Weekend Links: 2009-08-30

  • Our quarter-century penance is just starting – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

    All that has happened over this crisis is that huge private losses have been dumped on society: but the losses are still there, smothering the economy. Taxes must rise. Debts must slowly be purged. "As long as economic growth relies on the state, you cannot talk about durable recovery," said European Central Bank member, Yves Mersch.

  • France obtains tax suspects’ Swiss account details | Reuters

    France has secured the names and details of some 3,000 suspected tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts in what the budget minister described as a first in its battle against banking secrecy.

  • A Reluctance to Spend May Be the Recession’s Legacy – NYTimes.com

    Even as evidence mounts that the Great Recession has finally released its chokehold on the American economy, experts worry that the recovery may be weak, stymied by consumers’ reluctance to spend.

  • ‘Shorters’ retreat helps fuel volatility – FT

    Short sellers have been deserting the US stock market in droves during its sluggish summer sessions in a retreat that has helped fuel the recent volatile trading in AIG and other beaten-down financial shares, analysts said on Friday.

  • Sugar Hits 28-Year High – WSJ.com

    World raw sugar futures hit a 28-year high on Friday, when a market already supported by low supplies got a boost from bullish technical chart-based factors and strength from other commodities.

  • Clients Flee Cerberus, Fallen Fund Titan – WSJ.com

    Investors in hedge funds run by Cerberus Capital Management LP, whose audacious multi-billion dollar bet on the U.S. auto industry went bust, are bolting for the door, clinching one of the highest-profile falls from grace of a superstar in the investment world. Clients are withdrawing more than $5.5 billion, or nearly 71% of the hedge fund assets, in response to big investment losses and their own need for cash, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Halting Recovery Divides America in Two – WSJ.com

    The U.S. recovery is a tale of two economies. At one extreme of Corporate America is a cadre of companies and banks, mostly big, united by an enviable access to credit. At the other end are firms, chiefly small, with slumping sales that can’t borrow or are facing stiff terms to do so. On Main Street, there are consumers with rock-solid jobs — but also legions of debt-strapped individuals struggling to keep their noses above water.

  • Still No Port in This Storm – Barrons.com

    "AIG shares look expensive, given its continuing troubles and our calculation of negative tangible common equity. Its debt offers a better play for adventurous investors."

  • Consumer prices fall record 2.2% | The Japan Times Online

    Consumer prices fell at a record pace in July, adding to signs deflation will hamper a rebound from the nation’s worst postwar recession, the government said Friday…"We’ll start to see if there’s real deflation once the August CPI comes out," because that figure will be less skewed by last year’s oil surge, said Junko Nishioka, an economist at RBS Securities Japan Ltd. in Tokyo.

  • Judge puts Fed’s bailout revelations on hold | Reuters

    Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan stayed her August 24 order in favor of Bloomberg News, which had sought the information under the federal Freedom of Information Act, so that the central bank could appeal.

  • Picture du Jour: Stock market rally long in the tooth – Prieur du Plessis

    As the chart shows, the duration of the current rally of the Dow Jones Industrial Index (hollow blue dot labeled “You are here”) is longer than that of any of the rallies that occurred during the 1929-1932 bear market

  • A dash for trash may yet become a flight to quality – FT

    For many, the unsettling feature of the post-March bounce is that it was driven by a dash for trash. Undercapitalised banks and companies with overstretched balance sheets have been in the vanguard. Still more worrying is that the S&P 500 index is once again way above fair value as measured by the cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio, which is a multiple of average earnings over 10 years.

  • Employment, Interest, and Money: Job Losses Are Not the Problem

    "the most salient feature of the current episode is that there has been unusually little creation. From the 1990’s to the 2000’s, the quarterly job creation rate fell from about 8% to about 7%. Since 2006, it has fallen to about 6%."

  • Nicholas Kristof – Until Medical Bills Do Us Part – NYTimes.com

    She was married to a sweet, gentle man whom she loved, but who had become increasingly absent-minded. Finally, he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The disease is degenerative, and he will become steadily less able to care for himself. At some point, as his medical needs multiply, he will probably need to be institutionalized. The hospital arranged a conference call with a social worker, who outlined how the dementia and its financial toll on the family would progress, and then added, out of the blue: “Maybe you should divorce.”… If M.’s husband required long-term care, the costs would be catastrophic even for a middle-class family with savings… She would face a bleak retirement with neither her husband nor her savings.

  • Nicholas Kristof – Health Care Fit for Animals – NYTimes.com

    colleagues and bosses in the insurance industry… are obsessed with sustaining the company’s stock price — which means paying fewer medical bills. One way to do that is to deny requests for expensive procedures. A second is “rescission” … a third tactic is for insurers to raise premiums for a small business astronomically after an employee is found to have an illness that will be very expensive to treat. That forces the business to drop coverage for all its employees or go elsewhere. All this is monstrous, and it negates the entire point of insurance, which is to spread risk.

  • Roads are ruining the rainforests – New Scientist

    "THE best thing you could do for the Amazon is to bomb all the roads." That might sound like an eco-terrorist’s threat, but they’re actually the words of Eneas Salati, one of Brazil’s most respected scientists. Thomas Lovejoy, a leading American biologist, is equally emphatic: "Roads are the seeds of tropical forest destruction."

  • Fred Hiatt – An Alternative for Accountability on Torture: A Presidential Commission – washingtonpost.com

    If President Obama has been frustrated in his desire not to look back at Bush-era detention practices, it is because he is caught between two fundamental but seemingly irreconcilable American principles. On the one hand, … If torture violates U.S. law … that cannot be ignored, forgotten, swept away… Yet this is also a nation where two political parties… do not seek vengeance, through the courts or otherwise, as they succeed each other.

  • Real Madrid lead Spain’s charge to usurp Premier League as numero uno | Football | The Observer

    After a record-breaking summer of spending in La Liga, Spain believes it has the best league in the world

  • Apple iPhone faces Android threat | Business | The Observer

    The battle to dent the dominance of Apple’s iPhone will intensify next month. Orange and T-Mobile are expected to unveil exclusive deals to stock the latest touchscreen phones that use Google’s Android software to British gadget fans.

  • Top 10 Tactics for Productive Travel – Travel – Lifehacker

    Being able to work just about anywhere is a mixed blessing. If you’re tired of dying batteries, lost receipts, absent files, and laptop theft paranoia, pick up on our top 10 tactics for a better life on the road.

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