Links 7/12/15

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New Image of Pluto: ‘Houston, We Have Geology’

Deep-Sea Cameras Reveal ‘Sharkcano’ National Geographic

When You Give a Tree an Email Address The Atlantic

Queen Elizabeth and Her Corgis: A Love Story Vanity Fair

London is now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert Independent

I’m ‘Quite’ Worried About a Bond Market Bubble – Greenspan Wall Street Pit. Well, that’s a relief.

Yellen Puts Bond Market on Notice 2015 Rate Increase Is Looming Bloomberg

U.S. Primary Bond Market Seized Up, Junk Bond Issuance Frozen, Chaos in China, Greece, Puerto Rico, Commodities Cited Wolf Street

BlackRock Says ETFs Help Improve Bond Market Liquidity Bloomberg

Angel investing is so huge, there’s a 4-hour crash course to teach people how to do it Business Insider

The NYSE got off easy Business Insider


Finnish parliament against new bailout deal for Greece, reports say Ekathimerini

Greek capital controls in place for ‘months’: minister France24

Eurozone officials in deadlock over Greece FT

Greek Bailout Deal Remains Elusive Wall Street Journal

The Fate of Greece: Decision Time for Tsipras and Merkel Der Speigel

It is a document that shouldn’t even exist. But it does, and is kept hidden behind the gray door of a safe with a black combination lock. The paper, around 1,000 pages thick, is stored in the presidential offices of the European Commission in Brussels and contains plans for a situation unforeseen in European Union treaties: the insolvency of a euro-zone member state and its exit from the common currency regime.

Germany floats Greek euro ‘time-out’ without more reforms Reuters

Greece news live: Germany readies five-year temporary Grexit plan after finance ministers fail to reach agreement Telegraph. Here is an excerpt said to be from the “time-out” plan, via German Green Sven Giegold (PDF):

(“Hospices” for “auspices”?) But yikes! This plan, however, was never actually presented to the Eurogroup, merely leaked.

Italy to tell Germany: enough is enough. Guardian

Down and Out in Athens and Brussels Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate

How Does the Eurosystem Work? WSJ

Friday lay day – Surrendering to the Recession Cult Bill Mitchell

Greece: Past Critiques and the Path Forward Oliver Blanchard, IMF Direct

Greek debt crisis: Goldman Sachs could be sued for helping hide debts when it joined euro Independent

Revolution by proxy Ekathimerini


What will happen to Syria? LRB. Long-form on Syria.

France says ‘decision time’ has come in Iran nuclear talks Reuters

One killed and four injured in car bomb blast outside Italian consulate in Cairo Daily Mail


Bernie Sanders Has a Secret Politico. Here we go….

How long will the Bernie Sanders bubble last? Raw Story (furzy mouse).

Clinton’s stumbles fray Democratic nerves FT

During Honduras Crisis, Clinton Suggested Back Channel With Lobbyist Lanny Davis The Intercept. Ewwwwww!

Clinton to outline steps to bolster middle class income in campaign economic speech on Monday AP

Seven big things to know about Hillary Clinton’s new plan for the economy Politico

Trusted Hillary Clinton Aide Has a Full Plate Wall Street Journal. With list of economic advisors. Ugh, Jacob Hacker, whose book on the so-called public option did so much to help “progressives” cut off all the oxygen for single payer.

Modern campaigning: The Hillary Quilt Project CNN. “Micro-organizing.”

Can Hillary Clinton lead the Keystone army? Politico

Poll: Jeb, Trump in virtual tie The Hill. From the Department of Schadenfreude.

The Overton Straitjacket? (The Santorum Interpolation? The Huckabee Propinquity?) Crooked Timber

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, explained in 11 basic facts Vox

Puerto Ricans flocking to Central Florida lament island’s worsening woes Orlando Sentinel

Puerto Rico Debt Crisis: US Commonwealth Announces Bond Buyback Effort Ahead Of Meeting With Creditors On Monday International Business Times

Ukraine and Puerto Rico: struggles with conflict, corruption or dependency Guardian

Moldova: Pondering Unification With Romania? Value Walk

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Check The Police Check The Police. Collection of police union contracts.

Fresno police shootings: Excessive-force lawsuits piling up long after landmark settlement Fresno Bee

The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed Guardian

Doll Parts The New Yorker

A dire threat to public employees from the Supreme Court Los Angeles

Want to keep ex-cons from returning to prison? Give them a liberal arts education. WaPo

The Dueling Weathermen of the 1800s Nautilus

The $heriff tool: detect price discrimination while you shop mathbabe

The Origin and Development of Markets: A Business History Perspective (pdf) Business History Review. From 2011.

Historically, market behavior has always been governed by rules, although they have been more intrusive for some commodities and in some localities than others. These rules relate to pricing, quality control, freedom of entry, and so on. They are enforced by law, by agreement, and by social convention. They provide reassurance to customers and help to maintain the reputation of the capitalist market system. Today, these rules are most apparent in the case of regulated natural monopolies, such as utilities, but in fact they apply to all markets.

I grant this paper is limited to “product markets” and not “factor” (capital, labor) markets. But really. Can anyone read Bill Black on the ginormous LIBOR bid rigging cartel, and not wonder whether fraud, in markets, is not a bug but a feature?

The Defenestration of Search Digitopoly

Antidote du jour:


Beautiful blue eyes!

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. John Merryman

    Is anyone else getting the sneaking suspicion that the Iran deal is on the rocks?

    Along with Grexit and the China stock market meltdown, it does leave Russia in the eye of a serious Eurasian storm and when the compass needles quit swinging wildly, it seems many of them will be pointed in that direction.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Lobbying by frackers aside, my general view is Obama waited far too long to act. Iran and Cuba were Jan. 2009 (2013) issues, but Obama is grasping for a legacy and isn’t a powerful figure anymore. After his first election was the time because he was still an unknown. He could direct support to primary challengers or audit a Senator’s donors. Anyone in DC looking to move up will find championing the status quo and attacking a lame duck (we’ve been discussing Hillary for five years) has more short term upside. A supporter of an Iran deal will never get credit, so attacking the deal has a better chance of producing political upside.

      Obama is trying to make concessions so he can give a win of sorts to opponents while passing the deal, but Iran isn’t going for half measures given our other stances around the world because Iran is a real country, not the typical U.S. puppet. Since Obama is only acting to create a legacy, he doesn’t have the popularity to cow opponents.

      It should be noted that DWS, the head of the DNC, has publicly opposed Obama on Cuba. Her position in Florida aside, the head of the DNC shouldn’t be calling the Democratic President’s foreign policy naive unless the President is weak.

    2. John Merryman

      Also that final Greek offer seems like it was intended to be rejected, but Tsipras had to put something up, so he may as well have tried to make it appear conciliatory.

      1. Cugel

        I wonder how long it will be before this spectacle of Germans marching in Jack boots through the Arc de Triomphe again will ignite massive blowback throughout the rest of Europe? It’s happening much quicker than I thought.

        The Germans and other Ultras seem to be utterly blind to how this is going to look to the populations of Europe. The “lesson learned” will not be at all what they expect. Smirking as you grind your foot over a helpless opponent never makes people more likely to do what you say. Instead this is going to make people afraid and angry, and more inclined to resist, no matter what the cost. Fear and anger make people LESS rational, and more defiant, not less.

        The thing that is shocking to is how quickly the Eurozone is unraveling. I thought this would be a slow process, with the Germans attempting to paint themselves as “humanitarians”. If anything, they seem to bent on being as absolutely offensive and arrogant as they possibly can, refusing to accept surrender, and utterly blind to the way others might view things, which was their only real hope for long term stability.

        The Italian Prime Minister Mateo Rienzi is criticizing Germany directly:

        He said that Italy did not want Greece to leave the Euro and that “humiliating a European partner after Greece has given up on just about everything is unthinkable”.

        “Now common sense must prevail and an agreement must be reached,” he said. “Italy does not want Greece to exit the euro and to Germany I say: enough is enough.”

        Considering that Italy doesn’t want to appear too soft on Greece for fear that it’s own citizens will demand similar relief from Austerity, this is surprising. He seems to be afraid of a negative public reaction in Italy, since Greece capitulated only to have the Ultras make even more insane demands.

        It seems to have dawned on the Italians that Germany is determined to crush Greece no matter what. The Troika is no longer in control, European parliaments are set to reject any deal and humiliation on top of humiliation will be heaped on Greece to punish them in addition to forcing Grexit.

        This is going to lead to a massive upsurge in anti Euro feeling across Southern Europe, even among people who blindly believe that the Greeks were to blame for creating the crisis.

  2. JTMcPhee

    August 2015 minus 101 equals August 1914? In Euromath? Stupid effing humans… We don’t seem to deserve this planet.

    1. cirsium

      That’s my feeling as well with Schauble acting like General von Moltke, the Chief of the Wilhelmine General Staff, to Merkel’s Kaiser.

      1. Swedish Lex

        Moltke comparison good.
        Would like to add King Léopold who personally owned Belgian Congo. The “Congo Free State” was a huge area in central Africa controlled by Léopold himself. Through a trust that had been set up for “humanitarian and anthropological” purposes. The Belgian rule and exploitation in Congo was however so ruthless, brutal and deadly that the other colonial powers (who were hardly Amnesty International themselves) intervened and demanded that the Belgian Government be put in the place of Léopold’s private genocidal enterprise. Matters hardly improved afterwards.

        Now Schäuble wants to set up a legal entity in Luxemburg, controlled by the creditors (i.e Germany) that should control 50 bn of Greek assets (27% of Greek GDP). Such an entity would clearly have been designed to exercise full control over the Greek economy, just like Léopold did through his “humanitarian” enterprise.

        Schäuble and Léopold use the same logic; full exploitation of the colonised, using a hoax as cover.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          As much as The Kaiser may have not been in control of things, he also had poor impulse control over his speech. Keep Germans away from diplomatic areas for the sake of coming to an agreement, please! The term Huns, as used against the Germans in WWI is a direct result of Kaiser Wilhelm’s sturm and drang send off to the expeditionary force that was heading to China during the Boxer Rebellion. As part of the international military force that was sent by the Western powers to contain that rebellion, the German Army was exhorted to make sure the Chinese never forget what the Germans were about to set loose on them.

          From the reported speech sent out by news services present:

          ““Should you encounter the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will be given! Prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands is forfeited. Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.”

          But wait, there’s more. Apparently the Kaiser and his top people just did not know when to shut up! For more Kaiser and general Teutonic yuks check out this book:

        2. blowncue

          You might check out the Epsilon Theory website run by Salient Capital for the article “1914 is the New Black.”. You’ve hit upon their thesis.

          1. just me

            Guns of August, anecdote in DVD bonus features of Errol Morris’s Fog of War:

            Robert McNamara: President Kennedy in I think it was the first month of his administration asked all of the members of the National Security Council to read Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August. Because in that book she recounts a story of two German chancellors at the end of World War I. I’ve forgotten how many millions and millions of Germans were killed. One says to the other, “How did it happen?” And the other says, “I wish I knew.” And Kennedy said, “That’s not going to happen to us!”

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I have not been reading the posts and links on Greece for a while now. I felt like a scared kid stuck in a never-ending horror movie that never left a moment when you could open your eyes again. I did not want to believe anything so horrible could go on in modern Europe. I am afraid to read tomorrow’s news and next week and the news from I do not know how many weeks in the future. I did not want to believe our leaders could really be so stupid and cruel. Is this wanton destruction of Greece the kind of action we might expect from our own Neoliberal establishment in the United States or is it peculiar to the European flavor of Neoliberalism?

      These are becoming interesting times … extremely interesting. If I grow wings and learn to fly, where is there any safe place to alight?

      1. JTMcPhee

        It’s global, man. Not to feed your fear, a cruelty that’s part of the DNA of this malignant metastatic cancer, but check out how ordinary people in China are “playing the stock market,” looking for “their killing.” Arms makers are working three shifts. The militaries and police are beyond control. “Money” and “rule of law” are visible frauds. There is no healthy organizing principle to any of it, if there ever was — the best efforts of the ever fewer people who are trying to “keep it all together” can’t even keep up with the existing cracks in the dam, let alone the new cracks being hammered and blasted by too many of us that mistake and misrepresent a death wish as “opportunity.” What a surprise, us mopes wake up to see our kids going off to join ISIS because that horde provides jobs and a sense of order and of legitimacy that our Few have eaten with a plate of fava beans and a nice chianti. The impulses, intentions and incentives are all toxic, all destructive, driven by the limbic system, aided and abetted and amplified by those big ol’ frontal lobes. Too smart to be wise. And the nuclear war toys, in the hands of incompetent true believers, are getting spruced up, made “new! Improved!” But wait? There’s More! though I have to get dressed and go to work…

        God bless us, every one!

  3. Ulysses

    From the WP piece linked above:

    “The former New York senator is expected to say that our economy is too often driven by hope of a quick profit rather than more enduring and sustainable growth at benefits more people — and she’ll say this is especially a problem on Wall Street. She’ll also underscore the need for more investment in things like infrastructure and research and development.”

    I expect that Hillary Clinton will say all sorts of sensible things that voters want to hear. Unfortunately the last quarter century makes it clear that she will continue to do what her friends, and patrons, on Wall Street demand.

    1. Katniss Everdeen


      “…she will continue to do what her friends, and patrons, on Wall Street demand.”

      Not only “demand” but have PRE-PAID for to the tune of $100 million in her pocket and, by all accounts another couple of BILLION in campaign “contributions.”

  4. bob

    NPR continues it’s assault on Greece on a game show, “wait wait don’t tell me!”

    All week- “lets see what some german journo has to say…”

    Yesterday, in the “entertainment” part of the day-

    “I’m in a national filled with idiots” where was this?

    Disappointment at not being good little subjects makes you an idiot, according to NPR, anyway. C’mon…it’s funnneee…cat food watch

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Something about democracy –

      First we say self-determination and national elections.

      And then we have ‘a nation filled with idiots’ and ‘the whole nation knew about the crimes and did nothing.’

      And it’s not like it’s due to small sample bias either – here, we refer to the uneasy realization that our entire species (not just a sub-group) is actually more appropriately classified taxonomically Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens, to put it gently.

    2. YankeeFrank

      NPR is expert at sounding clever to people who think they are informed, and toeing the neoliberal line with every word.

      1. Gio Bruno

        NPR is now nothing more than MSM propaganda coupled with “heart-tugging saga” rolled up as slick radio. See Democracy Now for real reporting.

    1. just me

      Thanks, great story, I read it all, it was that good

      laughed out loud: Author whose visa time is up has to leave Macedonia, dirt-poor non-EU next-door neighbor to Greece kept out of EU by Greece, who is mad at Macedonia because Macedonia uses name Macedonia (no I don’t get it, but they are fighting over a name). So, he’s on the road to Greece next:

      The core of the problem is a complete lack of trust. Greece realises that its only leverage to get the Republic of Macedonia to change its constitutional name is to use its position as a member of the EU to block Macedonia’s path to EU membership.

      You might think that Macedonians would hate Greece for this sort of petty bullying. But it’s not quite like that. It usually isn’t, when the bullied are from a small, poor community. Macedonians are busy trying to survive, and their international ambitions focus on getting people to admit they exist; they don’t really have time to resent Greece, which—in regional terms—is a much bigger, stronger country than Macedonia. The only expression of Macedonian resentment toward Greece that we saw is a road sign that used to show the way to Ohrid, with an arrow marked “to Greece” under it. “Ohrid” is still there, but someone with a can of black paint sprayed out the words “to Greece.”


      I have to say, I’ve been thinking of Dr. Seuss’s book about the star-bellied Sneetches a lot lately. It’s a wonderful world.

        1. different clue

          I wonder if there didn’t really used to BE a Gary Brecher being the War Nerd and at some point the War Nerd character was turned over to John Dolan.

  5. financial matters

    Greece: Past Critiques and the Path Forward Oliver Blanchard, IMF Direct

    “there was a political limit to what official creditors could ask their own citizens to contribute.”

    This seems like a fundamental misunderstanding in the central bank system.

    “The greenbackers lost the struggle and, with the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913, the United States completed the construction of a sovereign monetary space that was defined by a dollar money of account based on a gold standard.” (Ingham, The Nature of Money)

    Of course Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1971 but this type of thinking still limits policy options.

    Does the ECB have to ask its citizens (the ECB does seem to be in charge) to contribute Euros or should the ECB be providing Euros to work on fulfilling an employment mandate. The ECB is now actually asking Greece to give it its assets rather than looking at ways to improve the country.

  6. OIFVet

    Re Moldova pondering unification with Romania. Love the smell of brewing ethnic cleansing in the morning. Not many of the older Gagauz and Bulgarians in Bessarabia have fond memories of the interwar period, what with the Romanian attempt to force ethnic assimilation and the ban of other languages. The early 1990’s weren’t much better either, with armed militias fighting over Gagauz autonomy and Turkey stepping in warn Moldova to stop its assault on the Gagauz people or else. And then there is Transnistria. In short, unification is not going to happen, but war is a very distinct and frightening possibility.

    As for Romania being an EU success story on the corruption front, that’s worth a full belly laugh. EU doesn’t care about corruption, provided that the corrupt local elites keep to the Brussels’ diktats.

    PS Hora is plural of horo, which is a Bulgarian word…

    1. DJG

      OIFVet: Agreed. Like Hungary, Romania is hardly a success story. Like Poland, its purpose seems to be to export low-paid workers to the rest of Europe. Further, why would Romania, which isn’t exactly an economic powerhouse, want to merge with an economic disaster?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Why do people buy magic elixirs? Why do Democrats say Hillary will bring non-working women to the polls? The answer is EU membership seems like a panacea for various ills instead of the slog of political change.

      2. OIFVet

        Nationalism is far from rational in most respects. Especially the Balkan variety. There are still numbsculls who cling to the idea of Great Romania, Great Bulgaria, Great Serbia, etc. Economic dysfunction is far from being a consideration, as is the fact that there are large pockets of ethnic minorities who wouldn’t be very happy with any changes in the political map. I may consider myself a sort-of nationalist, but the very idea of “Bulgaria on three seas ” gives me nightmares. Striving for the lost glory of the early 10th century is insane.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Don’t we humans just LOVE war, armed violence and its many opportunities and adjuncts?

      1. ChrisA

        Top movie of 2014, made over $500 million… American Sniper. The story of the difficulties faced by an invading/occupying force battling Iraqi “savages”. Serving up the freedom fries.

  7. juliania

    Beautiful snow leopard, Lambert – thanks!

    Also thanks for linking again to Bill Black’s piece on Lie-bore. The ‘Rainman’ designation for the defendant was a vivid reminder of Dustin Hoffman at the casino, brings the whole scenario into focus.

    And the link to the Independent article – her name is Antigone!

    Truth isn’t stranger than fiction; truth builds upon fiction – the best of fiction, that is. One might paraphrase Pilate and say:

    “What is fiction?”

      1. OIFVet

        Plus, the stripes give it away. Love the snow leopards, I wish I could see one in its wild habitat.

        1. CB

          There’s film of a female chasing some kind of antelope down a boulder strewn mountain until the antelope leaps into a river, when the leopard gives up the chase. Just heart stopping footage. The documentary comes around every so often, I’ve seen it twice. It was as unbelievable the second time as the first.

          1. OIFVet

            This is the clip you refer to. It is incredible, two species supremely adapted to the harsh terrain and habitat. It’s great thing that recent surveys point to a rebound in the snow leopard populations. It would be a tragedy for this magnificent animal to disappear from the wild. Hopefully the Amur leopards and tigers will continue to rebound as well.

  8. alex morfesis

    the draxma lives

    well, annoying the clowns that be is so so much fun

    The draxma never died and the euro is Not the sovereign currency of Greece

    ISO 4217 code 978 is simply ones and zeros in servers…

    The euro became the “circulating currency” of Maastrichtland
    even “legal tender”
    not sovereign currency

    in 1997, legislation in New York, Illinois, and California was quietly brought forth at the
    request of the ISDA and various wall street and Frankfurt tied organizations to deal with
    the transition under Maastricht when the ECu was being discussed to become the EU circulating

    the reason the folks at the old “european monetary institute” did not want to let anyone know what they were up to is that they were just a bunch of lawyers and academics sitting in a room…

    just like the BIS was just to help handle the german responsibilities under the young plan…

    my goodness, the ugly duckling “institute” became the beautiful swan “frankfurt central bank…

    goodness, how did that happen….while we slept…

    there is a difference between a “legal” currency, a “circulating” currency. “legal tender” and
    a “sovereign” currency.

    But, the practical realities are like moving away from the “petro dollar”

    the party with the most electronic lead encased in computerized brass shell casings wins…

    What happens tomorrow does not really matter as much as what happens tuesday…

    it was the German Courts that ruled a country can ignore the Lisbon Article 50 requirements
    and just say

    tah tah

    Bundesverfassungsgericht [ Maastricht case (89 BVerfGE 155) ]

    but laws are cute…the practical reality is that the European Central Bank controls only 8% of the
    circulating currency…the rest are put forth based on a number of factors by the local national branches of the European National Central Banks…

    governments don’t directly print money anymore…perhaps they never did…

    most folks seem to be mesmerized by the myth of wheelbarrow money in inflationary Versailles Germany

    except you would be hard pressed to actually find such a picture of germans with wheelbarrows of money…read the fine print in the photos…and look to see, are those consumers with a wheelbarrow or just the internal activities of normal banking…

    the greatest myth is the idea the economy is based on printing money…

    it is based on printing “credit”

    thus, the German Central Bank has been illegally printing EU Credits…

    in theory, the system of the EU is to keep inflation in check by preventing the expansion
    of a local economy from getting out of control…

    but the german banking system has in “circulation” at least two times what its treaty mandated
    capacity requires or allows…

    some central bankers are more equal than others…

    so Jens, do you ever get back to Rwanda for a visit…
    must have been tough when you were there…

    this morning I woke up and recalled a conversation I had with Dr Rudolph Radna at his home
    in Riverdale after he had semi retired(not sure if he ever officially retired until his last breath)

    he called and asked me to swing by as he had not done a regular check up in a while…he would
    wax on about his beloved Vienna, and how he missed his wife…and a few other philosophical
    things about life while he checked my pH balance and asked me about my diet and eating habits…

    as he turned to do something, he burped out…

    “you know, your family being from Ithaki…the war with Troy is not over…”

    being in my late teens, I though maybe he was beginning to lost it.


    today, I am not so sure he was going crazy after all…

    1. juliania

      From the Der Spiegel article linked above:

      ” . . .A New Framework

      There are a number of steps under consideration. One envisions euro-zone countries agreeing to integrate economic and financial policy to a much greater degree. Currency union finance ministers also want to examine whether savings deposits should be insured Europe-wide. It is also possible that the Euro Group will install a full-time chair, who would then act as a kind of euro-zone finance minister with the ability to intervene in national budgets.

      The rules governing the euro zone are also to be expanded to include regulations for national insolvencies. The new framework is to ensure that a country can become insolvent without being made dependent on foreign assistance and without having to leave the euro zone. Furthermore, in order to prevent a repeat of the Greece fiasco, officials in the German Finance Ministry are working on a more radical solution. It foresees the ability to expel countries from the euro zone should they, like Greece, refuses to adhere to agreements and rules. . .”

      [My bolds]

      Should it not also be renamed the GEU?

      1. alex morfesis

        the Latin Monetary Union failed also

        and greece was forced out for 2 years from 1908 to 1910

        and it is actually a dragma

        drachme is the word the latins/french used

        dragma is a hand full of obols…handful being described by some as 6

        the obol being what was put in your mouth for Charon to pay for your journey across
        the river styx

        what they never told you about the Latin Monetary Union ??

        napoleon ?

        France ? the french gold franc ??? 15.5 to 1 silver to gold ratio ??

        peru, venezuela, serbia, finland, switzerland, italy…??

        austrias 8 florin piece… ??

        not ringing a bell….hmmm

        were you not paying attention in economics class ??


        to the victor go the history books…

        no one mentioned it in school….

        the latin monetary convention of november 1878 ??

        oh wow…and look at that

        germans manipulating the LMU by buying with silver and trading it for gold
        leading to economic collapse of the LMU and world war one cause they
        got angry at how quickly france had recovered from massive reparations
        (french indemnity 1871-1873) paid to germany after the fall of the second empire

        the league of three emperors, interference in elections, bismark was a charmer…

        history rhymes baby….

  9. JTMcPhee

    “Every schoolboy knows…” Lest we forget what “trade” is all about, this reminder, from Stockman’s pile: “Economic Sanctions Cause War, Not Peace—–Some Lessons From FDR’s Embargo Against Japan,”

    How about a nice chest of opium, for some of that tea, okay?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Non-violence* kills too…in many cases, far more effectively (and fewer are outraged too).

      *embargoes, sanctions, boycotts, propaganda, and forms of ‘carrot’ etc.

      1. Dune Navigator

        Gene Sharp’s “color” revolutions aka “non-violent” violence by stealthier means (expanding the economic hitman playbook)

    2. just me

      Scott Horton: Okay. And then so now can you take us through this McCollum memo? I’ll urge anyone and everyone in the audience to go to your favorite search engine and just type in McCollum memo and you can find it’s an eight-point plan lettered A through H here, how to provoke Japan into committing the first overt act of war, firing the first shot, as Henry Stimson said.

      Robert Stinnett: Yes. That is correct, Scott, and among the eight provocations, one was to send U.S. cruiser forces into Japanese territorial waters. The other was to keep the fleet at Pearl Harbor as a lure and also to send submarine forces, and then a variety of embargoes that were imposed on Japan, that theoretically was to keep them from making war. But they did give them enough, President Roosevelt did allow enough oil to be given to Japan so it would last them until about November 1943. So while we had an embargo, there really wasn’t; Japan was getting the oil they needed to have the overt act of war.

      Scott Horton: Mmhmm. So, it wasn’t enough of an embargo to actually cripple their ability to wage war, just enough to anger them and help provoke them.

      Robert Stinnett: They had enough oil to fuel their warships until about November 1943, and that’s when we really started our offensive against Japan at Tarawa.

      McCollum memo on wikipedia:

  10. DJG

    Article in Politico about Bernie Sanders and his secrets: Let’s see. Up top, Politico wants to deny that the race is about issues, issues, and issues. Grand: So the presidential race is about the White House chef, I guess.

    It appears that Sanders has complicated but amicable relationships with his wife, his ex-wife, and the mother of his son. So does this mean that we should all flee from Sanders and send money to someone like Santorum, who trots out his five or seven children and then preaches politics of oppression?

    Someone will undoubtedly try to make a comparison to the Clintons: But the Clintons have played a perilous game of keeping their personal lives in front of the public while pretending otherwise. Lest we forget: Bill was offering First Lady Hillary as a two-fer in his first term.

    And Sanders makes an interesting contrast here, in that he doesn’t come across as a cad. The Clintons are still rallying the tee-hee-hee crowd to defend Bill’s being a cad toward Monica Lewinsky, who was, after all, in a subordinate post, barely even a post, in the Clinton Administration.

    The long disquisition about Sanders not having a normal career is likely to backfire on Politico. So many of us have had to adapt to the “creative destruction” of the U.S. economy and the general precariousness. So he hasn’t been on the board of Walmart?

    1. Mello

      Totally agree.

      The article reads like a smear campaign but all I learned was:

      Bernie went through a divorce (like most Americans)
      Bernie was poor and unemployed (like most Americans)
      Bernie put his time and energy into something outside “work” (like most Americans)
      Bernie is messy, ugly, and has rumpled hair (like most Americans)

      and it seems like, as a father, focused on an emotional and learning based relationship with his kids rather than an empty one dependent on providing material goods.

      Nice try politico. Some technocrat would be grossed out by these things, but to most people these traits are normal.

    2. Uahsenaa

      It’s a very weird article, and since I am not possessed of “beltway brain,” I have no idea what light it is meant to be taken in. There’s so much handwaving over a CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK (/pearlclutch) and the supposed cover-up-not-cover-up (after all the insinuation, the campaign manager was forthright and honest in reply) that the author seems to be unaware of how his eyerolling over Sanders’ being persistently on point about political rather than personal issues comes off as precisely that which alienates most people from mainstream politics and has likely been pushing people in the D party toward Sanders. What’s sad is they really cannot see that they are their own worst enemy.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bush’s past as an alcoholic was always a selling point, same with Obama’s drug use, even though the cheerleaders from both parties missed the point. Both characters were identifiable. Gore and McCain were purely products of their father’s status*. This is one of Hillary’s problems. In the end, she is a former first lady. We can hear stories about how Hillary likes to laugh, but this is a problem she has. Bill and Obama touted the absence of their biological fathers. Whether they were being cynical or not isn’t important but the result was an emotional connection with potential supporters.

        *Dubya was a black sheep and had father issues, so he received a pass.

      2. different clue

        Why is that sad? It isn’t sad, it is happy and good. As long as they keep being their own worst enemy, we have a hope of exterminating them from political existence, metaphorically speaking.
        If they read comments like yours and wise up, they become even more dangerous than before.

        So let them keep being their own worst enemy. Lets hope they stumble over the edge of Buffalo Jump.

    3. OIFVet

      One could say that Bernie’s outsider status brings nightmares of “creative destruction” to the creatively destructive establishment…

  11. timbers

    Imperial Collapse Watch….”Putin Leads BRICS Uprising”

    Hyperbole in this but am seeing more of these types of articles. Coupled with Obama moving more and more military equipment and troops towards Russian borders, I’m thinking China & Co are maybe closer to up ending – or diminishing – U.S. dollar dominance than generally written by some at NC.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Reserve currency status requires a massive outflow of cash into international hands, an outflow that inevitably results in a trade deficit. Neither the Chinese nor the Russian economy–nor really any economy but the U.S. at the moment–could abide such a shift. China in particular would be completely unable to sustain such a massive shift from a trade surplus to deficit.

      1. vidimi

        there is no rule that requires a single reserve currency. it’s the classic strawman. just like you don’t need a king or global hegemon (“i’d rather have the US rule the world than China”), you can have a basket of currencies instead of using any single sovereign

  12. David Finnerty

    Heard from a relative who works for the Department of State that Al Gore is jogging and doing push-ups… Hmm…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Gore is at an age where he might find he was winded after going up stairs. Jogging (running or speed walking is easier on the knees) and push ups don’t require gyms or extra hassles. Bill Walton said between flashbacks that a basketball player should be doing push-ups every two hours. Gore’s time was 2008 and 2000. He’s done.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert’s reaction to Bill Black’s article and his question near the end of today’s links about pervasive price fixing and fraud being a feature of today’s markets is cause for deep reflection.

    The organized criminal behavior that has occurred in the massive price fixing of entire markets (LIBOR, foreign exchange, etc.); the money laundering (see article in today’s links from the Independent); predatory lending; securities frauds; asset stripping of not just individuals, but entire nations; insider trading; etc. beg for solutions that go far beyond restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act and separation of basic bank depository and lending functions from the criminality of Wall Street and the City of London.

    Those who have committed such criminal behavior must be prosecuted, their underlying ideology and tacit sponsorship by government publicly repudiated, the captured Fed’s functions brought directly under Treasury, and meaningful regulation restored.

    1. Chris in Paris

      If there were a DOJ that actually did its job, the convictions would have rolled in on an hourly basis. Seems like capture applies nearly across the board within the Beltway.

      Holder’s return to Covington pretty much sullied any remaining memories of Hope and Change.

      1. ambrit

        Indeed, Holder returning to Covington so soon shows a basic disdain for public opinion. Hopefully, the further alienated from objective reality the political elites become, the closer the Civic Catharsis comes.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          On the other hand, I doubt Holder found much demand for public speaking engagements or a book. Inviting Holder might be embarrassing for the organizers. Holder might have dreamed of changing his public perception with Ferguson protests, but the kind of people who know who Holder is saw what a crummy guy he was.

          After all, even David Cameron ripped “Save the Children” when they honored Tony Blair. The people behind that decision can kiss any dream of being public figures good bye.

    2. susan the other

      That is my preferred prescription too. And I would include dissolving the current SEC and putting all its functions within Treasury and under the direct control of the FBI. Expand the FBI; delete the SEC.

      1. hunkerdown

        The FBI was created to wage political terrorism against the left wing on behalf of the oligarchy. Not a one of them can be trusted outside of a prison for the rest of their lives.

        The DEA is just as bad, even slimier, but the retreat in the War on Marijuana will free up some hours for them. At least low-level DEA grunts will more likely spend their graft into the real economy.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Thanks for the link to British slavery;

    From the article;

    The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 formally freed 800,000 Africans who were then the legal property of Britain’s slave owners. What is less well known is that the same act contained a provision for the financial compensation of the owners of those slaves, by the British taxpayer, for the loss of their “property”. The compensation commission was the government body established to evaluate the claims of the slave owners and administer the distribution of the £20m the government had set aside to pay them off. That sum represented 40% of the total government expenditure for 1834. It is the modern equivalent of between £16bn and £17bn.

    The taxpayer (here, Great Britain or elsewhere) is always good for helping out the rich (sarcasm, sarcasm. :<) – slave owners (in this case, even middle class slave owners) or bankers – and inflation fighting.

    More from the article:

    The compensation of Britain’s 46,000 slave owners was the largest bailout in British history until the bailout of the banks in 2009. Not only did the slaves receive nothing, under another clause of the act they were compelled to provide 45 hours of unpaid labour each week for their former masters, for a further four years after their supposed liberation. In effect, the enslaved paid part of the bill for their own manumission.

    That’s like people paying the police to enforce asset forfeiture.

    It makes one wonder, why does one want to be a taxpayer? Can one be a patriotic citizen without being a taxpayer?

    1. ambrit

      As your revolutionary history shows, patriotic citizens want taxes coupled with representation.
      Wanting to be a taxpayer could get you admitted to the nearest psychiatric ward for “observation.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        More accurately, the colonists didn’t want to be forced to choose between high taxes on good tea (guess why the British invaded India) and crummy tea from a crummy company with significant ties to the MPs in London. They didn’t dump good tea into the harbor. I don’t think one can be a patriotic citizen while taxes are being used to bailout the rich for bad decisions. Taxes for other activities are the price of civilization.

        1. jrs

          Well a bigger problem for me than the taxes used to bailout the rich is the taxes used for war, taxes are thus the price paid for the destruction of civilizations.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Us taxpayers, maybe an overlapping set of the people and groups that generate Real Wealth that undergirds all that froth, need to accept our apparently genetic destiny as aphids, sucking the life out of the plan(e)t we infest, while our ant overlords milk us and eat us, “Herding Aphids: How ‘Farmer’ Ants Keep Control Of Their Food,”

      Wonder what is in the Aphid Constitution…

    3. different clue

      There are people who figure out how to make little enough money so as to viably survive on a small enough income that they owe little or nearly no Federal Income Tax. How many people would be prepared to live that borderline-poor by choice, though?

  15. Matt

    Thanks for being one of the forecasters that have written about the Cyprus ization of the Greek Banks and their depositors. This is Wall Street all over, get some one strung out on debt and pull in your markers while you pay pennies on the debtor’s secured assets.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Thank you on Yves’ behalf. She would thank you personally, but she is either sleeping or preparing another post on Greece….

  16. Benedict@Large

    Greek debt crisis: Goldman Sachs could be sued for helping hide debts when it joined euro – Independent.

    I’ve been asking this since the start; why isn’t anyone suing Goldman? It depends on who knew what and when. If the lenders didn’t know at the time the loans were made, Goldman goes to court. But if the lenders did know and if they tried to sue Goldman, Goldman will point out that they knew, and get off. In that case however, Greece can turn around and say, well you KNEW we couldn’t pay this, and that would make the debt onerous and therefore void. So if the lenders knew (and they did know), then their obvious strategy would have to be NOT to sue Goldman, and to simply squeeze Greece dry for as long as they can, and when that gig was up, to claim Greece was the asshole after all.

    And they’ll get away with it.

  17. Demeter

    So, Naked Capitalism is the first victim of its own success.

    The posts sans commentary are lifeless, and I find I don’t understand them half so well. The prose is dense, and needs teasing out. I don’t have the background for that.

    The links and water cooler posts, as repositories, are becoming manic as all sorts of junk gets munged together with no obvious linkage to any source post. Must we have discussion of psychedelic mushrooms, I ask you? Isn’t there someplace more appropriate for that?

    The backbiting was becoming obnoxious, I agree. And watching all the ignorance piling on was alarming.

    When Yves was soliciting commentary, I couldn’t because I am a student of the subject, without sufficient background or credentials to do more than ask a pithy question on occasion. Now I feel like the poor soul that tries to decipher hieroglyphs. Be careful what you ask for!

    1. Yves Smith

      Please reread our earlier post on comments. We were NOT soliciting more comments in general. We were pointing out that there was a large disparity in the number of comments (typically only 2-7) on technical posts that have a policy impact, versus the much larger number we get on our daily features (70 to 120 is a typical range). We stated that the reason we were bothered was the low number of comments told policy-makers that readers were not interested in these issues and they could thus safety ignore them.

      We were thus asking for more comments ONLY on technical finance posts with policy implications.

      Thus there is no contradiction between these two posts. We’ve not had problem with NC having overly aggressive or difficult to moderate comments on the type of articles we were singling out in that post, either before or after we ran it.

      1. Demeter

        Forgive me for being neither an economist (or even a bookkeeper) nor a policy maker. Good way to turn off the 99%, by the way. Must be the rarified air.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          There are some who feel that the 99% deserve dumbed-down information, or even lies. NC is not among them. Your mileage may vary, and apparently does.

        2. Yves Smith

          You might actually bother to read those posts. The comments picked up on them markedly and the increase was almost entirely by non-expert readers.

          And the post headline made clear that the issue was being more effective against the 1%

          Memo to Readers: If You Want to Beat Big Finance, You Need to be Able to Take the Fight to Their Terrain

          If you aren’t willing to understand your enemies, they will always defeat you. That lesson is being played out vividly and painfully in Greece.

          And we have never pretended or aspired to be a mass market blog. The reading level for posts scores at college level to post graduate. We don’t explain who people like “Bernanke” “Jack Lew” and “Yellen” are. This blog has always been about finance and economics, despite the leavening of cute animal pictures.

          But you’d rather take pride in your apparent unwillingness to be an effective opponent of the 1% and continue to be their stooge.

          1. Skippy

            For myself, the earlier period “self inflicted ignorance is not an excuse” reins supreme.

            Skippy…. or that door is >>>>>> way…

          2. AQ

            But you’d rather take pride in your apparent unwillingness to be an effective opponent of the 1% and continue to be their stooge.

            Sorry, Yves,

            I must take exception to this. That’s just bullshit. Re-read what Demeter tried to tell you. (And I too missed that you only wanted comments on policy posts. Heck, I’ll never be able to do that so I guess I wasn’t really part of the NC community.)

            Demeter’s comment was on point. Without the comments, if you aren’t already in the know, the posts lose meaning.

            I strive to understand, this site and IT’S COMMUNITY make me want to stretch to get there. I still miss lots of stuff and yet I keep coming back. I even read posts which are quite beyond my knowledge base just because the community here made the attempt worthwhile.

            Yves, without the comments from the community, many of your posts immediately become meant ONLY for those already in the know. Which means you’re really just talking amongst yourselves and letting the riff raff like me in now and again to humor us.

            There are some who feel that the 99% deserve dumbed-down information, or even lies. NC is not among them.

            Lambert, I didn’t read Demeter as asking for any information to be dumbed-down. They were telling you that the comments were very valuable to them. That it helped them to stretch and without them, the posts became lifeless and lost major value.

            If they are like me, they will slowly fade away from any post without comments unless they are already well versed on the topic. Why bother to struggle to understand all the facets of the topic when you don’t have the necessarily baseline and there’s no community to help parse the material?

            I sometimes come away from a post thinking, I don’t agree but I can’t pinpoint the source of my disquiet, that’s where the community back and forth comes in.

            It’s great that you have policy ears that can reach the 1% but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an effective opponent of the 1% either, even if you hand them a few defeats now and again.

            If Naked Capitalism is to be a place where people who are already in the know talk amongst themselves for each other and to one other so be it. But anyone not of your caliber who isn’t willing to do what you think is necessary to bring themselves up to your level, then you’ve already lost the war (assuming you’re really fighting a war) even if you “know” your enemies.

            Good night and best wishes with your battles to save/reform the system of the 1%.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              First, I understand what you want. Yves has explained, at length, why most unfortunately you can’t have it; NC does not have the resources. That said, you write:

              Lambert, I didn’t read Demeter as asking for any information to be dumbed-down.


              “Good way to turn off the 99%, by the way. Must be the rarified air.”

              Hard to see how else to read that.

              And of course:

              Good night and best wishes with your battles to save/reform the system of the 1%.

              Attaboy. That’s telling her!

              NOTE Adding, “And I too missed that you only wanted comments.” Yes… Proving our point on “resource consumption” — that is, NC labor power, that is, NC personal time — rather neatly. Clearly, we should never have invested the initial time in responding, based as it was on a false assumption that the post had actually been read. Best wishes with your attempt to train the 99% into thinking lazy reading habits are an important survival skill.

              1. Fool

                There are some who feel that the 99% deserve dumbed-down information, or even lies. NC is not among them. Your mileage may vary, and apparently does.

                This was unwarranted and not nice any way you look at it.

                As far as “dumbed-down information” is concerned, if you asked me how often I see a dailykos/huffpo link on the Water Cooler I would estimate that the answer is “daily”. But I’m not a policy-maker so I guess you won’t ask me. :(

                1. Yves Smith

                  Huh? Watching messaging and commenting on it is not tantamount to endorsing it. You know, or should know, your remark is a straw man. We’ve always included MSM and near MSM links so that readers can keep tabs on what Lambert calls the mighty Wurlitzer, as in the various propaganda efforts.

              2. Dugh

                Amen, Lambert and Yves! Everyone has to pay attention and up their information gathering game. It’s hard work. The power hungry plutocrats and central planners patiently and methodically take advantage of the herd’s intellectual laziness to tighten the noose. NC is a fantastic, unique resource and should be supplemented and cross-referenced with other fine nuggets of information and opinion out there to increase one’s knowledge base and develop an informed perspective.

                1. Yves Smith

                  This is why we have still kept comments open on some posts. We think that’s most important on daily news flow, hence Links and Water Cooler.

            2. Yves Smith

              You are shooting the messenger,

              Like it or not, you need to do the work to understand finance. Any complex, adaptive system in not easy to understand. We are providing tools and information. Simplifying it more than we do (and we DO simplify it and explain it) means you won’t understand it well enough to be effective.

              And you’ve also admitted you didn’t read our earlier post (and it appears you have still not read it) yet you complain to us. Why should we cater to readers who don’t read what we write with any care, or at all, who do what in corporate cube land is called the seagull treatment, fly over us and shit on us?

              She got angry with us and said she does not want to read posts on more technical finance topics. And quite honestly, our recent “technical” posts on CalPERS and private equity are simple compared to posts we wrote on CDOs, leveraged super senior trades, why Dodd Frank Title II resolutions don’t work, what is wrong with Basel III, and mortgage chain of title issues.

              She is apparently not interested in what we are distinctive in and do best.

              Technology writer and management expert Michael Schrage said businesses need to fire 15% of their customers, the ones that are not satisfied with their product and services. They make the business spend huge amounts of time trying to make them happy. The reality is they want the business to be something that it isn’t and never will be. They are better off ignoring or getting rid of them and devoting the effort instead to finding customers that want what they offer. And she made that clear in her interaction. I gave her a reply that was factual and even in tone. She got snippy in reply. I deliberately escalated because frankly I don’t want readers who think they have the right to be nasty to us. We far too hard for too little pay to put up with that.

              Demeter wants us to be something different than we are. She tells us she thinks we should be a site FOR the 99%, as opposed to working ON BEHALF OF the 99%. As I said clearly, we have never aspired to be a mass market site.

              She should therefore not be reading NC. She can find plenty of material of the sort she wants on Hufffington Post, Alternet, Truthout, and Truthdig.

              Read our About section. We are very clear as to what we are up to. Our foremost objective is to promote critical thinking. We cannot possibly serve a mass readership with our tiny resources. We are explicitly focusing on readers who interested in getting down the learning curve so they can delegitimize finance and orthodox economics. We want readers who can be influencers in their own communities. That is not a function of previous knowledge, but it is a function of interest and dedication.

              If you go around trying to argue with friends, family and colleagues and you don’t understand or worse, operate with an overestimation of your understanding based on having digested only oversimplified, pleasing-to-your-prejudices material, anyone who is knowledgeable can easily discredit you, and with it, the left and 99% position generally: “See, they don’t know what they are taking about. Why do you ever listen to them?”

              This is not a game. Greece shows the costs of not understanding the enemy and the terrain. You need to be willing to do the work or you risk following in Syriza’s shoes.

              And if you aren’t willing to make an effort, you should be reading sites that cater to your views, and not this one. The Internet is a big place.

              1. Skippy

                Yves I’ve been seeing this tactic across the tubes on sites all things sociopolitical economic. Its just a variant of the, wall of text, dump truck of litigation paper work dump, et al, to bury you and Lambert in extra work load.

                That its couched in reasonable emotive is just trolling with a puppy on a leash.

                On the other Oz blog I comment at they changed a few policy’s and the same cry’s went up, especially the recent comment side bar and notification e-mail feature. Seems bots are going mental that they can’t counter the information provided by tweaking the narrative, blowing smoke, or respond to key commenters or threads.

                Skippy…. the best part – is – they said as “paying customers” it was there right to demand such features be reinstated and was an affront to their liberty’s and freedoms….

            3. Alphonse Elric

              Building communities that can serve as alternatives to the present power structures is important, but it’s a massive undertaking. No one website can fill that void. IIRC, Yves’ policy change was an effort to preserve the best aspects of the NC community in the face of hard limitations on resources and energy.

              It doesn’t make sense to say that Yves and Lambert have already lost the war, because it isn’t their war. It’s our war, and they don’t have the power to lose it for us. There’s no Frodo Baggins to save us by throwing the ring into the fire, but no Frodo to doom us all by claiming the ring either.

  18. Parker Dooley

    Suggested Onion headline:

    “Hamptons vs. Berlin Museum: Hedge funds and Germans battle over Acropolis relocation site.”

  19. just me

    Best – link – ever

    When You Give a Tree an Email Address The Atlantic

    “My dearest Ulmus,” the message began.

    “As I was leaving St. Mary’s College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You’re such an attractive tree.”

    This is an excerpt of a letter someone wrote to a green-leaf elm, one of thousands of messages in an ongoing correspondence between the people of Melbourne, Australia, and the city’s trees.

    Officials assigned the trees ID numbers and email addresses in 2013 as part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches. The “unintended but positive consequence,” as the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, put it to me in an email, was that people did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees, which have received thousands of messages—everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas.


  20. flora

    Thanks for posting MathBabe’s $heriff browser add-on story. Looks like a very useful tool.

  21. IsabelPS

    Revolution by proxy…

    This reminds me of a friend of mine that hates the TINA concept and keeps saying “I would pay to see Grexit” (a Portuguese idiom that means “I would love to see what happens if…”. I think that is immoral: for the time being, at least, it is the Greeks who will be paying. (Later, I don’t know, of course)

    1. craazyman

      I’d gladly pay $20 if I never had to read about Greece again — except in relation to vacations, ancient history, olive oil or dudes like Pythagoras and Archimedes.

      Actually, I don’t even read about it as it is now. I gave up. It was worse than a B movie. Actually some of those are pretty good. I have yet to see Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space but I hear it’s awful — so awful it’s awesome. A classic in fact. What a moviemaker he must have been. Oh man. If you have it in you, it has to come out. That’s just the way it is.

      But still I’d pay $20 just to shut off the noise about Greece. What else is there that we haven’t heard — 100 times already.

      If they go, they’ll do a hell of a lot better than the Doomers & Gloomers say they will, that’s for sure. What a festival of MEGO tedium, reading all that “analysis”. It’s like the stock market, the Doomers are always out yelling about a crash or a collapse of civilization even. When did civilization ever rise up? It’s been in a state of collapse just about since they were painting caves. I don’t know about this line of thinking. It seems like something Carl Jung would write about but nobody would understand. But I understand well enough. When the sky falls it’s over. But when it lands you don’t even know it, that’s how light it is.

      1. craazyman

        wow. this is an incredible synchronicity, speaknig of Jung

        It turns out the plot from Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” bears a mysterious resemblance to the Eurozone crisis. I wonder if he was channeling the future, since the movie was made in the 1950s, or if it’s just a version of Life imitates Art.

        From Wikipedia–“The film tells the story of extraterrestrials who are seeking to stop humanity from creating a doomsday weapon that could destroy the universe. The aliens implement “Plan 9″, a scheme to resurrect the Earth’s dead. By causing chaos, the aliens hope the crisis will force humanity to listen to them. If not, the aliens will then destroy mankind with armies of the undead.”

        Jesus. I guess people would disagree about who’s who, but that’s a minor detail. the parallels are amazing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, I just did. I thought this one was interesting:

      [T]he corruption spreads much more quickly than will to change.

      That reminds me strongly of Yves’ idea that financial time moves more quickly than political time, since, as we know from our experience in the United States, a small trickle of money from financial flows can have big political effects.

      Maybe the big problem — and Greece, as Herr Schäuble must certainly know from personal experience, is by no means the only country with corruption issues — is that nobody has managed to distribute the money in the white envelopes (especially since the United States has not seemed willing to write a check). Although $50 billion in a Luxembourg “entity’s” account might be a good start!

      Anyhow, if European governance structures are so dysfunctional they can’t even handle what would surely be a case of “honest graft” — saving the Eurozone — the whole European project is in terrible trouble.

      Adding, surely Jack Lew has personal and professional expertise in this regard. Where the heck is he?

  22. George Phillies

    Courtesy of the Guardian, a leak of another document that is said to be (alas, very hard to read) the document going to the Heads of State, with some parts (square brackets) under consideration.

    The title of the actual Guardian link and the story below do not entirely seem to match:

    The suggestion that Greece hand over another $50 in valuable collateral is reported in this story not to be entirely well-received.

    1. William C

      By Heads of State, you surely mean Heads of Government, no?

      I doubt the Queen of England wants to get involved. I think she has more sense.

  23. C. dentata

    The Honduran coup disqualifies Hillary for the presidency in my view. I remember how disheartened I was when the administration said the answer to the coup was new elections. If a similar situation happened here would they call for extra-constitutional elections?

    They said Zelaya was had to go because he was ineffective at fighting drug traffickers. So of course the answer was to put the drug traffickers in charge. This showed the neoliberal ideology at the heart of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. Honduras is one of the most violent and dangerous places on Earth. This blood is on Clinton and Obama’s hands. They are criminals.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe part of the problem is just a category deal. The Northbrook Trust and Savings Bank where I took my little pasteboard folder with the dimes and quarters from my training-wheel savings, that was a bank. So was the Postal Bank.

      Goldman Sacks is not a Bank. Nor is “Bank of America.” Nor the European Central Bank. Except by perverse function of Bernaysianism. The rest of us, ordinary people, ought to be able to do without the latter “things” just fine.

    2. Yves Smith


      1970 is so far in the past as far as banking, commerce, and economic integration of economies that it might as well be the era of stone knives and bearskins.

      Without banks, Greece kisses its tourist industry (18% of GDP) goodbye and loses the ability to import except by trucking or flying cash to its suppliers. And things are so desperate that that is actually happening now:

      Cargo containers of food, some medicines and other daily necessities are beginning to pile up on the docks at Piraeus, the international seaport outside Athens, because capital controls make it difficult or impossible to pay the shippers.

      “We can’t do anything to prepare for a situation like this,” said Nikos Manisoitis, who runs Nikos Manisoitis & Son, a family-owned importer of spices and dried goods like pasta and pet food, which was founded in Piraeus 95 years ago by his grandfather.

      “We feel like hostages,” he said. “We can’t move our money from the banks, and we fear that we are about to lose everything.”

      Mr. Manisoitis, who is also president of a local business group, the Piraeus Traders Association, said that some importers at the port had boarded planes with up to 60,000 euros, or about $66,000, in cash for day trips to Britain, Germany or other European countries to pay their suppliers.

      I believe savings accounts were still little ledger books back then. PCs weren’t used at Goldman till 1983.

      1. steve smoot

        The tourist objection isnt a real one. Tourists have to use real currency (euros, $s, rmb…). You may have heard of “island discounts” where locals already pay half what tourists do…no change.

  24. Jess

    One of the comments on the “Revolution by Proxy” story contains this statement:

    “By law in Greece, a politician can not be prosecuted for corruption.”

    Anybody know if this is correct?

    Also, the comments state that years ago Greece was sent tax reform experts from both Germany and Scandinavian countries but the experts soon quit in disgust over the degree of incompetence and corruption in the various tax-related bureaucracies. Again, anybody able to comment, expand on this, refute it, etc? Thanks.

  25. flora

    ” Greek crisis: surrender fiscal sovereignty in return for bailout, Merkel tells Tsipras.
    German and French leaders press Greek leader for guarantees over austerity measures in what an EU official describes as ‘extensive mental waterboarding’ ”
    “European leaders have confronted the Greek government with a draconian package of austerity measures entailing a surrender of fiscal sovereignty as the price of avoiding financial collapse and being ejected from the single currency bloc.”
    -The Guardian

    So there it is. The troika intends to either turn Greece into Detroit, a ward of the EU, or force Greece out of the EU. Next time US politicians admonishes that austerity must be imposed lest we become Greece remind them that EU austerity has turned Greece into Detroit.

    1. flora

      a couple of following on comments:

      Game theory concerns itself with games. Some things aren’t a game.

      With the EU being called on for stronger union one can only wonder at their decision to blow up the EU now.

    2. James Levy

      This is just Teddy Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine applied to Europe by Germany. We took over the customs services of countries like the Dominican Republic and China so that we could collect their taxes in order for the money to be funneled right back to Uncle Sam and other creditors. Except this time it’s being funneled back to Auntie Angela. People who want to throw stones at Germany should not live in glass houses, or the United States.

  26. Jess

    Robert Reich headlines an email in which MoveOn tries to fund-raise off the Greek crisis. How much lower can an allegedly lefty org go?

    “Dear MoveOn member,
    Greece is all over the news this week—but how come so few people are talking about Wall Street’s role in creating the crisis, or what people like us can do to change the outcome?

    Let’s talk about it—and do something about it.

    Read on to see how I see it. Once you’ve read this, please chip in to help MoveOn launch an emergency global campaign for progress, not austerity…”

    That’s right, the thing to do is contribute to MoveOn. Puke.

  27. Sally

    And the purges begin………

    Zero hedge reporting that the Greek govt is tonight purging left wing ministers from the govt. including the Energy minister. (Who is hostile to a deal) and who’s department will probably soon be handed over to some German energy company.

    Who’s betting on revolution within a year, counter revoloution within 18 months and civil war within 2 years?

    1. Yves Smith

      A failed state is more likely. The government was badly hollowed out even before this crisis. A military coup is also possible if there is enough disorder.

      1. ambrit

        There is still a niche open for some small and well organized group to begin a ‘privatized’ humanitarian relief operation. We saw it on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. The government encouraged ‘faith based’ groups to handle relief. A reverse secularization if you will. That would lead to factionalism within Greece, which looks to be part of the plan. (What plan? I’m wearing my fashionable tin foil hat right now. I’m suspecting that Entropy is our new god.)

  28. Paul Dessau

    Two telling quotes from the Guardian article:

    “In what a senior EU official described as an “exercise in extensive mental waterboarding” to secure Greek acquiescence to talks on a third bailout in five years worth up to €86bn (£62bn), the two leaders pressed for absolute certainty from Tsipras that he would honour what was on offer.”


    “The terms are much stiffer than those imposed by the creditors over the past five years. This, said the senior official, was payback for the emphatic no to the creditors’ terms delivered by the snap referendum that Tsipras staged a week ago. “He was warned a yes vote would get better terms, that a no vote would be much harder,” said the senior official.

    Because the Greek people have overwhelmingly rejected further austerity (after having endured five years of this failed and inhumane policy), the creditors choose to be especially brutal to them in order to show that resistance is futile. They want to make an example out of Greece to press home the point that THE RULES that enshrine austerity in the eurozone have to be obeyed at all cost, even if that means the ruin of an entire country.

    Now, there are differences: the German government presses openly for a Grexit, to which the French government is vehemently opposed. But I think that a third Memorandum (bailout program) and a Grexit are in some regards equivalent, since both lead to greater suffering, at least in the short to medium term. The French position is more sensible of course, since any exit of a country would turn the “irrevocable” monetary union into a hard peg. Schäuble might be a bit too eager to play the eurozone’s disciplinarian.

    Tsipras and SYRIZA have “lost the trust of the German goverment” (they don’t do as they are told); so many center-right and center-left politicians in Germany would prefer a new government in Greece. But forcing Tsipras to do the exact opposite of what he intended and promised to do, and tying his hands by means of a renewed and even tighter Troika regime to ensure obedience, serves equally well to hammer home the point that “elections don’t change anything” when it comes to economic and fiscal policy in the eurozone. Austerity is the name of the game, and there is no alternative. If any country tries to reject austerity and promote alternatives like Keynesianism (implying that the eurozone’s strategy of the past couple of years has been wrong), the powers that be will crash its banking system. The message couldn’t be any clearer.

  29. alex morfesis

    has anyone drug tested Schaeuble ???

    the Telegraph reporting he snapped at Draghi in public over greece

    the Central Bank said it might give a 30 day extension on the July 20 funds

    not joking…schaeuble has no background in finance

    he is like most european finance ministers, career politicians without a clue…

    but he can’t be this openly evil, stupid and sober…

    someone pop a breath-o-lizer on him and drain and test his sack to see what he has been chewing on…maybe someone changed the mushrooms in his salad…

    1. El Guapo

      It’s not drugs or alcohol. The German leadership is simply deranged. The Germans are fucking up Europe again and no one should be surprised – it’s what they do best.

    1. blowncue

      Ambiguous wording in the alt proposal being used to bash Schauble over the head – with which I don’t have particular issue . Wording is “an external fund like the….” as opposed to the particular fund in controversy. Not sure if the 50 B security deposit is still on the table at this point.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I understand the “like” wording, but the issue turns on the likeness. A Luxembourg “entity” doesn’t fill me with confidence, especially one “like” KfW, which has had its fair share of scandal over the years.

  30. Disturbed Voter

    It really sucks when you pull the masks off the robbers, and they are your own neighbors and relatives. Greece should declare war on Germany. Then when they lose, they can get a massive Marshall Plan and debt forgiveness, just like the Germans. Put Golden Dawn in charge, while there is still time ;-(

  31. yan

    Please somebody explain why the greeks could not default on euro debt, and THEN, pledge those 50 billion € in “valuable” assets as part of an investment plan in greece. Instead of just giving it away (surely undervalued).

  32. Gio Bruno

    “A Grexit will be a disastrous, inexcusable failure of leadership. Many people, virtually all of them the wrong ones, will pay for it.”

    Yes, in or out of the Euro the “wrong ones” always pay for it. It’s a feature, not a bug of neoliberal capitalism.

  33. john c. halasz

    I looked it up just out of curiosity. Walter Eucken was indeed one of the founding members of the Mont Pelerin Society.

    1. Skippy

      Walter Eucken
      From 1891 to 1950

      An intellectual architect of West Germany’s post-war economic miracle, Walter Eucken was the primary founder of the Freiburg ordo-liberal school of economics. The son of Rudolf Eucken—winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature—Walter Eucken studied history before turning his attention to economics during his studies at the universities of Bonn, Kiel, and Jena. Eucken became a professor of economics at the University of Freiburg in 1927, remaining there until his death in 1950.

      Though proficient in technical economics, Eucken was primarily interested in the broader issue of the legal rules that make both freedom and market economies possible.

      The state’s economic role, Eucken argued, needed to be limited to protecting and upholding the key rules from which we derive the type of legal order that facilitates the free market’s dynamism. Eucken held that the state’s authority should be used—and used vigorously—to uphold the rule of law, private property rights, freedom of contract, and open markets. But once the state moved beyond these parameters, Eucken warned, both freedom and economic prosperity were endangered.

      Following the National Socialists’ seizure of power in 1933, Eucken maintained contact with other anti-Nazi Germans who understood the need to think about how to transition a post-Nazi Germany towards a society marked by ordered liberty rather than socialism or communism.

      Thus, at the end of World War II, Eucken was one of a small number of individuals able to present the intellectual case for the market economy in occupied Germany. While West Germany’s 1948 currency reform and abolition of price-controls was engineered by Ludwig Erhard, Erhard himself acknowledged Eucken as an intellectual godfather of the changes that took West Germany from rubble to riches in less than ten years.

      Walter Eucken never made any secret of his Christian convictions. At the first Mont Pèlerin Society meeting convened by Friedrich von Hayek in 1947, participants were struck by Eucken’s forceful insistence Christianity’s essential compatibility with the market order. Eucken’s use of the word ordo partly reflected his effort to re-establish links between Christian social doctrine and free market thought. Given the right conditions, Eucken believed, markets gave economic expression to man’s innate dignity in ways that collectivist alternatives never could. Eucken’s early death at the age of fifty-nine was a grievous loss to the cause of freedom and Christian faith in a Europe that deeply needed both.

      Skippy…. I must be blinded by complexity…. or something….

  34. Skippy

    Per the LIBOR thingy….

    central bank rates weren’t relevant bc ultra low teaser/ intro rates [90 day] as well as low opening rates, the first 2 years fixed of a 30 year ARM [aka 2/28] w an annual reset indexed to LIBOR- the primary index- or Monthly Treasury Average [MTA].

    recall that LIBOR isn’t per se ‘central banking’ as it is set by actual COMMERCIAL banks, unlike Fed Funds, and as such has been open to manipulation by PRIVATE ACTORS….*

    those opening rates were negotiated marketing tools fully accounted for in the overall rates & points to the borrowers and set at to the guidelines of the Wall Street securitization conduits.

    it is those guidelines that austerians ignore, that it wasn’t a gubmint thingy at all- almost all of the suspect loans were originated by private label lenders and not eligible for Fannie/ Freddie purchase bc the guidelines were not ‘Conforming’ to F/F standards**- one of the great regrets of my post mortgage trading days is having neglected to retain copies of the guidelines that Wall St firms provided for origination.



    Skippy…. so if one ginormous velocity vector starts to peter out…. does it need to be exchanged or augmented[?] thingy…

  35. Fool

    “Can anyone read Bill Black on the ginormous LIBOR bid rigging cartel, and not wonder whether fraud, in markets, is not a bug but a feature?”

    I agree, certainly fraud is a feature (i.e. systemic) and not a bug. However, Bill Black must disagree, having many times over begged the question of the traders’ criminality, i.e. that their behavior is deviant. But is cheating still “cheating” — or should it be called something else to express the systemically ingrained significance and normativity of this behavior?

    PS: I figure I should express my two cents as well — as someone who has intellectually benefitted from many comments read on these pages — and point out that disabling the comment section is a poor idea and for many reasons. Whatever it is that led to this decision, I imagine there’s a better solution out there.

    1. Skippy

      Links and water cooler are an alternative and allows the proprietors and their guest to do what is most important…. provide information.

  36. Yves Smith

    I said very clearly in my post on why I was closing comments that I was regularly up all night, till 8 AM and as late as 1 PM and it was ruining my health. I SPECIFICALLY said it was either close comments or there would be no site at all because I would break down physically.

    I hate to tell you but you and Demeter are proving my point. I’m now up till nearly 9 AM and dealing with your comments (not just my replies, but the emotional energy you took and the fact that I had to talk to Lambert too) took well over a half hour. I am chronically time stressed. Five or ten minutes is a lot of time for me. I cannot devote this sort of time to arguing with readers. Can’t you see how this is draining me? I turn down all radio and TV requests, turn down most speaking requests and virtually all requests to meet personally, don’t get through my inbox on any day, and have NO personal life at all, and you demand more than I can produce. Can’t you see that that is just selfish? My top priority HAS to be producing new posts. That serves the greatest number of readers.

    1. Fool

      Of course your top priority should be producing new posts; moreover, I think your time is better spent not replying to comments at all, if sparingly. But that doesn’t mean that the comments shouldn’t be there nor that they can’t be moderated. Surely, you should not have to explain finance-101’s and repeat yourself on posts, but speaking from the experience of having learned so much as a daily reader of NC for >2 years, I can say that the comments have served as a means of annotating and enhancing the posts.

      Lastly, I imagine given the circulation of NC that you could find others to handle the more tedious duties of maintaining the blog…

  37. Skippy

    “Lastly, I imagine given the circulation of NC that you could find others to handle the more tedious duties of maintaining the blog…”

    If you could not imagine Yves status in her reply above, its hard to see how that optic works anywhere else.

    Skippy…. flogging the horse might get you a few extra bushels this season, but, will it buy you a new horse for the next. Its not like there is a plethora of Yves or Lambert’s just standing in the parking lot at some builders warehouse…. eh.

Comments are closed.