Links 7/17/15

Manatee spotted in Chesapeake Bay Baltimore Sun (furzy mouse)

Polar bears fail to adapt to lack of food in warmer Arctic BBC. Sadly, as one of my colleagues said apropos of business, “Specialization of diet leads to extinction.” That is ever more true in nature.

‘Pluto Truthers’ are pretty sure that the NASA New Horizons mission was faked Examiner (Chuck L)

Scientists discover seaweed that tastes just like fried bacon Inhabitat (furzy mouse)

They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change Truthout

Imagine if the “Uber is a good start” guy turned out to be a crazy racist homophobe Pando

Why Go Set a Watchman is a much better novel than To Kill a Mockingbird New Statesman

China’s real estate, credit and investment bubble risks global recession Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

China banks lent $209bn for stock rescue Financial Times

Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years New York Times

So, Jamie Dimon came to Europe FT Alphaville (Scott). Nothing like good old fashioned corruption!

High street shops enjoy huge sale spike after thieves destroy Welsh town’s parking meters Independent. YY: “Too late for Chicago…”


The end of an affair for France and Germany Financial Times

“Germany’s policies pose a danger to Europe for the first time since 1945” A View From Poland (furzy mouse)

Germany’s Tone Grows Sharper in Greek Debt Crisis New York Times

The end of an affair for France and Germany Financial Times

Merkel ‘gambling away’ Germany’s reputation over Greece, says Habermas Guardian (nobody)

Monti: Anticipate huge problems for Tsipras in Greece DW (IsabelPS)

EMU brutality in Greece has destroyed the trust of Europe’s Left Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The Leaders of Greece Are Some of the Phoniest Idealists You’ll Ever See Alternet

The lack of a clear plan was Syriza’s strength – and then its achilles heel Guardian. Boy, do I not agree with the headline. Sun Tsu: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before the defeat.”

Germany’s Tone Grows Sharper in Greek Debt Crisis New York Times. If you read the statement from the US official, he is not calling for debt haircuts, merely debt reduction. The US wants to look like it is on the more Greece-friendly side of this issue (only because the Germans are being so thuggish, the US has been siding with the creditors since February) without throwing its weight around. They are basically following the IMF line and trying to pretend they are playing a leadership role. In Venezuela, they call this “getting in front of a mob and calling it a parade.” BTW very good graphics in here comparing Greece to the US in the Great Depression.

IMF’s Lagarde: Greek plan not viable Financial Times. Clickbait alert! Headline at odds with the article. Lagarde says the IMF will participate (so she is committed regardless of what the outcome actually is) and that the debt relief will be sufficient without principal haircuts.

More than one way to skin Greece loan Financial Times This is a point too often forgotten: Greece has already gotten a lot of debt relief. The headline amount is lower than the actual economic value due to maturity extensions, payment deferrals, and interest rate reductions:

Where else have the two kinds of relief been used before?

Look no further than the writedowns which private bondholders already weathered in Greece just over three years ago.

In March 2012 nearly all Greece’s remaining bondholders exchanged their securities for bonds of diminished value after months of negotiations. The old bonds received haircuts of up to 65 per cent, knocking €107bn off their face value.

In present value terms however, relief was more like €100bn, or a 55 per cent haircut, because of official financing for some parts of the restructuring.

Austerity will wreck Europe: Greece and the scary new European ultra-nationalism Salon (Oregoncharles)

Majority of Syriza central committee reject austerity deal Redline (SS)

Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion Financial Times

How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis Nation (resilc)

14 people arrested during violent protests in Athens – but not one of them was from Greece Independent. YY: “Odd if true.” This points to two radically different conclusions: the rioting was the doing of foreign provocateurs (which seems less plausible in Greece than elsewhere given that riots in Athens are not unheard of) or the cops detailed people but only “arrested” non-Greeks, which is a form of protest against the government.


Obama, Saudi Foreign Minister to Meet Friday in Shadow of Iran Deal Wall Street Journal

WikiLeaks Shows a Saudi Obsession With Iran New York Times

British pilots involved in bombing of Islamic State in Syria – latest Telegraph

Before Homes Are Even Rebuilt in the Ruins of the Gaza Strip, Another War Looms Truthout

California may let undocumented immigrants buy Obamacare Politico

Chattanooga shooting: What we know about the attack that killed 4 Marines Vox

Litigation Costs Drag Down Goldman Sachs’s Earnings New York Times

Falling markets hit Blackstone profits Financial Times

Judge Kozinski: There’s Very Little Justice In Our So-Called ‘Justice System’ Techdirt (Chuck L). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour. A red footed falcon, @ColDav10 via Lambert:

Falcon links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. wbgonne

    Judge Kozinski: There’s Very Little Justice In Our So-Called ‘Justice System’ Techdirt (Chuck L). Today’s must read.

    Kozinski is quite accurate in his critique of federal trials. But even worse is federal post-conviction jurisprudence. Habeas corpus has been effectively eviscerated (thanks to Bill Clinton’s AEDPA) and federal appeals are strangled by procedural tricks masquerading as process rules (thanks mainly to the Supreme Court). If you are charged in federal court you are fucked (unless you are a corporation or you are very rich, naturally).

  2. JTMcPhee

    Also from the techdirt article, this widely applicable observation:

    “So, the system is broken. And there is no easy remedy. The problem can only be made worse, if the system continues to operate as it has been.”

    All of a piece, all of a piece…

    1. tegnost

      yes, file this one under “Banana Republic”, I always try to read the musts, but only made it 2/3rds of the way on this one…too disheartening when mixed with the uber guy and the polar bears…move fast and break things, indeed

  3. HotFlash

    Re A E-P’s article in the Tellie, he surveys several other writers and observers, concluding with “The EU is being portrayed “with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution”, says Nick Cohen. ”

    I used to wonder how the Inquisition happened, and now I think I know. Just like this.

    1. MikeNY

      I am sincerely interested: which adjective bothers you most — cruel, fanatical, or stupid? And why?

      1. HotFlash

        The combination, of course, is terrifying, but of the three ‘fanatical’ is the one that ‘bothers’ me the most. Fanatics are immune to reason, deaf to any appeal and cannot be swayed by evidence. Austerity does not, by anyone’s measure, work. Not for the creditors, not for the borrowers. Debtors’ prisons won’t get debts paid and no amount of torture or bookburning will make the sun go around the earth, but fanatics just don’t care.

        Which means the beatings will continue until they are stopped. Who will do that?

    2. Gio Bruno

      There’s no need to wonder how the Inquisition happened. It was initially a Roman Catholic Church function to combat heresy. As “heresy” became more broadly defined, the functionaries expanded to State entities.

    1. Benedict@Large

      This isn’t a new idea. I’ve been saying it for well over a year, and I was hardly the first to say it. Essentially, Germany is using mercantilist policies (against Euro rules) to gain competitive advantage over other EU countries, and has done so to the point where no amount of aid to lesser Eu countries will be able to overcome it. The EU has become 19 or so countries existing now simply for the aggrandizement of Germany, a theme more or less reflected in a number of the Grexit links today.

    1. LifelongLib

      I welcome correction, but as far as I know Lincoln never said that he believed in full racial equality, and only embraced the abolition of slavery when the Civil War was well underway. We should be more disappointed in some of the subsequent “historians” who ascribed beliefs to him that he didn’t express himself.

  4. DJG

    Lew on Germany’s behavior and Greece. Most likely, what U.S. policy represents is more triangulation. That’s all the Democrats are good for. All tactics, no strategy. And as you quote: Tactics without strategy are just noise before the defeat.

    1. susan the other

      After reading the Fort Russ link about the Polish euroskeptics, linking to a Russian interview of the NOD (I’ve never heard our Sec of Def state that our goal is to overthrow Putin, but did he?); reminding myself that there is a confluence of thinking represented in Bremmer’s map of terrorists in southern Europe and Vicky Nuland’s dedication to false flag revolutions there (Ukraine, Albania, Macedonia, maybe Greece, Romania and Bulgaria) I almost can’t help but conclude it is possible that we have our sights on SEE – south eastern Europe. Why would we let Greece twist in the wind like this? Will the IMF prevent the bail out if the EU doesn’t? So we can create a confederation of southeast European states? And this coincides with our pushing Abe to ask for a constitutional mandate to send Japan’s military to foreign countries. Let me guess… is it Russia?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The lack of a clear plan…

      It’s like Zen flesh, Zen bones – the Dao (from which came Chan and Zen) is yin and the discipline of meditation and some rules to provide the counterbalancing yang. And so, you have to strive and not strive at the same time.

      Here, you have to both have a clear plan and not have a clear plan.

      It’s hard to expressed with words, but the Dao (without a complimentary yang) in China degenerated into exaggerated claims of superstition or all is permissible chaos. And that’s the risk with just going without a clear plan.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There is an article in the Guardian about the similarities of Schaubles approach to Greece and his experiences with East Germany:

      The conclusions are a little hazy, but it does seem to suggest that the ‘hard man’ act is precisely to allow some cash to be injected in later without anyone noticing. I’m not quite convinced, but it does suggest that when political pressures ease Schauble may be amenable to a much more generous approach to Greece in a few months when (if) the dust settles.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Seaweed tasting like fried bacon.

    Yeah, but is it as crispy though???

    Apparently, we like crunchy chips because it’s like chewing through a bone to get to the marrow part.

    So, while vegetarians, vegans or Buddhists eschew meat, not wanting to see animals suffer, if one still munches on chips, the attachment to killing is still there in the unconscious. This thought came to me one time in a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. There were some bhikkunin dining there and they had vegetarian dishes that tasted like real fish and real pork.

    The impulse to inflict suffering is still latent for fried-bacon-like seaweed enthusiasts, I surmise.

    So, the lesson here is that while we want to appear to be progressive, we have to ask if we still harbor reactionary thoughts within.

    ‘If you want salad, eat salad. Don’t order a salad that tastes like meat.”

    “If you want seaweed, order seaweed. Don’t get seaweed that tastes like fried bacon.”

    1. craazyboy

      It is crunchy seaweed, but the only place it’s found in the whole world is off the coast of northern Japan.

        1. Synoia

          what’s shakin’ in Fukushima

          Neutrons, alpha and beta particles, and probably gamma rays in abundance.

    2. DJG

      I’m not sure that the desire for imitation meat comes from an unconscious attachment to killing. I suspect that it comes from lack of imagination. Seitan burgers?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can’t be sure either.

        But apparently, they make chips to a certain precise crunchiness (the latest available scientifically) and these are best sellers. And they think the crunchiness preference is from it being like chewing through a bone.

        But you can say maybe it’s from eating into a crunch apple, though bone-chewing is older than apple-chewing, the original wild apple being somewhere in Central Asia, around China’s Tianshan mountains and its cultivation being only a few thousand years old.

    3. Praedor

      OR…people (humans) like the taste of meat. It is easy to be conflicted about meat: it tastes fantastic, is packed with protein and energy but requires the killing of living, breathing creatures that feel fear and pain (goes out the window when cultured meat is perfected – I’ll eat meat without any twinges of conscious when it comes from a petri dish). We are evolutionarily attracted to meat, even our closest cousins (chimps) eat meat. Our ancestors through evolutionary history ate meat NOT because they dug killing shit, but because their biochemistry made it clear to them that meat was a very high value food obtainable without lots and lots of effort and time. Your feelings or cultural alterations cannot change biology, only evolution can do that (or VERY well done genetic manipulation) and it doesn’t turn on a dime.

      I’d be quite happy to eat bacon-flavored seaweed. Hell, I happen to like kelp too so I don’t have a “thing” about this or that NON-meat tasting like meat. Nobody MADE it that way, that’s the way it is (it’s natural) so lose the attitude.

      1. giantsquid

        Given that the media in which in vitro meat is cultured contains fetal calf serum, it’s not really much of an improvement.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of changing biology, women have freed themselves in some ways from their biology (with pregnancy prevention, or being freed from the consequences of giving consent discussed below, for example), while men still are pretty much men of 10,000 BC, in that, many men (not those liberated men though) are still biologically driven to perform courtship, to impress with intellectual prowess or material wealth (whatever works), to seek consent (the non-criminal men – bad, bad men just force their way), when they should allow women the power to initiate, to seek consent as well (here, we refer to many still-backward societies), so that no person is surprised when it happens either way.

        1. Praedor

          No. Women have (largely) freed themselves of the CONSEQUENCES of their biology (in the rich West) but not from their biology. It is still what it was 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 yrs ago.

      3. cwaltz

        Meh it isn’t like the alternative isn’t to kill something also living and allowing us to breathe. Just because it doesn’t have a cute and cuddly face doesn’t make it any less deserving of existence(or less living.That lentil or soybean is a plant and also part of a living thing.) I eat meat because I recognize that no matter what my life is dependant on me eating something living. It may not be something I like but it is reality. Personally

        1. Praedor

          The diff is a brain, a nervous system, data processing, emotion, cognition. Big diff between a vegetable and something with volition (to varying degrees) and feelings.

    4. different clue

      The suffering inflicted on plants is the purest suffering of all, because the plants can’t run away or fight back. So the sap-thirsty vegan can torture and mutilate and vivisect any plant which catches its fancy without any fear of vengeance at all whatsoever.

      Nature green in sap and claw . . . .

  6. grayslady

    Judge Kozinski makes some valid observations about weaknesses in the justice system. However, I part ways with him on appointing judges. The legal system is rampant with corruption and cronyism. Particularly in the larger cities, judges tend to rule in favor of clients who can afford representation by the largest law firms that, not coincidentally, have the most representation in the bar associations that act as lobbying firms for judicial elections. What we need is a publicly funded counterweight, IMO.

    In Minnesota, a group of volunteers founded WATCH, an organization that monitors domestic violence trials as part of its mission to raise public awareness about these crimes and how they are handled by the judiciary. WATCH regularly publishes judicial policy recommendations, and, according to newspaper articles, the very fact that a monitor is watching court proceedings has improved the judicial consistency in which these cases are handled.

    However, I don’t think we should have to rely on volunteer groups to perform this service. I’d like to see a system where we fund a public watchdog, just as we fund our police departments, judges, and public prosecutors. These would be paid, trained employees so the watchdog group would also be a source of employment. Individual trial reports, as well as policy recommendations, could help place the spotlight on both the people and the practices that may weaken the system. Just my opinion.

    1. diptherio

      As soon as someone’s paycheck is attached to an oversight task, they are corruptible.

      We could probably use this sort of citizen check on the system in all court cases, not just domestic violence. However, if you give the job to a paid functionary of the system, they will become part of the system, rather than a check on it. I actually think that judicial oversight is too important to leave to a professional. I want people doing it who are only there to serve justice, not to make a mortgage payment.

      1. grayslady

        Unfortunately, people do need to make their mortgage payments. Equally, there is the possibility of corruption and incompetence in all systems. I admit, in my own mind, I don’t have all the details of how such an organization might be structured to minimize the problems you bring up, but I envision something like a publicly funded ACLU. I agree that such an entity shouldn’t be limited to domestic violence but, unfortunately, MN’s WATCH group is the only example I know of that attempts to monitor some aspect of the legal system.

      2. JTMcPhee

        As a former brief-tenure court watcher in Cook County, might I offer that volunteer court watching does seem to help, but where arbitrary power exists, you can’t force your way into the courtrooms of corrupt judges, and you have no idea of what goes on in chambers when the judge heads back there with one of the attorneys in tow. Corruption will walk in whether judges are appointed or elected. Chicago had both, with appointments to fill vacancies and retention elections in a Machine system where you needed a “Chinaman” (love the Politico take on the term and the Machine, to get nominated, and retention was pretty much assured unless you annoyed the Silk Stocking law firms too much or were completely off the wall.

        There are a lot of court watching projects across the country, e.g., and this now dead effort, that shows how frail the public involvement and “rectification” effort on the ordinary-person side is. And what a surprise that the Wrongs (WHY are these people called “the Right,” again?) have figured out how to corrupt and abuse even this effort at restraining the worst excesses of power? Like this bunch, the eagle Forum,, and these charmers,

        Hard to find people of good will and resources to even start to keep track of the corruption, let alone counter it. As our site hosts know only too well…

    2. Praedor

      I would love to see the legal system lose the adversarial approach and reform along scientific guidlines. Instead of a prosecutor who’s sole purpose is to convict you, while the the defense attorney’s sole purpose is to get you off REGARDLESS of reality (or even evidence), there should be two independent panels of “legal researchers”. Each operates on a different hypothesis but are NOT deeply wedded to their working hypothesis being correct. The equivalent of the prosecution side has the hypothesis that you are guilty. The defense side has the hypothesis you are not guilty. They look at ALL the available evidence (no throwing out evidence due to mistakes or even bad behavior by cops – you keep the evidence while noting how it was acquired AND PUNISH THE COP(S) for the screw-up. REALLY punish them: lose their pay, promotions, pay, retirements, even go to jail for gross rights violations. Do that instead of punishing society in general). In science, if the evidence you acquire doesn’t support your hypothesis, you drop the hypothesis. Period. You don’t par out evidence or minimize evidence because it conflicts with your starting hypothesis. The evidence either supports or doesn’t support the hypothesis. At the end the data from both camps is presented for “peer review” and a conclusion of which hypothesis is best supported is made. Your job security is NOT tied to how many times your hypothesis (guilt or non-guilt) is supported by the available evidence, it is only tied to valid, non-corrupted evaluation of the evidence regardless of outcome.

      At no time afterwards is evidence no longer able to change the conclusion (as in science). A hypothesis that was solid at the time can be negated by evidence that cannot be explained under the previous hypothesis.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes. Now how to get there?

        Caveat: “justice” will always be more political than you suggest; but this is certainly the ideal to strive for.

  7. Vatch

    “They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change Truthout”.

    This is an example of a genuine conspiracy, or perhaps multiple related conspiracies. Conspiracies are real, even though some of the common conspiracy theories are outlandish.

    1. susan the other

      I was almost shocked at Pitt’s bluntness about reality after almost a century. Everybody knows this stuff. Newsflash for Mr. Pitt: this isn’t news. It is now a tragedy. Everybody who is worth their salt is writing about the best things we can do now. But it is long past time to get pissed off because “they knew.”

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Phoniest idealists in Greece link.

    I wonder why he didn’t call them Trojan Horse resistance fighters.

    1. Benedict@Large

      14 people arrested during violent protests in Athens – but not one of them was from Greece – Independent

      Of course, the Athens police has well-known ties to Golden Dawn (some say they are one and the same there), and Golden Dawn’s signature issue is (anti-) immigration. No doubt at all that this skewed arrest roster reflects their hostility against immigrants. (I wouldn’t want to be one in police custody there. Stories are rampant.)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From the link:

        Kathimarini reported that four of those arrested came from Germany, two were French, one Australian, one Ukraine, one Dutch and three Polish. There were given charges relating to damage of a metro station


        Sounds like not a few of them were tourists, not immigrants.

        Before clicking, I automatically assumed they would be imperial New World color-revolution operatives when I came upon the words ‘foreign provocateurs.’ For that false presumption, I apologize.

  9. Michael

    I’m really challenged on what to do about the justice system, because our society is just so completely ok with harming so many people with State violence.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A Danish psychologist described it as a ‘disinterested disposition to punish’ in 1930s Germany. Now it’s here in the Homeland.

      The foundations of the federal conviction mill were laid in 1981-1984 by Attorney General William French Smith (a Harvard Law grad, natch). Edwin Meese took over as Attorney General in 1985 for the ramp-up of the Gulag, whose population exploded higher like Google’s stock chart did today.

      Thirty years later, President Obama has finally called for a sentencing reform bill. But the centerpiece of the Gulag — the War on Drugs launched by Nixon and Agnew 45 years ago — mindlessly plows on, leaving its residue of human wreckage and broken families.

  10. Chris in Paris

    The Monti comment very telling and aimed at both Merkel and Hollande (and perhaps Sarkozy…):

    I think even for the survival of our member states, it is imperative that for a number of years, the interest of the EU be put well above the respectable but minor interests of a chancellor or a president to be re-elected.

  11. Jim Haygood

    The GOOG, comrades: it’s on a roll. Up 14% today to a record high, after strong second quarter results, producing a classic hockey-stick chart:

    Following suit, the Nasdaq and NDX (Nasdaq 100 large cap stocks) are at record highs too.

    Surely there’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be cured by a good bubble.

    1. ambrit

      Todays economy is more like a bubble being blown with the second hand smoke from bong hits.
      As for that ‘hockey stick graph;’ I prefer to refer to it as a ‘crack pipe’ graph. It’s all sorts of fun on the way up, but a real bummer when you crash.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yes. When Bubble III pops (as all bubbles must do), the Federal Reserve will react with its standard refrain: no one could possibly have foreseen this tragic event.

    2. ambrit

      GOOG? Isn’t that one of the evil pair from the Book of Revelations, GOOG and MAGOOG?
      (Oh my! Mr. Magoog could be Trump!)
      Meanwhile, the PMs are trading at or near the very bottom of their 52 week ranges. Platinum is below $1000 USD an ounce for the first time since the ’08 crash. Oil is way down, though the “Rent Extraction Lag Effect” is retarding the spill over to retail fuel prices, yet again.
      As for fun with bubbles, two different takes:
      Sally Rand:
      Charlie Chaplin:

  12. Roquentin

    That piece from the Guardian on Habermas put a smile on my face. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. The Frankfurt School lives on!

    1. c (too)

      end of the article:

      “The currency union must gain the capacity to act at the supra-national level. In view of the chaotic political process triggered by the crisis in Greece, we can no longer afford to ignore the limits of the present method of intergovernmental compromise.”

      Habermas argued that Europe was “stuck in a political trap”.

      “Without a common financial and economic policy, the national economies of pseudo-sovereign member states will continue to drift apart in terms of productivity. No political community can sustain such tension in the long run,” he said. “At the same time, by focusing on avoidance of open conflict, the EU’s institutions are preventing necessary political initiatives for expanding the currency union into a political union. Only the government leaders assembled in the European council are in the position to act, but precisely they are the ones who are unable to act in the interest of a joint European community because they think mainly of their national electorate.”

      he clearly thinks that more Europe is the solution

      1. financial matters

        This seems to be reflected in Paul Mason’s article in the Guardian from today’s links

        “Millions of people are beginning to realise they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver. Their response is anger – and retreat towards national forms of capitalism that can only tear the world apart. Watching these emerge, from the pro-Grexit left factions in Syriza to the Front National and the isolationism of the American right has been like watching the nightmares we had during the Lehman Brothers crisis come true.

        We need more than just a bunch of utopian dreams and small-scale horizontal projects. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on with it.”

        I think this reinforces the notion that if the troika is putting forth a failed system why should that be allowed to destroy the EU.

        I think this is also interesting. We see both the US and China using tons of money to prop up the stock market. (monetary excess in combination with austerity) What?

        “The solutions have been austerity plus monetary excess. But they are not working. In the worst-hit countries, the pension system has been destroyed, the retirement age is being hiked to 70, and education is being privatised so that graduates now face a lifetime of high debt. Services are being dismantled and infrastructure projects put on hold.”

        In line with Mazzucato he would like to see the collective power of the state put to productive use for several very pressing problems.

        “The modern day external shocks are clear: energy depletion, climate change, ageing populations and migration. They are altering the dynamics of capitalism and making it unworkable in the long term.

        If I am right, the logical focus for supporters of postcapitalism is to build alternatives within the system; to use governmental power in a radical and disruptive way; and to direct all actions towards the transition – not the defence of random elements of the old system.”

      2. gordon

        Oh, I think that Habermas is still committed to “more Europe”. He’s just complaining that the financial union has run ahead of political union, and draws the conclusion that political union has got to catch up. In this recent article, he is obviously arguing for a more comprehensive (and more democratic) political union:

        If the financial union has indeed run ahead of politics – and I think that’s probably right – the alternative suggestion is of course that the financial union should be unwound back to a level compatible with the political. That would be my preference.

    1. Vatch

      “Misallocation of resources” is true, but it is a major understatement. Some of this money was likely donated by generous people who have trouble making their mortgage or rent payments. And some of those people may make an additional donation to help Osteen’s church cover the loss. Hucksters like Osteen infuriate me.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve done construction work in a few mega churches in Louisiana. “Elmer Gantry,” both the book and film, are only slightly sensationalized depictions of the religion “business.”
        My favourite ‘take’ on the religion ‘business’ is Fritz Leiber’s “Street of Gods” set in the imaginary city of Lankhmar in the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser fantasy stories.

        1. Vatch

          Thanks for the Leiber reference. For a truly disturbing satire on cultish religious behavior, see chapter 6, “The Eaters”, of the science fiction novel Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks.

    2. MikeNY

      Mr Osteen is a gifted salesman. He claims his product is God, but it’s really himself.

  13. JohnB

    I recently found out about HBO’s Vice documentary series, and I’ve been really enjoying it – I think most of the NC crowd would like it too (and it’s very bitesize, usually each episode is two 10 min documentaries).

    Here is the one they did on ghost cities in China – which the article linked above reminded me of:

  14. Jess

    Typo alert: Greek article about protest arrests: “the cops detailed people”. Shouldn’t that be “detained” people?

  15. Vatch

    As most NC readers know, recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill (S.1709, the 21st Century Glass-Steagall act of 2015) in the Senate to restore the Glass Steagall separation of banking functions. An apparently identical companion bill (H.R.3054) was introduced in the House by Rep. Michael Capuano.

    However, a different but similar bill was also introduced in the House in January by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, H.R. 381, the Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2015. Can anyone advise us which House bill is preferable, H.R.381 or H.R.3054?

    I’m going to ask my Senators to co-sponsor and vote for S.1709, but I want to know which House bill I should recommend to my Representative.

    1. afisher

      I don’t have an answer re: which HR bill – but thank you ever so much for providing the actual legislative number. It makes my job of locating and read them oh so much easier!

  16. Synoia

    Grexit and the $50 Billion in Greek Assets set-aside

    The $50 Billion asset set aside look like looting the commons, fells like looting the command and is looting the commons.

    It also has the feel of a huge bribe to the Greek politicians, for which politician doe not wat a share of the “management fees” which accompany the “management” of the pile of assets.

    I’d estimate there is at least $5 Billions available for “fees” to the correctly connected people.

    Which would conclude most members of the Greek parliament, and would explain the sudden change in attitude by the politicians after the Oxi referendum on austerity.

    I smell a rat. I’m sure the member of parliament smell money and are jockeying for their families to get position in the new amorphous entity with $50 Billion in assets.

    What an example for the Germans to set for Europe. Bribe the local leaders with their own states’ assets.

    Brilliant. Let the looting continue, all across Europe. and the locals can blame it on the Germans while looting their own countries.

  17. Jesper

    I saw the post about the banking union in EU…. Anyone ever wonder why foreign banks do not open up local branches in Greece, Ireland etc?
    In Greece, could it have anything to do with the Greek legal system and contract dispute resolution system?

  18. bwilli123

    On the business of the Greek Oligarchs

    ..”Even in a struggling economy, Greece’s shipping magnates benefit from favorable government treatment, including an exemption for shipping firms from certain taxes. Shipowners control most of the country’s major oil companies, soccer teams and television stations, and played a major role in bailing out its banks in recent years…”

    1. Vatch

      Metaphorically, Greece has a financial drought. Despite the “drought”, the rich are exempt from many taxes. Similarly, California has a literal drought, and the rich are able to use all the water they want for fracking and for growing water intense crops such as rice and alfalfa. They also keep their lawns nice and green.

      (Sorry if this is a duplicate message. My connection dropped while posting the first time, probably due to a problem on my end.)

  19. Jim Haygood

    Christine Lagarde reiterates:

    Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), reiterated the institution’s earlier stance that Greece’s bailout deal would not be viable without a “complete package” that would make the country’s borrowings sustainable. The IMF had, in a statement released earlier this week, called for more relief for Greece to reduce its “highly unsustainable” debt.

    “This complete package has two legs, a Greek leg that entails an in-depth reform of the Greek economy. That means holding a budgetary position that is sound and gives the country solidity; and the second leg is that of the lenders, which entails supplying financing and restructuring the debt to ease its burden,” Lagarde reportedly said early on Friday, according to media reports.

    The IMF has already made it clear that it will not send any new program to its board that does not include debt restructuring.

    Contrary to the final paragraph, though, will the IMF really derail the Greek deal at this late date, when the Viceroy of Griechenland, Herr Doktor Schaeuble, says nein?

    Stay tuned for the next episode of this gripping humanoid drama, Twilight of the Euro Clowns.

    1. hunkerdown

      Billy Graham was a liberal, too. But liberals are useless. They want to keep resurrecting capitalism every time it flatlines so that it can win for keeps. Why is that useful?

      Besides, if they seek to self-identify as useless because all their friends are, who am I to challenge their professed identity?

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding today’s link to the FT article about the Chinese government’s use of China’s central bank and largest banks to prop up stock prices of that nation’s corporations and shadow banks to the tune of over $US200 billion equivalent: caused me to reflect on and question the current involvement of the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Federal Reserve, large primary dealer banks, and possibly large HFT firm(s) and others in increasing and supporting companies’ stock prices in the U.S. Although I, I like most Americans, have no firsthand knowledge of such activity, based on recurring market price behavior I strongly suspect the “Working Group on Financial Markets” has gone far beyond their original legal mandate.

    Various writers and market analysts who have expertise in this area have said that the simplest way for the “Working Group” to intervene in markets would be through buying stock market index futures contracts, either in cooperation with major banks or through trading desks at the U.S. Treasury or Federal Reserve.

    Assuming this is true and key global financial markets are being actively manipulated, when and why did stock market bubble creation and government underwriting of stock prices become official policy? It would seem to dovetail with 7 years of Fed QE-ZIRP and the funding of massive corporate share buybacks.

  21. docg

    Re starving polar bears:

    “Indeed, the current debate over climate change is heavily imbued with politics. If you’re on the “left,” you’re for it; if you’re on the “right,” you’re agin’ it. How convenient. You don’t even have to think about it, just ask yourself if you care about whether or not polar bears will be able to continue devouring baby seals alive in the same abundant numbers as in the past. If you care, then “climate change is real.” If not, then “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by greedy climate scientists eager for government handouts.””

    from “The Unsettled Science of Climate Change” —

  22. Oregoncharles

    The beginning of the end for the EU is NOT good news – unless it’s also the beginning of the end for neoliberalism (which, ironically, is the old, laissez-faire liberalism reborn).

    But the gist of most of the Grexit links is precisely that: the EU is crumbling, and Germany is now seen throughout Europe as the bad hegemon, reviving memories of the Nazi era. (Since the US essentially stands behind them, this isn’t good news for us, either.)

    Spain this fall, Britain in 2007 – does anyone have a schedule of EU elections over the next couple of years?

    A collapse, or even just fragility, of the Euro will have huge knock-on effects on the world economy. I suspect that will be the next big issue NC covers.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      These things take longer to happen than you think.

      The Soviet Union was similarly discredited when it invaded Czechoslovakia in 1967. It took 22 years after that for the Soviet Union to dissolve. And that was with the Reagan military spending giving it a big push in that direction.

      1. Optimader

        A bit hyperbolic. EU tanks arent rollung through Athens. As for Reagan the SU was already an economic basket case, the end game would have been the same w/ or w/o Reagan, just different details.

  23. djrichard

    The lack of a clear plan was Syriza’s strength – and then its achilles heel

    The absence of a clearly defined strategy initially helped to boost the numbers of party supporters. But at the crucial moment it has resulted in a disastrous lack of cohesion.

    Makes it sound like they needed to be all things to all people to keep the coalition together. Even the oligarchs had a role.

    I guess the alternative would have been to identify red lines early on in the process as the article suggests. I think this works best when the coalition members have already experienced the pain of failure and so have a shared desire not to repeat that experience. Otherwise, nobody wants to make hard decisions early on; why take the personal risk? In which case I think, coalitions coalesce around leaders that are least challenging.

    So maybe in the end it was naive to look to Syriza, as new kid on the block, to go through this process of discovery before it really mattered.

    But we can certainly say Syriza (and coalition partners) have gone through the baptism now – they should have a very intimate knowledge of the pain of failure. I guess the question is what do they do with that knowledge? Will they declare success, hoping for a safe comfy harbor to park themselves in? Or will they want to step back up to the plate with the idea being not repeat that failure?

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    Of late, it has become ever easier to view the economic and political dealings in Europe as happenings on a Neoliberal kindergarten playground. Some of the children do not play nicely with the others, and some are bullies with their small gangs of wannabe bullies. The playground has absolutely no supervision. All the teachers are occupied with testing, filling out forms and dealing with administrative mandates. Children are alone … left to their own devices. But the playground is not a new “Lord of Flies.” There are no gods or wanton sacrifices. One of the biggest-meanest kids decided to pick on one of the weakest-meekest kids. Unsurprisingly, the big kid managed to knock the little kid senseless. Not an unknown outcome of such playground encounters.

    But after winning the “fight” — the big kid started kicking the little kid in the face and groin while the little guy groaned and rolled on the ground. And now, the big kid is looking for a large stone or brick to use in obliterating the little kid’s face, nose and teeth while bystanders and fellow “gang” members quietly and motionlessly watch.

    As a fellow gang-member, of sorts, bigger than the big kid, what do we do? …. Nothing. Some suggest, we might be pushing the big kid. Some say we might have larger goals to disorganize and disaggregate the friendships and allegiances on this playground — for selfish reasons of our own.

    But what might the other gang-members and bystanders do?

    Me … I would beg my parents to move me to another school.

  25. john c. halasz

    Re: Donald Tusk:

    Peculiarly he’s actually Kashubian. He does have a youthful Solidarinosc background, though entered politics as a liberal capitalist. I’m just curious why he’s so focused in 1968. What does he think happened then and why was it so “dangerous”?

  26. nothing but the truth

    when it (or lackey IMF) is the creditor the US wants its pound of flesh.

    when others are creditors the US suggest debtor relief.


  27. nothing but the truth

    does the readership of this website, which overwhelmingly blames Germany and wants a debt forgiveness, imply that two countries A and B, which have a major difference of productivity, have the same standard of living because B should be in debt and A should keep forgiving it?

    Germans should work till 70 so Greek civil servants can retire at 50? (and this situation is not only in EU, this is a problem in the US too, but here the media does not raise such issues, at least not when domestic problems are involved.)

    As I see it (and my knowledge of economics stopped at econ 101 – it made no sense to me and i did not study it further), Greek standard of living has to decline. Everything else is a corollary.

    Greeks obviously don’t want that. They want Germans to sustain Greek standard of living.

    1. OIFVet

      Really? By your logic the US should have the highest standard of living. But does it? Bonus question: what proportion of the debt went to the Greek civil servants vs back to Germany for weapons purchases? Nothing but the cool aide…

        1. OIFVet

          How should I know, I’ve been too busy to google it. But I don’t need to google to know that blaming the debt on civil servant retiring at “50” and calling for massive collective punishment is beyond asinine.

          1. Optimader

            Well google away then if it is a relevant question rather than just nonsequitr bs.

            If there are infact (i dont know) civil sector employees retiring at 50, or grossly under the rank and file private sector retirement age, it is indeed wrong, irrespective of retirement age in germany. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.
            I do know civil servants in this country that retired in their mid 50’s with 80+% pensions and i think it is absurd policy

            1. OIFVet

              Yes, we should work till we drop. My father did, died on the job. It will solve the SS problem for sure if more did. Let’s make the retirement age 80.

              BTW, most civil servants that are eligible to retire with benefits are cops and military. These aren’t easy jobs. But in the spirit of sacrifice at the altar of neoliberalism, I should perhaps give up my disability and VA benefits.

              1. Optimader

                Your replies are becoming more and more shrill. 50 is an unrealistic standard as well is 80.
                Your two examples
                1.the bulk of military service positions should not be a carreer, and for much of the rest, they are donut muncher jobs physically.
                2. Cops mostly an unappealing job but again, alot of nonphysical backroom jobs in the business. The beatcop that doesnt have the physical or intelle tual horsepower to mature into a more seditary backroom responsibility should be appropriate for disability early retirement.

                I know several examples from the ranks of federal leo, perfectly healthy, were hardly jumping cyclone fences, did the usual last three year nod and wink high salary appointments then took retirement in their early 50s and work as full time consultants. Dont blame thrm for woking the system to their advantage but it is unsustainable as a larger social policy. Imo graduated SS retirement benefits should kick in at 60 with no penalty at 63. If someone has a bonefide physical disability, job accomidation or early retirement on diability.

                Btw, several exame of school teacher i know/have met retired in their early mid 50s with absurd packages. Unsustainable

                1. OIFVet

                  Shrill is spouting off about those “spoiled Greeks” without knowing WTF is really driving this, and calling for massive amounts of pain on all. Shrill is spouting off about the unsustainability of having an exceedingly tiny proportion of the public sector employees retiring in their 50’s while we are being robbed blind by bankers and politicians. Do you really think that 67 is a realistic retirement age for those who do physical labor? I would like to see you try it.

            2. Skippy


              Public service, not many decades ago [75ish], was for those that wanted security and to pick up the slack the private sector could not, that wages and productivity diverged and neoliberalism turned the private sector into a lotto, casino, wood chipper, survival of the fittest bear pit, which ultimately made the Public sector look like fat cats….. is a feature and not a bug.

              Yves herself has unpacked this many times in the past.

              Skippy…. now the neoliberal youth brigade apparatchiks are being sold the meme that boomers stole all their wealth, solution, liquidate them before their futures are irrevocably lost… but make a profit whilst you do it….

              1. Optimader


                I have no axe to grind on humane retirement. My point is there are public service pension plans with be efits that have divereged from realistic supplemental needs that are in no way reproduced or sustainable if applied across all public and private sector jobs.
                I see it in my local school district just as an example. Does a well salaried public employee Really need 80% of their salary in an early retirement package on top of any personal savings? I surely would not if i had run out my career as a private sector salaried employee.

    2. Optimader

      Greece Retirement Age – Men 2009-2015 | Data | Chart | Calendar
      Retirement Age Men in Greece increased to 67 in 2015 from 66 in 2014. Retirement Age Men in Greece averaged 64.29 from 2009 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 67 in 2015 and a record low of 57 in 2009. Retirement Age Men in Greece is reported by the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection, Greece.

        1. Optimader

          ny Retirement Age – Men 2009-2015 | Data | Chart | Calendar
          Retirement Age Men in Germany increased to 65.30 in 2015 from 65.23 in 2014. Retirement Age Men in Germany averaged 65.11 from 2009 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 65.30 in 2015 and a record low of 65 in 2010. Retirement Age Men in Germany is reported by the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern.

          Same bookmark, good metric site, just awkward to post on iphone

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’ve discussed this at some length.

        Greece does not have disability insurance or unemployment insurance. The pension system is a one-size-fits-all social welfare system. So it is misleading to make direct comparisons to other pension systems in Europe. BTW this is yet another example of Syriza’s abject failure in negotiating and PR.

        The creditors actually proposed in one of their drafts that Greece implement a minimum annual income along with pension cuts. We posted on that.

  28. jrs

    Many people want debt forgiveness on humanitarian grounds yes. The banks got bailed out why not Greece? But being as hard hearted as possible, whether or not it’s desirable, many people also think it’s *inevitable*, some degree of debt write off and default, because there is no way Greece can pay it’s debt. I certainly know finance people who think this (not really a profession known for it’s bleeding hearts).

    I’m not sure where the figures are coming from as neither a German retirement age of 70 nor a Greek age of 50 seems particularly accurate, although possible it is for just Greek civil servants. Overall social welfare provisions may be better for Germany than Greece though (even before Greece became a complete trainwreck) even if the retirement age is younger in Greece.

  29. docg

    Greece is a country that made a huge mistake (spending way beyond its means and borrowing heavily to cover the bills) and is paying for it.

    Germany made a far worse mistake (invading just about every country in sight on every side, wreaking havoc everywhere, committing unforgivable acts of terror and horrible violence on innocent victims) and never payed for it at all. Bailed out by the Marshall Plan.

    So. Doesn’t Merkel get it? Isn’t it time to reciprocate with a German Marshall Plan for Greece, instead of acting as though all that matters is rules, rules, rules? If it were a matter of rules alone (i.e. simple justice), Germany would have been razed to the ground and all its citizens left to fend for themselves.

    1. Optimader

      “Germany made a far worse mistake (invading just about every country in sight on every side, wreaking havoc everywhere, committing unforgivable acts of terror and horrible violence on innocent victims) and never payed for it at all. Bailed out by the Marshall Plan.”

      Sins of the father, grandfather in this case. I feel zero responsibilty for the breathtaking carnage Americans wrought on north american aborigines. Should I?

      1. OIFVet

        Why should you? After all the reservations are beautiful, thriving, prosperous places these days where there is no alcoholism, disease, and early death. Definitely atoned for the sins of the great great grandfathers.

        1. Optimader

          Ah, they are finally aligning with urban america!
          Actually i have been on several reservations, And i encourage anyone that is not at the top echelons of the tribal food chain to punch out.
          As a first generation american how much responsibility do you take?

          Me, i never bought into that catholic original sin mumbojumbo either.

          1. OIFVet

            Chief Half Whiteoat they are not, though urban america is a marginal improvement the way things are going.

            BTW, how much responsibility should I take for something my predecessors didn’t participate in?

            1. optimader

              You’re applying a double standard then I some sort of atonement applies to me but not you.
              My family tree in North America starts w/ 20th century immigrants as well. They did not harm any NA aborigines, were not slave holders nor for that matter derived benefit from slaves, so personally I feel no guilt nor do I take any responsibility for what my ancestors did not do.

              JTMcPhee summarizes my sentiment.
              On the subject of reducing evil of the present, that is of course in the eye of the beholder.
              For example the subject of allowing native americans to steward traditions. Should an ancient tradition of Eskimos, whale hunts, be allowed to perpetuate as a special privilege, an atonement if you may. a privilege somewhat arbitrarily IMO not allowed to other ethnic backgrounds? How about using powerboats, helicopters, chainsaws and forklifts to perpetuate ancient and privileged traditions? The devil is always in the details.

              In my idealized version of society, huge, unnecessary MIC and market gaming corporate subsidy rollbacks would free up massive and destructive wealth allocations that could in turn make for a much more interesting and fruitful society. That said, not likely to happen in my lifetime so I get along in the manner I can.

            2. optimader

              You’re applying a double standard then I some sort of atonement applies to me but not you.

              My family tree in North America starts w/ 20th century immigrants as well. They did not harm any NA aborigines, were not slave holders nor for that matter derived benefit from slaves, so personally I feel no guilt nor do I take any responsibility for what my ancestors did not do.
              JTMcPhee summarizes my sentiment.
              On the subject of reducing evil of the present, that is of course in the eye of the beholder.
              For example the subject of allowing native americans to steward traditions. Should an ancient tradition of Eskimos, whale hunts, be allowed to perpetuate as a special privilege, an atonement if you may. a privilege somewhat arbitrarily IMO not allowed to other ethnic backgrounds? How about using powerboats, helicopters, chainsaws and forklifts to perpetuate ancient and privileged traditions? The devil is always in the details.

              In my idealized version of society, huge, unnecessary MIC and market gaming corporate subsidy rollbacks would free up massive and destructive wealth allocations that could in turn make for a much more interesting and fruitful society. That said, not likely to happen in my lifetime so I get along in the manner I can.

              1. OIFVet

                Life is one giant exercise of double standard. I am going along with the flow. The germans are too, and they also disregard JT McPhee’s sentiment. But unlike you and most Americans, they don’t have the excuse of being late arrivals to Germany. I can’t adequately convey just how disconcerting Germany’s behavior is to large proportion of Europeans, both as a function of not very distant history and basic human decency.

          2. jrs

            There is no guilt that should be taken as guilt for a past one had no part in. There is however privilege that may still exist today, that is a result of that past. It’s not the same thing as guilt. And this probably applies as much to Germany, as to the U.S.

            Society is also still messed up today, of course, but even the guilt of the present is probably real but limited as far as most relatively powerless people go, they are usually very small unimportant parts of the whole.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Maybe “learn the evil of the past, reduce the evil of the present, avoid the evil in the future”?

              1. John Jones

                A German friend of mine said the following, almost reading my mind: just as Germany forced Greece to pay for its own occupation during the last world war, now that Greece is occupied again, she is also being forced to pay for her own occupation.

                William Mallinson

            2. John Jones

              I think when ever people come into a country after such events like clearing out of land of natives or people there before them or the building of a state on slave labor etc. Even after these events have long past or we are or not descendants of the perpetrators. Then they/we have benefited from their immense sacrifices and loss that destabilized their descendants today who have to live with the loss and results etc of what happened to their families and countries. I think the least we/people can do is give them due respect understanding and compassion. And make sure as a state or as people we help to get them out of their situations any way we can. Instead of repeating the same or similar disregard for said people that only adds to the pain they already suffer.

  30. Jack

    2035: Chinese troops move through the ruins of Nagoya, following the total defeat of Japan and her US ally in a war started when ships of the Japanese Maritime ‘Self-Defense’ Force opened fire on Chinese warships near the disputed Senkaku (now Diaoyu) Islands. Perplexed Japanese residents, when interviewed amid the rubble, shrug their shoulders. “No one could possibly have seen this coming. Shikata ga nai”, said one man before resuming diving for food in a dumpster.

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