Links 4/11/15

Fruity! How ‘transgender’ avocado trees change their sex overnight in a matter of hours Daily Mail

Greatest mass extinction driven by acidic oceans, study finds Science Daily

Clam Cancer Spreads Along Eastern Seaboard NPR

QE may not have been worth the costs FT

Falling Import Prices in U.S. May Slow Rise in Interest Rate New York Times

Treasury Flash Crash of October 15, 2014 Still Has Wall Street in a Sweat Wall Street on Parade

Crisis Chronicles: The Panic of 1825 and the Most Fantastic Financial Swindle of All Time Liberty Street Economics. “Of all time”? Really?

Samsung Plans to Take Bitcoin Technology Beyond Virtual Currency Bloomberg

Buiter on the death of cash FT Alphaville

Maryland Shift of Pension Cash to Wall Street Delivered Below-Median Results: Study David Sirota, International Business Times

Corruption ‘Isn’t Just the Cost of Doing Business’ WSJ


50 Reasons We Cannot Afford the TPP Eyes on Trade. 50 for the 50 states. Use to write your Congress Critters!

Does the U.S. pay too high a cost for free trade in the TPP pact? Reuters

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Matters NYT

G.E. to Retreat From Finance in Post-Crisis Reorganization New York Times

GE to Cash Out of Banking Business WSJ

GM Said to Splurge $1 Billion Expanding Tech Center Near Detroit Bloomberg


Russia and Greece to ink Turkish Stream gas pipeline deal within days – Greek minister RT. I don’t think Tsipras wants to call it the “Turkish Stream,” though.

Friday lay day – The Troika is the enemy and its either exit or capitulation Bill Mitchell

Greece met its latest IMF debt payment – but no one is sure where the money is coming from Independent


One Port, Two Worlds: China Seeks Dominance in Athens Harbor Der Spiegel

Fusion’s interview with Argentine ambassador Cecilia Nahón: The full transcript Felix Salmon, Fusion

Argentine court orders arrest of Justin Bieber The Telegraph. And high time, too.


The New Deal New York Review of Books. With Iran.

Saudi Arabia Maneuvers to Retain Oil Crown WSJ

Exclusive: U.S. expands intelligence sharing with Saudis in Yemen operation Reuters


Clinton studying up on upward mobility with Harvard economist Boston Globe

The mystery moneymen behind Ted Cruz’s super-PACs Michael Isikoff, Yahoo

Has Obamacare Enrollment Peaked? Wall Street Journal. Shocker: ObamaCare wasn’t universal care after all.

How much student testing is too much? McClatchy

St. Paul man whose home burned down had trouble canceling cable service Pioneer Press

Martinez signs bill ending civil asset forfeiture New Mexico Political Report. One down, 49 to go, plus the Feds.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

How the U.S. criminal justice system became an unforgiving machine Reuters

Fraternal Order of Police: Don’t listen to ‘professional race agitators’ ABC Charleston

The Unlikely Paths of Grant and Lee Slate

The War Nerd: The Confederates who should’ve been hanged Pando Daily

The Sad Prescience of “The Birth of a Nation” The New Yorker

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Eighth-grader charged with felony for shoulder-surfing teacher’s password Ars Technica

Army Recruit Charged With Helping ISIS Watched by FBI, Given Clearance by Army The Intercept

Spotting lies, and the lying liars who layer them FT Alphaville

How to Beat a Polygraph Test NYT

How the U.S. spends more helping its citizens than other rich countries, but gets way less WaPo

How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over New York Review of Books

Comrades, The Lannisters Have No More Gold! Paul Mason

Mark Thoma, information equilibrium is the model you’re looking for Information Transfer Economics

The Burden of Denial The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour, and thanks to reader Bunny for suggesting the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry at the Musée de Cluny. (I couldn’t bear to crop out a single animal, so here’s the entire thing.)


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. Chris in Paris

    The Musée de Cluny is a lovely place to spend an hour or so as an antidote to the noise and bustle of the Latin Quarter. Sorry I missed the get together!

    1. grayslady

      The Musee de Cluny was one of the highlights of my only visit to Paris back in the 1980s. It is the perfect setting for a marvelous collection of tapestries.

    2. Ivy

      When in France, consider a road trip to Bayeux in Normandy see the following:

      Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux

  2. Larry Headlund

    How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over
    The article includes an illustration labeled

    Artwork for the cover of a 1959 issue of the French science fiction magazine Galaxie

    Yes, French: sophisticated enough for the The New York Review of Books. However Galaxie was just the French edition of the American magazine Galaxy Science Fiction and the cover art is the same as that for the October 1959 edition of Galaxy. The artwork was done by famous illustrator Wally Wood for a Clifford D. Simak story.

  3. roadrider

    Re: Maryland shift of pension cash

    This story shows that O’Malley’s campaign rhetoric about standing up to Wall St is just another scam by a corporate Dem.

      1. craazyboy

        They just need to discover how to switch on the gene that makes us think 150 year olds look hot!

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          How to make em appear hot? Basically, just make 151 year olds to do the “hot” thinking.

      2. optimader

        what do I get in exchange? It always come down to that whether someone is willing to admit it or not, right?

          1. Michael

            No, but sleeping with 150-year-olds certainly can, especially since in the world they envision it might be the only way any of the rest of us eat.

      3. Vatch

        Eek. Will vampire novels have to move from the fiction section of the library to the non-fiction section?

      1. ambrit

        If you’re a bad boy, you might end up on that ring in H— that Dante reserved for betrayers. Then you’d suffer that ineffable torment.

      1. winstonsmith

        And if squillionaires get to live an extra century or forever, what crimes the unscrupulous would commit to become squillionaires!

    1. hunkerdown

      Trauma still works, if it comes to that.

      Tonight I think I’ll watch some MST3k from the archives. Particularly, Parts: The Clonus Horror.

  4. craazyman

    I wasn’t aware Grant’s reputation was all that bad. He’s on the $50 bill and gets a lot of credit for his no-nonsense principled stand toward the defeated south and racial issues, as the author of the link notes. He drank a bit but so what?

    Interesting that the “Grey Ghost” himself, John Mosby, confederate Virginia partisan ranger and hero of the south became a staunch Grant supporter after the war. So much so that Mosby actually had to flee post-war Virginia over threats against his life! I think he took a role in the Grant administration. This is a guy Grant wanted to hang during the war. Amazing.

    The Civil war has so many strands of idea that run through it it’s impossible to distill it down to any one thing. Slavery, for sure, and that was the giant “thing”, but there was so much more too. In Grant’s memoirs he says northerners weren’t all that bothered by slavery until they were forced by law to capture and return runaway slaves. It was the intrusion on the natural human state of laziness that started the whole thing. That’s darkly comical, even though nothing about slavery or the war is funny in the least.

    It must be strange to live in a state of mind where you’d gladly lay your life down for a cause you believe is higher than yourself. The whole country was on fire with that mind set, on both sides, each believing God was on their side. What a strange thing to contemplate, given how things are today.

    I grew up around “Lee Highway’. I always thought it was actually the Lee family’s highway since their house is at the start of it. Maybe a tolll road in those days, that’s what I thought. I have seen civil war photos on the internet of the Potomac around DC. I can walk there now, in person, and see the same rocks, the exact same boulders, by the river that are in photos on the internet from 1863. It’s quite strange to think it all really happened. Of course it did, but since it’s all just in the mind for us a century and a half later, you only know it through imagination and not through reality. But the rocks, they’re right there, right in front of you and they’re in the photos too. That’s kind of startling.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      When I worked in the Beltway, I used to take the bus home down “Jefferson Davis Highway” to Alexandria. A very unpleasant time in my life, not just for that nonsense.

      1. craazyman

        Did you ever think maybe you were a black man in a past life? I had a weird dream where I was working a farm field pulling something out of the dirt and looked up and saw a chubby black woman in slave-like attire smiling at me with a face so full of love and kindness it was like an angelic spirit helper. It was so weird and real I have remembered it vividly for decades now. I had another I was looking out through boards in a wooden shack out to a swamp in the night and my grandmother was there but she was another person then. I don’t know what to make of these. I have a vivid imagination but these went way beyond even that. It’s more complicated than past lives. Everybody is everything all at once but they don’t realize it. That’s the problem.

        1. Disturbed Voter

          You are closer to the truth than most. Our individuality is an artificial construct of the mind, same as one’s vision being inverted 180 degrees from what the retina actually sees. So you could say that everyone is everyone else, as well as themselves … or you could say that in certain circumstances, in some dreams for example … our individuality function breaks down … and reality in the raw breaks in.

  5. craazyboy

    “QE may not have been worth the costs(FT)”

    “One of the odd things about unconventional monetary policies is the absence of a vigorous debate about the costs of these experiments, whether in the US, in Japan or now in Europe”

    Maybe it’s time then. Perhaps also question why the lack of debate is so “odd”. Do the Shamans not allow it???

    “A new report from Swiss Re is changing that. The report calculates that US savers alone have lost $470bn in interest rate income — and that is net of lower debt costs.

    Hmm. Margin improvement.

    “Central bank policies involve “a whole host of unintended consequences; asset price bubbles, an impaired credit intermediation process and increasing economic inequality are just a few,” the report warns. ”

    Unintended, but welcomed by some.

    There’s more! Let’s undermine your insurance and, for those that haven’t joined the 401K generation, your pension!

    “The Swiss Re report comes at a time of rising concern among both insurers and managers of public pension funds that the benefits they promise to savers and retirees will be cut as a result of these policies. That is because they hold a significant part of their assets in fixed-income securities to match their long-term liabilities. Forgone yield income for insurers on both sides of the Atlantic could total $400bn, Swiss Re adds. Especially problematical are the guarantee products insurers offer, where rates on offer are still way above European government bond yields.”

    There’s more discussion in the article about lack of efficacy and ignored downside to the Shaman’s Thaumaturgikal Mekanizations. Google the title to get around the FT paywall.

    1. Invy

      Half of the working age population do not have a 401k. Of those that do, 40% have only 10k in them.

      I worry that we are going to have a time in the next few decades where retirees depend on their children, or those who follow republican “ethos” go out onto the streets to die.

      1. ambrit

        How about those who take up the Tea Party ethos?
        Anyway, you’re just describing how things have always been under “Natural Law” regimes. Plus, you’re assuming a hefty chunk of todays’ young adults have any chance at all to live like their predecessors.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…above European government yields.”

      Actually, they owe fees (don’t call them taxes, because taxes are for fighting inflation) to those governments for protection of their money.

      And they also owe fees (not taxes, again, because these have nothing to do with fighting inflation) to those government for protection of their lives.

      You think you pay for that life-protection provided by the legions and by NATO with your taxes? Sorry, no. That’s to do with inflation fine-tuning. You can extinguish this debt (of life-protection) by, perhaps, volunteering in the armed forces or spending a few week collecting freeway garbage.

      1. craazyboy

        I guess negative government yields signal “The Russians are coming!”, then. It all makes sense, if you think about it hard enough.

  6. New Deal democrat

    H. W. Brands’ rehabilitating biography of Grant, “The Man who Saved the Union,” is well worth a read.

    Grant never lost a battle during the entire Civil War. Contrary to popular belief, he suffered fewer casualties during his Virginia campaigns than did Lee. He out-strategized Lee, forcing him into a corner, squeezing his army like a Python, and laying a trap for him when he tried to break out. He also out-strategized the South politically, inaugurating absentee ballots for his armies, correctly figuring that they would overwhelmingly vote for Lincoln over the appeaser McClellan. He and Sherman as a pair demonstrated how modern industrial wars must be won.

    During his Presidency, he crushed the KKK insurgency in several southern states. He was no racist, offering a pragmatic peace to the plains Indians, and championing the application for Statehood by the (largely black) Dominican Republic.

    It’s true that he was a poor businessman, both before and after his public career. So what? There is no evidence that he succumbed to alcohol during the entire Civil War but for one episode, and no evidence his Presidency suffered either. What did happen is that, much like the modern Democratic Party, the Republicans split between the corporatists and the civil rights radicals. In 1876 the corporatists won decisively. And, corporatists being corporatists, during his Presidency they were corrupt.

    Grant died a hero, and his tomb is a huge monument that unfortunately is now located in a poor area. He deserves better. If I could, I would relocate his tomb to the top of Arlington cemetery where Lee’s mansion still stands.

    1. Ned Ludd

      “…unfortunately is now located in a poor area.“

      What do you mean by “poor area”? I lived in many impoverished neighborhoods, and I hope you are not saying that items of significant historical value should only be kept in locations that the wealthy and middle class tourists find convenient.

      1. New Deal democrat

        Sorry to have offended you. Grant’s tomb fell into serious disrepair and my understanding is, it receives very few visitors. He deserves better than that.

        1. Ned Ludd

          I wasn’t offended; I don’t have fragile feelings. You bemoaned its proximity to poverty, and I appreciate your followup, clarifying the specific problems.

      2. neo-realist

        Back in the 70’s and 80’s, Grants Tomb did suffer quite a bit of desecration with graffiti, garbage, drug paraphernalia, and defection by bums. But there was a massive restoration in the mid to late 90’s that restored much of its deserved luster.

        I think I’m going to check out the Brands book. Been interested in something engaging and definitive on Grant besides the memoirs.

      1. LifelongLib

        It isn’t only the “Lost Cause” types though. Grant as butcher, The Civil War as Federal overreach/Lincoln’s megalomania/power grab by Northern businessmen, support for Posse Comitatus (overlooking that it originally was intended to block the use of the U.S. Army against the KKK) are ideas that are pushed by some on the left, including on occasion by posters here at NC.

    2. scott

      Please. Grant never lost? Cold Harbor comes to mind. He let thousands of wounded men die in the sun because he would not agree to a cease-fire to retrieve them. Then they were left to rot when he realized that Lee had moved out. He was the Douglas Haig of the Civil War.

      I pose that if the Civil War would have happened, soil depletion and lack of industry would have resulted in a currency crisis. The South would be begging for re-admission to the union within a decade, two at the most, and would have given up slavery as a condition.

      1. James Levy

        You’ve got about half of this right. Grant certainly lost the battle of Cold Harbor, and brutally sacrificed a few thousand wounded in wrangling over ceasefire terms with Lee (the excellent Civil War historian Ethan Rafuse argues that in the context of that summer and Lincoln’s re-election campaign, Grant could not simply publically admit defeat and ask for a cease fire–he had to cover up the defeat or at least paper it over and obfuscate the obvious; I would have done differently but I think playing fair is much more important than winning, and am therefore a loser in life’s little game). However, it was Grant, not Lee, who moved next, and caught Lee off guard, eventually maneuvering to Petersburg where Lee himself understood that his goose was cooked.

        And Grant’s administration was about as corrupt as the day is long.

      2. chris9059

        “The South would be begging for re-admission to the union within a decade, two at the most, and would have given up slavery as a condition.”

        No problem then. After all what’s a couple more decades of slavery.

    3. optimader

      I could, I would relocate his tomb to the top of Arlington cemetery
      Then w/ some DNA analysis the riddle can finally be solved

    4. Jim Haygood

      ‘Grant] and Sherman as a pair demonstrated how modern industrial wars must be won.’

      With state terror, directed at civilians. ‘Ain’t that America?’

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        True. The Civil War pioneered, among other things, trench warfare, for World War I.

        All this makes Grant and Sherman better generals than Lee, sadly.

        1. James Levy

          The men in the trenches in front of Sevastopol would disagree with that little American-centric notion–most military historians no longer buy into the modernity of the American Civil War. It was, like the Crimea and the Franco-Austrian war of 1859 (and the Six Weeks War of 1866) a transitional war. And as tough-minded as Grant and Sherman were, civilian losses in the Civil War were miniscule–the March to the Sea is a long way from Nanking, Hamburg, and Hiroshima.

    5. alex morfesis

      grants tomb ?? Poor ?? neighborhood

      within 8 blocks the price of owning an apartment ranges from 350K to 2.4 million

      how is that a poor neighborhood ??

      it used to be “near” a poor neighborhood and it was a giant mess as was much of new york city at that time…

      1. alex morfesis

        nobody visits grants tomb because it is in the middle of riverside drive, with no light and no parking and no easy public transportation…riverside drive is an alternative highway for new yorkers going north or jerseyites trying to go around traffic to get to the george washington bridge…the cars make a right slight turn and only a track star tries to actually go there…I had to work in those wondrous neighborhoods you describe as poor in the late 70’s and early 80’s when the police would not even allow you to file a report let alone investigate a crime back then…and I would never be crazy enough to actually try to cross riverside drive to get to grants tomb…never been there…too dangerous to walk across riverside drive…and I love walking through traffic…but that location is impossible to get to…

  7. ambrit

    Re. le antidote: What bears? I don’t see any. There are a whole lot of cute fluffy bunnies though. (That’s the closest thing to a crop animal I can see in the tapestry.)
    Felony computing for an eighth grader? This is so over the top, it should make the rounds of the , purported, comedy shows. At the end, the article says the “offense” against the teacher was reported by a substitute teacher, the original teacher being out. Which suggests that that original teacher was a lot more mature than anyone else involved. Why, it’s obvious that he simply ignored stuff like this when it happened before. Kids will be kids, until you send them to jail, where they become ‘punks.’ (Then you’ve got a real problem on your hands.) Sheesh!

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I don’t know if it, um, bears on the discussion, but Jonathan Turley’s blog has some amazing stories about children and school authorities in the age of beeeee afraaaaid.

      Such as: Send Him To Juvie”: Student Suspended After He Allegedly Twirled A Pencil And Another Student Said That He Felt Threatened

      1. ambrit

        My oh my, we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!
        These stories are almost comical in their irrationality, until one stops and considers the eventual consequences. The primary consequence I imagine will be the alienation from Society of the entire next generation of rational young adults. The run of the mill kids will internalize this s— and become the new ‘Cogs In The Machine.’ The ones who can think and figure things out, in effect, the entire future managerial and tech classes, will learn the lesson that the ‘System’ is bankrupt. Fertile ground for ‘Regime Change’ ideologies.
        Thanks for this link. I hadn’t realized the American educational system had degenerated so badly.

      2. Otter

        Except they are not being taught to plot regime change.

        They are being taught that there are always bigger, meaner thugs waiting to stomp on them.

  8. Garrett Pace

    WTF War Nerd? Just hang everyone, make a desert and call it peace?

    See who the winner hangs on their own side, and doesn’t hang on the other side, to see what their cultural values really are.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      John Wilkes Booth has a lot to answer for. I’m trying to think of a historical parallel for the U.S. post-Civil War, and I can’t come up with one. Regardless, the path we took gave us the KKK, Jim Crow, sharecropping, and lynching, and many other social pathologies. It took at least a 100 years, ’til the Civil Rights era, to start bleeding off some of the toxins, and as current events show, we’re not nearly done. What the victors did to the Nazis and the Japanese after World War II should have been done to the Southern oligarchy, it wasn’t, and immense human suffering was the result. That, I think, is the War Nerd’s point.

      1. Garrett Pace

        “KKK, Jim Crow, sharecropping, and lynching”

        The north was almost as racist as the south, and too many people were okay with such things. Hanging any number of people would not have ameliorated that deficiency, but it would have given southerners an even longer list of grievances.

        Might as well send a time traveler to kill Hitler in 1919.

        1. ambrit

          They did, but missed the time, reentered the temporal stream at 1914 and ignited the Great War. I blame the educational system myself. Who could have predicted that the ‘team’ would mistake the Archduke for Hitler?

        2. neo-realist

          MLK said that in his campaign to de-segregate housing in Chicago, he thought the racist opposition there made Birmingham look like a walk in the park.

        3. James Levy

          Many historians think that the overall push to reintegrate the South and reconcile the two sections was the nexus for greater racism in the North. One historians has just done a study where he looks at Union Army veterans and what they wrote about their black comrades. The results are clear: over time, their opinion of black veterans soured and became more and more hostile and dismissive, so that by 1900 many veterans held the same opinion of blacks that Confederate veterans did. What botched Reconstruction did was give the venom of Southern race hatred a chance to infect the entire body politic.

          1. Garrett Pace

            Interesting argument, who conducted the research?

            I would have to treat such a claim with skepticism though – seems unlikely that 200 years of black southern (and northern) slavery wouldn’t “infect the body politic” until unreconstructed southerners accomplished it in just 35 years.

            Far more likely that racism in America progressed when blacks were, in some ways, brought up to the level of whites, started voting, etc. Many northerners, even progressives, thought that blacks were naturally inferior.

      2. EGrise

        That’s exactly the War Nerd’s point. Without the presence of true-believer war criminals like Forrest, the post-war South turns out differently. Instead, we have hagiographic monuments to Forrest all over the South, including a bust Tennessee House of Representatives chamber. Culture matters.

        1. Garrett Pace

          I think if they’d hanged Forrest he’d have twice as many stature today. Hanging John Brown certainly didn’t make anybody forget about him.

        2. ambrit

          H—! I live in a county named after him.
          In respect to the slavery issue, while the later sharecropper system was slavery “Under New Management,” the Northern Industrial Robber Barons were instituting their own version of slavery, “Wage Slavery.” Given a chance, everyone will exhibit racist tendencies. What united elites in both North and south was ‘Classism.’ Poor whites and blacks were oppressed in the South, and in the North, for similar reasons.
          To truly effect a change in Post Civil War America, a Communist/Socialist revolution would have had to happen. The European insurrections of 1848 pointed the way. The triumph of the North in the Civil War was based on the Norths’ industrial capacity. Grant and Sherman were the prophets of Total War, Industrial Revolution Style. By winning, they enabled the Northern Industrial Capitalists to determine the course of the next half century of American history.
          If we are going to start hanging people post civil War for sociological reasons, let us be equal opportunity and string up a lot of Copperheads too.

      3. Carla

        I highly recommend “Slavery By Another Name” by Douglas Blackmon. We really need to know our history, and Blackmon’s book is first rate.

  9. Jackrabbit

    The New Deal New York Review of Books. With Iran.

    The article opens with:

    During the months of negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran, opponents of a deal have loudly anticipated failure, either because a deal wouldn’t be reached, wouldn’t be good enough, or wouldn’t be upheld by Tehran.

    As is typical in the coverage of this non-deal, the public is herded into one of two camps: pro-peace and anti-peace (“opponents of a deal”). And it has not been ‘months’ but YEARS of negotiating to get to this non-deal “understanding”. (* see below)

    Anyone paying attention would be sceptical that the Obama Administration is serious about peace. Or, that they are any more serious about “peace” than they were about healthcare “reform”. Obamacare was a bait-and-switch give-away to corporate interests, from pulling the single-payer option to “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”. Similarly, Obama’s much-ballyhooed break with neo-cons and Israel to get a peace agreement strikes me as kabuki. This Administration has proven to be too enamored of powerful interests to believe otherwise.

    Yet despite this, and the evidence from past ‘deals’ that were not what they seemed (“Change You Can Believe In”, Dodd Frank, HAMP, Obamacare, Obamatrade (not yet concluded), the Fiscal Cliff, ‘reset’ with Russia and ‘new beginning’ with the Arab world, and more) there has been virtually no questioning of Obama’s sincerity in these ‘negotiations’. That is largely because the ‘option’ of sanctions+proxy war is ignored (the article describes ‘options’ for dealing with Iran but naturally does not discuss sectarian ‘proxy’ wars that pressure the Iranian regime and its allies).

    I think its very possible, even likely, that hardliner opposition (on both sides) is so strong that no deal is possible. In fact, the ‘solution’ to Iran is already in place: toppling the regime via sanctions and proxy wars. Seen in this light, renewed ‘negotiations’, are nothing more than ‘optics’ to comfort European allies (who desire the commercial opportunities) and a war-weary public.

    Buried in the article (the sixth paragraph) is the fact that this non-deal (which is only a “understanding” regarding what is needed to possibly reach a deal) is very shaky:

    The use of parallel announcements by the negotiating countries without a jointly signed document invites later disagreements over what was actually decided. Even in the first few hours, disputes surfaced over whether Iran has or hasn’t agreed to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol.

    In the last day or two, the Iranians have also been saying that sanctions must be lifted early and all at once.

    This non-deal appears to be typical Obama ‘deal-making’: say whatever you have to – in ambiguous language – to clinch a headline political/propaganda victory, then clarify/walkback/retract/renegotiate/stomp feet/blame opponents/redirect/etc as necessary.


    * From the article (section 2, paragraph 5):

    In 2003, the US rejected an Iranian proposal that would have capped its centrifuges at 3,000.


    See my previous comments about this non-deal, HOP-back (click on “HOP” below – you may need to HOP-back several times).

    H O P

    1. AQ

      When I initially heard about this “deal,” I immediately thought nice distraction from TPP. Yes, I’m cynical.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Kerry and Team Obomba are absolutely DESPERATE for anything that looks like a win in foreign policy, hence the fawning over Cuba and the coitus interruptus of the Iran “deal”. I mean the gals in the Chanel suits who decided to completely and utterly blow it in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine (to name just a few), even THEY have moments where reality intrudes from time to time. The whole PUTIN BAD HE SO BAD routine is stalling, the Chinese bank thing was a dozen-egg-on-face moment, declaring VENEZUELA to be a threat has “queered” the pitch of the LatAm summit…maybe they can convince ICELAND to sign something…relaxing the import rules on *hakarl* (rotten shark) perhaps?
        What a complete clusterf*ck

  10. diptherio

    Re: Information Equilibrium is the model you’re looking for

    This is why I couldn’t stick with the academic economics. What a bunch of gobbelty-gook. Nonsense. This is the kind of thing that can only be written from the safety of the ivory tower. The man attributes the persistence of unemployment to wage stickiness[!!] of all things. Oh yes, that mythical wage stickiness. Not inadequate demand do to hoarding of financial resources by a handful of sociopaths and the moronic fiscal policies of their captured servants in government. Nope–people are unemployed because they just won’t work for a little less money. That’s right, according to this genius, people stay irrationally unemployed because they would rather have no employment at all than take a few dollars an hour less for the jobs that are available.

    Wages are not sticky. People take reductions in the real value of their wages all the time, through not getting raises commensurate with overall price inflation. Every time an employee or a union accepts a pay-freeze for some period of time, they are accepting de facto wage reduction.

    And as for unsupportable assumptions:

    It turns out that attempting to add up individual equations to obtain aggregate, macroeconomic relationships creates all sorts of difficulties that are difficult or impossible to overcome.

    In the information equilibrium approach, you make minimal assumptions about these individual equations — in a sense only assuming that they can be added up.

    Assuming that they can be added up at all is probably an unsupportable assumption. Consider what he’s saying: “We’ve discovered that actually trying to aggregate from the micro level to the macro level is impossible in practice…so we’re just going to assume that it’s possible, somehow, and go from there.”

    How people can think these sorts of thoughts and still manage to take themselves seriously is beyond me…

    And get a load of this:

    The great thing about information equilibrium for Mark Thoma is that it recovers a lot of the old models like AD-AS, IS-LM, etc. In fact the information equilibrium approach justifies the diagrammatic approaches because those diagrams are basically entropic force diagrams for market forces.

    All we have presented here is an alternative justification/rationalization for using the same old models we’ve been using. You know, the ones that totally failed to predict the financial collapse…those ones. Apparently, this guy thinks those models are actually right, just for the different reasons than the standard ones.

    This is just more apologetics for the same old neo-classical BS. I clicked through to another article and see that he also thinks the Philip’s curve and the Efficient Market Hypothesis are valid descriptions of reality, so he’s probably a lost cause. The ivory tower has rotted his brain. So sad…

      1. diptherio

        Maybe that’s what’s causing long-term unemployment: laid-off FIRE sector workers who are unwilling to take any job that doesn’t offer at least a six figure yearly bonus regardless of performance.

        1. craazyboy

          I did read a few years ago that some of the laid off hotter Banksterettes took up working as strippers in NYC. Probably just a sympathy story put out by Bloomberg, but I’ll wager a buck between my teeth NYC strippers got a shot at tax free 6 figures in NYC. Can’t skimp on performance tho, and obfuscation of your product gets you nowhere. hahahahahaha

    1. guest

      you make minimal assumptions about these individual equations — in a sense only assuming that they can be added up.

      This is not a minimal assumption at all, since the underlying, and unstated, assumption is that all those different equations add up to a tractable form with well-defined properties — which is itself only possible if stronger assumptions about the individual equations themselves are posited…

      As a classical example, the various laws of large numbers that state properties on the aggregation of many individual values depend on specific properties of those individual values. In economics, there are also things like the Sonnenschein–Mantel–Debreu theorem.

      “Let us assume they just add up” is a big red flag with a loud siren.

      1. Jason Smith

        Cheers, guest. I am in complete agreement — what I meant by “can be added up” I explicitly mean in a way that is consistent with the SMD theorem (in the rest of my blog). That is to say I am assuming microfoundations are for the most part irrelevant — and that representative agent approaches aren’t valid either. I admit that “in a sense” is doing a lot of work here, and there would probably be a better way to phrase that sentence.

        The model I’ve been working on is completely agnostic about what is happening at the agent level as long as they’re not all the same (which is the way you get around the SMD theorem). That is what I meant by “in a sense only assuming they can be added up”.

        I talk a little bit more about SMD in a footnote here that is relevant:

    2. craazyman

      You sound so cynical. Let’s see what the Institute for New Equlibrium Theory comes up with after the big pow-wow in the City of Light. There’s gotta be some new equations coming out of something like that, after all the French wine. I can’t believe nobody has a new equation for equilibrium. There’s no way nobody does. I’d have 5 or 6 by myself after a few glasses of the red grape in a Paris bistro with a 30-something intellectual who could be a pole dancer gazing up at me in thrall. Shit. How hard is it to come up with a few new equlibrium equations under those circumstances? I mean really. C’mon guys! Maybe Yves will post on it. She likes thinking like that, thinking about the ideas of order expressed through a mathematical lucididy that cruise through an economists mind like a bus cruizes down an interstate highway. Just cruising. No left. No right. No brakes. No speed. Just cruising. It stops at a toll both. Or it used to before they had wireless toll paying technologies. No it doesn’t stop anywhere. Something about autoregression and stochastic volatility. That should do it. Nobody will understand what the fuk it means but that’s just the way it is. Cruizing down the highway of the mind. Nobody cares. Why should they? Who in their right mind would care as long as the pole dancer looks up with an enamored and amorous gaze? You could say things about an equilibrium constant that you solved and found it was “e” divided by “pi”. That would be amazing. I bet somebody could make it seem real.

    3. Jason Smith

      Thanks for reading diptherio. I completely agree that inadequate demand is the primary reason for continued high unemployment. I was actually saying that wage stickiness does not exist as a microeconomic fact — real and nominal wages change all the time. However, there still is a macroeconomic stickiness in the sense that everyone’s wages do not immediately adjust and clear the employment market in the presence of inadequate demand. When you say:

      “… people stay irrationally unemployed because they would rather have no employment at all than take a few dollars an hour less for the jobs that are available.”

      this misreads what I am actually saying — that people are intelligently doing whatever is prudent for them, but there is a coordination problem (with the physical analogy of an entropic force) holding them back.

      Regarding the assumption that individual actions can be aggregated, I agree a lot of work is being done by “in a sense” in my original phrasing — what I mean is that there is no such thing as a representative agent and the only properties of agents that reach the macro level are those consistent with the SMD theorem (i.e. very little). The model I am developing is primarily a macro model that considers most microfoundations to be irrelevant — if you have 1 million agents and you want to describe an economy with only a few parameters, there is no way to fit that million-dimensional space into a few-dimensional space without details being lost.

      Also, I think the Phillips curve is useless as I have stated in several places on my blog. I encourage you to look through the rest to see how little regard I hold much of neoclassical economics.

  11. conryw


    I understand completely for the need to have pay-walls around content, larding sites with evermore obnoxious advertising and cookie dumps that crash my computer. Writers need to make livings, too. Sadly, all these things are making it impossible to enjoy the links on this site.

    “Information wants to be free”, ha. Like everything else, information only belongs to the rich.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Given the trend, never enough, the question I can’t get around is how could writers make a living before, back when the level of advertizing was at least somewhat bearable, and for that matter, how are they making a living now, where the level is only somewhat unbearable, and for that matter how will they make a living in the future when advertizing has swallowed all bandwidth, past present and future?

      Since never is enough is never enough, why not just skip advertizing altogether?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        My conclusion is of course tongue in cheek, since reader contributions rarely if ever are sufficient to run a blog. That fact unfortunately doesn’t negate what is happening on many sites which is either paywalls (formidable when you start counting up the ones you might want to be part of – and who have advertizing anyway) or increasingly excessive and intrusive advertizements that will eventually render the web little better than the sad sad state of American television.

      2. ambrit

        You could do as L. Ron Hubbard did and start your own religion. That particular writer did quite well by himself. (He was also a notorious womanizer, cheat, con man, and quasi-mystagogue. All in all, a perfect prophet for the 1%.)

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How much student testing?

    How about more administrator testing to balance it out?

    How about more teacher testing?

    How about more principal testing? “What have you learned from your students this quarter?”

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      We need testing for the people who legislate the testing. Indeed, they need to be part of an intensive ongoing test program that will give them no time for more test legislation.

      And they failed in advance!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One port, two worlds…China..dominance…Greek harbor.

    Will we see reverse 19th century colonialism, first in Athens and then elsewhere?

  14. Moneta

    Tapisseries… You’ve got to go to the Museum of the Middle Ages… look at the carved combs…

    1. petal

      The Swiss National Museum in Zurich has a nice collection of tapestries as well. Definitely was a highlight of my trip. Wish I had had more time to spend there.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mass extinction…acidic oceans.

    It’s like those old Hollywood pirate movies…when the bad guy is thrown into the water, that’s the end of fighting, never mind he could have gotten back up.

    So, we bury trash in the ground (because we don’t see it, therefore the problem is gone), or discharge waste offshore, because, like a caring mama, she will clean up the mess.

    “This problem is beyond the scope of this class (this study or this publication). Let’s apply what we know, nevertheless.” — the one unique mental achievement of Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens.

    1. optimader

      or discharge waste offshore, because, like a caring mama, she will clean up the mess.
      Nah, it’s just easier than digging the aforementioned hole

  16. gonzomarx

    The secret history of Monopoly: the capitalist board game’s leftwing origins

    Labour and Tory top brass told to stay away by constituencies
    “Activists cited their leaders’ failure to express a vision for the country in plain language and to address detailed policy issues in a way voters wanted. Their views provide growing evidence that the general election is dividing into a two-track campaign, with widening gaps in tactics, campaigning styles and, in some cases, policies advanced by the central party machines and grassroots constituency offices”

    1. gonzomarx

      seems to me to be a trend, last election (2010) there was no mention of any major NHS reorganisation. Its like they either have no real ideas apart from same old same old or the ideas they do have can’t see the light of day till after the voting is done.

      anyway here’s a bit of old school crime

      Hatton Garden heist: Former Met chief calls police ‘utterly incompetent’ as CCTV emerges

  17. Jessica

    “Tech Titans Plans To Defy Death”

    Anyone who relates to death as something to defy has not developed into what is necessary in order to not die.
    Death has a function: to prevent stasis, to allow the process of repeated evolutionary experiments to go on.
    However, for beings conscious enough to foresee their own death (which occurs only in the last few percent of the history of life on this planet), death is a primitive way to achieve this end. It can become possible to achieve this end in gentler ways.
    The only thing that makes death at all bearable is the knowledge that everyone else must endure it too. A society with some people living much much longer than others would be inequality worse than anything we have now.
    Any attempt to keep longevity as the monopoly of the few would require large amounts of social force (structural or overt violence) to keep out the hoi polloi and the social structure required to maintain that violence would create exactly the kind of stasis that death is there to prevent. So the only way to achieve real immortality is for it be universal.

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    Hillary moves inexorably closer to coronation like a nightmare lead up to an inevitable, inescapable automobile accident. If one thinks Obama made promises cruelly knowing full well he would do the opposite, Hillary’s purpose is to show us we ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Even bufoon Joe Biden isn’t messing around with this one.

    Will she swear to defend the constitution or have multiple copies of it burning as torches as she accepts the crown?

    The way the Boston Globe reports the above: She’s such a quick study…

  19. Oregoncharles

    Martinez signs bill ending civil asset forfeiture New Mexico Political Report. One down, 49 to go, plus the Feds.”

    48 to go. Oregon did this years ago, by initiative. A VERY POPULAR initiative. Conservatives hate forfeitures, too.

  20. ewmayer

    QE may not have been worth the costs | FT — Didn’t read it, cos’ I don’t do paywalls, nor do I use Google (I’m a DuckDuckGoGo man), nor do I feel like doing the extra work of a websearch end-run around the paywall for any of the crud put out by the MSFM. With that caveat, ‘Costs which fall disproportionately on whom, and benefits which accrue disproportionately to whom?’ is the crucial question that I expect goes unasked by FT in terms of “if it don’t work, why do the central wankers keep trying it?” Can anyone who actually suffered through the piece confirm or deny?

    How to Beat a Polygraph Test | NYT — Tell the truth, perchance? But wait, that would likely trigger a false ‘liar!’ reading since the gizmos are probably designed and calibrated on the assumption that ‘everybody lies about something’.

    How the U.S. spends more helping its citizens than other rich countries, but gets way less | WaPo — ‘Way less for whom, at the cost of way more for whom?’ is the crucial question that goes unasked by WaPo.

    How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over | New York Review of Books — That includes writing of headlines, BTW.

    1. craazyboy

      FT article was good one! Here, I’ll do the search for you. Two pinky clicks on this link goes straight there.

      It’s a short article where the author reports on the Swiss Re study, which did total up the costs to savers. Plus pensions and insurance companies – that sell annuities, plus need to invest regulatory capital and get a return to insure that they can pay off on insurance.

  21. sd

    Over at Angry Bear
    Federal Susbisdies at Subsidy Tracker 3.0

    …five companies were on all three of the top 50 federal subsidy recipients list, the top 50 bailout list, and the top 50 state & local subsidy list: Boeing, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, and JPMorgan Chase.

    I thought the point of privatization was that the private sector could do things cheaper and better than government. Clearly not. In fact, it pretty muchnlooks like American business would fail without government support. And if that’s really the case, and increasingly it sure does look that’s way, then might as well nationalize businesses that require so much help and get on with it.

  22. kimsarah

    Hillary has been given a free pass on stating her positions.
    Somebody should ask her where she stands on the Trans Pacific trade deal, and the pending corporate-giveaway repatriation tax holiday.
    Also, she never stated her position on the Keystone XL pipeline even though her State Department was in charge of making a recommendation.
    And that’s just for starters.

    1. hidflect

      On finding the very rare comment from someone outright saying they support Hillary I wonder what it is that they are supporting? She’s an empty pantsuit on any ideological front. All we have is her support of the Iraq war, her membership on the board of Walmart, her glee at the sodomized death of Gaddafi, her shilling for bucks using the status of office granted her, a cookie trail of minor scandals (cattle futures et. al.), on and on. If her handlers manage to bum rush her into the White House I’m really worried her neocon backers will push the USA into another meaningless war to further destabilize Israel’s “enemies”.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Hillary has been given a free pass on stating her positions.

      You said it! But I think the ball to watch is that this is a different game altogether. We are not watching an election but instead a decision already made and argued and presented to us (the people) via the thinnest gossamer of a veneer of a process that has it’s roots in what used to be a choice -by in large- by the people.

      We “thought” we elected Obama. In fact some of us worked quite hard to “elect” him and as such really earned a right to our illusions. But with Hillary they are consciously moving the “election” meme farther away and starting to let the public in on the fact that this is no choice at all, but a pre-made decision the public is pretty much only ceremoniously invited to “corroborate.” And what better way to do that than to make it increasingly obvious that Hillary as the chosen one isn’t subject to the rule of law, never mind to, “stating her positions”.

      The ceremony of having what looks like an election in what looks like a democracy has become the unique American contribution to the continuance of power by the .01%.

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