Links 7/7/15

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Burt of Burt’s Bees dies at 80 Jul. 6, 2015

Man flies balloon-powered lawn chair over Calgary Toronto Star. Years ago, a guy did this in LA and got into commercial airspace. I believe he was charged with a felony.

Google’s algorithm shows prestigious job ads to men, but not to women. Here’s why that should worry you. Washington Post

UI Fail: How Our User interfaces Help to Ruin Lives Lauren Weinstein. Important if you care about tech or design.

The Real Importance of Japan’s New Strategy for the Mekong Diplomat

China’s new rules risk creating subprime economy Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

China stock market rout deepens Financial Times. Ugly.

Anti-corruption Affects LV Sales in China, Making it Sell Steamed Bun People’s Daily China

Malaysia to Freeze Bank Accounts Tied to Probe of Alleged Transfers to Prime Minister Wall Street Journal

Amid the Greek Crisis, Bitcoin Reminds Everyone It’s Not Perfect Bloomberg. Lambert “Note last para.”

How Expensive Are Our Houses? Pieria


Your humble guest writer Nathan Tankus appears on an INET Webinar this morning talking about Grexit:

In this special session organized by the YSI Financial Stability Working Group, we will discuss the mechanics of the possible GREXIT and how costly the various scenarios may be for both the creditors and the Greek economy.

Nathan Tankus
Josh JW Mason

Time: 7 July, 10 am ET / 16 CET

To join, click here:

Greece Referendum: Syriza Didn’t Get The Message 99GetSmart. A must read: “Tsipras and his government are going hard for a new agreement that will not be popular, and which will not be much different from the proposals which Greek voters said ‘no’ to….It is clear that Varoufakis is not a hero or a man of integrity.”

Dutch PM Rutte: “Did Greeks really think that if they voted ‘no’, we would come and ask: ‘how else would you like it?'” #Grexit @mvanhulten

Greece loses the gambit Warren Mosler. Important.

European Central Bank tightens noose on banking system as creditor powers punish Greece Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Rift Emerges as Europe Gears Up for New Talks on Greece Bailout New York Times. “Rifts” means negotiating delays from the lender side as Greece’s banks and importers slowly die and shortages start.

Diesen 5-Punkte-Plan muss Merkel vorlegen Bild. Remarkable. But the spanner in the works is the Grexit, and that is looking like the part most likely to happen. And if you burn down Greece (which is what Grexit will do economically), even a 50% haircut is inadequate. Recall that Argentina, which only went though a currency depreciation, a vastly milder event, had its creditors take 70% haircuts.

Greek Crisis Shows How Germany’s Power Polarizes Europe Wall Street Journal. Merkel is being unusually clumsy. It’s not clear why the creditors are moving so quickly against Greece, but she may be hemmed in by her MPs. There are smaller countries that are also not keen to give in to Greece, like Latvia and Slovakia. and it’s surprising to see her not have them play a more prominent role.

To: Alexis. From: Yanis. Subject: Thank you! Observing Greece.

Meet Euclid Tsakalotos, the man who has replaced Yanis Varoufakis as Greece’s new finance minister Telegraph

A stealthy route to Grexit Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

Greek banks to remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday Reuters

Can Greece Print Euros? No, Not Really; Parallel Currencies Now in Use Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

Can Greece Rescue Itself? Bloomberg. Editorial. Notice the obfuscation of agency: “…its banks have had to close.”

Statesmanship and the Greek Crisis Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate (David L). “If Tsipras and Merkel meet as mere politicians, the results will be catastrophic.”

Thoughts on the Greek Referendum and the Democracy Mismatch in Public Debt Crises Anna Gelpern, Credit Slips



Saudis to invest $10bn in Russia Financial Times. A poke in America’s eye


Iraqi Forces Plan Offensive to Retake Ramadi From ISIS New York Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

Hillary Clinton Suggested Lanny Davis Back-Channel to Honduras First Look

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Massive leak reveals Hacking Team’s most private moments in messy detail ars technica

Zero for 40 at Predicting Attacks: Why Do Media Still Take FBI Terror Warnings Seriously? FAIR

The Choice Ahead: A Private Health-Insurance Monopoly or a Single Payer ReaderSupportedNews. RR, from the article: “Insurers are seeking rate hikes of20 to 40 percent for next year because they think they already have enough economic and political clout to get them.”

Hundreds of wildfires scorch Canada as extreme heat spreads Mashable (David L)

Holder says bank fines better than ‘making examples of people’ Francine McKenna, MarketWatch (TF). He also said, “I think the cultures have changed.” Bill Dudley of the New York Fed and Mark Carney of the Bank of England beg to differ.

Former US Attorney General Holder Through the Revolving Door Intercept. Gary B: “Appears Eric Holder”s nickname “Place”, while he was U.S. Attorney General, had a factual basis.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A Study Documents the Paucity of Black Elected Prosecutors: Zero in Most States New York Times

Michigan cop charges black graduate student with felony for driving to a well-lit area Boing Boing

Philly Police Defy Federal Recommendations, They Want to be Able to Kill People Anonymously Alternet

Democrats, Republicans attack municipal pensions in Pennsylvania WSWS

Conviction of Former Goldman Sachs Programmer Is Overturned New York Times. Mirabile dictu!

Sealed HSBC Report Shows U.S. Managers Battling Clean-Up Squad Bloomberg (reslic)

Bank living wills reveal Wall St victims Financial Times. Morgan Stanley and Goldman would be goners, as would have been the case in 2008.

Antidote du jour. Stephen L: “From the FB page of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Inc.”

fox_kit1 links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    Ocare Rate Hikes:
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives. NYT

    i’ve been thru 3 of these states over the last 4yrs…THEY DON’T HAVE IT

    CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others. Devil’s Dic

    1. abynormal
      The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.

      Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico has requested rate increases averaging 51 percent for its 33,000 members. The proposal elicited tart online comments from consumers.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I expect to hear promises of ACA working by the next Friedman Unit. At least the crooks in Congress I understand, but the literate followers in Team Blue refused to deal with the reality that they can’t promise the sky and under deliver.

      1. fresno dan

        “What about costs? In 2013 there were dire warnings about a looming “rate shock”; instead, premiums came in well below expectations. In 2014 the usual suspects declared that huge premium increases were looming for 2015; the actual rise was just 2 percent. There was another flurry of scare stories about rate hikes earlier this year, but as more information comes in it looks as if premium increases for 2016 will be bigger than for this year but still modest by historical standards — which means that premiums remain much lower than expected.”

        I am probably not as anti ACA as the average NC commenter, but one of the most disheartening things about the debate is how people will twist themselves into pretzels and deny reality to be consistent with their ideology. I have right wing friends who state things about the law that are 180 degrees from reality, while getting the benefit of no longer being in danger of being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.

        But I think Krugman is actually worse. He is either trying to lie very carefully and meticulously, or really simply is divorced from reality, and is maybe more cemented to his own flawed analysis.

        And one other point: are deductibles going up as well? (of course, but I wonder how carefully they’re considered)

        1. fresno dan

          Now that looks pretty good for the ACA.
          But it shows New Mexico with DECLINING premiums? According to the Abnormal post, the premiums increasing in NM are proposed – but I would imagine there will be an increase…but how big????

          In Oregon, the premiums went WAY up, than you look at the Kaiser data, and its limitation is that it only has a category of 10% and above – what happens when premiums go up by 20, or 40, or 60%??? That certainly makes the data look better.

          I really would like to know how much premiums, on average have gone up since the ACA was passed, and how much they went up year by year in the 5 years prior to passage of the ACA.
          I suspect I could find analysis saying they went way up, way down, or more or less the same….

    1. Chris in Paris

      What’s needed are some standards. There are bodies in place that could actually do this, if the major interface people (MS, Apple, Google) wanted to play ball.

      Can you imagine if, say 50 years ago, there were 100s of telephone companies and each had their own handsets that were constantly, incrementally changing in design and functionality?

      “How do I hang up this thing???”

      1. Larry Headlund

        The idea of MS and standards in the same breath is pretty funny. Apple is not much different (see Safari is the new Internet Explorer).

        Can you imagine if, say 50 years ago, there were 100s of telephone companies and each had their own handsets that were constantly, incrementally changing in design and functionality?

        Change 50 years ago to 30 years ago and you have the history of the cell phone.

        1. jack

          Microsoft did have a standardized UI for decades, one which went on to become standard for 99% of Windows software. And it was a damn sight better than anything Apple has ever crapped out. Then MS started mucking about with it, first with the Ribbon nonsense and then with Metro. Users rebelled and Windows 10 will see a return to the tried and true.

      2. hunkerdown

        Probably phones with the 123 row above the *0# row, if IBM’s UX misleadership of that time is any guide.

        What’s needed is to remind the “creative class”, those people who think it’s okay to toy around lightly with running production systems that are mission-critical for millions, in particular of proper development practices, and in general to stop playing with other people’s food.

    2. Larry Headlund

      I am 100% behind the author’s criticisms but I do wish to criticize one of her solutions:

      So I have a modest suggestion.

      I would like to see major Web services commit themselves to the proposition of providing optional and easily enabled “basic interfaces” to their main services, alongside the existing “primary” interfaces.

      We’re not talking “dumbed-down” interfaces here. We’re talking about UIs that feature clear menus, obvious and easy to click icons, and most importantly, that would be supported for important functionalities for significantly longer periods of time than the rapidly evolving primary interfaces themselves.

      I am, of course, in favor of policies which increase the demand for interface designers and support services. The is a contradiction here: If you have a UI that has clear menus, obvious and easy to click icons then that UI should be your primary UI. So the key difference is would be supported for important functionalities for significantly longer periods of time than the rapidly evolving primary interfaces themselves. I have seldom been asked to add functionality to an interface which the customer didn’t see as key. So either this basic interface is dumbed down by missing key functionality or it is changing at the same pace.

      Finally, NC supports two, to my knowledge, web interfaces: standard and mobile. Recently NC made some extensive changes to its standard web interface. Why did NC not keep maintaining the ‘classic’ interface as well as the new standard? The answer to that question is the same as my criticism of the modest proposal.

      1. hunkerdown

        As well and precisely as she identifies the deficiency in the system, her answer is to apply Rule #1 (“because markets”) by splitting a demographic into two markets. Showing once again that problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

    3. roadrider

      Yeah, the pastel fonts are an issue.

      For my 2 cents the biggest problem is the gratuitous changes in UI for no apparent reason. Its as if they had nothing else for the UI guys to do except implement some radically new UI and roll it out without any warning causing a massive WTF moment for the user base. This happens not only with web sites but with my cable (excuse me, fiber optic) provider.

      I personally don’t have much trouble adjusting but there’s always some initial effort invested in figuring out how to do stuff you used to know how to do.

      1. hunkerdown

        To you and me, the Internet is our office within our home.

        To designers, the Internet is their branch office within our home.

        Conway’s Law constrains organizations that produce systems to reproducing copies of their own communication structure. The bourgeoisie’s functional relationship to culture is to “improve culture”, that is, to know better than you. They’ve constructed a great many self-serving myths of their value to society, which were formerly checked by a social disinclination to commercial exchange.

        And, humility is not an Internet value.

        I think it all boils down to that any roles you have in society that don’t involve enriching them are their enemies.

    4. sleepy

      I have a modest complaint about the flat screen TVs which, if they have controls at all that are accessible other than via the remote, are generally hidden somewhere along the side of the set or in the back–somewhere in an unreadable corner.. Yes I know they are “hidden” to achieve that sleek, modern uncluttered look which imho is 100% user unfriendly. Style over substance of course.

  2. Disturbed Voter

    I have to agree with Mr Reich … particularly that Aetna has just offered to buy Humana. Think Microsoft, except they own your health, not just your PC. Thanks to ACA, the time when 100% of the GDP is health related expenditure … is rushing toward us ever faster. If we live long enough under the viaduct, we can see the death cage match between the AMA and the health insurance monopoly. I predict the AMA will lose, because the insurance guys will choose the nuclear option of refusing to provide malpractice insurance!

    1. nippersdad

      If all of this goes through, the pain should hit just prior to the Presidential elections; one in which one of the front runners is pushing single payer. Who said that these people were smart?

        1. nippersdad

          Thanks! I hadn’t seen that one. I wonder if politico realizes that all their snide comments do is point out that Sanders is not “of” The Establishment? It is all grist for his mill! In an interview the other day he was asked why he had so few endorsements in Congress, and he replied that “of course Hillary is going to have a lot of endorsements from Congress, she is the establishment candidate.”


          That is something that both Parties are going to have to deal with. The establishment calling anyone extreme in such an extreme moment (that is distinctly of their own making) is only shooting themselves in the foot.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            One of the constants of the journals from the ante-bellum South is the twisted view that the house slaves just loved being slaves and then shock when they burned down the house. It’s not as extreme, but most electeds were popular at one time and probably can’t quite grasp a populace turning against them while there is a Cadre of enablers.

            1. nippersdad

              Yes, the infamous Washington bubble. There is a lot to that.

              Re Southern slaves burning down the house: Prior to the TPA vote, I sent my “representative” an op-ed I had written and this (truly shocking) video I found on C&L, with a bunch of bubbas outside the WH discussing whether they should shoot or hang Obama for treason. I then pointed out that that was his base, and what a shame it would be were they to find out that he had voted for something that was treasonous on its’ face (as discussed in the op-ed). I said that it was really nice knowing that he and his family were just over there in Fayetteville, that I was sure they were really nice people and that they would be missed.

              He then voted against it. One of the few R’s who did.

              Now, I don’t know if that had any effect on his vote, but at least he heard from one of his constituents…and that is nice. We try to keep our representatives informed of what is going on back home. The more things change down here…..

                  1. different clue

                    No, but . . . if it got more Tea Republicans elected in place of Champagne Republicans, then the balance is shifted a little against the final Obamatrade agreements themselves. Any Champagne Republicans who voted for Obamatrade Fast Track may be primaried and possibly removed by Tea Opponents. That could mean yet more Teapublicans in Congress. Also, if Champagne Democrats for Fast Track get replaced with Teapublicans against Obamatrade, that reduces a sure majority for Obamatrade Ratification even more.

                    A heat shield doesn’t evaporate all at once. It ablates. Perhaps we can ablate the pro-Obamatrade faction in the House and Senate layer by layer by layer.

    2. Steve H.

      That’s an interesting point. I’ve already seen the counterplay at work, of doctors refusing to take insurance claims. Not just due to low payouts, simply the overhead of the front office necessary to do all the paperwork.

      1. Kokuanani

        My experience has been doctors refusing to take Medicare. [That’s Medicare, not Medicaid.]

        This started at least 8 years ago, when my MD ejected me from her practice. She wasn’t just refusing NEW patients who had the gall to use Medicare; she then went through and purged CURRENT patients attempting to utilize their Medicare coverage.

        Finding a new doctor who accepted Medicare patients was a real challenge, and ultimately I had to sign up with Kaiser.

        1. Jess

          Same with my previous primary care physician. Aside from a pediatrician I was too young to remember, only had two family doctors until this year. One was from 1953 to 1993, when he retired, and the other was from then to the end of Dec. Was fine as long as I had Blue Cross Medicare Advantage (where the doc bills BC) but once I changed to Medicare plus the AARP United Health Medigap policy (where the doc has to bill Medicare first, then United for the unpaid amount), it was “so long, nice knowin’ ya.” Can’t say I blame the doc; his is a small operation with one nurse and one administrative person.

          1. curlydan

            Only one admin person? Investigate that doc! The healthcare formula for rentier extraction mandates # of Admins > # of Medical Personnel–and the higher the ratio, the better. We can only have 1 admin person when SOCIALISM(!) takes over.

  3. JTMcPhee

    All this advice the Greeks about how to hitch up their own pants or take their medicine. The disease, the infestation, is trans-post-inter-national, seems to me, systemic odious debt.

    Sovereign debt to student loans to all those mortgages, the scamming of ordinary people on the global scale.

    Wow, sounds like Pikety and a lot of others are talking about something that sounds suspiciously like a Jubilee,

    Ssshh, don’t say the word too loud. It might get some traction…

    1. John Smith

      “systemic odious debt.”

      If “loans create deposits” then how can the debt not be odious since the new purchasing power forces many (most? nearly all?) to borrow themselves or to be priced out of the market forever by those other borrowers? (At least with assets such as houses and land, that is; consumer goods, especially electronics, are often an exception.)

      Whether by design or by accident, we have a system that DRIVES people and non-monetarily sovereign governments into debt; it is therefore odious debt, imo.

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s the Neoliberation Theologists’ answer to Augustine’s doctrine of original sin: original debt.

        1. John Smith

          The truth is that our ancestors had original equity, privately or held in common, and that equity has been largely stolen.

          A restart will require the abolition* of bogus debt and the redistribution of equity.

          *similar to what Steve Keen advocates.

  4. Swedish Lex

    Regarding Merkel being “unusually clumsy”.

    Well. What Syriza and Tsipras have stacked against them is a euro zone that follows Merkel like slaves. Merkel (and her party) has spent years making fun of “lazy and dishonest Greeks”. This narrative is now carved in stone among the Finns, Slovaks,etc.

    Initially, the Balts, the Slovaks and the Slovenians, etc., did not have any claims on Greece to talk about. Only German, French and Dutch banks had. But Merkel and Sarkozy bailed out their banks by letting taxpayers in Finland, the Baltic states and in Slovenia to take over what the Greek State previously owed to Deutsche Bank and to Société Générale.

    Now the Finns, the Balts, the Slovenians are unhappy because the Greece, as everybody knew would happen, is unable to pay.

    So they do not blame Merkel or Sarkozy, they blame the Greeks. The poor fools do not realise that they have been had by a conspiracy of the two main European states working in tandem.

    This is what Syriza is up against. Therefore, it would be impossible for the Greeks now to make whatever imaginary proposal that would appeal to this bizarre band of creditors. So Syriza improvises and tries to do the best with a really weak hand.

    Objectively, their best (or least bad) card is to credibly threaten to blow up the euro zone. Which they are doing. Which is why they organised a referendum. Only the fear of a fiasco of historic proportions could drag Merkel out of the false and propagandistic position that the “Greeks have to pay”. If she feels forced to do that, the morons in the Governments of the small euro states that accepted to take on Greek debt when they should have said “no thanks, you Angela and you Nicolas deal alone with the mess your banks have created” will no doubt revolt. Unfortunately, they are more likely to revolt against Greece than against the true culprit; Merkel.

    Tsipras knows this, of course. I wish him good luck. And please blow up the euro zone if that is what it takes. The “adults in the room” have clearly demonstrated that they do not deserve to have it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have something like it in Puerto Rico*.

      I wonder if it left the US, if they gained independence, would it impact America the same way a Grexit would impact the EU?

      And we may ask, if Tibet left China, what would happen to that People’s Republic?

      *Prexit = Puerto Rico Exit.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Greece is about the default and exposure of TBTF entities. Would Puerto Rico default and is a TBTF organization exposed to a Puerto Rico default? If they declared or were granted independence but honored their debt, no one would care.

        The Greek problem is how long a government can function in austerity without a return to prosperity.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          PR might have a problem honoring their debt, with or without independence.

          Would a Prexit be more or less likely to threaten a breakup of the American Union than a Grexit does an EU breakup? Would the former be the end of the empire?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The U.S. states are heavily integrated under Washington. Europe let the member states in under different requirements, and there are no EU citizens just citizens of member states. The EU states still have bureaucracies for most functions that they pre-Eurozone. The U.S. states have to piggyback off of U.S. taxes. Leaving is impractical for most states. Even almost half of what is spent through state and local outfits goes through Washington. The EU doesn’t collect taxes. The member EU states do. The EU does not have an integrated military or police force. Interpol predates the EU and could continue to function.

            The EU government has no nationwide leader. More than 400 million people are waiting on Angela Merkel, and Merkel and her allies have never been on a ballot. This is a legitimacy problem the U.S. doesn’t have.

            Half the population of the South isn’t Southern, so we don’t have an identity problem here. The regions have too many people from different regions to rally around a separate flag.

            With the US states except maybe California and Texas are too small not to rely on trade. What would be the exchange rate between an Oregano, a Montenny, a Loony, a Potato and a Super Sonic? No one could function this way given that state bureaucracies are mostly schools and roads. The states didn’t set up their own aca exchanges because they didn’t have the money or even a starting point. Massachusetts’ exchanges were a multi-year affair conducted without federal directives, and they joined the federal exchanges.

            No one is seceeding from the U.S.

    2. john c. halasz

      Small correction. The Balts all joined the Euro after the Greek “bailout” in 2010, so they in effect rather stupidly explicitly signed up for this. The fact that the former PM of Latvia, which pre-crisis was running CA deficits of 23%, is now the chief official in charge of the Euro, is just one of those telling and appalling details.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is that Latvian vote for admission to the Euro another instance of ‘sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t’ voting process?

        What can we say then about this latest expression of the people’s will by the Greeks? Will it work out for them?

  5. Bottom Gun

    Can anyone read that Eric Holder quote and reach any conclusion other than that he is corrupt down to the bone?

      1. Dugh

        Another good recap of the Mr “Too Big to Jail” legacy over at Liberty Blitzkrieg

        “Trying to determine Barack Obama’s most corrupt, crony appointee presents a virtually impossible task. Every single person he’s appointed to a position of power over the course of his unfathomably shady, violent and unconstitutional presidency, has been little more than a gatekeeper for powerful vested interests. Obama’s job was to talk like a marxist, but act like a robber baron. In this regard, his reign has been an unprecedented success.”

    1. Ulysses

      No. The real wonder is that anyone ever thought he wasn’t corrupt to the bone before!

      1. ambrit

        The telling point is that, at the time he was “spinning his magic,” Obama and his ‘team’ were seen as reformers! That indicated a massive lowering of the bar for being perceived as non-corrupt. Defining down honour and integrity were, and still are, a cornerstone of the Reactionary game plan. The real heart breaker is that some did see through the “O” phenomenon and were ignored.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      No. It’s hysterical how he think he needs to justify his actions. My guess is he hasn’t received offers to make appearances and a crummy book deal. Team Blue doesn’t have the welfare network that the GOP has. If a Democrat doesn’t have the goods or positive celebrity, they just kind of fade away.

      1. different clue

        With all the money Holder will get for his faithful service, the only reason he would want book deals and appearances is for pride. So perhaps a movement with a strike-force ready to change the mind of any entity which thinks of signing Holder up for a book or an appearance would at least make Holder feel bad . . . bad enough to cry all the way to the bank on some days instead of laughing all the way to it.

  6. abynormal

    Declaration of the Independence of the Mind: An Extraordinary 1919 Manifesto Signed by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Jane Addams, and Other Luminaries
    “We commit ourselves never to serve anything but the free Truth that has no frontiers and no limits and is without prejudice against races or castes.”
    …a passionate cry for using the power of art and intellectual work not for propaganda, destruction, and divisiveness, but for bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the invisible fellowship that transcends national, ethnic, and class boundaries. It was signed by hundreds of the era’s most prominent intellectuals, including Albert Einstein (who was a vocal opponent of war), Bertrand Russell (who thought a great deal about what “the good life” entails), Rabindranath Tagore (who dedicated his life to our spiritual survival), Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, Stefan Zweig, and Hermann Hesse.

  7. ambrit

    As of this time, 9:30 AM Tuesday, there’s a flash crash going on in the precious metals. Could this be the beginning of a Panic in China? The Chinese and Indians have traditionally been big users of PMs as emergency stores of value. Are the wily Sons of Heaven selling their reserves to avoid being wiped out by margin calls?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Over 20% of China stocks now in trading halt…just saw it at Marketwatch.

      Probably need more central planning or more powerful central planning…throw another army of traders to the Shanghai market…conscript more unemployed youths…need more 90+ year old investors…do your duty, comrades (as Haywood would say).

      1. craazyboy

        New “market” rules – you can buy, but you can’t sell!

        Combine that with new banking rules – you can make deposits, but you can’t make withdrawals.

        If we run out of money and GDP suffers – do massive QE and give money to banks.

        They will get things all worked out for us.

        1. fresno dan

          you can be Soylent green
          you can’t eat Soylent green

          just part of the sheeple sustaining the 0.0001%

          1. ambrit

            Thank you! Citigroup has done what the Hunt brothers failed to do; corner the silver market. The Hunt brothers were broken up by the regulators before their plot could finish out. Citigroup owns the regulators today; they wrote the rules! Where will this end?
            JPMorgan? The PM crowd have known about their manipulation of the metals markets for several years now. Classical economics do not apply in situations like this.

      2. Jess

        Speaking of Haywood, anybody seen him around lately? Hope he’s well. Although I sometimes disagree with his opinions, he is a witty writer able to skewer those who generally need skewering.

        1. fresno dan

          It hasn’t been that long, has it?
          I assume even pixel stained commenters get a break now and again…

      3. curlydan

        According to the FT article, though, “The Shenzhen index is now up 36 per cent this year, having been up 122 per cent less than a month ago”. I’m not following that market, but based on what I’ve heard, I’m not going to cry a river for an investor who is up 36% since Jan 1.

  8. spooz

    The Green Party’s Jill Stein decides to do some of Hillary’s dirty work by throwing some mud on Bernie Sanders, saying he will either lose in the primary and throw his support to Hillary or compromise his progressive values and become another Obama if he gets elected. Well, Jill Stein, in the former case, your party WOULD have had my vote. Now I guess I’ll throw my protest vote to the Libertarian candidate instead.

    1. Steve H.

      Wow. In mediation, we work to find points of agreement and build on those. She actually did put in a serious effort to distinguish herself from her closest ally on the issues, instead of going after those who are fully opposite in their positions.

      This is why we can’t have nice things common pool resources.

    2. TedWa

      Bernie and the green party are basically on the same side and her claim of more endless war with a Sanders Presidency is beyond the pale. Why isn’t she paying attention to the saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Geez. Surprising

    3. nippersdad

      Bad mistake. Glenn Ford can get away with that sort of thing but I doubt that Jill Stein ever will. I was hoping to see her as a cabinet pick, but now that is going to be pretty unlikely.

    4. DanB

      In 1972 many on the left criticized McGovern. My sociology professor was not surprised: “It’s a matter of competing for the same voters,” he quipped.

        1. different clue

          It confirms my distaste for the Green Party and its slimy High-Profilers . . . . like Nader and McGaw. I wonder if the Green Party has secret upper-class agents directing its activities unknown to its innocent dupe members?

    5. roadrider

      I don’t really understand your problem with what Stein said. I just listened to the interview and I didn’t hear any “mud throwing”. What I did hear was a perfectly legitimate criticism of the Democratic Party and how progressive candidates, however well meaning, are prevented from having any real impact within it. With respect to Sanders, all I heard Stein say is that he’s no more likely to break this mold than anyone else who has tried it. This is particularly true since Sanders isn’t even a Democrat and the party leadership owes him nothing and has every reason to undercut him at every turn.

      Calling his candidacy Quixotic, which is much fairer assessment than yours hardly equates to “mud throwing” and pointing out that Sanders has already made public statements promising to support Clinton when if she wins is eminently fair. Mud throwing would be to distort what Sanders said or claim he said it when he actually didn’t.

      If you feel comfortable voting for the Libertarians then I really have to question whether you really support Sanders or Stein in the first place. Sounds kind of incongruous to me.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Mud throwing or not, I follow the Greens on — sigh… — Facebook, and their consistent first move against Sanders is to point out how awful the Democrats are. But there’s an old political saying: “You can’t beat something with nothing.” That’s why my first move would be to draw contrasts on platform. I presume the Greens aren’t for the F-35, for example? But it just doesn’t happen, and with a decentralized operation like the Greens, I’m not sure it ever will happen. The perspective is party building, which is laudable, but only to insiders. Outsiders are looking to candidates and/or concrete material benefits.

        I mean, I had to intervene quite forcefully to get them to stop talking about Nader. And that was 15 year ago.

        1. roadrider

          Well, I don’t do Facebook (never have, never will) so I can’t really respond on that specific point but I get a regular e-mail (I am not a party member but on their list since I donated to Stein in 2012 and am doing so now for 2016) from the Green Party Shadow Cabinet which does a good job of detailing their specific policies on a number of issues. I don’t recall if they’ve specifically mentioned the F-35 but I’m sure military spending has been mentioned more than once.

          Yes, those e-mails only go out to those on their list so your point is taken but in any case I think the original poster was pretty far off base in criticizing Stein for making an observation that many, many others have made, and is in fact, true and repeating a public statement that Sanders himself has made.

          1. roadrider

            And i should add that the comments were in response to a direct question about Sanders.

            Elsewhere in the interview Stein did give an overview of the Green platform.

      2. spooz

        I notice that the title of the article was changed, since I posted the link this morning, from “Voting For Bernie Sanders is like Voting For Obama Endless War” to “Jill Stein: Time To Reject The ‘Lesser-Evil’ & Stand Up For The Greater Good”…which, according to the “correction” more accurately reflects Jill Stein’s viewpoint. So, she has managed to disavow of the most offensive and inaccurate part of the article, now that the mud has already been slung.

        In the interview, Stein says we can expect Bernie to be just like Obama who, though he gave the appearance of being progressive, threw in the towel when elected. To say that Sanders will be anything like flim-flam faux progressive Obama sounds like mud slinging to me. If he is given the Bully Pulpit, I believe Bernie will be able to use it effectively to promote his long held progressive beliefs, supported by his voting record, and put pressure on the legislature to respond to them.

        If anything, the term Quixotic is a perfect description of Stein’s campaign, not that of a serious contender for the Democratic nomination, like Bernie. In what imaginary world does a complete outsider like Jill Stein think she will be better able to work within the system than Bernie?

        Also, upon reflection, I would probably be more likely do a write-in vote for Bernie than vote for a third party, if Hillary got the nomination. If I’m going to go for the protest vote, I might as well vote with my conscience.

    6. Oregoncharles

      That’s exactly what Lambert recommended: point to the policy differences.

      He did vote for the ACA, too.

      Personally, I’d have kept silent on it until he actually got the nomination – which I agree is extremely unlikely. Personally, I think the party will cheat to keep him out, if need be.

      I assume she was asked and responded honestly.

      To be a good deal too honest myself (I wouldn’t say this anywhere besides NC): a Sanders nomination would be a big setback for the Green Party. Without him, We have a rare shot. But he’d give a lot of people an excuse to stay with the Democrats. I think that’s counterproductive.

      Reminds me of McGovern.

      1. Lambert Strether

        My guess — I admit I don’t have a metric for this — is that the Democratic establishment is much weaker than it was in McGovern’s day. At some point, the ancien regime really does crumble. I prefer to think that Sanders would end up buying the Democrat’s remaining assets at a fire sale, rather than actually becoming one. The logo, the ballot access, some money in the bank, some mailing lists. Get resignation letters from everybody, rehire a few as needed. I can dream!

  9. Mbuna

    At this moment in time all these links to articles regarding Greece just seem like pointless chickens squawking to me and none of them are “important” because there isn’t going to be any real resolution here- whatever gets “worked out” is not going to work, period, and it doesn’t take a genius to see it. Greece is going to suffer no matter what.
    It’s time to stop worrying about Greece and start to worry about Europe.
    The adults left the room there long ago. The real question is how bad are things going to get before any adults show up again and Greece is an indicator that things are going to get pretty damn ugly before there is any chance for a change of direction. I think it’s time to start to prepare for a long and wild and unpleasant ride.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If they panic in China and this 5+ year, world-wide depression worsens, there will not be money for Greece, nor anybody else*.

      It’s possible that this is the best time for Greece to get a deal done.

      But it will not be much as bubbles pop all over the world.

      *Except maybe military spending on renewable weapons.

  10. John Merryman

    Money is a contract, that we treat as a commodity.
    It is based on mutual trust, but we instill it with hope.
    And now it is an enormous bubble of hope, but all the trust has been drained away.
    As the economic circulation system, finance is the playing field on which the economy operates.
    If it is going to be used as a rent extraction device, there is nothing to stop it from draining all tangible value out of the rest of the economy, short of systemic collapse.
    It is a medium of transfer, which is being used as a store of value.
    That is a bit like using the body’s circulation system to store fat.
    The results are analogous; clogged arteries, high blood pressure and poor circulation.
    There was a time when government was a private enterprise, as it evolved from organic tribal functions.
    Those monarchists argued they where the only viable option and that “mob rule” could never work.
    Because they felt and acted that there was no alternative, any alternative became an option and eventually humanity has turned government into a public trust.
    Banking is now in the same situation.
    There was a time when governments were too unstable to be trusted to maintain stable currencies and the private sector, specifically the Rothschilds, filled the gap, because they had the gold reserves to do so.
    Now currencies are no longer gold backed, but backed by government debt.
    The long term consequence is that gradually the private holders of this publicly backed debt will come to own all public properties as payment for the obligations incurred to create this privately held money.
    To cure the inflation of the 70’s, Volcker raised interest rates, by reducing the supply of money. He did so by slowing the purchase of government bonds and selling some the Fed was holding.
    Yet this only really began to work by ’82, by which time the deficit was 200 billion and that was real money in those days.
    So what is the difference between the Fed selling debt it was holding and the treasury issuing fresh debt?
    Not much, other than the government could do a lot of Keynsian pump priming with the money it was skimming off.
    So by this logic, the surplus of money that creates inflation is not in the hands of the air traffic controllers, but those with the resources to buy government bonds.
    Basically money is a glorified voucher system and obviously any voucher system will collapse, if it allows the creation and accumulation of massive amount of surplus vouchers.
    So how do you go about maintaining a stable supply and keep them circulating and not constantly disappearing into safe boxes?
    The most logical way would be to date them and have them depreciate gradually, yet most people prefer their money to increase in value and so we have this enormous ponzi scheme of a financial system that requires exponentially more debt to support what came before.
    Eventually we will have to come to realize that money really is a form of public commons and that we no more own those bills in our pockets, than we do the section of road we are driving on.
    This isn’t socialism, as people can certainly build up wealth in other areas, as businesses, factories, farms, personal properties etc.
    It is just an acknowledgement that the monetary circulation system tying it all together has to be a form of public commons, or else it will continue to blow up as these enormous bubbles of notional value, that destroy both the larger economy, society and the environment, as they drain all extractable value out and into the black hole at the center.

  11. Vatch

    Here’s an article by Mark Buchanan lamenting the prevalence of superstition and pseudoscience in the U.S. I’ve quoted a passage that will be of interest to many here at NC.

    During the recent debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example, supporters cast the treaty as an obvious move to further free trade among nations, obscuring other issues at stake, such as the treatment of intellectual property and the ability of corporations to circumvent the regulations of democratically elected governments.

    1. fresno dan

      Yup, I saw that.
      I always wondered how so many people bought Nazi propaganda when I was young.
      But blaming your problems on others seems to be a pretty much the human condition, and rationality and sticking to the truth are thin reeds against the onslaught of what Lewis Sinclair wrote:
      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

      I would just edit it to exchange “salary” with “financial interest” or maybe even any prejudice, bias, or religious belief….

      1. hunkerdown

        Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, kept Huey Long out of the Presidency and made the world safe for oligarchs to rise again.

        1. ambrit

          A barrage of bullets kept Huey Long out of the White House. FDR feared Long. The doctor who conveniently died in a hail of gunfire who was fingered as the assassin doesn’t really fit the crime. Long time Louisiana political junkies will tell you it was an inside job.

          1. hunkerdown

            Embarrassingly, I got the events of 1935 out of order. Bullet assassination was indeed first; It Can’t Happen Here character assassination came second. My apologies.

            1. ambrit

              That’s all right h. The popularization of history eventually becomes the “official” version of history. Who remembers that the real George Patton had a high and squeaky voice, and not George C. Scotts gruff growl?

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Henry Sinclair, another Sinclair, took the Grail to America, or so I read somewhere.

    2. Larry B.

      More than a little ironic that in an article bemoaning the lose of factuality in our culture, that he gets the facts concerning Bruno wrong. Bruno wasn’t executed for his fanciful cosmology, but for heretical views on the trinity, the incarnation, the virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, and just about every other fundamental Roman Catholic dogma. Not saying I approve of the latter, either, but you need to get your facts right.

  12. Brindle

    re: Hillary & Honduras Coup

    The Obama administration was instrumental in turning Honduras into a failed state. It now has the highest murder rate in the world. The creation of failed states around the world is a feature, not a bug of Obama’s foreign policy aims.

    Dana Frank—Professor of History UC Santa Cruz:

    —The June 2009 military coup, itself a criminal act, blew apart the rule of law in Honduras–never solid before the coup. The police are now “rotten to the core,” in the 2011 words of Alfredo Landaverde, a prominent former congressmember and police inspector gunned down soon after. Members of the military are also allegedly linked to drug traffickers and organized crime. Both continue to commit terrifying human rights abuses with impunity. Meanwhile, many public prosecutors and members of the judiciary are known to have ties with criminals as well, as do significant chunks of congress and top government officials. “The institutions responsible for providing public security continue to prove largely ineffective and remain marred by corruption and abuse,” Human Rights Watch writes in its 2015 country report on Honduras, “while efforts to reform them have made little progress.” —

  13. craazyman

    I’ve noticed some ill-tempers around here lately so I’ve decided to make a special limited time offer to Naked Capitalism readers!

    Are you feeling out-of-sorts lately — down, discouraged, crabby, snappy and generally nasty? We thought so! It could be an impairment of your utility maximization function. Laboratory tests have shown conclusively that stresses of every day life, such as political and economic discussions, can disrupt your utility maximization function, causing you to make poor decisions and engage in less than optimal behavior. But you don’t have to be a victim.

    Here are Utili-Max, our highly trained mental economists can tune your utility maximization function and get you back on track. We’ll examine your first derivatives, second derivatives, partials and cross partials. We’ll even evaluate your Hessian determinant and ensure the signs of your principal minors alternate, beginning with a negative sign. But we won’t stop there! We’ll even evaluate the neighborhoods around your optimal critical point, to be absolutely sure an extremum exists — right where it should! And if you find yourself confused by competing objectives, our highly trained staff will create personalized Langrangians and a bordered Hessian, giving you the clarity to apply a constrained maximization to effortlessly optimize any confusing situation you encounter!

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    1. ambrit

      Dear Dr. Tremens;
      Please have patience with my sinusoidal response pattern. It’s all up one day and down the next. But I digress.
      At the least, you could procure for your economists some tenured chairs in which to sit while employing their credentialed intellects for the benefit of Utili-Max clients. If budgetary constraints preclude that, for heavens sake find them some benches in the Corridors of Power from which to intercede on behalf of the clients. Remember, one of the first maxims taught in Econ 101 is; “Any Economist found standing around is technically loitering and liable for prosecution.”
      A small indirect testimonial if I may. I have discovered the soundness of the Utili-Max methodology from personal experiment. My wife swears that since I discovered her Lagrange Spot, she has been “shot to the moon, or a gravity stabilization point associated with” every time we vigourously discuss boundaries, Hessian or otherwise. Thank you Utili-Max!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This could be that ten-bagger you’ve been looking for, market crash or no market crash.

      1. ambrit

        The secret is in what you don’t hear. Like Conan Doyles’ “the regulators who didn’t bark before the crash,” from the story “Blazing Silver ETFs.”

    3. abynormal

      doubt i can afford it but i still cheer you nailing The 10 bagger!…i’ll stick to the free stuff:

      “If we were not so single-minded
      about keeping our lives moving,
      and for once could do nothing,
      perhaps a huge silence
      might interrupt this sadness
      of never understanding ourselves
      and of threatening ourselves with

  14. roadrider

    Re: Democrats and Republicans attack municipal pensions in PA

    And the Dim-o-craps wonder why they keep losing elections to “the guys who would be so much worse” than them.

  15. fresno dan

    “Steve Rose has a new piece on wage growth being published by the Urban Institute which was previewed in a blog post in the Wall Street Journal. It shows a considerably better picture than most of us are used to seeing. Whereas my friends at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) show the real median wage for men has fallen by 7.4 percent between 1979 and 2011, Rose finds that real annual compensation for men has risen by 13.4 percent. EPI’s data show that the median hourly wage for women has risen by 24.2 percent. Rose finds a gain of 73.0 percent.
    But the most serious area of dispute between Rose’s analysis and the EPI analysis is over the correct deflator to use in converting nominal wage or compensation growth to real growth. Rose using the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) deflator in the GDP accounts, while EPI uses the CPI-U-RS, a series that applies the current methodology for the CPI back through time. The CPI-U-RS shows an inflation rate that averages 0.4 percentage points more over the years 1979 to 2013. This means that if we use the PCE rather the CPI-U-RS it will increase the annual rate of wage or earnings growth by 0.4 percentage points. This increases the growth in the pay for men by more than 13 percentage points over the period EPI examined and the pay for women by almost 18 percentage points.”

    Only goes to show that very esoteric changes to CPI calculations and GDP deflators can have profound implications.
    What say you? Is everybody better off in “real terms?”

    I don’t buy it, and I don’t buy it because like a lot of analysis, it simply skips certain points.
    Saying that quality is increasing is true enough….FOR SOME THINGS…..on the other hand, if you don’t even consider the things for which QUALITY is DECLINING, well, your not even trying to be intellectually honest.

    As I’ve mentioned in a long line of examples of “crapdonics” (the “real” antonym of hedonics), I am moving, and because of phone “trees” and automated systems that never ACTUALLY work correctly, it took me more than an hour to arrange transfer of my utilities. Years ago, when you spoke to a human being, transfer of my utilities was done in less than 5 minutes

  16. A Wells

    @The Choice Ahead: A Private Health-Insurance Monopoly or a Single Payer
    Is it possible to break the healthcare insurance market? What would happen if everyone insured loaded up on benefits next year and forced the insurers to exceed their budgeted for payout by a lot?
    There is a feedback between health care insurance and health providers. Both benefit from running more money through the system, and the gradual increases allow them to do that. It is not just the insurance that is the problem. Doctor visit in Germany cost about as much as our co-payment does here. And I am not even talking about the quality.

  17. Raj

    A couple of news topics to raise an eyebrow…

    1. Mastercard to authenticate transactions through facial scan.

    “When consumers shop on the Internet, their banks need ways to verify their identities,” said Bhalla. “So this particular product seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payments experience.”

    “The new generation, which is into selfies, I think they’ll find it cool—they’ll embrace it,” said Bhalla.

    2. In-store Beacons to Drive Consumer Demand

    “If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else.

    The Los Angeles-based company says its platform generates, on average, a 14 percent increase in products in a basket during a store visit. This is for all users.

    Last July, the company said that a beacon-based campaign on its platform by Hillshire Brands, maker of Hillshire Farm American Craft Link Sausages, led to a 20-times increase in purchase intent for those exposed to its messaging. Hillshire also reported a 36 percent “increase in brand awareness and lift in overall sales.”

    A previous inMarket study in June of 2014 found that consumers are 19-times more likely to engage with a product after receiving a beacon-driven message.”

  18. fresno dan

    Michigan cop charges black graduate student with felony for driving to a well-lit area Boing Boing

    And if he had been shot dead by the cop, in either the dark area or the well lit area, it would have been the cop thought he saw him reaching into his pants. Than nothing would have happened….

    The fact that a judge doesn’t reject this on the spot, and than report the prosecutor to the bar, and that our system has no method for dealing with prosecutors who are defacto stupid or racist, shows that we have what is really just a more nicely phrased Jim Crow system….

    1. ambrit

      It may start out as Jim Crow, but like Poor White tenant farmers in the Reconstruction South found out, it is an equal opportunity program of oppression. The cited event is more of a Copland versus Main Street issue. When I drove a very beat up pickup truck to the shop I worked for, which was on the edge of the Recreational Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur Zone, I would be pulled over occasionally and rousted because I “fit the description.” (Poor looking working class White male entering a “known place of illegal activity.”)
      Black people are suffering an institutionalized form of a universal problem.
      I agree with Lambert. Cops should be disarmed and put on foot patrols.
      A ‘Flying Squad’ for firearm related crimes, and a shoot to kill policy when firearms are used in the commission of a crime might ‘get it done.’ (We still will have the problem of what constitutes a ‘serious’ crime, but, hey, you have to start somewhere.)

      1. fresno dan

        Oh, I agree – racism is part of it, but the cops/legal industrial complex will kill/oppress anyone and than rationalize it. And it may even to counterproductive to bring up racism because there will be some who will not acknowledge that. We need everyone to understand that ANYONE can be a victim of police crime.

        I don’t know which is worse – our legal industrial complex or the fact that 12 jurors unanimously can’t figure out murder when they see it…

        1. Skippy

          Why actually go out and get facts to discern T/F when all you have to do is reduce everyone to numbers and do like McNamara and Nash, input them into a model. It worked swell in WWII and Vietnam.

          The best part now is its much cheaper due to Excel goal seeking, keeps the confusion static at bay.

          Skippy… seems some did not get the memo… there is a war against poverty… and numbers equal peace….

  19. spooz

    Regarding the “cute” varmint featured on today’s Antidote du Jour, I suggest he stay away from my chickens if he doesn’t want to see the wrong end of rifle barrel.

    1. Gio Bruno

      …that varmint is a Sierra Nevada kit fox, i believe. About the size of a small house cat when mature. Very reclusive; not often found near chickens.

    2. Jess

      Note also that the vet holding the “cute” little varmint is wearing heavy-duty welder’s gloves.

    1. abynormal

      oookaaa hunker…ive long suspected you a knight of the lambda calculus, but those who talk don’t know and those who know don’t talk…so just keep pass’n the sweet stuff

  20. Oregoncharles

    From Mish’s article (a quibble, but an important one):
    “. Printing unauthorized euro notes would indeed be declaration of war.”

    You mean the war the ECB is already fighting, and has been for months?

    The real objection is that it’s a half-measure, and those are almost always bad.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One never wants to be goaded into attacking someone’s harbor, or worse, framed for attacking a radio station.

      So, it’s best to avoid being seen as the one to first declare war. Let the other guy be seen as the one who started it.

      1. ambrit

        HMMM….. So, the General Staff have some fifth columnists sign some dodgy “economic treaties” between Greece and the EU. Then reality sets in, and the “patriotoic’ Greeks try and back out. Voila! A pretext to crush the Greek economy!
        Yes. The old ways are the best.

    1. Lexington

      Just what this crisis needed: more fact free polemics aimed at rousing the True Believers to join the stampede off the cliff.

      Then when they come to the sudden stop at the end and discover not a utopian alternate reality but a Hobbsian dystopia disillusion will set in, followed quickly by anger and bitterness. A LOT of anger and bitterness.

      Then on cue the demagogues start coming out of the woodwork and – well, the rest writes itself.

  21. Howard Beale IV

    Shillers for killers
    Revealed: How the tobacco industry paid journalists, scientists, activists and lawyers to cover up the most deadly crime in human history. Pando

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