed courageous Americans haven’t.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Euro-Fudge: it’s what’s for breakfast!

    Pedro Cruz Villalón, an ECJ advocate-general, issued an opinion on Wednesday saying that the ECB’s earlier pledge to save the region from economic ruin by buying government bonds through its Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme was compatible with EU law and fell under the domain of monetary policy.

    There could still be some wrangling among the eight German Constitutional Court judges involved in the OMT ruling, however. Two of them opposed the referral to the ECJ on the grounds that the decision was one for Germany’s sovereign authorities — the government and parliament. The Karlsruhe-based court will wait for the ECJ’s final ruling before beginning its own review — so the case could still have months to run.

    It’s only free money … so let’s play beer pong with it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would fast track the release of “Unemployed European Worker’s 100 year Bond” backed by all Europeans which the ECB can buy, instead of bonds of various governments, with the money going directly and immediately to the unemployed workers.

      That’s money into the pockets of those who need it, instead of to security-obsessed, ready-to-war governments of Europe.

  6. ambrit

    I just stopped laughing at the Standing Desk Hamster Wheel piece. This is a good idea. The people who did this, (kudos to them for actually building one,) missed one aspect of the “package” and had no provision for harnessing that energy. How about a 12 volt alternator rig to charge up some batteries in the building basement? (I’ve been involved in some hard core “back to nature” off the grid projects before. This is easily do-able.)
    Phyllis just mentioned that this would be good therapy for people suffering from ‘Obsessive Compulsive Exercise Disorder.’
    Win, win, win, all the way round.

    1. Ivy

      Hamster Wheel Desks in the workplace are another assault against human dignity, dressed up as wonderful new ideas. They represent yet another aspect of the Crapification of life. Where are the ball and chain and company store coal scuttle to press into service when too few kilowatt hours are produced?

      In naked economic terms, consumer surplus is under attack on several fronts. That includes monetary and non-monetary aspects of life. For each labor-saving device or consumer benefit, there remain numerous hidden or disguised costs that people accept, or trade off, with increasing frequency unknowingly.

      Quality of life is transferred via several methods such as the following:
      1. Unrecycled producer surplus (see stock buybacks, slash and burn bonuses that exist in the real world, as opposed to that in Panglossian academia, echo point made in Diptherio’s post above re NAFTA wage/profit transfer);
      2. Externality cost shifting (to wit, all that extra time on line or on hold or completing forms or following up with so-called customer service, all of which make people unpaid parts of countless supply chains); and
      3. Rent-seeking behaviour whether in financial or social context (i.e., how can I get something for nothing from somebody else, to maximize my personal sociopath function);
      4. MSM consolidation and decline in public trust as part of financialization of information and ownership thereof (such as NYT news suppression, or Facebook model of

      Those methods and behaviours weasel their ways into lives that have become increasingly numbed to so many onslaughts, all in the name of belonging and adding some vague value.

      Is life a fool on a stage? Do not go gentle into that good night.

      1. ambrit

        Well, I can agree with you to a certain extent. However, having spent a large chunk of my life being poor as dirt, I can certainly get a vicarious thrill from the idea of killing two birds with one stone. Now, the image of endless rows of hamster wheel desks rolling along in a big office block is the essence of dystopia. The film “Brazil” comes to mind. Nonetheless, people actually pay to use equipment similar to this wheel desk to exercise on. Call me crazy, (but not ‘craazy’, that’s trademarked by the University of Magonia,) but if the limited resource future some of the more pessimistic posters predict does come to pass, something like this, cheap, easy to build, and cheap to run, (no pun intended,) will be a standard part of a low tech future. If a major breakthrough in battery technology arrives, the system as envisioned will make much sense.
        As to your point about such behaviour being imposed upon workers by management; the workplace has been in a race to the bottom for decades now, with no effective pushback yet. I personally have chosen to remove myself from such an uneven relationship. This however is because my wife and I have been lucky in a small way and can afford such a choice. Most workers today do not have such flexibility in their lives. So, I can well see workers for XYZ Corp bringing rechargeable batteries to work and charging them up while stepping up to the task at hand. All in all, the same old same old.
        The trick with managing rage is to know how to properly channel it. That’s where the often expressed dismay with the limp d— response to so many outrages against the common weal comes from. So far, society, as expressed as the handmaid to oligarchy, has done a creditable job in indoctrinating individuals to blame themselves, or if that’s not possible, a manufactured “other” for the ills imposed upon them from outside. (Often, this is expressed as “from above,” but that usage introduces an element of hierarchical organization and valuation into what is at root a competition among putative equals.) What passes for the Left in America today by and large ignores the educative function of resistance to Power. Welcome to one of the few places I have found that does that!

      1. ambrit

        I’m sure it can be scaled.
        On another front, this looks like one gigantic prayerwheel to me. All it needs are sheets of paper with the appropriate petitions on them stapled to the outside of the wheel. The bhikyus can run the prayer cycle and power the monastery all at the same time! (I really, really, hope that A. C. Clarke was wrong about his guess in “The Nine Billion Names of God.”)

  7. Jef

    It should read – “Because Oil Price Drop, World Bank Cuts Global Economic Forecast “.

    The fall in oil price takes more money out of the economy than low price puts in. Although some would say that burning oil has always been a net loss.

  8. Light a Candle

    The Gawker link on education and teachers’ stories and experiences was amazing. What a welcome antidote to mainstream teacher bashing.

    The corporatization of public education with relentless drills, testing and Core Standards (requiring kindergarteners to read!) is destroying the love of learning for generations of children and teens.

    It is clear (at least to me) that this is part of the ongoing agenda to recreate a vast underclass and a rigid meritocracy. Blaming teachers, ignoring child poverty and only allowing a few to reach the brass ring—“only the best and the brightest”—that is a blueprint for a miserable dog-eat-dog society.

  9. Ben Johannson

    Regarding computer-based personality judgement, I heard the story discussed on the BBC World Service with cringe-inducing credulousness. Their Discovery program is a half-hour long wet kiss to the tech industry, with never a critical question posed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like they are talking about artificial love.

      “I am a robot exotic dancer. I have artificial intelligence.”

      “I am also a robot exotic dancer. I give you artificial love.”

      Which would you pick?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Assuming, of course, the price of a lap dance is the same for either lovely robot exotic dancer.

  10. abynormal

    Prepare for the largest wealth transfer in history

    “This will be the largest wealth transfer in history from one generation to the next,” says Wealth-X President David Friedman.

    And many of those passing on their wealth are self-made individuals. Only 25% of those on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans were self-made billionaires in 1984, compared with 43% last year. The wealth of the Forbes 400 has soared 1,832% since 1984, from $125 billion to $2.29 trillion last year. Upper-income Americans have also fared well over the last three decades.”

    “In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
    In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
    Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?
    The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”
    Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Free will, except no one (those living or had ever lived) ever had a free choice with the first decision of his/her life – to be born or not to be born.

        Only one person in history, or according to tradition (religious tradition), chose to come into this world on his own.

        None of the rest of us was born free.

        1. ambrit

          Come on MLTPB, what about the “Bardo Thodol?”
          Remember that smoky light that fascinated you all those kalpas ago?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They rejected my application to relocate to Nirvana:< I didn't have a choice. No free will.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Actually I was rejected thrice.

                First time, I was shipped here instead of Nirvana.

                The second time, they sent me here about 40 years too early, way before the appearances of tech billionaire parents. Against my will.

                And the last time, they delivered me to the wrong hospital. Again, against my will.

                1. Mel

                  “And the last time, they delivered me to the wrong hospital. Again, against my will.”

                  And not in your insurer’s network? Damn! I feel your pain.

                  Now I just have to convince them that that’s not a pre-existing condition.

            1. NoFreeWill

              Hey, that’s my schtick. The concept of free will is so ludicrous that it requires elaborate intellectual defenses, all of which are absurd, and yet ask anybody raised with a Western education and they will claim it exists. Then they demonstrate their supposed freedom, in one case by picking up a cookie, not realizing their demonstration merely proves that my decision to talk free will with them caused them to try to prove they were free.

              1. Ulysses

                Philosophers today are by no means all convinced that free will really exists. Even some that argue for the existence of free will do so as compatibilists– meaning they believe that determinism also really exists.

                I hesitate to suggest that anyone without a strong interest in the subject jump into these tangled weeds, but for any inclined to learn more, here’s a start:

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Requiring adults, not just kindergartners, to read — may harm some.

    People use to interact with the world through hands on experiences. They might not know the names, but they knew what they were.

    Now, we read so much that we know a lot of names but we don’t know what they look like, handle like or feel like.

    We need balance – if you read too much, you should try getting out sometimes. No one can read all the time and stay healthy.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    World Bank..Russia…contracts -2.9 percent.

    Just curious. How much will Saudi Arabia’s GDP contract in 2015?

    1. ambrit

      As long as the people of The Kingdom do not revolt, the House of Saud doesn’t care. That’s one of the benefits of being a family run outfit; your needs are simple, just survive.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Somewhat urbanized dog takes bus to park by herself.

    A really ‘urbanized’ dog, I mean totally urbanized dog, would be able to go to the park and clean up after herself, all by herself.

    Just saying.

    And it’s not her fault at all, for Nature did not intend for the ground to be covered with asphalt, but instead, she installed a recycling machine to let animals fertilize plants and plants feed animals, in a mutually nurturing relationship.

    It’s only us Homo Not-So-Sapiens who would anthropocentrically thunder on and on about the lack of discipline of ‘untrained’ savage dogs.

    1. ambrit

      How would an ‘urbanized dog’ react to a feral bankster?
      Oh! Tis a dream devoutly to be wished; rows of slowly turning Bankster Wheel Standup Desks receeding off into the distance in the prison workshop.

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! That had to drop the IPO estimate a bunch. (Unless Doggy is cleaning up the IPO Prospectus.)

  14. cripes

    Nailed it.
    I think the self-appointed circle jerk of policy experts with duhgrees are best at putting pom-poms on the wretched poicies of their economic masters, and then painting lipstick on it when it turns to sh*t. Let’s not look to them who are so consistently wrong for leadership.

  15. skippy

    Villalobos, defendant in CalPERS corruption case, dies

    Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:17pm EST

    (Reuters) – Alfred Villalobos, the former CalPERS board member facing federal corruption charges, died on Tuesday, a California newspaper reported.

    Villalobos’ attorney told the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday that his client had died, according to the Sacramento Bee. The newspaper quoted a police official in Reno, Nevada, saying that the death was being investigated as a suicide. Over the past five months, Villalobos’ health had declined and he had become incoherent, according to a brief filed with the court earlier this week.

    skippy… just thought I would pass it on due to Yves and co involvement…

    1. ambrit

      This couldn’t be another case like that poor woman in Vegas, could it? Some strange things happen in Nevada.

  16. John Zelnicker

    “So is this the reason the comments section has been infested by newbie pushing the virtues of computer programs in dealing with Obamacare IRS reporting?”

    This is a very uncharacteristic cheap shot, Yves. And “infested”, seriously? I only wrote two comments recommending the software (and one other because I thought Akismet had thrown out the previous one). I do not understand the vitriol of your insult.

    Maybe I am a “newbie”, although I have been reading NC since mid-2011, and have been commenting almost that long, but the apparent price increases for TurboTax have nothing to do with my recommending it. My job does not depend on company sales, I have no dog in this fight.

    As one of the Tax Advice Specialists dealing with the public, I think Intuit really blew it this year and the vast majority of my associates agree with me. Actually, the prices are about the same for each product as they were last year. The problem is that customers are being forced into higher level products than they have been using, so as to match the complexity of their tax situation. The justification is that the interview questions in the software are geared to various levels of complexity and the company wants to make sure everyone gets all the deductions to which they are entitled. Fair enough, but the execution was horrible, and some executives have admitted as much.

    I also don’t understand why this is any worse than Lambert recommending H&R Block where some managers will hire almost anyone who comes in the door. (I worked there for 7 years, so I know how it works.) Not to demean his experience, I’m glad he found a good Tax Pro, but YMMV.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions here are my own and do not reflect the positions of my employer, Intuit.

Comments are closed.