hard heads soft hearts
Monday, December 26, 2011
Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...
. . .Besides, I'm very sick right now. My major concern is trying to avoid having to call 911. For the third time. I don't want to do that. . .
Susie Madrak - Syria
There are 2 questions re: Manning. One, did he do a good or bad thing? On this, reasonable people can disagree. Second, if it was bad, how bad was it? This is the question on which the US government has lost its mind, its bearings, its morality. It has whipped itself into a hysteria, and allowed itself to become evil. Ali Soufan's recent interview with Charlie Rose exemplifies what good national security work looks like, as opposed to the chilling control-freak excesses of the Manning (and Aaron Swartz) prosecutions.
Glenn Greenwald - must-read piece comparing Manning and Ellsberg
KEVIN GOSZTOLA - Manning is charged with aiding terrorists
[Fein] Manning “knowingly gave intelligence through WikiLeaks to the enemy.” He “wantonly caused the release of this information.” It was “not just good for declared enemies” but also accessible to “all other enemies with Internet access.” . .
If you accept the prosecution's argument, is there any difference between "informing the enemy" and "informing the American people"?
Kevin Jon Heller - Did Bradley Manning “Aid the Enemy”? Did The New York Times? (Updated)
Paul Krugman - Springtime for Toxics
. . .mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.
Diane - A Sign Of Hope
(Via Hannah Mae) I.A.R. Wylie - "The Little Woman" (November 1945)
THOMAS B. EDSALL - The Anti-Entitlement Strategy
THOMAS B. EDSALL - The Trouble With That Revolving Door
I think it was Michael Barone who called Edsall a "gloomy Irishman", a political pessimist who, because he was liberal, kept writing articles about the problems with or obstacles to liberalism. Anyway, a very good political journalist.
Matthew Yglesias - Central Banking & Humility
Scott Sumner - Central Banking & Ego
Modeled Behavior (Karl Smith) - Why Not Plutocracy: Apathy Runs Deep Edition
. . twitter was ablaze a few weeks back over the fact that Jamie Dimon objected to his taxes being raised, but thought that he was already paying what Obama proposed raising his tax rate to.
One example my Dad gives is when a regulated monopoly was forced to lower their rates, to their surprise, profits increased. You would have assumed they would already be maximizing profits, but you would have assumed wrong.
Noahpinion - The liberty of local bullies
Monday, December 19, 2011
Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist
Paul Krugman - But I do know one and one is two. . .
Bill Keller (NYT) - The Pakistanis Have a Point
[Malik]: “If you are not able to close the Mexican border, when you have the technology at your call, when there is no war,” he said, “how can you expect us to close our border, especially if you are not locking the doors on your side?”
IAN AYRES and AARON S. EDLIN (NYT) - Don’t Tax the Rich. Tax Inequality Itself.
There may be better schemes, but Ayres & Edlin's proposal would be an improvement over the status quo.
TAMAR LEWIN (NYT) - M.I.T. Expands Its Free Online Courses
russell (Obsidian Wings) - will the last person to leave please turn out the lights....
Susie Madrak - Distress signal
Diane at Cabdrollery is in trouble, hanging by a financial thread. If you can spare even $10, go help.
DIANE - Will Blog For Food
Susie Madrak - Ash Wednesday
James Herriot - The best of James Herriot: favourite memories of a country vet
. . .The card dangled above the old lady's bed. It read `God is Near'. . .
MIT Shakespeare homepage - Hamlet
. . .MARCELLUS
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Arthur Silber - Power of Narrative
. . .But I still have to pay an electric bill, my Internet provider, and ... well, food and stuff. After I've paid for that, I'll be close to totally broke. I mean, except for about a hundred dollars, I'll be totally broke. . .
Violet Socks - Fundraiser to keep my health insurance from being cancelled
I have been scrambling like mad to earn money this fall, but work is the slowest it’s ever been in my entire life. I’ve taken on every kind of job I can, tried to sell stuff, etc., etc., but there is just nothing moving out there.
John Wildermuth, Chronicle Staff Writer - Benioffs pitch in to help homeless S.F. families
Susie Madrak - Catch 22
So they can’t find the money that’s missing, they just know it isn’t mixed in with the money that’s left. . .
Tell me again why companies in bankruptcy are allowed to choose the people who oversee their bankruptcy?
Corrente (Lambert) - Excellent interview with David Graeber
Juan Cole - Top Ten Things Americans can be Thankful for 2011 (US troops out of Iraq)
Informed Comment - Support this Site! (annual fundraiser)
Glenn Greenwald - Blog news (annual fundraiser)
Elizabeth Goitein - Bradley Manning
David Goldstein (McClatchy) - As U.S. troops leave Iraq, what is the legacy of eight years of war?
Paul Krugman - Receding Inflation In Britain
If there's one good thing about the MF Global debacle, it's a timely reminder to be wary of listening to the ratings agencies:
AZAM AHMED, BEN PROTESS and SUSANNE CRAIG (NYT) - A Romance With Risk That Brought On a Panic
. . .Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s had applauded Mr. Corzine’s effort to overhaul the firm, a move that included ratcheting up risk.
It's also a reminder that being clever, being rational, and even being right do not necessarily entitle you to great wealth through exploiting the perceived irrationality of others.
Andrew Tobias - The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need
Question for debt-as-indulgence, prosperity-through-thrifty-idleness types: How is it possible for Japan to have a debt/GDP ratio of 200%, a deficit of 8% of GDP, interest rates of less than 2%, and inflation of less than 2%? Not suggesting that US follow a similar policy, but how could such a thing even be possible, if the deficit-hawk view of the world is correct?
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Arthur Silber - Once Upon a Time. . .
Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist
. . .It’s being reported that this is the first time ever that a health secretary has overruled the FDA. It’s amazing, isn’t it?. . .
It really does look like the point of this Obama Plan B decision is simply to make liberals squeal, so moderate conservatives can conclude "if he's pissing off liberals, he must be doing something right". "I-Shot-A-Man-In-Reno" politics. Don't think it will be very successful, nor should it be.
Suburban Guerrilla (odd man out) - Banksters spooked by ‘Occupy Our Homes'
No reason to foreclose unless investors would get more money from a foreclosure than a principal modification/short sale. And given that investors have been bailed out so much, it's reasonable to have a rule that no foreclosures unless investors would get $20000 dollars more from a foreclosure than a principal modification / short sale.
Hannah Mae - The Shantoose of the Banjo Club
Krugman - British Debt History
(Via Wonkblog (Suzy Khimm)) - Haunting, candid photos of women on death row in China.
One of the condemned prisoners has a very simple, ingenuous face, and seems to be very happy and jolly in the first few slides. I think this was partly because she was genuinely happy, partly because she was trying to make the best of the time she had left, and partly, also, because in the back of her mind was the feeling that if she was very jolly and friendly, and people liked her, perhaps they would give her a reprieve / extend her term. The last is an emotion very familiar to temp workers / contractors anxious to get renewed. In one of the slides she breaks down, and is comforted by a prison guard, and recovers her composure somewhat. I don't know what crime she was condemned and executed for, nor the other prisoners, including one who looked somewhat stoic and resigned.
My preferred BCS plan:
1. Of the 4 BCS bowls, 2 act as semifinals for the BCS championship game, #1 against #4 and #2 against #3.
2. If a Pac-12 or Big-10 team is in the top 4, the Rose Bowl gets the semifinal game with the highest ranking Pac-12 or Big-10 team. Otherwise, it gets the traditional Pac-12 versus Big-10 game. This would lead to very nice rule, "The best Pac-12 & Big-10 team always plays in the Rose Bowl"
3. Perhaps there could be similar special rights for the Sugar Bowl. In the case of a conflict between Rose & Sugar, the the higher ranked team wins. This would lead to a somewhat less nice rule, "The best Pac-12 & Big-10 & SEC team always plays in either the Rose or Sugar Bowl"
4. The other semifinal games are distributed among the other BCS bowls.
5. The BCS bowl games are played up to either Jan 1. or Jan 2.
6. The BCS championship game is played on the second Saturday after the last BCS bowl game. i.e. For 2012 that would be Jan. 14, instead of the current date of Jan. 9. Though the championship game would be pushed back a few days, fans would also see the best teams in the country play on and around New Year's Day, instead of having to wait until Jan. 9.
7. I believe the best college football game of the year should be played on a Saturday afternoon. Play is for players, and fans, not television. But if the conflict with pro-football is too big a problem, the game could be played on the second Friday, or second Thursday, after the last BCS bowl game instead.
Under these rules, the current season would have a Sugar Bowl of LSU versus Stanford, an Orange or Fiesta Bowl of OSU versus Alabama, and a Rose Bowl of Oregon versus Wisconsin.
And if the seeds won out, you'd top it off a with a rematch of LSU versus Alabama: 4 great games with genuinely unpredictable outcomes, compared to the current system of 3 great games and a lingering disappointment that the Alabama / OSU debate was not settled properly.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Violet Socks - Success!
Hilary - Update 3: The goal has been reached!
Paul Krugman - Debt History
Atrios - They Know Even Less Than What They Say
Suburban Guerrilla (odd man out) - Reich’s radical proposal — decent wages
Obsidian Wings (Doctor Science) - The The Labor of the Harvest
Corrente (Lambert) - It's live! (What happened....)
dsquareddigest talks about a culture of tax avoision in Greece, but it's revenue is not that low: 40% of GDP. It's spending is high but not outlandish: 50% of GDP, but a lot of that is debt servicing. What is eye-popping is the debt/GDP ratio: 140% of GDP. Has any country ever gotten out of a debt/GDP ratio that high without defaulting? How did they do it? Japan, I guess, but their solution is to have very, very, very low interest rates, an option that does not seem open to the Greeks.
Anyone have strong opinions on where on the 40-50 scale Greece should aim for? (i.e. assuming a balanced budget, aiming for 47% GDP means 3% spending cuts, 7% tax increases, 42% means 8% spending cuts, 2% tax increases, etc).
In any case, all other countries except Greece and Ireland are liquidity problems, not solvency problems. For Italy, the ECB can solve the problem in a day by announcing that it will not allow the Italian-German spread to rise above 2.5%, and it will not allow the Italian bond to rise above 5.5%. It should do so, and should implement similar policies for other countries. If the ECB won't do it, the Fed should. Just like Clinton's Treasury in 1994 for Mexico, the Fed should not hesitate to intervene in a foreign credit crunch, if it is in US interests.
To those opposed to a simple & easy solution to a not very difficult problem, it should perhaps be suggested that if the desired goal is to teach discipline, continence & sacrifice, coked-up bond traders are not the ideal vehicle for delivering that message. Also, that there are better, truly difficult problems for humanity to attack, rather than inventing, then dealing with, the artificial problem of how to handle a bank run without activist policy to prevent interest rates from getting out of control.
That leaves, Greece, which is (possibly) a solvency problem. 3 numbers the political system needs to find: 1) the maximum GDP number the Greeks can be expected to spend on debt servicing. (my guess: 6-8%) 2) the minimum amount the debt/GDP ratio needs to decrease annually (my guess: 2%) 3) the acceptable range of interest rates the market will demand/ECB will allow for Greek bonds (no idea)
Together, these 3 numbers determine the minimum amount of principle reduction Greece may need in order to make life in the Eurozone tolerable. The hit to principle should be absorbed partly by bondholders, partly by wealthy Greeks. If the ECB/political system wants to prevent bondholders taking losses, that's fine, possibly desirable.
An aside: the one fact about Greece that has captured the public imagination is the "retiring in their fifties" theme. Everyone seems to think that if the Greeks retired at 65, their problems would be solved. No idea if it's true.
An interesting Wikipedia page:
National debt by U.S. presidential terms
which in turn links to an interesting excel file:
White house 2012 budget - Table 7.1 — FEDERAL DEBT AT THE END OF YEAR: 1940–2016