Links 9/5/15

Polar bears may survive ice melt, with or without seals Science Daily

The tiniest Lego: a tale of nanoscale motors, rotors, switches and pumps Nature

UK seems to relax pressure on Caymans over company register Guardian

Judge’s Ruling Offers Peek Into Private Equity’s Secret World Gretchen Morgenson, NYT

Pensions Roll Back Return Targets WSJ

Plunging 5.1% Unemployment Rate Belies Record Low Labor Participation Economic Populist

Jobs Report Gives Ammunition to Both Sides of Fed Rate Debate NYT

Janet Yellen and the Fed Should Hold Fire The New Yorker

Wall St. banks shift odds on rate hike to year-end: Reuters poll Reuters

Boeing Loses Freighter Order as Cargo Market Sags WSJ

Why a big slump in South Korea’s exports matters The Economist

Why tech booms are good but do not last FT

6 Real(ish) Tips for Startups On How to Survive The Tech Bubble Snapmunk. Froth? Meta-froth?

Uber and the bumpy road ahead Gillian Tett, FT

Amazon hiring staff for new restaurant division in Seattle, New York Reuters. There’s only real margin in the restaurant business with a liquor license. I find the prospect of Amazon serving drinks frightening. Then again, if a martini could be delivered to me via drone… 

BlackBerry to buy rival Good Technology for $425 million Reuters. Blackberry can do acquisitions?

Half a Century Later Mainframes, Together with Linux, Still Run Much of Today’s Infrastructure WSJ. As we’ve been saying…


Nouriel Roubini dismisses China scare as false alarm, stuns with optimism Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

China May Never Get Rich Bloomberg

After anti-graft summit, the US$700 million question remains unanswered Malaysian Insider. The $700 million that mysteriously appeared in Prime Minister Najib’s bank account.

Analysis: Why the law in Malaysia is an ass Asian Correspondent. A bit dated, still very relevant.

Philippines, Vietnam to Ink Strategic Partnership by End of 2015 The Diplomat


Lapavitsas: Most in SYRIZA believed dogmatically that the creditors will retreat Failed Evolution

The Foundations of Greece’s Failed Economy Project Syndicate

The Boy on the Beach NYT

Everything you need to know about the European refugee crisis Sidney Morning Herald

Refugee crisis:live Telegraph

Migrants arrive in Austria from Hungary after border move BBC

Migrant Dream Realized: Coming Home to Africa, With Money Bloomberg

Today on Twitter: The US Ambassador and the fascists Yasha Levine, Pando

Will Lebanon’s ‘Garbage Revolution’ Usher In a Secular State? Informed Comment

Syria conflict: Ministers to ‘argue for UK military action’ BBC. US poodle starts yapping?

Saudi Arabia is giving the Obama administration a thumbs up on the nuclear deal with Iran Business Insider

Ramadan the violinist: From Alexandria’s streets to Model EU al-Araby

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The Invisible Man: The End of A Black Life That Mattered GQ

Justice Department: Police Response Made Ferguson Unrest Worse NBC


Clintons personally paid State Department staffer to maintain server (!) WaPo

All the Ways Hillary Clinton Did Not Make News in Her Andrea Mitchell Interview National Journal

Why Biden’s Bankruptcy Bill Could Complicate a Presidential Run Truthdig

Trump, after Republican pledge, breaks from pack on Iran, gay marriage Reuters

Talk in G.O.P. Turns to a Stop Donald Trump Campaign NYT

Ben Carson’s collision course with Donald Trump Politico

Kim Davis is a Democrat. Why does that matter? WaPo

Doctor featured in PM’s video accused of child abduction Ottawa Citizen. “The Citizen asked the Conservative Party about what type of vetting was done on Azer before the government decided to feature him in promotional material.” Canadian humor!

Climate Change

Arctic Sea Ice May Reach Second-Lowest Extent on Record This Month Weather Underground

Gov. Brown acts to protect homeowners installing artificial turf  Los Angeles Times. Awesome. Let’s deal with a water crisis by covering the soil with petroleum that’s been dyed green.

Climate economists are coming around to the idea that a carbon tax isn’t enough Vox

At Burning Man’s Airport, There Are Propeller People and Jet People New York Magazine

Private Jets, Sex Toys, and Faux–Native American Headdresses Return to Burning Man Vanity Fair

Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator Brooklyn Bar Menus. “Water………12.”

Olympian effort needed to save Tokyo’s, Asia’s heritage Japan Times

The End of a Treasure in Tokyo NYT (a bit dated, but lovely images).

The Unlikely Cities That Will Power the U.S. Economy Bloomberg. Map showing how STEM workers are concentrated.

Latest SAT Scores Raise New Alarms Over ‘Test-and-Punish’ Education Common Dreams. “Test-and-punish education” being a contradiction in terms.

How one of America’s last free colleges screwed its students and betrayed its legacy Felix Salmon, Fusion. Kudos to Salmon for staying with this elite defilement.

How Economists Can Be Just as Irrational as the Rest of Us NYT

It’s official: money can buy happiness FT

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Leo

    “How Economists Can Be Just as Irrational as the Rest of Us”
    – I would argue that (mainstream) economists are even more irrational than most people because they believe in the nonsense that they do, even after the empirical evidence proves them wrong.

  2. financial matters

    Lapavitsas: Most in SYRIZA believed dogmatically that the creditors will retreat Failed Evolution

    Lapavitsas has a point that Greece would be more flexible with its own currency but flexibility doesn’t seem to be the problem right now with currencies. We still have the US, Australia, Canada and the UK unable to use their currencies well.

    With Naomi Klein in ‘This Changes Everything’ emphasizing the importance of leaving the coal in the ground and Christian Parenti in ‘Tropic of Chaos’ emphasizing that military oriented counterinsurgency programs are not a good way to handle climate change induced problems, we need a whole different use for this flexibility.

    I think the EZ and the EU could handle the refugee crisis better by acting as a whole rather than individual countries. Their central bank could be promoting what all central banks should be promoting which is the common welfare. This is going to require some big projects in the near future.

    Michael Hoexter has provided a blueprint for some wise use of funds.

    Pedal-to-the-Metal(1), BuildingProject and Buses,Wifi,Bikeways

  3. timbers

    Refugee Crisis:

    NPR radio was talking about the refugee crisis yesterday as I drove to work and it was frustrating to listen because little if anything is mentioned of what is causing it. It’s like the weather or an act of God in that it’s just there, no reason…just is what it is. I don’t see headlines connecting Obama’s psychotic bombing campaigns to what the U.N. is calling the greatest refugee flood since WWII. One somewhat liberal commentator did refer in passing the Iraq War as related to what’s going with refugees as reason for why the U.S. should help refugees. That’s airbrushing out what a Democratic President has been doing the past 6 years.

    That America has a feral President who is bombing up to 7 nations (more than anyone in history even more than Adolph Hitler) doesn’t get much if any mention by America’s media. And if you point this out to Democrats they are offended and what you to shut up.

      1. timbers

        “Everywhere the U.S. goes turns into Iraq or Libya.” What more needs to be said to any American with a brain cell?

        If you mention Putin among Dems – especially in the context of Obama/Hillary/U.S. corporate media lies about Ukraine – you are immediately dismissed as a Putin lover. Just like those who opposed the Iraq War or said Iraq had no WMD made you a Saddam supporter.

        Putin measures well as a leader and looks even better because most national leaders today are so awful. I’m agnostic on Putin but sometimes I think he stands out almost as an exceptional statesmen of historic proportions amongst world leaders, but maybe it’s just that the rest of them are so bad. Of course he is targeted by Obama because he’s one of the few who’s says “no” to the American Empire and that bites because Russia can defend itself against the empire and choose it’s own course regardless of what America does.

        1. fresno dan

          The dems are now ostensibly only about 2.3 nanometers to the left of the repubs. Note the word “ostensibly” because my theory has always been that dems/Clinton have always been on the side of big finance (Bob Rubin) only doing it in a more subtle, less outrageously way than repubs – – likewise, I can see the same thing with regard to foreign policy. After all, it was Madeleine Albright who said the US was the “indispensable nation” providing justification for us involving ourselves in EVERYTHING. The truth is, Obama has now been bombing the mideast longer than Bush! And more countries…

          We really don’t have a foreign policy debate – all militarism, all the time, everywhere.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s a mix. One issue with Putin is his political situation and his path to power. He was a successful businessman, not an oligarchy level, who became the “what is Yeltsin doing” voice. As the first non-communist or bring back the romanov voice against Yeltsin, he soared. I don’t like the word inherited for elected leaders, but besides the poverty, Chechnya, the U.S. out of control nature, and crime, he also inherited a non-existent political system largely propped up by foreign ngos. Party building, public outreach (every Russian leader will be compared to his marathon town halls), constitutional reform, and institutional building aren’t GDP style stats, but these are public concerns and targets of policy in Russia. Bernie will have a similar problem with Team Blue elites.

          Russia in 1991 and 1999 wasn’t the American in 1775. The structures that became the basis of the constitutional conventions didn’t exist in the Russian Federation when the Soviet Union was dismantled against the wishes of the Soviet populations. The simple fact is Russia was a mess and is currently a threat to a number of our more hideous business activities.

    1. tegnost

      So true, wow NPR, you must have a strong stomach I can’t bear to listen to the baby talk lecturing. i recall when Libya went down being the lone voice wondering what the purpose could have been, I still don’t know but can’t count out “we can’t “fix” it til we break it”

    2. Tom Allen

      And Obama’s approach is considered dovish compared to what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to do.

  4. scott

    Sad news about the Hotel Okura. I stayed there for a week 20 years ago. Ran into George Bush 41 at the health club there. I didn’t recognize him without makeup.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its very sad – I’m visiting Tokyo in a few months and I’d hoped to treat myself to a night there, I’ve read so much about it. They are still taking bookings for a few months ahead, but I assume its in the outer wings. Seems cheeky to be taking bookings for a hotel which is about to be half demolished.

      Sadly, there has been a shocking amount of destruction of Japans heritage over the past few decades. What has been done to Kyoto is appalling – so many tourists there have no idea what was casually wiped away in the 1970’s onward. Alex Kerr’s book ‘Dogs and Demons’ is a polemic about this – while he overstates it somewhat, it is an appalling read nonetheless.

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Private Jets, Sex Toys, and Faux–Native American Headdresses Return to Burning Man Vanity Fair

    “Part of the Burning Man ethos, at least in the popular imagination, is the idea of unplugging, and relying—radically—on oneself and the generosity of others.”

    Considering current events, the editors at vanity fair should hang their heads in shame for even having printed that sentence.

    If these revelers TRULY wanted to experience the “ETHOS” of “relying—RADICALLY—on oneself and the generosity of others,” they should have flown to Hungary and joined the hundreds of thousands of “migrants” for whom such an “ethos” is also REALITY. .

    But that would have required some RADICAL cojones. The real kind, not the self-absorbed, american cartoon kind.

    1. DJG

      Indeed. And, yet, who could imagine that still another American middle / upper middle / trendy / edgy event has turned to kitsch? Quelle horreur.

      And as many commenters are pointing out above, as you do, it would require the self-absorption to end: Among these refugees are also Iraqis and Afghans, at least according to the Italian papers, as well as Libyans still using the sea route–all fleeing those wonderful functional democracies that the Democrats and Republicans have installed there.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Latest SAT Scores Raise New Alarms Over ‘Test-and-Punish’ Education Common Dreams

    “Another overhaul of the SAT is coming next March, when the College Board will make an essay portion optional, cut penalties for guessing, and remove some of the lesser-known vocabulary words.”

    So why haven’t the supporters of “test and punish” thought of this?

    If the kids can’t pass, just make the hard parts “optional,” and “remove” the stuff they don’t know.

    It so simple, even the “college board” thought of it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Aren’t more second tier students taking the ACT only nationally? Losing a bunch of old scale 1200 to 1400 scores would drop scores.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In Korea, Japan, China and other Asian countries, they continue their millennium-long traditions of standardized national testing, and their enabling teachers are producing ever more economic-mercenary-warriors – some lowly paid, some higher – for their multi-national, world-market-conquering (or world-job-capturing) corporation-armies.

      I say, we go to a different global system.

      But if we stay status quo, we hardly can unilaterally dis-arm, though as I say, let’s go to a different system, where education has nothing to do with much you will earn with it, and let corporations train their workers, like how to make new GMOs, design financial weapons or produce drones more efficiently.

    3. optimader

      Another overhaul of the SAT is coming next March, when the College Board will make an essay portion optional, .”

      Shoot me..
      give them all a Faulkner short story to read. Then provide a yellow pad and fountain pen to demonstrate if they can write coherently in response to questions.

      cut penalties for guessing,

      = hey its all good if you get away with it!

      and remove some of the lesser-known vocabulary words
      Satirist Mike Judge ~ Idiocracy Is Happening Now

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Removing and updating words is natural. Language change along with what is in popular usage. Even 30 years ago, French words and phrases would have been much more common, but in many ways, it’s a curiosity. Spanish is the new French in the U.S., and changes need to be made accordingly. Latin was barely taught 50 years ago, so let’s stop pretending there was a golden age from a vocabulary aspect. German and Asian constructions should be part of any testing to reflect changing times.

        As for Faulkner, I’m with you. The updating of books assigned by schools to seem more relevant is completely unnecessary. Garbage hides behind the veil of the exotic. The obvious problem is industrial grading will result in length being favored over wit.

        1. optimader

          Try a fountain pen if you haven’t, they are a pleasure to write with. I have used dip pens w india ink, but never a quill, I should do that for grins

      2. Oldeguy

        Well, if you can’t/won’t train a better team, moving the goal posts is one solution.
        I am continually amazed at the global ignorance of the young people I encounter; they ( most of them ) are very nice people indeed, but they dunno from nuthin’ .
        There seems to be a pervasive passivity and lack of curiosity that bodes ill for the nation’s future.
        I’m paranoid enough to suspect that the Elite may consider that a feature rather than a bug in the educational system.

      3. Oldeguy

        Well, if you can’t/won’t train a better team, moving the goal posts is one solution.
        I am continually amazed at the global ignorance of the young people I encounter; they ( most of them ) are very nice people indeed, but they dunno from nuthin’ .
        There seems to be a pervasive passivity and lack of curiosity that bodes ill for the nation’s future.
        I’m paranoid enough to suspect that the Elite may consider that a feature rather than a bug in the educational system.

        1. zapster

          These kids have been “taught to the test” for so long that they are unable to think, seek knowledge on their own, or think coherently about what they learn. The test is the problem, and the draconian “incentive” of the threat of teachers losing their jobs if they fail. This isn’t education at all and it doesn’t matter what’s in the test. The whole process is intellectually stultifying.

      4. Inverness

        Ha, thanks to the Common Core curriculum, fiction is taught far less in US English high school classrooms. The goal is to cover more non-fiction. Of course, the instruction of fiction encourages empathy, something that is becoming less and less useful in the service economy.

        When I taught history in New York State, I was reminded to make sure all my tests include multiple choice questions, so they would look the the state Regents Exams. History is a subject that should embrace complexity and nuance, so adopting multiple choice questions is a joke. But it’s policy, all tests should mimic the regents state standardized test, with the hope that since so many regents questions are close to questions from older exams, students will have sufficiently memorized the answers. Our final exams have to be approved by the department head — so forget coming up with better, more holistic tests. Gone are the kinds of short answer and essay question tests (not all teachers include essay questions on their regular tests), which can assess whether students have grasped not only key concepts but can analyze and synthesize the curriculum. With such dumbed-down instruction, it’s little wonder that SAT scores are falling.

        1. jrs

          When I left school and this was long ago, not after all this nonsense, I read nothing but non-fiction (still mostly do – social science), because I didn’t feel I had a good handle on understanding the world.

          I felt I had of lot of fictionalized, emotionalized accounts, but no reality, no reality at all. Which is kind of true, school (K-12 at least) certainly isn’t there to teach you how the world works except by perhaps it’s sheer oppressiveness teaching you by unconscious example (as per John Taylor Gatto) and even then it’s a hard hard adjustment all one’s life to how the world actually works.

          1. Inverness

            In social studies classes today, students read quite a bit of non-fiction. Americans in general tend to read more non-fiction, as well. English is usually the only subject where students are exposed to fiction. The new Common Core curriculum greatly cuts the amount of time high school students are exposed to fiction, a great loss.

            I disagree that fiction doesn’t expose you to reality. In many ways, fiction gives great insight into others’ subjective experience, and greatly enhances empathy.

  7. craazyboy

    Wall Street Unanimously Agrees Fed Should Stop Exporting Jobs – Hold Off On Rate Hike Until Labor Participation Rate Improves!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The truth that is alarming the overseers is that, among the 5.1% unemployed that they can only count on, at most, no more than 0.1% who are willing serfs.

      Thiis diffusion aspect is a bit disconcerting.

    2. GuyFawkesLives

      I am one of the “Americans not in the labor force.” Haven’t had a paying job since 2012. The latest job I tried was a commission-only position. However, what actually occurred is I was paying to work. The commission-only position required me to drive around to try to get contracts, paying my own gas. I brought in 19 contracts, which the company couldn’t close because of their too-high pricing. So, basically, it was a futile effort. Two months spent paying to drive around and gather contracts that the company then could not meet because of their too-high pricing…..and me paying for the damn job.

      Yes, we are in a fantastic economy. Me: a former 6-figure earner now subsisting on air.

      1. tegnost

        Breathairianism is supposedly good for you but don’t you think you’d appreciate it more if there was a small fee attached?

  8. nothing but the truth

    to understand the economist you need to know who is paying him.

    an economist is essentially a consultant. will say anything for money.

  9. allan

    WaPo: Inside the battle to overhaul overtime — and what it says about how lobbying has changed

    The week before Labor Day may be a quiet one in Washington. But in the nation’s capital and across the country, legions of lawyers and lobbyists are scrambling to weigh in one of the most consequential regulations of Obama’s second term: An update to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would make 4.6 million more people eligible for overtime.

    Warning: story includes full frontal revolving doors.

  10. craazyboy

    “Gov. Brown acts to protect homeowners installing artificial turf Los Angeles Times. Awesome. Let’s deal with a water crisis by covering the soil with petroleum that’s been dyed green.”

    I like our red and white gravel here, but then I get this image of thousands of big, heavy gravel trucks stuck in LA traffic attempting to cover S.Cal. You can’t win. (Plus the gravel probably comes into the Port of LA)

      1. optimader

        I wonder what will runoff (out of) it after a sick raccoon that ate a bad dead possum has GI problems on it, then the neighborhood dogs do their best to cover that scent in their own perfume

  11. Uahsenaa

    The Republican establishment can’t do anything about Trump, because Trump simply gives voice to all the horrible beliefs their media organs have actively perpetuated over the years, just without the coded language. To attack him on the basis of the content of what he says would be to attack themselves as well, or at least implicate. Trump actually has a fairly obvious weakness–he’s notoriously thin skinned, and so is often quickly bogged down in very public media rows–but, again, parodying him or satirizing him would, in effect, be satirizing themselves as well. I get the sense that the elephant is just too self-righteous to pull off biting, self-deprecating humor.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Now we see why Hillary’s aide Bryan Pagliano is takin’ da Fifth. From the Wapo article ‘Clintons Personally Paid Staffer …’

    Hillary Rodham Clinton and her family personally paid a State Department staffer to maintain the private e-mail server she used while heading the agency, according to an official from Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    The unusual arrangement helped Clinton retain personal control over the system that she used for her public and private duties. Pagliano did not list the outside income in the required personal financial disclosures he filed each year.

    The private employment of Pagliano provides a new example of the ways that Clinton hired staff [e.g., Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin] to work simultaneously for her in public and private capacities.

    Dozens of public officials have been convicted for having public employees do work for them while on the government’s payroll. Pagliano’s arrangement was different, in that he was moonlighting without disclosing it. That’s his legal exposure. So it’s understandable that he’s taking the Fifth, unless granted immunity.

    More troubling is the larger picture that the Clintons blur the distinction between public and private activities, putting aides in the conflicted position of working both for the government and for the Clintons. ‘Co-optation’ isn’t a federal crime (yet), but it’s a blunder.

        1. fresno dan

          Well, besides the tax implications, I wonder what you think about such things as bribery, conflict of interest, and circumventing security measures? And for the staffer, its hard to imagine that it is legal to set up a system outside the normal operating parameters of government computer security.

          One of the reasons to have state department employees setting up and monitoring such systems is that they would know the rules, codes, and various things that could and could not be done. Its hard for me to imagine the purpose of hiring such a person that is already being paid for, and than paying them again privately, unless you wanted their expertise specially for circumventing state department monitoring software or somebody who just would not raise the issue.

          Washington Post:
          The private pay arrangement has not previously been reported. The State Department has declined to answer questions about whether the private system was widely known within the agency or officially approved.

      1. DJG

        What do you want to bet he doesn’t have a security clearance?

        And from the article: “Lawmakers interested in hearing Pagliano’s account of the server’s setup and security protocols are considering whether to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony. If they take the step, Pagliano would be compelled to appear.”

        That’s what he should do. Because we all know how loyal the Clintons are to staffers in trouble. Or else, I’m wondering if Edward Snowden wants another roommate in Moscow?

      1. DJG

        My impression during my time working as a lowly layperson at a toxic bar association was that lawyers are trained to think that a conflict of interest doesn’t exist until they or their client is caught. Their advice uniformly seems to be to carry on till a regulator or bailiff shows up. Then you plea-bargain, or pay a fine, or sign a consent ageeement. That is business ethics these days. So I’m not sure that the Clintons don’t recognize conflict of interest so much as that they consider it transactional: Just how much of the conflict of interest do I have to be penalized for?

        The suborning of staff members is unsightly. So is this Pagliano guy the new Monica Lewinsky?

    1. zapster

      From a privacy standpoint, he was better than an independent that might make off with information in her emails, perhaps. Just sayin…

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Money can buy happiness.

    The world is awash in money. So, we should be happy, as a whole, but few believe that. Perhaps some are happy, but many are not.

    So, we ask, maybe it’s a distribution problem? We have enough money, as a whole, already, but not where it is needed.

    1. tegnost

      Oh come on dint you know that if you want to be happy you just need to work more, and after you’re happy you’ii understand why everyone else needs to work more because you worked really really hard for your happiness and “those people” (all 97 million of them) shouldn’t get free happiness or you won’t be happy anymore because….

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Economists…irrational, as the rest of us.

    Irrational and rational, like weak and strong, like big and small, like positive and negative, are two sides of the same coin and within all of us. It’s about embracing, harmonizing and situationalizing them.

    There are times, being irrational is the course of action.

  15. craazyboy

    Migrant Reality Check

    “The Demographics of the Middle East describes populations in the Middle East.

    The population growth rate in the Middle East is among the highest in the world. The high population growth brings challenges in the Middle East societies. During 1990-2008 the growth rate was higher than e.g. in India or China. In the 17 Middle East countries, as in the table included, population growth during 1990-2008 was 108.7 million persons and 44% growth. In comparison, population in India increased from 1990 to 2008 with 290 million (34%), China 92 million (17%) and European Union (27) 26 million (5%).[1]

  16. jgordon

    The Cooper Union article was pretty interesting, and we can make a more general observation about humanity from it: any regime of good governance is only a temporary regime. Sure, sometimes people get lucky and have good governance for a while. But the modest prosperity and complacency of mind engendered by good governance simultaneously induces conditions that encourage psychotically incompetent individuals to attain power, individuals who then undermine and subvert any systems of checks and balances that were supposed to keep them in check.

    Cooper Union has (had?) a chartering document that says it’s not allowed to do certain things. The board of trustees and the president ignored that document, did the things they weren’t allowed to anyway, and nothing happened to them (they aren’t in jail today, right?). Similarly, the United States has a chartering document that says it’s not allowed to do certain things. Congress and the President ignore the document, do the things they aren’t allowed to, and nothing happens to them either. In fact, various powerful interests applaud and reward said elected officials for their behavior and there’s noone with any actual authority who says that they done wrong. Therefore, in effect if not actuality they did now wrong, and these documents are all–all of them–only fictions that can and will be discarded whenever convenient.

    More generally, there is no permanency, no rule that says that the path of humanity must always be onward and upward and more just. Instead there are periods of rising organization and energy consumption, inevitably followed by chaos and decline. Constitutions, fancy monetary ideologies, secular religions with ideas about constantly increasing progress and tolerance are only lies we tell ourselves so we can avoid acknowledging that everything we work for and believe in will soon enough fall into ruin.

    I see that as as something hopeful though. Once we can properly differentiate between things that having enduring meaning (family, community, resilience, living happily in the moment) vs. those that have only false and impermanent meaning (money, laws, the state, anxiously striving for some nebulous future reward) then it becomes easy to align priorities in a manner that relieves a lot of personal stress over the state of the world.

    Well, that’s the thought that the Cooper Union article brought into focus for me. Worth reading!

    1. fresno dan

      Your analysis is disconcerting, but true.
      What people want comes first, and the rationales follow…

    2. lord koos

      There is an excellent piece on the looting of Cooper Union in the documentary “Ivory Tower”. The president of the college who squandered Cooper Union’s legacy comes across as a total slimeball. I think he is still there. Excellent movie all around too:

  17. craazyboy

    “The Unlikely Cities That Will Power the U.S. Economy Bloomberg. Map showing how STEM workers are concentrated.”

    East Coast elite faux intellectual effete girly men metrosexual yoga class persons with man buns and pink shirts discover cities exist in fly over and fly south states.

  18. Bridget

    So Kim Davis is a Democrat. Where on earth would an elected Democrat get the idea that (s)he gets to pick and choose which laws she wishes to enforce and which she wishes to ignore?

    1. tegnost

      Ah yes the irony, and this story looks to be one of those gifts that keep giving because people I know who can actually listen to NPR hand wringing have informed me that she plans to say those marriages that have been documented are invalid as her signature is required to validate, Ha! couldn’t happen to a nicer group of thugs…This ones right in our ridiculous medias wheelhouse, swing for the fences!

    2. tegnost

      I believe the reasoning is that she must either be impeached or convicted and neither of those has happened…

    3. GuyFawkesLives

      Apparently, you haven’t spent any time in an elected judges chambers. These judges are picking and choosing laws to enforce and laws to ignore ALL THE TIME!

      Just yesterday, when the bank whore attorney said “Title documents don’t matter, they are simply ‘business records.'” The judge agreed! She denied summary judgment where the title didn’t follow the note. THE MORTGAGE IS SUPPOSED TO FOLLOW THE NOTE! This concept was established by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1872 in Carpenter v. Longan. So, yesterday, the judge denied over 200+ years of real estate property law!!! It’s unbelievable!

      Sit in a few foreclosure hearings and you will understand that elected officials ALL THE TIME pick and choose what laws to follow.

      1. alex morfesis

        hmmm…do not confuse the lawsuit for the debt with the security for the debt…you owe the note to someone…is the party named as bringing suit the right someone…do the lawyers actually have an atty client relationship with the named entity or an agency relationship with a properly documented successor or directly related agent…sub duces tek of LPS in jacksonville for any and all records along with a seperate request for judicial referral to a local law enforcement official to take scrapings of ink off any blank facsimile stamps or signatures from assignments…you will have an offer to settle by reducing your debt to 2% in short order…the question is the capacity of a party to invoke the security for that note to sell your home as part of the collection process…the mortgage can be useless…there is case law on that if you can show the note is non negotiable instead of negotiable as described in that old (and not very valid to the issues today) supreme court case you mention…

        move to have the plaintiff make a reformation argument to correct problems with the mortgage security document…they will fight on this as that would cause isda problems…finally, if the assignment is a blank facsimile stamp, move to force plaintiff to accept ownership of the note by placing their name in the blank space creating a special indorsement…they will blink…

        and as to poor ms davis…in a sad way, kinda feel for her…she is wrong about her signature being required…but worse…it looks like the male couple doesn’t actually live in her county from what could be found in respects to the “all knowing” internet..they drove there or recently moved there to be able to file the lawsuit

        1. GuyFawkesLives

          This was a lawsuit against just the security instrument….in rem. In this case, of course the effing title had to equal their negotiations on the note.

          If title does not matter, there is a lot of insurance that is useless (which of course we know) and title companies that can just cease to exist.

          1. alex morfesis

            in rem is waving personal deficiency…note is the lawsuit…not the mortgage securing the note…original funding was from mtge broker or tbtf bank…what state?

        2. Bridget

          “it looks like the male couple doesn’t actually live in her county from what could be found in respects to the “all knowing” internet..they drove there or recently moved there to be able to file the lawsuit”

          Not surprised to hear it. Plus, based info gleaned from googling around, any county in Kentucky can issue marriage licenses to any resident of Kentucky, no matter which county is their county of residence. Even if they were bona fide residents of her county, they could have obtained a license and married. She was set up. She happened to be wrong, and so the setup was successful. But what will happen if the setup effort spreads to priests or pastors? And then there are the Christian bakers, photographers, caterers, florists, etc. Too bad tolerance is only expected to work in one direction.

    4. cwaltz

      It gets even funnier because Bunning was appointed to the bench by Bush, a conservative. Hilarity ensues when the “judicial activist” comes from their own side of the aisle.

      Based on the statements and actions of Cruz, Huckabee and Paul I can confidently say there would be snowballs in Hades before I’d vote for them. They seem to think bigotry should be protected and codified into law(and yes Paul has sponsored a bill in Congress that would allow business to discriminate against people from the LGBT community despite him running around saying that he supports people’s rights to marry whoever they wish). Uh, no thank you.

  19. cripes

    Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality

    Former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson and Geithner were asked about the issue by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg during a conference in Beverly Hills. When Paulson responded that he’d been working on income inequality since his days at Goldman Sachs, Geithner quipped, “In which direction?”

    “You were increasing it!” cracked Rubin, as everyone on stage roared with laughter.

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      The horrifying thing is that a woman – – Sheryl Sandberg – – sits there and laughs and claps along with these three thugs… if these male thugs keeping other womens’ pay lower is such a treat for Sandberg. Ack!

      Hopefully, the women of the world will slap poor Ms. Sandberg a “hey, just because you are Miss Facebook now, making more money than God, does not mean you can clap and laugh at men (….er, thugs) keeping other women’s pay unequal.”

        1. jrs

          I have to wonder who can afford to take an unpaid internship for 6 months? While I could see college students taking an unpaid internship for the summer, although paid ones do exist, especially if they are still receiving parental support that enables it, August till the end of the year? Really?

    1. craazyboy

      I laughed my #### off. The big joke being the Milken Institute backdrop – the “think tank” founded by Junk Bond King Michael Milken!!!

    1. fresno dan

      Well, exactly right.
      Still, there is a lot of that – like the constant assertion that income averages are going up, while ignoring the much more profound median affects, and the stagnation of most income quintiles….

    2. M.Black

      Well… it doesn’t help that “belie” is one of those English words that can mean almost opposite things (cf. “betray” or “cleave”). A lower unemployment rate that “belies” a lower participation rate could either prove the lower participation rate false or falsely obscure the participation rate.

  20. Oregoncharles

    Polar bears may survive ice melt, with or without seals’ –

    An overlooked point: what will the seals do without ice to haul out on? They’ll haul out on the shore, as they do in more southerly oceans. That has big implications: they’ll be working less water, so their population will probably shrink. But it also means they’ll be available for land-bound bears to prey on. Indeed, that might be one reason they moved out onto the ice in the first place.

    The whole ecology will change, of course, and some species won’t make it, but in the end it will look much more like the ecology in areas that aren’t ice-bound.

  21. Oregoncharles

    China May Never Get Rich Bloomberg –
    Typically for economics, this ignores physical reality, instead focusing on “institutions.” But China’s resource base is even more of a problem.

    China, including the colonial west, is about the size of the US, but with at least 3 times the population. That means they have far less margin. Just on that basis, they would wind up with a standard of living one-third that of the US, or even less (oddly, just what the article calculates).

    It’s actually even worse. Europeans stole North America only about 400 years ago, much more recently for most of it. And the Natives had exploited the continent very lightly, once they got through wiping out the Pleistocene giants. There were no high civilizations in the area of the US, though there were plenty of lightly-urbanized agrarian societies (the impact of newly-introduced Old World diseases created the illusion of an almost unpopulated continent). So the resource base was relatively unexploited.

    In contrast, Han China had been civilized for over 2000 years and already had a huge population. That’s one reason they insisted on conquering the west: they needed the resources, though the west, as in the US, is both arid and very mountainous. And indeed, they’ve made a point of filling it up with Han Chinese colonists. Lebensraum, and all that.

    So their core land area was not only small for the population, but heavily exploited. Their agriculture was designed to be sustainable (it would be interesting to see what the Communists have done with that), but it was nonetheless on worn-out, and especially deforested, land.

    Prosperity, and indeed projection of power, is based on a high ratio of resources to population. China doesn’t have that.

    Caveat: Japan, the Netherlands, and one or two other merchant nations. Yes, they have a very high standard of consumption for their space; but they are vastly smaller, and they’ve already occupied the niche.

    In the end, you can get only so far peddling cheap labor. Japan got over that half a century ago.

    Granted, events could prove me wrong. But economists like to pretend the physical world and its limits don’t matter. They’re wrong about that.

  22. ewmayer

    Re. the ‘plunging unemployment rate’ piece, I also did a double-take at the apparent bass-ackwardness of the headline, so I looked up ‘belie’, and the main definition came up thusly:

    1. (of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict : his lively alert manner belied his years.

    So the headline indeed is correct, as the plunging unemployment rate fails to give a true impression of the record low participation rate, and it seems it is I who have had it backwards all these years. Headline still sounds weird, tho – I invoke the bullet-proof ‘evolution of usage’ defense. :P

  23. ProNewerDeal

    any prediction on this Sep 20 Greek election?

    Sadly, this new ex-Syriza anti-EU party Popular Unity/LAE is polling poorly, projected to obtain 11 seats. Syriza projects a plurality of 128, which even counting it current partner ANEL/Independent Greeks (9), it would stil be short of the 150 seat minimum for a majority.

    What happens if Syriza or no other coalition can obtain 150 seats?

    What is likely to happen under different probable election scenarios?

    With Popular Unity doing poorly, is the current status quo of EU/Troika Bank$ta Dictatorship, change much regardless of the election/new coalition results?

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