Links 3/5/11

BBC

Spice Up Your Life

Channel 4 News (hat tip reader Tim C) Confirms our earlier take.

Financial Times

and Telegraph (hat tip Richard Smith and Swedish Lex)

WMUR (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Aljazeera (hat tip reader May S)

Politics Daily (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Credit Writedowns

Dean Baker

Abigail Field, DailyFinance

Martin Andelman

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-05 at 6.56.05 AM

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27 comments

  1. Re fraudclosures:

    Maybe we should call today’s foreclosures, fraudclosures.

    So, maybe our entire system, including the inadequate and fraudulent documentation, and the incredibly uncaring and incompetent treatment of the homeowners involved… maybe it’s happening because we haven’t stopped to realize that although today we have foreclosures and years ago we had foreclosures… they really shouldn’t be called the same thing because they’re not the same thing. In fact, they’re so different they shouldn’t share the same moniker.

    Maybe we should call today’s foreclosures, fraudclosures… I mean, like all the time… like as in someone call Webster’s. Maybe if our society understood the substantive nature of the distinction, things would improve… no? I think maybe yes. Like, do the bankers think that today we’re just having more of the same foreclosures we had years ago… same thing… just more of them? Because that’s not the case.

    This is what I keep saying. This top-down crime wave is different not just in bulk but in kind from anything we’ve previously known.

    This is civil war, plain and simple. But so far only one side’s fighting.

    If we want to turn this case into a Rosa Parks-type symbol, we need the victims’ name. (I didn’t see it in the post.)

    We need to turn it into a meme: “The ……. Case.” Keep saying it over and over. References to the _______ Case, “You haven’t read about the _____ Case yet? Here’s a link….”

    Meanwhile, it’s not possible to coherently understand the Bankster War on America and still support the bankster-owned land distribution model. Since the banks are proven criminal enterprises, from the $14+ trillion Bailout to the individual fraudclosure, how could any citizen possibly still have a valid contract with them? They Pearl Harbored us, and you still think you owe them money?

    If anyone has an issue with the underlying philosophy, how about this way of looking at it: If you have a mortgage, why not consider it your share of the taxpayer-funded Bailout, call it even, and proclaim you now own the land free and clear? (It’s really not equal; each taxpayer’s share of what the banks have stolen must be vastly greater than any mortgage.)

    So:

    My Mortgage For Your Bailout.

    Or:

    My Mortgage = Your Bailout.

    That wouldn’t really make us even, not by a long shot. But it would be a start.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Nothing is going to happen until the people start pulling together rather than apart.

      I sort of wonder what would happen if all the forclosure victims started banding together, pooling their remaining few dollars and soliciting from philanthropic organizations, to purchase land for oldfashioned comunes?

      I very much fear that the authoritarian government would land on their ‘collective’ heads in Waco fashion. I suspect it might be an attractive alternative to eventual incarceration in “Fema Camps”.

      The most important factor would be to gain a threshold following for the movement. Certainly, the cross section of people abused by the system is now large enough to afford these “Communes” a much better self sufficiency than the movement had in the 1960’s.

      1. That could be one part of the mix. But we need to be far more assertive than that, seeking goals like organized squatting and taking over local governments.

        Just trying to get along with what little one has isn’t going to cut it this time. As you say, anyone who tries to keep his head down and stay on the defensive is going to get squashed.

        As Franklin said, it’s hang together or hang alone.

        1. Paul Repstock

          Well, that is certainly true in Canada. The establishment cabal wanted to make certain that nobody ever had the chance to “opt out again” so they slapped a designation of agricultural land on anything that was not urban land. The uses for agricultural land are strictly defined in the zoning. This also allowed the crony system to determine who would be allowed to develope any rural land.

      2. Otter

        You should study very carefully the histories of the 60’s and 70’s communes before advising or taking advice about communes.

        Paul, your self-sufficiency claims are only wishful thinking. Most communes failed because their members did not have the necessary social skills. Most of the rest failed for lack of an economy … production of food, and the annual Shilling for the Raj. The neighbours overran some … communists, pothead hippy freaks, danger to our sons’ and daughters’ virtue, stuff like that. The state directly suppressed only a few, artfully or brutally, lumping them in with a bunch of other groups which it feared.

        In the fifties and even the sixties, it was possible to drift around the country taking odd jobs for room and board and a few dollars to tide you over to the next town. Few jobs required special skills or equipment. iPods and fastfood didn’t really exist.

        Not anymore. Society, both as individual persons and as mobs manipulated by propaganda, is far more intolerant today. The economic net is finegrained and rigid. “Law” enforcement has far more tools, impunity, and incentive.

        Branch Davidian, and the Africa Family, were crushed mostly because they boasted that they could legally keep the cops out. The Black Panthers started out as a Community Kitchen. The Tea Partiers started out as internet whiners, as did most other modern domestic terrorists.

        Not saying, don’t do it. Those of us who survive will do so through somekind of local politics. Saying, know what you are up against, and what resources you need. What people you need and don’t need. Saying be careful what kind of official notice you attract.

        Somewhere on the net there is a guy who says, if you are a carpenter hoard carpenter’s tools not gold bars. I suppose, if you are not a carpenter you can take a chance on gold bars but some archaic skills might be better.

  2. Swedish Lex

    A few stiffer upper lips apparently got even stiffer by King’s remarks:

    “Bank of England chief under fire after warning Britain is at risk of another financial crisis”

    1. Otter

      Here’s another :
      Bank of England governor Mervyn King ‘out of touch’ , says City

      It is very fascinating to line up all these articles sidebyside, examine who says what, and deduce what they mean and avoid meaning.

  3. DownSouth

    Re: “War, debt and democracy” Aljazeera

    When it comes to fighting wars or bailing out TBTF banks, those printing presses, whether they’re churning out T-bills or dollar bills, know no limits.

    But when it comes to paying for something that might actually be beneficial to most Americans, running those printing presses is verboten.

    Of course anyone who points this irony out to the American people is immediately branded as an enemy of the United States. “America is in an ‘information war’ [with Aljazeera],” is how Secretary of State Clinton put it in (link furnished by Michael H). And furthermore, Clinton adds, “Al Jazeera is winning”.

    As the article goes on to point out, enhanced truth-telling is not a feature of Clinton’s proposed solution to this losing battle, but instead building a bigger and better propaganda machine.

  4. Chauncy Gardiner

    Re: Gaddifi’s billions will ‘never be found’.

    As the author of the article stated, there are avenues to trace and develop this data. SWIFT’s global data centre was hurriedly moved to Switzerland from the U.S. in 2007 specifically to shield such information from discovery under Swiss privacy laws and to prevent the People from ascertaining the sources and destinations of funds transfers. Why, and why then?

    I believe software and information technology, and other avenues of discovery through major banks, law firms and accounting firms in western countries; legal records of trusts and shell corporations; and through efforts by western intelligence agencies – exist to disassemble the who, how, where, and amounts that have been transferred. It is simply a matter of whether certain governments are willing to go to the effort and expend the necessary resources to pursue this information.

    Along these lines, consider the willingness of the Swiss to assist the IRS with information about some Americans who placed assets in Swiss banks in an effort to avoid U.S. taxes in the wake of the collapse of the global financial system and big losses at UBS (in exchange for what?). Contrast that with the UK government’s jurisdiction over British tax havens and safe havens such as the Jersey and Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and certain Caribbean and other locations where much illicitly derived wealth has been effectively sheltered from taxation and hidden from confiscation for many years.

    I believe the information technology and other avenues exist to “follow the money” in Gaddafi’s case, as well as in those of many other political and financial figures, both past and present. It is just a matter of whether the requisite will to do so exists in a world of corruption and raw power tradeoffs where issues of morality and traditional values hold little sway and key objectives include opacity through complexity and obfuscation.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to read Nicholas Shaxon’s Treasure Islands.

      First, the technology exists to make this stuff untraceable. He goes through the corporate legal structures.

      Second, the US is the biggest tax haven in the world, followed by the UK. He explains why that is true. This is our system, ergo we have no interest in fixing it.

      1. Chauncy Gardiner

        Thank you for the reference, Yves. I will check it out.

        And thank you for an excellent blog.

  5. Ignim Brites

    Great pieces on Mervyn King. On the small chance that Western Civilization survives, he will be regarded as one of the few who made that possible. The contrast with Bernanke is too painful to address.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Mr. King’s continued existence in the vertical plane has surpised me for some time.

  6. spc

    King recommends “Big Short” by Lewis…. For me it’s a bit of a “facepalm” situation, or FAIL .

  7. kravitz

    From tomorrow’s NYT

    MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan
    By MICHAEL POWELL and GRETCHEN MORGENSON

  8. kravitz

    WaPo columnist Dana Milbank’s personal episodes with Citibank.

    Behind the foreclosure crisis, big banks’ reign of error

    “The problem in the nation’s housing market now isn’t subprime lending. It’s subpar lenders.”

  9. Hugh

    I wrote elsewhere yesterday on the BLS jobs report. Baker seems not to understand that the 0.9% decline in unemployment over the last 3 months was mostly due to revisions of the data in both December and January or that the BLS continues to base its projections on 2000 Census data. My own faith in the BLS numbers is pretty well shot.

    The 192,000 jobs created in February was the seasonally adjusted number. The seasonally adjusted number is based on the unadjusted number. That number was 816,000. Now tell me what kind of adjustment can take you from that number to the other. There is no rush of teens into or away from the job market in February. So just what kind of a seasonal adjustment are we talking about? And shouldn’t there be more anecdotal evidence of jobs in communities if 192,000 were created in a short month? Because I certainly haven’t heard anything.

    Also while the household survey showed temp work declining, the establishment data showed more temp jobs. Hours overall were flat. And wage growth after inflation is either flat or negative. Increases in all these areas usually precede large increases in new hires.

    Then too taking the household data together for both employment and unemployment there was something like a discrepancy of 2.3 million between the adjusted and unadjusted numbers.

    I don’t think the BLS has done a very good job tracking what has been going on in the economy since the December 2007 recession began but its data for the last few months has just been getting screwier and screwier.

    1. Max424

      There are some strange “spreads” popping up in “the data” that are new to the information scene.

      The new spread everybody is currently talking about is the widening gap between the Dated Brent Spot price and the Nymex Crude Future price, a spread that didn’t exist until recently.

      But the more interesting “new spread” to me is the widening gap between the BLS and the Gallup Poll’s unemployment numbers. In the first 20 months or so post-crisis, Gallup and the BLS were pretty much in sync; Gallup reported their unemployment numbers as slightly higher most of the time, but not in any significant way.

      But over the last 3 or 4 months, the Gallup U3 and U6 numbers are trending up, whereas the BLS numbers, in both categories, are trending down. The “spread” now between the two is quite considerable.

      U3: BLS – 8.9 … Gallup – 10.3
      U6: BLS – 15.9 … Gallup – 20.0

      Note: Personally, I split the difference between the Gallup and the BLS numbers. So my U3 number is 9.6, and my U6 number is 18.0. Then I split the difference again, between my U3 and U6 numbers, and I arrive at 13.8.

      That’s where I think “real” unemployment is at, and that’s what I think our economy is actually dealing with — 13.8% unemployment.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Here with numbers to reassure you that the recovery is on track is Mr. Magoo (aka Greenspan):

      “‘Among the headwinds the economy faces are escalating oil prices and uncertainty about a budget deficit likely to hit $1.5 trillion this year.'”

      “‘But overall”, he said ‘there is reason for optimism.'”

      “‘There is no question that the momentum of this economy, leaving out the oil price issue, leaving out Euro problems that have emerged, and very specifically leaving out the budget problems, this economy is really beginning to pick up momentum,’ Greenspan said. ‘The fascinating issue for forecasters is, how do you factor in all the negatives.'”

      Yes, fascinating. The maestro of obfuscation is really losing it; nevertheless, CNBS hangs breathlessly on his every dissonant, indecipherable utterance.

      “Greenspan declined to comment directly on the Fed’s approach is it faces the question of how to unwind the $2.3 trillion or so it has added to its balance sheet since the financial crisis began.”

      “‘However, he did say he felt the Fed could start selling off the various assets it has accumulated—mortgage-backed securities, Treasurys and other debt—”without any significant consequences.'”

      Right, selling off those mBS shouldn’t be a problem, not at all, a slam dunk, as Tenet would say.

      Sleep well.

      1. Max424

        Holy crap, I thought you were kidding until I went to link. I was thinking; there’s no way Greeny said that. No way.

        “How do you factor in all the negatives.” Well Maestro, you do what you said you should do in the previous sentence, you leave them out.

        I really believe Greenspan’s last words will be, “Did Mother Dow reach 30,000?”

        Nothing matters to these clowns but the equity markets. Unemployment could be at 80%, and tens of millions of Americans could be starving to death in their food-less, underwater McMansions, but as long as the Dow is pushing upwards, everything would be right in their world.

        And I think Greenspan and his ilk feel at ease knowing that if things get really bad, to the point where all humans are eliminated from the planet, the market’s newly installed supercomputers will still be cranking, meaning, the Dow can continue its inexorable march towards infinity — without us.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Indeed, Max. Guys like Greenspan, Bernanke, Summers, Rubin, and Geithner have all the foresight and sensitivity of post-WW2 Weimar banksters or 18th-Centry French aristocrats. “If the people are hungry, let them liquidate their trust funds”.

          And because Obama’s Ministry of Justice does nothing, street justice, when it inevitably comes, will be swift, harsh, and unstoppable.

  10. Westcoastliberal

    The Obama administration is papering over the financial crisis in a host of ways, including letting the BLS do anything it can to shade the true unemployment numbers by sloughing off the number of affected workers, 700,000 just in the last couple of months. The REAL unemployment number if everyone who is out of work, working part-time who formerly worked full-time is closer to 25%, and that’s Depression-era.

    When you add this to the sleight of hand allowed the TBTF banks (no “mark to market”, just “mark to fantasy”) you wind up with a country that is bankrupt.

    Then, add in the damage caused by the “Quantitative Easing” (i.e. printing money electronically and diluting its’ value), with the result being everything that is a “must-have” to live (energy & food) has risen 50 to 100% in the past few months. Gassed up your car lately, then you know what I mean.

    The result of all this has resulted in diverting the majority of the wealth in the U.S. to the top 1% while the rest of Americans are thrown out of their homes, laid off from their jobs, and classified as “excess population” by TPTB.

    IMHO when enough Americans realize what has happened they will have no choice but to revolt. The action in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are the leading edge.

  11. kevinearick

    So, the legacy families assumed that all humans were replaceable, except themselves. Bad assumption. They also assumed that they had time on their side. Bad assumption.

    Despite cascading dominoes falling in their direction, the government unions assumed that promises of future payments, in return for transferring assets from those who earned them to those who did not, would continue indefinitely. Bad assumption.

    Governments assumed that they could float the difference indefinitely. Bad assumption. The agents assumed they could hide their looting behind non-profits indefinitely. Bad assumption. The churches assumed that indoctrinating the masses with propaganda from birth would shield their property indefinitely. Bad assumption.

    These black holes have now intersected and joined, to become the globally replicating virus, which has hit the wall. Funny, no matter where you go, you will find the masses offering each other help out of the black hole, for a fee, slavery to consumption anxiety.

    Simply disconnect whatever anxiety algorithm that ails you from the nexus consumption algorithm and reconnect it to your own investment algorithm. If at first you do not succeed, move to another location, get another angle, and try again, peeling off the layers of non-productive anxiety, and their associated assets, as you go.

    Without enterprise architects, the legacy families may only implode. The entire foundation of the American Enterprise System is now spider-cracked. Simply take your unique crow bar and lift out the piece it fits, while the legacy families re-paste, re-organize, and re-sell in vain.

    No foundation, no economy. Below the old foundation, you will find the new foundation, already installed. Add recursion to quantum physics, with the three point structure, and off you go.

    I am now at the border, with my crow bar. Where are you?

    1. Paul Repstock

      Kevin; you may have something, but could you dumb it down for me? I don’t do newspeak and I can’t meet you if I can’t read the map. Better yet just paste a link.

  12. serf ceorl

    Re: JP Morgan Chase banksters

    Those homeowners don’t realize the lucky break they got. They get to walk away from an overpriced, overvalued, underwater 2006buubble purchased crapshack, and based upon the small mortgage payment, probably located in a subpar neighborhood. The only mistake they made was not walking away sooner. They could have lived there for free for longer. These people will be better off in the long run.

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