Links: 2013-10-04

NSA tried and failed to compromise Tor, but browser vulnerabilities gave some users away | The Verge

“According to leaked documents obtained by Glenn Greenwald, the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ were frustrated by Tor, at one point in 2012 putting out a presentation called “Tor Stinks.” “We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time,” it says. “With manual analysis we can de-anonymize a very small fraction of Tor users.” While it’s known that the NSA was actively working to weaken cryptography, these documents suggest that it was, at least in the case of Tor’s network itself, unsuccessful.”

Here’s what will happen if the U.S. defaults on its debt | Financial Post

“Nobody knows exactly when America would default on its bills if Congress fails to raise a cap on government borrowing. But the recent past gives a pretty good idea of how a default could unfold.”

For Twitter, Success Came After Founders’ Exit –

“A promising idea only turned into a steady company when Twitter outgrew its founders, and the people in charge pushed aside those who brought the company to life.”

US-Gesundheitsreform: Obamacare hilft den Armen kaum | ZEIT ONLINE

This German-language article says that Obamacare will be hard-pressed to get healthcare access to the poor. The reason, the article says, is that Republicans have refused to permit the Medicaid program to be expanded. I don’t know enough to know if this is true but clearly this law is a contentious political issue.

Government shutdown puts squeeze on Republican moderates –

“A group of such lawmakers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania says it’s time to drop the party’s fight against President Obama’s healthcare law.”

‘I’m the original voice of Siri’ –

“”I really had to weigh the importance of it for me personally. I wasn’t sure that I wanted that notoriety, and I also wasn’t sure where I stood legally. And so, consequently, I was very conservative about it for a long time,” she said. “And then this Verge video came out … And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time.””

Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff | Reuters

Joins IMF and ECB warnings

“A prolonged U.S. budget standoff would hit global markets very hard, the Bank of Japan warned on Friday as it said it was ready to top up its existing massive stimulus if the recovery underway in the world’s third-largest economy was threatened.”

Moody’s warns on Brazil | beyondbrics

This is why Japanese retail investors are fleeing and moving to Mexico.

Mrs Watanabe catches peso fever | beyondbrics

Japanese retail investors reaching for yield in Mexico:

“Mrs Watanabe has a new beau. And his name is Mexico.

After an intense but torrid affair with the Brazilian real, a fling with the Australian dollar and the Turkish lira, Japan’s legion of retail investors – dubbed “Mrs Watanabe” because women mostly manage the household savings in Japan – are now piling into the Mexican peso.

According to Nomura, sales of peso-denominated “uridashi”, which are bonds in foreign currencies sold to Japanese retail investors, are at an all time high.”

Spanish Banks Have Boosted Capital Buffers, Says Central Banker –

This assumes that Spanish banks are writing down all unrecoverable bad debt, which is a bad assumption.

“Spain’s banks have raised their core capital ratios, a measure of their ability to withstand a severe downturn, nearly a year after the country received European funds to bail out its ailing financial industry.

The core capital ratio of the sector will rise to around 10.5% by December, more than one percentage point higher than it was a year earlier, the country’s central bank governor said Friday. “

The American Right have got it all wrong – Telegraph

Interesting commentary from the British right:

“Like many non-Americans, I’ve found myself struggling to understand how the US Right could have so hopelessly lost the plot. Part of the answer, I think, is simply an accident of electoral timing. It happened to be a Republican, George W Bush, who was at the bridge when the ship went down. A less than impressive presidency on almost every front was capped by the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. In virtually every country badly affected by the crisis, incumbent administrations tumbled, whether they were of the Right or the Left. Many ruling parties were permanently scarred by the implosion.

Yet there is plainly more to Republican confusion than just happening to be there when the bomb went off – as the failure of the British Right to secure a bigger political dividend from Labour’s complicity in the crisis amply demonstrates. The GOP seems to have been particularly badly unsettled by the crisis. Free-market liberalism and social conservatism always were uneasy bedfellows, but never has this contradiction seemed more evident than it is today. Factionalism, fringe causes and pressure-group politics have replaced cohesion and straight thinking, giving the party a faintly lunatic aura. There appears to be no one capable of uniting Republicans around a common conservative agenda.

This has given rise to a more substantive deficiency – an apparent inability to articulate a plausible free-market response to the failings of modern capitalism. Republicans seem to have no answer to growing social inequality and squeezed living standards.”

US government shutdown: banks stockpiling cash – Telegraph

“America’s biggest banks are stockpiling extra cash in their ATMs, amid fears that the government shutdown and the threat of a US default will induce a sudden panic among their customers. “

UK economy growing at fastest rate in the developed world – Telegraph

“Figures released today indicated that output across the services sector, which accounts for the majority of the economy, rose at the strongest pace for 16 years between July and September. “

BBC News – Portugal passes latest eurozone bailout test

A few days ago, we saw via Der Spiegel that Portugal missed its deficit target by a wide margin with 7.1% deficit versus 5.5% desired. So you have to read this with that fact in mind.

BBC News – Will increase in sales tax boost Japan’s economy?

Good intro video on the tax and deficit situation in Japan

US default by any other name | Gavyn Davies

“Investors hate the word “default” but they need to be careful about its exact meaning here. Most observers, including the major investment banks, think it very unlikely that the US would ever choose to default on any payments due on its sovereign debt, even if the debt ceiling is left permanently unchanged after 17 October.

The government could, however, go into arrears on many of its normal payments after that date. This would have serious contractionary effects on the economy, and might lead credit agencies to downgrade their ratings on US sovereign debt.”

Government shutdown: Why many Republicans have no reason to deal – Alex Isenstadt –

“The vast majority of GOP lawmakers are safely ensconced in districts that, based on the voter rolls, would never think of electing a Democrat. Their bigger worry is that someone even more conservative than they are — bankrolled by a cadre of uncompromising conservative groups — might challenge them in a primary.”

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