Afternoon Links 1-4

Jan 4, 2010 20:46 UTC

Living on nothing but food stamps (Deparle/Gebeloff, NYT) The safety net of last resort: 2% of U.S. households report zero income other than a food stamp card.

Twenty years on Japan is still paying its bubble era bills (Economist) Heard on the Street also writes today that Japan is looking at its third consecutive lost decade. Copious amounts of deficit spending and money printing hasn’t worked for Japan. It won’t work for us.

Petition halts Iceland’s repayment plan (UPI) Icelanders want bank creditors — in this case foreign depositors — to eat the loss of bank failures. Probably sensible. Depositors were foolish to chase returns in Iceland to begin with. Putting Icelanders into debt slavery to pay them off does little good.

Lessons learned but not applied (Simon Johnson) Summers/Geithner know the right prescription to handle bank failures. They just aren’t willing to follow it themselves… (ht Walker Todd)

Real estate in Cape Coral is far from recovery (Goodman, NYT) Another foreclosure tour. Notes that busted homeborrowers often leave lots behind when ditching their house. See again: trash-outs.

The year in Review (Doug Noland) Skip to the last section at the bottom. Reader Paul M. points to Doug’s comment that healthy corporate leverage ratios are misleading because their customers (and the system in general) are still leveraged to the hilt.

Australian lotto winner keeping it real (Paddenburg, Couriermail)

Beautifulpeople.com axes holiday weight gain members (BBC) Quotable from the founder: “Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model…” Wow.

10 sci-fi weapons that actually exist (Wired)

fox

COMMENT

Buffett not only paid a premium and what appears to be a pretty rich price for BNI but a portion of the deal is with Berkshire Hathaway stock. Apparently he thinks BNI, even at $100/share, and Kraft are cheaper than his own stock.

Posted by DP | Report as abusive

Evening Links 12-23

Dec 23, 2009 21:36 UTC

(Reader note 1: posting will be light through the weekend….taking a few days off)

(Reader note 2: Just saw Avatar, the IMAX 3D version. I highly recommend it.)

Food stamps altering how retailers do business (Maestri/Baertlein, Reuters) “At 11 p.m. on the last day of the month, shoppers flock to the nearest Walmart. They load their carts with food and household items and wait for the midnight hour. That’s when food stamp credits are loaded on their electronic benefits transfer cards.”

The Protocol Society (Brooks, NYT) “When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics. When it’s about ideas, economics comes to resemble psychology.”

Treasury to seek easing of bailout fund rules (Somerville, Reuters)

One cheer for Barney Frank (WSJ editorial) WSJ editorials tend not to be very useful, but I thought the last line of this one was notable: “Perhaps the House and Senate should simply … start over with a new mission for [financial] regulatory reform: break up the too big to fail racket.More evidence that all sides of the political spectrum agree on this. I wonder how they would propose we do it.

New home sales decrease sharply in November (Calculated Risk) Yesterday’s existing home sales report had everyone exited, but new home sales are far more important for economic growth, and those are still terrible. Bill has dubbed this “the distressing gap.”

Gross’s Total Return Fund now biggest in history (Bhaktavatsalam, Bloomberg) The main reason Gross screamed for government to “support asset prices!” during the crisis….because he and his investors have a ton of paper wealth at stake.

Everyone’s defaulting, why don’t you? (Gross, Slate) I have a short column running later this week in the biz section of NYT on this topic. I’m sympathetic to McArdle’s view that folks who strategically default are gaming the system and leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces. Yet savers themselves were part of the arrangement. Our savings were intermediated by the banking sector into more home loans. When guys like me say banks messed up and have to eat losses, we mean the shareholders and creditors of banks. That includes depositors. I’m speaking very generally of course, but de-levering the economy means writing down debts on one side of the ledger and paper wealth on the other side.

“Youth Depression” hard on retailers (Stoddard/Sage, Reuters) The authors are referring to the inordinate impact of the economy on youth employment, not youth mental health.

Malcolm Gladwell’s stickiness problem (Wise, Psychology Today) “[Malcolm] Gladwell [is] masterful at brewing up memes so potent that they travel far beyond the realm of where the mere modest truth would go. They spread. And they stick. And having stuck, they proceed to affect the decisions that people make, the policies they implement, the laws that they pass. A normal person, when he is wrong, adds a little drop of erroneousness in the great sea of human conversation. Gladwell, when he is wrong, creates a tsunami of wrong.

View of space shuttle launch from a commercial flight (better muted)

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