Links 7/3/15

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Siberian woman extradited to Russia accused of leading a gang which raped two men Siberian Times. Wow, this beats anything from the Daily Mail. Oregoncharles: “In the Yeti class, I think.”

Commonly prescribed drugs affect decisions to harm oneself and others PhysOrg (Chuck L)

This graffiti artist’s ‘experiment’ with the authorities escalated hilariously Mashable (jx3)

Snake skin inspired surfaces smash records, providing 40 percent friction reduction PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Doomsday Grants Will Advance Important A.I. Research MIT Technology Review (David L)

China’s Boom Has World Bank Worried Bloomberg

ECB adds state companies to QE buying Financial Times

David Cameron: Twitter and Facebook privacy is unsustainable (Chuck L)

Scandinavia’s errors: lessons for Greece and Britain Telegraph. Read with a fistful of salt.


Greece needs €60bn in new aid, says IMF Financial Times

Rivals to rally as Greek vote looms BBC

Patriotism Trumps Economics for Many Greeks Ahead of Bailout Referendum Wall Street Journal

Greece Finance Minister Varoufakis: ‘Agreement will be reached’ BBC. Wow, watch the video. The KKE is opposed to the referendum and proposes its own ballot! Varoufakis also claims that Greek banks will re-open on Tuesday regardless because there will be an agreement. Huh?

Referendum question not legally correct – EC’s Dombrovskis Guardian

New opinion poll shows yes vote slightly ahead in Greece ekathimerni. Lambert called this yesterday: no matter how this vote comes out, it will be seen as neither clean (see KKE objection above as an example) nor decisive. That perpetuates the legitimacy question.

How we would have restructured Greece’s debt, by the IMF FT Alphaville

IMF admits: we failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece Guardian (Swedish Lex)

Hopeful Start to Greek Debt Negotiations Quickly Soured New York Times. “Start”? This was the very last gasp. And omits a key bit, that the June 30 deadline was rigid and that Greece had effectively agreed in the memo it signed with the Eurogroup in February that that the negotiations about the “second bailout” funds, the money that went poof on June 30, were ONLY about structural reforms.

Greece’s banks limp until vote in hope for Monday ECB salvation ekathimerini. Varoufakis per above assumes the ECB loosens the choke chain.

Behind the Greek Crisis Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

The Bill: Germany Faces Billions in Losses If Greece Goes Bust Der Spiegel. An extremely useful piece particularly given its mass market target. Describes the 2010 and 2012 bailouts and shows the payment schedule for Greece to make to the facilities for which European governments provided guarantees. Explains why the threat of default, which the Greek government apparently thought was a nuclear weapon, is unpleasant rather than intimidating:

Even though the total figure of €61.53 billion is quite large, its actual impact on the German budget would be less dramatic because the losses would be spread out over a long period of time extending to 2054. The annual losses occurred would never exceed €3 billion, with most yearly figures running between €1 billion and €2 billion. Those sums certainly aren’t peanuts, but a country as big as Germany should be able to absorb them. Just to offer a comparison, the city-state of Berlin received €3.5 billion in transfer payments from other German states last year. One also shouldn’t forget the effect of inflation: The just under €3 billion in debt default Germany would have to cover in 2043, the year with the highest risk for the country, would likely be a considerably lighter blow then than it would be now.

It also discusses the additional losses that could result from a Grexit (such as losses on Target2 balances). It only vaguely alludes to the idea that the ECB could monetize any loss.

Greece faces import shortages, terror risk: Experts CNBC


Hillary Clinton’s Failed Libya ‘Doctrine’ Consortiumnews (furzy mouse)

Britain Hints It May Join U.S. Campaign Against ISIS in Syria New York Times

Emails to Hillary contradict French tale on Libya war – Al-Monitor

Imperial Collapse Watch

Failure of new U.S. weapons systems may be more than science fiction Reuters (reslic)

Trade Traitors

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Leaked Trade Deal Draft Shows Big Pharma’s Sway International Business Times (RR)

BP to Pay $18.7 Billion for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill New York Times

Former Virginia Sen. Webb Enters Democratic Presidential Race Wall Street Journal

Scott Walker’s Hard Right Turn in Iowa May Hurt Him Elsewhere New York Times. We can only hope.

And Christie makes 16: Why are so many people running for president? Reuters (reslic)

Chicago’s ‘cloud tax’ makes Netflix and other streaming services more expensive The Verge (Chuck L)

Maine lawmakers tighten foreclosure rules in win for consumers Reuters

Puerto Rico – the Greece in America’s back yard Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Why you can’t believe the unemployment numbers Business Spectator

June’s unemployment dip means more Americans leaving the workforce PBS

Class Warfare

Our Spoiled-Brat Economy Of Two Minds

Antidote du jour. Richard Smith: “Particularly nauseating antidote” from Bored Panda. Do remember that Richard Smith is a connoisseur of the anti-antidote (see this example):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. rich

    02 July 2015
    Elizabeth Warren: The 14 Trillion Dollar Scam and the Unfinished Business of Financial Reform

    1. Financial Institutions should not be allowed to cheat people through confusing and complex products, or just plain lying about credit cards and mortgages.
    2. Financial Institutions should not be allowed to use taxpayers to pick up their risks through deposits or bailouts.

    We know what needs to be done. Big financial institutions are flexing their political power to keep us from doing it, and to undermine what has already been attempted.

    Auto loans now look like the pre-crisis mortgage market because they were exempted by Congress from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight.

    Department of Justice relies on deferred prosecutions and does not take repeat offending institutions to trial, and the SEC is even worse. They are abusing a system that was designed for low level non-violent offenders.

    It is time to end the slap on the wrist culture at DOJ and SEC. Fines should be equal, at a minimum, to every dime of profits gained, and there should be an independent judicial review of these deals.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Confusing and complex products”

      I am reminded of all the packaged food stuff (also genetically modified vegetables – they are confusing and complex) on supermarket shelves.

      “If financial products don’t get to you first, GM corn will.”

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s the gamification of mundane life. There’s very little left in the mainstream that’s not designed to capture the attention of a toddler. First USA Today, then financial products, then “social” MMO gaming, then health insurance…. what next, food that makes airplane noises as you eat it?

    2. Propertius

      Fines should be equal, at a minimum, to every dime of profits gained

      That’s not enough to provide a deterrent, since a certain percentage of frauds will not be detected. Any financial penalty has to greatly exceed profits, and needs to be accompanied by honest-to-God individual criminal penalties (“Bankers in orange jumpsuits doing the perp walk on the teevee,” as Lambert likes to say) in order to inhibit bad behavior.

  2. jgordon

    Commonly prescribed drugs affect decisions to harm oneself and others

    It’s the assertion of many that the perceived commonality of mass shootings (one still has much better odds of drowning in a bathtub than of dying in a mass shooting) in America has more to do with the widespread prevalence of prescribed mind-altering drugs than with guns. I appreciate how NC is willing to link articles that support ideas that they don’t necessarily agree with.

    1. paulitus

      NC rocks, as does truth-seeker Yves Smith. This is my favorite web site, and I am a conservative.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      While I wholeheartedly agree with the connection between psychoactive drugs (SSRIs) and violence, I have to admit that I found this “research” somewhat frankensteinian. I mean “shocking” either yourself or someone else FOR PROFIT????

      If you want to know what drugs make people “harm others for profit,” you should probably check the medicine cabinets of Dick Cheney, Madeline Albright and the ceo’s of the military industrial corporate behemoths.

      You may find out that the most lethal people on the planet are under the influence of statins, blood pressure meds and “the little purple pill.” (sarc)

  3. Disturbed Voter

    That little owl looks like the kind that fly around the Acropolis. And it seems wise enough to choose peace, not war.

  4. Ned Ludd

    The BBC warns about “riots” in Athens.

    …and there are very real fears here there could be riots as there were in Athens two years ago. Emotions are running very high…

    The KKE protest, in the background, looks more like a state fair than a riot.

    I recall riots in 2008, after a 15-year-old was murdered by two police in Exarchia. There was also a general strike in December 2010. And PAME was attacked in October 2011.

    I have no idea what the BBC is talking about, regarding riots in Athens “two years ago”.

      1. Ned Ludd

        I was not aware of those riots. I used Google to search before posting my comment and included the links to what I did find. Everyone gets different results tailored to them; I will call up Google and complain.

        On an important side note, those riots are unrelated to political polarization around austerity.

        Police clashed with around 1,500 protesters on the streets of Athens on Friday during a march marking the fifth anniversary of a fatal police shooting of a teenager. Riot police fired tear gas at protesters, many of whom were of high-school age. Cars were seen burning on the capital’s streets, with riot police hunting down the perpetrators on motorbikes.

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: Failure of new U.S. weapons systems may be more than science fiction

    War is a phenomena of mass action that science hasn’t fully explored. There isn’t a rational basis for the root cause of why human beings feel the need to wage organized violence against one another. Despite the efforts of social scientists to try to conceive of a logical explanation. Nor does any rational justification serve as a deterrence for the waging of war. The collective action undertaken by two slightly different US administrations has adequately proven this assertion.

    To slightly alter and at the same time paraphrase the late and great Charles Mackay from the preface of his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds… War is a moral epidemic which afflicts humanity. It demonstrates, through one cause or another, how easily mankind is led astray and how imitative and gregarious humanity is in both it’s infatuations and crimes.

    Anyway, it amuses me that the authors seem to think that American F-16s will even be leaving the ground. A few years ago when China blew up an old satellite they were advertising a rather unique ability to deny the use of GPS in a wartime situation.They were also risking an outbreak of the Kessler effect which as some other commentator here mentioned was demonstrated in the 2013 movie Gravity. Which demonstrates what happens when puny humans get in the way of a force of nature.

    1. Michael

      Seems like resource accumulation trumping moral considerations goes a long way towards providing an explanation.

      1. John Smith

        War provides jobs seems a sufficient explanation for WWII.

        The question then is why are so many people dependent on jobs (not to be confused with work)?

        1. neo-realist

          Fulfillment of basic needs. Hard not to confuse jobs with work nowadays. In many cases, the price of being held hostage to a job is doing the work of 1.5 to 2 people. With your increases in productivity hoarded by suits; and your reward is……see first sentence.

      2. Andrew Watts

        Materialism is a poor analytical tool for understanding humanity. In many wars fought throughout history the accumulation of resources is a secondary objective meant to enable the ongoing continuation of a struggle. It isn’t an end in itself rather it is a means to an end. This is probably one of the reasons why most people have underestimated the Islamic State. Not to mention the massive price that waging war imposes relative to initial expectations.

      1. Jack

        The current situation isn’t like that at all though. It isn’t a case of new, untested ‘wondertech’ vs old reliable. During that Rand Corporation virtual wargame where the F-35 performed so abysmally, the F/A-18F performed even worse and was completely wiped out. And while the LCS may end up being a similar waste of money, it isn’t like our entire existing surface fleet, supercarriers included, isn’t one giant target for China’s uninterceptable hypersonic shipkillers. And the Russians have already demonstrated the ability to completely shutdown an AEGIS cruiser with an electronic warfare plane.

        It’s been so long since the US fought a real war against a remotely comparable foe that it isn’t at all clear how much of our technology is actually any good.

          1. JTMcPhee

            But the Military Industrial Corporatocracy Inc.LLPGmBHAB, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, threat aggrandizement and detached generation of “new orders of weaponry” with all that money-that-“we”-don’t-even-understand-or-agree-what-it-is but that “we” pay over in nominal exchange for “defence” (with the “c,” not “s”, as the preferred international spelling) and “security,” is all dependent on generation of a fear quotient that requires an “enemy” of sufficient, or in the case of the GWOT, “unknown-unknown,” what the generals call “capability.”

            And I hope it has not gone unnoticed that the nominally “US” mililtary has not “won” any of the other wars the rulers of the military have engaged in in a generation or two, mostly 4th generation asymmetric conflicts for which the default doctrine is ShocknAwe ™ followed by CounterInsurgency ™. With side orders of “F__k your Sovereignty and International Law” deployments and operations White and Black and bloody. A truly mirabilous confection, heavy on the powdered sugar donuts, that is funded, armed, and equipped by a complex inter-related globe-spanning network of money sources and corporate providers and is primarily interested in “hegemony by other means,” like creating “interoperability” as with the Kiev-Ukranian and Turkish and Ugandan and Guatemalen, etc. militaries and national police forces, , and

            You want a worthy opponent, you gotta build it yourself: I know, it’s Lew Rockwell, but search on “US overstated soviet threat” and gee, what do we find? Something that looks like the business plan of the WWE conglomerate? Hulk Hogan vs.Rowdy Roddy Piper?

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      There are a lot of issues with the F-35 but the root cause is arguably the unintended consequences of the political engineering process that has been applied in large Pentagon procurement programs ever since its effectiveness was massively proven by the B-1 bomber program, which began nearly half a century ago. The original contract, let about 1970, was for its development and four production prototypes. The development cost was several times the originally projected $2B or so, and the $25M unit fly-away cost turned out to be more like $175M. Furthermore the product was a turkey. With a full load of fuel and munitions it could barely get above 30K feet (this at a time when passenger airliners were routinely flying up to and sometimes over 40K feet), and gravity bombs tended to tumble upon release which trashes accuracy. The program was killed at the around the time President Carter was inaugurated but come the 1980s the Reagan DoD had no trouble resuscitating it with “design improvements.” Not so curiously, the B-1 was not used during Desert Storm in 1991.

      Political engineering consist of the use of two general tactical approaches in order to minimize a program’s vulnerability to being canceled. First, if there are requirements for broadly similar but detail-wise differing things within or even across two or more uniformed services, those requirements are subsumed into a single, large program instead of two or more separate ones. In the F-35 case three services are involved each with significantly different requirements in detail: the Air Force, which bases its fighters on conventional air bases with long, paved runways; the Navy, which bases its fighters on carriers and thus needs planes that can withstand the extreme accelerations of catapult take-offs and decelerations of arrested landings; and the Marines which wants fighters that can take off and land vertically and thus operate out of unimproved locations. The inevitable trade-offs lead to a base product that is far from optimal for any of the three applications, and in the F-35 case the PTB decided on a swing wing, a design that adds more weight and has been problematic whenever used.

      The second thrust of political engineering is to deliberately spread out the subcontracts to as many states and Congressional districts as possible. This makes the program harder to cancel but also greatly adds to and complicates the program management challenges. Add to this the bureaucratic instinct to double down on mistakes instead of admitting to a f**k up, the F-35 is all but invulnerable.

      1. John Smith

        “The second thrust of political engineering is to deliberately spread out the subcontracts to as many states and Congressional districts as possible.” ex-PFC Chuck

        Because people need jobs and to justify those jobs the US needs enemies else cognitive dissonance?

        Maybe the so-called “peace dividend” should have been a literal dividend paid to all US citizens?

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I am increasingly convinced that the only way this country will ever reform its war-mongering ways is to continue to pour all available resources into producing planes that won’t fly, guns that won’t shoot and vehicles that are completely unsuited to the conditions into which they are deployed.

        It seems that this is one instance in which the ends actually do justify the means.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Part of me fears it will take a handful of pilots being executed. Much of our thuggery is possible because of an illusion of invincibility. If you can’t call in the A-10, many soldiers won’t show up.

          I believe the story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that Syria could hit our planes and ships. Anyone involved in a sinking ship will be sunk career wise given the invincible military propaganda we’ve been blasted with.

          1. Jess

            Ah, yes, the wonderful A-10. Ugly as sin (hence the name The Warthog) but possibly the best ground-support aircraft ever. Able to linger on station and deal death with amazing accuracy for long periods of time. The Timex of warplanes; it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Often comes home full of holes but “you should see the other guy”. Pentagon keeps trying to phase it out for turkeys like the F-35 but it always seems to rebound, coming out of the Arizona boneyard mothball fleet to serve in the next conflict.

            1. OIFVet

              The A-10 is the grunt’s best friend when things get dicey. The burping sound of that big 30mm cannon sounds like a symphony when you are pinned down, and you just know that it will help you make it out of there ok. That’s why the Air Force hates it, because it is not glamorous and they hate the Army. The A-10 is my beloved. It’s not a classic beauty, but it’s a different kind of sexy altogether. It’s that reliable, smart, sexy woman you choose to marry over the high-maintenance beauty pageant queen, because you want a steady partner for life rather than chronic migraine.

              1. Skippy

                “The burping sound of that big 30mm cannon sounds like a symphony when you are pinned down”

                Also know as the Dragon Fart.

                1. OIFVet

                  Dragons have sexy farts :) I have heard several people claim that the sound of the cannon burst gives them a woody. I wonder if Kinsey explored that aspect of human sexuality.

                  1. Skippy

                    From a combative perspective, it does have the opposite effect to those in the vicinity of the sound, which can be quite far.

                    Skippy… Stalin’s organs thingy…

              2. Jack

                Maybe we should just roll the air force back into the army like it was in the first place. The ground troops still take and hold territory, the key to winning any war. Air power is to provide support for that, it isn’t capable of much on its own, as the current failure of airstrikes alone to stop ISIS should show.

                While we’re at it we can also end the farce of the USMC being an independent branch and re-categorize them as the infantry arm of the navy, which is what they are and always have been.

            2. craazyboy

              Actually, Congress just passed funding to build new A-10s, which I’ll call a good thing considering how much the Army likes them and how much of a horrendously costly, dysfunctional pooch the F-35 is turning out to be. (Why do we find this out well into production? Didn’t they fly the prototype and find out it gets shot down by A-10s???)

              1. Jack

                It’s all internal politics. Consider also the Osprey (, which took 34 years from the contract being awarded to the thing actually being deployed. It went massively over-budget, wouldn’t stop killing its test-pilots, still doesn’t work terribly well, and offers absolutely nothing over the conventional helicopter it replaced. It doesn’t even have the chin-mounted gun the original contract specified.

                But the USMC, the whiniest and neediest branch of our armed forces, kept the project alive because they simply had to have their fancy new toy. Just as they played a large part in the F-35 turning into such a disaster by demanding their variant have the useless VTOL gimmick, which was worthless on the Harrier II and will be even more so on the F-35.

                The US military hasn’t cared much about efficacy since at least the time they adopted Eugene Stoner’s garbage design as their standard issue rifle over the vastly better (though admittedly heavier) M-14.

                1. ambrit

                  The problem with the M-16 as used by the Army was the ammo. Stoners original design used a modern fast burning and ‘clean’ propellant. The d—s at Army Procurement changed this to old ‘cap and ball’ propellant, which burns slower and ‘dirty.’ That’s why so many grunts were found dead on the field trying to field clean their weapons. The first batch of ARs were sent to the Air Force to equip the Air Police, who loved them. The originals also had hair triggers. One of Kennedey’s Secret Service detail in the auto directly behind the Presidential limo on “that day” in Dallas had one of the AR models. In one of my favourite ‘conspiracy theories,’ it is considered that one of the Presidents own Secret Service men could have accidentally shot Kennedy from behind after Oswalds first, (and only?) shot. The weapon handled that day had one of the dreaded “self firing” hair triggers.
                  The adoption of lighter calibres like the .223 over the older and heavier .308, for instance, was a conscious decision to implement a strategy to inflict a high percentage of ‘wounding’ shots on your enemy. Wounded combatants require either a callous decision to ignore ones own wounded on the battlefield, or task extra men to remove and care for one’s wounded.
                  Life is tough. War is mans way of making it tougher.

  6. D. Mathews

    For those who can understand Spanish, THIS may be a bit long winded but worth a listen, from my former professor and favorite Puerto Rican economist.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Hillary Clinton’s Failed Libya ‘Doctrine’ Consortiumnews (furzy mouse)

    One of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, essential to the public’s understanding of her tenure as secretary of “state” (Emphasis mine):

    “First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. … You must go on camera You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. … The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”

    Brava! yourself, Sid. I daresay there has never been a more accomplished practitioner of worm-like sycophancy for fun and profit than you.

    I have no doubt you WILL win the coveted Titanium Knee Pad Award you so obviously seek. Wear them well and make us proud.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Haha. Hillary and her staff decided to lift from Caesar who’s famous quip was delivered after crushing the son of Mithridates well equipped, trained, and numerically superior army, during the Roman civil war with minimal Roman losses. Oh and Mithridates had slaughtered every Roman in the Hellenized world a generation before, so the Romans were understandably gleeful over the victory.

    2. DJG

      Wowsers, K.E. I’m glad that you waded through the bilgewater. Last night, at dinner with a friend, he wondered why Clinton seems so unconcerned, so uninterested, and what we see here is an entire structure to feed her the drug of ego. No wonder the Clinton campaign thinks that it is inevitable.

      Besides the Blumenthal buncombe, he’s offering truly bad advice about “managing” the news. This does not bode well–for her.

  8. samhill

    Greece needs €60bn in new aid, says IMF Financial Times

    How we would have restructured Greece’s debt, by the IMF FT Alphaville

    IMF admits: we failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece Guardian

    You’re kidding me, right? This latest IMF bs (in full accordance with the EU & ECB) is a cynical move to pave the path for the rewards they will bestow on the compliant new national unity or technocratic govt. they believe will follow after the referendum – soon after for yes, bit longer after no. Resist us you get bread and water, collaborate you get a meaty bone (so tasty after starving) and, behold and rejoice, even (some part of) the write down you dreamed of. The magnanimity of the Empire towards obedient subjects who know their place.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More pledged assets for this new money.

      It will not be the Troika, but Troika+The RepoMan (i.e Debt Commissioner) – a Quadriga, that will roam the streets of Athens in the future.

    2. Emma

      Look, can we all just quit with the finger-pointing?

      Greece needs genuine help with no strings attached.

      Oh yeah, and plain and simple would be a step in the right direction…….

      So what about basic bona fide aid like sending in trucks full of food & medicine to help the Greek people?

      So much for an organization originally created to guarantee peace, so much for the ‘community’ and good neighbors, and so much for ‘leadership’ today.

        1. rich

          Sunday’s Vote Will Determine Liberty Or Serfdom

          Paul Craig Roberts

          According to history books, democracy originated in Greece. Of course, historians could be mistaken, but this is the prevailing view among Western populations with enough awareness to be interested to know.

          What we are witnessing today, July 2, 2015, is that after 2,500 years in the Western World only the current Greek government is interested in democracy. The Greek government, to the surprise and consternation of every other European government, has called a referendum for the Greek people to decide the fate of Greece. For resorting to democracy, the Greek government has been universally denounced in the Western World.

          So much for Western democracy.

          The greatest and most successful propaganda scam in history is the one that convinces the world that they are nobody if they are not part of The West, the indispensable peoples, the exceptional peoples.

          If you are not part of The West you are nobody, nonexistent, a nothing.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks Rich.

            It’s a bit confusing that the man who called the referendum said a no vote would not mean leaving the Eurozone (nor the West, one assumes).

      1. samhill

        So what about basic bona fide aid like sending in trucks full of food & medicine to help the Greek people?

        That comes after you are broken and jabbering on the cell floor. You’ll appreciate it more that way, and they can bask in you gratitude. It’s not love, but it’s not bad.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      Ilargi at Automatic Earth is scathingly eloquent this morning about the IMF’s release of this statement at this time. Also, a few days ago the Saker had a piece up by Andrew Korbyko that addresses the geo-strategic connections between the Grexit situation and Russia. The tl/dr: The Russians do not want the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to pass through any country under the US thumb (e.g. Ukraine, Greece, Macedonia) on its way to major destination countries in central Europe, such as Austria and Germany.

  9. Nikki

    ” KKE is opposed to the referendum and proposes its own ballot! Varoufakis also claims that Greek banks will re-open on Tuesday regardless because there will be an agreement. Huh? ”

    Why the bemusement, Yves? A Greek man suddenly making arbitrary and capricious declarations (which don’t make sense, and everyone else is obliged to treat it otherwise) ? Others in the club strongly and vociferously maintaining opposed stances, to the point of rupture…guess you did not grow up in a Greek family, it all reads normal to me.

  10. Swedish Lex

    “Scandinavia’s errors: lessons for Greece and Britain”

    A trashy and incomprehensible article but the book may be good. I will read it. Nothing new in the article.

    1. Sweden pretty much committed economic suicide in the 1970s by almost turning into a voluntary DDR. If you ran a convenient store and hoped to make a (small) profit by the end of the year, you were a capitalist pig. Small businesses, including that of my parents, taxed at 102%. Yes, 102%.

    2. By the 1990s center-right governments that had been elected on fairly free market programs undertook vast privatisations and reorganised the country. Without dismantling the welfare state. Social democrat governments that followed did not reverse those pro-market reforms. They capitalised on them.

    3. Sweden has largely maintained its welfare state (supported by right, center and left) but has managed to liberalise and modernise the economy. The economy, which was heavily dépendent on old and large multinationals in 1970, is now one of the most entreprenurial in the world. Young people in Sweden start businesses like crazy. Some turn into spotify.

    This does not mean that all is good in Sweden, of course. All is relative. For the time being, things happen to go relatively better in Sweden than in many other European countries.

    (I left Sweden in 1992 so I can claim zero credit for what is going on in Sweden these days).

    1. Jan Løth

      No comments regarding this camouflaged book-review … simply too much b.s.

      Just a few facts: “Scandinavia” is a subjective “cultural concept” – not a group of objectively comparable economies. Far from it ! Stupidity no. 1 (I already stopped counting).

      Technically the “Scandinavian Peninsula” only encompasses Norway and Sweden. Too very different economies both when it comes to political priorities and natural ressources.

      The peoples of Denmark and Finland however also consider themselves to be scandinavian … and so do the inhabitants of Iceland, The Faroe Islands and Greenland (sometimes). Recently even advocates for Scottish devolution considered applying for “membership of Scandinavia”.

      Norway has the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund. Norway is not a member of the EU !

      Sweden has joined the EU but has wisely chosen a non-compliance strategy and thus stayed outside the EMU and the madness of the common currency. Also they did a good job of cleaning up the financial sector in the early 90es (Nordea).

      The state of Denmark ? Member of the EU. We (our politicians) de-facto joined the common currency in the early 80es by locking the exchange rate to the Euro. (54% of the population refused joining the common currency in 2002 – not knowing they already had it).

      Denmark has the worlds most indebted households and financial sector and … is the only country in the EMU with an over-sustainable public sector (Sweden is outside the EMU ;)).

      According to our National Bank (whose only purpose now is to maintain the kroner/euro-exchange rate) the danish net public debt was appr. 0 kroner in 2007. Then “we” had to bail out one the most bancrupt bank on the face of the planet – Danske Bank – but the debt is still miniscule. “A lesson for Greece ?”

      Analyze this ?! Who is that Allister Heath-character ?

  11. RabidGandhi

    Re: And Christie makes 16: Why are so many people running for president?

    16 does not seem like a high number; rather 2 seems like an obscenely low number (ie, the number of parties those 16 represent). Also note the 16 does not include Jill Stein.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s high for a single party. One Jeb won’t win if a Santorum (2012) candidacy can emerge, and many GOP types know Ricky is a mental misfit next to SP. Naturally, they are asking, why not me?

      At this point, I’m not sure what Webb and Chaffee think they will achieve. There are 4 or 5 Reagan Democrats who aren’t organic over Hillary already. Admittedly, Webb was the worst campaigner state wide I’ve seen. He went home to Fairfax every night, and let his marine buddies drive and schedule events. Without Dean’s insistence on congressional races, Webb would have looked like a crank candidate. They would be better off writing for a potential future nomination, but they aren’t going to be on the ticket.

      Also, the U.S. population is so heterogeneous it’s homogenous effectively. Many parties are ethnic based such as Catholic/Protestant or Walloon and Flemish. Then they have left right divides. Two, there aren’t party lists. Young people can join Team Blue and run without being on a list for 30 years which removes generational parties. The Gallists were replaced by the current center right party, and they will be replaced by the young Marie le pen and her Cadre. Primaries handle the local demand for an alternative and entrance problems.

      State government is important. States are still large enough that third rails in states don’t necessitate a national party. A Val Kilmer candidacy in new Mexico seems like a typical celebrity candidacy to you and me, but tribal matters are huge there and Kilmer is a tribal activist. Many of their issues don’t reach Washington in a way that is unique to them and not the poor in Detroit and West Virginia.

      The U.S. only has two parties as a result. There is no “white” party because whites identify as religious standards or the old country. It’s the same with Hispanics and Asians. “Black” exists because of the shared experience of slavery subsequently the forgotten old country and Jim crow/segregation. In a way, black is the largest ethnic group in the U.S., and there aren’t that many African Americans in reality. “Black” isn’t big enough to be a power broker if it went that way, so ultimately, they have to be absorbed.

      We can change the rules, but it will just result in two sides with two subparties such as France. A temporary third party can exist where it will replace, be absorbed, or forgotten.

  12. DJG

    The anti-antidote, which is an apparition of the Finnish reindeer god, carries this headline in English:

    “Glittering antlers to improve road safety”

    Delphic. Way beyond cat videos. A twitter worthy of Matteo Renzi. Indeed, it is worthy of the god Hermes.

    I think that we have moved into new territory.

  13. Nikki

    Caller into Greek news station, a minute and half rant, roughly translated below. While you watch the video note how respectfully the presenters listen to being told that the present austerity is nothing.

    “” Gentlemen, you have failed miserably in 6 months governance; not managed to jump or one of his window. The right managed in 2 years to commit suicide 8 thousand people “.
    Are you afraid of today’s grandparents born near ‘ 40. Don’t chew, man. Have lived worse than a few day s’ delay payment of their pension and built the damaged by the German boot Greece with their own hands, in the cold and the complete poverty.”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Two great links.

      From the first: Trumka may need the Pinkertons. About time.

      My favorite bit from the second:

      “And several people who’ve heard her address the issue [Iran negotiations] say the fact that different people can come away with such different interpretations is a testament to her nuanced approach to the issue and her skill as a politician, rather than any vacillation on the subject.”

      Probably the most eloquent and accurate explanation of a double-talking weasel politician as I’ve heard.

      To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, “Sell ‘nuance’ somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I forgot to note when I opened the site those links were the top 2 stories. I consider politico to be a “what the elite think” today kind of site.

    2. hidflect

      The comments under those 2 articles suck. After about 5 posts it turns into a R vs. D slanging match and the article gets completely ignored. I’m so thankful for the reasoned debate I read on NC. In fact, I rarely read the articles anymore. I can just jump to the readers’ who parse the whole thing for me with extra info.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    …that Greece had effectively agreed in the memo it signed with the Eurogroup in February that that the negotiations about the “second bailout” funds, the money that went poof on June 30, were ONLY about structural reforms.

    Contrast that with this:

    Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, said he would resign if Greeks voted Yes in Sunday’s referendum on the country’s bailout. “I will not sign another extend and pretend agreement”, said Varoufakis.

    Is it possible to negotiate only structure reforms (ie. no debt relief) without it being another extend and pretend?

  15. matt

    Aren’t there more likely costs to Germany (and the rest of Eurozone) in case of a Grexit such as a Greek bank recapitalisation?

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s Boom…

    Meanwhile, his government has been tossing more fuel at the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets by loosening margin financing. Far from being chastened, mainland traders can now buy even more stocks with even greater leverage in an already wildly overleveraged system


    Also her bust…Shanghai down almost another 6% overnight.

    “More fuel!*”

    *That’s how one make the finest porcelain in the world.

    1. JoeK

      “*That’s how one make [sic] the finest porcelain in the world.”

      And likely sooner rather than later a thundering cascade of stock dumps is going to crack that porcelain.

  17. ambrit

    About the Maine mortgage law; read to the end where it says that the law leaves previous MERS based foreclosures intact. Hmmm… I would expect that the majority of the foreclosures already effected would be against all those “trashy” working class parasites who were tricked into taking out loans that they “should have” known they couldn’t repay. So, those ‘low lifes’ deserved what they got, eh? The MERS victims coming along the pipeline, the ones now covered by the new rules, held out longer and so showed a greater “fitness” to survive? Double standard anyone?
    Allow me to direct your attentions to any “I hate MERS” website, or, as a proxy, “I hate,” or “I hate” website. Read the complaints. You will find common threads about fraudulent practices engaged in by the, usually new, mortgage servicers; things like, forced place insurance, payments held by servicers until penalties are triggered, and general sloppiness and incompetence. Many complaints will start with; “Everything was fine until XYZ Bank sold my mortgage to Scam Services LLC.”
    This Maine legislation is a back door legitimization of the MERS disaster. Another divide has been created in the class system. We now have the “Deserving Poor” versus the “Undeserving Poor.” Oh, and did I mention; no one is going to jail, no one is giving any money back. If this is the new face of Progressive, we’re doomed.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “This Maine legislation is a back door legitimization of the MERS disaster”

      Classic. Republicans and Democrats can indeed “work together to get things done in Augusta.”

      We now return you to your regularly scheduled “LePage is [insane|racist|a bully|etc]” discourse from the Democrats. They hate the guy so much they can’t even think straight.

      1. ambrit

        I hesitate to do ‘snark’ about your neck of the woods, coming from Mississippi does tend to make one ‘gun shy,’ but the fact that the local Democrats allowed him to be elected in the first place suggests that the self same Democrats were incapable of thinking very straight long before LePage came along.
        Charitably, let us suggest that LePage is just a convenient target for the externalization of the Democrats self loathing. This is a well nigh eternal question; how much money does it take to neutralize self loathing? I’d be willing to put real money on the Koch brothers having a handy dandy chart of Politician Values, Self worth and Mark to Market. (I do not intend to insult said politicos by suggesting they have any philosophical ‘values.’ Cold hard cash will do; thank you very much!)

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m trying to find anything on Libby Mitchell, and she seems like a generic do nothing Democrat forever responding to the GOP and running on knowing her way around the Capitol. I could be wrong about Mitchell, but voters don’t get excited for banality. I suspect the LePage hate is meant to distract from a decadent team blue.

  18. Ulysses

    Sarah Lyall, at the NYT, attempts to perform a snarky hatchet job on the increasingly popular candidate for U.S. president, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Yet she can’t quite pull it off, because even she has to admit the fundamental integrity of the self-described Socialist/Independent Senator from Vermont:

    “But through his long evolution from outraged outsider to mainstream man in a suit, Mr. Sanders has remained true to his original message: sympathy for the downtrodden, the impoverished and the disenfranchised in the face of the rich and the powerful.”

      1. Chris in Paris

        Lambert, have you seen the suits on the rest of male Congresscritters? It’s the long crotch 80’s suit brigade!

    1. Thomas Johnson

      True SL had to likely grudgingly admit to Sanders’ undeviated and long-upheld people’s agenda, but the intent to do damage is there in every bit of her dredged-up unflattering quotes/stances of a youthful Sanders.

      Jonathan Raban, a Brit, reviewing her book Anglo Files, could not even recognize his own home sod in her “dispatches.” Also, have a listen to her on on the Decline of America. Vapid.

      And as for the NYT…good fish and chips wrap….

  19. Jim Haygood

    ‘Prime Minister David Cameron is considering joining the United States in bombing the [ISIS] group’s forces in Syria.’ — NYT

    After the smashing success of Bush and Blair in bringing democracy and prosperity to Iraq, surely the same US-UK team and the same formula can work a similar transformation in Syria.

    Oops, gotta go, some guys dressed in black are lurking behind the bushes in the back yard! They hate us for our 4th of July fireworks.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The beauty of “inbreeding.” You can always get a new one that looks just like the last one.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    C’mon you guys. Two perfectly good, completely non-offensive comments dumped into oblivion.

    What gives? I thought you wanted readers to be “engaged?”

    1. ambrit

      Don’t sweat it K E. I’ve had comments disappear into the Zero Point of the Internet with some regularity over the past two weeks. No rhyme or reason to be seen. I think that the problem lies in the server algorithm somehow. I know my ‘disappeared’ did not trip some key word or phrase gate.
      There be monsters in the blank places!

    2. Oregoncharles

      Again, I think the site architecture is overloaded by NC’s success.

      To say nothing of the site operators.

      Personally, I get inconsistent responses when I post, I think depedning on traffic loads. I may send a description to Yves in case it’s useful, but don’t want it to sound like a complaint! I’m just grateful for their work.

    3. norm de plume

      Did they have any links? I have lost lots of comments lately too but Lambert pointed out some had non-embedded links which is a trip for the anti-spam software.

      1. ambrit

        I have similar link problems, but mine usually put the comment in moderation. Fair enough. I think Mz E is meaning true ‘lost in space’ episodes; no moderation, just oblivion. Which disappearances have been happening to my comments too lately. The site may be overloaded at times. (Any correlation between time of day and disappearance rates?) That said, I do not have the requisite funds to underwrite new hardware for the site, so I refrain from complaint. It is what it is.

  21. JEHR

    There is a curious incongruence between the IMF report (See: ) and the work of the IMF in pursuing a policy in Greece which is making the Greeks poorer and poorer. Lagarde must be having nightmares.

    The IMF report covered its own backside with a disclaimer: “DISCLAIMER: This Staff Discussion Note represents the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent IMF views or IMF policy. The views expressed herein should be attributed to the authors and not to the IMF, its Executive Board, or its management. Staff Discussion Notes are published to elicit comments and to further debate.”

    The Guardian writes:

  22. Oregoncharles

    On drugs with unintended psychological effects: I read recently -, sorry, don’t have a link – that acetaminophen (Tylenol) acts as a tranquilizer apparently by the same mechanism that makes it a pain killer.

    It damps down both ends of the mood spectrum. Take it when you’re miserable, stop when you’re happy (or would be if you weren’t taking it.)

    Some vitamins (niacin) have significant psychological effects. I’d guess this runs right through pharmacology = the brain is a bodily organ.

  23. Oregoncharles

    On the rise in the numbers leaving the workforce: how many of these people are actually not working?

    Isn’t this really tracking the rise of the underground and “co-operative” economy?

    How would we tell?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Use fees, licenses, and sales taxes. They won’t be accurate, but they can explain what “leaving the workforce” means.

  24. c (also)

    Exclusive: Europeans tried to block IMF debt report on Greece …
    Reuters-3 hours ago
    At a meeting on the International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday, European members questioned the timing of the report which IMF management proposed at short notice releasing three days before Sunday’s crucial referendum that may determine the country’s future in the euro zone, the sources said.

    There was no vote but the Europeans were heavily outnumbered and the United States, the strongest voice in the IMF, was in favor of publication, the sources said.

    The Europeans were also concerned that the report could distract attention from a view they share with the IMF that the Tsipras government, in the five months since it was elected, has wrecked a fragile economy that was just starting to recover.

    “It wasn’t an easy decision,” an IMF source involved in the debate over publication said. “We are not living in an ivory tower here. But the EU has to understand that not everything can be decided based on their own imperatives.”

    The board had considered all arguments, including the risk that the document would be politicized, but the prevailing view was that all the evidence and figures should be laid out transparently before the referendum.

    “Facts are stubborn. You can’t hide the facts because they may be exploited,” the IMF source said.
    Europeans tried to block IMF debt report on Greece, say sources …

    Kathimerini-1 hour ago:

    Eurozone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece’s debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.

    The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece’s public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers.

    It also said Greece will need at least 50 billion euros in additional aid over the next three years to keep itself afloat.

    Publication of the draft Debt Sustainability Analysis laid bare a dispute between Brussels and the Washington-based global lender that has been simmering behind closed doors for months.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cited the report in a televised appeal to voters on Friday to say ‘No’ to the proposed austerity terms, which have anyway expired since talks broke down and Athens defaulted on an IMF loan this week.

    It was not clear whether an arcane IMF document would influence a cliffhanger poll in which Greece’s future in the eurozone is at stake with banks closed, cash withdrawals rationed and commerce seizing up.

    “Yesterday an event of major political importance happened,” Tsipras said. “The IMF published a report on Greece’s economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious – that Greek debt is not sustainable.”

    At a meeting on the International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday, European members questioned the timing of the report which IMF management proposed at short notice releasing three days before Sunday’s crucial referendum that may determine the country’s future in the eurozone, the sources said.

    IMF’s late confession is a double-edged blessing for Alexis Tsipras …
    In-Depth-The Guardian-21 hours ago

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Shorter: The IMF is very unhappy with the Europeans, particularly since they actually tried to moderate their worst impulses. Which is sort of shocking given the IMF’s history. Even they have a sense of what “too much” amounts to, and they are sick of being made the fall guy.

  25. OIFVet

    Across Bulgaria border, fear and gloating over Greek crisis.

    Georgi Petrov, a 45-year-old sitting smoking on the steps of the pawn shop where he works, was angry when he saw a young Greek woman bemoaning austerity on TV, “while we have had to tighten our belts for the past twenty years.”

    His parents’ pension is worth about 200 levs ($114) a month, he says, while the Greek average pension is 833 euros ($925).

    “When we went to Greece, they were looking down on us,” he said. “When they came here, they were acting like the big shots. I think they should pay for that.”

    It’s the age-old Bulgarian mentality: “It’s not important for me to be doing well, it’s important that my neighbor doesn’t do well.” That’s actually a saying there… :(

  26. norm de plume

    ‘Greece’s future in the eurozone may depend on it – but the referendum to be put to a vote on Sunday threatens to bamboozle most ordinary Greeks with its ridiculous complexity

  27. norm de plume

    Australian expatriate Steve Keen was by far the most successful of last year’s BusinessDay economic forecasters. He did it by being the most pessimistic of the 25

  28. hunkerdown

    File under class warfare. Products demanding concrete material benefits from their sellers. Mutiny at Reddit: dozens of subreddits closed, some significant. Management making vague assurances, community not accepting them.

    I see no donuts here.

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