08/19/2011 archive

Dow(n), down, down, down

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?’ she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think–‘ (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) `–yes, that’s about the right distance–but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I’ve got to?’ (Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)

US STOCKS-Wall St slides for fourth straight week

By Ashley Lau, Reuters

Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:39pm EDT

NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Wall Street ended a fourth week of losses on a down note on Friday as most buyers left the market before the weekend on growing fears of another U.S. recession and destabilization in Europe’s financial system.

Could it be because our policy makers in Washington have no idea what Latitude is, or Longitude either, but think they are nice grand words to say?

How Austerity Is Ushering in a Global Recession

Robert Reich

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Not only is the United States slouching toward a double dip, but so is Europe. New data out today show even Europe’s strongest core economies – Germany, France, and the Netherlands – slowing to a crawl.

We’re on the cusp of a global recession.

Policy makers be warned: Austerity is the wrong medicine.

(C)halk up a big part of Europe’s slowdown to the politics and economics of austerity. Europe – including Britain – have turned John Maynard Keynes on his head. They’ve been cutting public spending just when they should be spending more to counteract slowing private spending.

The United States has been moving in the same bizarre direction. Cutbacks by state and local governments have all but negated the federal government’s original stimulus, and no one in Washington is talking seriously about a second. The pitiful showdown over increasing the debt limit has produced the opposite: a Rube-Goldberg-like process for capping spending rather than increasing it, and a public that’s being sold the Republican lie that less government spending means more jobs.

With anemic growth in America and Europe, the Japanese economy comatose, and emerging markets (including China) pulling in their reins, the vicious cycle could become worldwide. If global demand for goods and services continues to fall behind the potential supply we’ll see unemployment rise further and growth slow even more – especially in Europe and the U.S.

Without an expansionary fiscal policy, low interest rates have little effect. Companies won’t borrow in order to expand and hire more workers unless they have reasonable certainty they’ll have customers for what they produce. And consumers won’t borrow money to spend on goods and services unless they’re reasonably confident they’ll have jobs.

Fiscal austerity is the wrong medicine at the wrong time.


Well we’re not just frustrated with the president — our communities are hurting.  You said it.  16% unemployment but this has been going on for a long time.  We have people who are not even being counted in the African American community anymore.  They’ve been unemployed for years now and so we think in some areas it’s 35 to 40%.  We’ve got to get in this discussion.

Take a look at this headline in the Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama aims to keep white voters on board’.  Well, we want to be on board too.

(h/t L.A. Times)

This Week’s Blues In The Dream Antilles

Elmore James (1918-1963).  A Bluesman and poet whose work your Bloguero admires.  It’s work that holds up extraordinarily well after 50 years.

But, Sr. Bloguero, with all due respect, you might ask, what’s Elmore James got to do with this, which is supposed to be your weekly digest?   Your Bloguero could answer this with an elaborate, very contorted, ontological exploration of the theretical connections between the Blues and Haiku, between Elmore James and Basho.  But, no. It’s not an intellectual exercise.  No. It’s just something your Bloguero would like you to hear and enjoy.  It’s that simple.  Your Bloguero plays it over and over and over again. Then he enjoys thinking about how very good, how very powerful, how eloquent  it is.  And then he seeks other pieces that are in their own way as powerful.  Your Bloguero is quite confident that he knows a few.

What comes immediately to mind is Son House (1902- 1988) .  Sometimes far less is definitely much more:

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or, even easier, just click the “Encouragement jar”. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: A Success Story as Big as Texas? Actually, That’s a Myth

Texas has been adding jobs faster than the rest of the nation, a fact that has become especially notable in the past couple of years – I recently saw it referred to as the Texas “jobs juggernaut” – as overall job growth has been so poor.

But what’s the story here? Oddly, it’s rare to see anyone in this debate talking in terms of models – that is, the kind of stylized, simplified, but internally consistent stories (not necessarily mathematical) that are what economic analysis is all about. So let me try to fill that gap by offering three informal models of what might be going on in Texas.

In each of these stories, I imagine, to clarify things, an initial state in which America is divided into two identical regions; call them Texas and New York. Each of these regions has a labor force that lives in houses; I ignore other factors of production, except that I assume that building houses requires land, which is in limited supply. And we assume that initially everything is in equilibrium: wages and the cost of housing are the same in both regions.

Robert Reich: The President’s Bold Jobs Bill (Maybe)

The President is sounding like a fighter these days. He even says he’ll be proposing a jobs bill in September – and if Republicans don’t go along he’ll fight for it through Election Day (or beyond).

That’s a start. But read the small print and all he’s talked about so far is extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits (good, but small potatoes), ratifying the Columbia and South Korea free trade agreements (not necessarily a job-creating move), and creating an infrastructure bank.

An infrastructure bank might be helpful, depending on its size.

Which is the real question hovering over the entire putative jobs bill – its size.

New York Times Editorial: The Wrong Idea

Stocks on Wall Street dropped sharply on Thursday, with investors spooked, again, about the euro-zone debt crisis and the sputtering United States economy.

Stocks on Wall Street dropped sharply on Thursday, with investors spooked, again, about the euro-zone debt crisis and the sputtering United States economy.

Yet, even at this hour, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic seem determined to handcuff fiscal policies – the main tools that can increase jobs, consumer demand and economic growth – with an unquestioning devotion to rigid austerity.

Europe’s post-2008 economic problems have differed from America’s in many important ways. Washington has mercifully never had to cope with the problem of a dollar torn apart by the separate taxing and spending policies of 17 sovereign governments.

Joe Conason: What Obama Should Learn From Wisconsin What Obama Should Learn From Wisconsin

With Wisconsin’s epic state Senate recall battle now over, the results carry a clear message that ought to resonate all the way to Washington-and especially the Obama White House. The essence of politics in America today, for Democrats at least, is to understand and communicate the political nature of the opposition.

Having suffered a bad beating last November, the Wisconsin Democrats and their allies have succeeded in building a strong movement that fights back explicitly against the right-wing policies of Gov. Scott Walker’s Republican Party.

Last week, they won two out of six recall campaigns mounted against GOP state senators, which was widely interpreted as a defeat or at best a draw. But on Tuesday, they won all three recall efforts against Democrats, giving them an overall series victory, and cutting deeply into perceived support for the Walker agenda.

Kristina Kallas and Akila Radhakrishnan: Why is the US Waging War on Women Raped in War?

Mandatory sonograms, forced lectures by doctors, humiliating permission slips from abusive husbands, paternalistic opinions from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, uneducated and patently stupid soundbites from Tea Partiers. That’s not the worst. In this newest wave of the war on women, let’s not forget the U.S. government’s abortion policies toward women in war.

Rape is systematically being used as a weapon of war in conflicts worldwide. During the Rwandan genocide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped in 100 days and that approximately 20,000 children were born as a result of rape. Recent reports from Burma indicate that Burmese soldiers have orders to rape women. 387 civilians were raped in Walikale, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a 4 day period last year. In 2008 alone, the U.N. Population Fund recorded 16,000 cases of rape in DRC, two-thirds of them adolescent girls and other children, in an area where rape is vastly underreported. Imagine what the real numbers are.

Daniel Greenwood: Cutting Out the Social Safety Net Is No Sign of Bravery

In today’s New York Times, Helene Cooper wrote a news analysis advocating that President Obama slash Medicare and Social Security even though it might cost him reelection. The reporter, however, offers no reason to think that reneging on the basic commitment citizens must have to one another would make anything better. In reality, damaging our basic contract might be highly profitable to Wall Street financiers (who hope to charge commissions for managing retirement funds that Social Security now manages for far less), hedge-fund managers (who can profit as easily by betting against the American economy as by betting for it), and insurance companies (which will profit from increasingly bloated medical costs until the cost of care gets so high that no one can afford it). But cutting back on the basic guarantees we offer citizens, like cutting back on the other essential governmental services that make successful economies possible, will only make our jobs crisis worse.

On This Day In History August 19

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 19 is the 231st day of the year (232nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 134 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1909, the first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500.

The rectangular two-and-a-half-mile track linked four turns, each exactly 440 yards from start to finish, by two long and two short straight sections. In that first five-mile race on August 19, 1909, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar proved a disaster, breaking up in a number of places and causing the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

The surface was soon replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar. Dubbed “The Brickyard,” the speedway reopened in December 1909. In 1911, low attendance led the track’s owners to make a crucial decision: Instead of shorter races, they resolved to focus on a single, longer event each year, for a much larger prize. That May 30 marked the debut of the Indy 500–a grueling 500-mile race that was an immediate hit with audiences and drew press attention from all over the country. Driver Ray Haroun won the purse of $14,250, with an average speed of 74.59 mph and a total time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 8.17.11

Until I can find another embeddable feed for Countdown, I’ll post the YouTube segments for Worst Persons and others that would be interesting.

Worst Persons: Bachmann, Lamborn & entrepreneur Peter Thiel

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama says Syria’s Assad must ‘step aside’

By Olivier Knox, AFP

5 hrs ago

The United States on Thursday demanded for the first time that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down and urged its partners to impose crippling economic sanctions in a bid to force him out.

President Barack Obama’s stern message led a chorus of similar calls from Western powers in a sharp escalation of pressure for Assad to halt a bloody five-month crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising inspired by the Arab Spring.

“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” Obama said.