Friday, April 27, 2012

AGAIN, this is a load of bullshit: "Spain Downgrade Proof Austerity Not Working"

I  said it the other day and I'll repeat it now: austerity, what austerity?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

GINGRICH'S CAMPAIGN, the worst in history?

GREAT Wall Street Journal editorial a couple of days ago (I just saw it) on what it aptly calls Europe's phony growth debate:
Growth or austerity? That's the choice facing Europe these days—or so the Keynesian consensus keeps saying. According to this view, which has dominated world economic councils since the 2008 crisis began, "growth" is mainly a function of government spending.

Spend more and you're for growth, even if a country raises taxes to pay for the spending. But dare to cut spending as the Germans suggest, and you're for austerity and thus opposed to growth.

This is a nonsense debate that misconstrues the real sources of economic prosperity and helps explain Europe's current mess. The real debate ought to be over which policies best produce growth.

In the 1980s, the world learned (or so we thought) that the way out of the malaise of the 1970s were reforms that encourage private investment and risk-taking, labor mobility and flexibility, an end to price controls, tax rates that encouraged capital formation, and what the World Bank now broadly calls "the ease of doing business." Amid this crisis, Europe has tried everything except these policies.
Keep reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LOOK who's cooled down over global warming; none other than James 'Gaia' Lovelock:
“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.

“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said.

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.

I STOPPED reading this Robert Teitelman piece on the Spanish financial crisis at the HuffPo when I bumped into this:
 Spain is interesting for many reasons: its size; its massive, U.S.-style real estate bubble and collapse; its almost New Deal-like willingness to try just about anything to wriggle out of its mess, which a number of folks agreed could be either very good or very bad. But Spain does not conform to the conventional wisdom of Greek-style fiscal profligacy that hangs over the crisis. Spain, like Ireland, ran a fiscal surplus.
Surplus? What surplus? Since 2008, in a futile attempt to avoid the financial crisis, the Zapatero government ran an accumulated deficit of 465 billion dollars, and incurred in 550 billion in public debt. Throwing good money after bad, and not only leaving the problem unresolved, but making it much worse.

People wonder why the financial crisis has hit Spain harder than other countries. Yes, the real estate bubble was particularly bad. But the fact that the government refused to admit until 2008 there was any crisis whatsoever, and then went into panic mode after that and started burning money like there was no tomorrow has left the country in the mess it's in right now.

(On a side note, I tried to write this as a comment to the piece on HuffPo itself; I had never posted one and had no account. I signed in, wrote the comment, and when I hit on Publish I got a message on the screen saying that I've been banned from commenting... Oh well.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

JUST POINTING THIS OUT: according to a study at Cornell University, people aren't smart enough for democracy to flourish.
The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.
I know it's from a couple months ago, but I just saw it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

SPAIN, the land of financial magical realism?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CITIES: the bigger, the greener.

SPAIN running out of time?

PHEW: Spain survives debt auction. Europe still a slow-motion train wreck, though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TENSION is growing between Argentina and Spain after the former seized YPF, an oil company whose biggest owner is the Spanish company Repsol.

A GREAT EXPLANATION of Spain's dysfunctional labor system and how it leads to the country having the highest unemployment in the developed world. As former minister Ana Palacio writes, it's a system rooted in the Franco regime. It makes doubly puzzling that both the left and the unions are fighting hard against the reforms planned by conservative prime minister Rajoy. One wonders who is more conservative, really.

HAVE YOU EVER seen a king apologize? Now you have:
Spain's King Juan Carlos made a rare public apology Wednesday for his recent hunting trip to Africa that has caused an outcry in Spain and abroad for its expense during the nation's economic crisis and for hunting elephants.

"I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," the king told Spanish state television TVE as he left a Madrid hospital, where he underwent hip surgery last weekend after falling on the hunting trip in Botswana.
I'm not a monarchist, but I find his apology commendable. Basically because it's clear and absolute. I have never seen a public figure in Spain apologize without the usual weasel "I'm sorry you were offended" kind, as if it was the other people's fault for being easily offended, instead of your own for what you did.

THE SPOOKY chart of the day.

TIME, not a bailout, is what Spain needs right now, says German finance minister.

JULIAN ASSANGE on his debut on the Kremlin's propaganda organ Russia Today, interviewing Hezbollah leader Nasrallah: a useful idiot.

GOOD ONE (via many on Facebook):

Thursday, April 12, 2012

EARLIER TODAY I've been on Silvio Canto Jr.'s show talking about Spain's economy. Here's the audio, in case you're bored or you're a masochist:

Listen to internet radio with Silvio Canto Jr on Blog Talk Radio

DRINKING ALCOHOL may enhance a person’s problem solving skills, according to a new study. Yeah, especially the ones consisting of explaining your significant other that what you were doing was not hitting on her at the bar...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SPOT ON: Why comments are bad business for online media.

WHY it's scary:
Here’s the fear: Banco Santander, BBVA and the third largest bank in Spain, La Caixa, have combined assets of about $2.7 trillion. Spain’s GDP is just about $1.4 trillion.

In other words: Spain’s three biggest banks are nearly twice as big as the entire Spanish economy.
By contrast, America’s three largest banks by assets — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — have combined assets of around $6 trillion, or about 40 percent of U.S. GDP.  If JPMorgan , Bank of America and Citi are too big and too systemically important to fail, what does that make Spain’s big three?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MORE on the 'peak oil' myth.

SUPERSONIC JETS ready to take off again.

FIVE great things about procrastination.

Monday, April 09, 2012

SPAIN, on the brink, could derail the US economy?
What we are witnessing this spring in Europe is a showdown among the surgeons in the operating room. The chiefs of surgery are certain that vigorously applied austerity is the fastest route to a cure. On the other side of the operating table are those—admittedly few—who are arguing that austerity alone will achieve the opposite of the desired outcome: It will kill the patient.

What’s at stake is the health of the global economy -- the United States is especially vulnerable as it slowly climbs out of recession.

Keep reading.

SPAIN headed towards financial crunch in 2013? Six reasons might explain it.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

#REVOLUTIONWHATREVOLUTION? Computers are taming, not encouraging, revolution, the FT says.

Friday, April 06, 2012

DECONSTRUCTING the link -- that so many are jumping to make -- between Greece's financial crisis and suicide rates.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

ACCORDING to a University of Southern California study, reading for pleasure makes your brain grow, literally.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

LOL. As usual, click to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

MY EYES, MY EYES... Worst album covers of all time. OMG.

Monday, April 02, 2012

YOU DON'T SAY: "[Spain's PM] Mariano Rajoy has perhaps the least enviable job in the world."

JOHN MAULDIN: the biggest thing that matters right now is Spain.