Links 10/18/15

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Whale Song Explained Medium. Developing a musical notation for whale songs!

Our Vanishing Flowers NYT (SF)

Holder Defends Record of Not Prosecuting Financial Fraud Dan Froomkin, The Intercept

Lawsuit Says Manhattan Real Estate Was Used to Launder Money WSJ. Your winnings, sir.

SEC’s hedge fund reviews show advisors keeping trades for themselves Francine McKenna, Market Watch

The tangle of loose lending to tight oil Gillian Tett, FT. No derivatives, I trust.

The Financial Crisis: Lessons for the Next OneAlan S. Blinder and Mark Zandi, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Victory lap.

There’s No Way to Avoid Default Without Raising the Debt Limit, Treasury Says WSJ. The nut graph:

“Third, Treasury dismisses again several outlandish ideas to continue borrowing money after running out of cash-management steps to remain under the debt limit, including one that would have President Barack Obama invoke the 14th amendment to issue debt above the limit or to mint a large-denomination platinum coin to raise cash without exceeding the debt limit. Neither of those steps are legal, the Treasury said.”

Well, pace Citi’s Jacob Lew, plenty of people found the platinum coin both “landish” and legal.

What if rates never rise? FT

Fed Faces This Checklist of Hurdles for a December Rate Hike Bloomberg

Greek-owned fleet increases global market share, retains lead, as global fleet growth slows down International Shipping News

VW made several defeat devices to cheat emissions tests: sources Reuters

H&M Supplier Factories in Bangladesh Still Don’t Meet Safety Requirements The Fashion Law

On the Statistical Properties and Tail Risk of Violent Conflicts Pasquale Cirillo and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, SSRN. Conflict investors need to know!


The Politics of Distrust WSJ

Mulling 2016 run, Biden speaks with top labor leader CNN

Tycooniest LRB. On Trump.

Trump faces backlash for blaming ex-President George W. Bush for 9/11 USA Today. He transgressed the unwritten law, so they nailed his head to the floor. How soon we forget:

We’ve known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” We’ve known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward.

What we didn’t know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now [Ron] Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

Of course, Bush doesn’t deserve sole blame. But this “he kept us safe” talking point is such a steaming load.

Trump: Janet Yellen Keeping Interest Rates Low as Political Favor to Obama Bloomberg

Ted Cruz Says Trump Campaign Is ‘Immensely Beneficial’ to His Run Bloomberg

Among Christie donors, a slew of state contractors Philadelphia. Christie making Philly look clean…

What is a democratic socialist? Bernie Sanders tries to redefine the name. WaPo

Hillary Clinton dismisses Benghazi ‘conspiracy theories’ CNN

Kadner: The mayor who failed Chicago’s children Chicago Tribune

Canada Election

This Monday.

Two new polls show Liberals headed toward win Montreal Gazette. The polls showed the same for Labour in the UK

The final push: How the leaders are spending the last weekend of the election campaign Globe and Mail

In Edmonton, federal election campaign an intriguing mix of local, national issues Edmonton Sun

‘He’s at peace’: ‘Zen’ Stephen Harper is calm in the homestretch despite Trudeau emergence Vancouver Sun

In Unpredictable Canadian Elections, Plurality Is More Important Than Popularity NYT. First past the post again…


Inside the murky world of China’s official economic numbers Telegraph

IBM Allows Chinese Government to Review Source Code WSJ

U.K., China Poised for Deal on World’s Costliest Nuclear Plant Bloomberg. What could go wrong?

Accused Macau billionaire at centre of UN corruption probe freed on house arrest after paying US$50m bail South China Morning Post

Trade Traitors

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Drone users will have to register with the U.S. government Daily Dot. That was fast.

Can Facebook solve the family attribution gap? Venturebeat. That is, how can venture capital help to arrange for children to manipulate their parents into buying stuff?

Class Warfare

Global Wealth Databook 2015 (PDF) Credit Suisse. “Thought leadership from Credit Suisse Research.”

Decadence and Madness at the Top: Inside Britain’s Secretive Bullingdon Club Der Speigel

Companies to Workers: Start Saving More—Or We’ll Do It for You WSJ. Because the 401k has been such a success….

America’s crushing surge of student debt has bred a disturbing new phenomenon AP

Lars Dalgaard: Build Trust by Daring to Show That You’re Human NYT. Venture capitalist seeks to pass the Turing Test.

The subprime ‘unicorns’ that do not look a billion dollars FT

The Hostile Email Landscape Liminality. Emailer oligopoly rejects mail from self-hosted servers. “This isn’t how the internet is supposed to work.”

I Built a Botnet that Could Destroy Spotify with Fake Listens Motherboard

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly The Power Of Narrative. Opera, then Alice Miller. Silber is always worth a read.

Relive the famed ‘Bush Push’ game with the USC and Notre Dame players on the field Los Angeles Times. I don’t like football much, anymore, but this story weaves great quotes into a timeline beautifully.

Antidote du jour:


A member of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition plays the bagpipe for a penguin, 1904.

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. Torsten

    Readers familiar with speech spectrograms will immediately recognize that the (colored) “notations” are canonical syllables, many with clear bilabial formant transitions and likely nasal formant transitions. The “Maui song” panel in the article appears to contain about a dozen such syllables. Ignoring diphthongs and null consonantal allophones like /h/ and /?/, human languages like Hawaiian can get along perfectly well with only two dozen syllables. I wonder what the whales are saying about us. Hard to imagine it’s anything complimentary.

    1. Ruben

      Following with the whale song topic,some years back (ca. 1996-1198 IIRC) marine scientists were stunned to learn about fashion and cultural change in whale song by an accident of whale navigation. A few young boys took the wrong turn and ended up on the other side of Australia for the mating season, not with their original population but with another one. On this the wrong side of Australia males from the other population used to sing a different song. Undeterred by the unfamiliar setting the new kids on the block sang their population’s song and eventually became the most popular boys among the other population’s girls, so the local males totally changed their tunes and adopted the new singing. The attraction of novelty, originality, also works for whale girls!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We humans are the pizza and the rest of nature, including whales, is the donut or doughnut.

      What I mean is this. Imagine a small ‘o’ and a big ‘O.’

      You put the small ‘o’ inside the big ‘O.’

      The small one is the pizza and the rest (the big one minus the small one) is the donut.

      When we humans talk about a bigger pie to wash down inequality (the rich have gotten theirs at the expense of you and me, but hey, let’s look forward (sarcasm), let the rich keep theirs. Now, with an expanding economic, a bigger GDP, the rest of us can finally get a smidgen more and stop our incessant complaining).

      Except when the small ‘o’ expands, the big o doesn’t.

      So, as the pizza gets bigger, the donut gets smaller.

      I imagine that’s what those wise whales, dolphins, crows, and other living beings are saying about us not-so-smart humans.

      “Please, no more economic stimulating projects!!!”

      “Go to Mars, you miserable mental case species.”

      “Just share more equitably among your humans with the existing pizza or even a smaller pizza.”

    3. ekstase

      Some of the “smarter” animal species can distinguish one human from another, and judge our behavior. Perhaps we should bear that in mind.

  2. Torsten

    Thanks for bringing up the subject of the monopolization of email servers, Lambert! I first set up my own email server twenty-five years ago when I found (a) that half of my students were being funded by the NSA and (b) what their bosses’ objectives were. Not that I ever expected privacy. I just refuse to cooperate.

    But it *is* getting harder and harder to gain delivery rights for non-corporate mail servers. Email *is* a hostile environment, but major services already scan messages and attachments for viruses and efficiently block denial-of-service-like spam blasts, and Bayesian filters are extraordinarily good at filtering out spam that is not dangerous but merely annoying.

    So it’s hard to see the policy of forcing everyone to use corporate- (and NSA-) sponsored email servers as anything but monopolistic and autocratic. Still, I’m losing the will to resist. I often find myself thinking I should just let the drunken despots drown in the data they so covet. But it is also scary to think of those drunks out on the information superhighway.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Nicely put.

      Also alarming is displacement in the internet of things; that is, that ordinary door locks and heating systems and stoves and lights etc., become unavailable or even illegal as they are displaced by connected counterparts. As to TPP like efforts to model the world in the image of North Korea; shudder…

      When comes the mandate, citizen, for every man woman and child to pay monthly rent to be connected to our fatherland, or is it homeland, protectors the net via private enterprise service providers required by law for our own protection to zap us if we err.

      I woke up early in the AM to the TV blaring the Koch Brothers NOVA last night. Propaganda as usual; this time it was about convincing everyone that the NSA (and probably CIA) was/were, on the one hand, wolves in creating Stuxnet, but that, on the other hand (cause they truly don’t know what each other is doing) we should give them the hen house to protect us from themselves?

      Whoo, Whoo, look, no hands, way, way down the rabbit hole.

  3. jgordon

    The rate that money/credit is supposed to expand without causing catastrophic damage to the current economic system is exponential and infinite. In contrast, the amount of stuff in the real world is finite and dwindling. Our economic system is fundamentally a self-destructive mess, and it should not have existed in the first place.

    Speaking of a system with an built-in self destruction mechanism, we are well past the point where the physics of scarce resources and collapsing ecologies are messing with economics. And this entire platinum coin/debt limit raise thing is nothing but another jury-rigged stopgap idea that might keep our rapacious economic system afloat for another year or two longer–the cost of that extra time being an even more severely degraded environment and depleted resources when the whole industrial project finally grinds to a halt.

    I’m glad the tea party is running the congress and that the platinum coin idea is a non-starter. Throwing a wrench in the gears is a great way to short-circuit the final great orgy of destruction our society is inflicting on the planet in its fading days. More power to the tea party and Mr. Lew!

    1. Jef

      Your first sentence is spot on and all that needs to be said.

      Instead we all will spend countless hours and endless bytes discussing/dissecting the current economy attempting to find just the right tweak or tweaks to get us back on track. At best some will propose a radical tweak but it still is just a tweak that retains the basic inherently destructive system.

    2. Brian

      I am not sure there are stopgap measures as you describe. There is no plan for a nation or other humanity at all. There is only the plans of those who can not get enough of what is yours, simply because you have it.

      some of the rest of you commenting above might consider the value of saying “no”, as in, no more, no thanks, no way, and oh hell no.

  4. Benedict@Large

    Perhaps we should ask Ms. Clinton whether or not she believes the 14th Amendment empowers Obama to prevent the GOP from forcing a default on our debt. The position of Treasury is obviously a big fat wet kiss to the banks. It might be an opportunity to test Clinton’s recent conversion to a tough on banks status.

    1. Higgs Boson

      Treasury’s position is based on the self-imposed limitation (per legislation passed by congress) that requires every $ of federal spending to be offset by tax “revenue” and debt instruments (t-bills). Congress could pass legislation tomorrow that authorizes the spending (creation) of dollars without issuing debt. That’s what fiat currency *is*.

      Our current system is designed to behave as if we are still on the gold standard. The currency used to be backed by a physically finite commodity (gold) which imposed limitations on the size of the money supply. Now, the currency is backed by “all the goods and services in the economy”. Federal Reserve Notes represent a first lien on all the assets held by the Federal Reserve banks, and all the collateral specifically held against them. (Hence the issuance of debt instruments.)

      When you consider 40% of these debt instruments are held by various agencies of the federal governemnt itself, you begin to understand that “$19T of national debt” is really a lot of sleight-of-hand designed to scare the pants off of us so we will want to keep governement in check.

        1. Higgs Boson

          Strictly speaking, yes. Destroying money necessarily means taking buying power away from somebody. Who that somebody is, is a politcal decision that is informed by what our public purpose goals are.

          Congress has the constitutional responsibility to manage the currency. By delegating that responsibility to the central bank (the Federal Reserve), the economy is managed by a combination of Fed activity (monetary policy) and treasury spending (fiscal policy).

          Since fiscal policy requires taxing and issuing debt (which is a self-imposed limitation), fiscal policy as a tool for managing the economy is off the table. It will be that way for as long as congress insists it be so.

          That leaves monetary policy (Fed activity) as the only tool for managing the economyy. That’s how you end up with QE and ZIRP. Pushing on a string.

          That’s what Bernanke meant when he told congress “the Fed will do whatever congress tells it to do.” Not that I’m defending him, but this mess is really the failing of congress. Debt ceilings, debt issuance, it plays right into the hands of the Norquist “starve the beast and drown it in a bathtub” crowd.

          1. skippy

            The fixating fetish thingy is not unlike gold… inanimate objects with out agency are imbued with supernatural powers…. that we are powerless to resist…

  5. Steve H.

    Quick read on Taleb et al. It is looking at the chance of large-scale violent deaths, major wars. The further away from that focus, the less valid are its results. In other words, it says very little about the likelihood about getting stabbed as you’re walking down the street, which is a key part of what those who allege the world is getting less violent are saying.

    A simile: it’s like looking at the chance that two 100-year floods happen within 10 years, which is part of the global warming model structure. It says very little about whether you need an umbrella today.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A little chiasmus for this Sunday morning:

    Why does Holder defend a record of not prosecuting financial fraud, when he could prosecute a record number of non-defensible financial fraud cases?

    “Ask not what your government can do with your tax dollars (nothing, nada. its not funded by them). Ask what your tax dollars can do for your government (fight inflation).”

  7. Carolinian

    More Trump oppo, if it is oppo.

    As he fed the political machine, he also had to work with unions and companies known to be controlled by New York’s ruling mafia families, which had infiltrated the construction industry, according to court records, federal task force reports and newspaper accounts. No serious presidential candidate has ever had Trump’s depth of documented business relationships with mob-controlled entities.

    But also this.

    “The construction industry in New York City has learned to live comfortably with pervasive corruption and racketeering,” according to “Corruption and Racketeering in the New York City Construction Industry,” a 1990 report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. “Perhaps those with strong moral qualms were long ago driven from the industry; it would have been difficult for them to have survived. ‘One has to go along to get along.’ ”

    The LRB story up in links talks about Trump’s flaky business history and bankruptcies but I’m not sure these are things that people didn’t already know or at least suspected. Meanwhile we have something that is very unusual: a politician telling the truth about his fellow elites as in the Bush/911 statement. Here in SC Trump polls around 36 percent as our utterly mendacious Senator stands at around 5 percent. While Trump probably will fade it doesn’t seem to be happening yet.

      1. ambrit

        As the famous quote about great fortunes arising out of great crimes attests, using elite and crook in the same sentence is a redundancy. (Unless you meant the best crook out of the lot. But we’re not supposed to be electing Chief Thief, are we?)

      2. Carolinian

        I have no doubt that a lot of Trump’s popularity has to do with the fact that he was on tv for 14 years. While we web denizens would like to think otherwise, there’s no doubt that tv is still the medium that rules the nation. Still it’s quite likely that anti-elitism is a very big factor. And that’s a good thing if you think the elites (including him, he might admit) are the problem.

        As for “crook,” the other responses are all good. Not making an endorsement.

    1. fresno dan

      Well, I would mention Kennedy. Though really, the banksters put the mafia to shame, so you would have to say every modern president is on the take…
      Second, why exactly is all the infiltration of construction unions Trump’s fault and not say, Koch, Dinkins, Cuomo, Giuliani, and every other government and law enforcement agency in New York? Are there not laws about the fiduciary responsibilities of unions, as well as anti racketeering laws? So where these people on the take, or were they just incompetent at prosecuting the mafia???

      “Meanwhile we have something that is very unusual: a politician telling the truth about his fellow elites as in the Bush/911 statement”

      Maybe its good that the republican establishment doesn’t believe in a balanced budget, so they can implement their true belief of zero taxes for the rich, but at some point that contradiction becomes even evident to the republican base. The republican platform versus republican actions is a target rich environment for Trump if he decides on a Sherman march to the sea strategy. And number 1 is that Bush 43 was not good for the economy and was not good for national defense. I’m not sure what PRESIDENTIAL stuff he was good for…

      To me, Trump is the only candidate who is even getting close to debating what we should do in the mid east – based on the idea that our initial strategy was WRONG. Everybody else kind of is in the land of we should muddle through, cause we’re the greatest shining indispensable nation or somthin’

        1. Ulysses

          Outside of the trash-hauling industry, the remnants of the five families today retain very little lucrative government business compared to the nineties. Indeed, I would suggest that Russian gangsters have surpassed the old-timers in this field.

    2. dale

      This seems a good place to quote Cass Sunstein from her review in NYRB:

      “Akerlof and Shiller believe that once we understand human psychology, we will be a lot less enthusiastic about free markets and a lot more worried about the harmful effects of competition. In their view, companies exploit human weaknesses not necessarily because they are malicious or venal, but because the market makes them do it. Those who fail to exploit people will lose out to those who do…”

      1. Torsten

        Barring classically sociopathological cases,

        If one criminal commits theft, a second criminal does not feel compelled to commit a theft.

        If one criminal commits murder, a second criminal does not feel compelled to commit a murder.


        If (in the absence of regulation) one business cheats on its taxes, the next business must cheat on its taxes–just to compete.

        If one business hires illegal aliens, the next business must hire illegal aliens–just to compete.

        1. dale

          Right. I knew that; don’t really know why I wrote her, maybe because Mama Cass of the Mama and the Papas. Thanks in any case.

    3. ekstase

      “Perhaps those with strong moral qualms were long ago driven from the industry; it would have been difficult for them to have survived. ‘One has to go along to get along.’ ”


  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Drone users…register with the government.

    What about robot owners? Do they get in line behind cat owners and dog owners?

    1. optimader

      The Robot Equality Act as foreseen by Harry Harrison in 1956

      Title: The Velvet Glove

      Author: Harry Harrison
      Read Entire book for free at, “Gutenberg Org.”
      SF writer and editor Harry Harrison explores a not too distant future where robots particularly specialist robots who don’t know their place have quite a rough time of it. True, the Robot Equality Act had been passed but so what?
      the velvet glove,
      by, Harry Harrison.
      New York was a bad town for robots this year. In fact, all over the country it was bad for robots.
      Jon Venex fitted the key into the hotel room door. He had asked for a large room, the largest in the hotel, and paid the desk clerk extra for it. All he could do now was pray that he hadn’t been cheated. He didn’t dare complain or try to get his money back. He heaved a sigh of relief as the door swung open, it was bigger than he had expected fully three feet wide by five feet long. There was more than enough room to work in. He would have his leg off in a jiffy and by morning his limp would be gone.

      1. ambrit

        Aldiss expanded on that theme with his story, “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long.” This was the basis for the movie “A.I.”

    2. Antifa

      Drones, robots, computers, phones are all made of parts. Parts which are increasingly easy to design and 3D-print, privately and in quantity. So any worthwhile regulation of these finished devices must eventually extend to their makers, who will be forced to put their name and serial numbers on everything they build. Or else go to prison.

      The robots are most definitely coming. A company in Japan has built a first generation robot that removes clothes from the dryer, and folds them neatly. Can’t put them away yet, but it folds them perfectly. It takes 7 hours per dryer load, which is already better than the average speed of the American husband.

      But think of the implications as its speed soon matches and then surpasses human capabilities — a robot that can make deft, rapid movements to clothing as soon as it recognizes what it is will also be able to make deft, rapid movements to human beings wearing said clothing.

      That’s right — a kung fu robot faster than Bruce Lee. Hanging out in your laundry room.

      Oh, the kung fu robot may occasionally fold you or your toddler up and stick you in the dresser, but these kinds of kinks exist in all new inventions, and will be ironed out. Do try to think bigger than that. A kung fu bot will provide true 24-hour home security. No need to call the police when your laundry bot can fold burglars and home invaders up into neat piles at blinding speed. Indeed, a fighting robot can replace police and even military personnel all over the world.

      Except for colonels. Colonels cannot be replaced because no one can define what they actually do. Some industrial functions are existential.

      1. Bridget

        If they can fold bottom sheets as well as my grandmother did, I might be inclined to take my chances with one.

      2. HotFlash

        It takes 7 hours per dryer load, which is already better than the average speed of the American husband.

        Hmmm. Very nteresting… what else can it do?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Companies to workers: start saving more.

    “With negative rates coming, who can afford to do that?”

    Sounds like the classic two pronged pincer movement, often deployed successfully by dem Wehrmacht.

    1. Carla

      Workers to US Gov: Social Security and Medicare are as American as Apple PIE: Protect, Improve and Expand them!

  10. Inverness

    Re: Canadian election. I can live with Trudeau as prime minister, as weak-minded as he’s been in the past, by supporting Bill 51, for example. However, he’s had to face a backlash for it, and strikes me as malleable enough to avoid similar moves in the future.

    Right now, I’m firmly in the “anyone but Harper camp.” I’m under no illusions that Trudeau has the experience or political record I’m looking for. However, I appreciate his campaign promise to run a deficit to stimulate this lousy economy. Also, Trudeau has been sounding pretty sure-footed during recent French debates. My impression and hope is, his party’s shift to the left may more aligned with his personal views..

    1. Massinissa

      I don’t support Lesser Of Two Evils myself, but it might make more sense in Canada than the USA.

      Have at it. Trudeau cant be any worse than Obama.

  11. John Merryman

    Ack. I was trying to subscribe, but everything reverts to paypal and I seem to have a very old paypal account, to which i no longer know the password and the only way to reset it is to a telephone number I no longer have. (ditched the land line) So you will have to settle for a check.

    Obviously my online commerce is minimal.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One day, robot consumers will replace all human consumers, I think.

        “Is there anything robots won’t stop replacing, can’t do?”

        Maybe robot billionaires will be illegal, but robot consumers are just a matter of better algorithms.

        1. Antifa

          Conspicuous consumption robots (CCR’s) will each be tied to someone’s bank account, so social status in future will be a matter of how many CCR’s you have in your stable.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The politics of distrust.

    Something came first, before the distrust. The headline writer should focus on that.

    But lately, that number has been in free fall, with just 22% trusting government in 2012.

    How many trust the government to spend wisely, if given as much money as it wants?

    1. Carla

      A monetarily sovereign government doesn’t have to ask. It can always create as much money as it wants. If we in the United States would just learn this, and insist on taking the money creation power back from the private banksters, we could actually start to get a handle on things.

      But maybe we actually enjoy our serfdom…

  13. Jef

    Just read most of the newest National Geographic Issue;

    A banner issue stating on the cover that climate change is real and its now.

    There are some really great and informative parts and I do hope that NG still has some credibility and weight with public influence.

    I had extremely high hopes but nothing has made me more depressed in a long time than reading through it.

    Basically they propose we continue or even ramp up industrial civilization only everything we make, buy, and throw out will be…pick one…sustainable, renewable, alternative, green, negative emission producing (which doesn’t exist in any form remotely applicable), efficient, etc.

    Bottom line is we need to tweak capitalism a bit, make sure everyone gets a job so they can continue to consume so the economies don’t collapse, and start shifting to something ….different.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Platinum coin.

    It sounds like a case for the Supreme Court. Plenty of people on both sides.

    Can the Justices reach a decision before the debt deadline?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am flexible about being serious or not; like abstract paintings, it is up to the audience.

        The article mentions a Nov 3 date before going to the daily cash flow route for funding the government, and soon after, out of cash.

        The court is usually deliberate, but it can be fast if it wants to.

        I think if it is ever formally proposed by someone in the government in position to implement it, it will go before the court.

  15. Synoia

    Holder Holder Defends Record of Not Prosecuting Financial Fraud

    And I’m proud of the work I did at the Justice Department.

    We are positive Holder’s statement is correct. He has the corner office, grateful clients and millions in income each year, too. That something to be proud of.

    1. fresno dan

      A member of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition plays the bagpipe for a penguin, 1904

      Isn’t playing a bagpipe to a penguin cruelty to animals???

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        N-O I don’t know him, Y-E-S, he sounds dreadful, but man the sea lions won’t come anywhere near him! Safe city, I tell you. If we could just get him in the water…

    2. Antifa

      That photo was taken during the Discovery Expedition, led by Robert Falcon Scott. Shackleton was along on that trip, but the expedition he is most famous for (his ship getting crushed in the ice and all) took place 13 years later, in 1917.

      On the 1904 expedition, the penguins made repeated efforts to get aboard the ship where it was warm, and nest in the galley and stairwells. Expedition members joked amongst themselves that the stowaway birds wanted to return to Britain with them.

      A few rounds of “Mhairie’s Wedding” convinced the birds of the peace and quiet of the Antarctic clime, and they promptly decamped for the ice floes.

    3. Ruben

      I think a less unequal caption would have been:

      A Scott plays the bagpipe for a penguin, 1904.
      A member of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition plays the bagpipe for a member of the Antarctic Emperor Penguin Population, 1904.

  16. JohnB

    “Companies to Workers: Start Saving More—Or We’ll Do It for You” – It’d be good to hear more about this topic, of private pensions in general (particular emphasis, on why it’s a bad deal and why it’s ‘finance’ out to fleece you), and of companies forcing people into pension contributions like this.

    I am ultra-skeptical/cynical of private pensions as a whole, because they seem like the perfect vehicle for fooling/defrauding people, where you won’t even find out how badly you’ve been screwed over, until you’re retired (and it’s mostly too late to do anything about it then) – so it’d be good to have more coverage on this, especially considering it’s something we all would do well to be better informed on, at a personal level.

    1. Pepsi

      They vanished because they were so easy to loot, Michael Miliken’s junk bond innovation gave people with access to cheap capital free reign to take companies over, and literally steal the pension fund, like a bank heist, but legal. I don’t have any idea if laws have changed, I’ve done some searched but I’m not sure which terms to include to cut through the clutter.

  17. griffen

    The excerpted suggestion (per Blinder and Zandi) requires forward thinking. And that forward thinking is of the type more often expressed at this site than might be found in those bastions of ivory towers at the FED / FOMC.

    “employ…tools (oversight of financial markets) before the next financial crisis to avoid or minimize asset bubbles…”

    As noted in the link, victory lap (must be a short circuit to lap once).

  18. Mo's Bike Shop

    So this large automotive corporation thinks that rogue engineers are less of a PR problem than blaming their faulty vehicles on crooked executives? I’m not seeing it.

  19. DJG

    Copyright: As I keep having to point out, terms of copyrights are roughly the same throughout the world among signatories of the Berne Convention, life plus 50 years, life plus 70 years. The U.S. “Mickey Mouse” exception can be found in the third column, which is deliberately murky as to dating of term of copyright:

    So term of copyight is not the issue. Copyright terms are fairly standard. Compare Japan to the USA.

    What is the underlying issue here? It would be more persuasive to say what it is than to keep hinting that the USA has a major difference in copyright law itself. It doesn’t. What the USA has is notorious abusers of copyight law (Disney, just about every EULA that we click on), patent law (Monsanto, big Ag, big drugmakers), and trademark law (practically every big corporation).

    Let’s get to the proverbial brass tacks.

    1. Carolinian

      No argument here. The DMCA is both abused by media companies and ignored by consumers. It’s a law that only makes sense to the media companies who lobbied for it.

      Cory Doctorow has long argued that petty restrictions like region coding cause consumers to view piracy as “the obvious choice.”

      1. craazyboy

        I’d venture to guess authors make the vast majority of their money in the first 5 years.

        Then musicians – they got screwed out of the money by the recording companies. You had to give it up to get recorded. Tom Petty used to moan about how he had to do his first 7 albums with no royalty payments, otherwise he would have spent his life playing bars.

  20. Virginia Simson

    It would be fascinating to see Naked Capitalism commission Arthur Silber to write an analysis of the election shenanigans …

  21. Daryl

    Hoo boy, including all those tech provisions in TPP was kicking the beehive. Remember SOPA?

    Gotta work now, but I’m going to make some popcorn afterwards and read some tech sites.

  22. Jeff W

    “What is a democratic socialist? Bernie Sanders tries to redefine the name” WaPo

    I think it would be better if Sanders’ answer—which revolves around how much the top 1/10 of 1 percent have and looking to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark as exemplars—pointed first to what we already have in the US that is socialist (i.e., publicly owned and operated)—the interstate highway system, public education, public libraries—or have their genesis in policies and ideas promoted by socialists—e.g., the 40-hour work week, regulations protecting labor and creating safe working conditions, Social Security, Medicare. He can wrap up his answer with the top 1/10 of 1 percent/Scandinavian talk, if he wants—but saying what we already have, things that have broad appeal or, like the interstate highway system or public libraries, are taken utterly for granted, primes the audience as already having accepted what is, in effect, socialism.

    At Salon, Bill Curry says this:

    Capitalism never created a middle class here or anywhere else. It does a great job of creating wealth but an awful job of distributing it. We never had a broad middle class until labor and government together gave us Social Security, the GI bill, the 40-hour week, child labor laws, the minimum wage, a progressive income tax and workers’ rights. Later on, Medicare, Medicaid and historic civil rights, and consumer and environmental laws strengthened the social contract that is the true foundation of the American middle class. Shred that contract and you destroy the middle class. If you don’t believe, just take a look around. You can tell people you’re a socialist, but if you do you have to tell them what you mean.

    [Emphasis added.]

    That reframes socialism (and capitalism), appropriately, works to Sanders’ benefit and it also honors US history and tradition.

    1. Carla

      Jeff W: the tragic fact is, state governments all over the country are privatizing their portions of the interstate highway, public school systems all over the country are being forced to privatize with profit-making charter schools that collect tax dollars for every student they enroll (Ohio being an especially egregious case). And even our excellent public library system in our suburb, which I don’t think has ever had a levy fail, is suffering so much from state funding cuts that it has seen the writing on the wall and started a private foundation to raise funds for this quintessentially American institution.

      The Ohio Board of Education just (in my view, illegally) seized control of the Youngstown public schools and decreed that they will all be turned into “public” charters. This means public funding but NO public oversight or accountability.

      The fabric of a society that once had a grasp of what constituted the Common Good is being shredded, just as fast as I can type these words…

      1. AumuA

        So you’re all voting for Sanders, right? If you’re reading this right now, you better be. I don’t want to hear any argument. You ARE electing Bernie Sanders. It’s not up for debate.

      2. Daryl

        This is true, but I thought Jeff had a good point anyway. Just because a lot of it is being privatized doesn’t mean you can’t point to it as an example of government-built infrastructure. For bonus points, he can explain how privatization is making these things more inefficient and expensive.

      3. Jeff W

        …state governments all over the country are privatizing their portions of the interstate highway, public school systems all over the country

        It’s true, Carla, but, as Daryl said, Sanders can still point to these examples as publicly-owned and -maintained infrastructure. The implicit message is “If you’re against or scared of ‘socialism,’ are you against or scared of public roads, public libraries, and so on?” It rebuts, accurately, the frame that “socialism” per se is bad and it does so with examples in the US that are so taken for granted that the word “accepted” doesn’t even apply. (No one’s asking if you “accept” the local library.)

        The other thing is that, just because state governments are privatizing anything, doesn’t mean that (1) the public likes or wants that or, more importantly, that (2) it has to be assumed as a given. That is part of what Bernie Sanders is doing: he’s questioning—and causing the electorate to question—what is a given, especially with the prevailing neoliberal ideology. Someone can think that most of the wealth going to the top 1/10 of 1 percent or having every public road in the country turned into a private toll road is just dandy but thinking that that is the “natural order” of things? That isn’t. Sanders is re-articulating that idea of a “Common Good.”

        Again, these are not even radical ideas—what’s radical is that they’ve become almost unthinkable in the past 35 years. If Sanders wants to mention, as he does, that he is for tuition-free public universities and colleges, it helps to mention that the entire University of California system was exactly that in the early 1960s—and proudly so. (My nephew, who attended Berkeley a few years ago, was astonished to learn that.) If Sanders says, as he does, that some of the funding for these programs should come from a small tax on financial transactions, it helps to mention that the US had such a tax for over 50 years, from 1914 to 1966. It’s not new, it’s not radical, it’s not even Scandinavian—it’s as American as apple pie.

        There is no problem at all with Sanders pointing to other countries and explaining his examples. It’s entirely fair, and I think salutary, to say that only the US, Papua New Guinea and Oman are are the only nations without paid maternity leave—in fact, you almost don’t have to say anything else. But, to the extent that people have some resistance, warranted or not, to what goes on elsewhere (or as Hillary Clinton concisely explained during the debate: “We are not Denmark…We are the United States,” which is, in its own way, irrebuttable), it helps lower the resistance if Sanders points to what has gone on, often for long periods of time, non-controversially, in the US.

    2. marym

      Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Sunday he plans to give a major speech soon to explain his belief in democratic socialism, acknowledging the political label could be a stumbling block to winning over American voters.

      The U.S. senator from Vermont, who touted his democratic socialist views in last week’s Democratic presidential debate, said many Americans misunderstand socialism and did not recognize it in popular government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

      “You go to your public library, or you call your fire department or police department, what do you think you are calling? These are socialist institutions,” he said.

  23. Oregoncharles

    The Hostile Email Landscape :

    Monopoly. The big dogs are screening out potential competition.

    Shouldn’t this be illegal?

  24. Oregoncharles

    From the Silber article: “The idealization of “obedience to rules” and “order” is breathtaking; such qualities are not only virtuous in themselves, but legitimately constitute the basis of the “right to lead.” For writers of this kind — and the overwhelming number of such writers is too hideous to contemplate — history appears not to exist, including the recent history of Germany itself. ”

    Strangely enough,I disagree, strongly. That is strange because I’m given to repeating the slogan “Question authority”, and I remember plenty of the 20th-Century history he references. But I think he forgets what he and the article he quotes are talking about: VW is a CORPORATION, one with enormous power; and the people at fault here are also very powerful. They committed a crime against humanity, an assault on the very air we breathe. Even more fundamentally, we do not want artificial entities to “question authority”. We need them to obey the law – without rewriting it to their own benefit.

    And the same goes for the powerful people in or beholden to them.

    If he’s saying German culture has a problem with excessive respect for authority, he probably has a case, but that isn’t the problem with VW. And the article was making a point about propaganda: VW has undercut German claims to authority. That’s a GOOD thing.

    Furthermore, Silber’s point applies poorly to the US empire. The problem is precisely that the US is behaving lawlessly, and supporting lawless behavior by such as Israel. For him to make sense, perhaps we need a clear distinction between “law” and “authority” – something involving legitimacy.

    But poisoning the air is not what we mean by “question authority.”

  25. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook has a fascinating chart: the map of all of the wealth in the world and who has it.
    Of note, regions with actual middle classes: LatAm and Asia. North America barbelled between the top 20% and the bottom 10% (though that’s probably Mexico). Giant slug of China wealth at the middle, total area on the chart equals total wealth and China certainly has alot (transferred straight from factory workers in Gary, Indiana). Europe is rich; Africa is poor; India has alot of people with some money.

  26. Plenue

    Funny how talk of Benghazi never seems to mention the DIA report (which, irony I suppose, we only know about because a Conservative group, desperate for any dirt at all, got it declassified). Why, it’s almost as if this charade is intentionally being allowed to continue to discredit the very idea of anything untoward connected with Benghazi…

    And, directly related to the attack itself, that same report also shows that the Obama administration knew within 24 hours who was behind the attack, yet continued for, how long was it, with the nonsense about the stupid movie. Pray tell me, Clinton, is that a ‘conspiracy’ too?

  27. ambrit

    I’ve been seeing Yahoo first place a story about Hillary decrying Benghazi Conspiracy Theories most of the day. Nothing stays up in primary place this long on a ‘normal’ news day. Someone at Yahoo has Hillary’s back.

  28. skippy


    Oracle of the Gods and Humble Storyteller

    (translated from the ancient mathuscript by Gonçalo L. Fonseca)


    “Hear then, o Economidae, nymphs of the streams
    Of infinitely discussed yet discounted prophets,
    Of the story which I sing: the epic of men
    And women locked in the battle of egos and coherence,
    Precision and relevance, the song for all ages
    And peoples to hear and revere the great and poor
    Deeds of this tribe of malcontents and heroes…


    In the beginning there was mercantilism. Then God created Adam Smith. Some would argue that the first being was in fact French – a Cantillon or a Quesnay to be precise – and your humble storyteller would certainly lean towards such an interpretation. But the consensus of our elders (those rotten English dogs) tells us that, instead, economics began with Adam’s creation.

    But to begin our story like this is already to court trouble. You see, dear reader, Adam Smith contained in him elements of both the Hebrew and the Greek deities. The Hebraic aspect of Adam spoke of judgement and “moral sentiments”. But the Hellenic side told stories of the magical “invisible hand” of the gods, with virtue self-defined and judgement suspended. The parables Adam subsequently bequeathed upon his progeny only left them bewildered in this respect.

    Paradoxically, it was a Jew that settled this dispute by putting the car firmly on Greek rather than Hebraic rails: the magnificent David Ricardo of London. But be warned, gracious reader, that once again this account is gathered from the stories of the elders (the same rotten English dogs) – a more Gallic interpretation would have bestowed these laurels on the brow of Jean-Baptiste Say.

    Nonetheless, your meek storyteller must proceed with the song. Concordant with his Apollonic demeanor, David Ricardo was entirely Hellenic in his economic vision: his individuals were mostly passive, the puny playthings of the objective gods of history and structure. Yet, as Euripides of Hellas, Ricardo of London did have his Orestreian heroes: the persecuted entrepreneurs, fighting against the furies of diminishing marginal returns to land – only to be saved occasionally by the graceful hands of the enlightened priestesses of free trade and technological change. But the petty and vengeful gods looked upon these humans as haughty and verily regarded their haughtiness with disdain. Disguised as landlords, the gods stealthily walked among the heroes and cast plagues and misery upon them. Inexorably, sang Ricardo, no matter how brave or bold the capitalist heroes might be, the gods were destined to win in the end.

    Thus was born the Classical Tragedy. Ricardo’s more Hebraic but even more somber friend, Thomas Malthus, tried to paint something of a moral story in it, but the dismal Ricardian canon won out – particularly when enshrined in the McCullochian Elegies and the even more famous Tales from the Millian Nights.

    But all was soon not well in the Classical realm. Behind them, a flock of avenging Eumenides, such horribly named as Lauderdale, Longfield and Senior, cast their disequilibrating curses upon the Ricardian poets. Whereas, across the wide channel, under the volcanoes of barbarous lands, the cyclops Cournot, Gossen and von Thünen forged in silent sweat the marginal weapons which were to be given to the murderers of the gods. Yet even before the Hellenic Ricardians had grasped but the breadth of this challenge, a lonely Roman, an usurping Caesar arose in their midst.

    The Classical system was Latinized by Karlus Marxius. Informed by Hegelius’ chronicles of Teutonic mythology, he wrote a new theogony – reinterpreting the history of the gods and how they were born and lived and died and were replaced by new races of gods – for, indeed, in Marxius’ theory, everything in this world was so full of contradictions that even the immortal gods were mortal.

    Marxius’s theogony seemed more fit for the more violent and militant times of the advanced iron age. In Marxius’s hands, the genteel Hellenic Classicism of Ricardo and Mill was replaced with more visceral Latin elements: the biting language and rhetoric reminiscent of a Juvenal or Horace – combined with the political oratory and visions of a Cato or Cicero, the idealism of a Varro and the analytical power and historical sweep of a Tacitus. This Marxius, so your humble storyteller must testify, was certainly no Hellene: if Ricardo had appeared as a gentlemanly Apollo, Marxius came forth as a virulent, bearded Mars.

    Marxius’s contributions to the Classical Canon were themselves found in a long ruminating summation of the logic of capital, in short, a “Summa Capitalogica”. There, he provided a very detailed and comprehensive analysis in the Classical vein. His use of Ricardian metres was obvious but his conclusions were astoundingly different. For instance, in Marxius’ theogony, the gods were even more merciless to the cursed House of Capital: a special place was reserved for them in Tartarus where, like Tantalus of old, they were endowed with a raging thirst for profit and then placed in the middle of the ever-receding Lake of the Profit Rate.

    But, perhaps following the steps of Paracelsus, Marxius’s search for the Elixir of the Transformation Problem proved to be a vexing difficulty – and far from being life-giving, this search only served to drive him and his works to their grave. Although the image of Marxius has served to embellish many a town square and eastern temple over the years, in more recent times, the “Summa Capitalogica” has been kept only in the carefully-watched vaults of a few secret monasteries – where only a handful of men, the scholastic monks of the Holy Marxian Order, have access to it and serve as curators of Marxius’s flame.

    Nonetheless, dear reader, by the time of Marxius’ “Summa”, the Classical Canon was in its death throes. The agents of Ricardian economics, many had concluded, were too passive to be deemed a suitable construct; the determination of prices and outputs, which is ostensibly a human affair, and the fate of economic activity was still in the hands of the gods of objective structures. Throughout the land of the Econ, many Olympian demi-gods, haunted by the cursing shrieks of so many Eumenides, were themselves growing increasingly restless. – read on

    Skippy… too wonky after a 15hr drive to contribute more… thud…

  29. allan

    Will 787 program ever show an overall profit? Analysts grow more skeptical

    After losing about $25 million on each jet it delivered in the second quarter, Boeing projects a watershed moment for the plane by year-end: It expects to finally roll out a Dreamliner that brought in more money than it cost to build.

    That’s when Boeing begins the slow climb out of a deep financial hole that already totals just shy of $32 billion and will increase further when Boeing reports quarterly financial results Wednesday. …

    While Boeing asserts this 787 hole can be filled in just over six years by churning out hundreds of Dreamliners at a profit, even bullish Wall Street analysts have grown nervous over the staggering size of the accumulated losses, already $10 billion higher than Boeing projected just two years ago.

    So the executives will be returning their performance bonuses, right?

    File this under I’ll Be Gone, You’ll Be Gone

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