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Wednesday Open Thread

by In Wales Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 09:59:08 AM EST

The place for nattering, entertaining and having discussions about whatever you will.


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Goldman chief hits at `useless' banking

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, has attacked some investment banking products as socially useless and said that the controversy over bankers' pay was both understandable and appropriate.

In a speech to the Handelsblatt banking conference in Frankfurt on Wednesday, Mr Blankfein said: "The industry let the growth and complexity in new instruments outstrip their economic and social utility as well as the operational capacity to manage them."




In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 10:10:19 AM EST
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 10:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boring election getting you down?

Try this:



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:06:33 AM EST
and real journalistic research:


Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession

The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found.

This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too.

"The Fed has a lock on the economics world," says Joshua Rosner, a Wall Street analyst who correctly called the meltdown. "There is no room for other views, which I guess is why economists got it so wrong."

One critical way the Fed exerts control on academic economists is through its relationships with the field's gatekeepers. For instance, at the Journal of Monetary Economics, a must-publish venue for rising economists, more than half of the editorial board members are currently on the Fed payroll -- and the rest have been in the past.

read the whole thing


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:39:28 AM EST
Well written, devastating, article.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 12:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you actually accept that all these people are crooks, nothing they do can surprise you anymore. It's just their evil modus operandi.

I didn't think I could become more cynical than I already was, but these last two years at the ET have done just that.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 04:46:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
indeed, i wonder if ever such a small group of people have ever so coldly screwed so many out of their dreams, pensions and livelihoods in all of history, all 'legally', and in retrospect, in plain sight.

we have witnessed the biggest heist ever, and it ain't over yet.

power grabbed and sequestered, quod erat demonstrandum.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 06:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
I didn't think I could become more cynical than I already was, but these last two years at the ET have done just that.
melo:
indeed, i wonder if ever such a small group of people have ever so coldly screwed so many out of their dreams


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 10th, 2009 at 03:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lol, talk about double entendre.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Sep 10th, 2009 at 11:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | German MP charged over child porn

A German member of parliament has been charged with obtaining and distributing indecent images of children.

Joerg Tauss, who recently left the Social Democratic party, is accused of around 100 counts of saving images of children on his mobile phone.

Prosecutors say that in some cases he forwarded the images, and that more material was found at his home.

Mr Tauss admits possessing the images, but says he downloaded them during an investigation into child pornography.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 12:09:08 PM EST
Hubble is back.

I won't link previews here - go look at the high-res images at the link.

They're stunning.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 12:18:30 PM EST
Consumer credit declines by $21.6bn in July....

...but don't worry, all is now well

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 01:33:55 PM EST
doubles as a bonus metaphorical seismic chart.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 02:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I rang the bank a few days ago to query a payment and was nervously informed by some poor call centre operative who'd been told he had to, that I'd been pre-approved for a loan of about twice my annual salary.  Which is about 50% more than the pre-approved loan they were trying to sell me pre-crunch.  Business as usual...plus.

I turned it down.  I realise that by so doing I have Doomed Us All, but I let my own rational self interest get in the way. Sorry.

by Sassafras on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 05:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sassafras:
Sorry.

well, ok this time, but next time the invisible hand wants to get in your pants, you'll be a good citizen, won't you?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 05:41:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had lunch with linca today - afterwords we went for a walk around the outside of the Louvre and nearby neighborhood while he gave me a history lesson.

I only did about two hours inside - I felt sick yesterday and today I was still feeling very fatigued. I'll probably go there again when my sister gets here next Tuesday.

The wing near the Mona Lisa was an absolute nuthouse (I can only blame myself, I mean, I went straight there  because I had to), but afterward I went up to the 2nd floor to look the collection of French paintings and it was far saner.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 02:55:12 PM EST
You have to go straight there the moment the museum opens. The first hour or so is still bearable (except the Mona Lisa room itself); after that it's a nuthouse.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was there a few times as a child (like 8-12 years old). I can't say I remember it being very crowded, nor were I very impressed by the Mona Lisa. It was far smaller than I thought it would be. What did impress me was Nike from Samotrake, obsessed with Greek mythology as I was then. I'd love to give it another shot though... maybe I have enough money the next time there is a meetup in Paris. I would so like to meet all of you in person. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 04:50:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry about the history lesson, once I start I usually forget to stop !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Sep 10th, 2009 at 05:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the October 2009 issue of Vanity Fair

Good Billions After Bad
By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

As the Bush administration waned, the Treasury shoveled more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in tarp funds into the financial system--without restrictions, accountability, or even common sense. The authors reveal how much of it ended up in the wrong hands, doing the opposite of what was needed.

...once the money left the building, the government lost all track of it. The Treasury Department knew where it had sent the money, but nothing about what was done with it. Did the money aid the recovery? Was it spent for the purposes Congress intended? Did it save banks from collapse? Paulson's Treasury Department had no idea, and didn't seem to care. It never required the banks to explain what they did with this unprecedented infusion of capital.

By and large, the cash that went to the Big 9 simply became part of their capital base, and most of the big banks declined to indicate where the money actually went. Because of the sheer size of these institutions, it's simply impossible to trace...

A.I.G., the largest single tarp beneficiary, wasn't even a bank...

A.I.G. was able to pay off its counterparties 100 cents on the dollar. The largest payout--$12.9 billion--went to Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment house presided over by Paulson before he moved into his Treasury job.

Based on the reluctance of many banks to take the money in the first place, and the swiftness with which other banks have repaid tarp funds, the main conclusion to be drawn is that relatively few were actually endangered. Rather than targeting the weak for relief--or allowing them to fail, as the government allowed millions of ordinary Americans to fail--Paulson and Treasury pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system without prior design and without prospective accountability. What was this all about? A case of panic by Treasury and the Federal Reserve? A financial over-reaction of cosmic proportions? A smoke screen to take care of a small number of Wall Street institutions that received 100 cents on the dollar for some of the worst investments they ever made?

More than five months after the bulk of the bailout money had been distributed into bank coffers, Elizabeth Warren plaintively raised the central and as yet unanswered question: "What is the strategy that Treasury is pursuing?" And she basically threw up her hands. As far as she could see, Warren went on, Treasury's strategy was essentially "Take the money and do what you want with it."

by Magnifico on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 02:58:06 PM EST


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:07:21 PM EST
That's kinda like this.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why we had to line the Progressive Caucus up and start building the 50 votes (thank you, Howard Dean, for steam-rolling the latter).

Good to admit when you fuck up, Mr President.  But quit talking and go fix it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:15:52 PM EST
Apparently Kos was born the day Khruschev died.

COINCIDENCE?!!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So that's why he's stalin' our country away from us tru murkains.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:34:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have the times they were born? This may be like Milton Babbitt and Max Reger. The latter died one day after the former was born. I once heard Babbitt claim that in those days it took a day for the news to reach Europe, at which point Reger died of shock...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 03:43:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that reminds me of the possibly apocryphal legend that lsd was discovered the same day the chinese invaded tibet

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 05:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LSD was first synthesized right at the time that various physicists were beginning to document the chain of events which led up to the production of a nuclear chair reaction in the late 30's.  The first chain reaction was made by Fermi in chicago on 2 december 1942.  Later that spring, Hoffman revisited his 1938 synthesis, accidentally ingesting a minor dose through his fingertips.  Very pleasant.  Three days later, Bicycle Day, the true nature of the sacrament was discovered. 19 April 1943.

Read up on your Albert Hofmann, sir

antidote to nuclear power?  i'm in no position to judge, though i have my suspicions.  I do remain thankful for the discovery.



"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 07:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wonderful reply, CH, i never enjoyed a spanking so!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 09:11:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the inspiration for the bottom image: another world II by M C Escher

And this one's for Sven


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 10th, 2009 at 03:54:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Friday census  diary for details.

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2009/8/16/35315/1194

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 04:45:27 PM EST

XCERPTS OF THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS TONIGHT

The plan I'm announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.

(...)

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies - because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

That's what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan - more security and stability.

Now, if you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange - a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.

No mention of the public option in these extracts.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 06:35:32 PM EST
I've little doubt he'll state that he's for it and say why he's for it, but I doubt it'll be the kind of hard-assed, red-meat the netroots want.

Speaking of health care, Rush Limpdick is telling his listeners that they'd be better off paying their medical costs out of pocket as they shop for the best care.

A TPM reader read my mind and beat me to it: Because if there's one thing you can believe Rush Limbaugh on, it's doctor-shopping.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 07:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Howard Fineman says the speech -- it's been embargoed until a minute ago -- is quite a bit stronger on the public option than he expected.  His expectation seemed to roughly match mine, so there's that.

Shows ya what I know, I guess.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 08:16:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Full speech up on dKos.

Here's the meat, as far as I'm concerned:

For those individuals and small businesses who still cannot afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we will provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need.  And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned.  This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right.  In the meantime, for those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill.

<snip>

... under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance - just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.  

There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements.

A mealy-mouth nod to the Pubic Option and the rest is a kowtow, and a give-away to, the the existing system.

This stinks.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 08:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
uh ... "Public"

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 09:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moran. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 09:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to strangle that "Professor of Politics."

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 at 10:05:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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