Links: 2013-03-02

News links for 2 March 2013

Judge knocks 40% off jury’s $1.05B verdict in Apple v. Samsung

“Update: A complete list of devices affected by Friday’s order have been included below.

Vanessa Blum, federal courts reporter for The Recorder in San Francisco tweeted on Friday that Judge Koh had struck roughly $450 million off the damage award Apple won in its case against Samsung. Koh has reportedly ordered a new trial for the $450 million.”

Pentagon’s Scariest Robot Can Now Hurl Cinder Blocks Your Way

“The robot, built by Army Research Laboratory Boston Dynamics, is designed to tramp across uneven terrain, and it does a good job of it. But now it’s got an extra arm, which it can use to pick things up.”

Doing The “Harlem Shake” In Mid-Air Apparently Isn’t Cool With The Folks At The FAA – The Consumerist

“Apparently the suits at the FAA are displeased that the crew allowed Colorado College’s ultimate Frisbee team and their fellow passengers to film “Harlem Shake Frontier Flight 157″ during a recent flight, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A Frontier spokeswoman confirmed the probe, but added that “all safety measures were followed and the seat belt sign was off.””

Old Media Doesn’t Get New Media, Chapter 203: The Sandberg Attack – Kara Swisher – Media – AllThingsD

““We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” wrote Sandberg in her book.

True that. That’s because, as it turns out, leaning in turns out to mean a very bumpy ride for those who do.”

Successful Woman Gets Attacked For Standing Out Too Much, Again | TechCrunch

“The backlash that’s happening to Sandberg (and Mayer and so on) is what happens when one of us stands out, perhaps because women have historically pulled one another down to compete. But back in the day the fight was over men or other scarce resources, not the corner office.

This competitive tendency might explain why we ourselves have found it extremely difficult to find older female mentors. There have been few women in our professional lives who wanted to invest in our careers. They were too busy tearing us down or scared that we would somehow rise above them to take the time. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Women leaders are increasing in frequency: There’s now room at the table for more than one of us. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Sherrod Brown Safe Banking Act – Business Insider

“So it looks like Brown’s crusade has been reinvigorated and he has a Republican on his side too (Wall Street loves the word ‘bipartisan’). Sure, Elizabeth Warren is someone to watch, but Wall Street better keep an eye on Brown and Vitter too. They’re already on the move.”

Calculated Risk: Bernanke: How are long-term rates likely to evolve over coming years?

I see this as a green light signal for increasing leverage and risk

“it is now a bedrock principle of central banking that transparency about the likely path of policy, in general, and interest rates, in particular, can increase the effectiveness of policy. In the present context, I would add that transparency may mitigate risks emanating from unexpected rate movements.”

interfluidity » Opaque finance, again, and solutions

“Smith thinks that finance prior to the 1980s worked well, and represents a model to which we can return. Carolyn Sissoko, who knows more about the history of banking than I ever will, thinks eliminating limited liability for banks will resolve the problem. I enthusiastically support that reform, but believe it would leave us in a painful state of macroeconomic withdrawal absent other changes. I think we are in a bind.

Since my opacity posts, I have been thinking more macroeconomically, and trying to come up with solutions. I do have some ideas.”

The Aleph Blog » Blog Archive » Comments on the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letter

Good breakdown of Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders

Samsom in NRC: referendum bij nieuw Europees Verdrag ::

The Dutch opposition leader wants any major changes to the European constitution to be put to a referendum in the Netherlands from now on. Call him officially, eurosceptical in the sense that this is a call to increase democratic oversight of EU power. I believe it marks a shift in terms of this kind of rhetoric away from the fringe with obviously eurosceptical Dutch politicians like Geert Wilders to the mainstream. Now, it is acceptable everywhere in the Netherlands to say the EU has too much power granted in a non-democratic manner.

TheMoneyIllusion » Something a Fed chairman should never say

“And then there’s President Obama, telling us that if we don’t spend tens of billions of dollars on wasteful military boondoggles it will “hurt the economy.”  And he’s regarded as a progressive.  And the progressives seem to think he’s doing a pretty good job.

Maybe he is.  But what’s the plan?  Can we cut the military in 2014, when unemployment is 7.4% instead of 7.9%?  Is the plan to preside over 8 years of recession?  Is that a good plan? “

Kathleen Parker: The Obama White House ‘threat’ to Bob Woodward matters – The Washington Post

“Before his piece was published, Woodward called the White House to tell officials it was coming. A shouting match ensued between Woodward and Gene Sperling, Obama’s economic adviser, followed by an e-mail in which Sperling said that Woodward “will regret staking out that claim.”

Though the tone was conciliatory and Sperling apologized for raising his voice, the message nonetheless caused Woodward to bristle.

Again, Woodward’s kneecaps are probably safe, but the challenge to his facts, and therefore to his character, was unusual, given Woodward’s stature. And, how, by the way, might Woodward come to regret it? Sperling’s words, though measured, could be read as: “You’ll never set foot in this White House again.””

Breitbart: Second Thoughts – The Daily Beast

“In any political conflict between extremists and non-extremists, the non-extremists start with one serious disadvantage. They tend to be conflict-averse. Moderate-minded people tend naturally to be people of moderate temperament. When they encounter rage, hate, and paranoia, they flinch. Extremists, on the other hand, delight in conflict. Simply by being louder and nastier, they bully the non-extremists into silence, acquiescence, or exit. Which happens to be the recent history of the Republican party.

What America needs now, and what the Republican party most especially needs, are moderate-minded people who are also tough-minded – who won’t be shrieked down and who won’t be intimidated.”

Dutch Austerity Drive Stalled for 2013 –

“The Netherlands confirmed it won’t seek extra austerity measures this year to meet European Union budget targets, making it more likely that it won’t meet its commitment to cut its budget deficit to less than 3% of annual output.

Presenting a package that would add austerity measures beginning in 2014, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday he would combine extra cutbacks next year with economic stimulus measures, as he seeks to revive a sluggish economy. “The Dutch economy needs to be pulled out of the crisis,” he told a news conference in The Hague.

The Netherlands remains committed to the budget rules, said Mr. Rutte, adding that he hopes the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will allow it more breathing room.”

King Closer to Winning BOE Stimulus Debate After Factory Slump – Bloomberg

“Bank of England Governor Mervyn King may be closer to getting his way on stimulus after an unexpected slump in manufacturing raised the prospect of more bond purchases next week.

Citigroup Inc., ING Bank NV and BNP Paribas SA are among banks predicting a 25 billion-pound ($38 billion) increase in quantitative easing on March 7. The median of 39 economists is for the target to remain at 375 billion pounds, with 11 forecasting an increase, according to a Bloomberg News survey. That’s the biggest split among economists since July.

King and two other policy makers were defeated in a push for more bond purchases last month as the Monetary Policy Committee discussed measures including interest-rate cuts and policies to boost credit. Their cautious outlook for the economy was borne out today by Markit Economics’ factory index, which fell to a four-month low as demand plunged.”

Warren Buffett on Buying Newspapers – Business Insider

“Newspapers continue to reign supreme, however, in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town – whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football – there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job. A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.

Even a valuable product, however, can self-destruct from a faulty business strategy. And that process has been underway during the past decade at almost all papers of size. Publishers – including Berkshire in Buffalo – have offered their paper free on the Internet while charging meaningful sums for the physical specimen. How could this lead to anything other than a sharp and steady drop in sales of the printed product? Falling circulation, moreover, makes a paper less essential to advertisers. Under these conditions, the “virtuous circle” of the past reverses.

The Wall Street Journal went to a pay model early. But the main exemplar for local newspapers is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , published by Walter Hussman, Jr. Walter also adopted a pay format early, and over the past decade his paper has retained its circulation far better than any other large paper in the country. Despite Walter’s powerful example, it’s only been in the last year or so that other papers, including Berkshire’s, have explored pay arrangements. Whatever works best – and the answer is not yet clear – will be copied widely.”

February manufacturing activity eases slightly: Markit | Reuters

“Financial data firm Markit said its U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 54.3 last month, nearly a full point below a preliminary estimate of 55.2. It stood at 55.8 in January.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion.”

Canada’s GDP hasn’t been this weak since the recession | Economy | News | Financial Post

“Canada’s economy grew at a sluggish pace in the final quarter of 2012 after a similarly disappointing third period, resulting in the weakest six months since the 2008-09 recession, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.

The slowdown will likely add pressure on the Bank of Canada to keep stimulus in place for longer and weigh on the Conservative government as it prepares its next budget.”

Worst income dip in 20 years doesn’t stop spending – Economic Report – MarketWatch

“The combination of modest rise in consumer spending and a steep drop in income reduced the savings rate of Americans to 2.4% from 6.4% — the lowest level in more than five years.

Households typically work to rebuild savings when they fall to such low levels, but rising home values and the surging stock market is making Americans feel a little bit wealthier. What’s more, a slowly improving labor market is giving more people the hope of finding a job or getting a better one. That might make them less inclined to sock more money aside.

Wages, on the other hand, are still not growing very fast. Incomes after taxes, adjusted for inflation, rose just 1.5% in 2012 after a 1.3% increase in 2011. And even those meager gains could be largely eaten up by the price at the pump if gasoline continue to advance. The average cost of a gallon of gas has jumped 14% since the beginning of the year.”

Why You Should Care About That $83 Billion Bank Subsidy – Bloomberg

“The subsidy comes in the form of lower borrowing costs, which large banks enjoy because creditors expect the government to bail them out in an emergency. We assumed, in consultation with a co-author of an International Monetary Fund working paper on the subject, that the funding advantage amounts to 0.8 percentage point over the longer term, and that applying the number to banks’ total liabilities is the best way to get at its dollar value.

Reasonable people can make different assumptions and arrive at different answers. The economists Frederic Schweikhard and Zoe Tsesmelidakis estimated the subsidy was about $32 billion a year for the bond debt of U.S. banks alone, from 2007 through 2010. Andy Haldane, a senior official at the Bank of England, put the subsidy at $60 billion a year for the five largest global banks, from 2007 through 2009. A. Joseph Warburton and Deniz Anginer, respectively of Syracuse University and Virginia Tech, found that the subsidy for the largest U.S. banks went from less than $10 billion in 2004 to more than $100 billion in 2009. Ed Kane of Boston College put it at $300 billion for 2009 alone.”

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