Monday, November 28, 2011

Financial Armageddon - Arriving at Last?

Eurocarnage Continues:

Things are only going from bad to worse in Europe.

Reader Antifa had noted in comments that the IMF had expanded access on Thursday to borrowing facilities via a Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), which would allow “responsible” borrowers to take down five or perhaps as much as ten times their normal allotment. But I don’t agree with his/her hopeful view that this meant the IMF was acting as lender of last resort. Only the ECB, an issuer of euros, can play that role. The IMF gets its budget from member nations, and my understanding in the US is that it comes from the Treasury, not the Fed, which means it is a budgetary item. New spending allocations, particularly to ‘furriners, are not likely to get much traction. China was already approached directly (for the EFSF) and was notably cool on the idea. Why would it lend indirectly, via the IMF, when it and other emerging economies are already unhappy that their voting share is out of line with their economic power? The BRICs have made it clear they want more voting rights as a condition to making bigger contributions. So I don’t see the IMF as an effective force, in general, and even on a stopgap basis given it certain to be insufficient firepower.

Mr. Market seems to think so too. Italy had a disastrously bad bond auction today, a mere €10 billion of two year notes and six month bills (remember, the day of reckoning comes in February, when Italy has to roll €300 billion). The rate on the bills was 6.50%; on the notes, 7.81%. Three year note yields rose as high as 8.13%. Even though the ECB intervened, buying both Spanish and Italian debt, it barely made a dent. Yields in Italy on two to five year paper remained in the 7.67% to 7.77%

German bond yields were also higher than they were after Wednesday’s terrible bunds auction. Stunningly, Belgian ten year yields have risen more than 1% this week, from 4.79% to 5.85%, with a downgrade of Belgium to AA by Standard & Poors no doubt contributing.

The Financial Times also reports that investors are fleeing Eurobank stocks:

Uninvestable is just about the worst word in a shareholders’ vocabulary.

The term – meaning that the market sees no point at all in investing in a certain asset – is being used increasingly when talking about European banks.

It's all about debt based on land value. A lot of people (well, a lot of people who read or comment on blogs like Naked Capitalism) can see the debt/money angle of the issue, but much fewer the land issue, because the privatization of site rent is taken for granted as the 'natural order of things' instead of as a root pathology.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Las Vegas: 100,000 foreclosures and counting; House prices down by 60%

Las Vegas: 100,000 foreclosures and counting: From Steve Green at the Las Vegas Sun: Las Vegas house prices continue to slide, down 9 percent from year ago
“In less than four years, more than 100,000 homes in Las Vegas have been lost through foreclosure. That’s 18 percent of our privately owned housing stock: that’s nearly one home in five. And we’re nowhere near finished with foreclosures. In all likelihood, we have another 100,000 yet to go, and at the current rate, that’s another four years,” [housing analyst and SalesTraq President] Larry Murphy said.
According to Case-Shiller, house prices have declined almost 60% from the peak in Las Vegas ... no wonder foreclosure are so high.

And according to Core Logic, there were 426 thousand first mortgages in Las Vegas at the end of Q2 - and 270 thousand of these were in negative equity (about 63%). Another 100,000 foreclosures might be low.

In another 4 years, nearly 40% of the housing stock will have been foreclosed upon. Wow. Talk about land boom and bust. Don't worry though. The taxpayer will pick up the tab and make the banksters whole, because they'll "bring down the whole economy" if we don't.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Australia passes carbon tax

Australia passes carbon tax:

Australia's carbon tax has been passed by the Senate. Be entertained as Piers Akerman goes barking mad:

This is the day the Western tradition of science-backed advancement of the human condition was rejected in favour of paganism. ...

We are witnessing the beginning of the end game for Australia as we know it. ...

The rest of the globe's population is wondering why we ever permitted ourselves to be lied and deceived back into the Dark Ages.

Oddly enough, despite Australia's return to the Dark Ages, New Limited's server was still able to serve up Akerman's rant.

Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...

The comments on the bizarre Akerman piece are also something to behold. Surely this is the beginning of a brownshirt type group: corporate/ fossilpower stormtroopers to fight the threat climate action poses against the billions, hundreds of billions, possibly trillions of dollars of fossil profits in the few decades remaining before it is shut down for good. I've no idea what ASIO people do, but if Gillard has any sense and especially after Brevik's Battle someone should be monitoring this closely for death and bomb threats etc. Who are these deluded whackjobs and what are their connections/ interrelations?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hilarious Must-See Video: The Denial Tango

Hilarious Must-See Video: The Denial Tango:

It’s written and performed by the awesome Aussie group Men With Day Jobs:

Other humor from down under:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Solar is Ready Now: ‘Ferocious Cost Reductions’ Make Solar PV Competitive

Solar is Ready Now: ‘Ferocious Cost Reductions’ Make Solar PV Competitive: Must-See Photovoltaic Industry Graphs on the Changing Economics of Solar There’s a joke in the solar industry about when “grid parity” – the time when solar becomes as cheap as fossil sources – will happen. Ron Kenedi, the former VP in Sharp Solar’s U.S. business liked to throw out random dates, telling me once “November [...]

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Occupy Google Reader: My God, My Google, Why have you Forsaken me?

We are the 1000+

One by one I was struck by the awesome and revolutionary features of the Internet: email, the web, usenet, chat, blogs. The last really powerful and useful innovation in my opinion has been RSS. Remarkably, most people seem not to have heard of RSS or to have used it much. I can only guess they don't do much reading online, or do all their reading on Facebook or Twitter.

But "social media"? Don't get it.

Myspace: looks to me like a sting perpetrated on Murdoch (couldn't have happened to a nicer fella); Twitter: (rather obviously for twits); and as for Facebook: well, the movie was great, but I haven't read the facebook (and don't intend to).

Nevertheless, all this stuff is undoubtedly a popular way for people to waste a lot of time.

In the good old days we wasted time on email, usenet and the web. Sure, it was a big waste of time, but we learnt something. I cant see what you can learn by wasting time on the huge pile of streaming detritus known as "social media".

Now Google has neutered Reader: after search, definitely their best product ever. Better than gmail.

Its a healthy warning about the cloud also. Having your data or applications controlled by some evil corporation is inherently dangerous.

We need a Free Software version of Google reader with the simple share/social functions included.

I cant help but compare this fiasco to the Ubuntu Unity disaster. Computing is being deliberately dumbed down by corporations. A split is emerging between the 'power users' and the billions (most of them not even online yet) who will interact with computers rather like an appliance: an on/off button, possibly a next and an up/down button will be all that is provided or that people are expected to cope with.

So let's break from the mob and the corporations and build free computing systems with full power.

While I'm at it can I complain about the horror that is Word (OpenOffice is no better) when all I want to do is write a paragraph or two. Never got over it. Composing and formatting need to be separated.

The 20-yr long gui fiasco has to be dealt with also. We should all be on unix terminal. Or perhaps Plan9 terminal nowadays.

Richard Stallman had a great idea in 1984 with Free Software, but tragically, he was about 10 years too late. Unix should have been made free when it was rewritten in C way back in 1973.

What a global disaster it has been. It might take another 100 years to straighten it all out.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Fukushima Coverup

The company, the government, the regulatory agency and the media all seem to have conspired to coverup the severity of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Here is the latest in case you missed it:

A full nuclear meltdown of 3 reactor cores occurred within hours of the accident. The company itself has admitted this.

The Fukushima accident has now released more radiation that Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.
The Company itself admitted this.

An area of 966 square kilometres is now uninhabitable due to nuclear contamination. link

Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind, according to Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president.

Each of those items is worth banner headlines in newspapers around the world, but I don't think they've been mentioned, as far as I know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Give and You Shall Receive

Flattr is a very clever idea with a lot of potential. It might finally allow micropayments to work.

Particularly interesting is the requirement to donate a few euros (minimum two per month) before you can receive anything. I'm sure we've all had the idea of giving something to help alternative media and other content creators but the clumsy procedures of credit cards and paypal etc serve as an effective barrier.

Flattr is as simple as clicking on a 'Like' button in Google reader or Facebook. And the total donated can be easily controlled such that it is within anyone's budget. So now there is no excuse!

Hattip: Steve Keen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Massive Disconnect between Neo-classical economics and Global Reality


Climate scientists are divided over whether “the tipping point”, the point at which positive feedbacks make climate change accelerate and irreversible, thereby endangering the survival of the human species, has been reached....

Meanwhile the World Bank forecasts that by the end of the century global economic output will have risen almost tenfold.

Evidently NCE counts output as a plus but the consequent destruction of the environment in which we live does not count as a loss. It's like chopping down trees on Easter Island. As they approach the last stands, timber production, profit and success have never been higher. But no thought is given to what happens when all the trees are gone.

We need to change NOW the measures of production and economic growth by a full incorporation of environmental damage.

Banana Republic on the Potomac


"You've got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan]," Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. "And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action."

And that list, impressive though it is, doesn't even include the due-process-free assassination hit lists of American citizens, the sweeping executive power and secrecy theories used to justify it, the multi-tiered, "state-always-wins" justice system the Obama DOJ concocted for detainees, the vastly more aggressive war on whistleblowers and press freedoms, or the new presidential immunity doctrines his DOJ has invented.

Is this a democracy we are talking about, or a banana republic? It's amazing to me that these policies could be created and confirmed, and there is not a hint of criticism anywhere in the world (apart from a wild-eyed radical like Glenn Greenwald) from either officials or the intellectual class.

Obviously belief in freedom or liberal democracy is merely nominal with most of these people. The Golden Rule is, never offend or speak against the Power (that issues the Gold and gives us our Position, may his Name be Praised).

I guess fool me for being so naive about it all this time.

The Assange case however proves that it hasn't gone unnoticed. The public is beginning to understand that you do not want to be extradited to the US, or even want to visit the damn place.

Extradition treaties have to be reviewed. It's time, sadly, to say goodbye to the American Dream.