reality is only those delusions that we have in common...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

week ending Aug 15

"Who owns the Fed?" - I don't really care who nominally owns the Fed. What matters is how it acts, and what functions it performs.

In Defense of the Federal Reserve - If Congress has just enough leverage over the Fed so as to make the latter beholden to the former in some manner -- the proposed audits would be enough to accomplish this -- it could easily give the Fed grief for politically unpopular policies and limit its willingness to pursue them...and the introduction of the fickle mob into the equation would increase uncertainty about the direction of U.S. monetary policy...

Fed does not need more powers - they would dilute the key mission of the Fed, reduce the Fed’s credibility, create a conflict of interest, & eventually threaten its independence over monetary policy.

Waiting For The Federal Reserve’s Next Apology - In November 2002, Ben Bernanke apologized – for the Fed’s role in causing the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today we need at least a statement of responsibility, from Ben Bernanke and the Fed.

The Federal Reserve is Immoral - Re: the redistributive effects of a steep yield curve; "checking accounts are a sort of "gateway drug" for many people - a road to debt serfdom where, in addition to paying interest on money borrowed to buy stuff that they don't need, these "newly banked" poor will also be fleeced by a bewildering array of fees and charges in a system that is set up to systematically suck as much money out of as many people as possible."

The Anti-Greenspan - Dani Rodrik wants the Anti-Greenspan - someone who truly distrusts financial markets and the ideology that surrounds them - to be the next Fed Chair:
Let finance skeptics take over, Commentary, Project Syndicate:

Economists Call for Bernanke to Stay (WSJ) Economists are nearly unanimous that Ben Bernanke should be reappointed to another term as Federal Reserve chairman. Meanwhile, the majority of the economists The Journal surveyed during the past few days said the recession that began in December 2007 is now over. here's the WSJ interactive for the economic forecast Econobrowser expands on it with GDP, Potential, and Debt Forecasts -- and Implied Multipliers

The Recovery Edges Forward - Fed Watch - Data flow continues to support those who argue that if the recession is not already over as of July, it soon will be.

Fed Focusing on Real-Estate Recession as FOMC Meets - (Bloomberg) - The collapse in commercial real estate is preventing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke from declaring the economy and financial markets are healed. Property values have fallen 35 percent since October 2007... & here's an alien translation of the FOMC policy statement...

So, Is It Working? An Assessment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the Five-Month Mark - Christina D. Romer, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers

Treasury Bailout's Limits on Lobbyists Still Haven't Taken Effect - WSJ - A plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to limit lobbyists' influence over the $700 billion bailout program has yet to get off the ground -- even as the program nears an end.

US Deficit Rose $181 Billion in July - the story from The Hill on the ever rising tide of Federal budget deficits lists financial firm bailouts first as causes of the red ink, with falling tax receipts second. And the very same bailout recipients are crowing about their profitability.

Deficits and interest rates Krugman - It turns out that there’s a strong correlation between budget deficits and interest rates — namely, when deficits are high, interest rates are low.

A runaway deficit may soon test Obama's luck - Niall Ferguson - "President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky." - which in turn, produced this: Eeyore the Donkey vs. Felix the Cat

Rational expectations? - the conventional wisdom—that piles of debt accumulated over the past decade must eventually be handled somehow, likely through inflation and selective default. And yet the market has swallowed it all without a burp...

Troubled Assets May Still Pose Risk - NYTimes - The Treasury Department’s $700 billion bailout program has stabilized the banking system, but it has done little to prod banks to fully deal with the troubled loans on their books, a Congressional oversight panel said...“The nation’s banks continue to hold on their books billions of dollars in assets about whose proper valuation there is a dispute and that are very difficult to sell”
Elizabeth Warren "We Have A Real Problem Coming" (video)

Banking and Credit: It Is NOT Over - Let's look at the actual information that the COP put out, minus the usual media spin job

Toxic Loans Topping 5% May Push 150 Banks to Point of No Return - The number of banks exceeding the threshold more than doubled in the year through June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as real estate and credit-card defaults surged. Almost 300 reported 3 percent or more of their loans were nonperforming...(names in article)

When insolvent banks are worth billions - "bonds are the new stocks, and stocks are the new call options. Bonds give you a high return for high risk, while with stocks you’re really levering up, running the risk of being wiped out entirely "

About to Get Blindsided Again - For the majority of regulators, policymakers, and financial industry insiders -- who really should have known better -- the meltdowns at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac kind of snuck up on them, like pickpockets working a crowd of clueless tourists. & now. Ginnie Mae and FHA are becoming $1 trillion subprime guarantors.

Mish - As of Friday August 14, 2009, FDIC is Bankrupt - 5 more takeovers deplete funds

Paying for design flaws - Updates on what it's going to cost us for Fannie, Freddie, & Ginnie...

Modelling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Part 1 analysis - first of a series from Bronte Capital heres Modelling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Part II &
Modelling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Part III

4 Trillion Dollar Credit Crisis Outlay (Chart) of a potential 13 trillion

Draft Derivatives Bill Sent to Congress - Under the Administration's legislation, the OTC derivative markets will be comprehensively regulated for the first time; here's the pdf...

NYSE Liffe shuts down CDS clearing service - Derivatives exchange NYSE Liffe and London-based clearing house LCH.Clearnet have shelved their central clearing service for credit default swaps (CDS)

ISDA Launches CDS Marketplace Website - brings together information, prices, data and statistics to help you better understand the CDS business.

Treasurer Fear of Credit Freeze Seen in Cash Hoarding - Bloomberg - Two years after credit markets seized up and caused the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, companies are hoarding the most cash in at least a decade.

Stimulus Funds Bring Relief to States, but What About 2010? - Washington Post - much of the pain this year has been cushioned by billions of dollars of federal stimulus money, which has allowed states and localities to avoid laying off teachers, prison guards, police officers and firefighters

Why Aren't We Undergoing Another Great Depression?
Krugman's answer: Averting the Worst: So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government...

It's not over yet - Econbrowser Some are greeting Friday's employment report as an all-clear signal. But my advice is, keep your helmet on-- they're still shooting real bullets out there.

Employment, Hours, and Estimated Output Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser -observations & charts

Employment: Men, Women, Positions and People - CR - It is possible that, for the first time in American history, women will make up a majority of the work force late this summer.

The Jailhouse Diet you are in prison and your jailer is faced with severe budget cuts. To save money he reduces your daily food allotment, from a generous 3,000 calories/day, down 500 in each of the subsequent months. The menu is now down to 1,500 cal/day. You and the entire inmate population are losing weight fast and the mood is getting seriously ugly. The warden is concerned, so he tweaks things a bit; in each of the next four months he cuts "only" 300, 200, 100 and zero calories respectively. From his jaded perspective, things are "improving".

4 reasons why the July unemployment report was worse than you think

The Rise in Manufacturing Hours Is Largely a Statistical Quirk - This year, there were few, if any, layoffs associated with retooling, since many factories had already been shut. Nonetheless, the seasonal adjustment pushed up the seasonally adjusted workweek in the auto sector by 1.6 hours in July...

The American economy has added virtually no jobs in the private sector over a 10-year period. (Chart)

Are we pointed in the right direction yet? - it depends on what chart you're looking at...

Why Unemployment (Probably) Won't Hit 10 Percent - In order for unemployment to hit 10 percent, a net of roughly 1 million more people would need to become unemployed, assuming no (further) change in the size of the labor force...

"Part-Time for Economic Reasons" - Why has the increase in involuntary part-time work been so much higher in this recession as compared to past recessions?

Unemployment: Keeping It Honest The hours worked based unemployment rate is 14.3% for July, down from 14.5% in June. I have named this measurement U-7...The difference between my U-7 and the official U-3 is much larger than any other time over the past 50 years

Unemployed? Get used to it - Hundreds of thousands of jobs have vanished forever in industries such as auto manufacturing and financial services. Layoffs now taking place are similar to those in the 1981-1982 recession, 2.8 million jobs disappeared, leaving industries such as durable-goods manufacturing permanently smaller...

NSF Statistics: Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace Key Economic Indicators of National Competitiveness
Should America try industrial policy? - the Economist - the only solution to the underlying economic problem is something that's been a dirty word in Washington the last generation or two: industrial policy (that is, an active government role in the development of certain industries.)

Interactive Job Loss Map - county by county
Productivity Gains Not What They Appear - the Great US Productivity’ miracle rests on faulty, if not fraudulent US economic data that understates inflation, & thus overstates production (GDP)...

Mish on Hussman on Post-Crash Dynamics - from Post-Crash Dynamics "If you look carefully at the economic data that shows improvement, and correct for the impact of government outlays, it is difficult to find anything but continued deterioration in private demand and investment"

How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J. P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe - book review of Gillian Tett's "Fool's Gold"

TARP vs Earnings, Bonuses - This is a rather instructive graphic, courtesy of Finacial Services Technology US: Bonuses break the bank

Taleb: You Fools Don't Understand That We're Doomed - w/ CNBC video
There is No Recession - It's a Planned Demolition - No one is fooled by the fireworks on Wall Street. Consumer confidence is still falling. Everyone knows things are bad. Everyone knows the mainstream press is lying. The restaurants and malls are empty, the homeless shelters are bulging, and even the big-box stores have stopped hiring.

Least Hours on Record Since... Well... Ever
Pay Raises Are the Worst in 33 Years - For 2009, the typical non-hourly worker will see a 1.8% bump in salary, according to a survey by Hewitt Associates...

Easing job losses don’t change weak prospects for US recovery: RGE Monitor - The economy has lost over 6.6 million jobs since the recession began, which is way above the (normal) recession job losses of between 1.5 and 2.5 million.

U.S. economy has bottomed: George Soros - "I think it (the stimulus) has made a difference, the economy has actually bottomed and I think we are facing a positive quarter"

How Will a Sustained Recovery Be Possible? - The crisis was caused by a credit (not real estate) bubble, which has not in any way been realistically addressed.

U.S. Economy: Sales Unexpectedly Fall on Job Losses - (Bloomberg) - as shrinking demand at department stores overshadowed a boost from the cash-for-clunkers automobile incentive program - retail sales by catagory bar graph
Video game sales in freefall - video game sales fell for the fifth straight month: in July, the video games business posted sales of $848.9 million, down 29 percent from $1.1 billion a year earlier

US Consumer Demand Off a Cliff as the Crisis Deepens - If the Fed and Treasury were not actively monetizing everything in sight, we would certainly be seeing a more pronounced deflation as prices fall WITH demand...

Tax and Spend, or Face The Consequences - the economic problems of the future will not be about growth but about something more nettlesome: the ineluctable increase in the number of people with no marketable skills...& here's one counterpoint to that: here's another: Will Machines Render Low-Skilled Workers Useless?

America’s biggest economic problem? We’re all broke. Literally - The bursting of the real estate and equity bubbles has destroyed the wealth of the U.S. middle class to a devastating degree. And it is with this middle class that the high private indebtedness lies.

U.S. Consumers Reduce Debt for Fifth Month in a Row - Consumer credit outstanding fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9% to $2.503 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. The drop outpaced analysts' expectations.

Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Hit Highest Monthly Total In 4 Years - July's number is the highest monthly bankruptcy total since the October 2005 bankruptcy reform aka the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.

The Problem with Disclosure - Disclosure gives you information about the product you are buying, but it doesn’t make you a rational actor – especially not when you have to make predictions about your own future behavior. (the topic is no-interest balance transfers offered by credit card companies.)

How Much Credit Card Debt Do Bankrupt Consumers Have? - according to data from the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the mean credit card debt for bankruptcy filers is $23,543, with a median of $13,279.

The Fog of Numbers It's especially ironic that given our preoccupation with numbers, we have arrived at the point where numbers just can't be comprehended anymore. You might as well say "infinity." We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole. The number problems we face are now hopeless. America will never be able to cover its current outstanding debt. We're effectively finished at all three levels: household, corporate, and government...

Bankrupt US Financial System: The Bubble Bursts and the Economy goes into a Tailspin. Typically, the way the Fed adds to the money supply is by lowering interest rates. When the Fed lowers rates below the rate of inflation; they're basically selling dollars for under a buck. That's a good deal, so, naturally, speculators jump on it. What follows is a frenzy of market activity that ends in a housing, credit, tech or equity bubble....the moral is: Cheap money creates bubbles; and bubbles move wealth from workers to rich motherporkers.

Secret Information from the BLS - Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues a report on the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). This document is loaded with interesting facts that no one seems to know.

Inflation hits landmark low - the Consumer Price Index fell 2.1% over the previous 12 months, the biggest year-over-year drop since 1950. This was entirely due to a 28.1% drop in energy prices over that period...

All of Inflation’s Little Parts Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories to form the Consumer Price Index; this NYTimes interactive graphic breaks it down...

Some Signposts on the Deflation-Reflation Road - It has become clear over the summer that we are in a new stage of our long emergency. Now is a good time to regard the signposts on this strange road.

“Working Poor” report: Nearly 30 percent of US families subsist on poverty wages. The report, "Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short," is based on data for the period from 2004 through 2006 gathered from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor? - NYTimes - You won’t be arrested for shopping in a Dollar Store, but if you are truly, deeply, in-the-streets poor, you’re well advised not to engage in any of the biological necessities of life — like sitting, sleeping, lying down or loitering.
but the rich are Even more gilded - "the latest inequality numbers from Emmanuel Saez, now updated to 2007, are truly amazing"

Research on Homeownership Rates through 2030 - re: new paper: "The New Urbanity: The Rise of a New America"

More than 15.2 Million Mortgage Holders Underwater - More than 15.2 million U.S. mortgages or 32.2 percent of all mortgaged properties were in negative equity position as of June 30, 2009. The aggregate property value for loans in a negative equity position was $3.4 trillion. (The First American CoreLogic Negative Equity Report for June 2009 is available on line. You have to sign up to read the report)

How to Save an ‘Underwater’ Mortgage By Martin Feldstein - Borrowers should get relief now, and the banks should get a guarantee down the road.

Foreclosures rise 7 percent in July from June - Foreclosure filings were up 32 percent from the same month last year, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
47 percent of South Florida homeowners underwater on mortgages - Miami Herald
Report: Record Number of California Foreclosures Scheduled For Sale - The average California foreclosure has a total loan balance of $425,134 on a home that is now worth $236,739.

Distressed real estate now 63% of all sales (Chart)

Bankruptcy Judges, Justice Dept. Rip Mortgage Companies - Judges have found that major mortgages servicers regularly mess up basic accounting, improperly credit payments and charge unwarranted 70 percent of the cases studied, mortgage companies claimed homeowners owed an average of $6,309 more on their loans than homeowners believed
the US CMBS market will likely rise above 5% delinquent by year-end, according to an analysis by Fitch Ratings of commercial MBS across the retail, muti-family, office, hotel and industrial sectors.

The Second Wave of the Credit Crisis… - PWA - Wall Street economists and analysts say they are now bracing for the second wave of the credit crisis, another tsunami of poisonous loans that could swamp the banks and a still floundering economy. Prices in the $3.5 tn U.S. commercial real estate have fallen about 39% from the peak in mid 2007, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate, with no signs of the plunge stopping

Will Commercial Real Estate Woes Sink Pensions? many economists ignore the role of global pension funds and other institutional players like insurance funds and endowment funds. All that money chasing "alpha" was bound to end badly. The global pension Ponzi scheme played a huge role in feeding this bubble and now the alternatives nightmare continues.

Finance and the Flaw of Averages - Paul Kedrosky - From the new book The Flaw of Averages, an explanation of why modern finance means that 50% of people who invest intelligently will run out of money before they die.
Banks Turn Up Noses At Lending to Small Businesses Under Stimulus Program - Yves Smith - Not only do American Bankers not care about things banks used to deem as important, like playing a role in their community, now they can't even be bribed to go along with pretending that they care.

An International Comparison of Small Business Employment, by John Schmitt and Nathan Lane, CEPR: Contrary to popular perceptions, the United States has a much smaller small-business sector (as a share of total employment) than other countries at a comparable level of economic development, according to this new CEPR report. (bar graphs of self-employed, small mfg & small computer service businesses)

Arbitration RIP major arbitration firms are backing away from the business of resolving disputes between customers and their credit-card and cellphone companies

Imperfect Politics of Pay THE executive compensation bill that the House passed just before the August recess was advertised as the first in a series of government safeguards to prevent risky, me-first maneuverings around executive pay in corporate America. But an examination of the bill’s fine print raises questions about whether it will, if supported by the Senate and then enacted, have the desired effect....

Paulson’s Calls to Goldman Tested Ethics - he was in very frequent contact with Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive, according to a copy of Mr. Paulson’s calendars acquired by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.
counterpoint: Hank Paulson, Goldman, and AIG (For Journalists)

A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Elections - NYTimes - that ban is in danger from the Supreme Court, which hears arguments next month in a little-noticed case that could open the floodgates to corporate money in politics.

Bribed Regulators - Banks make $38 billion a year from overdraft fees. 70% of the overdrafts happen at a POS terminal or ATM, not by writing a check. There is no reason whatsoever for anyone to take such a hit. The bank knows before they approve the transaction that the money isn't there in the account.

Banks, Money, and Debt - "You and I can only lend money if we've got some to lend; but banks can create money and debt simultaneously at the stroke of a pen".

The Bezzle Finds A Match: JUDGES - That which the lawmakers won't stop, that which the regulators won't stop, the judges just might: banks have stuffed somewhere around $2 trillion in tranched "assets" into these SPEs (e.g. credit card receivables, etc) and then have claimed that they should not have to count these as "assets" against their capitalization, thereby avoiding having to reserve against them as well as count them against capital ratios...

'The Gifts that Keep on Taking' - There have been plenty of discussions about how much the bailouts of the financial system will cost U.S. taxpayers, with estimates ranging from $2 trillion to as high as $24 trillion. Even if we assume that the lower number is closer to the mark, these efforts have proved to be much more expensive than we were led to believe...

Economists on the Defensive - "The reason for the surprise was that leading macroeconomists and financial economists had believed until last September that there could never be another depression, that asset bubbles are a myth, that a recession can be more or less effortlessly averted by the Fed's reducing the federal funds rate"

"Economists did better than predict the crisis. They correctly predicted that they would not be able to predict it.”

Economists, economics, and the crisis - - have there been serious failures?
there's been a lot of economists "naval gazing" this week. led by this: Lucas roundtable: Ask the right questions in the Ecomomist; then Krugman adds A Dark Age of Macroeconomics; then This Week in Econ Navel-Gazing ; This Week in Econ Navel-Gazing, II & “Econ Navel-Gazing” - Open Economics, and also A few words on real business cycles; but here's an earlier post on the state of macroeconomics by a 19 year old student that puts all the profs to shame: The Curious Case of Macroeconomics

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast a thorough debunking of the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which is still being taught in the universities...

Keynes Was Really A Conservative - Forbes - In ''General Theory'' the economist outlines his belief of the government's role in a recession.

Simple explanations for global financial instability - VoxEU - and simple solutions

Peak oil changes everything - Continuing as we have simply will not be possible much longer.

Are we about to hit Peak Oil? - Fears that the world is running out of crude oil have just resurfaced after a new International Energy Agency warning. So how worried should we be? well, OPEC -- those numbers (production) just keep going up

Country oblivious to next oil shock - soon after a global economic recovery, the inevitable return to triple-digit oil prices will lead the world right back into recession

An editorial comment in the NAPSS journal accuses Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto of spying on China’s steel industry for six years, costing the country Rmb700bn ($102bn) in excessive charges for iron ore and the editorial indicates that Beijing’s detention of four Rio employees in China on accusations of stealing state secrets about iron ore price negotiations could be the start of a widening campaign rather than an isolated case:

Now China Has a Credit Boom Companies used to rely on retained earnings. not anymore. But don’t be fooled: China’s impressive headline GDP rate masks an important fundamental shift. Its growth is now fueled by cheap debt rather than corporate profits and retained earnings

Rebalancing the world economy: China: The spend is nigh The Economist - second article in the series on asks whether China can reduce its trade surplus by consuming more...

Monthly Chinese Purchases of US Treasuries (Chart)

China Rising, Rent-Seeking Version - "Rent-seeking" is effectively a tax extracted by one sector, such as finance in the US, from the rest of the economy...

American Graduates Finding Jobs in China - NYTimes - Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the US.

Global Demand Freefall Waning... Japanese Export Edition - Shipments from the world's second-biggest economy fell 35.7 percent from a year earlier, an improvement from a 40.9 percent decline in May.

Baltic Dry Index has worst week since October meltdown as Chinese demand slows - The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks shipping costs and is viewed as leading indicator for commodity prices, has had its worst week since the peak of the financial crisis last October.

Container Lines ‘Tough’ Talks May Fail to Lift Fees, End Losses - Bloomberg - Shipping lines operating half the world’s container vessels plan to raise Asia-U.S. rates, ending a price war that contributed to industrywide losses. Falling demand and a flood of new vessels may stop them.

Chart: The Collapse In Global Trade - NPR - "During the economic downturn, trade fell more than industrial output, which collapsed."

Is The Global Supply Chain Shrinking? "A future where energy is more expensive and less plentifully available will lead to more regional supply chains"

The Icesave bill - Economist - Iceland and the EU - Opposition to paying back British and Dutch bank depositors is growing

European Economy Rebounds Strongly in Quarter - NYTimes; here's Europe's CPI (graph)

France and Germany exit recession - BBC - The French and German economies both grew by 0.3% between April and June, bringing to an end year-long recessions in Europe's largest economies...

Asia: An astonishing rebound - Economist - The four emerging Asian economies which have reported GDP figures for the second quarter (China, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore) grew by an average annualised rate of more than 10% (see article).

Ten Unsolved Problems in the Global Economy

Latin American geopolitics: The dragon in the backyard -Economist - Latin America is tilting towards China, Iran and the global "south"—and away from the United States

Total Major Sovereign Wealth Funds - (semi-annual bar graph)

China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard - NYTimes - After surpassing the United States as the world’s largest producer of household garbage, China has embarked on a vast program to build incinerators as landfills run out of space...long-lasting substances like dioxin and mercury float on air currents across the Pacific to American shores.
How Baoding, China, becames world’s first ‘carbon positive’ city

India's solar plan inches forward — A top government agency has given conditional approval for billions of dollars in proposed investments in India's National Solar Mission. India's national solar plan would produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity from solar sources

Consumerism is 'eating the future' - all we're doing is what all other creatures have ever done to survive, expanding into whatever territory is available and using up whatever resources are available, just like a bacterial culture growing in a Petri dish, till all the nutrients are used up. What happens then, of course, is that the bugs then die in a sea of their own waste...

A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform - NYTimes play by play...

An online guide to following the health care legislation - over 50 links: govt, blogs, news, columnists, think tanks, academics, lobbyists, the CBO, essays, & misc.

Low Life Expectancy in the United States: Is the Health Care System at Fault? -NBER Working Paper - (subscription item) - short answer: no

10 Steps to Better Health Care - NYTimes - There is a far more desirable alternative: to change how care is delivered so that it is both less expensive and more effective

Health Care meets Goldman Sachs - Taibbi - Right now, the federal government pays $14,777 to provide health insurance for each of Goldman Sachs’s managing directors
How To Fight Heathcare Fearmongers and Demagogues - Robert Reich -The President needs to be very specific about two things in particular: (1) Who will pay? and (2) Why the public option is so important -- and why it's not a Trojan Horse to a government takeover.

How the White House's Deal With Big Pharma Undermines Democracy - Robert Reich

How Much Power Does Obama Have? - I don't know how many times a president has to fail to solve this problem before we admit that it's not a matter of presidential messaging, or toughness, or will, or strategy

Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney? - Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.

David Brooks: Limbaugh health care rhetoric 'insane'
Conservative columnist David Brooks thinks Rush Limbaugh has gone too far in comparing President Barack Obama to Hitler; "I hadn't seen the Rush Limbaugh thing. That is insane. What he's saying is insane," said Brooks. Brooks went on to criticize Sarah Palin for saying that health care reform would create a "death panel" to euthanize older Americans. "Again, that's crazy."

What Are They So Mad About? - the loudest opposition to reform...has chosen to completely ignore the actual flaws in the plan(s) and focus on imaginary, delusional nonsense. The Greedy, The Partisans, The Tin-Foil Hats, and The Dupes tend to ignore The Wonks, which is a shame.

Who's behind the attacks on a health care overhaul? - follow the money

Healthcare paranoia is part of America’s culture war - Financial Times

Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform - Steven Pearlstein - As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree. Today, I'm going to step over that line...

Don’t Talk To Me About Death Panels - You have no idea what it’s like to be called into a sterile conference room with a hospital administrator you’ve never met before and be told that your mother’s insurance policy will only pay for 30 days in ICU...when you ask how much that would cost you are given a number so impossibly large that you realize there really are no decisions to make. False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots - NYTimes

Krugman: here’s the latest in the “Obama’s health reform will kill people” news: Investor’s Business Daily — which poses as a reputable source of financial information — opines that
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.(That would be Stephen Hawking, British professor, who was born in the UK and has lived there for his whole life.)
A Message from Professor Steven Hawking Politics The Guardian
"I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived." British Growing Tired of GOP Lies About UK Health Care

Is DIY electricity the future? - Ohio University students who use the 20 elliptical machines at the recreational center generate energy by exercising on the popular machines...
Rising ocean acidity: 'The other carbon problem' - USAtoday - "What happens if there's no more "shell" in shellfish?"

Cap-and-Trade: A Fly in the Ointment? economic analysis by Stavins of Harvard w/ links to several other articles
Cap-and-Trade's Unlikely Critics: Its Creators - WSJ - "I'm skeptical that cap-and-trade is the most effective way to go about regulating carbon"

Second Warmest July on Record Globally, according to NASA - Accu-weather, maps & charts...

Zogby: 71% of likely voters support House climate bill + links to other polls
Bill requires doubling nuke use - To satisfy House Democrats' low-cost solution to global warming, Americans would have to double their reliance on nuclear energy by 2030

Ozone Depletion Reduces Ocean Carbon Uptake - Most current models predict that the strength of the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink should increase as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises, but observations show that this has not been the case...

How much does breathing contribute to climate change? - The amount of carbon that a human breathes out is exactly equal to the amount of carbon he takes in minus the amount of carbon that contributes to the person's body mass. This means that the human body—like all animals—is a very modest carbon sequestration device.

Vast expanses of Arctic melting fast - Raw Story - "The water was really warm; the kids were swimming in the ocean."

Climate fixes 'pose drought risk' BBC -The use of geo-engineering to slow global warming may increase the risk of drought, according to a paper in Science journal

A Missed Opportunity on Climate Change - the legislation making its way to his desk could well be worse than nothing at all. Rather than auctioning the carbon allowances, the bill that recently passed the House would give most of them away to powerful special interests.

Climate Change Measure Should Be Set Aside, U.S. Senators Say - (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate should abandon efforts to pass legislation curbing greenhouse-gas emissions this year and concentrate on a narrower bill to require use of renewable energy, four Democratic lawmakers say.

GM gets to dump its polluted sites Detroit Free PressWhen General Motors Co. emerged from bankruptcy, it was freed of obligations for polluted properties at discarded plant sites that will require millions of dollars to clean up.

Trucks win in Cash for Clunkers game (CNN) - The government's results showed small cars as the top choice for shoppers looking for Cash for Clunker deals. But an independent analysis by disputed those results...

Clunkers program could drive used car prices up - "Those are the cars that lower-income families need"

And for an Encore, Let's Condemn Office Buildings and Rebuild Them Nearby - it is a waste of assets, and a waste of assets necessarily makes us poorer.

Governors Oppose DoD Emergency Powers - "opposing a new Defense Department proposal to handle natural and terrorism-related disasters, contending that a murky chain of command could lead to more problems than solutions."

Preparing for Swine Flu's Return - Washington Post - New Wave Expected After Virus Flourished in Southern Hemisphere, the first influenza pandemic in 41 years

A new superbug found in Britain is major concern - A new superbug that is resistant to all antibiotics has been brought into Britain by patients having surgery abroad. It is of particular concern because it can jump from one strain of bacteria to another meaning it could attach itself to more dangerous infections that can cause severe illnesses and blood poisoning making them almost impossible to treat.

Welcome to the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season - blog w/ lots of great graphics if you're into weather charts...

T-Mobile To Charge $1.50 For Paper Phone Bills - customers who want an itemized paper bill will pay $3.50 per month. That's $42 per year. To get a copy of your own phone bill.

Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America - Economic Research Service - Members of the baby boom cohort, now 45-63 years old, are approaching a period in their lives when moves to rural and small-town destinations increase....this report identifies the types of nonmetropolitan counties that are likely to experience the greatest surge in baby boom migration during 2000-20...

The Singularity (Summit) Is Near! - h+ "People who are hung up on genitals and skin color are already alienated from people who expect to live without germlines or bodies."

The Awesome Foundation- Submit an awesome idea. If we pick it, we'll give you $1,000 in cash

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