Category Archives: Species loss

Ilargi: Everything Better Is Purchased At The Price Of Something Worse

Yves here. While I suspect the general thesis of this post will appeal to many readers, I’m bothered by the use of “price” and “purchase” to describe the idea that progress is not linear and in many respects may add up to less in terms of satisfaction than we’d like to believe.


A Disturbance in the Force?

Perhaps I’m just having a bad month, but I wonder if other readers sense what I’m detecting. I fancy if someone did a Google frequency search on the right terms, they might pick up tangible indicators of what I’m sensing (as in I’m also a believer that what people attribute to gut feeling is actually pattern recognition).

The feeling I have is that of heightened generalized tension, the social/political equivalent of the sort of disturbance that animals detect in advance of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, of pressure building up along major fault lines.


Michael Klare: The Third Carbon Age – Drop the Fantasy of a Coming Era of Renewable Energy

Yves here. To put none too fine a point on it, the most important steps to reduce carbon emissions would be a Marshall plan level effort to reconfigure living and resourcing arrangements so as to reduce energy demands, and to go particularly aggressively after the worst polluters (for instance, the cars you see spewing fumes, are surprisingly large contributors to total emissions from automobiles). But it’s much easier to go the Easter Island route and keep carrying on more or less as before until you hit insurmountable constraints.


Michael Hoexter: Summer Heat – The Movement Against Ripping the Face off the Earth for a Brief Fossil-Fueled “Party”

Civilization requires agriculture, which is dependent on a few sensitive species to produce a surplus of food for masses of people with comparatively lower levels of labor or mechanical work. If we make the climate inhospitable to these species, as well as to ourselves, via fossil fuel use and degradation of the carbon buffering capacity of the environment, we will make it vanishingly likely that our own success as a species will continue.


Dan Kervick: Why MMT is Not a Free Lunch

By Dan Kervick, who does research in decision theory and analytic metaphysics. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives

A common criticism of Modern Monetary Theory is that it is a naïve doctrine of free lunches.

But this criticism misses the mark. MMT does focus a good deal of attention on the monetary system and the banking system, and on the operational mechanisms of public and private finance. But the whole point of analyzing and clarifying the monetary system is to help people see through the glare of the economy’s glittering monetary surface to the social and economic fundamentals that operate below that surface.


Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid

By Matt Stoller, a political analyst on Brand X with Russell Brand, and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term.


America’s Broken Jobs Engine

There was rending of garments and wearing of sackcloth last week when the jobs report came in at only 80,000 new jobs created in June, the third disappointing report in a row. Pundits looked to find cheer despite the disappointing outcome. For instance, the number of hours worked rose, and 25,000 temps were added, which the optimists used to contend that employers saw more demand, but weren’t quite confident enough to make permanent hires. Citigroup’s Tobias Levkovich argued that more firms are planning to add jobs. The gloomsters pointed out that global manufacturing output is weakening, and new orders in particular are signaling contraction. And John Hussman noted (hat tip Scott):


Les Leopold: How Wall Street Drives Up Gas Prices

By Les Leopold, the author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and What We Can Do About It. Cross posted from Alternet

Gasoline prices have been falling in recent weeks, but they’re still close to their five-year high after climbing steeply for three years. For every penny increase at the pump, $1.4 billion per year leaves our collective pockets, creating a drag on the sluggish “recovery.” Where does it go and what caused the price explosion at the pump?


Current Rate of Ocean Acidification Worst in 300 Million Years

Science has published a troubling but not entirely surprising article on the fact that the oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. Actually, it could be the fastest rate over an even longer time period, but we can only go back with any degree of accuracy for 300 million years.

We first wrote about this issue in early 2007, and this section, which quoted Stormy from Angry Bear, will help bring readers up to speed:


The Financial Zoo: An Interview with Satyajit Das – Part II

Satyajit Das is an internationally respected expert on finance with over 30 years working experience in the industry. He is also a best-selling author and a regular contributor to leading finance blogs – including our very own Naked Capitalism. His new book ‘Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk’ is out now and available from Amazon in hardcover and Kindle versions.

Interview conducted by Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer based in Dublin, Ireland.

Part I of the interview can be read here.

Philip Pilkington: In the book you describe ‘money shows’ which are presentations where financiers try to flog their wares to the general public. It really struck me how sleazy these shows are; like something out a carnival sideshow. Salesmen — you know, proper ‘snake oil’ salesmen — stand in front of a crowd and whip them into a frenzy, convincing them that they can all get rich.

I almost found the whole thing quite funny – that is, until I realised that many of these people were just trying to make ends meet. It’s well-known that real wages have stagnated in the last 30 years. And at the same time the financial markets have greatly expanded. These ‘money shows’ seemed to me to be the meeting point of these two toxic phenomena. Perhaps you could talk a little about this?


Video: The Bankers as the Enemy of Humanity

This video is stunning, in that it is a very articulate and well done rant that will resonate with many readers. The fact that it appeared on Karl Denninger’s site (hat tip reader Scott, Denninger’s been very critical of the TBTF banks) is an indication that the level of frustration with the major banks’ refusal to take responsibility for wrecking the global economy and their efforts to preserve their ability to loot is moving to a new level.


Get Ready for TARP 2.0

Washington DC appears to be readying itself for a repeat of the TARP, namely, the passage of unpopular legislation to appease the Market Gods (and transfer even more income from ordinary Americans to the Masters of the Universe). It isn’t yet clear whether this drama will be played out via generating bona fide financial market upheaval or mere threat-mongering (the Treasury market seems pretty confident that well-trained Congresscritters will fall into line). But unlike the TARP, which was a classic example of well-placed interests finding opportunity in the midst of upheaval, this reprise is a far more calculated affair.


What to Make of Banks’ Hesitance to Lend to Environmentally Dubious Projects

The New York Times reports on a welcome development: some banks are getting cold feet about lending to projects that are legal but still produce environmental damage: After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on […]