Links 2/15/10

Why insensitive bosses make more sense Lucy Kellaway

A Better Mousetrap for the Age of Rats FireDogLake (hat tip reader John D)

Beijing Seen Vacant for 50% as Chanos Predicts Crash Bloomberg

Cash Money Disappears (within 5 years), Netherlands, Europe AboveTopSecret (hat tip reader John D)

The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative also strives to protect transparency & was inspired by their “embarrassing” financial meltdown Tim Solanic

Citi plans crisis derivatives Risk Magazine

Deloitte chief reignites accounting debate Financial Times (hat tip reader beaz)

Hold Onto Your Underwear TomDispatch

Antidote du jour:

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29 comments

  1. Bates

    ‘Why Insensitive Bosses Make More Sense’…

    We see the result of ‘insensitive bosses’ daily as we watch the meltdown of the world financial system and economy. The ‘Most Insensitive’ rise to the top of the ladder in the financial community and cause world wide economic havoc… The most insensitive, and therefore, the most successful, reach a plateau of CEO or CFO or highly paid trader of worthless ‘assets’. In a past time we would not catorgorize these callus asses as insensitive, but as sociopaths!

    It’s comforting to know that they lose no sleep for their actions and therefore can continue on their merry way creating new economic disasters at home and abroad.

    These ‘Most Insensitive Bosses’ should be at the top of the ‘terrorist lists’ (in another article linked above)… The ‘Most Insensitive’ are far more dangerous to the welfare of the people of the world than a few idealogues with bombs in their pants.

    1. donna

      No kidding. That was the worst piece of tripe I’ve read in ages. Trying to justify the inhumanity of our large corporations is insane. Every insensitive bastard I’ve worked for just made me want to rip their stupid head open, not inspire me to work harder. Sheesh.

      1. sam hampster

        Kellaway is making a straw-man argument against emotional intelligence, equating it only with sensitivity and empathy. An emotionally intelligent boss could still be brutal at cutting labor and outsourcing oversees. They just don’t behave like angry alcoholics when they do it.

        Kellaway is clearly telling us more about herself, in this column, then anything about management. She like the guys in leathers, rather than sweaters and she likes a little debasing from men to have her identity validated.

  2. Dan Duncan

    Yves, how about changing the name of the “Links” Section to “Confirmation Bias”?

    How often there will be a rush to link to some story that states: “In another sign that apocalyptic global warming is upon us, temperatures were degrees above normal today in Malta.”

    Yet, here we have some pretty significant news on the Climate Change Front and what do we have…but crickets.

    In an effort to get a hat tip, please allow me to share the following about the “settled” matter of Climate Change from the leading climate research scientist, Phil Jones:

    1. “There has been no global warming since 1995.”

    2. “Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.”

    3. And he said that the debate over whether the world could have been even warmer than now during the medieval period, when there is evidence of high temperatures in northern countries, was far from settled.

    Obviously, none of this proves that Man-Made Global Warming is not a real phenomenon…

    It does, however, lend credence to the Skeptics’ (or “Deniers'” or whatever) claims that the matter is far from settled.

    If you are predisposed to accept AGW, then instead of engaging in semantic nonsense, like attempting to distinguish between “skeptics” and “deniers”… call on East Anglia and IPCC to honor the Freedom of Information Requests and release the damn data.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Astonishment-scientist-centre-global-warming-email-row-admits-data-organised.html#ixzz0fcEQ6J09

    1. aet

      Mr Duncan, ’tis thou who has the bias.

      The observations are clear, and getting clearer.
      Thou mayst spin: Canute too held up his hand.

      http://www.thestar.com/business/cleanbreak/article/765519–hamilton-spin-is-in-but-climate-change-still-there

      Mr Duncan you need to get out of the cities, and into the wild, for a little more observation, and a lot less argumentation.

      1. aet

        Here’s yet another “fuzzy thinker” disagreeing with Mr Duncan:

        http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0212-gates.html

      2. ozajh

        Cnut was a successful and smart ruler, who staged the beach exercise to show his more sycophantic courtiers that there were things beyond his control.

        Sheesh, I wonder if anyone else in history is ‘remembered’ as doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what actually happened.

        1. aet

          No you don’t : you’ll need to cite some sources, to claim that Canute’s story is as you tell it, and not as it is taught.

          And if: “Yes, everybody else is wrong: and you are right”: who cares? This is the realm of current political argument: wtf do I care “what canute really did?”

          For the analogy between Canute, as he is known to popular legend and the masses, and those who deny that fossil fuel use is altering our climate, is exact.

          So what? So is the truth “exactly the opposite” of the scientific consensus of the import of the observationsal database therefore?

          Considering that ALL stories from Canute’s time are open to great doubt: unlike the observations supporting AGW: which you can go right now and confirm for yourself.
          The sources for canute’s time suck, and are not to be trusted. And speaking generally, except for its moral instruction, what’s the point of history?

          1. aet

            Oh you go by the House of Commons march 2008 factsheet: I’ll go with the Chronicles, thank you very much.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnut_the_Great#Ruler_of_the_waves

            But you won’t stop climate change by pointing at scientists.

  3. Francois T

    I hope Icelanders realize their Modern Media Initiative won’t be a walk in the park. I remember the rise and fall of anonymous email servers (anon.penet.fi comes to mind). The world powers that be just couldn’t tolerate that people from all over could post information anonymously. At the time, some of that information lead to very embarrassing questions directed at corporations execs, politicians of all stripes and what have you.

    Needless to say Finland authorities came under extreme pressure to find a way to shut down those pesky servers. And they found a way; it was just a matter of “find the will and I’ll find the law”.

    I truly wonder if such a project will work in a century where secrecy, spin, obfuscation and the seemingly irresistible rise of the Nazional Sekurity-Industrial Complex are becoming so pervasive.

    One thing is sure; It’ll take some tough hombres (and chicas too :-D ) up North to bring this initiative online. (pun intended)

  4. Walter

    Since insensitive = lack of empathy…

    doesn’t that mean she is saying that in order to be successful in upper management you need to be a sociopath?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Walter, that’s why our relative, the chimp elects a leader. He must beat back all his challengers ruthlessly.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Not sure why TomDispatch would say worry too much.

    Even in the middle of the Libyan desert, the most isolated tree of the world, the tree of Tenere, the only tree in the vast desert, it was run over by an alleged drunken driver one night in 1973.

    It’s like Bogart in Casablanca, why of all the places in the world??? A needle in the haystock.

    So, if that could happen, you should worry about EVERYTHING.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Interesting, cash money disappearing in 5 years.

    So, the government issues paper money and the Dutch Consumers Association says we can’t use it?

    Is that a finanacial takeover of the government by the Dutch Consumers Association?

    So, what happens if someone wants to buy a box of chocolate for his mistress on Valentine’s Day? Does he barter?

    1. charcad

      The Greek government is already outlawing cash transactions greater than Euro 1500 between businesses or businesses and natural people.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE61824V20100209

      “The time has come for major changes, the country can’t afford to wait any longer”

      “From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards”

      “Deposits in banks outside Greece are exempted from audits of their origin if they are repatriated within six months of the passing of the tax bill and are taxed with a 5 percent rate”

      Outright currency controls will not be far behind. I propose the old USSR as the best political economy model for the new EU & euro.

  7. kerz

    Why does it say “Links 12/15/09” in the title rather than “02/15/10”? It has been like this for quite a while…

  8. Hugh

    “Credit specialists at Citi are considering launching the first derivatives intended to pay out in the event of a financial crisis.”

    As suicidal as ever.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The only derivative I am interesting in is one that will pay out at the end of the world, when the Big Crunch happens.

      Just throw it down a black hole. I will be at the other end to collect.

  9. TomOfTheNorth

    Happy President’s Day!

    On the day when we very briefly acknowledge some Americans who served their Nation with distinction & courage, I had a little bout of inspiration after lunch (but I’m better now). The result is today’s Outside The (Cardboard) Box essay which answers the vexing question: What is the inescapable result when too many Dead Presidents find their way into the hands of too many Senators?

    Senate Considers Rule Modifications for Extended Service

    http://outsidethe-cardboard-box..com/post/391496514/senate-considers-rule-modifications-for-extended

    *SATIRE*

    I hope you enjoy it.

  10. Sundog

    On sovereign fudging in the EU, Duncan Wood of Risk magazine posted a comment at FT Alphaville that they’ve put up a new piece on the subject and taken the one from 2003 out from behind their paywall.

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2010/02/15/149076/the-greeks-swap-probe/

    http://www.risk.net/risk-magazine/feature/1498135/revealed-goldman-sachs-mega-deal-greece

    http://www.risk.net/risk-magazine/news/1591633/greek-woes-revive-seven-goldman-swap-story

    Also, FTA’s Izabella Kaminska notes:

    In fact, the practice was so prevalent that Standard & Poor’s covered the issue in a note — published in 2002 — entitled “Accounting for Innovation: Treatment of Off-Balance-Sheet Public Sector Financing Operations”.

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2010/02/15/149646/eu-leaders-only-8-years-behind-the-curve-on-currency-swaps/

    The S&P report can be downloaded from FTA’s Long Room which requires registration that was quick & painless for me.

  11. Sundog

    Speaking of FTA’s Long Room, can’t help pulling a few quotes from a Greece piece provisionally sourced as GS and apparently reproduced in full there today. Provenance seems uncertain, mind you….

    We can default now or we can default later. Is that a big deal? Frankly, no. 75% of the debt, probably more, is held externally….

    Supposing we default, what will be left is a AAA credit here. Give it five years and a line will form to our door to lend us more….

    It’s the government that is the joke here, not the country! Nevertheless, a sovereign default by Greece will set off a cascade….

    This brings me to my second big idea here. When the Paulson/Bernanke/Geithner triumvirate decided to save the banks in September of 2008, who exactly was saved?….

    As Joseph Stiglitz, Willem Buiter and Paul Krugman [and Yves Smith and Chris Whalen and Simon Johnson among others] were at pains to point out back then, an alternative existed: we could have done a GM/Chrysler on the banks….

    The big winners here are the baby boomers. That’s because they have their name against some 80% of the value in all pension funds and insurance policies. And if the banks had gone down, that’s who holds their debt and much of their equity. Bottom line, had the banks gone down, no insurance product would be worth a penny more than the paper it’s printed on. So basically, the 2008 bailout sacrificed business, i.e. our generation, but saved our parents. The US bailout was intergenerational transfer, pure and simple….

    In summary, EU funds have done to Greece what oil did to Nigeria, while low EUR rates have allowed the government of Greece to be able to service a debt of 100% of GDP, most of which has gone straight to the pockets of the oligarchy….

    This is a matter between some French and German baby-boomers, their government, and twenty Greek families who will happily take more. I hope we default and the country is freed from the curse of free money that befell it in 1980. Once our politicians have no more money to disburse to the oligarchs, we can start to be proud Europeans.

    I’ve cut a lot and the whole piece is well worth reading.

    http://discussions.ft.com/longroom/tables/dismal-science/unofficial-goldman-note-on-greece

  12. Sundog

    Gotta toss these in too….

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201003/jobless-america-future

    There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment—chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that slowly eats away at people, families, and, if it spreads widely enough, the fabric of society.

    Probably already been linked here, but I hope this article by Don Peck becomes as widely known as Simon Johnson’s “The Quiet Coup.”

    http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/548.html

    Both globally and within most nations, the patterns of consumption required to sustain existing social arrangements are inconsistent with the distribution of the fruits of production. Social and economic stability, therefore, depend upon redistribution for which there is no overt legal framework or political consensus.

    Could be coincidence but I view this as a response to Peck.

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/02/labor-underutilization-rate-by.html

    [CR quotes Sum & Khatiwada:] A true labor market depression faced those in the bottom two deciles of the income distribution, a deep labor market recession prevailed among those in the middle of the distribution, and close to a full employment environment prevailed at the top. There was no labor market recession for America’s affluent.

    Again, I’m viewing this in the context of Peck’s article.

    Lastly for now, Sam Quinones has done a terrific series for the LAT on innovative small business links between the American heartland and a remote bit of rural Mexico.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-blacktar14-2010feb14,0,4784251,full.story

  13. Sundog

    Kedrosky has posted the whole Long Room piece I linked to above.

    http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2010/02/greece_our_debt.html

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