Links 3/10/15

Devoted Bald Eagle Mom Gets Buried In Snow As She Keeps Her Eggs Warm White Wolf Pack (furzy mouse)

Finance is great, but it can be a real drag, too Money and Banking

Devouring Social Capital The Parallel Parliament. Mark Carney at the Guild Hall.

Former SEC Director Rips the Red Tape Off His Mouth Bloomberg

Exclusive: China’s international payments system ready, could launch by end-2015 – sources Reuters

What the Fed says about China behind closed doors FT

Big data meets the double mandate The Economist

U.S. declares Venezuela a national security threat, sanctions top officials Reuters. Hoo boy. Send in the drones.

The big drop: Riyadh’s oil gamble FT

Brazil’s Rousseff says austerity drive to last as long as needed Reuters

Malaysian corporates have worst cash visibility in Asia Pacific, study shows Malaysian Insider. And it’s a crowded field.


Five minutes with Philippe Legrain: “The Eurozone has become a glorified debtors’ prison” London School of Economics

Eurozone not viable, says top fund boss Neil Woodford BBC

No good Plan Bs Hugo Dixon, Ekathimerini

EU, Greece to start technical loan talks on Wednesday Reuters

Greece Told Not to Waste Time as Euro Finance Ministers Meet Bloomberg

Syriza will have to ‘sacrifice their own’ to reform Greece France24

Defiant Greece at daggers drawn with EU creditors Telegraph

National Bank Of Greece: Liquidity, Not Capital, Is The Main Concern Seeking Alpha

Liquidity fears slow payments Ekathimerini.

The moment of truth is approaching Ekathimerini. Government is asking state companies for loans.

Why is the Greek government so popular with left-wingers? Marginal Revolution

Jean-Claude Juncker calls for creation of EU army FT. For debt collection, presumably.

‘Not out of it, but above it’: how the Queen will engineer a royal retreat to keep out of a hung parliament Guardian

Real danger lies in Mitteleuropa’s financial sector FT

Into the wild: the rebels living off-grid all over Europe – in pictures Guardian

Ukraine’s Poroshenko says rebels have withdrawn significant amount of heavy weapons Reuters

Russia’s Remarkable Renaissance New Eastern Outlook. Maybe. What is clear is that weaponizing the financial system, as Obama has done, will have the usual blowback effects, perhaps sooner than we think.

Nemtsov murder – more questions than answers Vineyard of the Saker


G.O.P. Senators Write to Iran About Nuclear Deal NYT

Iran: GOP letter on nuclear negotiations a “propaganda ploy” CBS

The Road Back to Tehran: Bugs, Ghosts and Ghostbusters The Foreign Service Journal. Long form.

Escalating air war on IS not the answer: US general AFP

‘SNL’ Has Nothing On The Way The Middle East Mocks ISIS HuffPo

New book reveals how MidEast helped Tony Blair earn $90m Arabian Business

Anti-GMO Protests Rock Poland As Farmers Demand Food Sovereignty Rights True Activist (furzy mouse)

Future farming to be based on robots and big data Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence. Because spraying pesticides with flying robots is what accelerating intelligence is all about!

These $40 Artisanal Toothpicks Are Just The Right Size For Eyeball Gouging Gothamist (CL). Froth?

Googledome, or temple of doom? The Economist. “Tech firms are building pharaonic head offices again.” More froth?

Here Are the Problems With The $10,000 Gold Apple Watch Bloomberg. “It’s so heavy it feels like a brick.” Well, perhaps you can have one of your personal attendants wear it for you. Yet more froth?

Content shakeout alert: Gigaom runs out of money, will shut down Pando Daily

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation Robert Reich

Complex Societies Evolved without Belief in All-Powerful Deity Scientific American

If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one Naomi Klein, Guardian

A rocky road lies ahead to a far smaller world population Fabius Maximus (furzy mouse).

Coleman’s house-of-cards theory of structures Understanding Society

Antidote du jour:


Soon, grass will be visible!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. James Levy

    Ms. Klein writes that “if enough of us stop looking away and decide that climate change is a crisis…the political class will have to respond…..”

    No, not if their paymasters tell them not to. Healthcare costs are probably now sucking up a bigger percentage of the US GNP than military and intelligence spending combined. They have been outpacing inflation by hundreds of percent for two decades. People know this is an unsustainable crisis. But nothing is done but window dressing like ACA which does nothing to address the issue of costs (it just displaces them).

    Historian Adrian Goldsworthy has shown in his study of Roman military history that from the time of Caracalla on, at every juncture where the question was between military and bureaucratic effectiveness and personal control and safety, emperors always opted to make the military and bureaucracy “safer” for them and didn’t give a damn about how well it did its job. Loyalty and obedience where the prime directive (they didn’t get what they wanted, but they tried really hard). The long-term implications were only staved off by the incredible size and resource base of the Empire compared to any of her challengers. But in the 5th century rather small bands of raiders could roam the provinces at will while phantom armies (like those of Iraq last year) existed on the books but were largely skeleton forces whose generals pocketed the pay of the non-existent soldiers.

    Our elite is no smarter than the elite than misgoverned Rome. And America, like Rome, is so rich and powerful that it can go on being misgoverned right to the point of ecological collapse.

    1. wbgonne

      I agree. The difficulty we face is that our communal problem-solving mechanism — the political process — is broken. As we see over and over, it no longer matters what the people want. All is determined by the elites, who simply don’t care about anything except themselves, their power, and their money. The political process in America, and by extension the rest of the Western world, no longer functions to solve problems that tbe people face; the political system has been hijacked and now serves only the interests of the plutocrats. Klein ignores this. That said, since we still live in a democratic republic, the people remain the ultimate repository of power. The difficulty is that the people also no longer serve their proper function and have ceded their political power to the elites, to whom they defer completely.

      For example, in our political duopoly the only viable path for progressive change is through the Democratic Party. Knowing this, the elites captured the Democratic Party and thereby gained total control of the duopoly. Theoretically, Democratic voters could force progressive change by abandoning tbe Democratic Party in its current corporatist incarnation and making it reform. In order to remain politically viable, the Democratic Party would have to move Left. Since progressive policies are overwhelmingly popular, if the Democrats did move Left they would quickly regain the political lead they squandered as corporatists. That, in turn, would force the GOP to reform and move Left simply to remain viable. All of this is feasible. Unfortunately, without a popular awakening it is quite unlikely.

      Democratic partisans have been indoctrinated into accepting their leaders’ betrayals, corruption, and miserable performances. Klein’s call for a popular uprising on AGW cannot occur in the absence of political liberation.

      1. Carla

        I agree with much of what you say, although I would posit that the Democratic Party was born captured. In a “democratic republic,” We the People are Sovereign. Unfortunately, in the U.S., We the People don’t know that, or at least not nearly enough of us know it.

        So what can we actually do? Just a few thoughts: We can swear never to vote Democrat or Republican again, and then carry through on that (find another party, start another party, support independent candidates, etc.); We can work incessantly to get people involved with the non-partisan Move to Amend, which will end money-as-speech and remove never-intended constitutional rights from corporations, decreeing that they belong exclusively to human persons; We can create cooperative mechanisms at the local level to help each other survive the next crash.

        1. fresno dan

          I can’t help looking at what you three have written and than this quote from:
          Devouring Social Capital The Parallel Parliament. Mark Carney at the Guild Hall.

          “Carney talked about how the affluent nations had subtly morphed from being market economies to market societies and how that fundamentally changed everything.”

          ….and thinking its all of one thread. I would quibble with “subtly morphed” – well, maybe the morphing was incremental, but it looks like we have reached the point where it can scarcely be disputed that the current state of affairs is not arranged for the good of the majority.

        2. steviefinn

          Perhaps empires just can’t help themselves – Anthropologist David Graebar’s radio 4 series for anyone who can get it ‘ Promises, promises ‘ – A history of debt, gives a fascinating description of something that appears to have both built & destroyed civilisations – What goes around comes around – we have it seems been through similar times & systems before & Rome’s decline was partly due to everyone being up to their eyes in debt.

        3. wbgonne

          Those are fine suggestions. I would say, however, that the chances of getting a Constitutional amendment enacted are nearly zero, at least unless the political climate changes dramatically, at which point sensible justices will be placed on that Supreme Court and no Constitutional amendment will be required. This new-and-improved SCOTUS could simply overrule the horrid precedent that has proved so toxic in practice, whatever the merits of the theory.

        4. hunkerdown

          Yes, Congress is a democracy. What that has to do with us escapes me, unless you’re talking about that biennial beauty pageant as if it meant anything.

          The Tenth Amendment + the Treaty Clause, taken together, effectively nullify the rest, as we are seeing in the trade/suicide pacts. Given this permanent loophole, why is this thing worth saving?

      2. neo-realist

        But it seems like the trend I’ve seen as far as the democratic party is that when they lose elections to republicans, the response tends to be, “we have to be more like them”—Embrace more deregulation of the financial sector–the free market works best pablum; Advocate for cutting social program spending, for more tax cuts to the rich. Progressive policies somehow don’t enter the dialogue for the democratic party as an answer to the stranglehold of neoliberal policies and the failure of those policies.

        The Greens could potentially be a big help to offset the indifference of the dems to progressive policies if they would run more candidates at the local level to help eventually mainstream their message and electability to main street americans

        1. wbgonne

          But it seems like the trend I’ve seen as far as the democratic party is that when they lose elections to republicans, the response tends to be, “we have to be more like them”

          Yes, that is why the Democratic Party must be clobbered, not merely be defeated in close elections. Unfortunately, from Obama the First Black President to Hillary the First Woman President, the Democrats have found a formula that will ensure they remain competitive at the presidential level despite their utter policy failures. That keeps the money flowing and masks the party’s emptiness. At the moment, only Democratic partisans have the power to make the necessary changes within the Democratic party and, to do so, they must withhold their votes and cause the party to fail unmistakably. I don’t see it happening at the moment but things could change. The Green Party — for which I now cast my votes — is the obvious choice for punishing the Democrats for their neoliberalism and those votes are unmistakable in their intent. But, as long as the political duopoly holds, the Greens won’t be more than a protest vote at the national level.

          1. wbgonne

            On second thought, I think that if the Greens can get near 10% in the presidential election, they could force the Democratic Party to reform. Or else wither and be replaced by the Greens. (Personally, I am indifferent as to the partisan vehicle for delivering the necessary progressive policies.)

            So that is possibly a way that reform can be forced on the Democratic Party without the (highly unlikely) rebellion of diehard Democratic partisans.

            Vote Green! All the cool kids are doing it!!

      3. Sam Kanu

        The difficulty is that the people also no longer serve their proper function and have ceded their political power to the elites, to whom they defer completely.

        This comment is spot on – we are looking at an “election choice” of Bush vs Clinton. And no one bats an eye? In a nation of 300 million plus people, it just so happens that the “most talented” people all hail from TWO families? And everyone is busy going on as if this is normal and A-OK.

        Do we live in Philippines or the US? Mind boggling…

    2. Brindle

      I was disappointed in Naomi Klein’s excerpt. She seems to think that institutions such as the United Nations actually can be decisive and be effective in turning back climate change. She uses “we” in practically every other sentence, does “we” include Banksters”, Hillary Clinton?, Jeb Bush etc.?.
      Anyway, was expecting a more sophisticated understanding of the dynamics and inertia of the corporate-state organism and how they see climate change as “opportunity” rather than a real crisis.

  2. A Farmer

    The most misleading article ever, at, naturally, the Wall Street Journal:

    How does one write an article about state tax revenues running lower than pre-recession levels adjusted for inflation, and fail to mention state income tax cuts? Not sure, but these clowns did it. Also, how about throwing Kansas and Wisconsin on that chart, just for giggles. Why would somebody in favor of Republican tax policies run a chart which so obviously undermines those same policies?

    1. Bruce Amiata

      The unknown 4th pig, now set to receive the full inheritance due him. He has no relationship with the Big Bad Wolf, no, none at all…

      1. bob

        Flying pigs!

        They’ve only managed to sustain flight on the smaller models, due to power and weight problems with the larger, older models.

        You’ve been warned.

  3. Paper Mac

    Caracas: security threat. Riyadh: not so much? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, ladies and gentlemen!

    1. James Levy

      There was a time in American history when anyone who suggested that Venezuela was a threat to the United States would have been found contemptible and cowardly, a ninny shaking in his boots and an object of derision. Today, you could get up in the Senate and declare Andorra a threat and no one would laugh you off the podium or cart you away to a mental asylum. Home of the brave, my ass.

          1. cnchal

            Wouldn’t it be funny if Hillary came out and said she kept her own mail servers because she couldn’t trust the NSA?

  4. Dale Mathews

    Found Friedrich List (cited in Russia’s Remarkable Renaissance) an interesting read:
    List contended that Smith’s economic system is not an industrial system but a mercantile system, and called it “the exchange-value system”. Contrary to Smith, he argued that the immediate private interest of individuals would not lead to the highest good of society. The nation stood between the individual and humanity, and was defined by its language, manners, historical development, culture and constitution. This unity must be the first condition of the security, well-being, progress and civilization of the individual. Private economic interests, like all others, must be subordinated to the maintenance, completion and strengthening of the nation.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      NEO’s article on the new Russian Renaissance was very interesting. The Russian response to Obama’s intrusion in the Ukraine, if as portrayed by this article, is very heartening. I avoided readings related to the Ukraine, hoping the problem would soon just go away. The US intrusion and Europe’s going along seemed remarkably foolhardy. It makes no sense to me, like so much of the US foreign policy in this century.

      Like you, Dale Mathews, I wondered who Friedrich List was. I took away slightly different message from my quick read of a Wiki writeup on him, I think it may have been the same article you read:
      The article mentioned the German economist Friederich List. I never heard of him before and wondered if anyone were familiar with him and what opinions they might have about his economic theories. The NEO article tied List with the Russian Sergei Witte and suggested, vaguely suggested I thought, how this played a role Russia’s adoption of “classical 19th Century German culture and science.” The idea of List as a “brilliant opponent of England’s Adam Smith” and a Wiki article explaining how many of List’s ideas were stimulated by his study of Alexander Hamilton’s economic principles and the infant industry argument added to my intrigue with List.

      I also noticed another article in NEO in one of the teasers at the edge of my browser: “MIT States That Half of All Children May be Autistic by 2025 due to Monsanto”
      I didn’t follow up to see what Dr. Stephanie Seneff, the referenced senior scientist at MIT, has written about the effects of Roundup, aka. glyphosate, but this article makes an interesting bookend with yesterday’s link to Steven Druker’s book on GMOs and FDA. The tail of the article on Roundup stated, “The rate of autism has skyrocketed from roughly one in every two thousand in the 1970’s to the current rate of one in every sixty eight.” I didn’t realize the occurrence of autism had increased so precipitously.

        1. andyb

          Or adjusted for the fact that the exponential rise in autism coincidentally occurred with the start of the vaccine programs for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The fact that some key ingredients of vaccines such as mercury and aluminum are known neurotoxins makes one wonder why there is such a concerted push for mandatory vaccination.

          1. Yves Smith

            Your lobbying on this topic has NO place here.

            One of the vaccine scaremongers is an anthropologist who has done NO studies of any kind:


            The austism claim has been repeatedly debunked. Examples:



            Plus if you are concerned about mercury, it’s been in widespread use in dental amalgam, and before fluoridation became nearly universal, most people had amalgam fillings in their teeth. This greatly pre-dated the rise of vaccines. So your simple correlation looks bogus from that standpoint as well.

            1. andyb

              Yves: you may be right; all I see is immense propaganda for mandated MMR in the US after the measles epidemic that really wasn’t. That bothers me. Parents should have a choice when there is the slightest doubt about the dangers of vaccines, even if only 1000 children out of a million are adversely, and quite severely affected. The government has paid out over $3 billion in awards to parents because adverse effects were linked to the vaccines taken by their children. My point is why take the risk, especially when the FDA and the Government have been caught in so many lies and disinformation.

              1. Yves Smith

                Your “why take the risk” is the risk of killing other people’s babies.

                Measles is extremely contagious:


                And while it is typically a mild disease for older children and adults, it can have worse outcomes:

                Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.

                As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
                About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or with intellectual disability.
                For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.
                Measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.


                And the death rates among unvaccinated children (mainly because too young to be vaccinated) show the risks are serious:

                The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 145 700 people died from measles in 2013 – mostly children under the age of 5.


                And (as is typical of vaccine scaremongers), you provide no evidence in the way of links to support your assertions, and your made-up figures about the risk level are greatly exaggerated. This is on the MMR vaccine, which has attracted more controversy than getting measles vaccines in isolation:

                BACKGROUND: Several disorders have been attributed to measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination during the past decade. The aim of this prospective follow-up study was to identify serious adverse events causally related to MMR vaccination.

                METHODS: When the MMR vaccination program was launched in Finland in 1982, a countrywide surveillance system was set up to detect serious adverse events associated with MMR. To obtain detailed case histories vaccinees’ clinical charts were reviewed. Serum samples were analyzed to trace concurrent infections.

                SETTING:All hospitals and health centers in Finland from 1982 through 1996.

                RESULTS: Immunization of 1.8 million individuals and consumption of almost 3 million vaccine doses by the end of 1996 gave rise to 173 potentially serious reactions claimed to have been caused by MMR vaccination. In all, 77 neurologic, 73 allergic and 22 miscellaneous reactions and 1 death were reported, febrile seizure being the most common event. However, 45% of these events proved to be probably caused or contributed by some other factor, giving an incidence of serious adverse events with possible or indeterminate causal relation with MMR vaccination of 5.3 per 100,000 vaccinees or 3.2 per 100,000 vaccine doses.

                CONCLUSIONS: Causality between immunization and a subsequent untoward event cannot be estimated solely on the basis of a temporal relation. Comprehensive analysis of the reported adverse reactions established that serious events causally related to MMR vaccine are rare and greatly outweighed by the risks of natural MMR diseases.



                1. You are safer getting the vaccination than not. People who reject the vaccine have not looked at the complication/death rate of the disease v. the vaccine and/or are otherwise bad at math

                2. You are also not putting third parties (babies) at risk. If I were a parent, I’d be outraged at the idea that you could be so casual about imposing risks on others.

                If you want to engage in anti-social behaviors and put your child at risk, is that really your right? We don’t allow parents to beat their children.

                And I think it is reasonable to deny children who have not been vaccinated the “right” to attend schools, fly on airplanes, and ride on trains.

          2. Clive

            A huge Japanese study found that the incidence of autism spectrum disorder did not decline when childhood vaccination coverage levels reduced following the country’s health authorities decision to withdraw the combined MMR vaccine:

            If autism increased AFTER vaccination levels fell, it wasn’t the vaccine which was causing the autism.

            As the article I’ve mentioned above says: “The problem is you can’t prove a negative. The people making a link are not using rational arguments, so the usual scientific approach will never convince them…

            Don’t get me wrong, medical quackery is a pet hate of mine and I’ll be the first to get on the side of anyone highlighting faked trials or studies, undisclosed side effects, big pharma attempts to lobby for black box removals and so on. So long as they have the facts and evidence to support them. But the world is a dumb enough place without anyone adding to the dumbness.

  5. timbers

    Greek Exit:

    Alexander Mercouris says it’s time for Greece to prepare for default and EU exit. Don’t know if this is a new position for him or not. It fit’s in with my views Greece should leave now, though am aware it is not the NC consensus. I think the way to evaluate Greek exit is not by what it would cost vs staying, but by what the cost of exit now is vs exit latter, as the NC consensus is also that EU breakup is inevitable:

    “In my opinion the only realistic way forward is for Syriza to use whatever grace period it has got (and it may turn out to be a lot less than 4 months) to prepare the Greek economy and the Greek people for a default and (since the European authorities in their great unwisdom have decided that a default is incompatible with membership of the Eurozone) for a Grexit.

    I hope and pray that Syriza realise this since it seems to me the only way forward. The information I am getting from people in Greece (including my parents) is unrelievedly grim, with people now running out of money to pay for even basic necessities and with the economy essentially at a standstill. Support for Syriza remains exceptionally strong but this cannot continue for much longer.”

    1. Yves Smith

      One of the salient features of the new Greek government is ministers shooting off their mouths individually. So unless Tsipras or Varoufakis says something, it is not wise to assume it is the government position.

      And Greece does not have a right to withdraw from the EU. They can default, but they have to ask to leave, and they have to negotiate an exit. They get one after two years if nothing is agreed. There appears to be no right to exit from the Eurozone. The treaty language has terms like “irrevocable” in it. The EU agreements are also explicit that governments that join are ceding sovereignity. And if they leave the EU, they lose agricultural subsidies, which puts them at a disadvantage in one of their few export sectors, and are at a disadvantage in trade with the rest of the EU generally (any buyer in the EU will prefer dealing with a country with no currency exchange and customs issues over Greece).

      Now I have no idea what happens if Greece just violates the rules like mad and starts printing drachma.

      1. Chris in Paris

        There is the possibility that Greece could leave the EU and remain in the EFTA. They would have most of the benefits but as you point out, not the common agricultural policy.

  6. LaRuse

    Re: the Antidote.
    I can’t help it. The first thing that came to mind was “Breakfast on the go!”

  7. JohnnyGL

    Regarding the Russian Renaissance article, it seems the author was partially off-target on this one…

    Engdahl’s right about the spat over oil exploration rights, but Rousseff’s devotion to austerity is what’s causing her to cook her own goose. She’s completely reversed all of her campaign promises on the economy and gone hard right. Her allies in the Senate can’t even stomach the awful 2nd term agenda she’s pushing. Her plunge in the polls is mostly her own doing and has very little to do with any US State Dept backed campaign. She’s hardly the sympathetic figure that Engdahl portrays in the article from last fall.

    1. norm de plume

      I wonder what the NSA have on her… Petrobras smoking gun?

      Nowadays, every weird or counter-intuitive political action everywhere, from jarring rhetoric to complete volte-faces, must have blackmail as part of Occam’s blade.

  8. Jackrabbit

    The big drop: Riyadh’s oil gamble FT

    Another dumbed-down article that reinforces the message: it’s just markets.

    Once again: production of Shale Oil hasn’t been reduced by the drop in oil price, in fact it increased a bit. Rig counts fell mostly from retiring older, inefficient rigs. This was to be expected (and the Saudi’s as largest producer by far are certain to have the best info on all aspects of the market).

    The Saudi’s only needed to drop the price to a point that made investment in Shale Oil uneconomical. And publicly state that the price would remain there or go lower. That point, arguably is $80/barrel. What is the FAR from optimal pricing strategy costing the Saudi’s (and others?).

    The ft article also glides over the desperate pleas from other OPEC members who said that they would join in production cuts. And mentions Libyan and other producers whose production costs are much lower than Shale Oil (so their profits are lower but they will keep producing).

    H O P

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘The book, ‘Blair Inc: The Man Behind The Mask’, claims how Tony Blair has amassed a personal fortune of over $90 million and property portfolio worth $37.5 million in the eight years since he left office.’

    That’s pretty small beer compared to the Clintons, who between their personal income and their foundations have raked in a half billion.

    If Tony can’t beat them, he should just emulate them. If Cherie Blair were to become prime minister, Tony’s earnings potential would rise dramatically.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      There is no property to be had, in great enough quantity, for fortunes to be made in the UK. This is due to the fact that almost all of the land is held by a very small handful of institutions populated by the royal bloodlines and titled notables. Unless Mr. Blair looks to Hong Kong and China, NYC, Dubai, or where ever great real estate fortunes can actually be made, he should be counted among the lucky few that has any real estate holdings at all in the UK.

      This last link shows a comparison of lists of ownership, first from 1872 and then 2010. The Church of England, the Royal Family and one duke or earl after another owned most of England, about 500 people owned most of Scotland, but that has changed somewhat. Now, governmental bodies have huge land holdings in the name of the nation, or course that is controlled by the government and whoever controls the government at any given time. But a good bit of Dukes and earls and so forth still hold direct title to much land. This is a huge barrier to real estate development, the like of which is seen in most capitalist economies, especially the US. England is peculiarly reactionary and hide bound conservative in favor of those notables and their privileges and political power.


      Who Owns Britain 2010

      The Forestry Commission – 2.6 million acres

      The National Trust – 630,000 acres

      Ministry of Defence – 590,000 acres

      Pension funds – 550,000 acres

      Utilities like water and power – 500,000 acres

      The Crown Estate – 360,000 acres

      The RSPB – 320,000 acres

      The Duke of Buccleuch – 240,000 acres

      The National Trust for Scotland – 190,000 acres

      The Duke of Atholl’s trusts – 150,000 acres


      The top ten aristocratic owners

      Duke of Buccleuch – 240,000 acres

      Duke of Atholl’s trusts – 150,000 acres

      Prince Charles as the Duke of Cornwall – 134,000 acres

      Duke of Westminster – 133,000 acres

      Duke of Northumberland – 130,000 acres

      Capt Alwyne Farquharson – 128,000 acres

      Earl of Seafield – 101,000 acres

      Countess of Sutherland – 82,000 acres

      Baroness Willoughby de’Eresby – 78,000 acres

      The Pearson family – 69,000 acres

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No wonder all the world’s rich people enjoy living in England.

        Naturally, by the way, it creates pressure to ‘go out and conquer the world…sorry, discovery new worlds…sail, sail away, to India, China, the Americas.

        1. Emma

          MLTPB – It’s privateering and a worldwide phenomenon as ancient as Homer’s descriptions in Iliad and Odyssey. Thanks to government sponsorship (and the English are not alone on this), it was legitimized in the Middle Ages. Today it’s evolved to become gentrified Free Trade Agreements, but in lack of one, military corsair seems to transcend any differences…

          As for actual land ownership, it’s incredible that in the C21, the Queen of England is still the world’s primary feudal landowner of c. 30 countries and a good dozen tax havens, thanks to William the Bastard in 1066. With more than a third of UK land also still in the hands of aristocrats, the US is clearly a superior example of democracy at work. The 25 largest landowners in the US apparently only own around 1 or 2% of the country.

          Then again, the US version of land ownership ignited the ’08 financial crisis, didn’t it? Derivatives and uncollateralized debt built atop subprime mortgages so we end up with a bond market dictating government policy, and future generations inheriting the debt.

          It’s particularly worthwhile noting the rise in foreign land ownership too, and which has far-reaching implications worldwide. At a local level in London there are around 40,000 high-value properties which are held by foreign companies, 90% of which are incorporated in tax havens. This shows how closely connected the money-laundering capital of the world is to land ownership. It’s also sadly devoured the heart of London, making it unaffordable for locals whose livelihoods depended on small business ownership there.

          Over in Africa it’s a similar tale too, but a more horrific foreign land-grab’s at play. It’s the C21 new version of colonialism for a new economy. Give or take, around a billion dollars could pay off the sovereign debt in Africa, but nobody wants to lend to Africa, do they? Instead, there’s currently a feeding-frenzy of the most fertile land by the wealthiest nations. One can only conclude therefore, that an imbalance between rulers and the ruled is what makes this world go round.

  10. lylo

    Everyone remembers the dotcom/tech bubble of the late 90s. In fact, upon retrospect, most people now agree that it was obvious, given the math and fundamental issues in the market’s leading companies, let alone some of the more macro and arcane financial issues behind the scenes.
    Yet it seems that the idea that we’re in a HUGE bubble today seems rather unremarked (except at the fringes, but they are usually very ahead of the game to the point of seeming, well, fringe.) Which is very, very odd, considering all the “smart” people writing on the subject. You’d think someone else would notice that our biggest market winners all have plans to basically ‘monetize eyeballs’ and sell cheap crap someone else made online. Sure, there is a place for that, just as there is a place for vending machines and alcohol: it’s not at the center of an economy!
    Which brings us to iCrap. Whatever you feel about Apple, or their technologies, or how “innovative” they really are, you have to admit that they are not the kind of company one would want as the flagship of their economy. (I’m going to be sooooo giddy when China steps in and nationalizes all their factories. There is a reason industry was kept so secret for thousands of years, folks; I figure we just need to relearn the hard way.)
    I’m really just curious as to how far the tech companies will fall this time. Last time, most didn’t fall nearly as hard as they deserved to. Will the markets truly correct, or is this to be yet another “extend and pretend” type collapse?

    1. fresno dan

      It really is an astounding thing – people should test it for themselves – click on an internet ad and see how many sites, and for how many days, you get followed around by potential vendors for the kind of product you expressed interest in.

      I don’t mind the incessant advertising – what I mind is that with the dozens of companies trying to sell me men’s pants, I can’t find a pair with a 30 inch waist and 29 inch inseam.
      I must be some freakish, bizarre size….
      It says something about how an economy works, all the efforts, resources, ingenuity that goes into tracking me, and trying to persuade me to buy their pants….WHEN THEY DON”T CARRY MY F*CKING SIZE!!!!!!!!!!
      Life when you don’t fit the algorithm…..

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        At least you get PANTS.

        I regularly read NC, ZH and follow links to Alternet, Counterpunch etc.

        At the risk of rating high on the “snicker-o-meter,” the algos have decided to follow ME around with offers to “date” foreign women. Oriental women. Arab women. Russian women.

        Apparently “big data” has identified me as a lover/”purchaser” of foreign cleavage. I wonder what I did to mislead them so massively. I want to keep doing it.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Same problem with pant size. I go to discount places and get the closest length match I can and then to my cleaners who also does alterations and get them hemmed for an additional 7 to 12 bucks. They end up costing me about the same price as if I got them at a higher end place but at least they fit. Note: I am a far far cry from being an example of fashion.

        If you want to avoid being bombarded by advertisers, use private browsing (turn off all cookies when searching for “stuff”) and use to send your queries. Well, it works for me, but note that doesn’t protect you from much more than the advertisers (and they could track you anyway if they wanted to spend the money to do so – but they don’t, or at least not openly, and so you avoid them as a nuisance).

        1. craazyboy

          I rarely buy pants anymore. Got enough and wear shorts half the year instead. But I recall one time at the Mall I made my first stop at Ross and didn’t find my size. I decided to try one of the full price stores. Asked the girl for my size, 33/32, and was told they only carry even waste sizes in stock. I didn’t bother to ask if I get to choose between slim cut, regular cut, or hefty, and just thanked her and left the store.

          I must assume this means inventory cost is bad, advertising cost is good.

          However, someone has determined that I too am in the market for at least one Russian or Asian wife. Expensive looking ones too! But I’m too smart to fall for that. I happen to know that S.Cal strip clubs have been beneficiaries of the Russian T&A drain for decades now – and going to one is kinda like going to Ross Undress For Less.

      3. norm de plume

        Recently stayed at several hotels in NZ and ever since have had adverts for those same hotels crammed into every page I visit. Why? I have just been to them!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      No kidding. was such an OBVIOUS boondoggle, while dollar cost averaging into Facebook and Twitter over the next three decades is how a responsible person “saves” for “retirement.”


    3. Llewelyn Moss

      At the peak of the Dot Com Bubble, there were Wall St mavens preaching the “This Time Is Different” BS. They said the Internet changed everything and now the experts needed to change the way they value companies. Instead of the old Price to Earnings ratio, they would now use its Revenue growth as the measure. Well, that bubble popped along with the Nasdaq.

      When Abby Joseph Cohen is trotted out to say “This Time Is Different” (as she did throughout the Dot Com Bubble), you will know it is game over. :-)

  11. diptherio

    Escalating Air War on IS Not the Answer:

    Expanding the air war could risk civilian casualties and play into the hands of IS propaganda, he said aboard the Charles de Gaulle. [emphasis added]

    Uh, gee whiz, you think we might want to put a hold on our drone assassination program too, seeing as how we’ve wasted over 1,400 civies in our quest to take out around 40 “bad guys.” Just sayin’…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      …..our quest to take out around 40 “bad guys.”

      Many of them more than once. A swing and a miss.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      US Drone program is the best recruiting tool ever for “the terraists”. The MIC will never let it be dismantled. Long live War For Profit.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The thing is, with more better animal trainers, we can do the same, but much cheaper, with kamikaze faith-pigeons.

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      There is apparently some rule regarding drone assassinations in the US that one can only take out a target that is at a wedding and surrounded by children. Or perhaps that gets you more points Now this does not cause a moral problem whatsoever for the little joy stick kid (who has a big ‘portnant title) 6 thousand miles away, but it does often mean they have to wait for a long time for targets to go to a wedding. Not sure whether it was Bush or Cheney who first instigated that criteria but Obama doesn’t deviate and it seems to be followed a lot more closely than Hillary follows regulations about government business emails.

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation Robert Reich

    “The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.”

    W. T. F??????

    In what sense of the word “economy” does it happen that when it’s good, it’s bad, and when it’s bad, it’s better?

    Every time I see or hear the “economy” evaluated in this way, I grind my teeth. Which is what I do when I am so obviously being played for a fool.

  13. diptherio

    Juncker wants an EU army:

    The president of the European Commission has called for the creation of an EU army in order to show Russia “that we are serious about defending European values”.

    Said values apparently include supporting extra-constitutional coup d’etats led by self-declared fascists. You can tell this guy has a hard-on for starting WWIII–what a douche…

      1. lord koos

        Am I the only one who finds this EU military trial balloon extremely ominous? Call me crazy but I believe that people are being subtly prepared for war, (one that may require much actual sacrifice most likely in living standards) — war is often the outcome of extended economic depression.

        I noticed the other day how many recent and current movies are set in wartime, maybe it’s my imagination but there seems to be so many lately.

        A partial list of films where the characters are in a wartime environment, mostly from 2012 to the present:

        Imitation Game
        Hunger Games trilogy
        Captain America Winter Soldier
        American Sniper
        Lord of the Rings trilogy
        The Monuments Men
        Seal Team 8
        Last Days In Vietnam
        The Field of Lost Shoes
        300: Rise of an Empire
        Fort Bliss
        The Hurt Locker
        Testament of Youth
        Children of War
        Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat)
        The Railway Man
        The Book Thief
        Love and Honor
        Walking With The Enemy
        The Patrol
        The Notebook
        Zero Dark 30
        Resistance Movement
        Gallipoli: End of the Road
        Grüningers Fall
        In the Sands of Babylon
        1939 Battle of Westerplatte
        In Hiding
        Zero Dark Thirty
        Act Of Valor
        Into The White
        White Tiger
        In the Fog

        And we know that the CIA has a department that works with Hollywood. I know, war is always a richly dramatic story setting, so I’m just paranoid, right?

  14. Garrett Pace

    $40 Toothpics. MAGNIFICENT:

    “The only tool befitting of such a task, short of doll-sized spear made of gold bullion, are these $40 artisanal toothpicks. Here’s a picture of a starving child!”

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Complex societies…all powerful deity.

    So it’s not all that surprising that big moralizing gods don’t play a central role.” He argues that such gods did co-evolve with the very large, state-level societies typically found in Eurasia.

    And today, in very large, state-level societies, we are still learning to cope with that, and its modern ‘divine cousins’ like the science-god or the government-god, co-evolving with the insight that we – humans, plants, vegetables, cats and animals – are all divine, and that the people of a democratic state can empower themselves as well

  16. down2long

    Burying the lede, as they say: In the Bloomberg piece about “Former SEC director rips the red tape off his mouth,” the reporter lauds the former director for his work on the Volcker Rule, saying the director helped craft the exception for market making so the TBTJ’s couldn’t game the system.

    Then it quotes Spawn of Satan Fed general counsel Scott Alvarez lauding the “fixes.” Didn’t say if the article were written after Satan’s Spawn pushed out the Volcker Rule implementation for two years to give the banks more time to loot, I mean, “adjust.” If Scotty likes the rule, then the rule is a bank giveaway. Guess we could ask Sen. Warren what she thinks of Scotty’s opinions on the Volcker rule…..

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Future farming…robots and big data.

    I am a big believer in ‘robots farm for other robots.’

    For humans, I believe it’s time we breed mobile vegetables that will voluntarily walk into our kitchens to sacrifice themselves for our nutritional needs.

    “Hi, I am an organic carrot. I am here to offer myself to you, for your health. Please wash me first and then, chew me to bits. No, I don’t need anesthesia.”

  18. fresno dan

    Does anyone NEED to read another article on inequality? Nah, but its still interesting
    To chronicle the rise of acquiescence, Fraser examines two differences between the long nineteenth century and today. “The first Gilded Age, despite its glaring inequities, was accompanied by a gradual rise in the standard of living; the second by a gradual erosion,” he writes. In the first Gilded Age, everyone from reporters to politicians apparently felt comfortable painting plutocrats as villains; in the second, this is, somehow, forbidden. “If the first Gilded Age was full of sound and fury,” he writes, “the second seemed to take place in a padded cell.” Fraser argues that while Progressive Era muckrakers ended the first Gilded Age by drawing on an age-old tradition of dissent to criticize prevailing economic, social, and political arrangements, today’s left doesn’t engage in dissent; it engages in consent, urging solutions that align with neoliberalism, technological determinism, and global capitalism: “Environmental despoiling arouses righteous eating; cultural decay inspires charter schools; rebellion against work becomes work as a form of rebellion; old-form anticlericalism morphs into the piety of the secular; the break with convention ends up as the politics of style; the cri de coeur against alienation surrenders to the triumph of the solitary; the marriage of political and cultural radicalism ends in divorce.” Why not blame the financial industry? Why not blame the Congress that deregulated it? Why not blame the system itself? Because, Fraser argues, the left has been cowed into silence on the main subject at hand: “What we could not do, what was not even speakable, was to tamper with the basic institutions of financial capitalism.”

  19. Garrett Pace

    The coping-with-population-shrink article:

    “But why should we see falling population as a problem? The next industrial revolution has begun, probably creating painful levels of unemployment. A falling working age population solves that problem”

    Is this all that people are for? The planet can feed everybody, but it can’t find enough for everyone to get paid?

    1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


      “Is this all that people are for?”

      It seems that i was not clear. The point was not to describe “all that people are for” but rather to dispel the #1 fear commonly associated with a falling population: rising unemployment. The 3rd industrial revolution can continue — even accelerate — the centuries-long progress of reducing the amount of work burdening us AND reduce our ecological burden on the planet. Those are both good things, imo.

      1. Garrett Pace

        The benefit is pretty narrow and fragile. One billion ostentatious consumers with an army of robots can pollute a lot more than seven or even eleven billion proles.

        1. Vatch

          But those billions of poor people aspire to be richer, and some of them actually do become richer and more polluting. And even the ones who never become rich still cause damage. Much of the world’s deforestation is caused by people collecting timber or brush for fuel.

          As for your claim that the planet can feed everybody, yes, it probably can, so long as we have fossil fuels to run agriculture. When the fossil fuels become scarcer, food will either become scarcer or more expensive. And aside from that, we aren’t adequately feeding the world’s people today. When we actually do feed everyone properly, then we can think about the possibility of living on a world with more people. The potential of feeding everyone isn’t enough. It must actually happen.

          Human overpopulation is the world’s number one problem. It causes or worsens poverty, pollution, and the tensions that lead to violence.

          1. Garrett Pace

            The proles have a head start but the robots are gathering momentum.

            I think the world’s #1 problem is that cheap energy concentrates planet-changing power into just a few hands. Everyone’s heard the famous quote that Paul Erlich may or may not have said: “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”

            To me it’s facile in the extreme to assume that lowering population will save the planet, so long as the predominant western culture prevails, and every year gets better at remaking the planet to suit its pernicious goals.

            Anyway, even though populations will go down before fossil fuels run out we’ll still be screwed.

            1. Vatch

              What’s needed is a combination of moderate resource use and a moderate population: a win/win situation. What we have now is excessive resource use and an excessively high population: a lose/lose situation.

        2. hunkerdown

          Still trying to figure out why a planet of people working their asses off for subsistence is so much more appealing to you than a planet of few people in relative material comfort with plenty of leisure time.

          1. Garrett Pace

            I’m not the one touting the lowering of an industrial society’s population as a key to ecological progress. That’s what this is about and that’s an untested hypothesis.

            Anyway, people work like crazy because of maldistribution, not resource scarcity.

  20. Garrett Pace

    How to cut through your to-read pile

    Three in four people say they feel overwhelmed some or all of the time by too much information from magazines, newspapers and other media, according to a survey of 661 people published last year in the International Journal of Communication.

    “Everybody has this deep dark feeling that they aren’t keeping up,” says Tor Myhren, president of Grey New York, an ad agency”

    The thing I am reading nowadays is 2800 years old. I am way behind.

    1. Steve H.

      Naked Capitalism accounted for 7.09% of valued items I read last year (n=6.5 * 10^4). Could’ve been higher.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It feels like we are doing something for the money, and not for love.

      I have to ‘know this,’ or else, I will be exploited, poisoned or killed. That’s a long way from ‘learning for learning’s sake.’

  21. Brent Eubanks

    I have dubbed Google’s proposed new HQ the Great Glass Elephant.

    The best comment on the engineering feasibility comes from the YouTube thread, where someone was trying to explain to a web developer why this was a bad idea:

    Imagine, to use an analogy that would be closer to your experience base, that someone showed a demo of their new web site. And on that demo they showed that they planned to use black text on a black background, 2pt font, and the site would be hosted via a 9600 baud modem from a home-based 286 server, and would be totally written (Including the server software!) in machine code using paper and pencil by a troop of monkeys suffering from dysentery, who would be living in Borneo, outside, during the rainy season. That’s how glaringly obvious the engineering difficulties of this mad plan are.

    Aside from being completely and totally impractical from an engineering point of view, it is also astoundingly tone-deaf. This company is taking flack for being out of touch with their community, and their response is to build a glass bubble for themselves!

  22. Jess

    Read the Medicare post first, then went to the Links. When I clicked on the story about the eagle mommy getting covered with snow, guess what also popped up? An ad for United Healthcare’s AARP Medicare Supplemental plan. Cookies today, cookies tomorrow, cookies forever.

  23. Vatch

    3 days ago, there was an article in NC about economists who wrote a letter supporting fast track for the dangerous TPP and TTIP agreements. Readers Kimsarah and Carla suggested that we compile a list of Congress folks who support this odious process. I provided 7 names, and today I found a letter signed by 23 Congress critters back in July, 1014. 2 of them are on my short list of 7, so we now have 28 names. Here’s the letter:

    All of them deserve to hear from their constituents why trade promotion authority (fast track) is a bad idea.

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